In Vain – Currents

Just a handful of weeks short of five years back, Norwegian metallers In Vain released the ear gripping Ænigma. It was a release which brought and honed all the potential and impressive attributes of its two predecessors to one seriously striking head. That triumphant encounter has now been swept away in the creative eddy of the band’s fourth album Currents, a proposal which lustily roars In Vain as being one of metal’s finest and most exciting propositions.

Since emerging in 2003, In Vain has grown within and persistently ascended the European metal scene with their adventurously imaginative progressive extreme metal. Their 2007 debut album, The Latter Rain, swiftly stirred keen attention and critical praise, and a reputation for craft and sound which the more variable Mantra nevertheless only reinforced.  The Jens Bogren (Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, Katatonia, Devin Townsend, Kreator) produced Ænigma simply sparked the imagination as it built upon and pushed the traits of those before. It all pales though before the majesty of Currents, a release which surprises at every twist and enthrals at every turn. Intricately woven yet as organic as the passion which drives it, Ænigma not only takes the In Vain sound to a whole new level, it brings progressive metal a fresh landscape shaping breath.

Seeing Bogren united with the band once again, Currents contemplates “the colossal shifts and changes of our time” looking at the currents behind major events and changes across the modern world from “Migration of people across continents and borders, cultures merging and the dramatic shifts in lifestyle from one generation to the next.” It also features guest appearances from the likes of drummer Baard Kolstad (Leprous, Borknagar), vocalist and former band member Kristian Wikstøl (From Strength to Strength), and vocalist Matthew Kiichi Heafy (Trivium) among various more.

Currents opens with Seekers of the Truth and immediately entwines ears in steely vines of guitar as beats bite. Andreas Frigstad’s raw throated vocals soon prowl the engaging lure, rhythms and melodies colluding in a web of threat and intrigue around him with the song’s climate imposingly bracing but equally infectious  as the guitars of Johnar Håland and Kjetil Domaas Petersen almost dance on the ear. The progressive nature of the band’s sound subsequently infuses the track’s aggressive intent, varied strains of extreme metal merging with melodic enterprise for a captivating trespass.

Even so it’s potent and ear grabbing entrance into the album is soon eclipsed by next up Soul Adventurer. Within its first breath as keys rise, grooves are writhing around the imagination, their earnest exploits matched by the superb clean vocals of keyboardist Sindre Nedland. It is instantly compelling, increasingly so as the song gets right under the skin with resourceful harmonies and rolling rhythms only adding to the richness as the guitars spin a web of creative temptation. It is the superb vocal blend across the band though which brings it all together for easily one of the best tracks ever spawned by the imagination of In Vain.

That is a height though regularly equalled from hereon in staring with Blood We Shed, the track a wall of predacious intent and tone led by Frigstad’s vocal threat. Riffs and grooves soon collude in their own menacing enterprise, the bass of Alexander Bøe a thick grumbling incitement but from within their dark nature a ripple of melodic suggestion becomes a heated, harmonic serenade. There is plenty more going on too as keys and voices take the stage before falling under the incoming rumble of those earlier imposing textures, an array of imaginative moments which seem to reveal more with every listen.

Currents comes in two editions, the Special Edition offering two additional tracks with And Quiet Flows the Scheldt the first. Like a developing landscape, the song grows by the second as vocals and guitars shape an atmospheric flight through suggestive sonic scenery. The track does not have the snap of its predecessor but infuses a drama which draws the imagination right into its heart, vocals again as stirring as the music with the flames of sax a captivating heat in its evocative climate.

The funkier tapestry of Origin and the inviting mystery of En Forgangen Tid (Times of Yore Pt. II) bring their own enthralling reflections to ears and thoughts next, the first a robust yet considerate confrontation masterfully blending contrasts in power, aggression, and tone not forgetting flavours. This is an ability In Vain have never been lacking but as so many other things it has breached a new pinnacle within Currents as the second of the two confirms. Sung in the band’s native tongue, the song is glorious. In no time melodies vein a portentous air, dark and light wrapping round each other as a kaleidoscope of vocal and atmospheric intimation entices from within the magnetically tempestuous vortex.

Ghost Path is the second song found only on the larger edition of the album, the track sharing its own mysterious shadow haunted realm. The imagination is taking on a stroll through an underworld of fear, despair, and increasing creative ill-intent which comes to a head in a rhythmically driven, rapaciously fuelled predation of sound and intensity. The song is pure creative theatre, and reason alone to go grab the bigger version of the album as you really do not want to miss out.

The album concludes with firstly the similarly enthralling infestation of As the Black Horde Storms. Its blackened assault has a folkish tinge to its melodic undercurrent, death bred traits soon as prevalent as the track consumes the senses and begins spinning another web of striking imagination and sound where, as throughout the release, every moment brings surprise and invention to absorb and impress. Its successor, Standing on the Ground of Mammoths, smothers ears with its dark air and slightly corrosive texture whilst again gripping attention with is aural enticement and vocal dexterity. More a song with its creative tenacity and enterprise understated compared with other tracks within Currents; every dive into it brings them closer to the surface though its slip in a thoughtful melodic seduction mid-way is a beguiling caress from the first moment.

It provides an end to an album which simply excites from start to finish. Setting a new marker for not only the band but extreme progressive metal, In Vain has become one of the most fascinating and enjoyable propositions within world metal.

Currents is available now through Indie Recordings digitally and as a normal and special edition on CD and Vinyl.

http://www.invain.org/    https://www.facebook.com/InVainOfficial/    https://twitter.com/invainofficial

Pete RingMaster 04/02/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Voyager – Ghost Mile

There is no denying the eager grin which broke upon faces here when the new Voyager album was sent through, having been seriously tempted by the band since their second album uniVers in 2007 and lustfully hooked through their fourth and fifth in the acclaimed shapes of The Meaning of I and V. The later in 2014 set a plateau it was easy to wonder if the Australian band could eclipse thereon in. Hopes and a quiet confidence have just been realised with the release of Ghost Mile, an album which brings a truly fresh breath to progressive metal as instinctively catchy and virulent as it is technically and inventively imaginative.

The success of the Perth quintet’s last album saw the band invited to perform at major festivals such as ProgPower USA, Euroblast Festival in Germany, and the ProgPower Europe Festival in The Netherlands as well as sharing stages with the likes of Deftones, Opeth, Leprous, Protest The Hero, Nightwish, Epica, Oceans of Slumber, and Coheed and Cambria. Voyager ended last year touring Australia with Deftones and Karnivool and being further invitations to play Euroblast and Progpower EU this year, the latter as headliners. Now with Ghost Mile driving things, it is hard to imagine 2017 being anything other than a really busy adventure, one no doubt littered with praise lured by their stunning new album alone.

Mixed by Matthew Templeman and mastered by Simon Strutters, Ghost Mile opens up with Ascension. A golden melody kisses ears first with the warmth and intrigue of a dawn sun, its suggestive air tempting the imagination before bolder rhythms add their bait. Djent teased enterprise is soon joining the blossoming affair, their steely tenacity paving the way for another caress of elegance around the radiant tones of Danny Estrin. As magnetic as ever, his presence is swiftly joined by sturdier textures whilst being the ringleader to an irresistible infectiousness soon fuelling the chorus and body of the evolving encounter. With the suggestive heat of his keytar matched in craft and magnetism by the guitars of Scott Kay and Simone Dow, the song is pure captivation, only increasing its potency as breaks of predacious intent and aggression escape.

The quite stunning start is quickly continued by the equally outstanding Misery Is Only Company. From the off, it has a harder core to its presence, a latent but open intensity which lines jagged riffs and the brooding air of Alex Canion’s bass. There is no containing the instinctive catchiness within songwriting and imagination though, the swinging beats of Ashley Doodkorte inciting similar boisterousness in the resourceful and technical enterprise across the band. Deftones’ Chino Moreno recently likened Estrin’s voice to Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon, something at times easy to agree with and indeed at times the song has something of the British outfit to its pop sensibilities, infectiousness aligning with more predatory essences to masterful effect.

Next up Lifeline initially lays another sunny shimmer on the senses, its progressive aptitude soon courting metallic rapacity though as melodies radiate and vocals warmly croon. Relaxing into a gentle stroll, there is still a constant snarl to the guitars and bass which breeds alluring unpredictability and waiting volatility, the latter never truly having its moment but keeping the calm honest whilst giving the progressive/ pop rock adventuring a threat. As with its predecessors, physically involving the listener is a quick given and with increasingly lust.

The provocative nature of Fragile Serene seduces next, its climate a mix of melancholy and joy with one addictive hook at the heart of a fusion of rich temptations which almost swarm over the senses into the imagination before To The Riverside carries the same fantasy off in its evocative piano led flight towards the waiting more capricious embrace of the album’s title track. From the first second, Ghost Mile has an agitated eagerness which infects body and spirit, the carnivorously laced bass growling beautifully within the fiery but composed roar of the track. Like sonic and melodic alchemy, the song turns four minutes or so into a cauldron of heavy and light, dark and luminous adventure; contrasts uniting rather than battling for the album’s pinnacle.

What A Wonderful Day pretty much sums up the feeling during its three minutes plus, its pop nurtured rock ‘n’ roll as contagious, additive, and arresting as anything heard this year so far. Its warm dance though does have predacious overtones lurking in its shadows, their semi-vocal presence more realised in the tenebrous texture of the following Disconnected, though it is never devoid of the light and vibrancy instinctive to the Voyager imagination. With industrial breath seeping into the track’s progressively nurtured and invasive metal challenge, there is nothing to deter a quick and full submission to its rousing and often caustic incitement.

The enchanting fascinating of This Gentle Earth simply beguiles next, the union of piano and vocals alone sheer seduction and only escalated as rhythms probe and drama floods every rising texture and tendril of contagion sharing sound; an infectiousness belying the emotional reflection of disconnection.

The album finishes with the fiercely charismatic As The City Takes The Night, a track growing from an absorbing tango into a blaze of heart and intensity which smoulders, simmers, and boils across its eventful reflection without ever seemingly taking the same route twice. As the album, the song is a fascination giving more and more with every listen, rewards including pure pleasure.

Expectations of Voyager are always high because of previous triumphs but again left short by an album which will take some shifting from being one major contender for this year’s greatest moment.

Ghost Mile is out now via Nova Distribution across most stores.

http://voyager-australia.com/   https://www.facebook.com/voyageraustralia   https://twitter.com/voyagerau

Pete RingMaster 17/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Tardive Dyskinesia – Harmonic Confusion

td_2_RingMasterReview

With the suggestion that it and its sound sits “somewhere between Meshuggah and The Ocean”, Harmonic Confusion the new album from Greek tech/prog metallers Tardive Dyskinesia instantly has a reputation to live up to. It is a tall order which band and release certainly live up to. The successor to critically acclaimed predecessor Static Apathy in Fast Forward, the fiercely fascinating and creatively imposing Harmonic Confusion has to be considered as Tardive Dyskinesia’s finest moment to date.

Since forming in 2003, the Athens hailing quintet has honed and evolved their sound across three previous albums with Static Apathy in Fast Forward a pinnacle in their rise when released in 2012. The years have also seen the band open for the likes of Mastodon and Meshuggah and play prog-metal festival Euroblast, it all leading to now and the release of Harmonic Confusion. Mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, The Ocean, Leprous) and produced by Tardive Dyskinesia themselves, the album is the band’s sound at its most rounded, accomplished, and adventurous; often a raw roar to numb and disorientate the senses but equally a melodic and technical maze of craft and imagination to enthral and excite.

The album opens with the instrumental Insertion, a piece as welcoming as it is technically eventful. It shows a potent restraint though, the band holding its boldest exploits for subsequent tracks while setting the scene and tempestuous atmosphere for the album to come beginning with Fire Red Glass Heart which leaps from its predecessor’s sonic lure. Immediately the winding tendrils of sonic enterprise springs from guitarists Petros Nikiforakis, Steve Lado, and Manthos Stergiou, the latter soon unveiling his clean and alluring vocals too backed by the harmonic tones of Lado. As the song slightly intensifies, a rawer gruffness appears in Stergiou’s delivery, the contrast of his vocals merging perfectly as the song twists and turns through its theatre of enterprise and melody fuelled expression.

The track captivates from its first note to last, a tempest like climate brewing without quite erupting saving itself for the outstanding turbulence of The Electric Sun. Wiry strands of guitar soon collude with ravenous riffs and the heftily swung beats of drummer Nick Argiropoulos; again contrasting textures and extremes of energy aligning in a fluid and clarity graced challenge to captivate ears and imagination alike. That rawness is there again to enhance sound and vocals as well as the song’s eventful atmosphere, offering a dirtier trespass to the technical prowess which intensifies alongside the nagging riffery and scything rhythmic persistence on offer.

coverresize_RingMasterReviewThrough the turbulent and at times almost spatial landscape of Self Destructive Haze and the mazy multi-textured Thread Of Life attention is tightly gripped, the second of the two a real seduction of ears with its invasive storm cored by melodic beauty, and latterly, dark stringed seducing while the exceptional Concentric Waves, with the ever compelling bass exploits of Kornelius Kiriakidis especially magnetic, mesmerises as it aggressively and technically swings to and fro.

As impressive as its first touch and listens are, Harmonic Confusion simply grows in strength and stature over time, tracks like Triangulation Through Impasse and Savior Complex laying highly persuasive seeds straight away which seem to blossom over time. The first of the pair twists and turns with increasing relish and grievance across its length whilst still bringing a variety of tones to vocals and intensity to its body. Another favourite and major highlight of the album it is matched and over shadowed by the mellower yet no less dramatic and dynamic exploits of its successor. As across the album, there are elements which maybe are less than unique than others but Tardive Dyskinesia embrace it in their own imaginative and technically riveting designs to fine and here mouth-watering effect with the noir lit call of the sax icing on the dramatic cake of the album’s greatest moment.

The album is completed by the infectious and hungrily resourceful Εchoes 213, its hooks and melodies alone as biting as they are romancing, and lastly the instrumental journey of Chronicity, a captivating epilogue to all before.

Harmonic Confusion is without doubt one of the year’s tech/prog metal treats and yet there is still a feeling that there is more to come from and creatively discover within Tardive Dyskinesia; a thought to add extra spice to one fine release.

Harmonic Confusion is out now on Playfalse Records and @ http://tardivedyskinesia.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/tardivedyskinesiaband

Pete RingMaster 22/09/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright