Push! – Dark Dive

Exploring music is the most rewarding adventure but equally a truly frustrating one when discovering a band or sound which has been around for a fair if not long time but only now coming to personal attention. Portuguese hardcore outfit Push! is one such proposition; a band which has been viciously roaring away for a handful of years and drawing potent acclaim along the way but only crossing our radar now with new album Dark Dive, a rousing beast of sonic ferocity and unbridled rage.

Hailing from Lisbon, Push! has forged a strong reputation and lured rich praise from their live presence alone which over time has seen them share stages with the likes of  Madball, Strife, Backtrack, Brutality Will Prevail, Sworn Enemy, Devil In Me, and For The Glory as well as play several major festivals in Portugal. 2014 saw the release of debut album Breathe In The Future Breathe Out The Past, a release making a strong introduction to the young band and laying the seeds for its stronger well-received voracious successor, This Is Cruel. This Is Life. two years later. Now the Stu Mckay (Malevolence, Brutality Will Prevail) mastered Dark Dive sees the band’s sound and songwriting at a whole new maturity, prowess, and indeed ferocity as greater and richer metal, groove and thrash amongst them, and punk flavours infest their hardcore instincts.

A compelling Intro sees the album rising to its predacious feet, the instrumental an untamed yet controlled, indeed devious web of grooves and riffs leading listener into the waiting scourge of Free At Last. Instantly the irascible throat of vocalist Nuno Cruz unleashes its ire whilst heading the equally choleric strains and riffs of the united guitars of Ricardo Servo and Roberto Cebolas. Just as swiftly an infectious strain of intent grips sound and emotion, a riling up of both which got under the skin with viral efficiency and trespass.

The great start is quickly backed up by Denial And Envy, a track led through ears by the senses clipping beats of Ricardo Aleixo before unleashing a tide of sonic and emotional irritability. Imaginative hooks and grooves line the cantankerous sounds exploring the speakers, Push! already showing themselves as dab and imaginative hands at spinning the most devious and persuasive kind, while gang and individual vocals only incited keener attention as the bass of André Paiva enticingly groans and menacingly growls alongside it all.

Through the album’s resourcefully fractious title track and the following carnivorous prowl of Pitfall, the increasingly addictive Dark Dive reveals greater unpredictability and invention. Both tracks are as feral as they are imaginatively and zealously grumpy, neither sharing a moment which does not keep you on your toes, nothing  expected or uneventful shared before a breath is allowed through Left With Memories, an instrumental thick in intrigue and intimation woven by guitars.

Paiva’s bass provides a bestial lure to the following With Love; classic metal flavours wrapping the instant predatory tone and motion of the song before all traits expand in a cross-grained punk metal incursion. In some ways it is not as immediate a real temptation as others around it but in just as many it is one of the most magnetic moments within Dark Dive. It then makes way for the senses stalking exploits of Cuffed To Yourself, a voracious pursuit of the senses and appetite which in turn departs to allow the similarly predatory touch and inclinations of Ground Floor to bare irresistible enterprise.

It is hard to honestly pick out a true favourite from the eleven tracks making up Dark Dive such the prowess and devious antics of all but next up Keep Silent offers plenty to be considered with regularity, the track a barbarous but anthemic call impossible to ignore specially when it too turns to hounding the listener like a bloodthirsty beast.

The album closes up with Procrastinate, a final slice of ruthless incitement and emotive ire unafraid to embrace old school metal wiring, thrash rapacity, and punk causticity to its hardcore raging. It is a potent end to a simply outstanding release from Push!, the kind of record to thrust the band into much bigger spotlights we expect and hope; Dark Dive certainly deserves that success.

Dark Dive is out now; available @ https://pushhc.bigcartel.com/ and https://pushhc.bandcamp.com/album/dark-dive



Pete RingMaster 08/03/2019

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Altar of Pain: Severe Scourge

Severe Scourge is the latest EP from Portuguese death metalers Altar of Pain, a release which drives its festering consumption with a technical skill to match the destructive passion. It is also another example of the quality of bands and music bursting out from the country, every way you turn there is a not only another band waiting to be announced but one with a craft and invention to step out from the masses. Altar of Pain is no different and though Severe Scourge feels like an above average demo it is a mighty and impressive release which only fuels further promise from the band ahead.

From Madeira, the quartet of Elder Abreu (vocals), Guilherme Abreu (guitar, keyboards), Zé Rodrigues (guitar), and Marcelo Rodrigues (bass guitar, synth-fx), formed in 2010 with the intention of making heavy brutal death metal based music. Inspired by bands like Vader, Death, Morbid Angel, Asphyx, and Cannibal Corpse, the band first drew wider attention with their debut album The Ritual Has Begun of last year. Severe Scourge continues their fine progress with a storm of expansive and imaginative ideas fuelled by a blackened and skilled intent. There is nothing healthy about the sounds of Altar of Pain but nor is there anything dismissible, each song a stirring and concussive enjoyment which is so easy to return to again and again.

The EP is a release with only one real issue to contend with, the drums. They appear and sound as if they are all computerised. Though the band overall just get away with it, there are times it is a niggling itch which diminishes the quality elsewhere. The sound does not really integrate into the organic playing of the band and makes for an irritant which can distract too much at times. The thought though is that if the band find a strong and skilled drummer there will be no stopping them.

Opened by the senses crippling Death By Exsanguination, the release takes no time in igniting the fullest attention. Triumphant Pantera like riffs slash the air whilst a groove dripping in infection, twists around the ear with fangs sunk deep. The song is a breathtaking expulsion of energy, the band unrelenting in their bruising and exciting of the senses. The guitars scythe fiery patterns with their razor sharp play whilst the bass stomps and prowls around with a rabid menace for a combination which is impossible not to fall eagerly before. With the varied guttural growls of Abreu flinging words like plague ridden carcasses on top, it is a storm only pleasure can spawn from.

From the impressive opener Fatal Disease and The Fleshless Goddess offer their own unique corruption as the band explore and unleash further inventive play, the guitars especially in the first scorching the atmosphere with explosive solo work and scarring riffs. The pair keeps things boiling but it is with the latter part of the release where greater highlights lay in wait.

Infected is a corrosive beast which sears the synapses with crushing intensity and acidic guitar enterprise. Arguably less infectious as other songs, its deep rooted groove is merciless in its lure whilst the vocals and energy is a dehabilitating oppression allowing no place to hide.  Again the band shows their songwriting is expansive and unafraid to explore which brings freshness to each and every song.

Top track award goes to Scriptorium, a song which is aural addiction. From an almost lumbering start it explodes into a raging rampage of battering corruptive riffs and incendiary melodic hooks, both leaving whiplash and adoration in their wake. With vehemence oozing from every syllable of the vocals and piercing sonic lashing accompanying the melodic contagion, the track is nothing but immense. Stick a live drummer in there and we are talking probable classic.

With only the earlier mentioned issue to throw at its hide, the Severe Scourge EP is an impressive slab of melodic death metal which genre fans will relish. It is surely only a matter of time before Altar of Pain is given the opportunity to unleash themselves in a full studio with all its armoury, when it happens watch them bring a real explosion to the corruption.


RingMaster 14/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Inner Blast: Sleepless Monster

The debut EP from Portuguese gothic metal band Inner Blast is one of those frustrating releases which have much more to offer than is allowed to show. Sleepless Monster is an imaginative collection of songs sabotaged by a poor production which leaves them a shadow of the glory they suggest they have within them. The EP has been self released by the band and as with all independent artists finances are rarer than finding people publicly praising Justin Bieber. This possibly is the situation with this release, its need for a top notch production and appreciative mind behind the controls with no disrespect to the person(s) who took the role here, losing out to available funding. There is seemingly an impressive release bursting to get out and one can only hope an opportunity to let the band realise that promise in these songs is sent their way.

The seeds of the Lisbon band began in 2006 with the current quintet coming together four years later. Through live shows and taking part in rock contests the band soon had people taking notice which led to an invitation to submit a track for a CD compilation available through Infektion Magazine and also an appearance on Rock on Side B vol.1 release through Raging Planet Records. Sleepless Monster makes it easy to see why Inner Blast drew such responses and will continue to, the band creating well crafted and atmospheric music to open up and satisfy the senses. Arguably they are not yet the most original but they are more accomplished and promising than most similar styled newer bands.

The release opens with Better Days a song which takes no time in drawing full attention its way. The opening atmosphere through the keys of Monica and soaring vocals tones of Liliana lighting up the air. As the track emerges with the rhythms of drummer Sabu guiding the ear firmly whilst the guitar of Aquiles scythe sharp riffs through the atmosphere there is an intriguing pull. The song is an intelligent mix of powerful energy and driving metal sounds, which without having the most intimidating intensity are pleasingly forceful, alongside a mesmeric melodic warm of vocals and harmonies which one can only be impressed by, sadly though the production negates the glory that could have been. The excellent voice of Liliana lies against the music rather than within so there is a clear definition between the two which sounds wrong. Her range is strong but when she hits those searing highest notes it is like a sonic laser with no tempering production to bring their richness and rounded quality through. The other issue is the hollow feel across all aspects of the song. The assumption is there was an attempt to expand on and deepen the undeniable ethereal quality of the music but rather than let the sounds organically create this the added help just makes it sound like it was recorded in a cavern or a cold public loo, sad as this is a rather decent song as is the release as a whole.

The title track comes next and as with the rest of the release take the previous comments as to production and such as permanently standing across all songs so we can just concentrate on the positives. From a groaning almost bestial breath the guitars conjure an electrified pattern which frames the lyrics and vocals of Liliana whilst the keys weave an excellent melodic siren like glaze across the ambience of the song. As with the first track it feels like there is an aggression urging to break free but tempered by the harmonic breath it is held down to good effect.

The best two songs on the release come next in Tears and Fixation. The first opens with sounds of a brewing storm laced with emotive piano play before opening its eager arms to share an explosive passion which breaks through the limiting production. The voice of Liliana is at its most triumphant on this song whilst musically everything is perfectly aligned with the bass of Luis a brooding and prowling presence, The second of the two again introduces itself on a hypnotic piano start before spreading into a startling and fully pleasing melodic charm, the song a wash of heated beauty fired with stirring guitars and punchy rhythms.

The closing and decent Open Minds again has a similar stance as the previous pair especially for its start which suggests diversity is still waiting to be fully explored within the band but it is an easily agreeable song to end what is in Sleepless Monster certainly a very promising release despite being held back by production. Given the chance to truly express themselves and their songs in a top environment the feeling is Inner Blast will be a band to watch and enjoy much more.

RingMaster 07/07/2012

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Karnak Seti – In Harmonic Entropy

With a will and energy as formidable as their crushing sound Karnak Seti release their new self-released album In Harmonic Entropy. The release is earnest and eager, a powerful collection of songs with an intent to give maximum damage and satisfaction, and overall it pretty much succeeds on both fronts. The album bursts with forceful riffs and intricate expressive melodic invention to keep the senses constantly on alert and intrigued. Muscular and intimidating it is equally caring and decisive in bringing well structured and crafted melodic extreme metal to your table. It would be fair to say it is not bursting out with anything startling in a new sound way but In Harmonic Entropy is still a superior and tasty feast to get ones teeth into.

The quintet from Portugal first made people notice with their debut album Scars of your Decay of 2009. Full of promise and solid sounds the band announced themselves as a band to keep an eye on and with this new release have confirmed that promise even if there is still a sense of much more to come. In Harmonic Entropy is a more mature album than the debut as one would expect with fuller sounds and structured with obvious concentrated care. They have not reduced their intensity, in fact notched it up somewhat but have brought their melodic invention even more to the fore. The blend is impressive, deeply pleasing and again portent of what surely will emerge from the band as they evolve further and hone their songwriting skills even more.

The album is the first release with new singer Luis Erre joining guitarists António Jesus and Renato Ramos, bassist Claudio Aguiar, and drummer Luis Barreto. Erre’s vocals are harsh and caustic, his growls scathing upon the ear and a good compliment to the raw power of the music and contrast to the impressive melodies and intricacies. He offers just enough diversity to his delivery to never allow his hoarse tones to grate, something a few bands lately should take note of.

The album opens with ‘Long Gone Shadow’, probably its most accessible song though none are a problem to get fully engaged with. Belligerent riffs, a glorious senses twisting groove, and excitable keys all infuse the track with keen energy and addictive sounds. It may not be the best or rather most creative track on the release but it probably will be understandably the favourite of many, its eagerness to please irresistible. Following track ‘Only Red Mist Descends’ ups the ante with more tempting riffs and razor sharp melodies, and a vocal harmony at times to lose fluids over. The track ripples with all the evidence as to why one can see Karnak Seti making deep marks ahead within metal, beautifully crafted its hard bordering on threatening intensity is in a perfect blend with the creative ingenuity of the band. Easily the best track on the album of what are nine extremely enjoyable tracks.

The album is not a brutal beast but certainly makes demands of and takes from the ear with strong force. The intricate technical precision and blistering melodies are a wonderful balance to the aggression and at times fierce and heavy emotional intent of lyrics and expression. Tracks such as the imposing and grief laden ‘Loss’, the emotive and mesmeric ‘Stranded By Existence’ with an exuberant picky keyboard niggling throughout, and the excellent ‘Figureless Icons’ which sees the band doing their best In Flames impression and pulling it off without making one shout ‘copycats’, all shine and please tremendously.

In Harmonic Entropy is for all fans of the likes of In Flames, Soilwork, and As I Lay Dying and that is where the only criticism that can be laid at the album’s feet stems. The Portuguese metalers have not yet found that distinct Karnak Seti sound to set themselves apart leading to fears that this outstanding album will be lost amongst many other similar genre releases, hopefully not as it deserves unlimited attention. It is a tremendous release bulging with stunning musicianship, impressive songwriting and intelligent creativity. It also suggests that one day the band will make your new favourite melodic death metal album.

RingMaster 10/02/2012

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