Kings Will Fall – Thrash Force.One

In a year of some particularly potent thrash bred onslaughts, the debut album from Kings Will Fall definitely stands out. It may have missed your attention as ours until now, being released earlier this year, but more than deserves devouring attention. Dealing ‘Thrash ‘n Death’ from the Alps since their emergence in 2013, the Italian quartet have hit the sweet spot with Thrash Force.One, a senses buffeting, appetite arousing onslaught which fuses old school thrash with death metal bred flavourings and individual ferocity.

Hailing from Sarntal in South Tyrol, Kings Will Fall consists of vocalist Fabian Jung, guitarist Rene Thaler, bassist Daniel Vanzo, and drummer Lukas Gross. 2015 saw the release of demo EP, Death Comes Early, a well-received appetiser for the attention grabbing release of Thrash Force.One. As its title suggests, the album is an unbridled rush on the senses, a forceful tempest of thrash metal driven in top gear from the first throes of Toxic War. This second track bursts forth from the atmospheric setting of opener In Dead & Mud & Misery, a sample laced war zone setting up the climate of things to come. Initially its successor stalks the listener, prowling with irritable intent before opening its jaws to unleash its storm. With the eager vocals of Jung surfing the tide of riffs, the track infests ears and imagination with ease, the inspirations of bands like Testament and Exodus proudly spicing the rush. Embracing fiery enterprise from Thaler too, the track simply grips body and pleasure.

Next up Shots for Glory swiftly stamps its own heavy authority on ears, sizing up its victim as bass and drums probe. It holds its restraint in place for a while as vocals and riffs harry the senses, relinquishing it a touch as new hunger hits grooves and rhythmic predation but never giving a free hand to aggression though everything about the song bites hard and relentlessly. Its infectious animosity is subsequently twisted with the band’s inventive imagination, the track an unpredictable and captivating fury before Burn All Fuel begins its determined trespass with nagging riffs and barbarous rhythms. Subsequently the track becomes a ravaging scourge with Jung’s caustic scowls magnetically backed by death bred growls, a masterful blend in the equally captivating and inhospitable contagion of sound. Vanzo’s bass is bestial, Gross swings delivered with bone splintering power and with the dexterous exploits of Thaler it all contributes to one glorious thrash roar.

Endless Pain quickly infests its riffs sculpted entrance with imagination and unpredictable revelry, the thrash bred heart of the song littered with Kings Will Fall nurtured character but never wandering from its rabid genre instincts while Damage Crown is two minutes of bullish, almost punk scented maniacal metal and quite superb. It borders on schizophrenic as it sets a new pinnacle in the lofty heights of the album, at times stomping around with Anthrax meets Biohazard like bedlam to steal the passions and trample their lustful submission under further devilment.

As mighty as both songs are, Buster soon grabs best track honours with its predatory yet addictively flirtatious savagery. Kings Will Fall again goes for the jugular but with a flair and flourish which exhilarates as they show further evidence of their own imagination and creative boldness. It’s maelstrom of grooves and riffs are pure addiction, its rhythmic assault welcomingly vicious and combined pure manna for the thrash hungry heart.

The sultry twang bringing Gängster 1948 into view is a deceptive lure but a scent of the rock ‘n’ roll lining the metallic animosity of the track.  As it ventures deeper into its soul and heavy rock instincts, song and band get more adventurous and tempting, opening up a whole new aspect to their thrash personality. There are definite essences of Motörhead within the track and there is no surprise when the album closes with a fine cover of the band’s We Are Motörhead which has limbs and pleasure bouncing with raw energy.

It is a riotous end to an album which commands a swift return time and time again. Certainly Thrash Force.One is not the most unique proposition at times yet every moment has a personality all Kings Will Fall which is as fresh and adventurous as anything out there. As we said 2017 has been a great year for thrash bred exploits, Thrash Force.One one big reason why.

Thrash Force.One is out now @ https://kingswillfall.bandcamp.com/album/thrash-force-one

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Pete RingMaster 17/10/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Virtual Symmetry – X-Gate

The new EP from Italian progressive metallers Virtual Symmetry, X-Gate is quite simply a theatre of sound, craft, and creative storytelling which keeps ears and imagination greedily engaged from start to finish. Simplicity though is not a feature of the release with every song a kaleidoscope of flavours and styles, each encounter a lure into surreal realms and adventures woven with individual and united craft which alone grabs attention.

Founded by guitarist/ multi-instrumentalist Valerio Æsir Villa, Lugano hailing Virtual Symmetry potently build on the creative landscape and progression of their well-received debut album Message from Eternity of 2016 with X-Gate, creating a web of enterprise and imagination which ensures fascination is an equally lively reaction. There are moments when things settle into a calm temptation, a low key seduction and other times when the EP ignites a real zeal for its dramatic body of sound and invention but always attention is firmly hooked.

X-Gate opens up its exploration of man and its evolutionary possibility, which starts with its artwork, with Eyes of Salvation. Instantly guitars coax the listener with a fiery glaze to their lures before a portentous calm is accompanied by poetic strains of piano from Mark Bravi. Swiftly his additional keys flame up as the rest of the band unites their essences in a rising tide of sound and suggestion. Vocalist Marco Pastorino walks alongside the piano in another mellow passage, his potent voice matched by others within the outfit, before that fire erupts once again with the rhythmic rapacity of bassist Alessandro Poppale and drummer Davide Perpignano driving things. From its first breath, the track is a web of enterprise and thought, a myriad of textures and layers explored better over subsequent listens though its infection loaded chorus is a swift recruitment of ears and involvement. Across its seven plus minutes, the song continues to tease and tempt whilst weaving a fluid collage of styles and theatrical imagination.

It is a great start which has ears and appetite hooked for that to follow starting with the epic flight of Alchymera. For almost a quarter of an hour, the song is a magnet for the senses and thoughts; its celestial and emotional journey especially blessed with keys carrying a definite  Bill Nelson vibe whilst the guitars give Steve Vai like scents to their endeavour. An eighties new wave/synth pop essence also simmers within the track, seductively caressing its more irritable traits while Villa alone brings an emotional drama and moodiness to the track which is absorbed and emulated in the atmospheric climate spreading across the mercurially alluring and skilfully woven landscape.

Elevate completes the release, the track notable alone for the union of Pastorino with the radiant voice of Diane Lee from Swiss melodic progressive metallers Lost Journey. The pair is surrounded by a serenade of sound with volatility in its nature as potent as the emotional drama and invention loaded imagination baring their qualities. The song almost swarms the senses with its charms and fiery heart, breaking into more tempestuous moments throughout to only increase its pull.

It is fair to say that though its strong first showing, X-Gate simply escalates in depth and persuasion over time. Virtual Symmetry is a richly intriguing and tempting proposition from the outskirts of the progressive metal landscape but a prospect increasingly coming to the fore with each offering they make and though the EP might not end up on the year’s best lists come the New Year, but could for many, as one of the most enjoyably fascinating propositions X-Gate is right up there.

The X-Gate EP is out now.

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Pete RingMaster 25/07/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sandness – Higher & Higher

We cannot say that seventies/eighties metal and hard rock are flavours which light our fires too often but it is fair to say that Higher & Higher, the new album from Italian outfit Sandness ticked many boxes of enjoyment whilst embracing exactly those styles. It is a release which initially struggled to spark the imagination but song by song, listen by listen, grew to be a thoroughly engaging and pleasurable affair; not without flaws but inciting an appetite to hear more from and follow the band as they realise the open potential within the release ahead.

Hailing from Rovereto in southern Trento, Sandness started out in 2008; formed by teenage friends, bassist/vocalist Mark Denkley and drummer/vocalist Metyou ToMeatyou. Inspired by the likes of Mötley Crüe, Crashdiet, Poison, Hanoi Rocks, W.A.S.P., The Ramones, Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and the likes, the band soon honed its eighties toned sound. A few line-up changes ensued before the current line-up was secured with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Robby Luckets in 2009. Subsequent years has seen the trio support the likes of Adam Bomb, L.A. Guns, and Tygers Of Pan Tang, play across their homeland as well as undertake several European tours and take the stage at the renowned Glam Fest in France. Two demos, Return To Decadence in 2010 and especially Life Without Control the following year, lured strong attention though it was debut album Like An Addiction in 2013 which really sparked a more global awareness of their sound. Now Higher & Higher, released as its predecessor by Sleaszy Rider Records, is stoking up a new wave of fans and though we might not be leading the surge, reasons are readily apparent as to why its fresh success in persuasion .

The album opens with You Gotta Lose, a track which failed to tempt the first time and still labours trying to convince. Opening with a blast of group vocals and predictable eighties riffery, the song soon reveals a snarl which grabs attention but one as quickly tempered by the again familiar harmonic wash of voices.  It is hard to pin down exactly what is lacking within the track other than it just does not appeal to personal tastes but it is a decent start swiftly left sounding pale as the album takes off starting with next up Street Animals. The second song similarly offers a recognisable melodic welcome but is soon spinning its own web of hooks and twists; some unique some familiar but a great fusion creating flavoursome rock ‘n’ roll. Without reading the influences on Sandness, they are easy to guess from this song alone and as suggested eagerly employed by the band in their blossoming character of sound.

The individual prowess of each member is just as open in the track and equally next up Hollywood. Prowling ears initially, it soon whips out some Billy Idol spiced hooks and other moments which are vaguely System Of A Down like in nature. As the album, it is a song which grows and seduces more and more with every listen, its increasingly imaginative nature richly engaging before the melodic croon of Promises in turn captivates. With an increasing fire in its belly inciting a great bass grumble, the song quickly establishes itself as a major highlight of the release, musically and vocally hitting a high.

Through the vocally unstable but ultimately enjoyable Sunny Again and the boisterous hard rock of One Life there is little not too like even if neither can live up to their predecessor while the short poetic instrumental of Light In The Dark captivates before Heat lives up to its name with some quite irresistible fiery grooves against another great grouchy mix of bass and drums, the former the persistent provider of potent bait across the whole of Higher & Higher. With its blues scented flames, the song is another peak in the album as too the power pop rock romp of its successor Perfect Machine. There are no major surprises but a stream of hooks and flirtatious tempting which has body and voice quickly involved and enjoying every second.

The album is at its best by this point, Monster Inside Me backing up the previous two with its own tenacious glam/heavy metal stomp and mix of imaginative features and matched in potency by the groove woven Play With Fire, its prime lures striking as the band revels in its eighties inspirations once again.

Closing with the hearty and increasingly volatile balladry of Will You Ever, a song like the opener it was hard to connect with personally, Higher & Higher provides an increasingly compelling proposition easy to suggest fans of eighties metal and rock especially take a close look at. Sandness is never going to be the first thought when choosing the soundtrack for our day but with Higher & Higher they are going to be considered more than many others bands, for others they will be a long term involvement.

Higher & Higher is available now through Sleaszy Rider Records @ http://www.sandnessofficial.com/shop/ and other online stores.

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Pete RingMaster 19/04/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Law 18 – Self Titled

Law18_RingMasterReview

There is little we can tell you about Italians Law 18 beyond that they come from Milan, were formed in 2011, and are a quintet playing “hardcore groove /crossover stoner”. Actually there is one more thing, and that is that they recently released their self-titled debut album and it is one slab of deranged rock ‘n’ roll that we for one have become increasingly fond of.

That description of their sound is lifted from the band’s Facebook page and only tells part of the story, a small clue to the off-kilter fusion of styles the band weave into their compelling creative revelry. Across the album’s nine tracks, you will find everything from groove and nu metal to thrash and hardcore, stoner and punk through to funk and plenty of other bold strains of sound.  Its songs are raw and inventive, ranging from psychotic and quarrelsome to eccentric and tenacious, very often all at the same time, and for the main compelling fun.

The album opens with Dwarfs & Cowboys and an immediate mesh of rich grooves and punkish vocals led by Alessandro ‘Ale’ Mura. Bold rhythms align with Lorenzo ‘Pero’ Perin’s riffs to add thick aggression whilst lead guitarist Davide C springs sonic tendrils into the tempest, a mix which bullies and entices like a mix of Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies as the track develops. It is a relatively straight forward offering but prone to contagious thrash bred surges of intensity amidst sonic drama, each becoming more volatile and extreme with every passing second.

The following You Blind is similarly sculpted but with a swifter eagerness to show its instincts in pushing its boundaries and infusing broader textures of sound and flavours. Hardcore and metallic voracity unite as the initially band prowls before launching a torrent of rapacious grooves and rhythmic agitation upon the senses. It subsequently eclipses its strong predecessor before being outshone itself by Hollow Earth Society. From the initial grazing of guitar and the predacious beats of drummer Luca Ferrario, the song has ears and attention gripped, more so when it slips into an unpredictable web of warped sounds and imagination from its early bout of muscular rock ‘n’ roll. The new and riveting enterprise uncaged is unmistakably System Of A Down inspired and quite irresistible, even with its familiarity to the Californian band, as Law 18 infuse their peculiar strains of heavy and anthemic textures.

art_RingMasterReview The dramatic invention continues with Dominus Caeli, a track opening with a flirtatiously seductive bassline from Lorenzo ‘Tarzan’ Colucci which then incites further jazz/funk exploits from rhythms and guitar. Like an abrasive fusion of Toumaï and Trepalium, the track grumbles and rumbles with punk lined irritability whilst creating an unstoppable and virulent contagion of grooves and raucous aggression. Further building to a hungry prowl courted by unhinged vocal teasing, the song is a thrilling slice of rabid, in sound and invention, metal fired rock ‘n’ roll.

The bass of Colucci again provides a great start to the next track; its heavy pulsing growl the lure into Dirty of Blood and spark for another hellacious assault of hardcore fuelled raging before Leather’s Wreck shares its own expectations foiling landscape of creative bedlam. Both tracks in their contrasting lengths show more of the band’s striking imagination; the brief fury of the first slipping into a mischievous discord hued swagger for a great psyche twisting moment whilst the second provides a noise rock shaped avant-garde adventure. As raw and imposing as it is sonically and melodically seductive, the harmonica skills of Mura excelling with its bluesy expression against the similarly hued guitar resourcefulness of Davide C, the track offers seven minutes plus of ear pleasing and imagination stirring incitement.

An addictive swing and stroll spines the anthemic persuasion of the following Mirror Reflections; its boisterous and pushy antagonism an uncompromising brawl of forceful punk ‘n’ roll. In time, it too evolves as rhythms spring into a demandingly infectious shuffle within post punk like scenery before returning to its tempestuous and bruising rampage of punk metal loaded rock ‘n’ roll.

Rage Against Me roars with defiance from every blues rock pore next as intrigue surrounds each turn in its bracing funk ‘n’ punk stomp. Driven by a grouchy stamping of its rhythmic feet and mass vocal irritability, there is no escaping its instinctive catchiness and highly persuasive ire or from the avalanche of riffs and crushing rhythms which shape closing track 2010. Unleashing a host of heavily spiced grooves, barbarous hooks, and a contagious energy which has bodies as involved as ears and imagination by the parade of vocal provocation across the band, the track is a maze of sonic invention.

It is a great close to an album which grabs attention from the off but really blossoms as a whole and excels in its individual elements with each subsequent venture into its frenzied rebellious world. Law 18 has sculpted something very worthy chunk of anyone’s time but especially for those with a taste for bold yet organic blurring of genre walls but still simply want unbridled rock ‘n’ roll.

Some bands and releases just seem to be on the same wavelength as personal creative adventure;

The Law 18 album is out now @ https://law18.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Law18band/

Pete RingMaster 21/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Filth In My Garage – Songs From The Lowest Floor

FIMG_RingMasterReview

Dripping melancholic animosity as physical and emotional dissonance invades ears and the imagination at every turn, Songs From The Lowest Floor makes a potent excuse for keeping creators, Filth In My Garage under close attention. The band’s debut album is an invasive slice of post hardcore driven incitement which is going to be hard to ignore, no matter to what degree its bracing and abrasive enterprise persuades individual tastes. With the unpredictability of noise and punk rock adding to its increasingly fascinating character, Songs From The Lowest Floor is certainly a striking ravishment, with a further potent line in hooks and daring inventiveness sure to grab plenty of eager appetites.

Filth In My Garage was formed in 2007, founded by guitarist Matteo, vocalist Stefano, and drummer Luca. As their sound grew and was honed, the band found it developing a post hardcore heart which went to subsequently flavour a trio of EPs, all catching local support which itself expanded with each encounter. Now with drummer Mauro, guitarist Jack, and bassist Simone alongside Matteo and Stefano, the Bergamo quintet looks ready to lure bigger spotlights their way with Songs From The Lowest Floor.

Released via Argonauta Records, the album opens up with Stampede and immediately ears feel like they are facing a gunslinger within a sultry western set sky. The instrumental slowly rises to its full height as sonic tendrils offer a smouldering tempting against portentous shadows which court the emotionally thick character of the opening. A spark for ears and imagination, the track slips seamlessly into the bruising rock ‘n’ roll of Black and Blue. It is a quickly persuasive incitement cantering along with an infectious gait and energy as Stefano’s hardcore seeded squalls uncage lyrical and emotional ire. As the song expands its sonic volatility, a veining of expressive melodies emerges to blend with a harmonic caress of vocals. It is a recurring moment in the tempest of the track, never hanging round but seeming to spark new adventure to the maelstrom of intensity around it.

FIMG_COVER_RingMasterReviewDevil’s Shape is as antagonistic and predacious at its start as the last was by its close, though it quickly shows, even if at times with subtlety, imaginative twists and turns within the tide of riffs and sonic discord. Rhythmically the track is an anthemic protagonist, stirring up eager attention even as things slow a touch as hostility rises. A calmer passage provides an oasis in the storm, it’s emotionally charged melodic calm drifting over the senses to beguile thoughts midway before its surroundings begin to bristle again and crowd in on the lure of clean vocals and warm melodies.

Grouchy riffs and gripping bass hues line the emergence of the following instrumental Greenwitch, though its air and charm is seeded in the album’s opening track. That predacious coaxing soon steers the piece through a mercurial landscape of sonic antipathy persistently skirted by the anthemic enticement of drums and bestially toned bass. As mentioned previously, the band’s sound is post hardcore spawned yet this song alone shows the great variety and weave of flavours the band skilfully employs and takes tenaciously into the prickly attitude of the invasively enveloping The Awful Path. The track is compelling stuff, impressing most, as does the album, when it without hint but coherently slips into seemingly unconnected detours of imagination and gripping adventurous sound; something personal tastes hope the band boldly explores more in the future.

Red Door is another swaying and slipping into the psyche with a spaghetti western scented melodic climate. Its sweltering air is more inviting than oppressive, and a rich embracing of ears and thoughts which paves the way for, in this case, a bullying of vocals and raw intensity. The track keeps its reins on its animus though, even as Stefano spills the lyrical discontent from within the magnetic endeavours of Matteo and Jack. Of course in time, the track frees itself into a fierce blaze but still retains rock ‘n roll contagiousness to its irritated animosity. Understandably references to bands like Poison The Well and Norma Jean come up around Filth In My Garage but here alone, you can find great reasons to mention the likes of Coilguns or Sofy Major as further clues to that moment in time.

The forceful and enthralling adventure is completed by firstly the truculent and increasingly addictive escapade of The Lowest Floor and finally the riveting drama of Owl Feather Band. The first bounds through ears leaving bruises and concussive residues in its wake; though it too has plenty of great contrasts through unexpected moments whilst its successor is a journey through a tapestry of textures and flavours within an equally evolving wind of intensity and aggression. Arguably the most imaginative and exploratory song on the album, it provides a fine end to an impressive first look, for us, at Filth In My Garage.

No album should be assessed fully on one or two listens and that certainly applies to Songs From The Lowest Floor. It is over time that it reveals an imagination and adventure which allows the band to intrigue and grab keen interest right now but will ensure, as it develops, they stand right out in a crowded post hardcore landscape ahead. Filth In My Garage is a band, as suggested earlier, it is going to be hard to ignore.

Songs from the Lowest Floor is out now via Argonauta Records and @ http://filthinmygarage.bandcamp.com

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Pete RingMaster 08/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Acid Brains – Thirty Three

ACID-BRAINS_COVER2_RingMaster Review

Rampant with a torrent of diverse flavours all uniting in one mighty slab of punk ‘n’ roll, Thirty Three is one of those proposals which out of the blue sets energies racing and thick pleasure flowing. The rousing success of the new encounter will probably be no surprise for fans of and those in the know about Italian band Acid Brains, a quartet previous full-lengths having earned the band a potent reputation in their homeland’s rock scene, but for the rest of us the album is an impressive introduction to a thrill we have all been missing out on.

Hailing from Lucca and formed in 1997, Acid Brains create a sound which merges alternative and punk rock with grunge and new wave, amongst many flavours, a mix brewed with devilish invention and thick imagination. 2004 saw debut album The End Of The Show released after a trio of demos before it; its well-received outing more than matched by its successor Far Away two years later and Do It Better in 2009. As the new proposition, fourth album Maybe was unveiled via Red Cat Records in 2012 to show more of the evolving enterprise and boldness in a sound now inflaming ears in Thirty Three.

Produced by Gherardo Monti and Acid Brains, Thirty Three comes in two parts; the first consisting of five tracks sung in English and the second with four songs sung in the band’s native tongue. Why the segregation of languages we cannot say but the parts are a CD equivalent to the side A and side B on a vinyl release or like on a double EP.

Band and album have attention and ears in the palms of their creative hands from the off, opener Make Up Your Mind laying down an initial lure of confrontational yet controlled bass and guitar before bursting into a fiery punk rock escapade with, whether intentional or not, a more than familiar relationship to The Damned’s Neat Neat Neat. The track proceeds to stop and flow with magnetic invention and aggressive ferocity throughout, creating a compelling proposal easy to get greedy over long the way, just like the following Halloween. The second track strolls in with its own slightly belligerent character, the bass of Antonio Amatulli devilishly prowling amongst the sonic tempting of guitarists Alfredo Bechelli and Stefano Giambastiani. The latter’s vocals equally engage with grouchy persuasion as the song explores a post punk/new wave fuelled slice of raw power pop, it already showing the strong variety within the album as it has the imagination bound and ears again aroused.

Sometimes steps up next, tantalising initially with a dirty flame of riffs before hitting a grunge/punk canter playing like a feisty mix of Nirvana, The St Pierre Snake Invasion, and Feud. Antagonistic but with an anthemic welcome rather than a nasty intent, the track stomps along recruiting body and appetite before On The Borderline takes over with its post punk laced, rhythmically gripping prowl. The resourceful beats of drummer Luca Bambini masterfully shape the track and entice instincts to which guitar and vocals offer their inventively bracing assets. With a spice of Gang Of Four meets Gruntruck to it, the track continues the impressive and increasingly gripping persuasion of the album, and the enjoyable wealth of diversity.

Adding a touch of glam rock swagger is Answers next, but equally a healthy scent of old school punk is the order of the day within the slimline and enjoyable canter before Tu throws some rhythmically tenacious garage rock into the album’s mix. A bracing stomp bouncing aggressively around with sonic colouring maybe best described as NOFX and The Pulsebeats in league with the punkier side of Les Négresses Vertes, it sets the second part of Thirty Three off in fine style to be quickly backed and surpassed by the outstanding nagging tempting of Mi Sorprendi. Riffs and rhythms provide a great worrisome yet addictive beckoning for the vocals of Giambastiani to stir things up in potent style within. Once more that post punk spicing add to the varied punk ‘n’ roll adventure of the track whilst hooks and the throaty tones from Amatulli’s strings only add to the inescapable captivation.

The final pair of songs ensures the album ends with as much variation and resourcefulness as it has perpetually offered already. All’infinito is first, a heavily enticing slice of drama with sinister electronics courting a grunge punk aggravation whilst closing song Solido has its own dark theatre through haunting keys within a rawer coaxing of guitar. Soon it raises its temperature and contagion with a glorious roar of a chorus that has listener participation involved with ease. Subsequently leading into another hungrily virulent blaze of rich grooves and deeply embedding hooks; that in turn the passage into an attitude loaded punk bellow of a blistering finale, it and its predecessor provides a thumping close to an increasingly persuasive and impressive album.

Acid Brains is rock ‘n’ roll to get excited and greedy over; something fresh to get lusty with through an album that flicks all the right switches.

Thirty Three is out now via Red Cat Records across most online stores.

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Pete RingMaster 08/02/2016

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Steel Flowers – Kleptocracy

Steel Flowers_RingMaster Review

According to the press release, concept album “Kleptocracy is looking around and suddenly understanding what Orwell meant. Kleptocracy is mind control told by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. Kleptocracy is the distaste ensuing and the attempt to destroy all, but it is also the final realization, just like an oxymoron, to be who you want to destroy.” What the words omit to mention is that the new album from Italian band Steel Flowers is also one fascinating and increasingly compelling proposition. Sculpted on a fusion of hard rock and alternative metal, to simplify things, the ten track incitement entices the imagination with an unpredictable bedlam of flavours and styles woven into a theatrical canvas. Initially it challenges ears and thoughts with that same off-kilter tapestry but over time builds into a lingering persuasion which draws keen attention time and time again. Kleptocracy will not be for everyone but if the thought of System Of A Down meets Turbonegro meets Dog Fashion Disco appeals then this just might be a thrilling way to end the year on.

Formed in 2002 by vocalist Riz, the Milan band quickly hit the live scene before releasing a series of EPs over time. Line-up changes ensued before Steel Flowers settled down to record and release debut album 12 Tales From The Life Of Mr Someone in 2009. Described as a mix of hard and street rock, its well-received uncaging led to the band appearing at Faenza’s MEI, an event for independent labels that same year. 2011 saw the band begin work on Kleptocracy and the emergence of a new direction and invention in the band’s sound as alternative metal influences, and more, began ripening within their imagination. Fair to say the fiercely diverse album had a troubled creation but finally it gets its unveiling via Red Cat Records to ultimately captivate and impress.

cover_RingMaster Review     It opens with Oxymoron 4991 and an initial tempting of electronic mist conjured by Uzzo punctured by a moment of distorted vocals. There is a portentous edge to that first coaxing, one which ripens as guitars and rhythms bring forth their own dark hues, though within a few more haunting moments a warmer light and energy erupts to change the shade of the song again. The guitars of Alex and Adriano are soon dancing and flirting with ears whilst still providing darker drama to the broadening sonic narrative of the track. Once fully into its infectious stride, attention and appetite are enslaved by the song, thoughts similarly bewitched as it proceeds to slip from spicy grooves and niggly hooks into mellow harmonies and avant-garde twists. The vocals of Riz provide variety to match the sounds too, clean croons and gnarly roars offered in numerous ways and backed well from elsewhere within the band. It is fair to say, as the album, the track took time and a few plays to really click in ears and emotions, but straight away had them fully enticed and wanting to delve deeper into its warped adventure.

The dirtier rock ‘n’ roll of Pauper comes next, the feisty beats of drummer Kiry potent bait alongside the throaty tone of Yano’s bass. The latter soon reveals its swinging moves though, a funk infused revelry flushing through the song with a touch of Red Hot Chili Peppers to its colouring, though the earlier heavier elements still court these tangy exploits. It all helps fuel a quickly contagious proposition with a virulence matched in kind by that bred in the punk ‘n’ roll stomp of its successor I’ll Kick Your Ass. Straight away the song’s tenacious and tempestuous roar teases with a B-52s-esque groove which reappears throughout alongside Sex Pistol like hooks, both inflaming the raw and brawling heart of the excellent track.

Hallways Of Illusions serenades ears with its melodic flames and emotive textures next, it a gentle croon but with a fiery nature as, like all songs, it involves an array of creative spices and evolves with perpetual regularity, though not as dramatically as other proposals within Kleptocracy, such as Break My Blues with its intoxicating sonic liquor around prowling rhythms. Living up to its name in tone, the track is an enticing engagement though also not quite escaping the shadow of others like the following Tired And Bored. A great grizzled bassline sets the song up; a web of voices and guitar spun endeavour then wrapping ears as another funk inspired intent infests the rhythms and the hard/classic rock enterprise of the song. Again it is a track which needs time to blossom in thoughts but only heads to the providing of rich pleasure for the listener to embrace.

Through the psychotic character and vaudevillian heart of the outstanding Ruled By Evil Men and the infectious dystopian predation of Workin’ Monkey, the album hits a new plateau of persuasion, both tracks casting their own unique and engrossing theatres of sound and suggestion with the first of the pair the show stopper on the album.

Variety continues as an electronic enticing welcomes R.I.P. next, that brewing into a seventies seeded progressive metal narrative swinging from big thrills to smaller pleasures but always wrapping ears in thick tempting before making way for closing track Tank Man. The song ends the album on a more classic hard rock offering with a touch of Extreme meets Ugly Kid Joe to it; a last slice of rock ‘n’ roll maybe undulating in its riches but undoubtedly leaving satisfaction strong.

Kleptocracy is not without flaws, at times its invention taking songs away from their best assets, but Steel Flowers has certainly conjured a release that excites with the potential of bigger and bolder things ahead for good measure.

Kleptocracy is out now via Red Cat Records.

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Pete RingMaster 10/12/2015

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