Slug Comparison – IIa

photo by Peter Wiholm

As the world and age wears down the ability to be truly surprised and equally finding many things to be   especially excited by, there is one thing which does get the juices flowing and that is something new from Slug Comparison. That kind of anticipation springs from being enthralled by its first single Bringer of Doom and subsequently hooked on a following self-titled debut album back in 2014 and has now been seriously rewarded with new EP IIa.

For those yet to discover the glory of Slug Comparison, it is the solo project of Doug Harrison, the vocalist/guitarist of the similarly tempting Canadian progressive rock outfit Fen, they not to be confused with the British black metallers of the same name. Harrison’s sound has already proved to be is an instinctively bold and imaginative embracing of various rock bred styles and textures while involving ears and thoughts with an intimacy which maybe can only emerge within a solo endeavour. It has been a quiet time on the Slug Comparison front recently with Harrison being afflicted by tendinitis last year which brought his work on new tracks to a temporary halt; being unable to play and compose as is his process on the guitar. He is back now though and returns with the first in a series of EPs, a trio of songs produced by Doug Fury with Harrison which simply ignites the senses and imagination like never before.

Drawing on the craft of Fen guitarist Sam Levin, bassist Mike Young from The Devin Townsend Band, and Randall Stoll of Congenital Fixation to bring his new tracks to life, the latter pair having helped out previously on that first album, Harrison instantly captivates attention with opener Let Some Light. The lure of acoustic guitar hungrily caresses ears initially, it’s tempting soon joined and enhanced by Harrison’s distinctive and ever compelling vocals and the darker hues of bass and beats. Melodies ignite across the infectious canter of the song, opening like suggestive blooms as voice shares emotion and reflection with harmonic and earnest dexterity. Heavier rock strains add to the evolving landscape of the song, essences of blues and classic rock colouring more progressive and folkish essences though it all joins and emerges as something with its own character and style. The track is simply delicious, infectious and emotive while involving body and thought with sublime ease and craft; escalating all attributes with its unpredictability.

The opener also reveals a new organic catchiness in Harrison’s music without defusing the imagination and established individuality of sound exposed within his debut album. That infectiousness is even more virulent in the following Exactly What to Do. If its predecessor is irresistible, the second track is alchemy for the spirit, the track instantly grabbing hips and instincts with its swinging gait and a rock ‘n’ roll hunger soon joined by an addiction inciting chorus. Spicy grooves and grungy rapacity adds to the contagious theatre of the song, every catchy twist and seductive turn a spark to involvement and lusty pleasure. At times there are hints at the likes of Porcupine Tree, Voyager, and Katatonia within the adventure but again no more than scents in its own rich roar.

Becoming completes the EP, a gentle stroll of a song with Harrison and acoustic guitar again an engaging hug welcoming ears into the intimacy and heart of the song. A smouldering persuasion compared to the forceful exploits of the first two tracks, it still needs little time to unite with thoughts and appetite as ears get lost in its melodic wiring and descriptive beauty.

Even with an instinctive connection with the sounds of Slug Comparison because of those earlier temptations, IIa still left a surprise spawned open mouth behind on its first listen and a greed for much more thereon in. Doug Harrison has hit yet another plateau with his own writing and music and indeed for us eclipsed anything from Fen to date too; time the world caught on we say.

The IIa EP is out now and available @ https://slugcomparison.bandcamp.com/album/iia as a name your own price download.

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Pete RingMaster 13/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Zedi Forder – Self Titled

Some bands and artists just click with ears and imagination from their introduction and for us one was definitely UK trio Zedi Forder. Maybe it is more accurate to say the creative force behind the band crafted the connection because previous adventures for the duo of vocalist/drummer/primary songwriter Chris Kerley and guitarist Mark Carstairs have equalled seriously enticed and stoked the passions. They are also the creators of Tricore, An Entire Legion, and Rind Skank; all distinctly individual bands releasing some of the most exciting and imaginative adventures in recent years though each being sadly missed or ignored by a tide of major attention. Zedi Forder is their latest project, with bassist Richard Tomsett alongside, creating a bold and multi-flavoured mix of alternative metal and voracious rock ‘n’ roll which fuels a self-titled debut album that quite simply deserves greed driven recognition.

In some ways because of previous seductions of our passions, Zedi Forder get a head start in a want, or should that be need, to hear its exploits and an assumption of having some level of appetite for what may be on offer. Equally though, it makes expectations much more demanding and triggers the question of can the band create something unique and fresh enough to be truly new from past endeavours as much as those around them. Many bands or musicians struggle in one guise but across a few it is a rare success. The release of an also self-titled EP in 2015 suggested the Woking hailing outfit could and would, their first album now a striking confirmation going well beyond simply bearing out that proposal though understandably it also gives delicious slithers teasing at earlier explorations which adds to rather than defuses the originality.

The Zedi Forder bio says it is a band with a split personality. “One side is driven by the musical aim of being bold and ever hopeful. The other side is fearless and judgmental, with music that reflects this.” The album certainly reflects this suggestion, its songs, sometimes within themselves, twisting from creatively free-swinging and swashbuckling to imaginatively mischievous on to proposals forceful and emotionally edgy and cutting but all crafted with an instinct for rousing sounds, manipulative rhythms, and daring diversity.

The album opens up with Killakarta and instantly consumes ears with rapacious riffs and jabbing beats as a bass growl courts a thick wiry groove. Kerley’s distinctive and ever magnetic vocals are soon in the heart of the mix, steering the song’s muscular stroll with expression and flair. That initial groove, carrying a growl far more vocal in the bass of Tomsett, winds around the imagination; it trespass enjoyably toxic and addictively refreshing. A slip into a mellow climate is just as tempting, accentuating the song’s unpredictability before being overwhelmed by a more primal expulsion of sound and intensity, reclaiming its moment as a great jazzy lilt infests the bass.

Seductive and predatory in equal measure, the track is a glorious start to an emprise of imagination and craft backed by the arguably less mercurial Machines though it is no slouch in raising its temperature and dynamics across a persistently eventful body. Kerley’s beats bite as Carstairs’ melodies spin a web of suggestion; his trap of enterprise further ignited by possibly the most virulent and catchy hook lined groove you will hear this year.

Dark Mook is a kaleidoscope of sound and texture, its opening noisy glaze slipping into a funky pop tinged stroll of melody and harmony before grungier flames escape guitars and bass as Kerley consistently croons with his never wavering melodic dexterity before I’m the one offers its own individual tempting for an already aroused and on the brink of lustful appetite. The fourth track also opens with a bracing surge of raw sound but is soon entangling the listener in a flirtatiously earthy bassline with funk in its genes and as quickly catchy vocals and beats with a sense of devilry in their gait. Carstairs’ weave of melodic teasing is a riveting net to get caught up in, ensnaring the senses before things get dirty and feisty though Kerley is still keeping the instinctive catchiness flowing in touch as the track to re-establishes its unbridled virulence. The song is another early pinnacle; an irresistible treat with a great 12 Stone Toddler meets KingBathmat scent to its revelry.

Darker shadows wrap the melodic beauty and volatile turbulence of next up My Moon, the song drawing on electronic tenacity to colour its variable and perpetually alluring atmosphere above a rugged terrain of invention. Across its roar, thoughts pluck at comparisons to the likes of Sick Puppies, Voyager, and Soundgarden; all slightly inaccurate but potent hints to the great track.

The grin loaded Nachoman comes next, the song a compelling tongue in cheek but earnest tease of social commentary. It has voice and hips hooked within its opening Red Hot Chili Peppers smoked swerve and only proceeds to tighten its vice like grip through heavier spices and inventive condiments of sound while Open Wide grabs attention with a bullish tirade of sound before flirtatiously dancing in ears with its Jane’s Addiction like funk metal meets System Of A Down seeded versatility. Melodies and emotions fluctuate in character and intensity across the song, as too vocals and rhythms with the latter an evolving torrent of enticement and aggression.

They love it more is a cyclone of sound and energy within an oasis of reflection and melody, never truly settling but always in control of its volcanic fusion of rock and metal while successor Smooch is a predator of hips and imagination with its boisterous shuffle courted by barbarous rhythms and emerging sonic hostility again spurned on by the spiky beats of Kerley and the irritable tone of Tomsett’s bass. With an infection loaded and at times psychotic groove sharing lures with an inherent catchiness, the track as its predecessor hits the spot dead centre, burrowing deeper with every listen, as quite simply does the album.

The growling Time after time leaves no stone of temptation unturned, its grunge/metal snarl maybe the most creatively untwisted track on the release but as bold and naturally infectious as any others such as the following On the run, a slab of classic metal and heavy rock with a nod to the likes of Zeppelin and Sabbath in its heart infused with the progressive and melody conjuring imagination of Zedi Forder.

Though not the actual final song, Lonely One closes things off with its melodically haunting, sonically searing, and rhythmically imposing blaze which alone shares all you need to know to hear why its creators warrant unbridled attention.

With a bonus quartet of mesmeric acoustic tracks which alone prove why we rate Kerley as a vocalist so much, each also unveiling a new drama and shade to the original’s aspects, the album is manna for body and soul and a real bargain as it seems it is being released as a name your own price download. Covering their first EP we said “it would be rude not to go off and discover its majesty “, for the album substitute ‘rude’ for ‘stupid’ because you will surely not hear anything more gripping and exciting than what Zedi Forder have in lying wait.

The Zedi Forder album is released June 10th wit pre-ordering available now @ https://tricore.bandcamp.com/album/zedi-forder-the-album-out-10th-june-pre-order-to-get-4-tracks-entire-flame-wiz-album-now

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Pete RingMaster 02/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Arcade Messiah – III

john-bassett-promo_RingMasterReview

This past week saw Arcade Messiah unveil its third album in as many years, each a November treat instantly challenging thoughts on best of year nominations.  III is a mighty continuation of that trend, a release where imagination might not be rampant in its title but in its kaleidoscope of suggestive sound and inventive flavours, it simply ignites ears and thoughts.

Arcade Messiah is the solo project of Sligo based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer John Bassett, the founder and driving force of the outstanding UK band KingBathmat. It is a true solo effort with every detail the imagination, creation, and work of Bassett, all apart from the art of III which sprung from the craft of Michael Kerbow. Arcade Messiah has persistently taken ears through a myriad of sonic and powerfully evocative landscapes, pushing the union of creator and listener’s imaginations to new heights. III unsurprisingly is no different to its predecessor, exploring a new depth in textures and invention which just lights up mind and spirit.

To simplify things, Bassett weaves his music from the merger of everything from post and stoner rock to doom, sludge, and metal doom. It is still a narrow description of his sound which defies labels yet openly embraces inspirations whilst turning them into something inescapably unique to Arcade Messiah. Like a melodic siren with the growl and intensity of a bear, his instrumental endeavours to date have fascinated and consumed ears and mind alike; III as mentioned does not deviate from that success. It is though, the heaviest, most compelling and exhilarating offering from the man yet. Across six tracks, the album is creatively ravenous, melodically seductive, and often emotionally irritable and quite bewitching.

It opens up with Revolver, a prowling slice of heavy metal with an air of Sabbath to it which is soon entangling ears in a net of melodic and sonic intrigue. Rhythms barge through the maze of sound, imposing on the senses with poise and aggression as guitars weave their web. The first surprise is the sudden expulsion of vocals from Bassett, they more a texture than an attention stealer but carrying a clarity as ripe and potent as the cauldron of sounds around them. Simultaneously confrontational and welcoming, the track continues to disturb and beguile like a dramatic carousel.

It is a glorious start swiftly backed by the bestial presence of Citadel, a lumbering slab of crawling doom which looms up over the senses, submerging them in its sludgy tar before veins of melodic enterprise and emotive grace wrap around body and imagination. Dark and dangerous, alluring and captivating, the song gets under the skin and into the psyche; its aural scenery an irresistible adventure to navigate and explore.

arcade-messiah-iii-album-cover_RingMasterReviewAt over ten minutes, Deliverance is an epic proposal which devours time with its craft and magnetism. From a gentle opening as warm as it is melancholic with guitars and keys entwining with earthbound celestial beauty, the piece brews a darker side. Striding rhythms are the first deceptive shadow, again a sure invitation with a portentous edge though their threat merely simmers for its first third. Eventually though there is no holding back the energy and intensity of the skirting shadows, their fiery eruption the spark to a lava flow of melody and carnivorous energy. It is impossible not to get lost in the depths and suggestiveness of the track, the imagination casting its pictures and tales as the track continues to ebb and flow in touch and creative fire, perpetually burning its presence into appetite and spirit while captivating with its variety of attack.

It is impossible to pick a best track, all providing unique aspects and characters to immerse in, but the song certainly makes a highly persuasive argument as too its successor Life Clock. Washing over the senses with its space rock like atmosphere and fertile layers courted by the dark lures of bass and beats, the track is another femme fatale resembling encounter luring ears onto its ravenous rhythmic rocks and predacious intensity which lay in wait as the track builds its apocalyptic climax.

Once consumed, the song makes way for the Hades like realm of Black Tree; another predatory piece which stalks and infests with a seductive prowess as powerful as its acrimonious side, both having their moments to make their case across the outstanding trespass. Of course this and every track will inspire a scenario and emotion unique to the individual, one of the many glorious aspects of the Arcade Messiah tapestries.

III closes with the relative calm and peace of Sanctuary, though it too has tempestuousness to its heart and touch which only fires up the senses and imagination as Bassett casts another canvas of melodic suggestion, sonic rabidity, and all that lies between.

III is glorious, a riveting slice of aural alchemy which should not surprise considering the strength and prowess of its creator and predecessors but does at every twist and turn. Time to take another look at those End Of Year lists folks.

III is out now on Stereohead Records @ https://arcademessiah.bandcamp.com

http://www.arcademessiah.com   http://www.kingbathmat.com   http://www.johnbassettmusic.com   https://www.facebook.com/arcademessiah/

Pete RingMaster 30/11/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Symphonies in sound and imagination: exploring Sahona with Charly Sahona

Charly Sahona_RingMasterReview

2016 received one of its early treats just a few weeks back with the release of the self-titled Sahona album. It was the debut release from the new melodic rock project of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Charly Sahona of progressive metallers Venturia. It is a release which is, in our own words “a rousing drama of sound and imagination.” Offered the chance to find out more with Charly, we grabbed a hefty chunk of his time to explore the creation of the band and its first album, and simply the creative heart of the man…

Hi Charly, many thanks for sharing time with us. How are things in the Sahona area of the world?

Hello, thanks for the invitation. Well, things are fine here. The album is out and so far, reviews have been very positive about it . We’re about to release a new music video and shoot a new one. I’m working like crazy in order to perform these songs live as soon as possible . So, I can say I have a good life .

Before we look at your excellent debut album, would you tell us about the first days of Sahona. It was originally meant as a solo project for you?

Oh thanks, I’m glad you like it !!! Sure, you’re right , at first, the album was meant to be a solo project and more precisely, the follow-up of Naked thoughts from a silent chaos released in 2010 but the songs are quite different and so are the musical arrangements and the line-up. So, the first days of Sahona as a full band are recent but the writing of the songs began in 2013. Oh It actually took a lot of time before we recorded and released it .

What sparked the creation of the project; what was it you wanted to explore different to your music in progressive metallers Venturia

I really wanted to do something different with this one. I like my musical-making to be in a constant motion. At the same time It’s necessary to stand back with the last thing you released and start something new with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. For this project, I wanted to write something without any heavy riff played on a 7-string and focus on different musical textures, guitar sounds and new grooves.

You touched on it earlier, so you had a collection of ideas and songs already in the works before you invited fellow musicians to help out?

Yes, after I finished the first 4 demo-songs, things were clear in my mind and I knew who I wanted to work with. I like to make music with talented people of course but it’s always better when you do it with your friends. So I first asked drummer Stéphane Cavanez to join me , I’ve known him for a long time, he’s a brilliant musician, very enthusiastic about things. After hearing the demo version of On this winter night , he said he would agree to play on all the songs . Same thing with my long-time friends Fabien Paraillac and Cédric Artaxet; I don’t remember exactly if I sent them the first four demos before asking them to join me but anyway, both of them agreed. I was very glad and happy they all said yes to join me for this project. I knew they would sound great together and that my songs would have been transcended thanks to them .

sahona_RingMasterReviewSo what was the catalyst to changing the idea of guest musicians to a full band?

It was something I had in mind for a while , as the songs have a different sound compared to the things I did before. As we were recording, there was an obvious musical chemistry going on and it reinforced me to think about having a band name for this project. So I talked about it with Chris from Dooweet agency and to my buddies. We all thought that the idea of the band was obvious and as the name Sahona sounds cool for a band too, the choice was done, easy to make and I didn’t have to scratch my head during days in order to find a new name . The other thing is: as the musicians are my friends, the idea of having a band together was something natural. More, I really like to immortalize music with talented friends.

Was it an easy to decision to ‘share’ your songs with I am guessing musicians with their own adventurous ideas when creating music?

Sure, it was very easy as we’re all professional musicians . There was no ego thing that could have been hard to deal with . I wanted a more organic sound and a sophisticated modern rock approach and I knew what my band mates were able to do .

For example, the drums I programmed were done in a prog-metal style and Stéphane brought a more refined  rock groove, I let him do his stuff as everything was matching .

As I’m the lead singer and as there are many guitar layers on these songs it was obvious to ask for help and some back-up . I couldn’t imagine another guy than Fabien to play the guitar with me on this album.  We have the same guitar approach but he’s more rock than me.

We recorded a lot of different guitar takes and during the mix, we chose what was best for the song no matter if it was him or me playing….

He did an amazing job on the mix too. Just like his guitar sound, all the songs sound powerful and organic.

Regarding the bass, there was a couple of things I asked Cédric to play the exact same way I did on the demos. But as my bass programming was voluntary basic most of the time, he added his own personality and groove that matched perfectly Stéphane’s drumming . He even changed some root notes that at first surprised me, and the more I listened to it, the more I liked it.

In the end, everything felt easy and natural.

Did their input mean your songs changed or evolved from their original characters once the band was a full involvement of all?

No, not really but I guess things will evolve when we’ll perform live. It’s a natural process and it’s important for us to make slightly different things when we play the same songs over and over.

When writing songs, do you come at them from different angles or have a general way of bringing them to life from idea to sound?Album cover_RingMasterReview

I usually have a precise idea of how the album or a song will sound like even though the root of all songs is based on a guitar or keyboard chords progression and a simple hummed melody . Then, I’ll program a midi file of what I just did. If the melody sounds good with a bad flute midi sound and a midi bass line, I keep the idea and will have a clearer vision of how it will sound like with all the instruments. Then I’m thinking about what kind of drum beat, bass line, guitar riff, and keyboards texture would fit with the idea of the song and at this moment, the creative process is growing fast. Or, not that fast actually because getting the right keyboard sounds or guitar effects takes me a while very often. When I’m programming , I have in mind how my band mates would play it and that’s the reason why I’m never really surprised (although I’m always amazed) when they bring the songs to life with their style and their sound. It sounds obvious to my ears and at the same time I’m so excited to hear what they bring to a song and to discover how it takes the song to a higher level.

Tell us about the lyrical themes behind the album.

Sure ! I decided to do something I never really done in the past.  I wrote about the most widely expected subject in the world: Love !!! But not the way girls like it though (no offence intended girls, I’m just kidding !!!) .

Reading and writing romantic and soppy stuff are not my thing at all as I’m a cynical and rational guy . So the majority of these lyrics are about love and its frustrations and turbulences . It’s way more interesting, true and realistic in my opinion. But when I say “love”, It doesn’t only mean the feelings you have for your girlfriend or your boyfriend,  I use it for the passion you have for your art or whatever that excites you too, it can be painting, sport, your beliefs and then we’re slightly get into the spiritual aspect and themes I like to write about as well.

Most of my lyrics are not explicit, this way people can identify with them and make their own story.

I usually prefer to describe impressions than reality.

What about the recording of your self-titled debut? How long was it in the making?

It’s funny because it took a long time to finish it (something like two years !!!) but the writing and the recording were actually very fast and easy to do. As we’re used to record in studio, we know how it works and we’re getting more and more efficient and good at it. But as we didn’t have any deadline or expectations,  we took our time to record it. The rule was to get together when we were able to do it only. It was: job, touring with cover bands, tasks and family priorities first. This way, we were in a very relaxed state of mind and every time we forgathered, it was for fun.

Ok, the album was supposed to be released in late 2015 but for commercial and administrative reasons it got more delayed .

Did you approach its recording differently to creating releases with your other projects?

Yes and no … As it’s the 5th album I’m producing , I’ve learned through the years with amazing people and  I’ve also learned from my mistakes. Today, I know the importance for everybody of being prepared and how to record the best way possible taking into consideration the people you work with as every musician has his own preferences and personality. And that’s how a recording session can be different from the ones you experienced in the past: it depends on your line-up as well. So I asked my band mates about the way they wanted to record and I just let them do it their way as it’s extremely important for artists to work the more relaxed and efficient way possible.

But the thing that changed a lot for me was to share the guitar parts with Fabien but it was so exciting to hear him play with a different strumming and sound than mine and then mixing our guitar tracks together. I really enjoyed it .

Oh, and there was another great thing : My vocal takes were recorded home with a very cool equipment a friend of mine lend me.

This way, I took my time…I was recording one full song a day and the day after, if something was not exactly the way I wanted to be, I just had to press the « rec » button again and it was done. I don’t like the feeling of recording in a studio with time passing, all the money you know you’ll have to spend, the people around you even if it’s your friends. I did it many times in the past and I can tell you how relieved I am to work and to record alone at home, it gives me so more freedom and offers you more possibilities.

sahona_RingMasterReviewHave you found there has been an instinctive urge to do things with Sahona and the album differently to your other ventures elsewhere, just out of the want to try different things?

Yes, as I told you, I wanted to have a different musical approach, a different sound, a different line-up. But on the top of that I really wanted to express myself to another level, and the best way possible as a singer and I’ve been working hard to achieve that. Maybe, being the singer of your own songs reinforces the introspection aspect of the creation. This is not to say that this album sounds more like “me” than the previous ones I did with another lead singer, it’s just different . But as you give more of yourself as a performer, it makes the thing more introspective and maybe more intense and that’s what I wanted to achieve too.

I always imagine a debut album breeds new ideas and opportunities to try and explore further in its successors. Elements not imagined and expected when composing that first encounter. Were there any which arose for you in the making of Sahona’s debut?

I’m always excited to explore new territories, new sounds, new chords progression, new ways of making music. Having a more or less precise idea will always push you to go further in order to create something new and interesting. Listening to different music, going to the theatres, reading books, talking with people, playing with musicians…All this things are inspiring and maybe it if it’s not always a conscious thing, it will incite you to evolve as a human being and inexorably in your art and in your life indeed. This is something I like to be aware of and thankful to.

What comes next for Sahona and its individuals?

We have to play live as soon as possible and we have to work hard for that. We intend to begin a tour in our country in September. Then we will focus on the next album as we’re all really happy about this debut one.

My thanks again Charly for talking with us; Anything you would like to add?

Thanks for having me !!! Congrats to the readers for reading this interview so far and thank you Pete for spreading the word about the music you like whether it’s mainstream or underground .

And finally, give us an insight into the records and artists which could be claimed to have most inspired your own life and creativity.

Oh my god, they are so many . But let’s try to do it fast. I’ve always been a fan of classical music but the one from the early 1900 with composers like Ravel, Bartok, Debussy, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff. As a guitar player I’m a huge fan of guitar heroes like Steve Vaï, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, John Petrucci. I’ve always been into progressive music with bands like Genesis, Rush, Yes, Dream Theater, Frost, Opeth and I’m really into their contemporaries with the young prog underground scene like Destiny Potato, Disperse and especially with the metal djent scenes with bands like Periphery, Tesseract, Monuments who took progressive music to a new level. I like rock and pop music too with bands like Muse, Radiohead, Keane, Dead Letter Circus.

All these bands and musicians have inspired me in many ways indeed.

Check out our review of the Sahona album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/sahona-self-titled/

https://www.facebook.com/sahonamusic/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 21/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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