Bear – Propaganda

Having discovered Bear through their senses ravening second album back in 2013, every new moment with the Belgian outfit has been a momentous moment in our musical year and there is nothing different in 2020 with the unleashing of Propaganda, their most striking trespass of the senses yet.

There has always been an open uniqueness about the Antwerp quartet’s sound but again it has evolved into a whole new beast of fascination within their fourth full length. Described as a fusion of progressive metal and hardcore, the reality is that it is a far richer and diversely woven proposition. Within Propaganda groove and tech metal embroils in death and noise rock, a mixture only further twisted as rapacious imagination cast its weaves. The feral likes of Noumenon and successor /// have blossomed in that creative environment but Propaganda though has simply found a whole new discharge of temptation.

With its heart and breath a roar against the spins which manipulates all our lives, Bear’s new onslaught immediately descended on ears with opener Dissolve Dissipate. Rhythms immediately assault as acerbic grooves entwine the listener, a hungry contagiousness swarming the senses as the track violently devours. The thick growl of vocalist Maarten Albrechts erupts straight into the barrage, spilling further malice and tempting in a fusion only increasing in enslavement; even more so as a contrast of clean vocals rises within the sonic persistence and growing enterprise.  As the track again twists and escalates its lure, all the time soon adding greater lust to our appreciation, it is a superb start to the album and a scene setter of the invention within its body and ravenous dexterity in its realisation.

The rhythms of drummer Serch Carriere and bassist Dries Verhaert perpetually make for a magnetic invitation even as more restraint wraps their baiting of ears as the release’s title track follows. Nevertheless it instantly held attention tight as further aspects add the inescapable beckoning into a waiting deluge of sound and venom. Even that though is aligned to melodic and compelling enterprise, the track a mercurial incitement as savage as it is seductive on body and thoughts. Winding, Guitarist James Falck again weaves vines of sound and threads of grooves around the song’s transfixing length, tendrils which threaten as they lure; the track itself epitomising that feat within its predacious presence.

Obey barely allows a breath to be taken before uncaging its own predatory instincts and sounds, ferocity again interlaced with progressive and grooved imagination which not so much tempers the assail as encourages it and an already well grown addictiveness to the encounter. It is a trait we found with previous releases, a quickly formed and unshakeable hunger for their wares which is soon fertile within Propaganda and only intensified with the following pair of Apollo’s Heist and Red Throne. The first teases ears first, nagging on attention before rewarding such focus with a menacing crawl which was soon burrowing deep; the sinister temptation only accentuated by the harmonics of varied vocals and synth caresses within the ursine confrontation. It provided full enthralment from start to finish which its successor quickly devoured with its far more volatile and grievous exploits. As those before and to come, the track is as unpredictable as it is compelling, leaping with bruising dynamics yet never hinting on its subsequent moments of greedy aggression or dramatic restraints; it all delivered with devious craft and manipulative imagination.

Through the similarly ominous and disturbing intimation of the increasingly carnal Mite and the viscous animosity of Gutter Love the album only gripped tighter, the latter a virulent slab of primeval rock ‘n’ roll while the following Stigmata left its deep sonic mark with rhythmic lashings and dark raptorial fingering of the psyche and fair to say that each track is bound in capricious adventure and skilfully erratic enterprise inventively and imaginatively bred.

The calm dark beauty of The Ram brings a moment to find stability for the senses and suggestion for thoughts though the listener is soon consumed in the cataclysmic invasion of Flares which erupts with Bear’s trademark brutality and imagination gripping resourcefulness as again expectations are never allowed to seed and appetite to lose its greed for the band’s ingenuity.

Engine and Kuma bring the album to a close, the first an infection of sound and intimidation which is as masterfully radiant at times as it is persistently intrusive and truculent throughout and the second an infestation of quarrel and hostility around a groove woven web of harmonic and melodic splendour; both providing a rousing end to the album with the last another particular peak in its lofty landscape.

Propaganda only becomes more potent and magnificent by the listen and imposingly stimulating as its lyrical side stands tall in the instantaneous glory of its sounds. Not for the first time Bear has crafted one of the year’s major and richly enjoyable moments; the continuing welcome ringing in our senses proof.

Propaganda is out now via Pelagic Records.

RingMaster Review 16/06/2020

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Kruger – Adam And Steve


There is probably a masochistic side to us all that get off on being swallowed up by a vicious wall of blisteringly hostile and sonically destructive noise but also the ability to see and appreciate the beauty in such tsunamis of unbridled animosity. It can be a seductive corrosion at times and none more so than that found on Adam And Steve, the new merciless album from Swiss noise sculptors Kruger. The eight track inferno of sound and antagonistic invention is a glorious exploration of abrasion, causticity, and sonic savagery but equally a purveyor of some of the most toxic hooks and inescapable contagion bred by venomous imagination. Every note and syllable comes with malice and each twist with ingenious captivation, resulting in an encounter confirming the band as one of the most thrilling alchemists of noise.

Formed in 2001, the Lausanne quintet has been on a steady and impressing ascent since debut album Built For Speed unleashed its ruinous charm upon the senses a year later. 2004 saw second full-length Cattle Truck draw greater attention towards the band, including that of Listenable Records who signed the band and have released their assaults on the senses ever since, starting with the Kurt Ballou mixed Redemption Through Looseness of 2007.Its success and acclaim was matched by the band spreading across Europe with shows and tours, but it was last album For Death, Glory and The End of The World three years later which thrust Kruger into a global spotlight, something Adam And Steve will only intensify. Last year saw the two-track EP 333 tease and spark eager anticipation of things to come but in many ways it only hinted at the triumphs destined to devour the senses and psyche courtesy of the new release.

Complete with a new guitarist and the success of a tour with Gojira last year behind them, the band instantly goes for the jugular upon the Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna mixed storm. Rampaging heavy booted riffs and boulders of rhythmic violence descend on ears from the first breath of opener Bottoms Up, the track an immediate onslaught but almost as swiftly employing enticing vocal harmonies behind the caustic squalls of Renaud right away sparking an even keener appetite for the abuse. The raw throated tone of Blaise’s bass snarls and preys on ears with predatory intent whilst the guitars of Margo and Raul sear and swarm across song and senses with deliberate irritancy. It is a deliciously bracing and compelling assault, the vocals across the band continuing to seduce whilst acidic melodies and grooves worm under the skin for a lingering tempting.KRUGER-A&S_cover_sm

The stunning start is rivalled by the following Discotheque, its entrance on a building rhythmic wave instant anthemic bait enslaving thoughts and passions straight away before the band unleashes a barbarous cauldron of merciless beatings and synapse flailing sonic design. Creating a reined in yet uncompromising brawl of essences potent in the flavouring of a Converge and Unsane and aligned to the creative ferocity of a Coilguns, who the band are sharing dates with as the album is released, the song is a tempestuous fury. Unafraid to explore more progressive and post metal scenery within its cavernous depths, it soars and brutalises its soundscape before making way for the infectious tenacity of the album’s title track. Grooves and sonic lancing almost swagger with their vicious hues and ideation whilst vocally and rhythmically the track exchanges another unpredictable and addictive web of spite and craft for a black and blue bruising of the listener’s senses.

Both tracks, and especially the second, set a new hunger for the raucous seduction working within Adam and Steve, something the pair of Charger and Mountain Man toy with and ultimately reinforce. The first of the two prowls ears and thoughts with seeming relish, its roar a severe yet magnetic intrigue drenched predation soaked in infectious imagination and intensive examinations from drums and guitars especially. Within its fury though there is a charm and sonic elegance which escape their binding to cast a masterful calm and resourceful beauty midway in, like the eye of a storm settling fears until the track explodes once again into its hellacious but inviting tempest. Its successor as all tracks almost swings from the fearsome skills and invention of drummer Raph, his wild but perfectly and precisely conjured attacks the irresistible core for which here, grooves and riffs can shape enthralling designs whilst vocals croon and bawl with equal strength and appeal. It is a numbing and invigorating fury, its voracity as unbridled as its invention and raw passion.

For personal tastes the pinnacle of the album comes with the next two tracks, the album reaching new plateaus with firstly The Wild Brunch, a track as melodic and harmonious as it is acutely ravenous and brutal. Across the album hardcore, heavy rock, metal, and more all add rich hues to the hurricane of noise and on this majestic emprise, the weighty thunderous riffs and tonal bruising you would imagine of a Mastodon or Gojira stake their claim to the passions. It is a devastating and engrossing treat but soon surpassed by the brilliance of the heavily unpredictable Herbivores. Easily one of the best songs heard this year, it at times soothes and riles in the same breath as vocals and guitars fuel the passion and incendiary imagination of the riveting track. In others it simply bewitches through bestial rhythmic slaps and grizzled bass suasion, all the time exploring a simultaneously destructive rabidity and insatiably seducing invention.

The album is brought to an end by Farewell, an expansive exploration of sound, emotional landscapes, and the listener physically and mentally. The instrumental is a journey all in itself and the fitting masterful finale to a thrilling encounter. Adam & Steve uses noise as if it is on its own personal vendetta against the senses but also as a commanding colour in the maelstrom of textures and imaginative hues which permeates its raging exploration. Kruger has created an engrossing and irresistible conflict with an album which plays like an aural judge and executioner, and seductress.

Adam & Steve is available now digitally and on CD via Listenable Records @ and on partially black, partially sin-red vinyl through Pelagic records @

RingMaster 14/10/2014

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Dioramic – Supra


There is a clutch of bands with the imagination and mastery to combine mouth-watering beauty and voracious aggression in one heavily imposing proposition but few able to conjure the mesmeric seduction and creative ferocity as found on Supra, the new album from German metallers Dioramic. The bands third full-length release is an extraordinary exploration of light and dark textures, technical and feral ingenuity, and breath-taking invention. One of the most scintillating, awe inspiring encounters in recent years.

The quartet from Kaiserslautern is no strangers to making jaws drop in response to their craft and adventure, previous albums Phase Of Perplexity and Technicolor in 2004 and 2010 respectively, greedily received but Supra finds the band at a whole new plateau of sonic alchemy. The album was begun in 2011 but a line-up change due to drummer Anton Zaslavski’s success with his own Grammy award winning project Zedd, meaning he had little time to devote to Dioramic, halted the recording of the Supra. Paul Seidel (War From A Harlot’s Mouth, The Ocean) was recruited to take up the sticks in the band, with the album subsequently completed last year. Released via Pelagic Records, it now makes its stunning entrance into the world and is set to draw a new template for others to be inspired by through its multi genre embracing fury of progressive rock and metal.

Describing the sound of band and album is an on-going task as each track takes ears and emotions down a new richly flavoursome avenue in the general riveting landscape of the release. Imagine a mix of Muse, The Ocean, Between The Buried And Me, and Australian band Voyager and you get a glimpse of the invention of Dioramic. From its first moments Supra is gripping attention and imagination, the opening seconds of Xibalban a tempting lure which expands rapidly into a tempest of muscular intimidation from riffs and rhythms alongside a sumptuous beauty from vocals and expressive melodies. The track manages to cast a hazy warmth and radiance within a voracious wall of sound and intimidation, keeping both wrapped in a clarity which astounds and spellbinds. At times it is seeded in progressive metal, in others a metalcore rage, whilst throughout there is a melodic sun of enterprise and provocative intrigue, and we have not mentioned the thrash and groove metal twists which amongst many enter the bewitching narrative of the track.

The stunning start is straight away matched by the slightly more merciful but no less gripping Carpets On The Walls. It opens with a gentle melodic caress which in no time turns into Meshuggah like voracity and technical emprise clad Bildschirmfoto 2014-07-20 um 21.16.10in whispers of theatrical drama and sublime imagination. It is a riveting start which evolves into a glorious melodic soar of vocals from guitarist Arkadi Zaslavski and sonic endeavour from him and fellow string exploiter Alexander Mauch, the encounter taking ears on yet another unexpected and unpredictable flight.

Two tracks in and the release is a breath-taking encounter, one not prepared to take its foot off the pedal of creative tenacity as shown by the following The Calm Before and The Storm. The first as suspected from its title is a gentler glide than its predecessors, a restrained glaze of melody enriched vocals within a portentous atmosphere. In that provocative temptation though, the track explodes into climactic and turbulent roars which stirs up the hostility in rhythms and senses searing riffs, not forgetting the gloriously carnivorous tone of Max Nicklas’ bass, before relaxing back into the ambient poetry of the song’s breath. It is a bewitching encounter setting up its successor perfectly, though the following track does not quite go for the jugular musically as expected. Vocally though it is initially an uncompromising fury, antagonistic squalls prowling the psyche as stabbing riffs and fiercely imposing rhythms set a commanding cage. Opposites and extremes again toy with ears and thoughts, a sublime wash of vocal harmonies and melodic elegance finding their potent place in the tempest.

Even greater heights are breached by Worth and Big Pump, each a new torrent of technical vivacity and passion igniting invention. From its opening breath, the first of the two breeds a blistering contagion to soak ears and emotions, expressive clean vocals aligned to deeply gripping hooks and rhythms binding ears in their infectious suasion. Zaslavski finds a Matt Bellamy like presence to his voice which is supported just as magnetically by the tones of the rest of the band within the cradle of spikey riffs and radiant melodies. Muse meets Palms with Periphery looking on; it is a sublime piece of songwriting and its sultry realisation, matched by the more predatory second of the two. Riffs snarl and challenge from the first swipe of similarly aggressive rhythms, their bordering on hostile presence taken into rawer confrontation by the aggression driven vocals. The track proceeds to roar and seduce the senses, the intricate spirals of sonic endeavour and rhythmic agitation a fascinating and thrilling canvas for the corrosive vocals to bellow from. As expected the track evolves and twists before ears for yet one more absorbing and exhilarating provocation.

Melancholia offers exactly what is says on the tin, its evocative coaxing covered in emotive shadows and vocal elegance as keys spread their equally passion washed narrative. It is an engrossing basking for senses and thoughts before the inventive maelstrom of Logbook comes in, once more vocal harmonies and melodic flames encased in rugged rhythmic walls and scarring riffery for an astonishing drama fuelled emprise.

The album ends with Vortex Reflex, a further smouldering immersion into the vocal mellowness and irresistible melodic charm which seduces across the whole album, within the rhythmic ingenuity and sonic fire which equally makes Supra one of the pinnacles of the year. The album is quite simply an illustrious encounter with Dioramic setting new plateaus for others to aspire to.

Supra is available through Pelagic Records now digitally, on limited coloured vinyl edition, and CD which comes with an extra DVD with live material, studio reports and interviews @  


RingMaster 15/09/2014

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The Old Wind – Feast On Your Gone


    Feast On Your Gone, the new album from Tomas Liljedahl, the former vocalist of the legendary Breach, is a release which torments and challenges the psyche, emotions, and at times sanity. The seeds of the project The Old Wind grew in the mind of Liljedahl during a dark period in his life and mind, the project an avenue, in his own words “…to get these demons out of my system.”  It is a raw, ravenous, and cold consumption of the senses, a release which others might find an escape in too or just as easily find it sparks their own fight with the shadows. It is an impacting and corrosive confrontation, a caustic soundscape devoid of light and hope but equally it is hypnotically tempting, a dangerous challenge impossible to refuse.

The Old Wind initially a solo studio project for Liljedahl, with the artist writing and recording every instrument on Feast On Your Gone alone, soon provoked the need and realisation that the tracks needed to have a live declaration as well. Liljedahl brought in former Breach band mates Niklas Quintana (guitar) and Kristian Andersson (bass) as well as drummer Karl Daniel Liden and finally Robin Staps of Pelagic Records and The Ocean as third guitarist. It is a formidable cast for which anticipation and hunger for their live debut is immense, all instigated by the towering brute of a vicious album.

Stepping from behind a child’s spoken intro, opener In Fields immediately marks that this is not going to be an easy ride or a IMG_4607_smcomfortable listen, the overwhelming intensity of the guitars and rhythms prowling by a snarling predator of a bass sound instantly oppressive and intimidating the senses. The doom loaded gait of the track holds the emotions down for the coarse riffs and sonic fires to smoulder upon thoughts, the vocals of Liljedahl scarring with a maelstrom of spite and despair. It is an encounter for which the word intensive barely gives justice, the primal essence and breath of the track filling and twisting every atom and feeling daring to show its face within the listener.

The following I’m Dead suggests a less vile proposition at first though the carnivorous throaty leer of the bass is never less than dramatically intimidating and the atmosphere from the first note fanged. It is mere moments though before flesh and senses burn under the rapacious malevolence borne, the near funereal thick crawl of the track as invasive as it is expansive with the sonic abrasiveness feeding greedily on any weakness and emotive doubt before its tempest.

Through Raveneye and The Old Wind the ugly coaxing continues, the songs demanding and receiving a less than willing embrace from awakened shadows but one needed to be made before the enthralling leviathan of darkness. As they and subsequent tracks gnaw and savagely take control of the ear and beyond, it is very easy to lose track of which song is which, at what point in the provocation you are, especially in periods where the vocals leave the tortuous sounds to exploit  the darkness alone but this is not because tracks sound alike but down to the fact that the album is really one singular arduous nightmare being unveiled and dispelled. Certainly the tracks work individually but the reality of the full impact and massiveness of the work comes only in a full and continuous emergence from start to punishing finish.

As probably to be expected every aspect of the album is unquestionable, the textures and cavernous corners sculpted from the songwriting imperious through to the musicianship is second to none, the quality in sound as expressive and descriptive as the turmoil soaked vocals and lyrical evocation. It is hard to say that everything about the album is a joy to behold such its malevolent heart but in a time of so many sterile uninspired releases it creates a unique and grasping experience. As the final tracks in the sludge thick corrosive Spear Of A Thousand and the closing toxic instrumental Reign show though, happiness and joy has no place in this potent and painful ridding of inner devils.

Released via Pelagic Records, Feast On Your Gone is not for the faint hearted or maybe even those with their own battles to be fought, but it is a release which leaves long lasting ‘pleasure’ and permanent marks, a barbarous merciless treat.


RingMaster 30/04/2013

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Lo! – Monstrorum Historia


In 2011, Australian violators Lo! seized and exposed raw nerves within the senses with their debut album Look And Behold, at the same time they lit a furnace of passion towards their sonic creativity for a great many such as us. Monstrorum Historia sees the return of the Sydney quartet but would it have the same power and enslavement as its predecessor. The simple answer is yes and then some. The band once again forge their own distinct form of invasive metal through a merger of the most insidious strains of hardcore, black metal, and crushing sludge metal, but this time the resulting corrosive tempest is even more impressive and ferocious, and wonderfully exhausting.

Released via Pelagic Records, the new album unleashes a brawl of violent imagination and creative intensity which makes its predecessor’s vicious beauty seem almost lightweight in comparison. Their breeding of sonic antagonism and contagious invention has found stronger potent depths and the imagination of the band a greater open malevolence which leaves only undiluted sore pleasure and invigorated intrusive satisfaction in its caustic wash.

The opening track As Above is a slowly dawning menace, the dramatic keys marking its arrival suggesting danger soon lo_MH_cover_squareaccompanied with the same intent by the sonic commentary of the guitar. As thumping rhythms from drummer Adrian Griffin bring their intimidation to bear upon the brewing event, the bass of Adrian Shapiro unleashes a predatory prowl which only increases the stature of the compelling intimidation. It is an instrumental which taunts and plays with the fears and punctuated by accumulated crescendo of all elements, it is a stirring and impossibly strong hook to start off the release.

Its departure is barely a whisper past before the following Bloody Vultures swoops with its hungry ravaging. Persistent virulent riffs abrase the surface of the ear whilst vocalist Jamie-Leigh Smith adds his caustic squalls with equal intensity and spite to proceedings, the delivery and attack of the frontman also having taken a leap on in intensity, his malicious searing squalls as well as the control he exerts honed to reap their strongest effect. Snarling like a beast in heat, the song shifts its poise continually without losing any power in its attack but ultimately it’s intent to chew up the listener with crushing rhythms and carnally inspired riffing wins out.

Tracks such as the equally carnivorous Ghost Promenade and the sonically intrusive Caruncula work on the senses further, softening up their defences with enthralling invidious invention whilst the villainous temptation Haven, Beneath Weeping Willows takes the listener on a walk through a landscape of doom coated atmospheres and tantalising yet sinister dark avenues. The instrumental is a canvas for thoughts and emotions yet an open aural painting in sound which conjures an inescapable distrustful landscape expertly sculpted from the uncomplicated but inspired strokes of the guitar of Carl Whitbread and the bass of Shapiro.

Across its length Monstrorum Historia continues to impress and spark emotive hysteria towards its contents. Certainly it is an album which will not find a home with all but if its rapacious noise and intent makes that union it is instant ardour. Further songs such as Fallen Leaves with its suspicious dark atmospheres toying with the psyche, the fiery and brutal Lichtenberg Figures, and the deliciously hypnotic Palisades of Fire lay out further greedy grasping temptation for nothing less than full eager digestion in return, their continuance of the addictive sonic deviancy at large helping to provide as the only option by the end of the album, an instant irresistible return to its ferocious grip.

Monstrorum Historia is a barbed and spiky triumph with a ferocity and invention which leaves not only wounds and scars within its recipients but unbridled acclaim and passion. Lo! is one of the noise giants and just gets better and better.


Pete RingMaster

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Coilguns: Commuters


    We have always thought and declared Coilguns as one of the most important bands in rock music today, a group of musicians who are evolving a template for future extreme noise bands  to aspire to. Through their varied releases the Swiss trio has grown and evolved from something already special into a force of creativity which is as inspiring as it is destructive.  For all the great things to date it they all pale against the stunning might of their debut album Commuters, a release which makes our current sense of their importance seem inadequate.

Consisting of The Ocean members Louis Jucker (vocals), Jona Nido (guitars, bass, mini-moog), and Luc Hess (drums, bass), Coilguns conjure extensive intrusions which explore a merger of d-beat, grind, black metal, and a technical prowess which strips the senses whilst rewarding them with sheer corrosive pleasure. Though discussed as a project for many years the band found its seeds in the songwriting of Nido whilst alone in the US. Returning he recruited the other members and within weeks they left a studio with three striking tracks which went to make up the excellent split release with Kunz on Pelagic Records in 2011. The EP Stadia Rods followed the next year, a raw and devastating 30 minutes release recorded as a live confrontation in a day. After the following impressive and acclaimed split release with NVRVD also in 2012, Coilguns was at their height of power and invention, or so many thought but Commuters is the band at another incredible aggressively inventive level and just another step in their unstoppable rise.

Released on Pelagic Records on February 22nd, Commuters was again recorded entirely live apart from the vocals, each song in 02_Front_Cover_Webone take and it is this intensive attack which also helps alongside the immense songwriting, to give it the organic power and energy which sets the release and band apart from the rest. It is abrasive and intimidating but layered with textures and primal structures which are violent manna for thought and passion. The album also features invited guests including Keijo Niinima (Rotten Sounds / Nasum) who added  vocals for a track.

The release opens with the two parts of the title track, the first bursting onto the ear with stirring riffs and a towering rumble of rhythms and energy. Into its hungry stance the track expands into a tempest of incendiary sonics, persistent drum jabs, and a breath which scars and gnaws on the senses whilst the clean squalls of vocals lay their declaration with passion and aggressive intent. The track is an exhausting encounter which ignites every primitive and emotional response within and leaves a blissfully sore and breathless listener in its wake though there is no time to sit back and soothe the wounds as such as part two looms into view on military beats and a stroking acidic guitar caress. The spoken vocals engage thoughts and ear with their evocative narrative and there is an unsettled peace soaking the air though also a slowly brewing intensity which grows as the track and vocals conspire to consume and thrill. It is well into the second half of its eleven minute presence that you realise just how much the song has thickened in intensity and a kind of desperation is coating the vocal encounter and as the realisation sinks in the track frees its full corrosive magnificence to devour and burn the senses.

The sensational likes of Hypnograms with its insidious groove and mesmeric persistent seduction and the equally compelling Machines of Sleep bring a diverse yet similarly destructive facet as of the first songs to the continually evolving album. Both tracks are linked in venom and malevolence with the second the brutal merciless doppelganger to the milder mannered but still aggressively intimidating first sonic flame. To be honest there are not enough varied and strong enough superlatives to be found to describe the album at this point alone such the abusive and creative masterclass of perfectly designed contagious noise let loose so take it as read that from here on in Commuters just pushes the boundaries of band and extreme music beyond their limits with skill and startling imagination.

First single from the album Plug-in Citizens is a brawling furnace of intensity which enriches the already spawn rapture further whilst songs like the infectious and ruinous Submarine Warfare Anthem and the ravenous Minkowski Manhattan Distance featuring Keijo Niinima, thrust body and soul into a manic maelstrom of fierce ingenuity. The diversity and blistering quality just continues right through to the end with 21 Almonds a Day and Flippists / Privateers further pinnacles in nothing but powerful highlights.

Commuters is quite brilliant, an album which will be called a classic for decades to come, and right now Coilguns stands even more impressively as one of the most important bands in music today.

RingMaster 07/02/2013

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Khoma: All Erodes

Consisting of previously unreleased songs written between 2002 and 2012, many tracks which did not make the final cuts of previous albums, All Erodes from Swedish band Khoma is surprisingly strong. It is probably fair to say that with many other bands bringing together songs which did not make it the first time around would mean a decent enough album but one which still feels like a collection of tracks not making the grade. All Erodes certainly does not, the tracks within impressive and well worthy of proper exposure. The strength of the release knowing the background to the songs was admittedly unexpected and validating easily a statement from Khoma guitarist Johannes Persson, “We’ve recorded a lot of material for every record that we have had to leave out or didn’t have time to finalize… but we really like all these songs and wanted to do something with them… the idea is that ‘All Erodes’ – spanning songs from all three stages – will sum up and close this part of Khoma’s history”.

Formed in Umeå in 2003, the band did not take long to instigate strong attention and acclaim their way with a sound which blended the local hardcore scene to an emotive atmospheric pop breath.  Consisting of several members of Cult of Luna, The Perishers and The Deportees, their debut album Tsunami in 2004 sparked great interest and sold out quickly. Signing with Roadrunner Records the following year, 2006 saw second album The Second Wave repeat and expand on that response with the band being acclaimed at home and across Europe. Their sound was and is intense and emotionally enveloping, its persuasion making their live performances either in intimate surroundings or from a festival stage powerful and a pull for further great responses from media and fans.

The band then disappeared from view in all aspects; the band just concentrated on writing from late 2007 until their re-emergence in 2009. Signing with Selective Notes, the Anders Fridéns (In Flames) label, they released the mighty A Final Storm album, a release which earned nominations and awards as well as garnering their strongest acclaim yet. Released through Pelagic Records, All Erodes is like an epilogue to what came before, a drawing of all threads into a final statement before turning to the next ‘book’ in their musical journey as a band.

All Erodes spreads through the senses, thoughts, and emotions like a charged whisper borne from a mix of Deftones, Radiohead, and Muse. That is a little simplistic to the diverse breath and invention of the music but gives an idea of the creative flavour at impressive work. The heavy overwhelming ambiences within the songs are deliberate and deeply expressive, their open yet intimate touch and textures equally hypnotic and disturbing. The opening track In Ruins sets the tone, its melancholic piano and vocal start a cold but enchanting lure into the release. Vocalist Jan Jämte with his plaintive tones pulls thoughts into an emotive depth as much as the music, the combination with the guitars of Persson and keys of Fredrik Kihlberg weaving their sonic tapestry as well, simply mesmeric.

It is a powerful start matched and built upon by the muscular slabs of oppressive emotion in Just Another Host and Dead Seas. The first is from a Deftones sphere, the brooding tension and solid intensity a crawling expanse to evoke passion whilst the second is a cold whisper but again just alluring. Floating through its sonic salt makes for a stark and invasive union but as fully rewarding as it is openly erosive upon the senses.

As it plays out its thoughts and emotive soundscapes, the album does not feel like tracks meant for different releases over a decade. It is a seamless flow through to the end, each track seemingly borne from and in connection with its predecessor. The pinnacles of the release come with Give It Meaning and Winter Came Upon Us, both offering another aspect to the sound and ‘story’. The first is a bristling sturdy confrontation, the wonderful grizzled bass stroll and sharp guitar strokes offering slight intimidation beside the ever soothing yet pained vocals. It is a monster of a song in depth, expanse, and intensity easily matched by the corrosive yet melodically beautiful touch of the other. Both songs are majestic and pulsating and must have only missed out on the albums they were originally written for by a hairs breath.

Disregarding the closing track All Like Serpents, All Erodes is an excellent release, well worth an hour and more of any ones time. The final song is an electronic remix of a track from A Final Storm and a song which really has no place on the album other than as a filler. Though decent enough it is to be honest soulless against the original and the other tracks on this album. It does not deplete the strong and impressive presence of the album though, and at the end thoughts are only of a release which is a mighty way to end a chapter for Khoma and the key to new and greater landscapes of sound and emotion.

RingMaster 05/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Earthship: Iron Chest

Like a sonic juggernaut Iron Chest the new album from German sludge metallers Earthship crushes the senses into a submissive but gloriously satisfied husk. It is a release of crushing riffs, corrosive intensity, and ravenous rhythms toned with a fiery progressive grooved breath, an album to incite passion and provoke primal responses.

Iron Chest is the follow up to acclaimed 2011 debut Exit Eden and shows the band has not only evolved their sound but expanded every element in their musical arsenal to create a release which chews one up greedily and spits them out as an intrusively pleasured wreck. The band was formed in the spring of 2010 by ex- The Ocean drummer Jan Oberg alongside Dennis Boettcher on drums and Bastian Gutschke on bass guitar. The line-up was completed soon after by The Ocean guitarist Robin Staps. The line-up recorded Exit Eden with its release on Pelagic Records coming in early 2011. Leading up to the release the band played their debut gig in December of 2010 supporting Torche and followed it with the Friction tour across Europe alongside The Ocean, Red Fang and Intronaut. Just before the tour Gutschke left to be replaced by Sabine Oberg, the wife of Jan, and the beginning of this year saw the departure of Staps with the band shrinking to a compact trio.

Again released through Pelagic, Iron Chest raises a tempest upon the ear from the first note of opener Old Widow’s Gloom, its charged breath and erosive energy a greedy rub upon the senses. The guitars fire up a dust bowl of coarse riffs whilst the rhythms flattened the air to resonate deeply. The song is the essences of Mastodon, Crowbar, Kyuss distilled through the unique waspish grooves of Earthship. It is a mighty start easily maintained across the length of the album to leave one breathless and smarting from the intensity and fire brought with every track.

The following Athena and title track twist and stretch the synapses with incendiary melodic weaves and smouldering vocals behind the abrasive tones of Jan, the first a smouldering piece of stoner venom and the second a lashing of sharp riffs and scything sonic craft. The pair show the diversity across not only the first few songs but album as a whole, imagination and thought within the overall doom/sludge presence of the release insatiable and wholly contagious. This is an album and songs you really want to listen to in detail, to delve in fully such the rich rewards continually received.

Every song is an impactful and invigorating welcome bruise, all intent on branding the senses and each the giver of acidic mastery which overwhelms and fulfils equally. Further notable highlights come in the form of the blistering Boundless Void with its more reserved attack just has musically malevolent as the aggressive slabs of sound elsewhere, the quite magnificent Brimstone, and the closing giant of a track, Teal Trail. The first of this latter pair is a shifting corruption which unleashes eager passions for its magnetic weaves and molten waves of melodic lava and erosive energy whilst the final song just stomps with all metal guns blazing and rock n roll intent fuelling its passionate assault. It is a final rampage to relish whilst offering another distinct facet to what is one immensely pleasing release.

Iron Chest is a giant of an album, a titan which enflames the passions whilst wearing down the senses into an eager disciple before its malicious intent. The release sits as one of the best sludge/doom albums this year and Earthship a band equipped to flatten all rivals.

RingMaster 13/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Abraham – The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore

Bringing probably the most caustic and violent experience you are likely to be exposed to this year, the second album from Swiss metalers Abraham is malevolent beauty. Abrasive, corrosive, and at times verging on physically unbearable for sure, but at the same time it is destructively beautiful and one of the best senses stripping pleasures to be unleashed and willingly endured in a long while.

The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore leaves one numb yet smouldering on the inside from the sheer might and force, let alone craft, at work within the violation. The band is tagged as post-hardcore/post-metal but as their second album shows there is much more at play. At times there is a sludge/doom smothering to entrap the listener, the thick oppressive weight of tracks a trap to sink into whilst the snarling and demanding rhythms donkey punch the senses and the flaming melodic sonic invention sears right through to the marrow, its acid presence fusing and extinguishing synapses. It is pure bliss with Abraham now one of the giants of extreme sounds as evidenced by the release.

From Lausanne, the band began working on short circuiting its victims from 2007. Hard work and the honing of their weaponry led to the eventual release of their debut album An Eye on the Universe in 2011, through Pelagic Records (who also release the new album), the label of Ocean guitarist Robin Staps. Critically acclaimed the band soon had Europe on its knees playing alongside bands such as Red Fang, Intronaut, Khoma, EF, Celan, Birds In Row, Mumakil, and Kruger. The Prophet, The Serpent and The Whore, an album inspired by a novel by J.G. Rawls, is the staggering successor and. The release is a tempest of emotions; despair, anger, hopelessness to merely scratch the surface, seeping from the eight songs and the lyrics freely adapted from  the story of an unnamed man falling from the sky to crawl through the lowest spheres of the world. Themes of falling from grace, primal fear, physical pain, loneliness and mystical visions stalk the release, Abraham exploring and bringing them forward to make a vivid presence and touch. Musically the sounds are as tortured and destructive as the lyrical content and intent, the combination upon this Magnus Lindberg (Cult Of Luna) mixed album, creating stark, bleak, and sonically pungent soundscapes.

First track Start With A Heartbeat immediately rips the air apart with astringent sonics and merciless beats. It is a slow salt rub upon the senses which elevates its energy to twist and crawl deep within the psyche. The vocals of Olivier Hähnel expel venom of varied shades watched over by the predator growl from the bass of Valentin Jallut. As the guitars of Jacques Viredaz and Mathieu Jallut blister flesh whilst simultaneously manipulating notes, their tight hold wringing every essence and passion from them, the song creates an abusive rapture which can only be welcomed hungrily.

Man The Serpent and The Great Dismemberment suck the light from the soul, their far reaching dark emotions and malicious sounds leaving the deepest scars and equal pleasure. The rhythms of drummer David Haldimann alone resonate through bone and when contributing to the cartilage shearing sonics and melodic thrashing elsewhere makes for the sweetest abuse. Both songs fire the imagination with their constricting breaths and scathing presences, the second of the two a cacophonous scalding which blisters the atmosphere let alone the senses. At times there is a Killing Joke flavour breaking through, predominantly in the vocals with Hähnel having a Jaz Coleman scowl, with this, the leaden bleed of This Is Not A Dead Man, Yet and the closer Dawn having the richest whisper.

The outstanding New King, Dark Prophet and the epic corruption that is Carcasses leave one grasping for a steadying surface whilst gasping for breath under their dehabilitating tempests. As mentioned the release is a challenge to thought and body but there are moments where one is taken to their limits. All the time though the musicianship and wonderful inventive craft is a raging burn to relish and draw rapture from.

The Serpent, The Prophet & The Whore is pure mordant majesty, a brutal beast which rewards time and time again giving new emerging treats with every confrontation. Abraham has taken their already impressive presence and creativity to further stunning inventive and violent heights for one of the albums of the year.

RingMaster 28/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Interview with Carl Whitbread of Lo!

Lo! Interview

One of the more impressive and satisfying albums to see the light this year has come from Australian band Lo! Since forming in 2006 their crushing sludge/hardcore/ black sounds have found an ever increasing acclaim and audience, which the release of the album Look And Behold via Pelagic Records is sure to accelerate. With great fortune we had the opportunity to ask Guitarist Carl Whitbread all about the release, music in Australia and the band.

Hi and welcome. Many thanks for taking time out to talk to us.

Thanks for the interview!

Would you like to introduce the band?

The band consists of myself (Carl Whitbread) on guitar, Adrian Griffin on Drums, Jamie-Lee Smith on vocals and Adrian Shapiro on Bass.

Could you give some history to the band covering the early days and how you all came together to form Lo!?

So the band basically started with me writing a bunch of demos at home, over time and after having about 5 demos written and recorded, I started looking for like minded members to join the band. After a few member tweaks and changes, we finally had a solid line-up and were able to play our first show in 2010.

Your sound is deeply varied and nicely surprising what are your influences that maybe have helped shape the sound?

I guess our main influences would be bands like Breach, Old Man Gloom and Converge. We wanted the sound to be quite dark and in-your-face. Having said that though we also didn’t want to sound like we were directly ripping off those bands, we wanted to try and add our own flavour into the music. We all listen to quite a diverse range of music, so turning to those other styles for inspiration was also very important.

Do you think that it is in some ways it is important for bands to have members with distinctly different tastes and influences to bring something extra to a band’s chances of standing out amongst a wave of other artists in the same genre?

Oh definitely, I think it’s very important. Things just get so stale and boring otherwise. As I mentioned we all have diverse tastes so that definitely does help. Personally I listen to a lot of classical music, as well as indie or rock bands such as Mogwai, Queens of the Stone age, White Stripes, Deerhoof, Bjork etc. Those styles of bands really have the art of songwriting down, and are always doing something quite interesting. We like to use that as inspiration for our writing, but still obviously keeping our heavy sound. I think at the end of the day, putting more thought into the songwriting keeps the songs interesting and fresh to not only our listeners, but to ourselves as well… and if it help us stand out then that’s a bonus!

Are there a strong following and base for extreme and other darker metal flavours in Australia?

The scene over here is quite small – at least compared to Europe or America. But there are a good range of awesome bands and there’s always a lot of support from the punters. There have been a lot of venue closures though – mainly here in Sydney – which sucks, but there have been a handful of smaller DIY venues / record stores doing shows now which is very exciting. I guess the other hard part is people seem to be very lazy about going to shows. If a bigger international metal band comes out, everyone comes out of the woodwork – there’s people there you have never seen at a local show even though the local shows can be just as good.

Is it limiting though and recognition beyond the shores essential for most bands?

I guess so, but then again it depends on what your intentions are. I think most heavy bands in Australia give up on the idea of ever trying to get big, because Australia simply doesn’t have the market for it. I know for us, the priority has always been to have fun writing and playing music we love, but of course, the chance to get international exposure and interest is a massive bonus and will help us continue doing what we love.

It was your debut EP that first brought wider attention outside of Australia?

Yeah, the EP was a DIY sort of thing we had in order to send to people and sell at shows so people could hear our music. All of the tracks on the EP were remastered and made it onto the album too.

How did the link up with Pelagic Records come about?

We basically sent the EP out to a whole bunch of people / labels overseas… not really with any intention of getting signed, but more just to get the music out there. Robin got back to us straight away and said he loved it and wanted to put an album out. Obviously we were very excited!

You have just released the great debut album Look And Behold on the label, did it come out as expected or did you surprise yourselves in any way? 

I guess we surprised ourselves that it came out the way we expected… haha. We ended up doing everything ourselves, which meant we had full control over how everything sounded.
As mentioned earlier, we already had a handful of songs recorded from the EP, plus we had about 4 more which we had done but not finished, so we really had to pull everything together, make it all sounds consistent and flow as an album. It was a bit of a challenge as deadlines were tight, so there were many late nights of mixing but in the end we were super happy with the end result.

The album consists of not only ferocious and intensely striking tracks but three instrumentals that play with equal power and effect though from an atmospheric and emotively different aspect. Were these written before recording or within and did you start out with these ‘breaks’ in the powerful intensity in mind or they evolved naturally?

It was a little of both. From the start I knew I wanted us to be a band who can experiment with ambient / electronic tracks. I think it’s a great way to break up albums and takes the listener on more of a diverse journey, and as you mentioned, they can be equally as intense as the heavier stuff. ‘Doth’ had been written a long time before the album was put together so it was a matter of fitting it in seamlessly in the play order. The other 2 tracks ‘Hath’ and ‘Seraphim’ were pulled together specifically to break up the album a little more. We will definitely be experimenting more with this type of style in the future.

There is defiance and anger openly felt within the album, how personal are the songs?

For me specifically, the music didn’t really have any personal agenda behind it. I’ve always been attracted to a darker style of music, whether it be metal, ambient or classical, so I wanted it to be dark, angry and powerful. Lyric wise, our singer has based most of his lyrics on the idea of someone realising that the world (and consequently their own world) is coming to an end. I can’t really go into too much detail as I don’t know the full story but he definitely had written a lot of it based on his own experiences.

There also feels a dark humour lurking at every corner or do I just have a warped outlook? Haha.

Haha, no you’re definitely right. We’re always joking around and acting like massive idiots. We definitely wanted this to come through, and not come across so serious about everything. Things become boring very quickly otherwise.

Do you feel the band is at its height right now or there are still aspects you would like to bring out in future releases?

As it’s just our first release, I feel we’re only just getting started. We’re still a relatively new band in the grand scheme of things, so there’s still a lot of goals we want to achieve. I think the most exciting thing is the fact we haven’t lumped our music into 1 specific category so it will be interesting to see what stuff we come out with for our next release.

What is next for Lo! and what are the chances of European audiences seeing you live in the near future?

We’ve just finished up a small Australian tour for the album which was pretty successful. We’ll probably play a handful of shows and start writing some new stuff for the rest of this year. Next year we’re hoping to get over to Europe probably in May. We’re currently applying for an Arts grant so fingers crossed we can get some financial support for it!

Many thanks for talking to us, would you like to leave us with a last thought?

Thanks for the interview! We are very excited about all the exposure we’ve been getting in Europe, and hopefully we’ll see you guys next year!

 Look And Behold is available via Pelagic Records.

Review of album @

RingMaster Review 03/11/2011 Registered & Protected


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