The Eastern Swell – One Day, A Flood

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If one word had to be used to describe One Day, A Flood, the debut album from Scottish quartet The Eastern Swell, it has to be spellbinding. From the first listen the tapestry of genres which shape its songs catches the imagination but it is with subsequent listens that the real bewitchment blossoms. Inspired by and weaving together essences from the likes of progressive folk, experimental rock, and neo-psychedelia among numerous other flavours, The Eastern Swell combines poetic storytelling and melodic suggestiveness in one impressive captivation.

Edinburgh formed, The Eastern Swell emerged in 2014; the Anglo-Scottish foursome of guitarist/vocalist Chris Reeve, vocalist Lainie Urquhart, bassist/vocalist Neil Collman, and drummer Andy Glover first going by the name of Lainie & The Crows. With a well-received EP, name change, and the signing with excellent Scottish label Stereogram Recordings under their belts, the band set about creating their debut album with producer Pete Harvey (Modern Studies, Meursault, and King Creosote) in his own Pumpkinfield Studios. Themed by tales of “about vulnerability and the frailties of being human”, One Day, A Flood casts individual reflections linked by the underlying premise and a fluid movement from one song to another. Enjoyably working individually, the album’s tracks also impressively create a single experience which is just as potent, maybe even more so, taken in one listen. With self-admitted inspirations to the band, when creating One Day, A Flood, including the likes of Syd Barrett, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Fairport Convention, King Crimson, Pixies, Thee Oh Sees, Cat Power, and Gillian Welch, it is fair to say that the album is a rich collusion of styles and flavours honed into one kaleidoscope of imagination.

The album opens with the outstanding Rattling Bones, a track drenched in drama and emotive intensity. A sonic mist first encases ears, this quickly followed by a gloriously evocative riff soon joined by an equivalent lure from the bass. A sudden drop into a sombre air of melancholy with a dour but tempting melody, as the warm tones of Urquhart caresses ears and thoughts, then enjoyably wrong foots. Soon though, the track develops a lively stroll to its gait, marked by the bold roll of rhythms as provocative strings from guest Pete Harvey further toy with the imagination. The song is superb, a seamless patchwork of enterprise and creative hues setting the scene and character of the album.

the-eastern-swell-one-day-a-flood_RingMasterReviewWhat’s Done Is Done is next up; sharing the dark throated riffs and bass tone of its predecessor as essences of psychedelia and late sixties/early seventies melodic rock merge and the great blend of harmonies across Urquhart, Reeve, and Collman embrace. It oozes a seductive touch with every exotic sigh, warm surges and electric impulses uniting in a gentle but dynamic rousing of ears and spirit. The excellent proposition is followed and matched in temptation by 1000 Yard Stare where the vocal mix again grabs attention as they immediately cradle ears while psych and folk pop streams of enterprise kiss the imagination. Crescendos of lo fi intensity contrast and work perfectly with this golden glow of voice and melody, the compelling encounter almost tempestuous at times in its Wicker Man like climate and emotion.

The acoustic grace and warm melancholy of Temples is next, Urquhart’s voice uniting with the evocative strains of the cello before brighter guitar melodies and quaintly lit keys dance in ears. Its captivating low key proposal is echoed in the individually bold serenade of Muckish Mountain straight after before Too Little, Too Late reveals its own swing of rhythmic hips and melodic gaiety. Once more the fine and contrasting blend of male and female vocals seduces, a match emulated in the dark throes of the rhythms and radiant smile of guitars and keys. With a subsequent hook to lust after, the song is an intimate yet all-embracing festival of sound and energy providing another major highlight to One Day, A Flood.

The fuzzier air of Quick As A Whip makes a swift engaging between song and ears, harmonies and warm textures only reinforcing its potency before the album’s best moment arrives in the shape of Dancing Zombie Blues. Like a devilish concoction bred from The Dead Weather, Bird Blobs, and Old House Playground, the song rattles and rolls with gothic folk majesty, coming to an abrupt end from which a sonic wash brews and develops into closing enticement Run Down Country Palace. Its nature is of similar breeding though once its raw climate is set, the track’s electric veil parts for the reflective charms of vocals, strings, and a folk honed melodic appraisal. As all tracks though, things are never straight forward, The Eastern Swell creating tapestries that perpetually move and evolve.

Another reward provide is that One Day, A Flood never seems to stop growing in ears and imagination listen by listen, creating an adventure very easy to recommend from a band in The Eastern Swell that we will surely be hearing much more of ahead.

One Day, A Flood is out September 16th via Stereogram Recordings.

 http://www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/artists/the-eastern-swell  https://www.facebook.com/theeasternswell/   http://www.theeasternswell.com/

Pete RingMaster 15/09/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

New Keepers of the Water Tower – Infernal Machine

Photo by Soile Siirtola

Photo by Soile Siirtola

Infernal Machine, the new encounter from Swedish “cosmic rock” band New Keepers of the Water Tower is a concept album based on the classic Joe Haldeman written sci-fi novel The Forever War, a story of an interstellar war between Man and the Taurans. Equally, it is a compelling incitement enabling the listener to invent their own dark and highly involved escapades within a musical soundscape which simply stirs the imagination and enslaves ears. It is enjoyably impossible to pin down the Stockholm band’s sound but very easy to suggest that Infernal Machine will become one of the year’s major triumphs.

Formed in 2006 as New Keepers, extending the name three years later, the band creates a proposition entwining a tapestry of varied and contrasting flavours with an epic canvas predominantly progressive and space rock bred. As shown by fourth album, Infernal Machine, even that description is a scratch on the surface. Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Rasmus Booberg, guitarist Victor Berg, bassist Björn Andersson, keyboardist Adam Forsgren, and drummer Tor Sjödén, New Keepers Of The Water Towers has the ability to transport the imagination into the focus and heart of its theme with its music alone; Infernal Machine their most devilish and sublime success yet.

The album opens with The Forever War, a track luring the listener into the centre of dark times and persistent dangers from its opening sonic pulse. Keys quickly unveil a portentous invitation, rhythms adding an intimidating drama soon after as guitars dangle evocative bait before ears. Then Booberg’s immediately impressing vocals swiftly begin unfurling the track’s rich narrative, his tones mellow and mesmeric whilst the sounds around him are predatory. It is a superbly designed blend of contrasting incitement which simply enthrals as it manipulates the psyche and imagination. At times the track is like a grungy XTC, in other moments a sonically bracing and fascinating merger of King Crimson and KingBathmat like essences, and all the time an absorbing and irresistible entrance into album.

art_RingMasterReviewIts dramatic presence and mighty temptation is matched and pushed further by the gripping adventure of Tracks Over Carcosa next. Initially, it is an echo of a cold and desolate place, a lonely place within whose shadows a pulse beats with increasing relish, emerging to pull the song into a contagious stroll lined with swinging surf rock grooves. Around it a sultry and tantalising atmosphere descends, stirring up even more infectious tenacity in rhythms and melodic enterprise. Hypnotic does not do the track justice; its instrumental air has a cinematic lure and intrigue which you can akin to sixties cold war/spy thrillers and only adding to an impossible to resist alchemy of persuasion.

Towards its departure, the track slips into a solemn noir tinged calm which continues in different form into the following and as thrilling Tachyon Deep. With the returning vocals casting a mist of seducing harmonies as rhythms reveal an almost shamanic nature to their shuffle, the song glides exotically over the senses. Thoughts run through its poetic glade of melodies and vocal caresses, immersing in the scenic expression and spellbinding landscape of the track. That deceptive calm and peace also has hidden dangers, progressively unveiling them with every twist and turn within eventfully its imposing jungle.

Misantropin Kallarv is a brief, relative to the tracks around it, respite to the intensive adventures before and after; like shelter in a soulless building or moment but one which holds secrets behind the turbulence and unrelenting pressure found in the likes of next up Escape Aleph Minor. Its successor also has a less incendiary and demanding nature to its sound and energy but certainly does not lack thick drama in sound and air or the collage of hooks and sonic seduction which incite body and thoughts. From the melodic seduction and discord of guitars and keys to the tribalistic potency of bass and drums, the song is a carousel of suggestiveness.

A slow piano sculpted gait with classical melancholy to its touch ends the track, wistfully floating away into the waiting melodic smoulder of Jorden and a lumbering, emotionally heavy engulfing of ears. More sludge than doom, the track is a rapacious and darkly poetic suffocation of the senses which may not match the impact of others within Infernal Machine but undoubtedly has the imagination conjuring away as eagerly as anywhere upon the album.

The Infernal Machine completes the release; the track with every passing minute growing and evolving whilst providing a kaleidoscope of cosmopolitan and tribalistic incitement. Its repetitious strands and drone like nagging is simply delicious, around them the craft of guitars and lure of sonic imagination mouth-watering as the album ends as majestically and thrillingly as it started. A bass led passage midway of post punk seeded virulence, the cream on the cake of the song.

Infernal Machine has so much for fans of every kind of rock and melodic/progressive metal. Those with the appetite for bands ranging from Pink Floyd and King Crimson to Goblin and The Ocean to Arcade Messiah, to hint at its diverse appeal, will find plenty to devour, though by the middle of its opener the only name on their mind will be New Keepers of the Water Tower.

Infernal Machine is released on 4th March via Listenable Records across most online stores.

https://www.facebook.com/NewKeepers

Pete RingMaster 04/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Follow The Lion – The Candy and Gravity Motel

Follow The lion_RingMaster Review

UK alternative rock band Follow the Lion has a sound which immediately feels so right on ears whilst offering something seemingly already familiar. The latter aspect though is deceptive and arises primarily from the fact that once infected by the band’s new EP, there is very little likely you will be putting it aside just as a passing fascination. Our experience is that the band and release becomes a heavily devoured incitement from first contact, becoming an old friend in no time at all and casting that suggestion of being something recognisable simply from constant play. Bottom-line though is that consisting of three provocatively bewitching tracks, the EP is a compelling and highly seductive slice of emotionally and skilfully tenacious rock ‘n’ roll from a band surely destined for big things.

Follow The Lion began in 2013 taking diverse influences from the likes of Pixies, Massive Attack, The Beatles, Nirvana, Tricky, and King Crimson into their emerging invention and sound. The Leeds band was soon lighting up the local live scene, subsequently venues across the north west of England, and this summer festivals like Live at Leeds and Long Division. Now the Steve Whitfield (The Cure, Bill Bruford) produced and Celt Islam mastered The Candy and Gravity Motel EP is poised to work on ears and appetites nationwide and from our findings there is little chance of escaping its or band’s lure.

cover_RingMaster Review   The release opens with its title track, making a gentle entrance through a sparkling weave of guitar and keys within which a firm rhythmic coaxing from bassist Mase and drummer Danny Jay Barnett steps forward. It does not take long for a whisper of Black to nudge thoughts whilst the sonic shimmer of the track carries hints of bands like Bernaccia and Soundgarden. They are mere essences though, the song as it further opens up its contagious theatre of melodies and smouldering sonic temptation, evolving into a unique and sultry serenade but one with a snarl to its emotions and unstoppable virulence to its character. As rhythms get bolder and the sonic enterprise spicier, the glorious roar is a blaze of temptation and enthralment merging various strains of rock and creative expression.

Down By The River comes next and within its first breath offers a catchy welcoming of riffs with a low key jangle. It is swiftly in control of ears and attention, especially once the initially reserved beats link up with a brooding bassline. They spark a fiery embrace of guitar which in turn elevates the energy and vivacity of those rhythms. It is a captivating start given fresh energy and magnetism by the distinct tones of Daniel Francis, his voice expressive and evocative with potent variety to his delivery. His own guitar prowess provides a firm and enticing canvas for the rich and colourful enterprise of lead guitarist Richard Swann to further spark an already gripped imagination, his spicy tendrils captivating within the flowing caresses of Paul Smith’s keys and the darker rhythmic frame. The song is irresistible, feisty and infectious but with a thick weave of emotive drama to leave no stone unturned in thrilling the listener.

The voice of Francis, superbly backed by Smith, is like the music around it, a perpetual source of riveting incitement. He never bellows and forces the strong lyrical side of the songs upon the senses, yet seduces and provocatively roars with undiluted persuasion across every song, as shown by Low. Carrying a definite eighties air to its melodic and catchy stroll, like Colin Vearncombe meets Spandau Ballet in many ways, the closing song washes over the senses with poetic radiance though again there is a raw and dark edge to it which adds to the fullness and weight of the enthralling encounter.

There have already been many good things said about Follow The Lion and their debut EP, from Tom Robinson for one, and now lost in the arms of the spellbinding release it is easy to see why and say you too should make a reservation with The Candy and Gravity Motel.

The Candy and Gravity Motel is available from June 29th @ http://followthelion.bandcamp.com/album/the-candy-gravity-motel-ep

https://www.facebook.com/followthelionmusic   https://twitter.com/followthelion

RingMaster 29/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Abraxas – Totem

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Creating a melodic kaleidoscope of flavours and styles described as Protodancepop, French quartet Abraxas has also provided one of the year’s surprises in the shape of the vibrantly flirtatious Totem. The band’s first EP is a fascinating web of new wave, indie pop, progressive rock…well the list goes on. It is an adventure; a dance of sound and imagination which is as potently familiar as it is strikingly unique. Simply it is a new best friend in the making.

The Paris based foursome of Tino Gelli, Jonas Landman, Solal Toumayan, and Léon Vidal are four childhood friends who in the words of their bio, “learnt to play and to create a whole musical universe together.” Inspirations come from the likes of Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Metronomy, Late Of The Pier, and Connan Mockasin; essences openly audible as many other spices from numerous decades, but woven into something unpredictable, impossible to pin down, and distinct to Abraxas. Four years after forming, the band released debut album Warthog in 2011, an attention grabbing offering which along with a potent live presence, pushed the band into keener spotlights nationally creeping outwards. Taking a year to work on and create Totem, Abraxas now stand ready to stir up wider awareness and a new following of eager appetites, with one fresh recruit right here.

The release opens with Deep Down in the Middle of Shanghai and an instantly coaxing electronic shuffle. It is a welcome of minimal substance but rich appeal luring the listener into a funk kissed stroll and quickly tantalising voices. Providing a rich and impressing element across the whole EP, the vocals are pure captivation with a delivery which is harmonic and sandy, warm and devilishly mischievous at the same time. Keys and guitars just as inventively back up their infectiousness, every twist and turn exploring new styles and imaginative exploits. As mentioned the EP has a certain familiarity to it, shown right away by the first track, but its tapestry is something difficult to reference and to find any lack of originality in. Like Tom Tom Club meets Goldfrapp with a touch of Thompson Twins, but not, the song is a seductive siren of pop and evolving textures making a compelling start to the revelry of Totem.

images     The following Guatemala is of a similar template, spinning an even sultrier climate and Latin cloaked enterprise for its vivacious quickstep of energy and sound. Shimmering keys and the shadowy taunt of the bass make a great contrast and collusion of light and dark whilst a slightly older emerging air reacts perfectly with the flames of guitar. Maybe just lacking the irresistible spark of its predecessor, the song keeps things bubbling over pleasingly before making way for the more intimate saunter of Democratie. As irresistible to feet and body swerves as it is melodically elegant on ears, the track floats over the senses leaving stubborn hooks throughout courtesy of dark bass hues and the ever mesmeric qualities of the vocals. There is a Muse quality to certain moments of the song and a Propaganda feel to the sparkling pop endeavour simmering tenaciously within its evocative breeze of a persuasion, everything uniting in one bewitching proposal.

The glorious Kayak comes next, a song entwining shoegaze and psych rock temptations with a wealth of additional intriguing styles, many just brief slithers within the croon of the song. Its background is as busy as it’s more prominent scenery, a shamanic enticing working potently away through voice and beats as keys, guitars, and harmonies cast their riveting narratives. The song is again a spellbinding offering to match the last but maybe outshone just a touch by the closing devilment that is Death of Poussyflex. Returning to a more dance-floor seeded intent, the closer is an energetic striding of indie and synth pop but again with a maze of enticing variety and textures. Jazzy, funky, and persistently draped in a psychedelic seducing, the track explores almost as much creative terrain as an A-Z of modern art, leaving the album on a high and more importantly the listener hungry for more.

Totem is a treat from the blue and Abraxas a melodic provocateur of the endearing kind; time to get your adventure and dancing shoes on.

Totem is available through most stores.

https://www.facebook.com/abraxasofficial

RingMaster 07/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Tigers Of Junction Street – Self Titled

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The self-titled debut EP from UK band Tigers Of Junction Street is a release which does not realise its potential as successfully as it should but still leaves an impressive and lingering presence in the imagination and appetite. Consisting of five tracks which blend and at times merely flirt with essences from technical, melodic, and alternative rock, the band’s EP is a striking entrance by the London Town quintet. It has flaws and sometimes is unconvincing yet breeds an enjoyment and anticipation for the band ahead which cannot be dismissed as coincidence.

Formed in 2010, Tigers Of Junction Street saw the union of five friends with the want to challenge themselves musically, which their debut more than hints at as it equally tests the listener, in the right way. Drawing on inspirations from the likes of Coheed And Cambria, Protest The Hero, TesseracT, Yes, and King Crimson, the band set about recording their first release last year with George Lever at G1 Productions, Somerset. What emerged is an encounter which makes an intriguing introduction to the band and sets thoughts in motion that UK rock might have a rather potent prospect on its hands.

The High Wycombe five-piece sets EP and senses off in fine style with Incarnation, the strong and enticing vocals of Josh Elliott beckoning instant attention before being surrounded by heavily striding rhythms and fiery riffs. It is a Ep coverdramatic and gripping mix which is soon veined by a rich and skilled enterprise as guitarists James Wrigley and Ash Whitelock set to work raging over and seducing the imagination. Their craft is openly potent yet unimposing within the drive of the song, though their invention certainly breaks up its urgency whilst enriching its evocative hues. The driving beats of drummer James Burton flow between intimidating and coaxing as the song evolves its narrative. At times things do not always smoothly fit, the vocals left stranded by a sudden twist within the sounds but it only adds to the unpredictability and intrigue which endears the song to thoughts.

In full flow the song is a treat matched by The Deception, though its opening Nintendo-esque tease feels wrong. The track is soon alight with the melody seeping from that intro and vocals uniting around the thick stride of rhythms as the throaty tones of Tom Newey’s bass providing enthralling shadows. That first electro sound appears occasionally and now to great effect within the tempestuous body of the song whilst the unexpected detours and switches in the track which at times even seems to catch the band out, only add to the compelling nature of its lure and adventure.

There is a darker texture and expression to third track Cold Winter, its heavier lyrical presence matched by the more intensive if still melodically fuelled sounds. As its predecessors, band and song is unafraid to turn on its heels and venture into contrasting and melodramatic scenes, most flowing purposefully and easily yet a few moments provide a stumble in the flight of the song. Vocally there are a few issues, suggesting Elliott is more at home giving full rein to his fiery attack than slowing down his expression whilst arguably at times the band pushes things in their bold imagination too far on the song which does not help the vocals either. Nevertheless the track still hits the right note with emotions for the main, those issues something you can only see being ironed out with experience and maturity.

Next comes a short instrumental, called simply Interlude which is more an extended intro into closing track Closed Doors which reminds of the band Dead Til Friday initially. This is a track which seems to have got more criticism than most on the EP yet it is the most captivating slice of invention upon it too. Certainly at times the twists are over drawn and its striking textures clash against each other but in the case of the latter it only adds to the great turbulent enticement as the track offers the most promising and potentially loaded moment on the encounter.

The EP from Tigers Of Junction Street is undeniably flawed but even more so brings an engrossing creative emprise which courts the imagination whilst suggesting this band has a very healthily and for us exciting future ahead.

The Tigers Of Junction Street EP is available in CD and Digital formats through Hoffen Records and @ http://tigersofjunctionstreet.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tigersofjunctionstreet

7.5/10

RingMaster 28/07/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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ICOSA – The Skies Are Ours EP

ICOSA

It is hard to know how long the members of ICOSA have been playing, nurturing their skills and invention but it is fair to say that band, and debut EP The Skies Are Ours leaves the majority of releases and certainly first encounters this year in the shade. The four track release is a fascinating and exhilarating slab of mature invention and startling imagination brought with a technical craft and instinctive adventure which leaves you grinning and basking greedily. It maybe just one release but it is impossible not to suggest that this is the awakening of one potentially important force for British and dare we say world music. Casting a web of progressive metal and heavy rock, a description which still only gives half the picture, the London trio has made a big statement with their first release and set the benchmark very high for them and UK progressive metal.

Formed in 2011, ICOSA consists of vocalist and 8 string guitarist Tom Tattersall, 7 string guitarist Stacey Douglas, and drummer Jack Ashley. Drawing on the inspirations of bands such as Tool, Meshuggah, and SiKth, the band has been stirring up a bit of a buzz around them and now having been seduced by their EP it is very easy to see why. Their sound sits somewhere amidst Between The Buried And Me/ TesseracT and KingBathmat/ King Crimson whilst infusing a wider diversity in its body for an openly distinct presence. It is a riveting weave which seduces and rages, commands and demands within The Skies Are Ours to inescapably bind ears and imagination.

ICOSA open up the release with Ermangulatr. Its initial shimmering touch is gentle, almost spatial in breath as it slowly entangles thoughts and senses. Guitars soon add additional intrigue before expelling a heavier intensive climate coverwith sonic veining which mesmerises as it scorches aligned to a Meshuggah like predation. It is a powerful lure which only increases as it welcomes the excellent vocals of Tattershall, his tones another tempering flame against the brewing ferocity of intent and invention. As it expands and explores, the track continues to twist and turn with inescapable hooks, fluid grooves, and simply a web of compelling ideation and craft. Reminders of The Ocean, Opeth, and The Mars Volta flirt with thoughts across the song but with its striking creative emprise, the track and ultimately release is impossible to truly pin down.

The two part title track is next, Part 1 instantly teasing senses with coarse but ridiculously enticing melodies within agitated rhythms and an equally frenetic narrative of riffs and invention. There is rapacious rabidity to the track and its dramatic landscape but just as potently a fury of seduction which drives every warped twist and idea as well as every melodic spearing and ingenious coaxing. At times listening to the track you feel like you are on a roller coaster ride through a vast ever shifting landscape of unpredictable dangers and beauty whilst in other moments you get the feeling of a dogfight in the air between dark and light protagonists, each spinning their individual traps as they tussle gleefully. The closing sun of melodic elegance glides the listener imperiously into Part 2 and its almost celebratory beginning where rhythms and guitars romp with ideas and endeavour whilst the vocals find an additional snarl to enrich the elevated revelry. The track simply enslaves and intrigues; its merger of metal and rock into a distinctly individual and transfixing voracious blaze of invention and imagination, ridiculously impressive and thrilling. It is all so seamless and fluid that you just get lost in the sheer beauty of the persistently shifting mystery and adventure so that at times the real world is just not there.

The EP is completed by Trepidation, a welcome trespass into the passions with bulky jagged riffs, cascading sultry melodies, and bordering on psychotic invention honed into a contagious stride of devilish imagination and just as sinisterly attractive and skilled ingenuity in songwriting and presentation. It is an outrageously brilliant end to a similarly potent and masterful release. ICOSA is already a major player in metal, it is just that we and the metal world did not realise until now through their debut. As The Skies Are Ours lets its last notes tease and thrill there is room for one more thought, something this good and genius just has to have the Devil’s backing.

The Skies Are Ours EP is available digitally as a name your price download and on CD now @ http://icosa.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/icosa/

10/10

RingMaster 25/07/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Conjuring Noise: The Great Sabatini Interview

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Having inflamed like so many others, our passions with their blistering intensive and thrilling album Matterhorn, Canadian noise metallers The Great Sabatini returned earlier this year with an even greater mouthwatering proposition. Third album Dog Years is a masterful tempest exuding virulently destructive and invasive sonic devilry; an enthralling examination and manipulation of the senses. Not needing to be asked twice, we rifled questions at Sean from the band to discover the depths of The Great Sabatini, talking about origins, lyrical intimacy, musical magick and much more…

Hey Sean good to meet you and thanks for giving over some of your time to chat with us.

Tell us about the birth of The Great Sabatini and the time leading up to the uncaging of the band in 2007?

Hey, nice to meet you too. It’s our pleasure to talk a bit about our dumb selves. All of us came together when bands we were previously in collapsed. We all decided to start moving away from the kind of things each of us had been doing with past efforts, musically. It seemed to come together easily, naturally. We just kind of went with the flow.

How did the four Sabatini’s meet?

Rob and I have been playing music together since we were 15 or so. We’ve played in bands together since that time. We knew Joey from other bands around town, and even shared a jam room together years before we started playing together. We met Steve in Sudbury, 2004 at a really crappy weekend fest that both of our bands at the time were playing. We became fast friends, and the rest is history.

Did the band start out with a specific intent and is that still the same driving force now or has it evolved with your music?

I think the only intent really was to move away from our previous musical comfort zones. Rob and I were used to writing more technical metal things in standard tuning, so there was a focused effort to distance ourselves from that. We bought baritone guitars and started slowing things down naturally, due to the nature of the much lower tuning and feel of the instruments. You can’t be as busy sometimes when you’re playing in a lower register, so riffs start slowing down for clarity’s sake. In regards to intent, it’s the same as it was from day one; keep challenging ourselves to create music that subverts our own comfort zones as artists. It might not be a huge leap from record to record, but there is movement, and growth, with every new project we take on

You sound is a unique brew of noise, sludge, doom, progressive rock…and plenty more. How would you describe it to simplify things?

As a kind of inside joke, we refer to our sound as “swamp trench arithmetic”. Maybe it hints at a sludgy math-rock vibe… Usually I describe us as a sludge band, because for all the variety rolled into our songs, all of it is pretty grimy or sludge-based. The end result is sort of wrapped up in this sludgy package.

We discovered you through your second album Matterhorn, a startling and riveting treat to our ears. How would you say your music and 1964881_815898598424769_284230856_ncreativity has changed and evolved from your first days, through that great album and onto the just released Dog Years?

I think that, as songwriters, we focus on making things simpler; communicating ideas in a simpler way. Part of that is recognising our strengths, and reining them in. We want to include a myriad of ideas and influences into our sound but feed them through our creative process in a way that results in more a more cohesive end result. I suppose one might call it “nuance”… Not something that most folks associate with brutal, loud music, but I feel that there’s more and more depth and nuance to our songs as we go. Matterhorn was the first time I really felt like we’d accomplished a certain level of that in our music. The songs are relatively simple in structure and riffing, and seem straight forward production-wise, but there’s a subtle balance of feels and ideas stitched together throughout. I think Dog Years employs this much better. Taken at face value, it’s a loud, raw, angry record, but there’s a lot going on in the songs, in a way that isn’t like an overt genre mash-up kind of thing.

We feel the brilliant Dog Years, and it is, is less cruel and destructive than its predecessor but has a more intensive and precise examination of the psyche which makes it just as exhilarating and threatening. Is that something you would agree with?

I do agree. Matterhorn was about cruelty and violence and the harshness of life, ‘cos that’s what I felt when I heard the music we were writing. Dog Years, musically and lyrically, is kind of exploring the things that drove us to play music initially. It has some throwback moments with the punkier parts, and maybe it rocks out a little easier. I still feel like it’s a punishing, loud, angry record but maybe you picked up on the focus of the record. It’s hard to tell sometimes, as the creators of the music, how much of what we’re saying is obvious and how much is completely buried in the end result, but Dog Years is more of a look inside OUR heads and our history, to some extent.

Did you approach the writing and recording of your third album in any way differently to the previous release?

Well, we usually do a lot of writing together in the jam room but a few small bits were demoed separately and sent out via email to the guys, and then tweaked and moulded by each of us on our own time. The songs are totally malleable… they can change easily before we hit the studio. In the past, a lot of our material, especially the Matterhorn stuff, was played on the road a lot before it was recorded, so the songs adapted and changed a bit more, but almost all of the Dog Years material was written and then quickly recorded with less time to mutate. Maybe that gave it a bit more immediacy, or urgency.

I guess the studio and recording process is something always bringing new lessons and discoveries which can be used or avoided next time. Was there anything from Matterhorn which had that inspiration and any new things learned with Dog Years?

There’s always a learning curve. We’re always learning things and trying to apply them the next time around. I can’t think of any major things that happened with Matterhorn that wound up shaping Dog Years in an obvious way… we’ve always strived to make things sound more raw, natural or live-sounding on our records and Matterhorn was a nice step in that direction, but Dog Years, I feel, has a bit more of that raw thing going on.

How long was the new album in the making?

We started writing in earnest at the start of 2013. We spent a lot less time on the road that year and really just focused on writing. By December 2013 we were in the studio and by February of this year the record was mastered. It was a pretty quick turnover, for us.

Like a great many bands do you have to struggle and deal with obstacles of everyday life when it comes to creating and certainly recording a record?

Obstacles are always present. But we’ve been a band for almost 7 years and we deal with things together, in a focused manner, quite efficiently. Making records is something we’re always trying to get better at, but we’ve all been doing it for over ten years and our collective experience is constantly being employed to overcome any obstacle. Thankfully, we’re all really good friends, so we’re good at working together to accomplish our goals

There seems an intimacy at times to the lyrical side of your music which suggests inspirations often come from things close to home and personal experiences. Give us some idea of stories or situations to songs upon Dog Years.

Some of the songs relate to people or things in our personal history. Pitchfork Pete is about a guy Rob and I knew many years ago. Some of the songs deal with our rituals, our perception of our lives as romantic black-magick purveyors of the Almighty Riff. When the reality of being a penniless touring musician sets in, the thing that keeps us going is the magic. Music is total magic and we have fun projecting some kind of cartoonish self-importance onto the band. It’s much more fun to think of ourselves as traveling Riff-Warlocks spreading the unholy gospel of Satan through amplified guitar riffs than it is to see ourselves as the jaded, ageing heshers that we ACTUALLY are. We’re following our dreams. Dog Years is a glimpse into that world, we hope. Lyrically it’s all about that… the world we’ve created for ourselves, full of feral beasts, oracles, war-cries, Viking battle-lust and strange visions. But sometimes this kind of fantasy shit collides with the naked truth of our choices in life, and that’s where the “Dog Years” thing comes in. One day, maybe, we’ll be old men looking back on these times as our Dog Years, all that time we spent hammering away at our dreams.

487212_598817973466167_250606339_nHow does the creation of songs more often than not transpire in the band?

More often than not, Rob and I write riffs or ideas in our own time, and then, when we get together, the ideas are presented and everyone puts forth their own takes on the riffs and we arrange the structures together. There isn’t any one mastermind. Everyone’s fingerprints are on the end result.

Is there a particular moment or twist in Dog Years which gives you an extra inner tingle of pride or just satisfaction?

I think each of us probably has his own moment like that, but for me, Akela was one of those. I wasn’t thinking that would be on the record, but the guys heard my demo, and wanted it to be there. It’s a pretty naked thing, for me, to have a song like that on there. There isn’t any wall of noise to hide behind. I recorded that in my room at home and everyone agreed that to re-record it might ruin it. So, I feel pretty happy that Akela is on the final cut.

Tell us about the great ‘scary’ album cover.

We wanted the cover to reflect our childhood in some weird way. We were aiming for an image that looked borrowed, from another time, not from 2014. I made the puppet, and he represents a certain aspect of our collective personality. Rather than actually steal an old image that may have worked just as well, we opted to create this thing ourselves and hopefully imbue that aspect into it in a subtle way. Really, I want people to see it, react to it, and fill it in with whatever feeling they think is best.

The album has been released on the great Solar Flare Records. How did that come about and is it true that the equally brilliant Sofy Major has some inspirational input?

We met Sofy Major first in North America when they came here to make a record and tour a bit and then later when we played with them in France. Sofy Major/Solar Flare are the raddest dudes on the planet, so their interest in Dog Years is incredibly flattering. Those dudes have been through a lot and suffered it all with a smile on their faces so that alone is a huge inspiration to us. Their music is incredible… I don’t wanna butter them up too much, but getting to work within that particular family is a huge privilege.

What is the Montreal metal and rock scene like right now and specifically in regard to your style of creative mayhem?

Montreal is always a hotbed of awesome music. In recent years, more of the sludge, doom, noise-rock and stoner rock stuff has been surfacing, which is nice, but I feel like everyone here is reacting to their surroundings, in a nice way… nobody is trying to sound like anyone else, I feel. Everyone that I know kind of does his or her own thing and tries to blaze their own trail. Sometimes it’s hard to be heard among all the amazing bands and artists, but we have our niche.

What comes next for The Great Sabatini across the rest of 2014?

We’re just about to get home from the first stretch of touring. We’ll probably do a few small things this summer but in the fall we head out again to do some touring in the U.S and then get ready to hit Europe in the spring of 2015.

Once again big thanks for sitting down with us; any final words for us to contemplate?

Thank you for your interest and support. Final words? Ummmmmmmmmmmmm……

And lastly give us an idea of the biggest inspirations on you musically and individually.

Take your basic 80’s/90’s generation stuff, all the grunge, punk, metal and hardcore, and throw our dad’s old Beatles, Zeppelin, Sabbath, and King Crimson records in there too. We’re all just disciples of this great tome of Rock. Finding a nice balance is the hardest part when starting a band, but ALL of that stuff is in our music, and album covers, lyrics etc. You could get real specific and say things like Melvins, Today Is The Day, Helmet, Jesus Lizard, Napalm Death, King Crimson, or what have you, but there’s just too huge a range of stuff influencing us to make for an easy answer.

http://www.thegreatsabatini.com

Read our review of Dog Years @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/the-great-sabatini-dog-years/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 21/06/2014

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