We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling

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Pungent in sound and emotion, Unravelling is a proposition which simultaneously makes a big impact and worms sneakily away under the skin and into the psyche. The new and third album from Scottish rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks, it is a riveting exploration, an adventure capturing ears and imagination like there is no tomorrow. Everything about the album is thick, in rhythmic persuasion, emotive intimacy, and raging melodies, but equally there is a clarity allowing every individual drama to play out their narratives musically and emotionally. The Edinburgh band has never been low on attention grabbing enterprise and songwriting but Unravelling is a coming of age, We Were Promised Jetpacks gracing a new plateau in invention and sonic expression.

Formed in 2008 by friends and vocalist/guitarist Adam Thompson, drummer Darren Lackie, bassist Sean Smith, and guitarist Michael Palmer whilst the four were at University, We Were Promised Jetpacks soon became a potent presence on the Glasgow music scene and almost as quickly were snapped up by FatCat Records. Debut album These Four Walls was unveiled in 2009 to critical acclaim, leading the band to an intense run of shows and festival appearances as well as supporting bands like Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad. After the release of The Last Place You’ll Look EP the following year, the band set about second album In the Pit of the Stomach, which was recorded at Sigur Ros’s Sundlaugin Studios in Iceland. Again fans and media devoured it keenly and with praise whilst the band’s live reach saw them hit the US to great success. Now the band is set to recharge the passions with Unravelling, a release looking lyrically at “the notion of a conflicted protagonist struggling to keep their life on course, while battling a creeping sense of uncertainty and impending doom.” The first release featuring new member and multi-instrumentalist Stuart McGachan, and recorded with Paul Savage (Teenage Fanclub, King Creosote, The Twilight Sad, Mogwai), Unravelling is a tempestuous flight for senses and thoughts. Its climate is sultry and sonically hazy, its emotion tense and tenacious, but mostly the album is simply an inescapable captivation.

Safety In Numbers opens up the release, an increasingly brewing caress of keys the first touch before melodies and shadows slip into the emerging landscape of the song. Thompson’s vocals bring a plainer but no less expressive essence, his Scottish accent adding to the colour of the unveiling narrative. Instantly it is an enthralling persuasion, the walls and intensity of the track growing and thickening as an emotive wash reminding of fellow Scots Letters, immerses the imagination. There is also an unrelenting persistence to the encounter which is almost erosive in its effect, a potency which is never far away from the heart of every song on Unravelling, but a relentless baiting unafraid to share time with flowing enterprise and inventive twists which flirt across the track.

Its successor Peaks And Troughs is the same in many ways, a seduction of even catchier endeavour and sonic ingenuity which blossoms on the muscular and intensive persistence. The bass of Smith digs into darker throatier but virulent temptation whilst the imposing beats of Lackie swing with strong and imposing relish, the combination a gripping core and driving energy upon which the evocative and colourful design of guitar and keys matched by the excellent vocals flourish. The song pushes the strong start up another level with ease, a peak swiftly matched by the shimmering warmth and melodic calm of I Keep It Composed. To that elegant side though, the song explores another almost cavernous expanse of rhythmic intimidation and contagion resulting in an absorbing and hypnotic embrace. Its texture is as thick as smog and presence as radiant as the sun’s touch, and quite scintillating.

The following Peace Sign brings a less intensive and imposing approach to ears but is similarly as chunky in its rhythmic growl and weight and as slim in its excesses. The bass of Smith again excels, swaggering and flirting with grizzled majesty whilst the guitars of Palmer and Thompson weave engrossing structures and hues around the latter’s ever potent vocal suasion. Less an epidemic than a slow infestation with its resourceful might and beauty, the song is dazzling and the perfect set up for the similarly impressing Night Terror. A heavy stroll of beats sets up a frame around electro funk revelry at first, keys and drums subsequently aligning for a bubbly and vivacious coaxing before a sultry haziness kisses the surface of all and a Josef K like causticity treats the senses. It is an intrigue drenched offering which is less urgent and compulsive than previous songs whilst giving a new aspect to the album’s expanding character and richly satisfying experience.

The dark and moody drama of Disconnecting comes next; weighty keys spawning a sinister, noir wrapped climate within which vocals shimmer and percussion dances. It is a slow haunting embrace with sinew sculpted textures and melancholic radiance, which may not quite match those tracks before it in some ways but surpasses them in menacing scenery and emotional shading. Its success is matched by both Bright Minds and A Part Of It, the first a lighter but no less emotionally attentive encounter and its successor a rawer, abrasing swamp of sonic mystique and craft around a hungry rhythmic persuasion. Again neither quite lives up to the opening clutch of songs but certainly bring new delicious twists to the flight and emotional examination of the album.

Through the darker air and almost predatory intent of the excellent Moral Compass, a song just as striking in its melodic grace as it is in its bordering on caustic breath, and the mesmeric almost stately beauty of Peace Of Mind, band and album enslave ears and thoughts majestically. The almost epic instrumental grandeur of the second of the pair is a journey all of its own, the imagination unavoidably wrapped up and sparking from its sonic emprise, before final song Ricochet provides a lasting tempest of dramatic clouds and melodic tenacity within another blistering frame of invention and emotion.

Unravelling is an album which grips from the off but makes an even greater and thrilling impression the more time it is allowed to submerge and colour the senses. It is the finest hour of We Were Promised Jetpacks with ease and surely the doorway to a new level of attention and fervour towards the band’s spellbinding sound.

Unravelling is available via FatCat Records now @ http://fatcat.sandbaghq.com/we-were-promised-jetpacks-unravelling.html

http://www.wewerepromisedjetpacks.co.uk

RingMaster 14/10/2014

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Holy Mountain – Ancient Astronauts

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Binding the senses in grooves which show no restrain or mercy in their insatiable temptation and plying that slavery with riffs which voraciously gnaw and smother all before them, Ancient Astronauts the new album from Scottish metallers Holy Mountain, is an unstoppable juggernaut of sound and intensity. It is a heavyweight antagonist merging stoner and doom metal into a suffocating tsunami of intense and exhaustive sounds, but one which veins and sears it all with at times corrosive but always incendiary magnetic grooves and melodic causticity. It is quite simply an encounter which lovers of the riff will devour with greed.

Holy Mountain, its name taken from the Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 movie La Montana Sagrada, was formed in 2009 as an improvisational duo by guitarist/vocalist Andy McGlone and drummer Pete Flett. Two years after emerging, the Glasgow band enlisted bassist Allan Stewart and went almost straight into the creation of debut release Earth Measures. The mini album found its release in the May of 2012 welcomed by strong responses and acclaim, a reaction sure to be replicated and taken to greater levels by its impressive successor. Recorded with producer Paul Savage (Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand), Ancient Astronauts is a giant leap if not for mankind certainly for Holy Mountain as they explore all the qualities unveiled on their previous release far more intensively and inventively whilst casting new wild and expansive endeavours.

LV-42666 brings the journey into view, cruising in on a sonic breeze before stroking the imagination rigorously with thrashing rhythms, Holy-Mountain-Ancient-Astronauts-300x288rapacious riffs, and addictive grooves; rogue vocals adding to the celestial mystery and adventure. As urgent as it is heavy, the track strides boldly as sinews bare their muscular appetite and melodies seduce ears with the guile and irresistible lures of a wanton temptress. There is also an unmistakable psychedelic pop romp to the encounter which only accelerates its submission of the senses and passions.

The following Luftwizard instantly brings a darker and heavier suasion but again it is lit by scorching melodies and also this time vocal harmonies which flirt and tempt the imagination as potently as the sounds. The voice of McGlone is fed through a Roland Space Chorus across the album bringing a spatial quality to his tones and the general air of songs, something equally inspired by the majestic pungency of accompanying keys. The thick imposing riffs of the song provide a deep texture to the affair which almost groans in its intensity and rapacious wrapping of the sonic maelstrom within. It is a masterful adventure guiding the listener through a union of dark and light, a mutual rather than combative merger but one with plenty of imposing shadows to its exultant fire.

The title track comes up next exploring cavernous sceneries with doom bred prowling riffery and rhythmic provocation whilst short but virulent grooves lance the thick smothering air, their strikes beacons through the appealing murkiness as the song heads into an explosive contagion which bursts out with urgency and sonic radiance. The track touches the darkest depths and brightest highs in tone leaving the senses exhausted and rewarded by the riveting ascent, their recovery given no respite as Star Kings from a rhythmic draw swiftly courted by a highly tempting bass stroll, feeds another strenuous passage of ravenous riffs and fuzz surfaced enterprise. The vocals are a little further forward and carry stronger clarity within the tempest of sound, though they still feel pleasingly immersed in the overall flood of the experience rather than being an overlying presence riding the waves. It is an aspect which is as potent and important as the riffs and rhythms in making the album the immense proposition it is, they and the ridiculously contagious toxins which the band also casts into the creative rabidity.

Not necessarily the best track, so hard to choose one, but a definite favourite here is Tokyo which comes next. A bestial vicious voice and growl to the riffs drives the track initially whilst the bass with its throaty appeal makes the good guy in the confrontation, its smiling grooves the temper to the predacious guitar grizzle and the trigger to the flirtatious sonic temptation and boisterous vocals which revel in the overwhelming devilry of the track. It is a siren of a song which is matched by Gift Giver, the danger which usually accompanies such a tempting and arguably missing in its predecessor, an open stalking at the start of the song. Its slow pacing is soon ignited as riffs escape their shackles, a punkish urgency taking over whilst the drums hold a little restraint in attack if not power. It continues to switch between extremes bringing a scintillating and unpredictable soundscape to play with and explore, a post punk severity adding its taunts from time to time in the lulls between unbridled sonic blazes. The instrumental is riff heaven and groove manna thrown into an aural alchemy and corruption to bask in.

The album is completed by firstly the seventies seeded psychedelically enhanced 100 Years A Day and lastly the smouldering expanse of Hollow Hill which alone encapsulates all you need to know about Holy Mountain in sound, skill, and imagination, as well as influences with a range of twists and enterprise which pull up references to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Electric Wizard, ones you can apply to the whole of the album even with its distinct presence. Ancient Astronauts is a magisterial slab of psychedelic rock/metal and Holy Mountain a band poised to stake their claim for a seat on the top table of the genre we suggest.

Ancient Astronauts is available now through Chemikal Underground digitally and on limited edition vinyl.

http://www.holymountainband.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 17/04/2014

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