Vital Signs – Smoke And Mirrors

 

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A new band but with a potent pedigree and experience bred in the Pennsylvania music scene amongst its members, Vital Signs make an immediate strong and attention grabbing impression with debut EP Smoke And Mirrors. Consisting of five tracks which skilfully croon and roar with a passion and adventure you can only form a healthy appetite for, the release shows there is some vibrant fresh blood stirring within the melodic metalcore scene. It is does not exactly breach the existing boundaries of the genre or startle with something imposingly new yet has an enterprise and tenacity to its songs which demands enjoyment and keen interest in their growth.

Formed in 2014, Vital Signs consists of Alex Runk (ex-An Early Ending), guitarists Alex Bolton (ex-Ace Augustine/ I Am History) and Bryan Merriman, bassist Frankie Donaldson and drummer Patrick Sherman (ex-I Am History). As mentioned it is a line-up rich with experience and it shows in the songwriting and simply mature nature of their first EP and indeed opening song Sound of the End. Its initial melodic atmosphere comes with an immediate drama which builds as the intensity and weight of the song increases. It all leads to a seconds pause before an eruption of fiery riffs aligns to crusading rhythms and a great steely bass sound for a potent enclosing of ears and senses subsequently lit further by the instantly engaging clean vocals. These are courted by a raw growl behind them which steps forward more forcibly as hostile antagonism from the guitars begins standing toe to toe and united with acidic grooves and anthemic persuasion. It is a seriously rousing stomp which is as carnivorous in tone and intent as it is seductive, a tempest of ideation and craft swirling around the listener with viciousness and inventive charm.

The outstanding start is backed powerfully by the EP’s first single Dear Death. The technical qualities of sound and band take the lead as the song bustles with a busy energy before finding occasional relaxation in a just as spicy and intriguing scenery of melody coloured sound. Though for personal tastes it does not quite match up to its predecessor, the track shows all the attributes and imagination which invigorates every song on the release. It is catchy and belligerent in equal measure musically and vocally, offering a web of spite and warm tones from where the attention stealing clean vocals are as gripping as the constant twisting of the track’s musical landscape.

A short piano led instrumental simply called Interlude comes next, though its emotive and finely crafted presence feels as if it is in the wrong place and suffers from an already hungry appetite only wanting more of the ravaging already devoured. That comes with The Chosen which employs similar melodic coaxing from the previous piece within its tempestuous and again furiously magnetic proposal. Essences of bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Miss May I make suggestions but similarly there already feels like there is a twist in the tail of Vital Signs’ sound which promises greater variety pushed adventures ahead. The song continues to bloom with vocal and keys spawned beauty against a staggered tirade of Meshuggah seeded tempestuousness, a blend continuing into the furnace intensity of the EP’s closing title track. For every searing guitar driven intrusion of the senses and swipe of rhythmic malice, there is a radiant melodic licking or vocal harmony caressing the wounds. It embroils ears and thoughts in a final raging and masterful storm ensuring sound and release lingers well after its departure.

A slight lack of originality against the crowd shows there is room to hone and explore their sound more, as well as at times a similarity certainly on the surface between songs. Also at times there is less potency in the raw growls compared to the continually impressive clean delivery, but to be honest these are minor thoughts right now in a rather enjoyable and promising first roar from Vital Signs.

The Smoke and Mirrors EP is available now via Imminence Records @ http://imminencerecords.bandcamp.com/album/smoke-and-mirrors

https://www.facebook.com/USVitalSigns

RingMaster 28/01/2015

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Amongst Carrion – We That Should Not Be

The debut EP from UK metalers Amongst Carrion is beast  of staggering might and striking quality that short fuses the ear through unexpected pleasure as much as it does with crippling herds of rampaging riffs and destructive melodic interplay. We That Should Not Be is a deeply impressive release that unveils a band already at great heights in its development but still providing evidence there is so much more to come, a frightening and very pleasing promise.

Formed in 2010 the quintet from Newport, South Wales the band started out as a cover band but with a completely new line-up has since emerged as one of the most promising bands in UK metal today. Consisting of remaining founder member lead guitarist Dan Coppuck alongside vocalist Joshua ‘AJ’ Lewis (ex- Chase The Sunset), rhythm guitarist James Hampson, bassist Dan Pugh,  and drummer Scott Waters, Amongst Carrion discovered a new drive and seriousness that inspired a creative growth resulting in the eruption of might that is We That Should Not Be. From what one could call a fallow start the band has evolved into a brutal force to leave metal staggering under its destructive weight.

As metal as it is metalcore the EP buckles the knees from its very opening refusing to leave one to find their feet until it has finished its intrusive destructive testing of the senses. Influenced by the likes of Parkway Drive, Miss May I, and August Burns Red the band are merciless in their consumption and habitation of the senses, laying waste to their ability to feel and leaving a very satisfying numbness in their wake.

The release opens with an intro promising epic proportions, an ominous warning of what is to come. That is soon realised with Shadows Over Me, the song erupting with bone shaking rhythms and coarse withering vocals from Lewis. The guitars slice through with chunky intermittent riffs as well as razor sharp scorched melodies. Sauntering with eagerness as open as the destructive intention permeating it, the song snarls and rages wonderfully over the keen vein of creativity spearing it.

The title track continues the fine start bringing an insistent badgering of the ear aside from the towering inferno of riffs and raging rhythms. As on most songs the groove that underlines the aggression is firmly mesmeric and a strong counter for the continual onslaught above. At this point it is apparent the vocals of Lewis do not come with a lot of variety but he is strong and appealing at what he does so  for this release the lack of diversity certainly can be overlooked.

The gut churning violations of Painted Red with its In Flames like groove and obliterating rhythms, the strong The Fear in Her Eyes, and the Killswitch Engage flavoured Snowblind, all keep the emotions riled up and body brutalised to great satisfaction. It is fair to say that Amongst Carrion are still finding an uniqueness to their sound to truly take them away from similar flavoured bands but that is just a matter of time and right now they easily lead the pack anyway.

We That Should Not Be is an impressively colossal debut from the band and set to take Amongst Carrion to a prominent position within UK metal.

https://www.facebook.com/AmongstCarrion

RingMaster 28/03/2012

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Silent Screams-When It Rains

The new album When It Rains from Coventry band Silent Screams marks not only an impressive debut for the UK metalcore band but the initial release from Ghost Music, the new label founded by Ghostfest creator Toyan St Hilaire, who made the band his first signing. Immediately impressed by the band’s album St Hilaire threw himself into unleashing it on the world; commenting about the release he said “As soon as I heard the new SILENT SCREAMS record, I just knew it was gold – I just knew I had to do something with it… ‘When It Rains’ made such an impact on me that I’ve decided to finally put my money where my mouth is; hence GHOST MUSIC was born! I’m super excited to be working with this band and their record!”  Upon hearing When It Rains it is easy to understand his enthusiasm as the album is a power house of intent and creation. For a debut it is immense and though it may not be flawless it carries an edge and purpose as well as thoroughly stunning sounds that many if not most releases lack.

The band already have impressed during their rise up the UK metal ranks, tours and shared stages with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Your Demise, For The Fallen Dreams, and Emmure around not only the UK but Europe and Australia, bringing constant upward surge in their following and anticipation for their debut release. When It Rains produced by renowned producer/engineer Joey Sturgis (Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria, Miss May I), does not disappoint at all only pleases.  

To some extent When It Rains takes a little work when first diving into its feast of sound, there is not an immediate connection. Well not strictly true as musically it does light up the senses and offers intrigue and thrills at every twist and turn in its varied soundscape of hardcore, progressive and melodic metalcore. Where it struggled to make an impact initially was vocally though repeated listens, which all releases deserve for a true assessment, found the blend much easier to come to terms with. It is hard to work out if it is the production or James Ryan’s natural delivery but his growls and shouts at times lack definition and are too unrefined to make them easy at first to take in. To be fair it does not help when alongside him bassist Tom Craig provides clean vocals that are glorious and give a wonderful scope to the songs. Personally the hope more use will be made of his voice in the future to bring a greater even mix between them both brings eager anticipation.

That is the only issue there is with an excellent debut form the band. Musically they are tight and unafraid to infuse varied directions and ideas which provide a constant interest and invitation within their release. Opening track ‘Assume The Worst’ strikes with full aggression and intent providing a mighty wave of fierce drumming from the explosive Adam Mallabone and cutting guitars sounds and bludgeoning riffs from Sam Varney and Ozzi Osman. The first half of the track paces itself with a firm steadiness holding back its diverse moment when with a growling riff and resonating bass from Craig it starts exploring and expanding its limits, the vocals from the bassist soaring out over the gruffness of Ryan.

The consistency across the album is perfect, not one track dipping below the high level set with the opener. Songs like ‘Desperation’ with its commanding teasing groove, the strongly emotive ‘Til There’s Nothing Left’, and the album’s best track ‘Sinking’ all raise the bar with sounds and performance lined with fierce assertiveness and incisive delivery. The latter of the three unveils its kaleidoscope of inspired songwriting, intricate play, and diversity wonderfully, engaging forcibly as it permeates the senses. It is the strongest example of what the whole album achieves and which is bringing menacing and brutal sounds together with stirring harmonies and delicious melodies that enthuse as equally as the forthright and irrepressible riffs.

When It Rains is an immense debut and gives strong excitement for future releases from Silent Screams, and if they find sort out the vocals a little more the band will tower over most rivals.

RingMaster 25/10/2011

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