Monte Pittman – Inverted Grasp of Balance

Pic stephanie-cabral

Pic stephanie-cabral

I wanted to make the heaviest and craziest music I ever have” is how Monte Pittman described one of the intents behind his new album, Inverted Grasp of Balance, going on to add, “I really feel that it’s an album that will grab you and demand your attention.

It is an aim which is powerfully realised and statement swiftly proven true by his fourth album, though he should have added the adjective ‘rousing’ in there somewhere too as the Metal Blade encounter certainly raises the spirit and energies with forceful potency. The successor to acclaimed predecessor The Power of Three, Inverted Grasp of Balance sees the ex-Prong guitarist and long-time collaborator and guitarist with Madonna narrow the diversity to his sound without losing its broad character, a move which has brought a fresh intensity and predacious heaviness to another fiercely contagious and anthemic proposal from him.

Beginning the writing and creation of Inverted Grasp of Balance almost from the minute the work with The Power of Three concluded, Pittman teamed up with drummer Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned, Iced Earth, Death) and bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, David Lee Roth, Winery Dogs) to record the album with Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) handling production duties. From its first breath, the release launches itself at ears with an urgency and raw energy arguably not heard before in a Pittman offering, opener Panic Attack rising from a great sonic probing into a tempest of thrash fuelled rock ‘n’ roll. Pittman’s pick toys with guitar strings, creating an ensnaring web from the first seconds before both Christy and Sheehan collude in a fevered charge. Like Metallica meets Foo Fighters, the track romps and stomps, the trio creating a virulent tempest ensnared with the striking craft and imagination of Pittman’s grooves and splintered solos.

It is a mighty start which maybe even raises the ante in the following Arisen in Broad Daylight, certainly keeps the persuasion as intensive as the track excites and incites body and spirit. With moments of carnivorous personality, its powder keg of infectious energy and aggression simply infests the senses leaving the appetite greedy which successor Guilty Pleasure feeds further. Rising from the closing strains of the second track like a close cousin, the track is as grievously confrontational and irritable as it is an epidemic of punishing rhythms and bewitching guitar interplay, Pittman’s ever strong and galvanic vocals like a ringleader. With an excellent moment of predatory calm, the song makes a play for best track honours.

evolve_cover_RingMasterReviewThe Times Are Changing has a less menacing nature to its body next, but still weaves a network of sinister grooves and invasive rhythms to challenge the senses while Double Edged Sword entangles classic metal hues in its melody thick and magnetically volatile climate of sound and intensity with Sheehan’s bass a gloriously snarling and adventurous beast. Both tracks make a compelling persuasion with the brief Skids like hooks of the second a nice tempting touch around another fine wine of a solo before the haunting melodic seduction of the short guitar sculpted instrumental Cadabra allows a breath to be taken. It is a recovery quickly spent though as Pride Comes Before the Fall uncages its feisty prowl of cantankerous rock ‘n’ roll and even more impressively California devours the senses. Starting on a deliciously grumbling and inventive lure of bass, the track skirts ears, sizing them up with dark intent before sharing a half catchy and half raptorial proposal.

Through the ferocious virulence of Be Very Afraid and the drama soaked creative psychosis and tenebrous air of Obliterated, enjoyment of Inverted Grasp of Balance is firmly reinforced, the latter a muggy imagination inspiring instrumental after which Skeleton Key returns to a lighter and warmer landscape built on commanding rhythmic muscle and impassioned melodies and vocals.

Completed by New Blood Keeps Us Alive, a moment of melancholy spawned acoustic captivation which brews and explodes into a heart sharing roar, Inverted Grasp of Balance simply hits the spot. It might not be the most unique offering this year and is at its strongest in its first half but with the songwriting of Pittman its most rounded, his guitar craft exhilarating, and Christy and Sheehan matching in their individual invention, few releases will be as enjoyable in the short and long term than Inverted Grasp of Balance.

Inverted Grasp of Balance is out now via Metal Blade Records and through http://www.metalblade.com/us/releases/monte-pittman-inverted-grasp-of-balance/

http://www.montepittman.com   https://www.facebook.com/MontePittman   http://twitter.com/montepittman

Pete RingMaster 29/09/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Standing before the jaws of time: talking Exumer and Raging Tides with Mem V. Stein

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Following the release of Exumer’s ferocious and thrilling new album The Raging Tides, a fearsome and virulent proposition which confirmed the US Thrashers as one inimitably uncompromising force of sound and energy, we grabbed the opportunity to steal a slab of time with band founder and vocalist Mem V. Stein. Kindly he let us in on the creation and background to the band’s latest protagonist for ears and imagination as well as providing insight into his and the band’s creative heart.

Having chatted with Mem back in 2012 around the release of previous album Fire & Damnation, we asked him to bring us up to date with all things Exumer between the two releases?

art

Next we asked Mem if there was any specific aim in regard to the writing and character behind The Raging Tides

There is no escaping an evolution and movement in sound between albums, and fair to say The Raging Tides was as open in a creative leap and shift as any Exumer release to date. So we asked Mem where he most saw the differences and growth of sound between the latest albums and Fire & Damnation.

How about the edge and snarl in what is for The RingMaster Review, the band’s most venomous and compromising encounter musically, as well as lyrically, so far.

exumer_RingMasterReview

Staying with the lyrics, and what feels like a slab of unrest and defiance, as well as an raw commentary on, the injustices and sufferings dealt upon the ’common’ man today, Mem delved for us into the main inspirations to the lyrical side of tracks and to the overall theme behind The Raging Tides and whether the band has become angrier with each release and song over time, emotionally and sonically.

The Raging Tides saw Exumer link up with producer/engineer Waldemar Soychta at Waldstreet Sound in Dortmund again, so we wanted to know what about what he brings to the recording experience.

It seemed strange to say it about a band formed in 1985, but we wonder that with The Raging Tides, Exumer had truly slipped into its creative skin; its sound coming of age?

exumer2_RingMasterReview

It is fair to say that Exumer’s new encounter has lit a fuse for a highly successful and no doubt eventful 2016 and beyond for Exumer. So we had to ask what was in store for fans and band across the rest of the year.

Finally we simply left Mem to add any final thoughts which had a message for Exumer’s British fans.

Our big thanks to Mem for sharing his time with us and for letting us into the heart of band and The Raging Tides. Check out the band and all their upcoming tour and show news @

https://www.facebook.com/exumerofficial/

http://www.exumer.de/   https://twitter.com/exumerofficial

Pete RingMaster
The RingMaster Review 15/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Blood Divisions – Self Titled

Blood Divisions _RingMaster Review

Blood Divisions, band and EP is the coming together of a host of metal’s talented for a two track encounter that without sending excitement into overload provides one very satisfying offering. The self-titled proposal will also see a portion of proceeds raised by sales donated to Rock & Rescue, a charity helmed by acclaimed producer Jay Ruston, as well as the Warren County Tennessee Humane Society; that alone is worth the investigation and offering of your cents and pennies.

Released via Metal Blade Records, the EP features two cover songs brought to life by the likes of, amongst many, Ralph Santola, Dave Austin, Greg Gall, Terry Butler, and Chris Jericho (full list below); the latter when recently talking about the project stating “BLOOD DIVISIONS is an all-star collection of some of the most talented musicians to ever come from the legendary southern Florida metal scene. Being a HUGE fan of all of these musicians and their legendary bands, especially Nasty Savage, when David Austin himself asked me to lay down the vocals, I responded immediately, ‘YES! What songs do you want me to sing and how many studded leather gauntlets can I wear?’ I’m so honored and proud to be a part of the project and very excited with the results. Trust me, it’s going to tear all of your fuckin’ heads off, in the best possible way!

First track is a cover of the Nasty Savage incitement The Morgue, a song which has ears and imagination fascinated from its opening breath of keys and sinister dark stringed portentousness. Drama oozes from every choral fanfare and melodically epic enticement as the song grows within ears, it soon settling into a dark chamber of string plucking craft and rhythmic predation lorded over by the distinctive tones of Jericho. Shadows continually come alive as the musical narrative evolves, enthralling ears and attention with only a slight slip of persuasion when the song opens into a more expected heavy metal stroll, though again twists and turns are part of the continuing adventure. There are times it feels like the track is trying to fit in as many of the individual skills of the line-up as it can within the nine minutes or so, and it’s fluidly reflects that a touch but nothing to defuse a thoroughly enjoyable and increasingly alluring encounter.

The second track is a take on the Scorpions classic Top of the Bill, another resourcefully solid version if one which did not take with personal tastes as potently. To be honest our preferences generally never include an appetite for heavy metal/seventies hard rock in their menu but nevertheless and as expected with the musicianship on offer, the track still persuades with a blaze of vocal and creative dexterity in an enjoyable stomp.

Whether Blood Divisions is a one off or something which may as a project evolve we will see, but whichever its EP is certainly worth a moment of your time whilst supporting worthy causes.

Blood Divisions features:

Chris Jericho – vocals

Dave Austin – guitars (Nasty Savage)

Ralph Santola – lead guitar (Death, Obituary, Testament, Iced Earth)

Terry Butler – bass (Obituary, Death, Denial Fiend, Massacre)

Greg Gall – drums (Six Feet Under)

Bill Owen – lead guitar (Purgatory)

John Mahoney – lead guitar (Fester)

Ben Meyer – lead guitar (Nasty Savage, Low Brow, Gardy Loo)

Blood Divisions is available now as a digital EP via Metal Blade Records

Pete RingMaster 31/08/2015

Scaling reasoning: talking Abiotic and Casuistry with John Matos

 

abiotic2_RingMaster Review

   Gripping eras and attention with its first touch, it is fair to say that Casuistry, the new album from progressive death metallers Abiotic, has grown into one fiercely fascinating and increasingly compelling proposition. The Miami quintet’s debut album Symbiosis three years back marked the band out as ones to seriously watch but it only hinted at the evolution and corruptive majesty now enthralling from within its successor. Casuistry had us hooked at go, only tightening its grip over every listen, so with big thanks to guitarist John Matos we had to delve deeper into the album; the less than settled times leading to its birth and the whole creative adventure involved.

Hello John and many thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

It has been a short while since your new album Casuistry was unleashed, a release which has come after an ‘eventful ‘time for the band in personnel changes alone. Has its release come with a flush of relief as well as excitement in some ways?

An album release is always full of excitement and nerves. On this one, we had to overcome some particularly difficult hurdles, but it’s made us stronger than ever before. Stoked to finally be able to show Casuistry to the world!

As a listener it is clear the impact both Brent (Phillips) and Travis (Bartosek) have made on not only the album but your sound too. Where did their contribution to Casuistry begin? Were songs already written before their arrival or were they heavily involved in that area too?

The music for Casuistry was just about done being written and in skeleton form when both Brent and Travis joined. Brent had some great ideas and really brought some power and creativity behind the kit. Travis had complete freedom on both lyrics and phrasing. Really blew us away with how catchy his phrasing was and how comfortable he looked. First time together in the studio and it felt like he’d been with us since the beginning.

How did you meet the pair and what inspired the (right) choice to bring them into the line-up?

We met Brent and at a show in south Florida where his band opened up for us. When that transition period began, he was my first choice in finding someone who’d be up to par with playing these tunes, but also with a lot of potential and drive. Brent was an easy decision for us and finding a good drummer is always hard, so we were very lucky! Travis came highly recommended from a friend in the Bay Area death metal scene in California. He auditioned, along with some others, and we decided his sound, tonality, and phrasing was what the new sound needed.

abiotic cover_RingMaster ReviewI am assuming the album took a fair amount of time to get from writing to release, from the disruptions alone. What is the time period to its creation?

We started working on new songs right before our run with The Faceless in 2013, so it had been a little over two years in the works. The disruptions actually worked out in our favor, because we had more time to make the songs the best they could be. We were able to give each song the time it deserved and I’m really glad it ended up that way.

Where would you say the changes in members have affected the album most, in the positive and the negative where you had to reassess ideas and intentions maybe?

Musically, we’ve always been on the same page as far as what our intentions were. We’d been talking about what we were wanting to do with the next record even during the Symbiosis album cycle. I feel like the member changes brought out even more so what we were trying to accomplish. We were able to explain our goals and find those key parts to the puzzle that wanted to accomplish the same things. The negative aspects were merely in the momentum. Because we were in a transitional period, we took a couple of steps back to make some necessary steps forward.

Our first taste of your sound was with debut album Symbiosis, which blew us away. In hindsight though, as we mentioned in our review it is now for us overshadowed by the maturity and sheer creative strength of Casuistry. Where do you see the differences and the strongest leaps between the two?

Thanks so much for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed Symbiosis. Strongest differences were definitely in the song writing. We really tried to focus on putting what gets fans enjoying Abiotic into catchy songs that aren’t overly technical or sounding forced. We also took the approach of this album being pummelling from beginning to end…No filler tracks or anything half assed. Every song has a focus and a goal on its own and in its place on the record as a whole.

Did you approach the new album, apart from the enforced issues, any differently to its predecessor in writing and in the studio?

We did it very differently than the first one, actually. On this one we were able to record pre-production for all the songs and really get a listeners point of view before going into the studio and finalizing. Our first album was written completely in a warehouse and we just practiced for hours. The new approach gave us a different perspective and allowed us to hone in our sound.

The album was recorded with producer Jamie King, a name which needs no introduction. What inspired the link-up and was there anything specifically you discovered in your sound and ideas through his input which brought something unexpected to the album?

We always had Jamie’s name in the mix when it came to recording. He’s recorded some of our favorite records and has a great relationship with Metal Blade. The opportunity presented itself and I could not be more satisfied with the product. Jamie really killed it! Jamie let us be us in the studio and creatively, kind of dick around. We were extremely prepared going in, so we had time to explore and Jamie created the exact kind of vibe and environment we needed to do that.

Any ideas inspired which you are looking to explore further in the next release?abiotic photo Vince Edwards_RingMaster Review

We definitely want to explore some more progressive elements on the next one. We’re already working on some new stuff and it’s going in a cool direction already!

Two tracks on the album also feature guests in vocalist John Gallagher of Dying Fetus (Cast Into the Depths) and guitarist Paul Waggoner from Between the Buried and Me (Absence of Purity). What sparked their potent contributions to Casuistry?

We toured with Dying Fetus in 2013 and kept in touch. Those dudes are amazing and absolutely legendary. I still jam Fetus every day and having John on was an absolute honor. Jamie actually reached out to Paul for us in regards to the guest solo and I could not be more honored to get to play such an awesome solo live. Paul absolutely rips it on Absence of Purity and we’re very grateful for his contribution as well!

We obviously have our favourite moments on the album, is there any particular song or moment in a track which gives you that extra tingle of satisfaction?

I feel like the ending of Absence of Purity is the embodiment of everything we’ve had to go through as a band. Every obstacle we’ve overcome and all the uphill battles to come. I get that purely from the music and it gets me every time. Even on stage. I hope that other people get that same vibe.

You have blasted the album out live since May; did you expose the whole album to the stage in one go or choose particular tracks?

We’ll choose particular tracks for this one, but we’ll be playing about 5 or so new ones, so nearly half the album. It’s going to be a fun one, for sure!

When writing and creating tracks some bands have the live setting in mind to, how songs will translate to studio and gigs, and others of course worry about that after. How about with you guys?

Though we would not sacrifice creativity for it, we definitely keep the live setting in mind. We’re all fans first and really want to make sure everything translates well in the setting where we have everything to prove. We always want to keep our live show on par with what you hear on record.

What comes next for Abiotic after the tour?

Our goal is to stay as busy as we can during this cycle and see as many faces in as many cities as we can!

Once more thank you for chatting with us, any last thoughts you would like to add?

We can’t thank you all enough for the support and hope to see you at a show soon! Thank you for keeping metal alive!

Read our review of Casuistry @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/abiotic-casuistry/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 19/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic

Pic by Justin Reich

Pic by Justin Reich

 

It is tempting to call the Between the Buried and Me music a kaleidoscope of sonic and inventive hues yet that suggests a randomness which certainly does not apply to their persistently compelling and dramatic explorations. In saying that though, there is an organic unpredictability which seemingly evolves on its own so that at times you wonder if the band knows what is to emerge any more than the listener. And so it is with their seventh album Coma Ecliptic, a series of gloriously imaginative plains of roaming sounds and immersive textures which whether a BTBAM fan or not is seriously compelling, that together create an epic emprise of aural fascination which is either creative ingenuity or insanity.

It is easy to see Coma Ecliptic splitting opinions though hard to imagine many dismissing its technically immense, musically explosive, and rivetingly captivating journey out of hand. Equally the reference to it being like a rock opera does it no favours, certainly with those like us instantly cringing at the thought and term, but assumptions should be cast aside as, even though there are indeed moments of indulgences and flamboyant enterprise, the concept album is bred from the same template of musical and lyrical probing that made previous release The Parallax II: Future Sequence so bewitching and thrilling. It is a whole new beast of course bred from the similar seeding which unites all the band’s releases, but BTBAM doing what they do best, tearing up their own rulebook with zeal and tenacity.

Lyrically Coma Ecliptic follows a single protagonist who stuck in a coma travels through his past lives, each track an individual episode set in “a modern day, sort of The Twilight Zone-esque” world. In each place he can choose to stay or move on to search for a better place, ultimately being met with the ultimate question life or death. The rest is for you to find out but in true BTBAM fashion, the lyrical side of the album is as involved and time consuming to reap its full rewards as the music. There are a few things to pull Coma Ecliptic up on, if you wish to be over analytical and demanding, but like the best sci-fi/fantasy movie, run with its liberties and proposition rounding flaws, and unbridled pleasure through full-blooded adventure are the rich prize.

Cover_RingMaster Review     Opener Node cups ears in a gentle yet emotive touch of keys, Tommy Rogers’ fingers and voice swiftly stroking ears and imagination even before melodies broaden and their elegance mesmerises. The melancholic air of the song has its own ethereal light and hope, album and band immersing the listener into the realm of album and story with sublime ease, even adding Queen-esque flames of epic tones and sonic grandeur to striking effect. It is a potently enticing start which slips into the theatrical and magnetic embrace of The Coma Machine. Many have compared the album and some of its textures and flavours to bands like Dream Theater yet aside from the unavoidable uniqueness of BTBAM, here and often across the album Australian progressive metallers Voyager nudge thoughts. The track ebbs and flow in energy and rousing intensity as it explores its and the story’s depths, and is just as enthralling as it writhes with majestic imagination, whether in a gentle hug of a croon or roaring with aggression and passion.

Dim Ignition emerges from an electro bubble next, synths a lively and nagging simmer within drummer Blake Richardson’s increasingly intimidating rhythms. The song flows into the immediately darker hued Famine Wolf, portentous and ever gripping bass tempting from Dan Briggs alongside just as shadowed keys, their haunting smothering consuming the senses for the ever spellbinding craft and invention of guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring to exploit and shape further. The track’s early predator like union grows from one relatively inviting premise to a volatile incitement, with Rogers vocally entwining his superb clean and just as impacting raw metalcore seeded deliveries to match the sounds. The track is thoroughly absorbing, even making its less than seamless slip into a jazzy, psych rock like twist work perfectly and never relenting in making every minute unique from another.

As outstanding as it is though, King Redeem / Queen Serene steals the show, growing from the departing breath of its predecessor into a tempest of pop, funk, melodic revelry, and ravenous metal ferocity; every aspect fuelled by a contagiousness which simply intensifies with every elevation of aggression and invention. Imagine spilling the essences of Periphery, Society 1, and Cardiacs into the BTBAM mix and you get something close to this exhilarating encounter.

Both the imposing Turn on the Darkness and fascinating The Ectopic Stroll keep the fires of serious enjoyment burning, the first at times bordering on the bestial as its landscape savages as siren like seduction joins in equal creative measure. Its successor explores a dance seeded gait and scenery, piano keys a punchy spark to the tenaciously evolving avant-garde landscape, and both songs, but especially the second, tempestuous weaves of expansive flavours, styles, and bold intent sculpted by musicians openly at the top of their game and imagination.

     Rapid Calm brings a spatial yet melodically and emotionally intimate proposal forward next with mellow vocals, harmonies, and keys the warm serenade to the carnivorous walls and depths soaked in challenging intensity lurking and eventually exploding from deep within. Bewitching hardly does the song justice but that is what it is as it wraps its mesmeric and often rabid charms around ears and thoughts. Coma Ecliptic is undoubtedly an album which challenges and involves both aspects with every second, it shown again with Memory Palace and after that Option Oblivion. The first of the pair is soaked in blues and funk rock resourcefulness, a folkish festivity also getting in on the persuasion as the song traverses through ten minutes of instinctive and virulent creative alchemy whilst the second is like looking into a fire, every flame of sound distinct to another yet perfectly aligned in one senses sizzling incitement.

Coma Ecliptic is completed by the emotionally rousing Life in Velvet, another fusing intimacy with grander winds to fine effect. The intoxicating Jamie King produced album leaves the richest hunger to hear and learn more, which is lucky as like their other encounters, it is a proposition which needs numerous plays to really get into its constantly revolving corners and levels, our words above barely scratching its surface let alone depths to be truthful.

The best album from Between the Buried and Me to date?…Well it has to be seriously considered and argued over but there is no denying this is another major success and thrill from the band which their fans will get lustful over and others will at least offer a thick complimentary smile or nod.

Coma Ecliptic is available now on Metal Blade Records @ http://www.metalblade.com/btbam/

http://www.betweentheburiedandme.com/   https://www.facebook.com/BTBAMofficial

RingMaster 14/07/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

 

New roars and creative chapters: talking Armored Saint with Joey Vera

 armored-saint_photo04_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review

  There is no doubting that the new album from Armored Saint was one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2015, and in turn no surprise certainly to fans, that it showed the band like all the best malts, just keener and more flavoursome over the years, simply better with age. Win Hands Down is a proposition distinctly Armored Saint but ripe with stirring invention and adventurous attitude aligned to maybe their most explosive craft yet. It is beast of a release which meant we did not have to be asked twice when given the opportunity to talk with the band about their new triumph. So with thanks to bassist Joey Vera, we looked in on the making of Win Hands Down, the new freedom seemingly flowing through songwriting and invention, the band in the modern metal scene and…

Hi Joey and many thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Let’s get straight to the chase and talk about new album Win Hands Down which is deservedly earning strong acclaim since its recent release. Do you find you have the same emotions and excitement with each record you unleash or does it vary with each release and situation?

Yeah the feelings are generally the same. We’re very proud each time we finish a record. But must say this time the fallout is somewhat more electric I have to admit.

In regard to creating the album, Jon (Bush) was quoted on the albums press release as saying, “When we started work on this record, I said, ‘Let’s pretend we are a really big band and can do armored-saint_photo03_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Reviewwhatever we want’.” Now I find it hard to believe Armoured Saint as a band and as individual musicians would allow restrictions to deflect ideas and intentions or have thoughts of being anything less than a ‘big band’ creatively. So could you elaborate on what he meant and how you used it as a spark in the creation of Win Hands Down?

We’ve pretty much done our own thing this whole time. But we always have this reminder over our shoulder that there’s some kind of expectation from us. But I think we started to feel freer from that starting with La Raza. We feel more than ever that we can do whatever we really want. But let’s be frank, there are SOME confines that we live in, but it’s a matter of how much you are willing to elaborate from those confines. It takes balls to go outside a comfort zone and we felt like we had to go past that this time.

Did you approach the writing and recording of Win Hands Down with any major differences to how for example you made last album La Raza?

Not really. The bottom line with us in the past 10 years is, just write great songs. When we were younger we were more likely to be concerned with making some kind of impression. But that’s all out the window now. We have nothing to prove to anyone.

There is a freedom in the songwriting of the new album, a more adventurous bucking of expected structures in metal and heavy rock songs. This in turn gave it a bolder energy and unpredictability which was maybe less pronounced in its predecessor; something you would agree with?

Absolutely, again, we’re at a point where we need to push ourselves and see what we’re capable of. We get very tired and restless if we feel like we are not moving in a forward direction, for better or worse.

What primarily sparked this different intent and exploration in the writing of songs?

Maybe our age? We truly enjoy making music. But we have to create something that is interesting and fun for us first. Seems obvious when I say it, but it’s fun and exciting to take chances, and horribly boring playing it safe.

Cover_Reputation Radio/RingMaster ReviewThis freedom in exploration will be continuing in future releases we can assume such the potency it gave Win Hands Down?

Well I sure hope we continue to explore what we are capable of. Otherwise, time to hang it up.

How so does the songwriting process generally emerge within the band?

They last two records have pretty much been done by John and myself. There’s just some kind of snow ball effect that happens when the two of us start writing. It’s genuine and honest and the results are great, at least to us. We take contributions from the other guys of course but the shapes have to fit inside the puzzle. It can be difficult sometimes but the guys all know what’s right.

Were there any specific inspirations fuelling the lyrical side of the album and its tracks?

Well as John writes, some of it comes from a personal place and some it reads like fiction. But in either case John has written this one wearing his heart further down his sleeve than in the past. A lot of it hits home.

Going back to that freedom point, and I guess you have already answered this but I get the feeling that the band and again you all as individuals are now in a place where you primarily do, write, and create things for you rather than when expectations of others whether it be fans, labels etc.?

Ha, you’d think I’d read ahead on these questions but I didn’t. Yes, we have to please ourselves first. We are very fortunate that we have a loyal fan base and loyal support from our label that allows us to do this.

This also allows other projects and opportunities to fit in with the band’s ‘exploits’ without difficulties I assume?armored-saint_photo02_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review

Managing our lives is tricky these days, no matter what.

Armored Saint has been a greedily devoured and potent proposition within metal since the early eighties and over three different ‘chapters’. I wonder though that even with all the thrilling and impressive releases you have given us, hi-energy quality shows you have played, that the band is the most relaxed with itself right now and subsequently blossoming even more creatively taking Win Hands Down as evidence?

Perhaps, we are in our golden years. We’re very tired of stressing the small stuff.

Where would you say the band has most dramatically changed since its early days?

Well I guess the fact that we are more at ease now, more than ever.

And where do you see Armored Saint in the landscape of metal today?

Just recently I began to think that we’ve always been on our own island and in the past, that bothered us a little. But now we love it and embrace it.

As mentioned you have been and are involved in numerous other projects and bands, would you say this has also played a big part in the evolution of the band’s sound and in your albums consistently having a fresh and modern feel whilst retaining that distinct Armored Saint sound?

Sure. I’ve become a better player and musician all around, largely due to all of the amazing musicians I’ve have the pleasure of being with. I learn so much from each guy I jam with, I listen and learn.

What is next for Armored Saints?

We will be playing some great shows the rest of this year and into 2016. We will be shooting a new video in late summer and more tour dates. A live DVD is also in discussion.

Big thanks again for chatting with us, any last words for the readers?

We must give thanks to our fans that have followed us since day one, and since they’ve come on board. We cannot do any of this without them. Thank you for coming with us.

Read our review of Win Hands Down @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/armored-saint-win-hands-down/

https://www.facebook.com/thearmoredsaint    http://www.armoredsaint.com/

Thanks to Andy at Metal Blade for arranging the interview.

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 19/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Armored Saint – Win Hands Down

Photo byStephanieCabral

Photo byStephanieCabral

Some things are at their pinnacle straight away and some just get better and more potent with age. Taking Win Hands Down as evidence, Armored Saint is definitely one of the latter, the release for us the most inventive and exciting proposition from the LA band in a long time. The album has all the essential ingredients which have made Armored Saint one of the ‘unsung’ but generally devoured heavy metal propositions of the past three decades, but equally a fresh attitude of invention that explores ideas the band want to pursue rather than feeding expectations bred from previous offerings. The result is an album which has you rocking like a dog in heat.

It has been five years since the release of previous album La Raza, time that has seemingly seen vocalist John Bush, guitarist Jeff Duncan, bassist Joey Vera, and guitarist Phil Sandoval with brother and drummer Gonzo explore arguably even bolder ideas and imagination in songwriting and sound. Major departures are not rife within Win Hands Down but openly unpredictable and striking ideation lines the album to fine effect.

The album opens with its title track and a slab of prime Armored Saint persuasion which never gets tiring though this is one song which does feed expectations a touch. The song is an instant cauldron of rhythmic and energetic aggression, the band launching itself at ears with a sonic tail wind as things slip into place for a thumping stomp of an encounter. Things settle a touch as Bush with his ever alluring voice sets the song’s narrative and heart in motion. Fair to say, the frontman’s vocals have always been a major attraction for us, his Anthrax days seeing of the finest moments of that band with his rich and explosive tones at the helm, and his potency again lights things up here. The opener proceeds to rumble in ears and appetite until sparking the imagination with a melodic, almost spatial passage. It is a thoroughly engaging and intriguing moment, though for the main the track is a highly agreeable if, to go against the grain of other opinions, a little underwhelming. Simply it offers what you assume you will get from Armored Saints, a highly accomplished and enjoyable encounter, which of course is no bad thing either.

Cover_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review     The core adventure really starts with Mess, the second song a bone shuddering barrage of rhythmic bait in its first breath and a volatile predator of ears thereafter. Gonzo Sandoval continues to sculpt a web of antagonistic and inventive rhythms whilst the bass of Vera snarls with every groove expelled. Riffs are equally as imposing and at times bestial in tone whilst the superb guitar enterprise and imagination shared by Duncan and Phil Sandoval mouth-watering, especially when adding some eastern mystique and melodic unpredictability into the mix. It is a treat of a song swiftly backed by An Exercise in Debauchery, a song about “people’s fascination with porn.” Thick basslines and spicy grooves collude with the rich roar of Bush, whilst drums revolve in aggressive and anthemic prowess. The tapestry of the song continues to get more involved and fascinating with every passing minute, samples and funk fed grooves amongst many things turning a potent rocker into a major pinnacle of the album.

Muscle Memory mellows the intensity and air of Win Hands Down a touch with its opening reflective power balladry, though in no time Bush is leading a powerhouse of sonic expression and rhythmic tenacity. The song continues to entwine elevated intensity and impassioned drama with calmer temptation, again as its predecessor and subsequent tracks, avoiding going down a more formula route of simply repetitious verse chorus etc. The creative freedom offering from that intent is as potent and exciting as the sounds sculpted within the album, and a quality explored further by the power metal predation of That Was Then, Way Back When. Like a muscle-bound stallion leaping from a race starting block, the song grumbles as it voraciously strides through ears, cantankerous rhythms flexing as carnivorous bass lines prowl with heavy incitement within the brew of creative hues cast by guitars and vocals over the song’s narrative.

Rock ‘n’ roll does not get much better, though it does get persistently replicated within Win Hands Down, as proven by the outstanding With a Full Head of Steam. Pop, rock, metal all collude for a fiery romp of a proposal, a rampant adventure energised further by the guest vocals of Pearl Aday which share the spotlight with Bush and co. The vocal union is a delicious success matched by the increasingly sublime enterprise of guitars and the contrastingly intimidating and animalistic qualities of bass and drums. The album’s title track is the lead song but as next single and enticement for the release, it has to be this gem of a thrilling persuasion.

Inspired by the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, In an Instant is an emotively fired and provocative proposal whilst Dive straight after provides a piano led, shadow blessed ballad, which from a lean opening evolves into a smouldering seduction of melodies and vocal reflection within a hug of evocative strings. Both songs take longer to inflame thoughts and passions but instil the album with further magnetic diversity and given attention become pungent proposals to increasingly and greedily devour.

The album finishes with Up Yours, a dirty and adversarial bruiser with punkish inhospitality but equally equipped with melodic imagination and sonic invention. Like it started, the album finishes with a strong and thoroughly enticing invitation impossible to turn down, but the prime creative meat and majorly exciting richness of Win Hands Down comes in between.

Surely destined to be acclaimed one of the heavy/melodic metal triumphs of the year, it feels like Armored Saint is entering a new creative chapter with this album whilst staking their place again at the fore of the metal scene.

Win Hands Down is available now via Metal Blade Records @ http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/item/32456

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RingMaster 05/06/2015

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