Shadow of Myself – Self Titled EP

Shadow of Myself pic

As their debut self-titled EP shows, North Carolina rock band Shadow of Myself straddles a vast plain of rock/metal music to offer an appeal which can easily seduce the passions of melodic and hard rock fans through to southern and classic rock ones, not forgetting Bay Area type thrash hearts too. The three track release is a fiery and enterprising slice of pleasure making a near irresistible invitation to check out the band’s first album scheduled for later in the year.

Taking inspiration from the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Three Days Grace, Metallica, and Pantera, the Charlotte quintet has earned an impressive reputation for their sounds, with extensive national radio play, and live shows which has had them grace stages alongside a diverse expanse of national bands from Three Days Grace through to L.A Guns. With a newly revamped line-up, Shadow of Myself is poised to make 2013 the launch pad to greater recognition and success with firstly this EP and then the following album.

Produced by Jamie King, renowned for working with artists such as Between the Buried and Me, Devin Townsend, Protest the Hero, SOM_front_panel1 The Human Abstract, and KillWhitneyDead, the release sets about the ears with melodic fire through opener Supraliminal. Thumping rhythms from drummer Dustin Foley cage the senses with intense potency before the guitars of Brian Baker and John Conway shape the track further with sonic endeavour and enterprise. It is an immediately welcoming and impacting song which leaves a wealth of satisfaction in its wake as vocalist Travis Keziah brings his excellent emotive tones to bear on the narrative with diversity and great caustic squalls within his cleaner expressive delivery. Though not a song to ignite burning fires in the passions, it more than makes a rich invitation into the sound and creative songwriting of the band which the following pair of songs exploits to its deepest compelling depths.

The following Until the End makes a strong if not dramatic entrance with once more the guitar carving a sonic web to wrap within, but once the tsunami of primal ridiculously contagious beats from Foley overwhelm and ignite the senses the track explodes into a ravenous feast of thrash lined rapacious intensity and mutually hungry invention. Riffs gnaw the ear whilst the bass of Brian Riley adds delicious intimidation, or rather extra menace to what is now a pleasing brawl of a confrontation fuelled by a fine melodic persuasion. More aggressive and impacting than its predecessor, the track is an outstanding storm of inventive, evocative passion, and stylish songwriting, the best song on the EP.

The closing Your Addiction is bred from the same thrilling template as the second song but delivers it through a blaze of thrash lilted rapaciousness with a clear Metallica like growl and melodic lure to its body. Its incisive groove is an enthralling flame around the again excellent vocals and fine rhythmic seduction, and on top of the virulence infectious call of the song even in its less urgent gait, makes for another outstanding track and temptress to the impending full-length release.

It is probably fair to say that Shadow of Myself is not breaking down boundaries or offering anything new in originality but when they use existing varied essences in such a refreshing and intriguing way there is only full satisfaction and hunger for more sparked into life. Roll on the album is all that is left to say.


RingMaster 19/06/2013


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A Vision Grotesque – Ethereal Benefactor

A Vision Grotesque

After a rather impressive album in the storming expanse of aggression invention that was Metaphysical Hypnosis, North Carolina extreme metallers A Vision Grotesque have returned even stronger with the stunning EP Ethereal Benefactor. Everything about the release is a step on from their strong debut, from the songwriting to its accomplished and inventive realisation the record screams startling progression. It is a senses thrilling imaginatively exhausting beast of an exhilaration, melodic extreme metal at its finest and most riveting offering a brutality and ferocity to sear paint from walls and flesh from bone which was equally a strength of the previous album, but the band has honed it with greater craft, maturity, and melodic enterprise into a sizzling fire a confrontation.

Formed in 2004, initially as Art of Dying until having to change to A Vision Grotesque after legal action brought by a Canadian band of the same name, the band has left immense and acclaimed marks on the local metal scene with their first demo and the following Homicide Utopia. Wider recognition came with subsequent releases King of the Massacre and Waking Up To Hell, both released in 2007, and Metaphysical Hypnosis of 2011. The last album as well as the second of the two released four years earlier was produced by Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me,, Scale the Summit,  Human Abstract) who returns for the new EP. Their live performances over the years have equally garnered rich acclaim as the band continually earned a strong reputation for their immense sound but Ethereal Benefactor leaves all before longing in its wake. It maybe only four songs but the release opens up a new and one suspects what will be a strikingly successful new chapter in their rise, such the impressiveness of the release.

The EP also features the first appearance of new guitarist Ron Dalton who joined in 2012, and alongside fellow guitarist Jeremy Bennett, bassist Daniel Quinn, drummer Steve Beaver, and vocalist Joseph Dobbins, has found a new intensity and ingenuity to the songs of the band which is loudly noticeable. As the opening scintillating title track shows alone, the growth in band and members from the last album is startling and that was a great release in its own right. As the first song and whole release douses the senses in merciless intensity and creative enthrallment thoughts still bring the likes of In Flames, Between the Buried and Me, Black Dahlia Murder, and At The Gates to the fore but now A Vision Grotesque stand apart with more distinctiveness and uniqueness of their own. The opener takes mere seconds to gnaw on the senses with tights caustic riffs and thumping enslaving rhythms whilst the vocals of Dobbins growl and scowl with a malevolence brewed from the heart to tonally and vindictively ride the equally vendetta fuelled sounds. The sonic mastery from the guitars sears and thrills whilst the clean vocals and harmonies making their declaration just lift the outstanding song further. Unpredictable and continually evolving within its thrusting intensity, the song is a hypnotic joy, its melodic flames a co-conspirator with the surrounding primal furnace raging in the successful seizure of the passions.

For Those with Eyes to See erupts with insidious efficiency and as with its predecessor explores and ignites the senses with strikingly accomplished sounds and invention. The guttural and serpentine mix of vocals is an exhausting scourge whilst the rhythmic bombardment is as vigorously contagious as it is destructively unrelenting. Once more the guitars bewitch and intimidate with carnal riffs and acidic sonic imagination to captivate fully, whilst the cleaner light and blackened shadowed depths of the song blend in a fluid and scintillating union. As with all songs there is much more going on than is noticed or taken in across one or two intrusive rides but every following encounter simply unveils and exposes new nuances and at times different facets to the character and hearts of the songs. The following We Bleed for Tyrants is no different, its nasty ambience of an opening releasing the cage for a savage consumption of the listener with those barbaric rhythms and carnivorous riffs grinning in blissful violence as they ravage the ear and beyond. The reins of melodic fascination and skilful sonic alchemy prevent total devastation with an almost sadistic smile of their own, and unite with the maliciousness elsewhere for another sensational maelstrom of brutal beauty.

Completed by Discontinuation, the song one more excellent extreme subjugation of the passions, Ethereal Benefactor is outstanding. The final track does not quite live up to the others but still is a thrilling call to the new level that A Vision Grotesque has reached up to and made their own. The EP is surely the final turn of the lock to the widest recognition for the band so bring on the next album is all we can say as anticipation is in overdrive now.


RingMaster 21/04/2013

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Trioscapes: Separate Realities

Exhilarating and persistently captivating the debut album from Trioscapes is quite simply stunning. Separate Realities leaves thoughts and senses aflame with a creativity and technical skill that incites the fullest and most eager connections and responses. A combination of 70s fusion with progressive rock the release is a cultured yet seemingly instinctive and raw creature which stirs up feelings and conjures an infection that runs deep.

Trioscapes is the union of bassist Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me), Walter Fancourt (tenor saxophone/flute), and Matt Lynch (drums, electronics). The band came about when in the summer of last year Briggs contacted Fancourt with the idea of reworking the classic Mahavishnu Orchestra track Celestial Terrestrial Commuters. With other ideas formed as well the band played an one off intended live show but such the fun from that and the demands the music asked of them that they decided to stick with it as an ongoing project. October 2011 saw them entering a studio with Jamie King in Winston-Salem, N Carolina and from the other side stepped forth Separate Realities.

Released via Metal Blade Records the album is a burly yet concentrated animal, a primitive but distinctly technical and imaginative entity that can snarl or whisper in the ear and disrupt or induce rapture within the senses. The instrumental soundscapes the trio bring forth are living breathing pieces which define their own path and effectiveness within each individual. They invite and manipulate with a catchy engagement and openly startling concoctions that for many will lead to the nearest exit but for a great many more will incite an infectiously keen willingness to immerse further within the excited but composed progressive invention. Predominantly just tenor sax, bass and drums with a few extras and distortions, each track is a full and powerful slice of sound and energy.

The first song Blast Off explores the ear first lifting one into giddy heights to leave a shortness of breath whilst clasping the thrilling unpredictability tightly to the chest. Initially coming over as a jazz led piece it spreads into a wider soak of sounds laced with a funk pulse and hypnotic drive pierce with ventures from an exhaustive scuzzy bass and flaunting warm sax. It is the gnarly bass moments of Briggs that steal the already staggering show; his play much more of a brewing coarse primal energy and sound than in his day job.

The title track next steps into view and immediately lifts a strong start to Separate Realities to a higher plain. It niggles and persuades the senses to open up even more before filling them with a composition that looks into the chaotic jaws of indulgence but never steps in. With tight aggression coupled with a humour through slithers of cartoon moments, the track is a compulsive siren, a bewitching pulsating and agitated piece of brilliance. The sax of Fancourt assumes the face of the song whilst the bass of Briggs the blood and veins which bring heart and depth. With the excellent rhythms and creativity of Lynch the bones and framework all wraps around it is a mighty and deeply pleasing piece of ingenuity.

The more muscular Curse Of The Ninth with scorched melodies from the sax of Fancourt sparking against the prowling antagonistic bass of Briggs offers another varied and different adventure. Blending in further variations of sound it is an emotive and flavoursome track which plays with light and dark with the surest of touch. The closing lighter and dazzling Gemini’s Descent also offers up a distinctly unique palate to lay inspired thoughts and feelings upon, its peaceful and imaginative land a bubbling aural forest.

Wazzlejazzlebof was the one track which it was hard to fully engage with though the more time spent with it the closer one becomes. For the only time on Separate Realities it felt like the band had strolled in to improv and at times its meanderings missed the mark though at other moments it unerringly found the spot.

With the excellent Celestial Terrestrial Commuters included, the reinterpretation by Trioscapes a more chilled and less intimidating version than the original, Separate Realities is a masterful and voracious pleasure. It will not be for everyone as a whole though there is something for all tastes enjoying adventure and intriguing melodic enterprise. Hopefully Trioscapes will continue creating and thrilling as special does not truly cover the experience inside of Separate Realities.

Ringmaster 11/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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A Vision Grotesque: Metaphysical Hypnosis

It does not seem to matter which style or genre of music you wish to pick North Carolina has one if not more stunning examples and bands to offer. In this case extreme/melodic metal has been blessed by the emergence of A Vision Grotesque over the past eight years, a band that rifles the senses with deliberate aggressive violations whilst inspiring them with darkened melodic creativity underlined with menace and eager corruption. Combining a death metal intensity and sound with a searching progressive ingenuity the band offers something vibrant and very satisfying as their latest album Metaphysical Hypnosis proves.

Though formed in 2004 under the name of Art of Dying, the band had its seeds as early as 1995 when vocalist Joseph Grotesque, guitarist Jeremy Bennett, and drummer Steve Beaver began jamming together. 2004 also saw the first demo from the band to be succeeded the following year by Homicide Utopia and the band becoming a quintet. The subsequent six years saw the band recruiting more enthused fans through their dynamic live shows and the releases King of the Massacre and Waking Up To Hell (both 2007), the latter produced by Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me, Human Abstract) as was Metaphysical Hypnosis. This period also saw the name changed due to legal action brought by a Canadian band of the same name, not that this stopped the continued rise and acclaim of the band.

2011 saw the current line-up in place with second guitarist Ron Dalton (Nephilim/Beneath the Shadows) and bassist Daniel Quinn (Beneath the Shadows) joining the original trio. Metaphysical Hypnosis was recorded before the addition of the pair and with such an impressive basis there is strong anticipation for future releases with the new line-up.

It is fair to say Metaphysical Hypnosis does not stretch extreme metal boundaries preferring to bring a formidable and very accomplished skill and sound from within existing limits but the band delivers these sounds and consume the bodies of its recipients with a full and fresh inventive style of songwriting and music. This ensures that though the music comes with seeming influences from the likes of In Flames, Between the Buried and Me (another mighty N.C. band) , and At The Gates, they install them into their own strong and well crafted intent and results.

From the opening might of Prophets Of Infinity, through the excellent Genocide Politics and on to the manipulative and stunning closer Whisper The Serpent, the album places a firm and enticing grip around the senses, littering it with intimidating riffs, a consuming intensity and melodic intervention that inflames and inspires equally. These three songs alone scorch the ear and pummel feelings with skilled invention and even deeper success. The guitars wind around and squeeze the senses into willing submission, their acute melodies and flesh stripping abrasive fingerings insatiable and often irresistible whilst the bestial rhythms stomp and trample without of mercy.

Metaphysical Hypnosis is not the heaviest or hardest album you are likely to come across but it is one of the most resourceful and engaging extreme metal releases in the past couple of years. When it sounds this good the missing ambition to strike down new doors is not an issue and there is more than enough ideas and as mentioned freshness that lifts it above most other similar veined offerings, songs like the blistering melodic rock powered Sacred Geometry and the unrelenting To Taste The Living with its Swedish death metal spicery leaving nothing but pure enjoyment in their wake.

The album offers eight tracks that all hit the mark and keep the high level constant though Behind The Walls Of The Wicked takes things even higher with its addictive hungry groove and bullying rhythms, the vocals spewing unbridled bile and venom upon every syllable wonderfully, though that applies to each and every track. Infectious and impactful the track tells you all you need to know about A Vision Grotesque, a band with a hand and ability as mighty as the sounds they unleash.

Metaphysical Hypnosis may not top anyone’s favourite list though it will feature highly in most, but it is a release that will find a constant place in the playlist of any extreme metal fan once its high quality infection has taken hold and as it is now free to download from an introduction to A Vision Grotesque is a must.

RingMaster 08/04/2012. Registered & Protected

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