Ion Vein: IV v20

 Rich Knight - live guitar

Photo by: Beth Piarowski

Continuing the DR (digital release)concept began by Mortal Music and veteran metallers Ion Vein of taking a snap shot of an album of music and releasing it into the market a “chapter” at a time’, the pair has just released the next instalment in the riveting and impressive IV v2.0 from the band. The new three track instalment in the passage to the full album is just like its predecessor IV v1.0, a vibrant and thrilling slice of progressive and classic laced metal.

The gap between their last album Reigning Memories released in 2003 and the first EP of last year was a long wait for fans and most likely an impatient one for something from the Chicago band which formed in 1995 but the release showed the band was as mighty and inventive as ever, in fact at their strongest to date. Founder and guitarist Chris Lotesto, vocalist Scott Featherstone, bassist Rob Such, and drummer Chuck White, have continued their impressive return with a trio of songs on like its predecessor, the Neil Kernon (Nile, Nevermore, Queensryche, Redemption) produced EP, a release which leaves the majority of emerging melodic metal bands in the shade.

The opening song Seemless accosts the ear with thumping rhythms and delicious senses churning riffs which are all muscle and IV_v.2_2x2_hiressimple but effective enterprise. Settling into a more reserved gait though the track strokes the ear with a rich melodic ambience whilst the pulsating bass of Such prowls and probes the ear magnificently. The vocals of Featherstone are as expressive and powerful as ever, and though he may not be the vocalist with the greatest range in metal he persistently delivers an immense presence and passion to each song which flares up superbly within the equally fiery sounds,  as proven on the first song of the release. The rich guitar explorations of Lotesto dazzle without indulgence to stoke greater fires within the already burning appreciation of the stylish composition and its skilful and inspiring presence whilst that rapacious bass switches on primal needs as eager as the sonic caresses tease out a devouring greed for more.

Fools Parade steps forward next to elevate things to an even greater plateau, the stalking riffs and sonic scorching an acidic feast veined by the tightly controlled yet hungrily barbed rhythms of White. Weaving through corridors of energy and an enveloping furnace of passion and imaginative melodic invention, the track has a loud whisper of the John Bush fronted Anthrax which adds extra richness to the stomping presence of the enjoyably resourceful song. It stands as the best track on the EP with ease though the final piece of engagement in the form of This is Me completes the EP with an expressive relish and melodic metal strength which rivals. The track winds itself around the ear with provocative riffs and further excellence from the sonic inventiveness of Lotesto to invite a feisty response in thought and passion for the creative flames within it and the whole release.

Arguably the concept being employed raises as much impatience as satisfaction when the tracks are as strong and enthralling as they are on both EPs to date and the want to dive into the full length lying at the end of it all overwhelming, both extremes of emotions rife  because of the great sounds and songwriting within the impressive stature of the releases. Bottom line though is that IV v20 is an accomplished piece of metal which just hits the spot from every angle and thrills throughout.

RingMaster 17/01/2013

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Monsterworks: Man::Instincts

Though they have been producing their distinctive style of creativity for well over a decade, the EP Man::Instincts from Monsterworks is our first introduction to the band, and a surprising and initially disorientating release it is too. Consisting of three songs which evolve within the ear, the release is a hypnotic and wide array of sub genres and metal flavours. Unpredictable and intentionally challenging, the EP is a provocative brew of styles with rewards which are vibrant, compulsive, and wholly enjoyable.

From Wainuiomata in New Zealand and now UK based, Monsterworks has across their fourteen years as a band, released two demos and seven albums which going by research and the sounds on this their debut EP, have more than likely all treated the listener to startling and uncompromising invention. Previous releases has included a metal space adventure concept album which came in the two parts of Spacial Operations and Singularity in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and last year an album which explored philosophical territory, The God Album. The band creates music which surely is as a big an irritant to those which have to tag and label as salt is to slugs. Their sound is a striving perpetual and fluid weave of sounds; classic, stoner, black, power, a mere few of the mass of multi metallic essences woven together in a seamless soundscape of imagination. Arguably it should not work but it does and effectively as Man::Instincts easily proves.

The first track The Creation Dream opens with instantly engaging guitar caresses which capture the imagination within moments, the melodic heat rippling off their play mesmeric. The song soon brings a muscular breath to its flight as black metal vocals scowl with venomous intent and classic metal cries permeate the background. As the tempered but brewing storm of sound wraps the ear the song is a warm consumption which ignites with fiercer surges as it moves into a folkish progressive climax. The guitar play of Marcus and vocalist Jon is skilled and constantly enthralling whilst the rhythms built by bassist Hugo and James on drum, are forceful without overpowering or deflecting from the craft of the song itself.

All Suns Die erupts with an instant blackened scramble upon the senses, the disruptive and shifting rhythms explosive and agitated. As it progresses the track explores melodic rock, progressive metal, heavy metal and more. In a mere three minutes or so it encapsulates a maelstrom of aural spices like colours within a jigsaw and like that it all fits perfectly and flows as one. It is instinctive with no sign of elements being forced or added just to be different. There are moments personal tastes are not quite sure about but it is never an issue to derail the quality and enjoyment given.

The closing track Free Will has a feisty intent, its trash surges raising the heart rate amongst the blackened veins and classic shrills. The song is arguably less eclectic of the trio, preferring a less changeable core but is no less impressive and powerful. It is true to say there is something for everyone on Man::Instincts and no doubt their albums too, though possibly for some the vast expanse to the music in its diversity will be a challenge too far, but you do not know until you try, right?

Released via Mortal Music as the second in their series of digital releases which began with the excellent IV v1.0 from ION VEIN, Man::Instincts is an excellent introduction to newcomers and continuation for existing fans.  With whispers that the EP is a taste of what is to come within future album The Album Of Man, anticipation and the need to discover the back catalogue of Monsterworks is eager.

RingMaster 29/08/2012

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Interview with Comron Fouladi of Athel

Though there is a strong and decent wave of melodic punk bands around there are not many which stand out from the crowd consistently. One exception comes in the vibrant and unique shape of Chicago band Athel. Recently the band dropped their debut album Open Your Eyes To Society, its impressive tracks a blaze of vibrant and completely infectious rock/punk sounds. Needing to know about this aural contagion and the band itself we had the great fortune and opportunity to fire off questions to bassist Comron Fouladi to learn more.

Hi Comron and welcome to The Ringmaster Review, many thanks for talking to us,

How did you all meet and when did Athel emerge?

I met Cristian in middle school and Justin just from the local band scene we were in. I introduced the two.

Who are the biggest influences to you as a musician and maybe for the Athel sound?

My favorite band of all time and inspiration is CKY.

In our review of your great debut album Open Your Eyes To Society we said the band and release was one to stand out from what seems plenty of good new punk bands but generally uniformal in sound. What is it you have which you feel sets you apart?

The CD doesn’t stick to one mold. It’s not cookie cutter music. One song will be really punk or metal, then we have something like a classic rock song come then something like modern music mixed with 90s vocal melodies.

Did the band evolve into something more than maybe you expected or reach to where you exactly envisaged?

Definitely, we started working on some of these songs when we were first starting out. I was hoping to build a local following and have some fun with some small tours. I didn’t know we would later be signing a deal and releasing them in stores worldwide. I think my kids will all think I’m a liar with all the tour stories I will tell them.

As we have already mentioned it tell us about the album and your hopes going in to its creation?

I was hoping to put out something different, I don’t think there has been many good bands to come up in the past few years and I’ve just been really pissed about modern hits so we tried to create something different haha.

How long did Open Your Eyes To Society take to make?

We started writing this in 2009. We started recording in November 2010 and finished Feb 2012.

Was it already primarily composed and written before going into the studio or grew within those creative walls?

All the songs were done before the studio with multiple demos other then These are the Times, Kara’s Carousel, and Me, Myself, and I.

How does the songwriting work within the band?

Justin will write a guitar part and vocal melody, then bring it to the table and it evolves into a full song with many ideas front here.

What predominantly inspires your songs and lyrics?

Appreciation of life is something we always talk about in our music. So many people say they want to kill themselves all the time but really the chance of life happening is a trillion to 1. You’ve came this far and are now alive might as well try and make it the best you can.

The album is your first release since signing with Mortal Music. How did the link up with the label come about?

From building a local following of 500+ kids at every hometown show and then spending 300 dates on the road one year helped as well meant a few labels took attention to Athel but I felt Mortal was right and I’m extremely happy to work with those guys.

We called the album…Mildly aggressive, vaguely intrusive, and wholly infectious…fair comment?

Definitely! We wanted this album to be our angsty album.

You previously released a couple of EPs which drew strong acclaim too but how has your sound changed if at all since starting out?

Our sound hasn’t changed much just the writing sounds like it has matured.

The album marks the band as one which is intent on giving full pleasure and riotous fun, one imagines your live shows are exactly the same?

I’ve always been a fan of putting on the best show possible. If you ever come to an Athel show I promise you won’t be let down!

What makes a great show for you?

Seeing the people unite at a concert to have fun and enjoy life. It’s an escape from the modern bullshit we have to deal with.

You have shared stages with the likes of Chris Cornell, Gwar, CKY, and The Audition. Anyone you would sell your grannies to play with?

I would love to tour with Escape the Fate. They have always been so awesome and our fans love each other.

Any chance we might see you guys over this side of the big water in the near future?

I’m hoping in 2013. We need to be there soon!

What is next for Athel?

Rob Zombies guitar player Riggs has a new band called Scum of the Earth, we will be doing an East coast tour with them August 31st through almost all of September.

Once more thank you for sparing time for us.

Any last words to end on you would like to share?

Thank you guys. Please have us back again soon. As for last words, no one ever settle for anything less then what you want in life.

Read the review of   Open Your Eyes To Society

The RingMaster Review 10/07/2012

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Athel: Open Your Eyes To Society

Really striking pop punk bands seem to be on the wane these days, there are some great bands but with uniformity to their sound which is great at the time of listening but soon lost from the memory until the next visit. Chicago band Athel with their debut album Open Your Eyes To Society seems like a band that might buck that trend. The songs on the release are vibrant and contagious and offer a fresh breath which lingers far longer than the sounds from the majority of their contempories. It openly brings familiar spices and flavours well known to the genre but places them within an invention and contagion that most others struggle to define their creations with.

Consisting of trio vocalist and guitarist Justin King, bassist Comron Fouladi, and drummer Christian Navarro, Athel bring strong traits of classic rock and metal to their punk hearted music too which adds to the distinct variety and strength the album grips the ear firmly with. Comparisons of Foo Fighters, Rise Against, and of course Green Day have been placed upon their songs and these are not hard to miss though the band probably sits nearer to the rock fuelled likes of Sum 41 with melodic insertions of a Good Charlotte or All American Rejects veining the constantly engaging sounds.

Signed to Mortal Music after the band came to the attention of co-owner and SOiL bassist Tim King, the band seems destined to rile up more than passing attention with their first full length release. The follow up to their previous couple of EPs, Open Your Eyes To Society swaggers and saunters through the ear with a sure confidence and stylish ability to excite the ear. From the opening Radio the release has no intentions other than to offer a good and flavoursome party. Mildly aggressive, vaguely intrusive, and wholly infectious the album leaves one fulfilled and with a satisfied grin. The opener sums the album up immediately, the song an easy going and pleasing invitation for the limbs and any anthemic tendencies within. It cruises through the ear with robust and eager riffs, fine harmonious vocals, and inserted rock guitar spikes to further excite, all brought with a full energy and imaginative hand.

The following vibrant These Are The Times continues the release in similar fashion, easily appealing and undemanding but it is with the next trio of songs that the album shows its true depths and strengths. All That I Am starts it off and is a gem. With a hypnotic melodic hook the Buzzcocks or Undertones would be proud of, and a Jimmy Eat World like chorus infection it is irresistible and alone offers the promise mentioned at the start.

Kara’s Carousel and Paranormal Abstract Of Everyday Life complete the triple slice of consecutive magic. The first of the two a rock textured blend of stirring metallic riffs and strikingly melodic vocals. The song suggests it might venture into pop punk or hard rock throughout but remains firmly steered between the two and is deeply impressive for it despite the fade out suggesting a lack of an ending. The other song is a muscular contagion with great acidic classic rock guitars adding a slight progressive feel. More hard rock than punk music wise, the song exhilarates and leaves one with increased adrenaline and raised eagerness to hit replay before moving on. Along with These Are The Times the pair are the biggest highlights on the album and the undeniable evidence of a band on a sharp rise.

Though the album continues with peaks and slight lulls which are still more inventive and impressive than most other similar veined releases, the album never gives less than pleasure and reward. The likes of the energetic Their Shoes alongside the melodic excellence of Me, Myself, & I and the crystalline grace of Oceans leave smooth and invigorating caresses upon the senses whilst brewing up emotions with their insistent anthemic energy.

Ending on bonus track Keep Me Awake, a song so addictive it should come with medical assistance, Open Your Eyes To Society is an excellent release that achieves what it set out to do, to leave one thrilled, energised, and eager for more. Athel still feel like they have a way to go to make that step into totally unique territory within the genre but they are well on the way and bringing great pleasure as they go.

RingMaster 18/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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The Dogs Divine – Size of the Fight

There is no pretence or illusions when listening to the new album from Illinois rockers The Dogs Divine, quite simply Size of the Fight is one meaty morsel of bold and proud rock ‘n’ roll. Throbbing with eleven slabs of varied and instinctive metal edged rock sounds the second album from the Springfield quartet is an irresistible rampant collection of songs to rouse up the pulse and incite the spirit.

Formed in 2007 the band grabbed immediate attention with after just the one show they were signed to Chavis Records, their debut album Way Of Life released the following year. Then things became a little unsettled with a few line-up changes of members and management etc, and the slow process of raising funds also delaying a follow up to their debut. Plenty of tours and shows kept the attention and excitement coming their way throughout and now with the release of Size of the Fight, a title feeling very apt for the band and the years between the albums, the band has the tool and intent to make a big explosion upon the world and its eager ears.

Size of the Fight released via Mortal Music, as with their debut has their influences openly oozing from each and every track, but this time around the foursome of vocalist Tom Hart, bassist Jim Hart, guitarist Karl Von Heilman, and drummer Jeremiah Ross have created an album that is harder and more aggressive though no less compulsive, fusing more metal elements to their melodic hard rock sounds.  The result is a hybrid mix of Motorhead, Pantera, Brand New Sin, and Revoker and though one has to say the release does not bring anything particularly new to the table it is without doubt one of the more invigorating and enjoyable albums heard this year. If you want pure and honest rock ‘n’ roll The Dogs Divine and Size of the Fight is the best place to start. 

As mentioned the album is varied and flowing with rock attitude and energy, starting with a real bang with the opening two tracks of ‘Dogs’ and ‘Overnight Sensation’. The first is a straight forward anthemic rock song inspiring fist punching with its group chorus and repetitive head nodding with its metal powered addictive riffs. Tom Hart growls out the attitude and defiance as the guitar of Karl Von Heilman teases and pleases the senses. The latter of the two takes over with similar intent, this time Hart bringing a Phil Anselmo like delivery over chunky riffs and proud rhythms, the bass of Jim Hart especially mesmeric. Such a terrific start that one would expect to find a drop in levels from there on in but there is nothing of the sort just the beginning of distinctly diverse and equally enjoyable slices of rock sounds.

FDLF’ with its classic rock/Skid Row flavouring, the southern rock veined bluesy of ‘Gypsy King’, and  the guitar powered hard rock sounds of ‘Hell Wouldn’t Have Me’ with a great though brief solo, all show the great variety and influences within the album. Add the cover of Queen’s ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ a track that is the weakest on show but still a admirable job by the band giving it their own identity, and the acoustic emotive instrumental folk beauty of  ‘Gussi’, and it is doubtful there has been a release as diverse and equally effective these past months.

Apart from the opening two tracks the two songs that bring limbs to life more than the rest is firstly ‘Brand New Addition’ with its blood pumping drive and in your face energy, again anthemic and stirring it stays in the ear long after the song lays down its last note. ‘One And Only’ follows straight after to keep the energy and thrills coming as its sing-a-long chorus and chest pounding rhythms ensure that its glory grabs firmly and deeply, not the most original of tracks admittedly but who gives a damn when it gives such uplifting pleasure.

It may have taken The Dogs Divine  a while to unleash their next teeth barring and jaw snapping album but once  Size of the Fight takes its place in the heart all that matters is the here and now and their not to be denied rock ’n’ roll.

RingMaster 22/11/2011 Registered & Protected


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