Australasia – Vertebra

Australasia - Vertebra - Cover

Lifting the listener’s thoughts and imagination into an expansive and emotional almost visual flight through an ever evolving soundscape broken up into smaller evocative sceneries, Vertebra the new album from Italian band Australasia is one of those absorbing emprises you just cannot pull away. Ten tracks of predominantly instrumental merging of post rock, shoegaze, classic electronica, and enthralling ambience, the release is a masterful and compelling adventure. There is though much more substance than that description suggests, flavours and styles bred elsewhere seamlessly employed in the melodic web cast, and when vocals are rarely used they are more another texture to the creative narrative than any lyrical storytelling. The album as skilful and magnetic as it is equally suggests this is a project still in evolution with greater glories waiting on its horizon, something which just adds to the pleasure bred by Australasia.

The band is the creation of multi-instrumentalist Gian Spalluto who has linked up with Mina Carlucci and Giuseppe Argentiero of fellow Italian band Vostok. Touched by influences which include the likes of Red Sparowes, At the Gates, Joy Division, This Will Destroy You, Angelo Badalamenti, Mogwai, Pelican, Ennio Morricone, Cult of Luna and more, the band provides emotive landscapes and mesmeric incites which never restrain themselves musically or imaginatively to any singular intent or limiting frame. Australasia’s debut release, the Sin4tr4 EP of 2012, opened up the gateway to the band and its invention which the Immortal Frost Productions released Vertebra continues with striking strides into the awakening imagination and aural world of the band.

The journey opens with Aorta and a guitar cast melody which as the album progresses is a regular protagonist if in varying guises and intent. It is a mellow coaxing of a start to the song which gathers intensity in its breath as it opens up its creatively sinewed arms and melodic armoury. Hitting full stride early there is a tempestuous union of post rock provocation and metallic sculpting which flows and moves towards a stretch of sonic beauty and evocative reserve. Impressive rhythms and drums steer the enterprising exploration superbly and the guitar play is quite riveting across the body of the song. In its final thirty seconds or so the track unveils a union of male and female vocal harmonies which provides a last wash of warmth and elegance to the impressively crafted flight.

The following Vostok immediately offers a vintage electronica sound to thoughts though it is soon smothered by a strong cloud of sonic shadows and blackened emotion. The song undulates thrillingly as it progresses, big mountainous rhythms and textures mingled fluidly with tender elegance and those returning electronic caresses before dissipating for a lone acoustic guitar to wave the dark climes away. It is a track which seems to pass so quickly in time and though almost four minutes in length its successor Zero is soon feeding the senses and providing another heady structure of melodic imagination and rhythmic incitement. Not for the first or last time, the music reminds a little of The Cure around the time of the Seventeen Seconds /Faith albums, a shadowed energy coating the air of the song but speared by a melodic beauty which only raises the spirit and light.

Next up Aura roams through a more electro pop /shoegaze realm with eighties synth pop flavouring, though yet again there are intimidating resonances and dark clad tempting which tempers the radiance enough to add wonderful doubt and menace to the calm. The track also sees the captivating voice of Carlucci swarm siren like over the senses. Lyrically the track is uncluttered with effective repetition whilst gentle soaring harmonies make the prime successful persuasion. Like all the tracks, the song seems simple but holds a real deception as everything is so precisely and imaginatively woven together. The closing vocal scat does not quite work for personal tastes but it does not deflect from the smouldering piece of enjoyment.

Both the melodically flamed but intensively blackened Antenna, one of two tracks on the album taken from the earlier EP, and the excellent towering bulgingly muscular Volume continue the impressive height and stature of the album whilst the title track provides a pleasing short Spring respite with expressive tones and soft weaves, even if it feels a little like an anti-climax from the immense and lofty force and heights carved previously.

The second track from Sin4tr4 steps forward next. Apnea provides a reflective blend of imposing density and melancholic beauty wrapped in another bewitching vocal wash from Carlucci and an electro courting which pokes light through the cloudier ambience. It is a delicious embrace which makes way for the bordering on corrosive presence of Deficit. Scuzzy and thickly bonded to the ears, the track thrillingly riles up the senses but then before they can accept the intimidation the piece twists in on itself to lay a beauteous glaze of melodic endeavour on the incitement. It is a short but scintillating piece of composing and realisation waking up the appetite even further for the closing seven minute plus epic of Cinema. Arguably the track is a shade too long but it is a mere quibble when it makes such a compelling temptation across its emotionally clad presence.

Vertebra is a spellbinding release though to temper that slightly maybe it does not ignite a fire in the belly of the passions as often as it arguably could or should have, though again to put that into context, it is fair and easy to say that Australasia has created an adventure which is impossible to resist or stay away from. The band has the potential to create their own legacy you feel as their album permeates through thoughts and emotions, Vertebra a very striking start.


RingMaster 08/01/2014

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Depths of Tides: an interview with Sannhet

photos courtesy of Fred Pessaro

photos courtesy of Fred Pessaro

Released by Brooklyn metallers Sannhet, the album Known Flood is one of the most extensive and challenging journeys this year, an impacting and imagination inspiring flight through desolate landscapes, pervading shadows, and far reaching sonic climates. It is a wholly impressive and aggressively provocative encounter which leaves senses and thoughts enthralled and enslaved in nine captivating instrumental fusions of styles and ambiences. To find out more about the band and their startling album we had the pleasure of talking with bassist AJ Annunziata.

Hello and thank you for letting us discover more about Sannhet and your powerful music.

You have just released your excellent debut album Known Flood, but before touching on it can we find out about the origins of Sannhet and how you all came to meet and link up creatively?

Sannhet’s early incarnation was as a two-piece, and a bit different than what you’ve heard on Known Flood, more of an experimental noise/ambient project. The two recorded a full album of beautiful music that will remain in the shadows, as the project wasn’t quite where they wanted it to be. Live shows and a new EP followed, but it was only then that they considered adding low-end for the additional impact at live shows.  I met John and expressed interest in Sannhet and the line-up was complete.

Yet after playing with the band for a few months, I realized there was something missing and it wasn’t a singer. Shortly thereafter, we introduced our visual element, one that we consider crucial to our overall vision of Sannhet, and moved into a single line formation on stage.  This completed our overall thoughts on what Sannhet is, a multi-sensory experience that incorporates our concept with immersion in audio and visual elements.

What was the inspiration behind not only the band but the music you are exploring?

Our inspiration is bringing the concept of Sannhet to life, nothing more.  This is a very arduous process that involves much trial and error in both the visual/musical arenas.  It’s a concept that has a clear direction, yet is a work in progress when it comes to execution and approach.  This means we examine our output thoroughly and go back to the drawing board frequently.  We are highly analytical of what every piece of the puzzle means in the whole (visual and song-wise) and everything is intentional.  Unfortunately, this may mean that we will write a song that we truly love and play it a few times live, before ultimately deciding it doesn’t fit our entire schema.

As your debut Known Flood majestically shows, your music is a blend and experiment of sound and imagination which is wonderfully sannhetimpossible to pin down with a label. How do you as its creators answer questions of what does it sounds like?

We get the “post-rock”, “post-black metal” and “post-hardcore” tags thrown at us quite a bit, but ultimately we feel like Sannhet has its own sound and vision.  Call us what you want, we are Sannhet.

The album is also rich in multi-flavoured sounds and deep in diverse textures borne of numerous styles suggesting your personal tastes reap a wide field. What are the more prominent inspirations to your ideas?

The concept of post-humanism is omnipresent in Sannhet, the idea that at some point automation will render the humans useless.

Listening to Known Flood you get the sense that its tracks have had a long creative fermentation time and been bred over an intensive period. What is the reality and how long did the album take to create?

Many of these songs, at least in theory have been being written for almost as long as we’ve been playing instruments. Often as a creative, your process is to have a concept and let it blossom over until just the right moment strikes, then you assemble everything all at once.

Obviously there is open passion in your music and release but how truly personal are the pieces of music?

Anyone who doesn’t put passion into their music is faking it.  Our music is very personal.

The album finds its home in the darkest aspects of the world and being it seems, is that a reflection of you as people or just where the music took itself organically?

Each song has a separate personality, much like the facets of our own being.   The results can be grim, optimistic, filled with cascading beauty, or under the cloak of darkness. Yet even from the darkest moments comes true catharsis.

One of the most enthralling aspects of the album is the descriptive ambiences which alone inspire and paint thoughts and emotion draped imagery in the mind. How difficult was it to create these evocative aural hues without the more intensive and hungry aspects spoiling their impact?

Those sounds live inside of Chris’s head, extracted and manipulated from seemingly benign sounds. He records them and then manipulates them until he can extract what he hears. These field recordings come from everyday life.

sannhet2The mixing and production of the album is so important to realise all the nuances and facets of your sound, who handled that part of the recording and what made him the right choice to realise your ideas?

Colin Marston engineered the album, but John had a clear idea of exactly what he wanted from the recording. If you hear the album on vinyl or in flac, you’ll understand all of the nuances that are hidden in the mp3 format. For instance the drums where recorded to tape and sound massive in full format. There are several different types of amps used on the dubs to get specific sounds that very few people would decipher or appreciate. John is the architect of that hidden temple.

In our review we suggested the album also shows that you are only starting out on your journey of discovery with much more depth to investigate. Is that a fair comment and what during creating Known Flood sparked new thoughts and experiments to look at in your next writing?

We are constantly writing and the sound has definitely evolved since we recorded Known Flood. If you dig enough, there’s quite a few videos of us playing new material live. The new songs are clearly a result of growth as a band. We are constantly aiming to evolve the sound and confident in our evolution to become the best representation of Sannhet.

Known Flood is released on Sacrament Music, the embodiment of an independent. Can you fill us in on the label and am I right in thinking it was primarily started to release your album?

Sacrement is the child of Brooklyn institution Saint Vitus, a metal bar that is the center of the metal movement in our city, possibly the CBGB of its time.  The label was an extension of that, and we feel honored to be chosen as the first band considering the large amount of bands to pass through the doors over the years.  We may have been the first band to be released on the label, but it was formed on its own.

What comes next for Sannhet and what is the gig situation for the rest of 2013, will Europe see you sometime soon?

We are currently writing our next album, Europe will probably get us next year. Lots of US shows to announce soon.

Read the review of Known Flood @

Pete RingMaster

The Ringmaster Review 26/09/2013

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Human Pyramids – Planet Shhh!


Looking at the background to Human Pyramids and debut album Planet Shhh!, numerous tags from post rock to post punk, folk to electronic are placed before the project but quite simply the only description you could use is narrative rock. Every track on the instrumental album is a vibrant and potently descriptive tale of life, its beauty and colour declared in aural poetry which leaves thoughts and emotions elevated, body and passions exhausted. The twelve track feast of invention and torrential imagination is simply magnificent, a superbly crafted journey through vibrant sceneries and invigorating embraces of the world.

Human Pyramids is the invention of from multi-instrumentalist Paul Russell, a musician and composer raised in an old mining village in Scotland and now based in London. Featuring a group of handpicked musicians from across the UK to help Russell realise his scintillating adventures, Planet Shhh! took three years to create, time that with its release via Oxide Tones will be surely reaping rewards and ardour for years to come. Easily one of the most startling and thrilling debuts this year, and maybe decade, the album is a uniquely sounding and varied dance through thoughts, emotions, and experiences, a waltz/tango of intrigue and fire bred warmth that captivates every essence of the psyche and body from its first entrancing second right through to its very last departing and waving note.

Tall Tales starts off the passionate romp, the track a fanfare for the album and emotions. Awakening the senses with almost celestial heat spots of melodic temptation and harmonious caresses aided by rhythmic teasing, the track instantly draws out a strong appetite which turns to hunger as the track expands its arms into a stroll through melodic trails across rhythmic mountains, taking in the sights with reflective mellower moments.

It is a hypnotic start soon matched by the equally enthralling The Bubble. A guitar welcome makes a pleasing beckoning though it is also deceitful, hiding the impending rhythmic hypnotism lying in wait to enslave further the previously energised satisfaction. With a clockwork polka gently leaping over the senses egged on by measured handclaps and prodding string taunts, the track wraps a virulent lure around the ear before leading it into a swarm of kissing melodies and feisty energy. It is basically the most enjoyable and welcome trap possible, its metronomic siren call the gateway to a glorious blaze of musical radiance.

A gentle canter through the varied hues of life and energies frequents next up Cafe Hawelka, the piece a tantalising look on the passing vitality of life within a hive of exuberant activity, whilst Alphabet City explores the shadows and bright lights of an urban hive, every corner and breath within the landscape explored and brought to thought through a magnetic capture of rhythmic and electronic passion alongside brass and acoustic elegance.

As the zealous evolving festivities of Relapse courts the fermenting rapture inside the emotions with poise and dazzling enterprise and Skimming Stones unleashes a sunrise of melodic stimulation and big hearted rhythms encased in guitar cast seduction, Human Pyramids could just go home after and rest on their laurels such the impact and glory of the album to this point they would draw nothing less than full acclaim. But no chance of that as Singing Sands shows as it leads in the second half of the release to match the already unveiled riveting bewitchment. The track is littered with a crystalline tempting from the glockenspiel encased in a perpetually increasing energy of summer persistence, its heat and demanding textures a cascade of delicious rhythms and an ebbing and following melodic tide. It is a breath-taking piece of beauty which soothes and rampages within evocative thoughts and enlivened emotions.

Both the emotive tender soporific Duvet Day and the similarly, even with its bulging sinews and expansive inventive jaws, somnolent Tinfoil Stars treat the ear to a luxurious relaxation before the brass driven topography of Port Charlotte brings forth a slumberous picturesque portrait to explore. These smouldering joys are subsequently left in the shade by A Town Called Malaise, a powerful rock based journey which opens with a dramatically commanding tempest of guitar and drums kicking up a storm of intensity roamed by the shadow drenched bass. From behind the pungent encounter entwining streams of melodic whispers and sonic flames bring the hope and underlying beauty of the premise before contesting the air with the returning heavy oppressive voice of the scenario. It is an explosive and fascinating, not forgetting stunning, blend of imagination and striking songwriting that alone encapsulates all the impressive elements and strengths of the band.

     Bus Stop Polka completes the release, the track a busy and vibrant place with drums and guitars leaving no room for breath as the rush for the ride dominates the intent. Once aboard the trip is a dazzling venture of melodic lights and cracking rhythmic enticement which again leaves the listener engulfed in a riot of lung sucking incitation.

    Planet Shhh! is simply an aural temptress, a classically shaped and passionately honed fire of brilliance. That is all you need to know about it and Human Pyramids to embrace their glory.


RingMaster 16/08/2013

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True Widow – Circumambulation


One of the strongly anticipated albums to be unveiled this year, Circumambulation the new release from US band True Widow, is just a masterful alchemy of shadows and light filtered through equally enveloping sounds. Towering in intensity, seductive in beauty, and consuming in atmospheric toxicity, the eight track album leaves the listener exhausted, invigorated, and submerged in its and their own emotional depths for a full aural and mental exercise.

The third album from the band has a sound which defies labelling, though True Widow themselves term it stonedaze. The trio merge a stirring mix of drone, post-rock, and shoegaze but continue to add further unique additives as their creativity evolves. The new release breeds further the essences of the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Baroness, and Earth into their own distinct flavour but into the brew also incorporates the pop warmth of a House Of Love and delicious distortions of a Sonic Youth. It is an irresistible alchemy that takes the listener on a journey musically and emotionally, a mesmeric and at times gnarly trip that explores the textures and extremes of thoughts and experiences.

The Relapse Records release in many ways follows on in the same vein of previous albums True Widow (2008) and As High As circumambulation_1400The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth (2011), but there is also a sense that the trio from Dallas is refining their imagination from deeper depths within their rich invention. As soon as opening track Creeper emergences from a destructive ambience with a wiry guitar groove twisting around the ear soon joined by the plodding thick bass call and crisp rhythms, the drift into undiscovered sinister realms is an evolving fresh encounter. The track is a slow stalking evocation teasing and intimidating around that almost fifties like groove call whilst the vocals of guitarist Dan Philips and aside him bassist Nicole Estill, bring a hue and warmth to the melodic persuasion that the senses just revel in. As the drums of Timothy Starks drive and cage the portentous breath of the guitar alongside the tenebrific air of the song wrapped in sultry heat and devouring ominousness, the track lies as a riveting contagion that works on every pore, sense, and thought.

The following S:H:S has a tall order to live up to the might of its predecessor but as the distressed ambience slowly swarms around scuzz lined guitar teasing and rhythmic evocation the band again has its recipient falling into a rich and thick weave of tempered aural fire. It is not as dramatic as the first song but walks the same plateau of temptation and potency as it creatively explores its sonic narrative on the way towards the best track on the album.

From its first sizzle of guitar beckoning there is a sweltering heat to Four Teeth. The song accosts the senses whilst simultaneously guiding them into a rapture which is truly ignited when the wonderful tones of Estill take the vocal lead and kiss the ear with harmonic beauty against the resonating flumes of sonic vapour pouring from every guitar note. It is a scintillating steamy embrace with roughened skin to its molten touch that simply leaves you lost in a pop inspired stifling haze. Another song which impacts on every facet of the emotions and body, it is a perfect slice of finely crafted inspirational rock pop brilliance.

As the imposing Numb Hand with its slowly burning grunge tinged labour and the equalling lumbering but darker brooding Trollstigen declare their testing intent and hypnotic stances, the album just sinks deeper and firmer into the passions, the second of the pair a predacious crawl into the psyche with the vocals of Estill again a merciless temptress. It uses repetition and doom spawned ambience as ripe sonic fruit within its bait and towers as another caliginous pinnacle on Circumambulation.

From the more than decent instrumental I:M:O, the release closes with the sweltering climes of firstly HW:R, a track coasting through southern rock heat with a tropical surf rock coaxing and melodic elegance, and finally the consuming and dense Lungr. The song slips into the darkest corners of mind and heart but lights the way with a beacon of melodic majesty and reverberating sonic imagination that leaves the listener immersed in enthrallment.

Circumambulation is sensational and though it arguably lacks the hunger to go to the very darkest places it is one of the most rewarding and thrilling albums to enwomb the senses this year.


RingMaster 23/07/2013

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Agrimonia – Rites Of Separation


Exhausting, mesmeric, destructive, and provocative are just four potent declarations to place upon the impressive and riveting new album from Swedish metallers Agrimonia. Rites Of Separation is an angry aural magnet for the senses, a rapacious tempest of ear twisting, passion brewing, and psyche sculpting atmospheric malevolence. It is a consumption which feeds and fractures thoughts and emotions whilst exploring the soul, the bands and listeners, with startling enterprise. Not always an easy listen it is perpetually a compelling and impacting confrontation with rewards far outweighing its caustic touch.

The Gothenburg-based quintet featuring members of Martyrdöd, Skitsystem, At the Gates and others formed in 2005 and from the very first days has employed a constant regime of live shows and tours. Their self-titled album of 2008 brought the band to the attention of post-rock and crust devotees with its caustic imaginative textures which their follow-up Host Of The Winged two years later built upon, taking the band to wider recognition. It led to the band hitting on the US and Mexico for a successful West Coast North American tour. Having signed with Southern Lord in mid-2012 the band return with their third full length in the mighty shape of Rites Of Separation, the record another hour long expanse of corrosive yet invigorating intensity alongside inspiring imagination and an inventive diversity which offers new horizons and twists with each intriguing and fully committed encounter.

The album again fuses crust, progressive, and sludge rich metal provocation of one full landscape through five individual intensive emotively exploitive endeavours, all a startling and evolving, perpetually shifting aural travelogue of ingenuity and sonic revelation. Opening track Talion immediately sets the scene, the song emerging from a bristling breath speared with highly acidic and irresistible sonic scorching which comes and go within a full and almost suffocating atmosphere. Into its stride the track offers sinews in rhythms and riffs which drive the passions to the surface and flames of brass or keys which try to break free in the background behind the scowling and serpentine rasping vocals of Christina Blom. The air of the track is hazy, its touch scuzzy refusing definition to some elements yet enhancing and elevating the intensity and already sweltering touch of the song. It is a thrilling start, those hidden treats a seductive tease within the changing fascination of gait and expression cross the eleven minute sensation. There is little to dislike or not find an ardour for in the song leaving the appetite for the rest of the release dripped in hunger.

The following Hunted opens on emotive keys, their slight melancholic voice a sheltered beckoning light which lures in thoughts and emotive responses before the equally potent bass narrative adds its presence. Once the scene is set the band smother it to unleash a towering blitz of thumping rhythms and gnawing riffs, the arrived fury bruising and incendiary as its effect is sculpted further by the again great malicious vocals of Blom. The song like its predecessor is an ever evolving fire of imagination and irresistible invention with a seamless fluidity and descriptive majesty.

Through the outstanding While Life Lies, a track with a deliciously haunting but welcoming keys led opening embrace being subsequently forced into the blackened grasp of a doom laded fluctuating inferno rife with sonic captivation for a sweet and sour taste, and the equally impacting The Battle Fought, the release offers an enthrallment which carves up and sears the senses whilst leaving them basking greedily in a creativity which is pure sonic alchemy. The second of the pair and shortest track on Rites Of Separation at just short of seven minutes, is a black metal intensity with a predatory storm of energy and psyche twisting invention pervading its spiteful atmosphere, and another dramatic treat.

Closing on one final and the most extensive exploratory experiment upon thoughts and senses in the scintillating emotive violation Awaiting, the album leaves one lost in fully awoken thought, Rites Of Separation offering a canvas which colours the imagination yet leaves a wealth of visual contemplation to be completed by the listener. At times tracks do stretch limits with their length, though not always in time used but the amount of rich invention at work making moments occasionally hard to absorb, though as mentioned each return unveils more depths to devour so not really a long term issue. Agrimonia have provided an album which employs every responsive atom of the listener for a wholly stimulating and engrossing experience, a release all metal fans should get involved with.


RingMaster 08/05/2013

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firewheelbombfire – Square Peg In A Square Hole

firewheelbombfire - Square Peg in a Square Hole - PromoShot1WEBSize

I guess we often say releases capture the imagination but in the case of Square Peg In A Square Hole from firewheelbombfire it captures, inspires, ignites, and frames a myriad of thoughts, ideas, and imagery bred by its compelling body. An album which offers up a new experience with every listen, it can play as a continuous journey through a post-apocalyptic like world or as individual tales through equally traumatic landscapes whether physically or mentally. It is a thoroughly intriguing piece of work which thrills and incites across its expressive narrative and stirring imagination. It is not a flawless release and admittedly at rare times things fail to ignite the strongest connection but it is a release which tells and triggers a wealth of stories and feelings, and ultimately is a triumph.

Firewheelbombfire is the solo project of Cardiff-based producer Matt Strangis, a man already renowned for his production work in the realm of drum and bass under the name Billy Gone Bad. His new guise and sound sees Strangis bringing numerous rock and metal essences and flavours into a riveting merger with uncomfortable and impacting ambiences. Also within the canvas the album offers are a plethora of as the bio say ‘other noise-enabling bits and pieces found around the home (kitchen utensils / plates / cats).’ It all makes for an organic and startling experience, an encounter which would not be out of place as a voice to the blackest noir drenched or starkest futuristic or social cinematic endeavours. Completely DIY on a non –existent budget, being home-recorded in the exact chronological order of the track-listing, and conceived from a pro-album / anti-single perspective, the album is an incendiary pleasure for the sense and imagination.

The album opens with Doggone, the track emerging from a distant shadow with the air and energy of a tube train with intensity coverbrewing to an impending climax but then instantly dropping off into a melodic guitar crafted caress. With vocal nudges making a claim alongside the bass, their whispers as if spawn through a vacuum hose, the track shimmers and resonates like an ever revolving wheel of textures and dimensions,  a clarity eluding the grasp until a time of its choosing when the guitar entwines the ear with a deliciously grooved irritant to its touch and mesmeric call. It is a restrained but dramatic start, the impressive first of a flow of tracks provoking the mind and its invention.

The following Get Out Much? is a shadowed fuelled temptation, the low slung restrained vocal tones and the equally throaty bass enticement veined by vibrant rhythms for a hypnotic conspiracy. The breath of the track is dark and knowing; its deceptive secrets left to be discovered though once it eventually opens up its doors for a surge of stoner lined guitar grooves and energised fiery vocals, the heart is there to be explored. Infectious from numerous angles and premises, the song takes the great start to another level with ease and anthemic almost primal seduction.

The melancholic feel of Francis opens up yet another avenue of emotion and thought, its desolate and gloomy air like a reflection of a long past loss or regret. Its touch is that of a colourless memory, a black and white photograph of remembrance, and deeply emotive. Though the piece does not come close to the passion igniting heights of its predecessors its hold and ability to spark images and personal thoughts is stunning.

The next tracks again offer new adventures within the landscape being investigated, the contagious rock dance of Carry on Carrie a melodic siren especially with the speeding through a tunnel like hypnotism across its building climax, whilst both Telephone Voice (On / Off) and Trodite with their undefined but in many ways sinisterly presences are like aural magic eye artwork, though each twist and needed warped look into their colourful and bleeding depths, a scenario emerges with a new guise to explore each and every time.

The hungry intimidating corridors and hidden dangers of Pissing Guilt is a like a perpetual nightmare, its persistently looming dark embrace and inescapable menacing ambience full of seemingly vocal reassurance yet prowled by a sonic and rhythmic provocation to steer only uncertainly around the light within. Imagine yourself lost in a maze of perpetual clutching shadows, the walls of blackened streets either in reality or the mind stalking and herding emotions into a corner for an everlasting provocation and the song makes for the perfect  soundtrack.

Polypoly and September lead the listener back to safer ground though both again have their shadows to peer over proceedings. The infectious smouldering entrancement of the second of the pair is an irresistible lead into the closing It Ran And Ran And Ran, and its rapacious enterprise. The heaviest predator of the album, the song is a confrontation of stoner and industrial spiced doom metal like stalking, the bass and rhythms slowly watching and encroaching closer on their prey as the intensity and pace of the track builds to leap with a pack like mentality across all its elements upon the senses. It is an excellent finish to an equally impressive album.

It is hard to really compare the album and its sound to another though I am sure many will maybe rightly use Trent Reznor as a reference, but another name does rear its head in that of Colin Newman (Wire), not so much in sound maybe but presence and atmosphere. Square Peg In A Square Hole is a great album for all who like to listen, think, and imagine with their music and firewheelbombfire a project destined to impress again and again.


RingMaster 02/05/2013


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Kowloon Walled City: Container Ships


   With soundscapes as stark and imposing as the namesake of its creators, Container Ships the new album from Kowloon Walled City is a colossal and impacting journey led by thick tsunami like compelling atmospheres which border on oppression and intrusive melodies which span beauty and ugliness. It is a startling release which will floor newcomers to the band and leave existing fans feeling the band has touched new heights in their creativity.

Released through Brutal Panda Records, Container Ships is the second album from the band and follows their full length debut Gambling on the Richter Scale of 2009. It has been a long wait for many such the impression their first album and debut release the Turk Street EP the previous year made, though between the two albums there has been a couple of split releases with Ladder Devils/Fight Amp (2010) and Thou (2012). It is fair to say all their releases have brought strong values of acclaim but the new album is set to thrust the band to the widest recognition and responses yet such its impressive stature and imagination.

The release is an imposing encounter with sonic walls which tower over the senses and a destructive ambience which saps them of all resistance. The seven tracks which make up Container Ships are not exactly corrosive confrontations but erode with a blistered sonic tongue releasing an unrelenting intensity and a shadow driven emotive rub which enflames thoughts and passion. Evocative rather than provocative, though the release has no weakness in inciting reactions, it is a powerful invocation of the dark and light of existence, the beauty and the grotesque.

Brewing a consumptive blend which draws upon sludge, post rock, and noise, as well as metal, the band engulfs and informs with incredible weight and substance within a clarity which allows every aspect an influential voice whilst reinforcing their combined potent intent. It would be wrong to say it is not an easy listen but the album certainly employs more than its recipient’s ear to make its inevitable persuasion impressive and long lasting. The release opens with The Pressure Keeps Me Alive, a restrained and uncomplicated expression to its presence which proves ‘simplicity’ can easily evoke the strongest feelings, imagery, and thoughts.  The guitars of Scott Evans and Jon Howell unveil slow prowling riffs and tight melodic lashings to mesmerise whilst the rhythms of bassist Ian Miller and drummer Jeff Fagundes pound and manipulate the senses into a willing submission and intrigue allowing the sonic story telling of the guitars to paint their tonal tales. The vocals of Evans, a delivery which lies between squalling rage and earnest passion, shape the heart of the intent within the song and like the music finds a melodic heat within the challenging and disruptive invention.

The impressive start is left in the wake of the following 50s Dad, an abrasive slab of anger and discord dripping intensity. It is a glorious caustic lean on the synapses, a scorched venom filing away at the senses. In a release of nothing but highlights the track is an incredible fire which stands out especially though soon equalled by the just as immense Beef Cattle, a sludge/rock opponent with a doom kissed breath and debilitating energy. Both songs leave nothing less than smouldering pleasure though to be fair every song achieves that result.

The seven minute plus title track is an imposing beast of overwhelming ambience and smothering atmospheres conjured by the slow tempo menace of sound and emotion. Whether creeping over the senses or barging them aside the band creates a presence which leaves no aspect of the body unaffected or glowing in satisfaction. This bleak and challenging treat next hands over to the darkly passion of Cornerstone with another striking mass of down-tuned glorious might and the ‘lighter’ and quite masterful Wrong Side Of History, a song with a sonic majesty which burns like a furnace upon the ear whilst thrilling with pure enterprise.

The album ends with another epic in presence and intensity, in the barren landscape ambient shape of You Don’t Have Cancer. It is a haunting and slightly apocalyptic emotional wrap around the body from ear through to the mind and the perfect overpowering conclusion to what is a remarkable titan of a release.

Recommendation to immediately check out Container Ships is the only thing left to say, Kowloon Walled City a band sure to reshape your musical future.

RingMaster 02/12/2012

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Horseback: Half Blood

The new album from North Carolina band Horseback is a deeply provocative and evocative creation, a release that explores and expands into the senses like a dawning idea or emotion. From an initial spark it grows into a consuming and emotive experience which leaves a distinct and pleasurable aftermath to contemplate. Half Blood melds numerous essences of diverse metal styles into a seamless and provoking journey which challenges, mesmerises, and leaves a discerning rapture in its wake.

Horseback is the brainchild of guitarist, vocalist, and producer Jenks Miller, and across previous releases he has shown not only the capability but the imaginative and inspiring skill of bringing as mentioned an array of flavours and styles across the metal genres into creations which leave a lasting and deep impression. Half Blood is no different, its stunning and impressive chapters bringing a maelstrom of drone, psychedelic rock, doom, black metal, post-rock and more into a layered and textured trial for the ear and journey for the emotions. It is not a release that holds your hand from the start and leads you easily into its midst though neither is it cold or hard to climb on board with, but it asks for and requires a continued union and persistent interaction for its full and striking rewards to come forth.

The album is the third release with Relapse Records though the first original album with the previous releases being reissues of Forbidden Planet and the debut Impale Golden Horn. Through these and the acclaimed album The Invisible Mountain, releases with Voltigeurs, Locrian, and Pyramids either as splits or collaborations, plus more, Miller has written unique and impressively skilled sounds and compositions to form a continuing and startling aural vision that involves every one of senses, the mind, and heart. The music is thoughtful and inventive with a passion and emotional embrace which harsh or warm is.

Now I am not going to claim knowledge or understanding of the mythology, hermeticism and western mystical traditions which theme or inspire the music on Half Blood and it is not important as the music finds and gives its own meaning as it engages mentally and emotionally. Half Blood is in the words of Miller “a meditation on hybridity, impurity and evolution”, and that second word is the key, meditation. Throughout its movements of dark and light, with intrusive and caressing opposites side by side, the whole experience is meditative. At times the music scrapes the senses and in others it leads them through a caustic dark into enveloping acidic warmth, but it is never less than mesmeric of hypnotic.

The opening Mithras with its beckoning muscular bass and smiling keys draws one into the album immediately, the seventies progressive guitar and keys forming a groove that lies easily with the dark rasping out of place but firmly linked vocals. The track shimmers and glistens within the ear whilst its darkened pulse and dissident energy prowls behind. This is followed by the excellent drone grooved Ahriman. The song wraps the senses with a wash of warm melodies, Southern rock stoner tones, and infectious guitar manipulations. The track is a heated atmosphere of light though again with a watching dark presence and with a lightened drone quality that is fully hypnotic. The two opening songs are for want of a better term, traditionally structured songs which engage with a captivation and out stretched hand.

      Inheritance (The Changeling) takes the journey into a different direction. The track is a twisting and impactful mesh of church organ, littered sonic violations, and resonating intrusive discord. The track scrapes with a salt in the wound intent whilst locking a mesmeric hold that brings it all into a testing and rewarding sinister event.

Returning to the similarly driven style of the opening songs Ajuna offers a great persistent mix of thoughtful guitar and heavy resonance that continues the great quality offered by the album. It is with the closing three parts under the title of Hallucigenia that the album finds the deepest connection especially the third track. The first two parts Hermetic Gifts and Spiritual Junk open up the senses with sounds and intensity which coaxes the thoughts and emotions into welcoming the slightly draining drone and sure unrelenting meditative wave. As part two enters the drama and intrusion works deeper, but as with its predecessor they are the gateways to the stunning The Emerald Tab. The guitar drone like a bagpipe with a singular note, winds around every aspect of the senses. It verges on painful, leaves one with ringing ears, and takes the emotions through uncertain but decisive feelings, but it is deeply hypnotic. It is a harsh meditation but a cleansing laced with sonic light and reserved melodic additives. It is not a track that will work for all one suspects but as with the album it offers remarkable rewards.

Half Blood is outstanding but does need a concentrated effort to fully appreciate all of its wonders. Miller and Horseback ensure music is not just a brief excursion for the ear but a wholly deep experience.

RingMaster 02/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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With a depth and vastness as dramatic as the story within it, Skylight the debut album from AtomA, is a mighty and stunning release. It offers a colossal mass of startling soundscapes with one overall giant and expansive journey which takes the senses, thoughts, and emotions on soaring and impactful discoveries of new worlds and fulfilling experiences. It brings forth a vast aural universe which is almost too expansive as one almost finds themselves lost within its textures and realms of aural beauty and striking intensity to border the loss of concentrated focus on the canvas before them as personal thoughts and images find their own adventure.

AtomA was formed in 2011 by vocalist and synth player Ehsan Kalantar alongside bassist Siavosh Bigonah (both ex-Slumber members) with drummer Markus Hill joining shortly after and later completed by guitarist Jari Lindholm. Together the band set out with the intention of creating vast and atmospheric soundscapes fuelled by heavy and imposing melodies and structures to bring a multi layered and faceted sound which enveloped and explored the listener as much as they searched through its richness. A line in the band bio states, AtomA was to become an escapism playground taking the trio far from earth, where obsession of ideas and innovations constantly drove the group to try achieving new ways of expressions within the metal/rock sphere. This is certainly what they have magnificently achieved within Skylight not only for themselves but in making a similar world for its recipienmts to immerse within.

Recorded in 2010 at The Panic Room with the official band sound-engineer partner Thomas Johansson (Watain, Torchbearer, Scar Symmetry), Skylight brings melodic and symphonic metal into a mesmeric blend with anything from death metal, electronica, ambience, and post rock to name a few.  It is a majestic and genuine self labelling creation which encompasses a spectrum of sounds as large as the galaxy its story travels. The album centres around astronauts lost and searching through worlds for refuge, the songs portraying and borne of their minds and emotions in their journey of discovery and the impact on their feelings and thoughts. The striking monolith symbol on the cover of the album is the representation of their ultimate discovery of a unique anomaly on a planet whilst the album and astronauts story, again as stated in their bio …very much reflects the groups own alienation and detachment from the world, and also a deep longing for an unknown home.

As one suspects from those lines the album is an ever evolving and growing story which starts with the opening track AtomA and its epic dawning of intensity. The track does not rush to fully expand its reach and vast expanse rather choosing to slowly stretch its view into sight within an intense and intimidating atmosphere of things distinctly unknown. With tribal and instinctive rhythms the track sprawls and looms larger and larger into view to fully engulf the emotions and senses.

The following title track swarms around the ear with a black metal aggression within a more powerful warm and melodic wash of thick and glorious grandeur. There is a challenging power to the song, a predatory edge which lies as a warning within the imposing and intimidating yet beckoning atmosphere.  Within these opening two songs one is fully involved and feeling part of the experience such the power and impressive craft within the album and a connection the stunning Hole In The Sky ensures is a permanent bond. The best piece on the album, its riffs puncturing the senses like aural missiles raining down and the melodies slicing through with a crystal clarity and acidic edge.  Intensive, aggressive and dramatically melodic the track is an immense piece of work as is the albbum as a whole.

Every track is as impactful as any other from Bermuda Riveira with its opening revelation of the reason for the journey of the astronauts, through the celestrial elegance of Solaris, onto Rainmen with its dazzling crystalline ambience and the closing ethereal grace of Cloud Nine. It is no undertstatement to announce by its end that Skylight is enormous in sound, atmosphere, imagination, and quality.

Each mutual journey with the album brings the discovery of something new to persistently confirm that AtomA has brought a truly impressive and fulfilling release that will endure an age as long as its journey.

RingMaster 01/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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