Gypsy Chief Goliath – New Machines of the Night

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    Whether smouldering incandescently on the senses or burning them with blazes of blues soaked melodic rapaciousness, New Machines of the Night is one furnace of an album, a rigorous force which seizes senses and passions taking them on a goliath ride of heavyweight rock and metal fusion. Building on from their acclaimed debut, Canadians Gypsy Chief Goliath explore imagination and heart with ten slabs of scintillating and bruising rock ‘n’ roll. Classed as a stoner metal band, the Ontario sextet bring so much more to their presence and sound, the new album a magnetic fury of southern and classic rock with stoner and blues rock additives as well as melodic and heavy metal predation. It is a distinct and singular temptation to Gypsy Chief Goliath and in the Pitch Black Records released New Machines of the Night, a triumph at its invigorating potent best.

With songs sculpted by the three guitar assault and enterprise of Al the Yeti Bones, Dave Ljubanovich, and Sean Hamilton, the album is an adventurous and twisting flame of scorching invention and irresistible intrigue. Driven by the rhythmic framing and coring of drummer Adam Saitti and bassist Sean De Faria it is equally impacting with their enslaving spine of commanding persuasion and when you add the outstanding vocals of Al the Yeti Bones, who whether growling or offering a cleaner suasion coats the songs in an extra blaze of passion and energy to compliment the already fierce potency of the songs, the result is one of the best albums of this year. It does not end there though as with the harmonica sultriness of Brodie Stevenson teases the ear and boiling extra ardour, New Machines of the Night becomes an ever greater release combining themes of despair and dark shadows in a presentation which at times finds a feel good factor which has body and soul on their feet with jubilation.

The album stomps in with almost intimidation as opener Uneasy Kings raps the ear with measured beats and sonic spears of guitar cover_600x600strikes, a beckoning which wraps teasingly around the ear inviting thoughts and imagination into its seductive embrace. With the throaty predacious charm of the bass the platform for the excellent vocals to parade the narrative, the track is soon a shady yet dazzling companion, grooves and a sure swagger leading submission by the hand through scenery of Pantera like provocation within a vintage Thin Lizzy bred temptation. It is a striking start and the portent of things to come, certainly with that Lynott and co lilt coming to plenty of the offerings and an overwhelming perpetual contagious presence unveiled.

The following Are you Pulling Through also takes little time in gripping the ear and emotions, its starting stroll of feisty riffs and thumping rhythms aligned to a sirenesque call from the harmonica It soon evolves into an addiction causing growl of downtuned intensive bass and guitar which forges a dark stoner Down like ravishment with doom whispers and melodic acts of delicious discord. Easily continuing the impressive stance and power of the album with the blues furnace of Dirt Meets Rust matching the early heights with its blues swamp of enterprise and adventure the album is already in control of attention and appetite. With a fuller clean delivery to the vocals merged perfectly into his scowling gruffness, Al grabs as much of the attention as the fire spawned sounds. Thoughts of Bad Company make glimpses within the earlier part of the song though its heavier Sabbath suggesting latter portion shows the rich craft and diversity within the songwriting and album.

Busting the Avenue is another impossibly infectious bait of magnetic acidic invention, guitars conjuring a web of unpredictability and smouldering enticement which with the sinews of the rhythms and carnal snarl of the bass swings in comparisons from Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity to Motorhead. From one pinnacle the album provides another, and it’s loftiest in the brilliant wonderfully persuasive form of St. Covens Tavern. The song is glorious, immediately whisking feet and passion on a mesmeric dance of again Thin Lizzy seeped imagination. But it is only a teaser as riffs suddenly show their carnivorous side, barbarous tones springing infectiously from their strings whilst the rhythms equally harden their stance. It is when the folk metal like taunting enters with a whisper of Gaelic folk reminding of Horslips that the track becomes rock manna. It is rapture breeding raptor of a song, a treat which preys on all the weaknesses of the passions to feed all their wants in a multi-flavour insatiable metallic waltz. Not only best song on New Machines of the Night, it is one of those treasures which takes classic status.

The sizzling melodic pyre that is Got no Soul makes a strong rival with its southern blues coating of the ears, harmonica and keys aural alchemy within the cast of guitar and bass passion whilst both Secret Liaison and White Owl provide a slower sultriness from their heady blues angst and incendiary spicery, the second of the pair stretching into wider southern and hard rock endeavours. Though they arguably fall below the previous charge of songs they are borne of an invention and heart bred intensity which is at its height on the album within these two compelling snares.

Completed by the grizzled heavy metal breathing Slow Leak and the riveting Fought for Death with its again esuriently charged riffs stalking the senses for rhythms and vocals to play upon, New Machines of the Night is a magnificent release which leaves thoughts and senses ignited in a mix of adoration and greedy hunger for more. Gypsy Chief Goliath create an enthralling blend of rock and metal which is unafraid to stretch its limits and coax out startling fresh spices whilst offering something almost familiar to consume, certainly it is a treat with easy access and the fullest rewards. Heavy rock album of the year? Definitely the band has crafted a powerful contender.

https://www.facebook.com/GypsyChiefGoliath

9/10

RingMaster 09/10/2013

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Arrayan Path – IV: Stigmata

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Courting their darkest shadows and intent yet, metallers Arrayan Path return with fourth album IV: Stigmata, a release which will ignite the senses and appetite of all melodic and power metal fans with ease. With stampedes of riffs and fanfares of melodic flames coursing through the release, the album builds on the acclaimed encounters offered by previous releases whilst finding an enthralling epic narrative of its own distinction.

Formed in 1997 by singer/songwriter Nicholas Leptos alongside guitarist Clement Fung and subsequently with the addition of guitarist brother Socrates Leptos, the then called Arryan Path made an early impact with a pair of demos, Return to Troy in 1999 and Osiris the following year, but more so with debut album Road to Macedonia released in 2004. This was followed by a six year hiatus before second album Terra Incognita emerged, a release which got nominated for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of the Year Award, the only metal nomination amongst 20 others. Third album Ira Imperium lifted their reputation and presence further as it continued evolving their ear catching inventive and imaginative sound. The Pitch Black Records released, like the previous two albums, IV: Stigmata is arguably not a massive step forward for their already accomplished and potent sound but certainly a new aspect to its descriptive power and colour.

Opening track Clepsydra bursts through the ear with riffs galloping at break neck speed to set their stance before melodic majesty Cover_550x500_lowweaves its absorbing tendrils across the senses. The rhythms of drummer Stefan Dittrich then frames the emerging sounds with punch and forceful endeavour whilst bassist Paris Lambrou brings a snarl to the track which chews on the ear as the keys of George Kallis seduce with epically woven washes of warmth and beauty. It is a fiery and energetic rampage of a song but veined with melodic flames and emotive atmospheric enterprise which ignites thoughts and feelings to embrace the lyrics and their fine delivery from Nicholas Leptos.

Following track The Bible Bleeds opens with a carnivorous fury of riffs and rhythmic confrontation whilst the triumphant vocals lead the listener in to a bloom of heralding calls from the keys, a Middle Eastern imagination teasing the ear with grace and seductive elegance at the heart of the song. It is an excellent track which sets up a hunger for the rest of the album whilst retaining its place as the pinnacle of the release.

The less dramatic but equally as compelling Midnight and The First Born Massacre steps up next opening up even wider melodic arms whilst symphonic whispers permeate the still predominantly darkly cast voice of the song. There is also a deceitful air to the encounter which is even more and understandably pronounced in the following Judas Iscariot. A fire of vocal and harmonic potency veins the track as it takes mere moments to grab the emotions and once the returning Eastern flourish returns to tease the ear before a towering solo from Socrates Leptos, the track sears itself into the passions.

From the tall epic emotive walls of Stigmata, a song which stands astride the listener and takes them on an invigorating ride through melodic climes and sweltering soundscapes with again harmonies infusing the air whilst the bass of Lambrou growls and intimidates with a bestial presence beneath the textured power ballad, the album continues to sweep the listener up in an evocative embrace. The likes of Cursed Canaan with its enchantress of melodic sound welcoming its recipients into another bound of careering riffs and glorious vocal harmonies, and the melodic antagonist Pharaoh’s Wish, in varying degrees continuing to ensure the early hold and persuasion of the album is still a vibrant temptation.

As with the second of the just mentioned pair, some tracks do not quite grip the imagination as others, sparks rather than fires being ignited but there is never a moment where barren emotion is brought to bear in response to the songwriting and its skilled realisation. Equally for each which do not quite raise a flame there is others like Harbingers of Death which stoke up full passion.

Further elevated highlights come with the magnetic track The Storyteller and its irresistible epic stature and the predatory gem Mystic Moon, a song like Charming Paranoia which can only be found on the CD version of the album. IV: Stigmata will undoubtedly and deservedly be swamped in acclaim by power and epic metal fans, but it also offers plenty to recruit the enthusiasm of other melodic metal fans especially with its guest appearances by vocalist Jimmy Mavrommatis of Armageddon and guitar solos by Kikis Apostolou also of Armageddon, Alexis Kleidaras (ex-Deceptor) and George Kousa. Arrayan Path stand distinct to most power metal bands and with this album reward just as uniquely.

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8/10

RingMaster 11/06/2013

 

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Blynd: Punishment Unfolds

It seems extreme metal has saved its very best releases for the dying weeks of the year, the likes of Nidingr, Deus Otiosus, and Aeons each releasing colossal albums which are pushing limits, imagination, and most of all passions to immense heights. Adding their own titanic and inventive weight to the list if Cyprus metallers Blynd with their deeply impressive album Punishment Unfolds. Released though Pitch Black Records, the album is a fury of death, groove, and thrash metal which incites a riot in the heart and unbridled rapture in the senses and vice versa.

Formed in 2003, the Nicosia based quartet of bassist and vocalist Andreas, guitarists Dino and George, and drummer Alex, has slowly but firmly gathered a strong and ardent fanbase within a growing wash of acclaim through their impressive sound across firstly their duo of EPs and 2010 debut album The Enemy, as well as live performances alongside the likes of Sodom, Children Of Bodom, Rotting Christ, Sepultura, and Septic Flesh and a triumphant appearance at the 2012 Bloodstock Festival. Punishment Unfolds steps forward with all the aural armoury, sharp imagination, and aggressive intent to thrust Blynd to the top tier of extreme noise makers and bring a wider and hungrier recognition their way. Featuring guest appearances from Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ) and George Charalambous (Winter’s Verge), the album also sets up the full spark of anticipation for their part in the Creatures From the Black Abyss Tour 2012, alongside Cradle Of Filth, God Seed and Rotting Christ, starting November 27th.

The opening instrumental Divine Gathering gives no real warning of the storm to follow though the brewing symphonic grace and thrilling rise of intensity does offer an epic atmospheric feel and climactic confrontation as its grand arms expand to wrap firmly around the ear.  It soon makes way for the rampaging Arrival of the Gods with its gnawing riffs and caustic breath of squalling vocals and scarring sonics. The harsh rub fires up the senses as fully as the greedy urgency of the song leaves them breathless, whilst the impressive melodic scorching from the guitars is a feisty encounter which pushes the song to greater heights.

The immense start is left ‘floundering’ in the wake of As Punishment Unfolds, a track which steals top honours and takes the contagion of the album to its highest pinnacle. From a start of thumping incendiary drums against the serpentine vocal lesions, the song spawns a groove which incites the strongest infection and a brawling seduction of riffs and beats to ignite primal passion. The mesmeric swarming which overwhelms the ear is delicious whilst the interchanging intensity and energies just provoke insatiable lust for more. As with the previous song the guitars produce melodic flames to stretch the track excellently around the crushing framework of antagonistic rhythms and raptorial vocals.

Following tracks such as Never for the Fallen with its carnivorous riffs and sonic greed, the challenging and glorious The Chosen Few, and Convicted in the Devil’s Land, further the pleasure with stunning enterprise and power. The second of the three is a turbulent journey of abrasive invention and unpredictable breaks wrapped in magnetic melodic ingenuity and heart. It is a masterful soundscape which can only lead to a full and potent devotion to its explosive imagination. The last of the trio is an intimidating predator with impacting sinews and a rabid intensity to leave one cowering whilst loving every second of its muscular threat.

Right through to its end Punishment Unfolds is sensational, from the outstanding Sins to the Cross with a progressive groove as wanton as it is insidious, across the snarling yet heated and irresistible presences of The Final Resistance and Divine Conspiracy, through to the closing feast of invention that is Infinity Race, it transfixes, erodes, and thrills senses, thoughts, and heart with accomplished and inventive ease.

Blynd before Punishment Unfolds may have been an unknown underground force for a great many but with its release and impressive content, the amazing album is set to change that stature one suspects and hopes. It would be a deserved outcome for a greatly pleasing and stirring gift from the band.

www.blyndmetal.com

RingMaster 20/11/2012

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Marauder: Elegy of Blood

Having recently signed with Pitch Black Records, Legendary Greek classic metal band Marauder unleash their fifth album Elegy of Blood on May 15th bringing ten accomplished tracks of well crafted classic heavy metal. The album is a powerful beast with an anthemic heart and adrenaline soaked pulse that is sure to please all heavy metal fans.

Honesty has to be brought forth at this point and state that classic and heavy metal is not a flavour that incites the most eager response here at The RR so excuse the tempered enthusiasm behind the review. That being said it is not hard to see and appreciate the passion and craft behind the boisterous melodic metal that makes up Elegy of Blood. Formed just over 22 years the band has obviously evolved into a mighty and inventive band as the new album alone gives enough evidence for and it is easy to see why they are one of the most respected Greek metal bands for many years now. The album is varied with strong elements of power metal and harsher tones added to the classic blood each track flows with and whether a fan of their style of music or not it is very easy to be swept up in the chest beating and calling to arms that frequent its corridors.

The title track intro opens up the release with a dawning epic atmosphere, a declaration of something far reaching and evocative to emerge. Whilst the following The Great War may not quite live up to that billing it is still a rampant anthemic mix of incisive melodic guitar play, impetuous riffs, and combative rhythms. The vocals of Alexandros Kostarakos spread throughout the track with the expected style and ability of the genre with solid back up elsewhere whilst sharing centre stage with the ear catching melodies and guitar craft from and Andreas Tsaoussis and Giorgos Sofronas but great as they are the highlight here and throughout the album is the excellent prowling and grumbling bass of Thodoris Paralis alongside the formidable drums of Grigoris Vlachos which drive every song with an impressive and stirring control.

Alexander follows with equal satisfaction before handing over to the first of three songs which did ignite some sparks within us. Warriors is a muscular track with a metal spine and a compulsive predatory bass as combative as the cause of the lyrical tale. The track marches through the ear with the surety of weighty power without unleashing an overly aggressive intensity. The other two songs which caught the imagination most deeply also strike in similar vein, brought forth with a military precision and storming pulse.

Crusader is a more expectant and rampaging animal though still without unleashing its unbridled might. The group vocals that form the chorus moments give a band of brothers effect to bring extra energy to the stirring riffs and rhythms. Once more it is the great bass work of Paralis that brings most pleasure though the song has some of the best and most inciting riffs on the album too, the combination making it the best on the release. The third of the songs to make the biggest mark is Black Gold and again it enters on a military breath with drums to rile up the senses and riffs to strike down all before them.  It is probably one of the least creative tracks songwriting wise but it has an energy and life to it that sets it apart.

Every song within Elegy of Blood will bring much pleasure to classic metal fans, from the expressive instrumental Hiroshima, the power ballad Mother, to the closing World War II. It is a very strong album with plenty to feast upon and be inspired by, if you like that kind of thing. Though this genre does not fire us up generally often the opposite,  it has to be said Marauder have come closer than most classic metals band in finding a regular place on our daily playlist. For those with a welcoming for heavy metal Elegy of Blood is a sure thing to be high on their regular selections.

RingMaster 09/05/2012

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Litrosis: I Am Death

From Greece symphonic black metal band Litrosis have their debut album I Am Death released May 1st through Pitch Black Records as part of their Blackest Pitch Series. Recently signed to the label the band makes a strong and striking entry into the series of unique black metal releases that the label is releasing under the banner. The Blackest Pitch Series features an eclectic blend of black metal bands and sounds that bring something different to the genre and there is no doubting the Greek quintet do just that, self described as extreme epic metal the release is a mighty and stirring collection of expansive dark songs that explore and spread beyond their boundaries with skill and impressive results.

Formed in 2010 the band of vocalist Vassilis, guitarist Alex “Ad Ventus”, bassist Stergios, drummer Eli, and Vassilis “Q-Snc” on keyboards and orchestration, from a core black metal vein encompass symphonic and in some ways progressive metal with a wise and wizened touch that creates music which consumes and takes the senses into ventures that are intimidating, challenging, and impressively rewarding. Based in Greece with some members in the UK and US, Litrosis has created an album which is far reaching and deeply intrusive, the perfect blend.

The release opens with the excellent short instrumental Litrosis, its brewing and sinister ambience a rousing battle cry and epic introduction to the sounds ahead. Epic horns, vocal harmonies, and an atmosphere announcing a titanic force ahead, lead straight into Insomniac’s Lullaby. The song ruptures defences with blistering riffs and a scorching melodic guitar before rampaging with full intensity across the senses, trampling them under foot with devastating rhythms and grizzled venom spraying vocals.  It is a reasonably expected type of black metal attack but with insurgent and imaginative solo and guitar meanderings which impress deeply.

The diversity and real flair of the band is unveiled from the next track on. Soulcide opens with a beautiful classical guitar caressing of the ear with flowing keys and mesmeric bass to match. The track is majestic and immediately sets the band as imaginative and accomplished. As the intensity rises and darkens the guitars spark to light up the track with sharp and striking play whilst the keys wrap around the ear with a warmth and grace to temper the harsh and destructive power alongside.

As the likes of the aggressive and seemingly vindictive Burn The Sun, the compulsive and crushing Countless Wounds, and the title track leave the senses bloody and gasping for breath from the onslaught the album shows no mercy despite offering up sparkling invention and tempering asides. The band is at its very best though when they let the imaginative craft and ideas have a fuller rein. The brooding opening to Blood Red Desert Plain suggests more of the same of that which came just before it but although still a battering upon the ear it brings a glorious crimson skyline with grand soaring keys to add a full and epic disposition to the track and ear.

The album ends on two gems of songs firstly In The Grave, a mesmeric and captivating slice of progressive/epic rock. Though not convinced by the vocals at times the song still leaves one deeply satisfied by the musicianship and emotive sounds displayed. The closing Bury The Dead is the perfect finale, a track that slowly emerges like a warm and reassuring day, its arms extended and welcoming the emotions in to full and expressive passionate keys.  The instrumental is touching and evocative, and further evidence of the talent and promise of Litrosis.

I Am Death is excellent, whether fracturing the senses or taking them on beautiful journeys Litrosis does it so very well. The only complaint that stops the album rising to be a release of the year contender is the production. Personally it felt oppressive to the quality within; it caged the music stopping the full force and majesty to flow with clarity. The fact the album is still so good shows how impressive it really is and one all should make an acquaintance with.

RingMaster 27/04/2012

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Arrayan Path: Ira Imperium

Though strictly not a brand new release, having coming out last November, Ira Imperium from Arrayan  Path is simply too good to let pass by without sharing its mighty and addictive creativity. Released on Pitch Black Records the album is an irresistible collection of epic sounding yet grounded songs that fire up the emotions and have one rocking and rolling to the infectious power metal sounds that eagerly burst from each and every track.

The album is the third from the Cyprus band and the follow-up to the acclaimed 2010 release Terra Incognita which was nominated for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of the Year Award. Formed in 1997 by singer/songwriter Nicholas Leptos with help from his brother Socrates and guitarist Clement Fung, the band released two demos Return to Troy and Osiris in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Their debut album Road to Macedonia emerged in 2004 through Greek label Steel Gallery Records gaining the band solid interest for their fine musical craft and sound. There was a six-year hiatus until 2010 and Terra Incognita with the band returning with a more defined and adventurous sound. Ira Imperium takes things further to place Arrayan Path to the fore of their genre and with deserved luck into the attention of the world .

Alongside vocalist Nicholas Leptos  on the album there is again his brother Socrates with fellow guitarist Alexis Kleidaras, bassist Vagelis Maranis, drummer Stefan Dittrich, and George Kallis on keyboards. Together they have produced a release with songs that hits the spot relentlessly and accurately each and every time. Power metal is not the most elaborate genre technically but at its best it is one of the most anthemic and captivating experiences in rock music and Arrayan Path  here are the best. From the moment the atmospheric epic  dawning of opening song Dies Irae spreads around and through the ear the sense of triumph and unreserved grandeur is unmissable. With a cinematic flow the song breaks from this graceful start into a feisty and eager track with galloping riffs and punchy rhythms. Once the guitars swagger and tease with melodic skill and Nicholas Leptos  starts his impressive and expressive vocal delivery one is eagerly swept up in the proud and monumental flow.

An excellent start instantly raised by the following tracks. The rampant and enthusiastic Gnosis of Prometheus crusades across the senses with magnificent craft and an irresistible triumphant march. The vocals and guitar grab the spotlight throughout but the bass and drums form a stirring spine that allows the flourishes and anthemic glory to ride the ear with style and unreserved imperial power. The title track featuring  the legendary Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath) continues the fine display of heavy rock guitar work and expressive enthralling grand melodies. Again the song strides purposely as it excites and satisfies with an honest and undemanding demeanour.

Each track from those mentioned to the likes of the heart pounding Katherine of Aragon with the wonderful additional vocals from Natalie Kyprianou, the dramatic 77 Days ’til Doomsday, and the tempestuous Amenophis delivers nothing less than stirring and captivating aural heroics. Every song deserves a mention their quality that good but the two biggest highlights will end the review.

Kiss of Kali blends in ethnic sounds to bring a song full of vibrant eastern promise. The song offers  synthesized sitars and grand gallantry tied in with remarkable invention and inspirational melodies. Again a song that leaves energy restraint at home it is well crafted and cultured, a glorious track almost equalled by Emir of the Faithful. Middle Eastern melodies and sounds once more make a notable essence in the story of the struggle of Algerian Emir ‘Abd al-Qādir against French colonialism. From the chorus to the strident riffs and plaintive melodies the song is thoroughly pleasing.

Ira Imperium is simply glorious, a cathartic wonder for the heart and for one who is not generally a fan of power metal  Arrayan Path and their album has emerged as a surprising and complete pleasure.

RingMaster 17/04/2012

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Illnath: Third Act in the Theatre of Madness

Like the most spiteful demon from the darkest corner of your mind, preying on your shadows and fears Danish metalers Illnath return with their third album Third Act in the Theatre of Madness. The release exposes and explores the deeper crevices of the mind, whipping away the safety net of sanity to crawl and stalk every thought and emotion with manipulative grooves and venom soaked intrusive clawed riffs. Admittedly the release does not venture down new darkened corridors but the striking melodically grooved black metal carries an infection and irrepressible quality that makes it a triumphant compulsive experience.

Illnath formed in 1999 and found a positive response and ever growing following to their initially symphonic black metal sound.  A demo the year after plus their debut album Cast into Fields of Evil Pleasure in 2003 and the following Second Skin of Harlequin in 2006 saw them build on the ever strengthening attention. Musically they evolved too into a melodically driven black/death metal outfit, their sound crossing both genres without fitting neatly into either. Third Act in the Theatre of Madness sees the band with a new line-up with remaining founder member guitarist Pete Falk being joined by bassist Kenneth Frandsen, session drummer Reno Killerich, and the disarming yet mesmeric pit borne vocals of Mona Beck. The album released through Pitch Black Records also sees the most melodic release from the Illnath yet, a creative beast that is veined with killer grooves and provocative scorched sonically driven invention.

First track Third Act opens on a sideshow like melodic synth before stripping slices of the senses with sharp riffs and caustically gripping growls from Beck, her excellent delivery harsher and more impactful than any movie demonic interpretation. The song does not bring anything particularly new to the ear but rather revisits and re-moulds recognisable sounds and ideas to forge an openly agreeable invitation. Moments like the clean vocals of Beck and the mesmeric synths add a vibrant and pleasing extra aside to bring a fuller flavour to the song.

The following Scarecrow is a dramatic and excellent continuation of the intrusion. The groove that drives it twisting around the senses before squeezing them into submission as the flighty keys, the sinister bass, and the astringent vocals all take the ear through unpredictable and spite filled corridors. Already one imagines purists might be reluctant to entertain or even credit the varied and imaginative combinations of ideas emerging from here on in but anyone giving the album the focus it deserves will be rewarded with a balanced and nicely crafted collection of songs and their realisation.

Third Act in the Theatre of Madness storms through the ear continuously to its end, the likes of Snake of Eden with its classic metal pleasuring, the persistent acutely grooved Death Spring Will Come, and the rock n metal black blistering of Vampiria, riling up the senses with strong and addictive black metal fair. There is not a jaw dropping element to them or face slapping originality but they swarm over and capture the emotions through straight forward honest and eagerly brought sounds. If you want an album that ticks all the boxes from beginning to end Illnath is the band to immerse into.

Alongside Scarecrow, the hypnotically grooved Fall of Giants with its symphonic spiced synths takes top honours. The song leaps and punishes with acidic wearing sounds and a guitar incursion that is as venomous as the bile dripping off the vocals. The song adds extra spice with solos and melodies that cut deeply and linger welcomingly, a wonderful and thoroughly pleasing piece of sound.

As stated before Illnath with Third Act in the Theatre of Madness do not offer anything boundary breaking but the album is a feast of pleasure and stirring creativity from start to finish. It is easily an album one will reach for with glee again and again without any needed reminder or inducement.

RingMaster 14/04/2012

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Hard Riot: Living on a Fast Lane

If you are looking for some good and honest hard rock with a strength and appeal that refuses to be ignored then you can do a lot worse than taking a listen to the debut album from German band Hard Riot. Released via Pitch Black Records Living on a Fast Lane offers up eleven slices of very satisfying rock ‘n’ roll that hits the spot without venturing into distinctly new realms. The release though carries an exuberance and vitality that the more one gives it attention the more infectious it becomes.

Formed in 2006 in Heilbronn the quartet of vocalist Michael Gildner, guitarist Andreas Rockrohr, bassist Mario Kleindienst, and Carmine Jaucci on drums, are open with their influences proudly using them to flavour their own ideas and creativity. The album offers up large doses of the likes of AC/DC, Def Leppard, Scorpions and at times Van Halen but there are also other spices that peer out from within their sounds, varied rock elements that bring thoughts of Metallica, Aerosmith, and Staind. This goes to make an album that consistently engages and welcomes the ear even if it offers no real surprises or startling originality. For impressive and enjoyable rock music though Living on a Fast Lane fits the bill easily.

2009 saw the band release their self-financed 5-track EP The Hidden Truth to good acclaim and last year the band ventured into the studio to record their debut album with producer Vagelis Maranis. With the band signing to Pitch Black at the beginning of this year and the release of this fine album coming this week  there is a feeling and promise that the band should gather up a much stronger deeper response and fan base than ever before.

The album offers a good variety within its walls, the band at ease and skilled whether bringing a power ballad like Tears In The Rain or dragging the senses to their feet to rock out with the likes of the southern rock tinged opener Get Ready. The production ensures that each element of the band is heard to its fullest ability but also seamlessly fits side by side to makes songs that eagerly connect. It is fair to say that hard rock  is not the favoured genre of choice here at the RR, but there has to be a full admission that Living on a Fast Lane had voices loud and limbs air playing on more than one occasion.

Standout tracks include the great stomp fest Hellfire Rock where drums and riffs light up the inner rocker from the very first note and the excellent No Surrender. The first is infectiously anthemic and one of the songs where an avoidance of joining in is impossible. It scoops one up with an irresistible explosion of power riffs and melodic invention around compulsive gang choruses and pulse racing energy. The second of the two though with a fuller classic metal intention is similar in triggering a full response from the listener. The song is hungry and eager to provide a feast of hard rock elements and sounds that though expected are brought with a skill and urgency that can only please.

The album has a strong flow and consistency making sure there is never a moment one is looking to move on early. The likes of the slow and well crafted Nothing But You and the impressive metal veined Hard Way Down providing more highlights whilst the bluesy Black Widow is a supreme piece of rock music. It as elsewhere does not break down doors into new pastures but is simply siren like even for those that leave hard rock as a choice low down their preference list.

Living on a Fast Lane is a great release offering all the elements that makes a good and easily returnable to rock album. No it is not startlingly unpredictable or inventive but it is one of the most satisfying and eagerly digestible releases so far this year and makes Hard Riot a band to investigate.

RingMaster 08/03/2012

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