Curse of the North – Curse of the North: I

COTN8_RingMaster Review

There are some releases where it is difficult to imagine anyone not being gripped by their proposals and such a triumph is the new self-titled album from US metallers Curse of the North. It is a beast of instinctive and addictive virulence that blends the ripest essences of heavy and classic metal with the muscular invention of modern rock ‘n’ roll. It is an encounter which seems to hone in on personal tastes, taps into the psyche to discover its deepest pleasures and then unleashes them across eight rigorously rousing encounters. Quite simply it is one of the most invigorating albums this year to set ears and passions alight.

Born in Seattle, Curse of the North currently consists of vocalist/guitarist Christiaan Morris, former 3 Inches of Blood member Nick Cates on bass, and Burke Thomas of McKagan’s Loaded and Vendetta Red on drums. Formed in 2010, the band has toured and shared stages with the likes of Red Fang, The Sword, Eyehategod, Destruction, Death Angel, Lord Dying, Valient Thorr, Kadavar, The Shrine, and Gypsyhawk whilst 2011 saw the release of their Matt Bayles (Mastodon, The Sword, Botch) produced first EP Revelations. A few line-up shuffles have also been part of the band’s growth which now unleashes Curse of the North: I. Produced by Morris and mixed by Kurt Ballou (Converge, High on Fire, Toxic Holocaust), with mastering undertaken by Ed Brooke, the album leaps on the listener from its first moment, the opening and every subsequent breath a roar of thick temptation.

Sleep While You Can is the first slab of persuasion, its start alone pure magnetism as Thomas creates a web of rhythmic arousal to set things in motion. Flames of guitar cross the compelling drum bait as the vocals of Morris spring their own enticing, a Glenn Danzig flavouring lining his tones and equally the shadows within the emerging tenacious metal canter of the track. Classic metal hues dance on ears too as a modern fusion of riffs and hook laded enterprise courts the imagination, the result being one terrific groove veined stomp.

COTN cover_RingMaster Review   It is a mighty start taken another level by Wheel of Swords, another track with an irresistible start to its creative alchemy. A great nagging from riffs as rhythms tumble vivaciously coaxes ears first, their lure replicated in varying tones as sterner grooves and muscular predation swiftly looms up with the again potent vocals of Morris at their helm. Like Black Tusk meets Baroness with a spicing of Sabbath and Clutch to it, the song has energy and pleasure in its hands with quick ease, handing over an exhausted and rapturous body to the following Into The Trees and its mellow climate around melodic prowess. Keys emotively caress as the guitars strokes the senses with elegant suggestiveness to match the melancholic voice of Morris. The first half of the song is wrapped in this mesmeric beauty, its second a rugged landscape of again incendiary rhythms amidst tangy classic metal/rock endeavour and striking vocals.

As good as everything is to this point, the best song on the album in The Tower eclipses it. Building up its intensity and hunger through early scythes of sound, the track quickly releases its handbrake and charges through ears like Therapy? on steroids. Its torrent of riffs and ravenous hooks storms the barricades like a transatlantic cousin to anything on Troublegum from the Northern Ireland trio, its contagiousness and vocal furor similar whilst creating its own uniquely irresistible tempest. The song is breath-taking, seemingly knowing where the personal sweet spot is and hitting it relentlessly, even when slipping into a dark theatre of sinister gothic intrigue.

Thomas is rhythmically imperious on the track, as everywhere to be fair, continuing his enslaving web of craft in The Electric Wall and especially the outstanding Blessed Burning. Morris and Cates are an equal incendiary match though as the first of the two tracks sees the band creating a High on Fire/Kyuss like mountain of creative tenacity and heavy rock ‘n’ roll seduction whilst its successor, from another hypnotic rampant rhythmic trap, strolls across Queens Of The Stone Age/ Mastodon toned terrain of sonic and vocal passion. The references given across all songs are mere colours in something distinctly Curse of the North, especially emphasized when as here the guitars spin a bluesy imagination as an intimate atmosphere soaks the song.

Oceans Rise lowers the intensity if not the emotive temperature next, well certainly for its opening moments as soon it too is a cauldron of thickly jabbing beats and sonic ferocity. Along its riveting length, the assaults and aggression ebbs and flows to fluid and powerful effect, the song an undulating roller coaster of a confrontation which, as the album, just gets richer and more imposingly enjoyable over time.

The album comes to an end through the sultry blues/surf rock seducing of Faceless Killers, a sonic and melodic bewitchment which too only blossoms to greater heights with every partaking of its sweltering, increasingly volcanic landscape. It is a stunning end to simply one of the major treats of 2015; a leviathan of rock ‘n’ roll to get seriously lustful over.

Curse of the North: I is out October 23rd via Static Tension Recordings.

Pete RingMaster 22/10/2015

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Kruger – Adam And Steve


There is probably a masochistic side to us all that get off on being swallowed up by a vicious wall of blisteringly hostile and sonically destructive noise but also the ability to see and appreciate the beauty in such tsunamis of unbridled animosity. It can be a seductive corrosion at times and none more so than that found on Adam And Steve, the new merciless album from Swiss noise sculptors Kruger. The eight track inferno of sound and antagonistic invention is a glorious exploration of abrasion, causticity, and sonic savagery but equally a purveyor of some of the most toxic hooks and inescapable contagion bred by venomous imagination. Every note and syllable comes with malice and each twist with ingenious captivation, resulting in an encounter confirming the band as one of the most thrilling alchemists of noise.

Formed in 2001, the Lausanne quintet has been on a steady and impressing ascent since debut album Built For Speed unleashed its ruinous charm upon the senses a year later. 2004 saw second full-length Cattle Truck draw greater attention towards the band, including that of Listenable Records who signed the band and have released their assaults on the senses ever since, starting with the Kurt Ballou mixed Redemption Through Looseness of 2007.Its success and acclaim was matched by the band spreading across Europe with shows and tours, but it was last album For Death, Glory and The End of The World three years later which thrust Kruger into a global spotlight, something Adam And Steve will only intensify. Last year saw the two-track EP 333 tease and spark eager anticipation of things to come but in many ways it only hinted at the triumphs destined to devour the senses and psyche courtesy of the new release.

Complete with a new guitarist and the success of a tour with Gojira last year behind them, the band instantly goes for the jugular upon the Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna mixed storm. Rampaging heavy booted riffs and boulders of rhythmic violence descend on ears from the first breath of opener Bottoms Up, the track an immediate onslaught but almost as swiftly employing enticing vocal harmonies behind the caustic squalls of Renaud right away sparking an even keener appetite for the abuse. The raw throated tone of Blaise’s bass snarls and preys on ears with predatory intent whilst the guitars of Margo and Raul sear and swarm across song and senses with deliberate irritancy. It is a deliciously bracing and compelling assault, the vocals across the band continuing to seduce whilst acidic melodies and grooves worm under the skin for a lingering tempting.KRUGER-A&S_cover_sm

The stunning start is rivalled by the following Discotheque, its entrance on a building rhythmic wave instant anthemic bait enslaving thoughts and passions straight away before the band unleashes a barbarous cauldron of merciless beatings and synapse flailing sonic design. Creating a reined in yet uncompromising brawl of essences potent in the flavouring of a Converge and Unsane and aligned to the creative ferocity of a Coilguns, who the band are sharing dates with as the album is released, the song is a tempestuous fury. Unafraid to explore more progressive and post metal scenery within its cavernous depths, it soars and brutalises its soundscape before making way for the infectious tenacity of the album’s title track. Grooves and sonic lancing almost swagger with their vicious hues and ideation whilst vocally and rhythmically the track exchanges another unpredictable and addictive web of spite and craft for a black and blue bruising of the listener’s senses.

Both tracks, and especially the second, set a new hunger for the raucous seduction working within Adam and Steve, something the pair of Charger and Mountain Man toy with and ultimately reinforce. The first of the two prowls ears and thoughts with seeming relish, its roar a severe yet magnetic intrigue drenched predation soaked in infectious imagination and intensive examinations from drums and guitars especially. Within its fury though there is a charm and sonic elegance which escape their binding to cast a masterful calm and resourceful beauty midway in, like the eye of a storm settling fears until the track explodes once again into its hellacious but inviting tempest. Its successor as all tracks almost swings from the fearsome skills and invention of drummer Raph, his wild but perfectly and precisely conjured attacks the irresistible core for which here, grooves and riffs can shape enthralling designs whilst vocals croon and bawl with equal strength and appeal. It is a numbing and invigorating fury, its voracity as unbridled as its invention and raw passion.

For personal tastes the pinnacle of the album comes with the next two tracks, the album reaching new plateaus with firstly The Wild Brunch, a track as melodic and harmonious as it is acutely ravenous and brutal. Across the album hardcore, heavy rock, metal, and more all add rich hues to the hurricane of noise and on this majestic emprise, the weighty thunderous riffs and tonal bruising you would imagine of a Mastodon or Gojira stake their claim to the passions. It is a devastating and engrossing treat but soon surpassed by the brilliance of the heavily unpredictable Herbivores. Easily one of the best songs heard this year, it at times soothes and riles in the same breath as vocals and guitars fuel the passion and incendiary imagination of the riveting track. In others it simply bewitches through bestial rhythmic slaps and grizzled bass suasion, all the time exploring a simultaneously destructive rabidity and insatiably seducing invention.

The album is brought to an end by Farewell, an expansive exploration of sound, emotional landscapes, and the listener physically and mentally. The instrumental is a journey all in itself and the fitting masterful finale to a thrilling encounter. Adam & Steve uses noise as if it is on its own personal vendetta against the senses but also as a commanding colour in the maelstrom of textures and imaginative hues which permeates its raging exploration. Kruger has created an engrossing and irresistible conflict with an album which plays like an aural judge and executioner, and seductress.

Adam & Steve is available now digitally and on CD via Listenable Records @ and on partially black, partially sin-red vinyl through Pelagic records @

RingMaster 14/10/2014

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Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness


Eagerly on the heels of the must have From the Ashes of Nuclear Destruction album, a career spanning retrospective covering Toxic Holocaust rarities from the past decade, as well as The Yellowgoat Sessions  from the excellent solo project release from TH founder Joel Grind, the band unleash new album Chemistry of Consciousness. It is a rampaging beast of an album, a brutal tempest of punk edged thrash and rabid rock n’ roll which comes with the expected and richly familiar Toxic Holocaust stamp but also sneaks in a vein of contagion and addictive toxicity to move the release apart from previously albums and maybe more importantly the outstanding Conjure and Command yet still easily sitting within the distinctive, arguably expectations feeding course of the band. It is fair to say there is nothing ground breaking from the album for adrenaline fuelled metal but just as potently it provides one exhaustingly exhilarating and irresistible confrontation you will never tire of.

The Portland punk metallers as always are open with their inspirations, essences of the likes of Bathory, Venom, Slayer, Municipal Waste, GBH and more the additive to their own brew of creative petrol powering an explosive aggressive vehicle, in this case the raucously confronting Relapse Records released Chemistry Of Consciousness. The Kurt Ballou (Converge) mixed album has little need for niceties with opener Awaken The Serpent bitch slapping the ears with rolling rhythms, predation clad riffing, and the ever caustic tones of Grind scarring air and senses form its first breath. The addictive groove which swaggers throughout brings further temptation, showing that earlier mentioned intensive infectiousness to the uncompromising bait offered whilst the rhythmic assault of bassist Phil Zeller and drummer Nick Bellmore helps sculpt an enslavement which only Toxic Holocaust seems able to cast.

It is a senses stunning start soon taken further by the excellent Silence, the track a rapacious nagging of Grind’s guitar riffery and the chemistryofconsciousness_1500inventive rhythmic antagonism. A heavy metal flame is ever present across the song, a heat which explodes through incendiary sonic enterprise in the brief solo and the continually teasing melodic invention of the track. It is a refreshing and vibrant attack firmly backed up by the mighty Rat Eater. Opening with compelling, prowling intensity and rabidity, the guitar chugging purposely alongside similarly cagey rhythms, the track builds up a fiery and intimidating presence before throwing off any shackles to stomp rigorously through the ears with acidic sonic scythes and punishing rhythms behind squally gravelly vocals igniting further the already in place hunger.

   Salvation Is Waiting explodes with the same stance and power as its predecessor at the start, the track like many upon the album closely related in structure and intensity to others but inserting imaginative and in this case torrential outpourings of striking enterprise and riveting twists. The mix of familiar and new continues as a tsunami of unbridled rhythmic provocation marks out next up Out Of The Fire, a voracious crafting ripe within a sonic causticity which breeds greater appetite for the evolving cantankerous adventure and power that is Chemistry of Consciousness whilst the excellent Acid Fuzz simple provides another pinnacle for the release. With a fire of melodic metal and cataclysmic rhythms driving the song instantly into the passions as spirals of sonic addictiveness and Grind’s scowling delivery not ignoring his appetite filling guitar flumes turn the track magnetic, the encounter strides forth as a thrilling blaze of heavy metal sculpted thrash.

Every track is a lingering gem upon the album, very few striking up the turf of new pastures admittedly but all revitalising well-worn destruction littered fields, the likes of the carnivorously honed Deny The Truth and the punishing Mkultra continuing the persistently satisfying presence of the album whilst songs such as I Serve… and International Conspiracy almost bruise the listener into willing submission whilst feeding all thrash metal wants with that Toxic Holocaust individuality.

The album finishes with the exceptional title track, a song which certainly bids for top honours and maybe steals it with its rhythmic ravaging of the ear and savage riffery guided by the constantly combative delivery of Grind. It is a compelling brawl of a conclusion to a typical yet ridiculously satisfying Toxic Holocaust album. Chemistry of Consciousness may not quite be the album of the year in the cold light of day but without doubt it is one of the most enjoyable and arousing to cross our thrash lit paths.


RingMaster 31/10/2013

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All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature


All you need to know about Nothing Violates This Nature, the second album from Massachusetts-based All Pigs Must Die Nasty to warrant full investigation is that it is simply NASTY!! Corrosively nasty in intent, sonically nasty in sound, and undiluted nasty in passion, and a towering tempest of spiteful destructive hardcore. Building from their impressive and violent debut God is War of 2011, the band featuring members of The Hope Conspiracy, Converge, and Bloodhorse have come back together to create one of the most formidable and standards heightening furies of anger sculpted antagonism. It is a potently crippling beast of senses igniting noise which stands shoulder to shoulder to anything their day jobs and other recognised genre bands have created.

The Southern Lord release sees All Pigs Must Die joining up again with Kurt Ballou (Converge) at Godcity to record their follow-up album, a union which completes a stronger and more complete, dare one say confident, step on from its impressive predecessor. An album which does not give you room to breathe let alone escape its toxic glory, Nothing Violates This Nature confirms the stature and blistering force that is All Pigs Must Die, a band which admittedly as good as had written that in fire with their live performances alongside the likes of Integrity, Enabler, Ringworm, Black Breath, Eyehategod, Repulsion, Down, Sleep, Exodus, Church Of Misery and more.

As opener Chaos Arise stomps and storms through the ear with riffs and rhythms a combined ferocity there is an immediate sense of anCover_RGB_CD_300dpi-copy-e1369761381912 elevated and accelerated spite to sound and band, the vocals of Kevin Baker spoiling for a fight over the deliciously tight contagious grooves and abrasive riffs of guitarist Adam Wentworth and the air juggling disruptive might of the drums of Ben Koller. With the bass of Matt Woods snarling and crawling through it all with venom as thick as its bestial notes, the metallic punk castigator is a staggering start which immediately places the band on another level easily backed up by the following brilliant Silencer. Like being caught in an avalanche with sirenesque grooves diverting fear into full on obsessive rapture, the track in less than two minutes turns thoughts and emotions in on themselves trying to escape the savagery cast. At its departure the overriding thought from both songs is just how pissed off Baker and the band itself is.

Both Primitive Fear and Bloodlines chew and rip asunder the psyche, the first a torrential sonic squall of vocal vitriol and magnetic sound, the music a riveting mix of contagious grooves and hooks veining acid bred noise whilst its successor is a predacious and brooding stalking which exposes the senses and emotions to a magnetic alluring sonic spiralling alongside acrid intent. Both songs are magnificent, imaginative and intrusive with especially the second unveiling a weave of seductive melodic mystique which takes the release into new adventure. Hardcore has never sounded so good.

Of Suffering brings another twist in the intensive ride, its lumbering scourge a sonic acidity brewing within the doom laden sludge thick oppression. Baker barracks the barricades with merciless intent and animosity whilst musically the track wears and erodes defences with its enthralling and heavy weighted intensity.

The returning carnage laying brutality which opened up the album sends Holy Plague and Aqim Siege straight for the throat, their jaws obdurate instigators. Riffs and rhythms dominate but allow a space where Wentworth expels some sizzling melodic blazes in the first of the pair whilst the following barbarous confrontation of the other song is one minute of vicious beauty.

    Sacred Nothing is nothing less than glorious punishment whilst Faith Eater surveys the damage before adding its own creative ruthlessness. It is hard to imagine anything topping what has already been unleashed but the closing Articles Of Human Weakness masterfully attempts to correct assumptions with a multi-flavoured furnace of punk murderousness taken through a rancorous expanse of rhythmic rabidity and sonic vehemence. It is a staggering conclusion to a stunning release, one that gives a fresh hellacious breath to the hardcore scene.


RingMaster 29/07/2013

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Nails – Abandon All Life


    There is nothing at all comfortable about the new sonic scourge from Californians Nails, in either listening to its primal rage or in its furnace borne construction, but the rewards and intrusive pleasure reaped from its caustic presence far easily outweighs any pain suffered. Brawling with ten tracks at just over seventeen minutes combined, Abandon All Life is a ravenously vicious express train of grind and hardcore soaked in a death metal malevolence, a record with a sonic dexterity which sculpts varied textures and sounds into a multi-levelled tsunami of violent passion and destructive attitude.

Recorded with Kurt Ballou of Converge, the Southern Lord released album follows up the acclaimed debut full length Unsilent Death with a similar intent but a further honed venom and craft from the quartet of vocalist/guitarist Todd Jones, guitarist Saba, drummer Taylor Young (Crematourim), and bassist John Gianelli (Fell To Low). It gives no respite or mercy just drives its howling anger and pissed off breath with a revengeful malicious intensity and sonic blistering which sears the senses long before notes place their lethal hands on the ear. Strike a match whilst listening to the album and it would be no surprise to see the world go up in flames such the vitriolic fumes given offer by this exceptional raw release.

Opener In Exodus takes a mere scorch of sonics before chewing on the ear with rabid riffs and spiteful rhythmic provocation, all coming together to explode into a pungent ferocity of impassioned toxicity. There is no respite from its brief but corrosive maelstrom which transfers seamlessly into the following Tyrant. The second song snarls and brawls like the first but incites its storm bred climax with a rhythmic build up which is as infectious as it is the devious portal into the closing savagery. The drums cage and abuse the senses with villainous expertise whilst the bass offers a carnal presence which equally seduces and ravages. Their union is bestial adding the darkest shadows to the burning sonic rage of the guitars and the equally mordant vocal squalls of Jones.

There is an open diversity within the air expelling surface of the songs with God’s Cold Hands one of the keenest and most compelling examples. The outstanding track is as abrasive and sonically torrential as any song on the album but underlines it with a barbed groove which erodes the senses with an understated yet siren like potency. The track savages the senses in its jaw, thrashing them from side to side but then coats them in a sludge/doom prowl of sound to further excite and captivate before leading to a final toxic crescendo. The invention continues with Wide Open Wound, a predatory crawl of blackened sludge veined with exhausting punk spite and acerbic chugging metallic borne riffs. The song chews and growls with a hateful passion yet invigorates the fight and inspiration to stand defiant, as does the album as a whole across its biting tracks.

The following merciless title track with its barbaric rhythms and volcanic emotive fire, the sadistic and irresistible Pariah, and Cry Wolf all exhaust and vaporize the air around them, the latter of the three mutilating synapses with a ferociousness which can only be classed as sonic assassination. Their contagious violence hands over to the closing might of Suum Cuique, a track which incorporates all the qualities which came before into one lasting ruinous confrontation with a slight bedlamic nature to its satanic mastery.

Abandon All Life is an album which defies the expectations and anticipation set in place from the previous album to offer a violation beyond not only what Nails brought before but most of the efforts of their fellow sonic conspirators.


RingMaster 04/04/2013

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Baptists: Bushcraft

photo Milton Stille

photo Milton Stille

    Bushcraft on first play announces itself as something special, but it is with subsequent visitation to the debut release from Canadian hardcore bruisers Baptists that you realise just how impressive it really is. It is an album which needs and deserves a constant focus before you reap all of the rewards on offer but from its initial immense presence emerges as an album to set the genre ablaze.

The Vancouver band from its formation in 2010 was soon creating a big reputation and eager acclaim for their ferocious live shows amidst the underground scene with their self-titled 7” single selling out instantly upon release in 2011 through like Bushcraft, Southern Lord. The past year has seen the band writing and creating their first album as anticipation for it increased, something the release more than satisfies. Recorded at Godcity studios with Kurt Ballou, the eleven track album is a fury of attitude, aggression, and superbly sculpted sonic imagination wrapped in a bruising uncompromising tempest of intensity.

The opening sizzling discord of Betterment has the senses on edge, its ominous atmosphere setting the album off in intimidating cover300dpistyle. As heavy oppressive rhythms and bass chords slam down upon the ear amidst the sonic resonance, the drums rise to begin a confrontational provocation with guitars igniting the atmosphere in similar incendiary style. The scowling antagonistic vocals add to the intense encounter and though brief the track scorches a path for the rest of the album with skill and magnetic violence.

Both the following Think Tank Breed with its sadistic scything sonic niggling and rampaging rhythmic spite and the savage Bullets, a song violently cavorting with a seductive groove and malevolent caustic persistence musically and lyrically, lift the already awakened passions further to seize and confront thoughts and emotions. Like the album as a whole, the tracks challenge and defy in word and sound to recruit the same thoughts and responses in the listener whilst basking in a furnace of enterprise and anger which evolves before and within the ear.

Each track on the album is a vehement stick of driven by adrenaline, discontent, and senses searing invention with the likes of In Droves, Still Melt, and Crutching Trails, leaving impressive and diverse lingering scars upon the listener but it is into the latter part of the album where the band really ascends into infernal fires of excellence and evocative imagination. Mortar Head is a white hot blaze of acidic and destructive malignant musical contempt which magnetises and intrudes with equal staggering results. It is savage, unrefined, and unreservedly without interest in respite for the listener.

The album bring its finest moments to aggravate further the bruising already smarting from the previous encounters through firstly the harassing title track which leaves one drenched in fatigue well before its infernal riot of two and a half minutes is up. It is a blistering assault physically and mentally which reveals more with each energy consuming encounter. The discovery of deep  riches found within continual play is especially apt with the best track on the album. Soiled Roots is a sensational seduction of the senses which from its fiery acidic initial caress unveils a slow doom laden crawl which permeates every aspect of the body. It is a carnivorous adversary which swelters in primal belligerence and ingenious invention to excite and provoke with equal success.

Completed by the rabidly hungry and gripping Russian Spirits and a final dissident conflict in the beautifully contagious discord rippling Abandon, Baptists has produced in Bushcraft an album which intrudes and exalts on every level. Hardcore has received a new detonation of contention, passion, and imagination to be inspired with, and undoubtedly it will not be the last from this outstanding band.


RingMaster 21/02/2013


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