High Down – Moving On

Suggesting they might be the ones to give the British pop punk scene an invigorating new breath, Portsmouth hailing High Down have just released their first EP. Moving On offers five slices of ear pleasing infection carrying punk rock, each bearing a sound with a spikiness which alone commands attention and further investigation.

Emerging last year, High Down made a potent mark with debut single Family & Fiends, the track recorded with producer Matt O’Grady (You Me At Six/Deaf Havana). Its impact was followed by the band playing slots at the likes of Seasick Fest, Butserfest, and Teddy Rocks Festival as well as share stages with bands such as WSTR, Roam, and Like Pacific. It is fair to say that things are beginning to stir for the quartet, a motion sure to gain momentum through Moving On.

The EP opens up with new single Life Lessons, guitars instantly luring ears with their catchy invitation. It is an infectiousness which is as instinctive in the vocal prowess of Luke Smithson and the rhythmic stroll of bassist Tim Hoolahan and drummer James Grinter who it appears has since left the band. The energy of the song is bold but with an enterprising restraint, it constantly pulling on the reins throughout but blossoming from that same reflective control. Feet and ears are soon lost to its temptation, appetite to its mix of harmonic warmth and again reserved but open irritability.

Making History backs up the fine start with its own line in melodic suggestion and rhythmic persuasion, it too keeping a hold on its boisterousness but giving enough of a rein to stir the spirit especially within another rousing chorus. The guitars of Darrell Ellis and Joe Soar weave a captivating web of sonic adventure with the former’s vocals potently backing the lead tones and expression of Luke Smithson. There are no big surprises yet each moment of accomplished endeavour increases the song’s draw, a quality just as inescapable in next up All On You. High Down has been given comparisons to artists such as Blink 182 and New Found Glory, the third track with its high kicking beats and nagging riffs a contagious example of why. There is a greater fire in its belly than in its predecessors and similarly an even more imposing catchiness that commands attention and response as smart hooks and harmonic dexterity relentlessly tempt.

The acoustic seduction of Rescue Me follows with vocals and guitar crooning knowingly with thought and emotion. The song features the guest tones of Nottinghamshire singer Christina Rotondo, her vocal beauty a striking essence in the union with the similarly impressing presence of Smithson. With a rawer edge to its gritty finale, the track grows in intensity and emotion to truly hit the spot before making way for the pinnacle of the release. The best track on offer for these ears, Against The Tide instantly winds wiry tendrils of guitar around ears, their steely touch alone a keen lure but only tightening their invitation with their niggling prowess, one matched in dexterity and persuasive trespass by the muscular swings of Grinter and the growling bass of Hoolahan. It is a dynamic and imposing yet again seriously infectious proposal to bring the highly enjoyable encounter to a fierce close.

In many ways there is nothing overly remarkable about Moving On yet every moment it shares is rich in enterprise and energy whilst being backed by a potential which suggests High Down can have a big presence on the UK if not European pop punk theatre.

Moving On is out now and available @ http://highdownuk.bigcartel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/highdownuk    https://twitter.com/highdownuk

Pete RingMaster 05/09/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The LaFontaines – Class

The LaFontaines_ Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review

Tagged as Scotland’s biggest independent band, there is no doubting that anticipation for The LaFontaines’ debut album has been in full swing on the back of acclaimed releases and a live presence seeing the band headline shows in New York, tour the UK and Europe with Watsky, and play their biggest headline sold out show to date at Glasgow’s ABC amongst numerous successes. The majority of that happened in a triumphant 2014 for the band but it is easy to expect bigger, more forceful spotlights upon the band in this with the release of the thrilling and fascinating Class.

static1.squarespace.com_ Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review   Formed in 2010, the Motherwell hailing quintet first snatched attention with the All She Knows EP in 2013, following its success the following year with the similarly eagerly received Under The Storm EP. The absorbing diversity and sounds of the Matt O’Grady (You Me At Six/Don Broco) produced Class now blends the qualities of those previous releases with a new adventure of invention and enterprise. It is at times a startling release, persistently a striking one, and even when its persuasive energy slips a touch, album and indeed band just enthral as they brew up an impassioned and tenacious incitement. The words of frontman Kerr Okan probably describes it best when he says, “We’ve spent the past 3 to 4 years leading up to this point. Everything we’ve seen on the road or experienced together as a band has finally made its way onto record. It’s guaranteed to shock those who assume we’re simply just the best live band in Scotland. There’s so much depth to these songs, a load of pain and struggle, but underlying throughout all of the writing, is some real grit and determination.

There can be few albums this year with as rousing a start as Class offers through Slow Elvis. From a distance the song looms on ears, hitting them on arrival with pungent anthemic rhythms and fiery riffs. It is not particularly aggressive or explosive yet within seconds the opener has ears and appetite seriously aroused and hanging onto its swing. Spatial sonic endeavour fills air quickly too, surrounding the swaggering vocal rap of Okan as bass and drums intensify their bait with a snarl and punchy attitude. Additional vocal calls and melodic revelry only adds to the incendiary brew, the track evolving into a Rage Against The Machine meets Lazy Habits encounter wrapped in the sultry hues of Muse.

The sensational start is quickly backed by the similarly electrifying Under The Storm, a burst of guitar sparking handclaps and melodic vocals with fire in their breath. The track is soon shrugging off any restraint and with sinews flexing, it strides resourcefully through ears behind scythes of guitar and bass which in turn are led by the stirring mix of clean and rap cast vocals from bassist John Gerard and Okan respectively. Though openly unique compared to its predecessor, that description of references again applies, and like the first song is twisted into something unique to The LaFontaines. Unpredictability also is a ripe asset to both songs, and indeed the album, that and the great Scottish lilt fuelling the jabbing potency of the rapping.

     The album’s title track comes next, a gentle caress of melodic temptation crooning over the senses as rhythms fling their enticement around in a robust dance. Once more the mix of vocals is a magnetic tempting in the indie seeded and lively serenade of the song, the melodic lure of Gerard as potent as the creative jangle of guitar from Iain Findlay and Darren McCaughey. Revealing more of the depth and imagination in the band’s songwriting and sound alone, it is replaced and emulated by Castles. This too has a reserved touch yet its heart is a blaze of sonic expression and evocative intensity. A sizzling start slips into a mellower embrace around Okan’s delivery, both taking ears and thoughts by the hand and leading them into new eruptions of emotional drama. Without quite matching the plateau of the first few tracks, the song easily steals full attention with its Biffy Clyro meets The Kennedy Soundtrack like canvas evolved into something distinct to this new breed of Scottish rock ‘n roll.

King steps up next, its great bluesy guitar twang an immediate tasty enticing to which a throaty bass groan from Gerard and the punchy spits of Okan bring their own irresistible tempting. Featuring guests Luke Prebble and Michael Sparks, the song whilst wrapped in the tangy keys of McCaughey and vocal harmonies prowls rhythmically and emotionally. Gospel like in ambience, mischievous in imagination, the track has ears and appetite hungry, their need fulfilled by Junior Dragon. Not for the first or last time, drummer Jamie Keenan stirs up body and emotions with his skilled incitement from which the song exposes an even grittier and volatile side to the band’s sound. Arctic Monkeys like in devilry, Freeze The Atlantic like in energy, and Able Archer like in creative grandeur, the track grows into a rich bellow of voice and sound for another major highlight of Class.

A fiercely shimmering persuasion comes with All Gone next, another with a predacious edge to its rhythms and character backed by a great rapping stroll from Okan but maybe for the only time on the album a strong impact slips as the melodic and harmonic side of the song flows. Nevertheless the track captivates and solidly pleases if without finding the spark which ignited earlier songs, an ingredient the outstanding Window Seat has in strength. A more smouldering persuasion, it takes time to reveal all its rich levels and qualities but over time becomes a mighty peak of the album. It is an intense slice of emotional balladry built on a muscular frame, this draped in quite superb and mesmeric vocal strengths. It might be ballad like but there is a tempest at its heart which makes the song a volcanic croon and just irresistible.

Enjoyable but less dramatically engrossing is All She Knows, an easy going and arguably formula song in respect to the band’s songwriting. It is relatively unique to outside references but finds it difficult to stand out in the richness around it, though again to be fair the track is only enjoyment for ears, something which again applies to Paper Chase. Its eighties indie pop essences definitely add something fresh but once more the track struggles to linger like the insatiable successes elsewhere upon Class.

The album closes with the thick and shadow enriched caress of Pull Me Back, keys a melancholic but dramatic expression against the anthemic beats of McCaughey. They are a mere moment in the ever evolving landscape of the excellent song of course, every second, note, and syllable from across the band just inventive theatre.

It is a fine end to a thoroughly exciting release. Certainly there are moments when Class slips from its loftiest perch but it is generally down to the brilliance of some songs in comparison than the failures of others. As suggested, the first album from The LaFontaines has been long and greedily awaited and now here it undoubtedly lets no one down.

Class is available now via 889 Records from most online stores

http://www.thelafontaines.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/thelafontainesmusic

Ringmaster 17/06/2015

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

 

 

The Afterparty – Distances

TAP'14

Distances the new mini album from UK rock band The Afterparty is one of those thrilling releases which makes a sizeable and instantly agreeable initial impression but over a brief time it has hooked the emotions, reeled them rigorously in, and locked them away in an inescapable cage of lustful appreciation. It is a formidable beast of an album fusing melodic and alternative rock into one exhilarating riot of sound and passion. It is also an encounter which suggests that The Afterparty is still a work in progress which only adds to the excitement generated by the six track tempestuous stomp.

There is little we can reveal about the band except they consist of vocalist Nic Matthews, guitarists Matt Semmens and Joe Roshier, bassist Dave Sheard, and drummer Matt Russell, were formed in 2010, and have just come off a successful UK tour with We Caught The Castle and Road To Horizon. To be honest their music does all of the talking and Distances certainly shouts loud and vivaciously for them. Produced by Matt O’Grady and bringing previously released singles into a healthy union with new tracks, the self-released album lights up the imagination from start to finish, suggesting that The Afterparty is more than ready to explode into an intensive spotlight; an attention it is not hard to expect coming their way sooner rather than later.

Lost Cause opens things up and is sooner thrusting melody fuelled riffs and grooves with a pleasingly abrasive edge through the ears, The Afterparty 'Distances'vocals smoothing their passage with strong harmonies and expressive intent. The bass of Sheard just as quickly as the guitars grabs attention; its throaty tones a riveting shadow to the scorching enterprise and adventure sculpted by Semmens and Roshier. The at times rumbling rhythms from Russell also steal their fair portion of the scenery; his athletic craft understanding restraint and aggression within a song perfectly. The track continues to leap upon and side step expectations with invention and exhausting endeavour as it provides a thoroughly contagious and invigorating start to the release.

The following Cover Up strides purposely as its makes its entrance before relaxing into a niggling persistence of guitar soon joined by a clean vocal narrative and framing beats courted by the ever dramatic voice of the bass. It is not long before the song is into the pungent stroll of the chorus, infectiousness and climactic emotions a crescendo of irresistible and slightly familiar if indefinable persuasion. Like the first track, it intrigues with its unpredictability within a well-defined body of sound and intent, and like every song a fascinating proposition to surprise and enthral.

By the end of each track you feel you know them as a close friend such their addictive prowess and easily accessible inventiveness, the next up Open Road being no exception. The song romps with sinews an open attraction from its first breath but reins them in as the band explores the emotive landscape cast leading to the ridiculously catchy chorus, another explosive anthemic temptation which this time has a definite Fleetwood Mac to its melodic lures. One of the first singles to draw people into the arms of The Afterparty it is clear to see why with its easy but potent bait.

The band’s latest single When The Lights Go Out initially is a gentle walk with elegant stroking melodies though that bass once more adds virulently tempting shadows. It is a strong if under whelming start but within a minute things turn into a furnace of passion and inflammatory energy which simply awakens the song, musically, vocally, and in heart. It is an absorbing and anthemic fire, guitars igniting the air and rhythms caging all of the passion of the vocals and sonic endeavour within their commanding presence masterfully.

The outstanding Liar Liar comes next, the track thrusting its almost antagonistic intent and muscular body at the ears with riffs barracking and grooves entwining the senses whilst rhythms lay down their own hungry bruising. It is a glorious start with Matthews roaring as he rides their charge, subsequently bringing a harmonic union with the band when the song nestles into a less forceful but similarly imposing stance. It along with its predecessor discovers the perfect union of reserve and ferocity, restraint and fiery emotive expulsions, both telling you all you need to know about The Afterparty and the reasons you should watch them closely. The closing Within The Looking Glass only adds to that evidence with its drama and intensive emotion not forgetting immense musical quality.

It is hard not to be excited by Distances, especially as despite how mighty it is the suggestion that The Afterparty is still in the earlier stages of their creative journey is strong. It is another step in their ascent to eagerly relish and breed a hunger over but easy to feel that it is just the beginning of many very notable and inspirational horizons ahead which only increases thrilled anticipation.

https://www.facebook.com/theafterpartyofficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 07/04/2014

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Midday Committee – Girls In Open C

newpromo

UK pop punks Midday Committee continue their steady and increasingly impressive emergence with new release Girls In Open C, a six track plus intro mini album of melody rich emotively designed pop songs with a raw edge to their presence and energy. There has certainly been a buzz around the Portsmouth quartet across the south of England for their vibrant presence, shows with Kids In Glass Houses, Lower Than Atlantis, Mallory Knox and Verses adding to their strong stock, but with a newer grazing glaze to their sound that attention threatens to spread much further afield through the new release. Arguably there is nothing dramatically new to the songs upon the release, a familiarity always making its hints to stop the band from distinctly standing apart from other similarly genre clad bands, but equally there is a craft and passion not forgetting creativity to the foursome which ensures they are not just another easily forgettable proposition. With songs which linger and hooks that dig in deeply to prolong the potency of tracks long after they have finished their declarations, Midday Committee warrant eager attention.

Formed towards the end of 2010, the band has been through the expected line-up changes in its initial growth as well as less assumed happenings like near fatal accidents involving Jet Ski’s to build a presence with the prowess to turn heads and light fires as their increasingly potent fanbase proves. Their previously two EPs, Nice Kids, Bad Judge Of Character in 2011 and I’m Sure Someone Mentioned A Cheque the following year, marked out the band for acclaim and attention but it is fair to say that the Matt O’Grady produced Girls In Open C sees the band at a new level in songwriting, sound, and craft. As all good pop punk proposals, the songs making up the release are as anthemically infectious as they are melodically bewitching, whilst the heart and passion of the band soaks every note and syllable so that the release may not be unique but it is undeniable contagious and a long term engagement.

From a fourteen track Intro which maybe has been given a track listing of its own just to say there are seven offerings on the release (too Frontcynical?), things start properly with I Swear To God I’m Going To Pistol Whip The Next Guy Who Says Shenanigans, a track which emerges from the coaxing of that potent brief starting piece. The guitars of Rich Sanders and Keiran Heath cast a pleasing graze of riffs and sonic tempting across the ears but it is the great throaty tone of Adam Hall’s bass which steal the initial focus most of all. That is until the excellent vocals lay their compelling hand on the suasion. Whether it is Sanders or Heath which leads the narrative, both driving the vocals together across the release, we cannot say but it is hard not to take to the delivery as keenly the potent sounds around them. With the drums of Kurtis Maiden a respectful but thumping protagonist to it all, the song makes a powerful marker for the release to follow. Melodies and hooks do not demand but command a healthy appetite towards them whilst the accomplished stance and flavoursome weave of enterprise just catches the imagination.

Maybe I Should opens up with a similar melody to its predecessor though it is soon courted by distinctly different rhythmic bait and guitar sculpted endeavour. As the first everything from the individual skills and united melodic enticement is easily accessible and infectious though the track does lack the spark of its predecessor, that little something to lick at and tease the passions into a stronger submission. Nevertheless with precise hooks and good group vocal calls the track continues the strong start with ease which Casino through a slower emotive showing matches. The shadowed dark tones of the bass once more seduces whilst the emotionally atmospheric caress of vocals and guitar bring senses and emotions thoughtful satisfaction which is lit further by the ever catchy choruses.

The pair of the virulently infectious and inventively bright Hometowns and the eagerly vivacious in energy and charge Game’s Been Called, keep spirits lively and pleasure intense, both rife with addictive hooks and ear seducing melodies all coming with a bite and edge to captivate further. Again there is that definite surface familiarity across songs which prevents some tracks leaping out as they should but beneath that with focus there is plenty simmering and subtly inventing within songs which ultimately stand out, and in the case of the second of these two with an open blaze of dramatically imaginative persuasion leaning into a classic closing vocal lure.

The release is finished by the excellent Just Me And You which features Christina Rotondo of the also impressive and well worth checking out Searching Alaska. The song starts out as an acoustic embrace with simply bewitching dual vocals which alternately embrace the senses. The track is a delicious encounter which if remaining in this state would have brought the curtain down to a rousing applause but once the vocals hold hands and the rest of the band flesh out their emotive hues, the track becomes an evocative fire.

It is easy to see why Midday Committee is highly thought of by a great many and with Girls In Open C expect them to move into a more intensive and deserved spotlight. The release also suggests that the band is still evolving with plenty left in them to discover and explore which has anticipation already quite excited.

Check out the video for Hometowns @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUQwO5_evP8

https://www.facebook.com/Middaycommittee

http://middaycommittee.bandcamp.com/

8/10

RingMaster 07/04/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Jet Pack – Heat Of The Moment

jp

Reinforcing the success and presence of their recently released Chasing Sunsets EP, UK alternative rock band Jet Pack have added to its impressive persuasion with new single Heat Of The Moment. The second to be taken from their acclaimed EP, the track even away from the wrapping of its initial very potent appearance, leaves appetite and expectations for the band’s presence and future high and eager.

The Cheltenham quartet of vocalist/guitarist Dennis Cook, lead guitarist Paul Roberts, bassist Richard Beattie, and drummer Sam Haskins, came together in university and took little time but plenty of energy in sharing their melodic rock invention, shows alongside bands such as Hype Theory, General Fiasco, Attention Thieves, and Hildamay marking the way as well as acoustic slots supporting Blink 182, City and Colour, and Biffy Clyro. Chasing Sunsets has certainly taken awareness of the band to another level countrywide which you can only assume the single will give another dose of adrenaline to.

Heat Of The Moment makes a restrained yet fiery entrance, guitars coaxing out evocative melodies whilst the beats of Haskins punctuate their narrative with firm punches. The vocals of Cook make a smooth and expressive narrator for the lyrical emotion and with the great throaty tone of Beattie’s bass tempering the elegance and flaming invention of Roberts, it all combines for a smouldering slice of emotive pop which impresses and grows stronger with each impacting caress. Soaked in hungry but respectful intensity and melodic enterprise, the Matt O’Grady [You Me At Six, Deaf Havana] produced song is an appealing simmering temptation.

Accompanied by a directed Ant Thornton video and followed by a string of dates with Conduit, The Heat of the Moment confirms Jet Pack as one of the more promising and exciting melodic rock/pop bands to have emerged in recent times. We await the next unveiling from the band with keen anticipation.

https://www.facebook.com/wearejetpack

8/10

RingMaster 28/11/2013

Jet Pack Gig dates in December 2013

Thurs 5th – The Grapes, Stafford

Fri 6th – The Abbey Inn, Oldham

Sat 7th – The Derby, Barrow-in-Furness

Sun 8th – The Asylum 2, Birmingham

Mon 9th – The Golden Cross, Coventry

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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City Of Ashes – All We Left Behind

City Of Ashes Online Promo Shot

Alternative rock band City Of Ashes started off the year in fine style with their debut EP, a release rich in promise and accomplished craft to suggest the UK band as a bright emerging spark in British rock. Now the Sussex quartet are seeing out the other end of 2013 with an equally attention grabbing release in first album All We Left Behind. Consisting of twelve vibrantly emotive and melodically potent tracks, the release is a continuation of the introduction made through the Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness EP. It may be a small expansion of the impressive starter but makes a firm confirmation of the band’s strengths whilst providing an engaging presence.

Formed in 2009, the Eastbourne band took little time in honing their sound and taking it to stages across the South East and subsequently the country. Simultaneously their fanbase rose as the band shared stages with bands such as Skindred, Exit Ten, Polar, Shadows Chasing Ghosts, Fei Comodo, Hildamay, Young Guns and many more. The Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness EP brought Orion Powell (vocals), James Macdonald (guitar), Dan Frederick (bass), and Dan Russell (drums) into sharper focus within a brewing awareness of their expressively impacting sounds as paraded on the release and you can only suspect that the returning Matt O’Grady (Deaf Havana, You Me At Six, Don Broco) produced album will reinforce and push further that recognition.

It is fair to say that All We Left Behind has not made a major leap on from its impressive predecessor but certainly shows that City Of Ashes Cover Artworkthe band has a range of songwriting depths and songs which have a wide high quality base to spring from. From the short intro instrumental Initia, the album flows into the dramatic Ode To Innocence. Guitars coax the ears in sonic angst from the start whilst the compelling bass line seeds strong intrigue into the emotive narrative of the song musically and vocally. There is a Placebo edge to the sound and voice of Powell, as well as a feel of Mind Museum and Funeral For A Friend which adds spice to the strong voice and design of the song. It is a smouldering enticement with fiery bursts of passion which only accentuates its persuasion and makes a deeply satisfying start.

Next up Falling Star takes things up another level, the guitar coaxing which starts things off immediately riveting and soon given extra potency as persistent beats and the continually engaging vocals of Powell join the tempting. The first stretch of the song reminds of Waiting For The Weekend by The Vapors but soon finds its distinct character as the guitars expands their melodic arms and intensity unveils its weight and emotion. The song never explodes into dramatic action but offers a persistent almost nagging declaration which is very easy to devour and want more of.

Both Recovery and In Retrospect present a lingering enticement, the first a gently building slice of hard/alternative rock with a slight Manic Street Preachers essence to its evocative flavouring and the second a reserved stroll of provocative melodic textures and emotional bait. Neither matches the opening pair of songs but still continues the album’s weighty call upon thoughts and appetite whilst The Highest Point Of Living provides a tender ballad of fine vocals and chilled guitar suasion which from a decent start grows bigger and more impressive, especially through melancholic strings and the excellent tones of Powell, alongside band harmonies. It is a song which inspires tingles in its latter climactic parts and leaves the senses and emotions ignited in appreciation and pleasure. The song seeps into next up Brand New World where the band creates another healthy slice of alternative rock with a melodic pop glaze. It does not set fires in the passions but still adds to the flavoursome richness flowing through the release.

Across the likes of Decay and Dorian Gray, City Of Ashes keeps attention firmly locked in their direction even if the album has lost some of the potency found in its first half, the skill of the band and the craft of songs an attractive constant. Alongside those though the rhythmic tantalising of Masks and Waves, with its dark prowling shadows provided by the bass a conflicting yet complimenting union with the sonic breeze and melodic stream of invention, bring All We Left Behind to a formidable closure. The album leaves a strong taste for City Of Ashes and their inventive sound even if maybe it does not have that spark or ingredient yet to send the passions into full ardour. The feeling that this trigger is waiting within the band’s horizons is impossible to dismiss and something to add spice to the suspected rise of one very promising band.

www.facebook.com/cityofashesband

7/10

RingMaster 11/11/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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City Of Ashes: Then There Was A Hand In the Darkness EP

 City Of Ashes Promo Shot

       Slowly burning like a smouldering wick in the passions, the debut EP from UK alternative rock band City Of Ashes ensures its ultimate persuasion is a full and lingering declaration through a melodic breath and enterprise which will not be denied. Offering a breath to their sound which can ignite the senses with either a soft indie caress or a post hardcore quall, the quartet from Eastbourne, Sussex have taken their first bow with a record which ripples with strong promise and marks the band immediately as one to watch, and enjoy, very closely.

Formed in 2009, City Of Ashes delivers a sound which though not one to open new avenues for their area of rock music it certainly offers an imagination and accomplished skill alongside thoughtful songwriting which flames like a torch against many of the other emerging alternative rock toned bands. Comparisons to the likes of Thursday and Lostprophets have been cast upon the band with the former of the two references certainly an open influence one feels when emerged within the stirring tracks on the Then There Was A Hand In the Darkness EP. Since its beginnings the band has honed its sound and earned a deserved recognition for their hard working and impressive live performances and ethic as well as a formidable underground following. The past years have seen the band light up stages alongside bands such as Skindred, Yashin, Young Guns, Exit Ten, Polar, Fei Comodo, and Hildamay to name just a few whilst enduring line-up changes and other obstacles. Produced by Matt O’Grady (You Me At Six, Deaf Havana, Don Broco, Your Demise), Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness is the first nationwide statement from vocalist Orion Powell, guitarist James Macdonald, bassist Dan Frederick, and drummer Dan Russell and one which it is hard to imagine falling on deaf ears.

The release opens with the compelling Falling Star its initial guitar rub and vocal stroking from Powell an immediate lure to theCity Of Ashes Cover Artwork ear and attention. Soon the vocals hit full range with fine accompaniment from others in the band whilst the melodic gait of the song erupts into a passionate roar to match the great vocals. At times the song reminds of eighties band The Vapors when the Guilford quartet moved away from their oriental doodling, whilst throughout there is an earnest and expansive atmosphere and energy pulling the emotions to merge with those of the song. The rhythms are sinews which enthral without defusing the potency of the heart of the song and all in all, the track is impressive as an opener and stand-alone track from the band.

It is also quite infectious as is its successor Beggars & Thieves. It is a feistier track than its predecessor offering a view of the band with their post hardcore gait at play. The bass of Frederick is a riveting prowl alongside the again firm beats of Russell whilst Macdonald blazes with sonic enterprise behind his shards of melodic coaxing, both acidic and warming. Once more the vocals are an expressive highlight and at this point it is a given Powell will wring the heart of a song of all its passion and pass it over impressively to the listener. The track does not unveil obvious hooks to capture its recipient but uses subtler yet no less contagious weaves which feel familiar but new.

The Highest Point Of Living and Hourglass bring another  diversity to the release, the first an emotive ballad whispering which wraps tender but heavy hearted arms around the ear with great surety. The song is an impassioned fever exploring and showing off the immense tones of Powell supported by the warm gentle yet passional sounds of the band whilst the second of the pair is a tower of shifting intensity and power which is bristling with creative intriguing and inventive accomplishment.

The release saves the very best to last with the thumping A Calm Like Lethargy, a track which fully shows the adventure and depth of inventive opportunities within the band and their open creative intent. Again merging a muscular aggression with fine dazzling melodic ingenuity, the song is a magnetic and irresistible confrontation with intimidating riffs and mesmeric sonic brilliance scoring the eloquent and assertive vocals.

It is a mighty close to an EP in Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness, which ignites all the right thoughts and reactions inside. It might not top best of lists in the long term but easily sets City of Ashes as a band which deserves proper attention especially from fans of the likes of Thursday, Shadows Chasing Ghosts, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Fei Comodo.

www.facebook.com/cityofashesband

RingMaster 21/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright