Nine Miles South – Self Titled EP

Nine Miles South promo_RingMaster Review

It is proving to be a rather exciting year for UK rockers Nine Miles South which is coming to a thrilling head with the release of their self-titled debut EP and a couple of big shows, all sure to confirm that their groove loaded southern rock ‘n’ roll is ready to awaken the broadest attention. Their three track release is an invigorating and exciting slab of resourcefully varied hard rock; heavy and contagious, creatively aggressive and addictive, it has body and appetite on red alert by track one, seduced by the third and though it weaves plenty of familiar sounds and textures into its persuasion, the EP just hits the sweet spot that lies within all rock fans.

Nine Miles South was founded by Danish bred Seb Mikkelsen, the band forming after the vocalist/guitarist had moved to the UK from his homeland. Based in Guildford and with a line-up completed by guitarist Jon Antony, bassist Andy Sleigh, and drummer David Wilson, Nine Miles South took little time in awakening strong support and awareness through their tenacious live presence. Shows with bands such as Kobra And The Lotus as well as their own gigs and strong festival appearances have marked the band out leading to good radio play. After a couple of recently highly successful London shows and ahead of the band playing Hard Rock Hell in Wales on November 13th with amongst many, Black Label Society, UFO, Helloween, Pat Travers, and Gun, and also supporting Skinny Molly at the North Devon Arena in Ilfracombe on November 18th, Nine Miles South release their first EP, an easy to suspect spark to increasing and eager attention.

NMS FRONT COVER EPP_RingMaster Review   Produced by Samuel Burden, the EP opens with The Reckoning, a mighty anthem for ears and emotions. A slightly reserved beginning cups ears first, a sultry climate of guitar and melody backed by the vocal twang of Mikkelsen swift enticement which only grows more gripping as thick fisted rhythms join the increasing energy and roar of the song. It is still not in top gear but casting an inescapable anthem for body and voice which only blossoms into virulence as grooves twist and entwine the psyche and hooks lurk in very corner and evolution of the outstanding song. As suggested the overall sound has a recognisable air but it only adds to the drama and potency of the tempting, especially which sixth gear is finally unleashed for a boisterous finale.

The excellent start is backed well by Leave Me Be, another making its entrance on a gentle melody from the guitar whilst quietly brewing a more intensive character which erupts soon after. A more emotively coloured and controlled stroll, the bluesy track spins a weave of melodic and vocal expression wrapped in low key but pungent grooves, these further punctured by firm rhythms. The bass of Sleigh has a great growl whilst the guitars of Antony and Mikkelsen create a croon of enterprise to match the resourceful vocal tones of the latter, backed well by Antony and Sleigh. Without quite matching the heights and irresistibility of its predecessor, the song has ears and attention riveted before Fingernails brings the release to a rousing close.

The third track has the imagination drifting off to dusty, country blues rock lands within seconds, grooves and riffs instantly sculpting a southern seeded canvas to lose oneself in, before shadowed rhythms lined with spiky beats and grooved invention build tantalising scenery. Imagine a mix of Bad Company, Down, and The Bastard Sons and you get a whiff of the excellent climax to one thickly enjoyable encounter.

The last few months has seen a new wind of attention and buzz around Nine Miles South which can only get bolder and louder with the release of their first EP. It is rock ‘n’ roll with a twang and very easy to suggest you go get some.

The Nine Miles South EP is available from September 7th

Pete Ringmaster 07/09/2015

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Carnal Agony – Preludes & Nocturnes

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Preludes & Nocturnes is an album which manages to impress, excite, and disappoint in one go, though admittedly the latter is a mere fraction of the enjoyment had from the Carnal Agony release. There are just times though where it feels like it missed the opportunity to make an even greater impact on ears and subsequently the metal scene, evaded the chance to pungently push this highly accomplished band towards the brighter spotlights which admittedly it still might awaken.

Hailing from Umeå in Sweden, Carnal Agony began in 2011 and swiftly began luring attention for their diversely flavoured style of metal around lyrical themes inspired by the classic literature from the likes of HP Lovecraft, John Milton, and Edgar Allan Poe. Musically the band, on the evidence of their latest album, weaves in everything from heavy and classic to power and melodic metal to a thrash seeded sound, revealing inspirations from artists such as Iron Maiden, earlier Metallica, In Flames, Mercyful Fate, and Testament along the way. Early demos sparked interest whilst the band’s live presence has brought them attention and acclaim, especially through a tour with Six Feet Under last year. Carnal Agony has been called the latest sensation in the Scandinavian metal scene, a big claim not majorly contradicted by their debut album.

Produced by Ronny Milianowicz (ex-Sinergy, Dionysus, and Saint Deamon) and featuring former Helloween/Masterplan drummer Uli Kusch (also Gamma Ray, Holy Moses), the album gets off to a rousing start through War Prayer. Straight away heavy duty riffs and matching rhythms stand toe to toe with ears, setting down a sturdy thrash bred stride. Unpredictability shows itself to be a ripe essence within Preludes & Nocturnes and within just a few moments the first song has expectations wrong footed by slipping into a calmer melodic passage. This enticing invention is quickly surrounded by brewing essences of epic metal and stronger drama clad textures which in turn lead into another muscular onslaught. The gruff raw vocals of David Johagen join the mix now, his rugged, raw tones admittedly taking a little time to acclimatise to against the flowing tide of sound but an increasingly strong ingredient through subsequent listens of the release. Folkish elements tease alongside classic and power metal elements, already the band’s sound defying any precise tagging. The song continues to stampede and potently relax across its engaging length, a tasty appetite raising start to the encounter provided.

carnalagony-cover   The opening vocal lure of next up The Frozen Throne is excellent, mass clean vocals like a band of brothers crooning air and ears and an element not used enough as the voices are spot on. A guttural roar from Johagen brings the air born invitation down to earth, his warlike call the spark for a web of sonic enterprise from guitarists Mathias Wallin and Pär-Olof Persson, buffeted by the thumping skills of Kusch. Hooks and melodies colour the chest thumping proposition too as again a clutch of different flavours align impressively in the track which by its end you will surely be raising a fist and vocal chords with.

Rebel’s Lament is a less forceful proposition next, though still a muscular persuasion. Inventive endeavour from the guitars bound the rally of beats and riffs whilst the dark tones of bass from Roger Andersson add rich shadows which nicely temper the skilled craft flaming from the fingers of Wallin and Persson, especially in a bewitching solo. The track though does not match up to its predecessors but still has ears engrossed and satisfaction bubbling as does the next up Rebellion. A power ballad of sorts, Johagen reveals more of his slightly cleaner and stronger qualities, and if I am being honest it is when he lets those free that he and songs find a new quality. To be fair, it is personal taste more than anything but nudged by the fact that when he does ‘sing’ he often ignites already gripping songs further. The track grows in weight, intensity, and anthemic energy so that by its close you feel like you are astride a stallion going into battle.

As good as those two songs are Carnal Agony overshadows immediately after. It is a beast of a song, a stalking intimidation of stabbing riffs and scarring beats from its first breath and a carnivorous charge of sound and energy from there on. But that is only part of the confrontation, the guitars sparking within the core rampage with slithers and spears of sonic imagination and melodic toxicity, it all ridden by the commanding ‘follow me into battle’ tones of Johagen. The track is outstanding but too damn short at barely over two minutes.

Next up is the heavy/classic metal spiced Night of the Werewolf, a track with gothic overtones. This is one of those moments where personally an opportunity was lost, the earlier mentioned clean vocals feeling like they would have been a better fit whilst musically apart from a fiercely enticing bassline, the band feels like they kept a check on the imagination which had already lit up earlier songs.

Fire Walk with Me has ears and emotions feeling feisty again next, its fluid travel through a landscape of stormy energy and reflective melodies fascinating whilst once more guitars and bass reveals striking exploits bursting with magnetism and individual skill. Backed by voice and drum swipes, the track leaves a breathless listener in its wake, ready for Sleep Waker to please with its spicy heavy metal enterprise and Crystal Lake to turn into a head nodding enthusiast with its contagious and sinister imagination. The first of the two is another which, like the album, is a blend of full captivation and less successful elements or choices, but does get stronger and more enthralling with every listen. Its successor is a glorious stomp of horror bred devilry, everything from hooks to grooves, riffs to rhythms, an emotion inflaming festival of aggression and temptation.

The opening grisly bassline of Secrets Within the Shrine next sets the tone and scene of the triumph to come. Its thick bait is swiftly joined and enhanced by prowling riffs and venom swing grooves whilst beats are more predatory than vicious at this point. There is no escaping a Metallica whiff to the song but equally a scent of Misfits and the grouchy air of Mastodon helps bring alluring flavour of the song, whilst the constantly evolving ingenuity of the guitars takes it all to another level.

The track is excellent leaving Together We’re Lost the task with closing up the album, which it does in potent style. Familiar yet fresh, the track is an infectious and highly enjoyable end and another song which finds Johagen running the range of his delivery and yes he needs to ‘sing’ more because that is where he excels.

Definitely Preludes & Nocturnes is a release to take time with because it just grows with every recruitment of its bold and flavoursome adventure. Bottom-line is that it is a strong and enjoyable introduction to Carnal Agony who carry the promise of even greater exploits ahead.

Preludes & Nocturnes is available now via Sliptrick Records @ http://www.carnalagony.com/?audio=preludes-nocturnes

https://www.facebook.com/CarnalAgony  https://twitter.com/carnalagony

RingMaster 09/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Guilty As Charged – Leap of Faith

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On the evidence of their debut album Leap of Faith, Belgian metallers Guilty As Charged create a brew of thrash fuelled heavy metal which without stretching originality too far provides a rather tasty and invigorating proposition. The band’s new album is a fiery and creatively gripping encounter which surges and rampages with all the right moves to ignite ears and passions as its ferocious enterprise works away on the imagination. A game changer it is not but for riotous pleasure and honest satisfaction not many albums have surpassed Leap of Faith so far this year.

Formed in 2008, Guilty As Charged soon made a good impression with their live shows and the following year through the demo Boxed In. That was followed by the quartet sharing stages with the likes of Pro-Pain, UDO, and Stormrider as well as festival appearances at events such as the Alcatraz Metal Festival in 2011 with Helloween and Death Angel, and Masters @ Rock 2012 with Soulfly & Channel Zero. Recorded last year, Leap of Faith is poised to push the foursome of vocalist/ rhythm guitar Jan De Vuyssere, lead guitarist Dempsey Derous, bassist Hannes De Caluwe, and drummer Matthew Vandenberghe into a wider and more intensive spotlight, one certainly deserved by the storming presence and exciting escapades within the release.

Opening track Preach to the Masses instantly seizes ears and attention with its swipe of melodic coaxing which is soon over run with thumping rhythms alongside keen and feisty riffs. It is an easy bait to find an appetite for, one growing Albumcover Leap Of Faithinto a magnetic stroll of roving beats and a senses entwining sonic enticement. The raw and grizzled vocal roar of De Vuyssere only accentuates the impressive and incendiary start, sparking off an even richer strain of guitar endeavour to snake across the song’s climate. In full muscular flight, the track badgers and intimidates with resourceful enterprise and a great rapacious groove which flirts perfectly with the throaty basslines and the melodic scorching of heavy metal incitement. It is a riveting entrance by the album, not one to leave jaws slack in awe but one to fire up body and emotions for a greedy anticipation for the subsequent tracks.

Those expectations are soon fed a tasty morsel with Last Chance, a track which does not quite match the opening plateau but still sets its own thrilling level with predatory riffs and similarly gaited rhythms and vocals. There is an underlying hostility to the song but it is tempered by the blaze of melodic enticement and skilled sonic suggestiveness. The vocals like the music mix up their textures and attacks to add their own depth and intrigue to the rampant confrontation. Its triumph is soon rivalled by the outstanding title track which from its funky lead in expels waves of sonic intrigue to which the ever impressing vocals add their expressive narrative. The dark hearted tones of the bass and ridges of riffs only add to the rigorously contagious encounter whilst Derous lays a web of ingenious bait which is as insatiable as it is addictive. There is also a punk edge to the track which offers hints of Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard to the flavoursome and impressing mix.

Both the Metallica like I’ll Never and the enthralling Lonewolf bring diversity and potency to the release, the first prowling and gnawing on ears with sinister expression and predatory invention which sparks the imagination into new adventures. Its successor again has that fierce attitude and breath with an air of the likes of Megadeth and Testament to it yet with its exploratory sonic designs equally provides something individual to the band. Both tracks incite the listener to join their potently anthemic calls before the melodic caress of Elysium wraps its elegance around ears. With rising sultry flames of guitar and emotive hues, the instrumental makes for an evocative engagement before making way for the bruising presence of Lack Of Control. With a caustic scent to its rapacious intensity and attitude, the track boils and bellows with passion and antagonistic purpose whilst veining its roar with acidic shards of sonic invention and colour which as much as the song intimidates equally seduces.

The album is closed by Down, maybe the least eventful and striking track on the release but a song bringing Leap Of Faith to a mighty close with its Pantera-esque swinging groove and simply ravenous intensity. As suggested Guilty As Charged do not change the face of heavy and thrash metal with their first album but certainly they have given it a thrilling and explosively enterprising new proposition and who cannot be up for that?

The self-released Leap of Faith is available now.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Guilty-As-Charged/73401643876

8.5/10

RingMaster 05/08/2014

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Screaming Finalities: an interview with Jimmy Lundqvist of Entrails

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From a ‘false start’ in the early nineties Swedish death metallers Entrails was resurrected by founder and guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist fourteen years later and since then has made an impressive mark with its old school seeded sounds and releases such as second album The Tomb Awaits. New album Raging Death builds on the might of its predecessor whilst twisting the existing malevolence into new tortuous and compelling exploits. Seizing on the chance to find out more with Jimmy we asked about the history of Entrails, the album, and moving through early setbacks.

Hi Jimmy and welcome to the site, many thanks for taking time to talk with us.

You have just released your new album Raging Death, how are feelings in the Entrails camp right now and how have initial responses impacted on you?

Hi

We are doing just fine here… It all feels great and we are satisfied with everything so far.

Do you get nervous before releasing an album or is it all excitement?

A little bit of both I would say…

Though this time all excitement was gone a few weeks before the release when there was downloading links everywhere on the internet. That ruined all the fun with the release and every hour and minute we had to use in making this album. I know it’s the modern era now and every band have this problem but it’s a fucking shame that they don’t have any tools to stop this illegal shit.

Before we talk more intently about the album can be look at the history of the band for those new to you. Entrails formed in 1991, what was the spark and inspirations behind the birth of the band?

Well. The boom of the DM bands that came around in the early 90´s and the down tuned guitars and with those riffs and atmospheres… That was Christmas to me… I was completely sold in that style, and there was no doubt in what we were going to play.

This period of the band did not work out and was only around as a working project for around three years, what were the problems which brought the band to a close at that point?

Many things. Crappy recordings, lack of interests, money, contacts, living on the countryside, you name it… Everything was going against Entrails sort of. If we only had managed to make a proper demo I think things would be different… though the dudes in the band back then would have quit anyway as they didn’t have the passion for it as I had. And living so far away from the musicians there was no other options than put it into sleep

Did the frustrations at the time bring lessons and help shape not only the second coming of the band years later but your endeavours between the two periods of Entrails?

Hard to answer as I wasn’t thinking in that direction. But I was more grown up in the second coming and had more focus on the music and a goal to have my demos recorded as they should be.

In that ‘hiatus’ for the band what were you up to musically?

Well… I listened a lot to my influences and tried to follow the music that was made after I quit playing myself. But I didn’t like the new stuff and where the DM was heading so I stopped following that and become more and more stocked to the old stuff. Of course there were new bands coming and they got my support but still the modern shit was not my cup of tea!

2008 saw Entrails resurrected, what was the trigger to this?

Nostalgia and I wanted to record my old music properly. That was the main reasons.

Was it an easy decision to try again or was there some reticence at first about bringing the band back?entrails 2

Not really…It was pretty easy, but I didn’t think of having the band in full scale, only to release the songs as demos or whatever. But when label and organizers wanted us for shows I had to make it complete. And I haven’t regretted a single second about that.

Tell us about the years between steeping back into Entrails and the release of the excellent The Tomb Awaits of 2011, where we first came across you actually.

To make it short; I made those 2 demos in 2009 “Reborn” and “Human Decay” and signed to the label FDA Rekotz winter 2009/2010, then we made the first full length “Tales from the Morgue that spring and we had that one out in the summer 2010, then after that we recruited Adde for the permanent drummer and off we went on a small tour in Germany in November. Then we dealt with labels the whole winter but finally FDA got our signature once again and the work with “Tomb Awaits” could begin.

How have your sound and ideas changed for you since bringing back and reworking tracks for your demo Reborn and the songs seizing the senses on Raging Death?

The sound on the demos was mixed by me…and then I was a complete amateur in doing such so the sound became very thin and didn’t have that punch as I wanted. And after that and when the real albums was going to be made things had to be changed and I contacted Dan Swano at Unisound to do the mixings and from that day he is the guy who does what we want in the sound.

Are there any seeds from your earlier period of songwriting within the new album like previous releases?

Yeah. There are some parts here and there… for an example, ‘Bloodhammer’ is actually the first DM song I made back then. But now it’s a bit longer and have some more stuff added, and also a new title.

As the new album shows you still source your inspiration from the early nineties seeds of Swedish death metal, are you open to other influences though within your creative sparks for songs or intently stay within its influence preferring to expand its particular barriers rather than look into new areas?

Well. Yeah. I have influences from all kinds of stuff… but mostly from the era between 1983-1995. Bands as Helloween, Accept, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Metallica and you name it. The list can be long… it wasn’t´ until 1990 and when I heard DM for the first time I was going on that path

How does the songwriting work within the band now with its stable line-up and creative members?

I make the music into a basic demo and when that´s done the rest add their ideas and changes and from that we rehearse the song into the finish mode. And if lyrics are missing they will be added.

Was the recording of Raging Death approached differently or an experience different to that of Tales From The Morgue and The Tomb Awaits?

Hmm…no… we almost did exactly the same in the recording progress…used a local studio for the drums and then my own studio for the rest and then Dan Swano did the mix/mastering so it was almost the same. Don’t change a winning concept someone told me!

406773_10151479179820238_566315600_nIs there an aspect or moment of Raging Death which gives you particular glow or tingle inside?

Yeah. There are some parts on each song that makes me in a better mood than others but´s only happens in my head. Like perfect changeovers or riffs that really bring your neck swing.

The album feels like it has a stronger snarl and impact in its production than previous releases. Would you agree and if so was it a determined intent or just naturally came about?

That’s cool if you think so… and mostly the album came out naturally so I didn’t have any spectacular or driven goals in it. Many things happens when I sit and record stuff… ideas pops up and I try ‘em out and if they sound good I use it…otherwise I don’t.

I always imagine that when recording songs in the studio ideas are spawned and ignited as a by-product by the process to be logged away for future use. Is this generally the case and if so any gems this time around which might be bred into your next confrontation?

There was more than 10 songs made from the beginning to this third opus but we chose 10 out of them so if we use the rest or if they will be used in another project only future can tell…

This is your first album with Metal Blade Records, has this move given the album and its creation any particular strength or is it really now after release you will find the biggest impact being with the great label?

We worked with the album as we have used to do on the previous ones and Metal Blade didn’t have any specific words in how it should be, only do a great album and do it the Swedish way they said…so I guess the impact will be shown more after the release.

What comes next for Entrails?

In writing at the moment we have done one festival in Germany called Extremefest and after that we will have some vacation and I will sit down and make some new songs and also work with another project along with some friends… yeah it sounds confusing as others would have been on tour promoting their music by now.  But we can’t work in planning tours as the others have so many side projects in the band so we have to await offers and then work from that, but we are having some talks to eventually bring us on a small tour. But´s not confirmed yet.

Again thank you for chatting with us, any last thoughts or words you would like to share?

Well… at: www.facebook.com/entrails666  you can have 100% check on us as it’s there we update and confirm everything. Check it out…

And lastly you were inspired by the likes of Entombed, Dismember, Grave etc. but any bands around now which give you food for thought?

Hmmm…I keep my veins working by listening to the old stuff from 83-95 mostly but if I want to have my veins ice cold I would be listen to technical DM or metalcore or whatever the style is that has no passion and atmosphere to get my veins to work.

Read the review of Raging Death @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/entrails-raging-death/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 08/06/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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ArcticFlame: Shake The Earth

After his impressive debut solo album Death In The Family earlier in the year, songwriter/drummer Mike Paradine returns with his ‘day job’ ArcticFlame and its unleashing of storming new album Shake The Earth. The album is the fourth full length release from the band and is a deeply impressive and invigorating explosion of classic and power metal brought with a distinct and rich imagination.

It has to be said such was the great pleasure brought by The Mike Paradine Group and their aforementioned album, which found acclaim and strong media response including regularly play on the likes of The Bone Orchard podcast from The Reputation Radio Show, that there was a heightened anticipation for the next release from the New Jersey quintet which Paradine founded in 2001. The album feeds those expectations and more with ten majestic slices of metal to captivate and fire up any rock and metal heart. Wonderfully eclectic yet soaked in the classic essences of metal throughout it is a release which concretes the reputation of ArcticFlame as one of the most accomplished and essential bands around.

From those early times when Paradine, upon leaving previous band Balistik Kick, set about forming a band influenced by the traditional metal of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motorhead, ArcticFlame has been on a constant rise. From their first ever gig supporting Thin Lizzy, shared stages with bands such as Motorhead, Overkill, Helloween, WASP, and their well received EP of 2005 through their debut album Primeval Aggressor of 2006 and its successor Declaration of 2008, the band has risen higher and grown stronger stage by stage. Unexpected changes in 2010 could not make an obstacle for the band for long as the new line-up of Paradine, new vocalist Michael Clayton Moore, guitarist Sebastian Garcia, and returning original bassist Jeff Scott, emerged stronger and more determined. 2011 saw Alex Schuster join their ranks as second guitarist and the release of third album Guardian At The Gate which marked the band as one of the most powerful and enthralling melodic metal bands around.

Shake The Earth not only builds on what came before but throws the band up with the giants of the genre, their incendiary sounds and sharp imagination a sonic explosion of skill and passion. The album is a brew of multiple flavours which sets it apart from similar styled releases. Their melodic prowess again runs as a controlled riot throughout whilst the generated energies are as rampant and hungry as any offering anywhere. These strengths are fused with an array of grooves and disharmonies compound the full ignition of the passions, their discordant breath an inspired counter to the scorching and inventive melodies which burn from within every song.

The opener Man Made Man instantly piques interest with its electrified strokes across the ear, their sparks slowly blistering the air whilst heralding the following predatory stomp of badgering riffs and heavily jabbing rhythms. The vocals of Clayton Moore as expected are immense proving he is one of the best metal vocalists around and immersed in the surging guitars sounds, a wonderfully snarling bass from Scott, plus the unmissable power and mighty punches from Paradine, it all combines to show the band is pushing new heights. It is a thunderous start with a song which will rile the passions for fans across the years.

Two Sides Of The Bullet and Last Chance continue the high octane adrenaline riling enjoyment. The first is a pulse racing bruise of a track which fires up any passions still only simmering from the opener whilst the second simply enflames the soul with its abrasive intensity and incisive melodic dazzle. Both offer rock n roll at its best, neither arguably trying to break down boundaries but simply conjuring the freshest most majestic sounds from existing palettes.

The punk rawness of Call In The Priest as it rampages like a bull increases the heart rate whilst songs like Rider Of The Headless Horseman and the excellent Run To Beat The Devil only leave raptures with their melodic charms and insatiable hearts. The last of these three especially shows how the band, their craft and songwriting, has reached yet another level which can only reward fans and music alike.

The album ends with a cover of the Uriah Heep song Rain and the power ballad Seasons In The Cemetery (Gardens Of Stone), the first a vocal and piano treat passing to the second and its orchestral kiss upon the ear brought with a power metal embrace. If there is only one minor quibble about Shake The Earth it is that as it progresses the earlier charging energy dissipates, though the quality remains at the same impressive height, making it a little top heavy in adrenaline. Just a minor complaint and the placing of tracks as they are do allow one to recover the loss of breath which results from the first three quarters of the album.

Shake The Earth is outstanding and easily one of the best melodic metal albums this year, and ArcticFlame… well they simply make the best kind of metal to leave one energised and fulfilled.

http://www.arcticflamemetal.com

RingMaster 11/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Interview with Oleg Aryutkin of Desert

Through meeting a new friend in Kostya Aronberg of Globmetal Promotions we have been introduced to some real treats and pleasures in the shape of bands and music from around the globe. One of the biggest enjoyments came in the debut album Star Of Delusive Hopes from Israeli metal band Desert. The album was not particularly demanding or challenging but was one of the best examples of honest and irresistible impressive metal. Given the chance to find out more about the band we took no time in bombarding keyboardist Oleg Aryutkin with questions.

Hello and thank you for talking with us at The Ringmaster Review

Please introduce the band.

Hi, and thanks for the opportunity.

We are Desert, a band of six guys who just enjoy playing a decent metal song!

The music we play is a blend of good old heavy metal and something we hope is unique.

With Desert you get epic feel for the lyrics and sing-along choruses from power metal Stratovarius, Dragonforce,, but also punchy beats and riffs from heavy metal, and crapload of keyboards to give it a more theatrical vibe.

How and when did Desert begin?

Sure. Let’s see… Our lead guitarist, Max, started a band back when he was in the military service, just to play some cover tunes he enjoyed. It was Stratovarius, Dragonforce, stuff like that, fast melodic power metal. People joined, people left. Around 2004 stuff got more organized, Max played a gig or two, I’m sure you know these really obscure gigs in basements with soundmen selling pot at the entrance 🙂

Is there any relevance to the band name?

Heh, you be the judge of that. Back in 2004 we all used to literally live in a desert, with camels and what not. So when it came to choosing a name, the guitarist simply looked out a window and went “oh well..”

Just like that.

How has the band evolved over its decade of existence?

It sure did. First, we all learned to play our instruments a bit better. We also managed to find our voice, and not simply copy the music of famous power metal bands like we used to.

Max used to be the sole songwriter, over the years he found the way to come up with these weird riffs I didn’t hear before.

After some time I too started writing, and my approach is completely different.

You have had a few line-up changes during your time as a band too, have these had major impacts on the way your sound has grown?

hmm. we did go through few drummers and bass players. I guess every time it just sounded better and better!

A big upgrade was when we invited a second guitarist, about two years ago, right before the album release, it really gave our live sound more punch, and more aggressive direction to the songs.

For those new to the band how would you describe your sound?

hh, like I said, simple sing-along choruses, low baritone vocals, phat guitars, and well, it’s heavy on keyboards 🙂

We like to keep it technically simple, so no weird breakdowns, but instead we go for almost theatrical vibe, each song is a story.

You bring many elements to your heavy metal sound, what are your major influences that have inspired this?

Talking about our rock ‘n’roll heroes, we grew up listening to Grave Digger, Freedom Call, Helloween, Ozzy, stuff like that.

I look for influences. I really try to absorb everything I hear, be it the new Behemoth CD or a dubstep track I heard on Youtube.

I guess closest to my heart is 80’s music, both metal and popular.

But in the end it all goes through a filter, so no, we’re not black metal meets A-ha 🙂

Star Of Delusive Hopes is your debut album released via Greek label Sleaszy Rider. How long was it in the creating?

Wow, a long time. It was a first major work, we worked the hell out of each tune.

The lyrics went through numerous revisions, the solos were practiced and thought through.

I’d say it took some 3 years to complete the writing. Then, a month of pre-productions, and three weeks in the excellent Nick Savio’s studio.

The album was recorded with Nick Savio (White Skull, Cyber Cross) who you just mentioned, and subsequently mastered by Andy LaRocque, the -nominated guitarist of King Diamond, both doing a great job with your excellent songs. How did you get them on board?

I think we found Nick on-line, and we really liked his work as a producer, so we went for it. Was a right decision, Nick really knows his stuff. And a great guy, too! Spent three weeks in his studio in Vicenza, Italy, so cool!

hm, Andy was an on-line acquaintance, too. He mixed by himself, we did not want to humiliate ourselves by suggesting stupid ideas. We just trusted him to do what he does! It’s funny how he sent us a first mp3 file, going “here guys, it’s like a pre-pre-pre-beta version, suggest something”, and we were like “yeah, don’t touch anything, it sounds golden!”

Can you tell us about the theme and stories that storyboard the songs within Star Of Delusive Hopes?

It’s kinda concept album, or maybe an idea album. All the songs share the same direction. It’s about the struggle for freedom. Most of the songs deal with and tell stories of historic personalities and events, like the title track, which is about the French revolution and the fate of Napoleon, or Victim of the Light, which is about Joan of Arc. We are really into history, and try to take our view on events and why we see them important.

Some songs are more ‘abstract’, like Whispers  – it’s about an inner struggle within a person, I created the spoken intro to help understand the song. And there’s even a pirate song, Letter of Marque, which was kinda meant as light-weight, lyrics-wise, but came out pretty ‘honest’, and I’m really proud of it.

It’s not called Star of Delusive Hopes for nothing. The stories told are all with a touch of bitterness, we tell about betrayal, delusion, failure, but also hope – the whole deal. We try to describe real life, not a fairy tale.

The ideas and song inspirations are quite intense but your music also carries a surprisingly light and exuberant feel within its powerful sound. Was this a determined aspect or something that simply emerged whilst writing the album?

Hmm, never thought of this. I guess it’s just something we did, the way we write. I like a punchy riff, and a good uplifting chorus!

But we always pay attention to unity of music and lyrics, they should deliver the same message, fortify each other! There are tracks like Letter of Marque, with epic feel and a cheerful vibe, but there are also tracks like Whispers, which is darker, since its lyrics are nothing happy…

There is a sense of theatre to your music too would that be fair to say?

I’m really glad you’re mentioning it. There is, I think… Not as theatrical as some progressive or gothic bands, who create almost full-scale theatre plays, like Silentium.

We weren’t set to create a theater music project. It just came out that way. I realized that our songs have a lot of this after Whispers was written. It actually has spoken parts, monologues of sorts, and these weird sound effects that I created, to increase the sense of madness going on.

One track one the album which also became a single was Lament for Soldier’s Glory, It also featured a guest performance from Joakim Broden of Sabaton. How did that come about?

We met Joakim back in 2008 I think when we opened for Sabaton in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Joakim and the guys turned out to be a great bunch, full of life and super-friendly. So we chatted, drank some beers, but no business talk at all.

Some months later, we were working on the album, and this particular song demanded a male duet, at least in my head. So we started thinking who’d be right for the part. The song being about the WWII, Joakim’s name came out first. I was like, ‘yeah, right’. This guy never collaborated with anyone before, and actually refused some serious offers. But we gave it a shot, asked him. And he agreed to take part!

The track came out just perfect in my opinion. Joakim’s vocals fit the tune like a glove, it’s like we wrote it for him. Perfect.

Since then we’ve met quite a lot, Joakim flew in for our album release party, and later performed with us live in Israel, Sweden, and Cyprus. I hope its right to say we’re good friends now.

Desert is renowned for its live shows with you having shared stages with the likes of like Sabaton, Draconian, Nightmare, and Tim “Ripper” Owens. Live shows are a very important aspect of the band for you?

Heh, you forgot Helloween and Stratovarius 🙂  I loved these particular shows! Oh, and Van Canto, they kill!

But let’s get back to us, he-he.

The most important. Desert is all about live shows. We put a lot of effort into rehearsing, thinking through the set, preparing all kinds of interactive experiences with the audience.

And we sure go crazy on stage. We run and we jump, and scream, like there’s no tomorrow!

The moment when I finally got my hands on a keytar (google it!) was a game changing one for me. Finally I can jump off the amp stacks, run into the audience, climb the lights, whatever, while still playing! I just LOVE playing live shows.

Do you see live performances and shows have in a time where people do not seem to be buying music now as more important than making recordings?

As I said, I value live music a lot, and try to attend as many live shows as possible.

But making records is still necessary, you gotta document your creations, and people enjoy the live performance more if they already heard the song, and read the lyrics.

How do you find things as a metal band in Israel, is there a strong scene for you  and others there?

It’s tough, like everywhere else.

In Israel metal is not mainstream, it’s in the underground. But the scene, while not that big, is really strong in the sense of connection between people – bands, fans, writers, photographers, journalists. People are warm, and there are some great bands, too!

We have plenty of shows here, and many bands from all over the world come visit, and they are always amazed by how people here make them welcome!

How effectively has the internet taken you beyond your homeland borders into the wider world?

We have great friends all over the world we wouldn’t have a chance to meet if not for the web.

We have great friends and fans in countries like Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Mexico, Canada – people write us and buy records.

So yeah, internet is super. Still, there’s no substitute for a good live show! Hold on, we’ll get to play everywhere eventually, and meet all these great people in person!

What has the rest of 2012 got in store for you or rather you for it?

hhh, I like the play of words. Well, we kinda took few months off to finish the next album, that’s what we’re after now – releasing a great album. I hope it’ll be ready by the end of the year.

Still playing some live shows, because its great fun and we don’t wanna get rusty!

Do you set yourselves any targets or aims during a year or just let things evolve?

We do set goals. Otherwise things just don’t move. When recording or rehearsing there’s a real schedule, a plan. We take music-making real serious.

Writing, on the other hand, is out of control. We can’t say, ‘ok, we’ll write two songs by next Friday’. Doesn’t work like that, unfortunately.

Again thank you for talking with us.

Would you like to leave with any last words for your fans old and new?

Thanks for the chance to chat about the band!

We are Desert, we love what we do, we believe in what we do, and we’ll make your head go Bang!

Stay true, stay metal, and go see a good live band next chance you get!

Read the Review of  Star Of Delusive Hopes https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/desert-star-of-delusive-hopes/Star Of Delusive Hopes

The Ringmaster Review 31/05/2012

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