Holy Mountain – Ancient Astronauts

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Binding the senses in grooves which show no restrain or mercy in their insatiable temptation and plying that slavery with riffs which voraciously gnaw and smother all before them, Ancient Astronauts the new album from Scottish metallers Holy Mountain, is an unstoppable juggernaut of sound and intensity. It is a heavyweight antagonist merging stoner and doom metal into a suffocating tsunami of intense and exhaustive sounds, but one which veins and sears it all with at times corrosive but always incendiary magnetic grooves and melodic causticity. It is quite simply an encounter which lovers of the riff will devour with greed.

Holy Mountain, its name taken from the Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 movie La Montana Sagrada, was formed in 2009 as an improvisational duo by guitarist/vocalist Andy McGlone and drummer Pete Flett. Two years after emerging, the Glasgow band enlisted bassist Allan Stewart and went almost straight into the creation of debut release Earth Measures. The mini album found its release in the May of 2012 welcomed by strong responses and acclaim, a reaction sure to be replicated and taken to greater levels by its impressive successor. Recorded with producer Paul Savage (Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand), Ancient Astronauts is a giant leap if not for mankind certainly for Holy Mountain as they explore all the qualities unveiled on their previous release far more intensively and inventively whilst casting new wild and expansive endeavours.

LV-42666 brings the journey into view, cruising in on a sonic breeze before stroking the imagination rigorously with thrashing rhythms, Holy-Mountain-Ancient-Astronauts-300x288rapacious riffs, and addictive grooves; rogue vocals adding to the celestial mystery and adventure. As urgent as it is heavy, the track strides boldly as sinews bare their muscular appetite and melodies seduce ears with the guile and irresistible lures of a wanton temptress. There is also an unmistakable psychedelic pop romp to the encounter which only accelerates its submission of the senses and passions.

The following Luftwizard instantly brings a darker and heavier suasion but again it is lit by scorching melodies and also this time vocal harmonies which flirt and tempt the imagination as potently as the sounds. The voice of McGlone is fed through a Roland Space Chorus across the album bringing a spatial quality to his tones and the general air of songs, something equally inspired by the majestic pungency of accompanying keys. The thick imposing riffs of the song provide a deep texture to the affair which almost groans in its intensity and rapacious wrapping of the sonic maelstrom within. It is a masterful adventure guiding the listener through a union of dark and light, a mutual rather than combative merger but one with plenty of imposing shadows to its exultant fire.

The title track comes up next exploring cavernous sceneries with doom bred prowling riffery and rhythmic provocation whilst short but virulent grooves lance the thick smothering air, their strikes beacons through the appealing murkiness as the song heads into an explosive contagion which bursts out with urgency and sonic radiance. The track touches the darkest depths and brightest highs in tone leaving the senses exhausted and rewarded by the riveting ascent, their recovery given no respite as Star Kings from a rhythmic draw swiftly courted by a highly tempting bass stroll, feeds another strenuous passage of ravenous riffs and fuzz surfaced enterprise. The vocals are a little further forward and carry stronger clarity within the tempest of sound, though they still feel pleasingly immersed in the overall flood of the experience rather than being an overlying presence riding the waves. It is an aspect which is as potent and important as the riffs and rhythms in making the album the immense proposition it is, they and the ridiculously contagious toxins which the band also casts into the creative rabidity.

Not necessarily the best track, so hard to choose one, but a definite favourite here is Tokyo which comes next. A bestial vicious voice and growl to the riffs drives the track initially whilst the bass with its throaty appeal makes the good guy in the confrontation, its smiling grooves the temper to the predacious guitar grizzle and the trigger to the flirtatious sonic temptation and boisterous vocals which revel in the overwhelming devilry of the track. It is a siren of a song which is matched by Gift Giver, the danger which usually accompanies such a tempting and arguably missing in its predecessor, an open stalking at the start of the song. Its slow pacing is soon ignited as riffs escape their shackles, a punkish urgency taking over whilst the drums hold a little restraint in attack if not power. It continues to switch between extremes bringing a scintillating and unpredictable soundscape to play with and explore, a post punk severity adding its taunts from time to time in the lulls between unbridled sonic blazes. The instrumental is riff heaven and groove manna thrown into an aural alchemy and corruption to bask in.

The album is completed by firstly the seventies seeded psychedelically enhanced 100 Years A Day and lastly the smouldering expanse of Hollow Hill which alone encapsulates all you need to know about Holy Mountain in sound, skill, and imagination, as well as influences with a range of twists and enterprise which pull up references to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Electric Wizard, ones you can apply to the whole of the album even with its distinct presence. Ancient Astronauts is a magisterial slab of psychedelic rock/metal and Holy Mountain a band poised to stake their claim for a seat on the top table of the genre we suggest.

Ancient Astronauts is available now through Chemikal Underground digitally and on limited edition vinyl.

http://www.holymountainband.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 17/04/2014

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Goldray – Self Titled

Goldray Press shot 3

Ahead of the band’s first full-length later this spring, we take a look at Goldray’s self-titled debut mini album which was released earlier this year. Consisting of four mesmeric and dramatic soundscapes bred in early seventies psychedelic temptations within fiery rock embraces, the release is an enthralling encounter fuelling the imagination and emotions whilst laying down the most compelling bait for the upcoming album.

Goldray is the project of Reef guitarist Kenwyn House who formed the band in 2010 when teaming up with vocalist Leah Rasmussen (Hydrogen, EMI, Bedrock, Renaissance). Sharing the vision to create music ‘blending psych and prog experimental arrangements resulting in a dynamic that took them towards psychedelic rock’, the pair enlisted Kula Shaker drummer Paul Winter-Hart and bassist Sinah Blohberger in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The band’s second year saw Andy Treacey (Faithless) take over the sticks whilst in 2012 Geoff Laurens (The Resistors) joined the band to take over bass duties. Financed via Pledge Music, the mini album features performances from both the previously mentioned drummers as it revels in the inspiration of the psych rock tradition of the late-sixties and early-seventies. House has commented on that influential period by saying “That era is so avoided by most of the media and the musical orthodoxy which is strange considering how powerful that time was for music and culture. Much of what was being said then – freedom, war, environment – is just as relevant, if not more relevant, today. It’s such a rich area to draw on.

Co-produced by Clive Martin with House and Rasmussen, with final touches provided by Brit Award-winning producer Pedro Ferreira, the Goldray_Artmini-album saw its first ‘soft’ release to pledgers last November with an official release on the band’s own Akashic Records late January. It is a proposition which washes over the senses with melodic flames which seduce as potently as the almost siren like voice of Rasmussen, though she only leads the imagination into inciting adventures of sonic invention within evocative landscapes rather than any destructive intent. Opening song Outland instantly transfixes attention with an initial caress of thick sonic coaxing, a firm and strong yet gentle beckoning. With a darkly resonating bass tone joining in with the celestial caresses of Rasmussen’s delivery, a sultry air and heat envelops the senses as the band paint its intensive canvas. The track continues to drift and entwine around thoughts and emotions but with a bordering on exhaustive intensity and drama which enflames ears to imagination, passions to appetite. It is an immersive flight which challenges and seduces with equal strength before leaving the psyche in the hand of the closing glance of Instrumental: The Arrival, it a lingering spice which only increases the already awoken anticipation for the album as it closes the first song.

The following Calling Your Name emerges from dark imposing shadows and a menacing rhythmic stalking, a discord kissed surface to the guitars an additionally sinister taste to the portentous entrance. The voice of Rasmussen provides a beacon through the darkness, holding back the dark nightmares and drawing in breaking shafts of melodic warmth and magnetic beauty. It is a glorious evocation soon surpassing the potency of its predecessor. Its towering and slightly threatening walls frame an unpredictable and transfixing waltz, rhythms and bass continuing their heavy persistence whilst vocals sublimely entrance within their cage. The best track on the release it is a delicious danger and seduction rolled into one.

Indigo Sky courts a warmer climate though shadows and intensive incitement are no stranger to the soundscape either. As Rasmussen soars through the evocative textures and expansive sonic painting, guitars and rhythms unveil rich provocative hues and inventive temptations to bewitch and push the senses whilst the bass again lays down a dark lure which only adds to the engrossing call of the journey.

The closing Diamond Road is in many ways the most strongly sixties influenced offering, its body and melodic soul seemingly more impacted by those evocative flavours of the time  especially with the delicious Doors like keys, though just as boldly it embraces a richly coloured modern sonic fire. Completed by the brief Instrumental: The Busking Magician, the track is an epically enthralling conclusion to a similarly compelling release. Goldray’s first official offering is a strikingly full and fulfilling encounter which if a hint of the upcoming album provides the strongest enticement possible.

http://www.goldrayband.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 27/03/2014

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Kobadelta – The Hidden Door EP

Kobadelta

Expelling a captivating kaleidoscope of emotive shadows and sonic light, The Hidden Door EP is a transfixing and quite compelling proposition from a band beginning to draw intensive praise and acclaim its way. The creators of the magnetic release are UK rock band Kobadelta; a quintet from Newcastle who are stirring up an energetic and demanding appetite for their imaginative sounds. Consisting of five enthralling and expressive mergers of psychedelic and melodic rock with blues and spatial rock ‘n’ roll additives, the band’s new release is a masterful temptation which whether fully seducing or simply awakening eager attention leaves senses and imagination greedy.

With the Ritual (Time Flies) single of last year under their belt as well as the sharing of stages with bands such as Temples, Splashh, and Kobadelta-The-Hidden-Door-EP-e1394372154357Superfood, Kobadelta takes little time to excite ears whether new or old with the opening seconds of first track Supernatural Cause. Drums and bass cast the initial temptation to excite senses with the guitar soon adding its melodic lures to the coaxing. It is an instant web of persuasion which seemingly draws on The Doors and Echo & the Bunnymen, an embracing enticement which smooches and dances with the imagination whilst the vocals of Dom Noble croon with expressive strength. Throughout its heated narrative and melodic climate, the song sways before and leans bewitchingly upon the emotions, the tangy sonic design by guitarist Alex Malliris and mesmeric charm of the keys from Jordan Robson a potent spice for thoughts and passions. The track is an exceptional entrance, one which simply gets stronger and richer over time marking the band out alone as something potentially special.

The following Electric Chair as the first launches its bait with the crisp rhythms of drummer Chris Malliris and the especially alluring throaty bass prowl of Jonathan Marley leading the coaxing. There is a swagger to the song from the first note, one egged on by a delicious guitar twang and fiery sax caresses but most of all by the sheer inventive mischief of the song.  Also as its predecessor intriguing shadows and a heavy air to certainly the rhythmic intensity borrows the imagination in its own purposeful casting whilst the guitar and keys colour that emerging canvas with inspiring and immersive psychedelically bred hues. It is a masterful enticement continuing the impressive progress of the release.

Not Above & Not Behind moves in next with its acoustic and vocal union, Noble confirming his skilled and potent delivery is as varied and consistently compelling as the sounds. Admittedly taking a little longer to fully persuade than maybe other tracks, the song emerges as a thoroughly absorbing incitement before making way for the title track, a musically expansive encounter spawned from the same emotive reserve and descriptive strength as its predecessor. Big rangy beats steer the fire of passion and sonic design though arguably the drama and truly incendiary spark of earlier songs is lost somewhere in its flames. Nevertheless it is another heavily brooding and accomplished suasion for ears and satisfaction.

The closing Love Stoned Chic is a deliciously intensive smog of fuzzy sonics and raw atmospheres thickened further by an impacting rhythmic penetration and guitar causticity. Veined by a searing melodic toxin and gently invasive keys, the track ventures into the realm of The Doors once again though it is impossible to take too much of the originality of the song away from Kobadelta.

A release which increases its potency and persuasion the more you let its fingers tease and search the senses, The Hidden Door EP is a rousing and enthralling adventure proving Kobadelta to be on the frontline of the most exciting and fascinating emerging rock bands around in the UK. Expect big things for and from them ahead, something to eagerly anticipate.

https://www.facebook.com/Kobadelta

http://kobadelta.bandcamp.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 26/03/2014

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Black Space Riders – D:REI

 

 Black Space Riders official 2014

   A spatial exploration of progressively sculpted metal and psychedelically forged rock merged with varied additives into thirteen rugged landscapes, D:REI is a compelling incitement for the imagination and fuel for the passions. Consisting of strikingly varied and ravenously adventurous tracks, the third album from German heavy rockers Black Space Riders is one of those treats you just cannot exhaust your hunger for. Our first encounter with the band, D:REI is an exceptional triumph sure to also invite an intensive retrospective investigation of the band.

     Formed in 2008, the Münster hailing band immediately triggered acclaim and attention with their self-titled album two years later. A quartet consisting of JE (lead vocals, guitars), SLI (guitars), SAQ (bass), and CRIP (drums, vocals), Black Space Riders hit European stages to reinforce their presence and rising stature in support of their feverishly received record. 2012 saw second album Light Is The New Black unleashed, again with strong support and praise soaking the even more adventurous and sound diverse release. As the year merged into the next, a second lead vocalist, SEB who had already provided additional background-vocals on the album was recruited into the band. Now Black Space Riders look poised to thrust themselves further into the devouring passions of the wider metal and heavy rock world with D:REI. It is an encounter which is impressive with either predatory aggressiveness or wanton seduction, merging both more often than not; the ignition to a greedy appetite for the invigorating and scintillatingly unique provocation.

     The album is a concept styled encounter: a journey from impending doom through devastation on to a voyage to a new 13_10_17 lp_sleeve.inddunknown adventure though that is simplifying it. The tracks are split into chapters within the exploration starting with D – Defiance moving on to R – Ruins and E – Escape through to I – Beyond. It is an encounter which sparks the imagination and the inventiveness of thoughts as well as providing a musical soundscape which evokes the passions. From the opening track Stare at the Water the album simply captivates with an unrelenting but continually riveting tempest of sound and sonic design. A slowly unveiling landscape is revealed by the start of the first song initially, an entrancing ambience aided by a singular guitar. Two minutes in it is dispersed by a stormy cloud of rigorous riffs and muscle clad rhythms soon joined by vocals and flames of inventive guitar. A mix of heavy metal and stoner dressed endeavour, the track stomps with intensity and formidable craft to lure and intimidate in equal measure. It is a potent opening to the album though not quite lighting the fuse to the passions.

    That match is lit by the following sizeable triumphs starting with Bang Boom War (Outside my Head). A sonic hostility opens up the gateway to a carnivorously toned bassline and rapacious rhythms within a whining acidic grazing of guitar. It is tremendous bait enhanced by the excellent dual vocal attack and an industrial seeded yawn of guitars and predatory stalking, a presence which merges essences of Fear Factory and Marilyn Mansion with a Sabbathesque doom bred intensity. As the album shows across its length, the song is an evolving and unpredictable beast of an incitement, a spine of rhythms the only constant to which ravenous yet seducing weaves of imagination and sound avail their temptation.

    Rising from the Ashes of our World comes next and compared to other songs takes longer to fully persuade though as soon as its stalking rhythms and heavily laden riffs seize the ears, attention and appetite are certainly heading in only one direction. Thoughts of Prong enter the mind initially but the track is soon going deeper and into darker places with its intensive weight and abrasively toned riff rabidity. The slower dare one say mellower moments of the song surprise and intrigue if without raising the same appetite as the voraciousness around them but it just accentuates the power of the sinews driving the song and the irresistible climax, a pestilential finale which savages and thrills insatiably.

    Both Give Gravitation to the People and Way to Me take the album to another level, the first a festering scourge of caustic metal with an agitated rhythmic teasing. Primarily invasive heavy unrelenting metal with a touch of early Therapy? seemingly thrown in, it is a hypnotic scourge on the senses with a melodic mystique whispering in its atmosphere whilst its successor is a dance of groove metal and grunge sculpted by again contagious rhythms and that continually irresistible snarling bass. The track swings its muscular hips and heavy handed rhythmic infectiousness with a swagger which only recruits the fullest allegiance to its call. With a progressive flair and imagination to the guitars and their melodic weaves, the song is pure magnetism.

     Through the insistent fire bred stoner heat of Temper is Rising, the classically cast heavy metal suasion of The GOD-survivor, and the smouldering I see the album continues to draw the emotions in deeper even though the last two of the trio simply please rather than fire up any intense reactions. That is left to the exceptional Leave to produce, its opening Middle Eastern kissed flavouring the coaxing leading into an ever expanding flight through incendiary climes and melodic ingenuity. It is a masterful evocation of sound and emotional narrative not forgetting pungent adventure.

    From here on in the album provides more taxing moments, infection wise if still ones making the strongest persuasion. Space Angel (Memitim) is a ten minute musical painting which is excellently crafted and imaginatively coloured but arguably over long whilst Major Tom Waits, with its great gravel clad vocals strikes a union with thoughts but misses out on sparking up the passions. The final pair of offerings though from the almost punk swung rocker Letter to a Young One and the doom flavoured furnace of stoner tempting and heavy riffery, The Everlasting Circle of Infinity provide an addictively exciting conclusion to the release.

    With just a couple of lulls come sparkless moments, D:REI is a richly rewarding, ear feasting slab of metallically framed space/melodic rock with plenty more besides, and Black Space Riders a new pleasure, certainly for us, to greedily indulge in.

http://www.blackspaceriders.com

9/10

RingMaster 23/01/2014

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Scorching shadows: an interview with Nora Rogers of Solar Halos

Nora  Rogers

Barely two to three weeks in and one of the year’s most exciting and we suggest prominent albums has already been unveiled in the masterful temptation that is the Solar Halos self-titled debut. A beautifully crafted evocative expanse of heavy unrelenting rock created through a tantalising mesmeric core brew of stoner and psychedelic rock the release is a stunning and magnetic introduction to the North Carolina band.  Eager to find out more about Solar Halos we had the pleasure of talking with guitarist/vocalist Nora Rogers where we discussed the origins of the band and its member’s histories, lyrical inspirations, the influence of their home town and much more…

Hi Nora and thank you for sparing time to talk with us.

Tell us about the beginnings of Solar Halos to start things off and also how you all met originally.

The three of us all have known each other for years just from living and playing in a small music-oriented town. Our bands had played shows and toured together so we were already both friends and fans.  John and I first played together in Jenks Millers project, Horseback in 2010. We really enjoyed playing with each other so a year later John and I started another project.  We jammed for a few months putting some ideas together but decided that we wanted to add bass before things got too set in stone. We immediately thought of Eddie and were spot on; it felt really natural and clicked right from the first practice at the end of 2011.

Did you have a specific intent in forming the band?

Because we were aware of each other’s bands we wanted to do something collaborative with loose parameters. No one had a specific intent for the project so it came about casually. We all wanted to play heavy music with contrasts of light and dark, but that was really the only parameter that we started with.

I always wonder with bands that form from already experienced musicians coming together for the first time if there is a period of discussion and thought sharing about the project or if that comes after the first tempest of sound making; how was it with you guys with the band?

Our sound evolved very naturally just through jamming and finding how our individual strengths can be played for maximum effect.  I think we have a very collaborative band model where we see a journey for a song and trust each other to choose our own path with the greater good of the song in mind.  We all know what the others are capable of and know our taste is similar, so our discussions are mostly about arrangement and dynamics.

Solar halos-Photo by Justin Cook.

photo by Justin Cook

Our previous work in those bands was treated as more or less a reference point.  We all defaulted to bringing in our loud gear, but we also found ourselves focusing on different aspects that we weren’t in those bands.

Have you found people making assumptions about what your sound was like before hearing it because of your times in Horseback etc.?

I haven’t found that people make assumptions based on our past bands but they do remark on similarities.

How does working with new people impact your thoughts and ideas at first? With Solar Halos was it an instant spark which right away bred to strong ideas and seeds for songs or a more slow burning process?

There was definitely an instant spark, but we have learned in our song writing that even a strong idea can be a slow burning process to follow through to completion.

Listening to your stunning self-titled debut album there is a heavier breath to all aspects, the sound, textures etc. then maybe expected from your success in those other bands, a deliberate move?

Thank you, I think with heaviness as our only parameter this all came quite naturally; it wasn’t a deliberate contrast to our other works.

Also the album seems to have an almost evolving before the ears creative landscape which suggests the songs in many ways sculpted their drove their own path as they came to realisation. Give us an insight to how things developed in that respect and about the writing process in general.

Yes, that is the intention and how they were written. Songs usually start with a riff.  We record a bunch of permutations of it and the parts that instinctually follow over several weeks and pick out what works well. Once we have a good outline I’ll figure out the vocals and we might tweak the song some more.  It’s pretty time intensive but seems to produce interesting results.

We always write the music first then I go back and listen for the vocal melodies and lyrical imagery that the song provokes.  I think the movement and structures of our songs on this album coincide with how my mind thinks spatially and geographically.  The space each of us inhabits musically creates the landscape and our arrangement of the parts and the vocals create a path through the song.

The album is receiving impressed responses, and rightly so in our minds; has it surprised you the strength of the reaction to it even though I am sure you were fully confident of its potency?

It’s always great to see a positive response, you never really know what to expect when you put out a first record. I find it really satisfying to know that you have moved someone emotionally or creatively.

artworkWe called the album one of the first great adventures of 2014 and it does feel like an intensive and invigorating adventure. It also hints that this adventure was just as thrilling to create and at times a stepping into the unknown for you guys, was that how it felt?

Wow, thank you.  It was a really fun album to create and we were stepping into the unknown without guidelines.  As for adventure, there were definitely no mythical beasts to outrun or any wizards to fights, so I guess it was quite ordinary in that respect.

Is there any prime inspiration to the narrative and emotional feel of the songs and album?

All of the lyrical inspiration came from images of Earth and landscapes that the music evokes.  The narration is moving through those landscapes.  Sometimes the focus is on a small scale like ice dripping off leaves “leaves like daggers breathe inside” in “Frost” or on a grand scale like global electromagnetic waves excited by lightning in “Resonance.”

How much of the album is personal to the extent of revealing shadows and secrets, even if merely hinting, to the world?

When I was in The Curtains of Night I wrote a lot of personal lyrics under the cloak of myth, but now I try to paint with broader strokes.  I am always thinking of something very specific, but not necessarily from my personal life.  I want the lyrics to be evocative visually but vague and open-ended enough to be read in different ways.

Musically the songs on the album have an intensity and at times an almost guttural aggression to them whilst your vocals temper and almost tease that heaviness with mesmeric harmonies and melodic invention. Was there a concerted effort in forging the impressive union as shown on the release or again has it been a naturally bred success?

Both, the contrast comes quite naturally but we are also conscious of the play of light and dark that helps to give some depth and complexity to the music.

The album is released via Devouter Records. What was right about the UK label for you and were they one of those I believe you sent demos to of tracks recorded in a metal shop?

Yes, our friend, Scott Endres of the band MAKE sent a link of our demos to Phil Rhodes at Devouter who had released their awesome album, Trephine.  Scott had great things to say about working with Phil and we were impressed by Devouter’s roster of bands.

Your home state North Carolina is a constant hotbed of scintillating music and adventure driven bands, in all flavours. What is it like as an emerging and established band there and how has the place and your home town Chapel Hill impacted on or inspired on your creative process if at all?

The pace here is pretty laid back and cost of living relatively low so we can afford to be more adventurous.  Bands can rent cheap practice spaces or play at someone’s house.  Chapel Hill is a college town so lots of musicians own or work at bars which also put on shows.  The area is really supportive of musicians, so it has been a hub to lots of creative talent.  Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham have a range of venues to play at and great music festivals like Hopscotch which showcase local and international talent. There is an energy here that is pretty conducive to being a musician.

Is there a unity, comradeship amongst bands and the scene itself in NC or is it like other places a more self-centred environment?

photo by Jordan Haywood

photo by Jordan Haywood

There is a lot of overlap between band members and a continually growing number of bands of all genres. We do tend to play shows locally with heavier bands in the area like MAKE, Mourning Cloak, Black Skies, and Bitter Resolve, but I think people are supportive across the board.

What comes next for Solar Halos on the back of the album and ahead?

We recorded a long two part song for a split 10” with another NC band, Irata that should be out in the next few months.  Meanwhile we are writing material for another album and hope to do a bit of travelling later in the year.

Is the UK/Europe destined to see you live this year?

We would love to come over this year but nothing is booked right now.

Once again Nora many thanks for chatting with us, any last thought you would like to send the readers off pondering?

Do an image search for “Brocken spectre,” you won’t be disappointed!

www.solarhalos.com

Read the review of Solar Halos debut album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/solar-halos-self-titled/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 20/01/2014

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Solar Halos – Self Titled

Solar Halos 3 HiResSmall

Setting the new musical year off to a stunning and potent  start, US rockers Solar Halos unleash their debut album, a release conjuring a tantalising mesmeric brew of stoner and psychedelic rock with further explorations which simply seduces the imagination and passions into hungry life. Out 20th January via Devouter Records, the self-titled album is a masterful temptation and beautifully crafted evocative expanse of heavy unrelenting rock leading the listener into one of the first great adventures of 2014.

Hailing from Chapel Hill, North Carolina the trio certainly comes with a rich pedigree to its line-up. Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Nora Rogers, formerly of Horseback and Curtains of Night, Caltrop and Horseback drummer John Crouch, and Fin Fang Foom bassist Eddie Sanchez, Solar Halos feed expectations bred from its line-up and then shows them another creative level through imagination and sonic invention. Soaked in a doom like weight yet finding a radiant and transfixing resourcefulness generally absent in the genre through varied textures and sounds, the band’s first album is an enthralling and intensive examination of and feast for senses and emotions. A travelogue of heated and dusty climes brought through an ever shifting provocative aural landscape.

The album opens with The Vast White Plains and immediately hits the appetite with a delicious grizzly bass sound within ear Artworkentwining sonic guitar lines, all caged by the hypnotic rhythmic sculpting of Crouch. Within its first seconds the song has attention rigidly glued to its magnetic lure, a hold which is only cemented further once the distinctive and absorbing vocals of Rogers begin the lyrical narrative. The combination is unstoppable as the track winds the passions around its rhythmic fingers, its sonic persuasion drifting into continual enterprise and bordering exhaustive intensity. With additional vocals from Sanchez as effective and pleasing as those of Rogers to further flavour the rich lure of the song, it is a mighty and riveting start.

The following Tunnels takes a more reserved approach as its entrance but one with melodic flames and a tempered rhythmic gait which only engages thoughts as eagerly as its predecessor. A crawling journey through seemingly doom seeded psychedelic waters, the track heavily leans on the ear yet with the warm life filled vocals and incendiary melodies cast by the guitar it feels like a plunge through dark emotional depths lit by a beacon of hope and warmth. As with the first track every aspect of the song coaxes out rapturous responses, its twisting and inventive enterprise reinforcing the lure and lingering beauty of the wonderfully intrusive feel of adventure. There is a definite Horseback tone to the music as well as elements of Kyuss and at times Jess and the Ancient Ones but as the second song finishes there is no denying that Solar Halos crafts a sound which is uniquely theirs.

Both the soaring rigorous flight of Migration and the atmospheric scenery of Frost continue the impressive presence of the album, the second especially with a carnivorous tone to the bass and another mouthwatering rhythmic taunting by Crouch igniting another wash of emotional rabidity within for its offering. Their triumphs are soon followed by the chilled touch of Wilderness, a song which builds mountainous sonic ranges and heavyweight rhythmic caverns to explore and spark the imagination within. The most doom washed track on the release but again one which teases and invites bright burning flames from within its dark shadows, it builds a thick tide of scuzz filled provocation and melodic heat provoking thoughts and emotions to delve only deeper with each excursion through its fascination.

Resonance brings the album to a close, the track eight minutes of sonic incitement and rhythmic enslaving. It is a glorious slowly invasive triumph to complete a breath-taking release. Everything from the great vocal blend of Rogers and Sanchez, the guitar’s senses encircling spirals of expressive melodic suasion, and the almost goading and certainly anthemic rhythmic bait of the bass and Crouch’s outstanding drum craft, enslaves ears and imagination. Like the album as a whole, the track just gets better and impresses more with each course through its striking landscape and steals top honours on the release though it is constantly challenged by the other tracks.

Solar Halos instantly stand aside the likes of Horseback and Royal Thunder through their debut and it is not hard to suspect that the threesome will be forging major heights in the future. 2014 could not be off to a better start.

www.solarhalos.com

10/10

RingMaster 01/01/2014

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Plug – Back On The Skull

plug

With more hip grinding grooves than a dozen pole dancing establishments, and certainly heavier boned treats, Back On The Skull the debut album from Texan noise rockers Plug enslaves and dances with the passions in exhausting and riveting style. With jackhammer rhythms powering ridiculously addictive grooves and equally seductive riffs, the eleven track juggernaut creates a loud and virulently compelling storm which is far too easy to greedily devour to surely be safe for any of us.

Formed in 2010 and consisting of ex and current members of Mammoth Grinder, Iron Age, Bitter End, FEED, and The Mites, Plug merges a voracious mix of noise and hard rock with metallic sinews and punk antagonism whilst stoner and psychedelic enticements add their  seduction. It is an exhaustive and breath-taking brew which simply ignites the imagination and passion. Imagine a tonic being made up from the essences of Unsane, Melvins, Torche, Red Fang, and Helmet whilst Dead Kennedys pees in the pot and you get a reasonably close dose to what Plug has to offer. It is a sound which is not exactly unique but neither is it without a distinctive flavour and intrigue of its very own, Back On The Skull working and playing hard from the moment it touches the ears and rewarding with a torrent of mouth-watering intensity and noisy drama clad adventure.

The San Antonio quintet of vocalist Tyler Lutz, guitarists Scott Corbin and Zach Brin, drummer Raul Vela IV, and Chris Ulsh of Mammoth Grinder, Power Trip, Hatred Surge, and The Impalers who provides the bass guitar for the album (Reed Deangelis the band’s current bassist), immediately chomp on the ears with opener Babysmile. Riffs and rhythms are almost grinning as they launch their muscular persuasion; a mischief soaking their thumping lure which evolves into a full swagger as the track extends its temptation with a rousing stroll through infection soaked grooving aligned to rhythmic taunting. The vocals of Lutz match the call of the music and with all aspects making an anthemic union, there is an irresistible recruitment of total attention and submission from its recipient.

     Meanwhile… is more than eager to back-up the immense start, its own wanton romp swinging brazenly between rhythmic coverlegs as grooves and riffs again cast a spell of noise bred contagion for a minute and a half before evolving into the title track. Bringing a heavier weighted energy and intent, the third song stalks its victim with a leaden prowl wrapped in scuzz lilted melodies and harmonically scorched vocals. There is an element of The Pixies and more so Melvins to the smouldering intensive bait on show but again it only flavours a magnetic sonic causticity distinct to Plug.

A potent bass coaxing opens up next track Rainbow To Hell, the song continuing the arguably subtle shifts in character through the early tracks on the album but equally increasing that variety with its sludge coated predation of the imagination. A slower burner than its predecessors, the immersive encounter employs further detailed yet restrained twists and turns in its invention within a patient consumption. It does not quite match those early heights either but easily reinforces the appetite ready for the likes of the following cover of Discharge’s State Violence, State Control. Bringing a greater carnivorous breath through the guitars to the song to replace the more violent aggression of the original, it is a satisfying provocation though it pales against the bands own tempting.

     Pigbomb and Cadence steal their hefty portion of the acclaim next, the first rife with intensive rabidity and discord lined scuzziness as well as another groove and collection of hooks to drool over whilst the second is a sultry psychedelic/stoner flight through a heated climate of melodic exploration. Though another not to make a quick suasion, it is an absorbing drift through evocative textures and new intrigue from the release. Their allurement is soon pushed aside by the outstanding Hideous Rex, a ravenous track which does not rush its attack but unrelentingly nags with dark rapacious riffs and a hefty atmosphere which feels like it is licking its bulging lips as it smothers the senses.

A great cover of the Fang track The Money Will Roll Right In steps up next, its sonic grazing speared by another addiction forging groove and great squalling vocals, before the rampancy of Mexican Death Hammer unleashes its claim for best track with a torrent of bruising riffs and crippling rhythms spiced with a sonic web of discord leaning crafted invention. It is a glorious incitement for the passions and does indeed steal top honours from a flood of exceptional encounters.

The release is completed by the epic Sphere 3, a nine minute dronathon of menacing intensity and invasive sonic toxicity washed over by spellbinding vocal harmonies. It is a meditative danger which seduces from first doom seeping note to its last corrosive breath, and though for personal tastes probably a couple of minutes too long to hold attention tightly nearing its end, the track is a dark beauty of an evocation to end a scintillating release.

Available as a buy now name your price release at their Bandcamp profile, Back On The Skull is an epidemically riveting and thrilling encounter which thrusts Plug right up there with the likes of Torche, Kylesa, Buzzov*en, Orange Goblin and the like. This is an album all riff hankerers must add to their sonic landscapes.

http://plug.bandcamp.com/album/back-on-the-skull

https://www.facebook.com/PLUGLIVES

9/10

RingMaster 13/12/2013

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the Greeting Committee – Island

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Hailing from the sultry streets of Newcastle, the Greeting Committee is one of those smouldering embraces which once laying their spellbinding caress over the ear leaves a lingering temptation which persistently invites and receives a return into the arms of the band’s exotic sound. Creating a web of psychedelic and indie seeded rock with Brit pop and sixties blues kissed seduction, the sextet return from the success of their first single Show Me The Lights Of Home at the closing weeks of last year, with debut EP Island released via Puzzle Push Records. Consisting of three magnetically compelling tracks, the release is a wake-up call and introduction to all newcomers and confirmation for existing fans of the potent promise and strength of this very exciting emerging band.

The title track opens things up with a dramatic brew of strings, keys, and atmospheric intensity which once securing full focus mellows out into a melodic breeze of impressive vocals and sonic imagination. It is a thick and intensive breath though which drives the song, one also unafraid to settle into less imposing textures and weight to allow the vocals and guitars to cast an infectious mesmeric weave. Imagine a merger of My Bloody Valentine, House Of Love, and The Verve and Island is the resulting alchemy and more. A brooding and increasingly seductive encounter the track is a beauteous evocation for the imagination and passions.

The following What’s It Like again takes a relatively gentle entrance into its resourceful body, its initial and following presence another filtrated through the essences of House Of Love with some Inspiral Carpets whilst infused with a delicious sixties Eastern sultriness and melodic warmth. Deceptively infectious and virulently compelling, the song is a persistent and welcome instigator of the passions, a rapturous engagement which is the strongest on the release and for personal tastes would have been the better lead track, though the fade out is an annoyance and seemingly suggesting the song is incomplete in this version.

The closing Borders & Patrols also ventures into an older climate of sound for inspiration, a whisper of The Doors washing teasingly over the harmonics and melodic intrigue conjured by the guitars. A celestial elegance from the keys accompanies the rich slowly roving bassline across the track to keep the persuasion unpredictable verging on mysterious whilst the excellent vocals and skilled guitar narrative brings a hue to the song which leaves a purposeful hunger in the appetite for band and release.

The Island EP is a masterful adventure which only disappoints in its contents being admittedly magnificent but only a trio of songs. the Greeting Committee breeds a greed which the release certainly suffices but also leaves short and impatiently wanting more by its lack of more tracks, but then it equally leaves anticipation for the next encounter an eager fire. This is a band destined to major things, just watch this space as the saying goes.

http://www.thegreetingcommittee.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 25/11/2013

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Midday Veil – The Current

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    The Current is one of those experiences which is impossible to truly represent in all of its depths and rich effects on the imagination and nervous system through mere words. The new album from US psych-prog band Midday Veil, it is a masterful deeply enveloping release which is as intimidating and challenging as it is magnetic and mesmerising. It is aural alchemy, a cosmic journey of emotions and energy which are simultaneously transformed into a potently hued soundscape of invasive colour and imposing shadows, and one of the most tantalising and enthralling albums this year.

The Seattle band began in 2008 with Texan vocalist/songwriter Emily Pothast and ‘analog synth-head’ David Golightly collaborating on writing and creating music. Expanding in the early part of the following year with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Timm Mason joining the pair as well as bassist Jayson Kochan, drummer Chris Pollina, and percussionist Sam Yoder, Midday Veil unveiled their debut album Eyes All Around in 2010. It was well-received by the underground media but it was with the following pair of improvised cassette releases, Subterranean Ritual II and Integratron of 2011 and ’12 respectively which really lit a fire in the passions of experimental/progressive fans. Recorded in an acoustically perfect wooden dome built with “extraterrestrial guidance” on a magnetic vortex in the Mojave desert, the pair of releases thrust the band onto another level creatively and in awareness. Now the quintet, with drummer Garrett Moore the only change in personnel since the project began, have returned to deliberately sculpted songwriting with The Current whilst reaping the same fluidity and imaginative intensity and looseness which drove the previous releases.

Released via Translinguistic Other Records, the album is immediately provoking and teasing the ear through the title track and its cosmic discord lit pokes within a strong rhythmic frame around the brewing synth narrative which soon colours the imagination. The vibrant bass roam brings further warmth to the table but it is the wonderful seductive tones of Pothast which shower heat and evocative caresses upon thoughts and emotions. There is a definite soulful swagger to the song’s dance which brings a festival mischief to the progressive heart of the song though waiting you sense darker eyes and intensity also at work. Increasingly more persuasive and sultry as it progresses deeper into its cosmical sun, the track leaves thoughts soaring and investigating their own imagination as it effortlessly evolves into its successor.

Choreia just as its predecessor is a startling piece of sonic storytelling, the instrumental another astronomical venture with crystalline shards of synth and equally endurable melodies lighting up the sky of the song as below a primal rhythmic repetition parades a commanding tango of intrigue and menace. A slight doom coaxing wraps the underlying almost predatory course of the flight whilst above guitars and keys expand their orchestral bred beauty with again a constantly building intensity. Evocative and powerful, the piece is a ravishing sonic painting which simply engulfs the listener in irresistible grandeur and suggestive peril.

Again as with each segment of the creative landscape that is The Current, next up Remember Child flows from its companion, a haunting chant like ambience providing an inviting yet chilling drone of an invitation which almost secretively ebbs and flows before rhythmic walls emerge to slowly cage the dramatic and evolving sonic blizzard. Not exactly dissipating but certainly fusing into a melodic and harmonic sunrise with the vocals once more sirenesque, the song continues its ambitious and successful preternatural persuasion before transforming into the just as entrancing Without and Within. Soaked in a Middle Eastern influence and elegant acoustic beauty the song is simply extraordinary, its haunting Siouxsie and The Banshees like vocal and melodic sway a transportation into shadowed mystique and other worldly mystery. The biggest pinnacle of the album is really is hard to portray here the glory and majesty of the track.

Sun Stone is a verging on corrosive drift through caustic climes, an instrumental of synapse grazing chills bringing stronger danger forward to temper the persuasion of the previous song and the closing eleven minute plus epic Great Cold of the Night. The closing song again has that Eastern ambience within a welcome electronic nagging speared by intensive flames of guitar encouraged further by the mutually persistent rhythmic pressurising. The song is an adventure all on its own, its heat and smouldering rapaciousness offering a vibrant and colourful emprise coated in intimidation and threatening shadows.

Produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Master Musicians of Bukkake), The Current is an exceptional exploit with a transfixing and invigorating soundscape. Dark and glamorous, psychologically spine-chilling and meditatively enthralling, the album is genius and Midday Veil sonic sculptors it is hard to know whether to embrace or distrust.

http://middayveil.com/

9/10

RingMaster 2/09/2013

 

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Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Far West

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This is our first venture with Master Musicians Of Bukkake but if their previous releases are as potent and exhilarating as Far West this will only be the beginning of a full and intimate adventure. Following on from their Totem series of albums, the six track expanse of sensually provocative and emotively empowering sounds is a mesmeric yet at times intimidating course through dramatic climes, perception enlightening landscapes, and an incitement to the exploration of personal  and emotional depths. It is meditative and challenging but most of all grippingly enthralling.

Master Musicians of Bukkake is a group of musicians from the Pacific Northwest shrouded in mystery but said to have been originally founded in 2003 and featuring members of Earth, Burning Witch, Grails, The Accüsed, and Asva. Their sounds are seeded and derived from ceremonial music which the band evolves into its own epically tantalising and emotion involving presence. Following their first release Visible Sign of the Invisible Order in 2005, the then septet explored the psyche with their Totem trilogy, Totem One emerging in 2009. We are told the three albums, Two out in 2010 and Three the following year, were different beasts to the new album yet equally as imagination stretching but without a personal experience thoughts can only suggest and tease to their grandeurs using the magnetic beauty of Far West as the template.

The new Important Records album is a merger of psychedelic coloured palettes with progressive sonic brushes all involving hues of atmospheric and soul enriched commentary to their designs. It is a startling and impossibly contagious tempest of inventive shamanistic textures all wrapping and encroaching heart and mind sculpting compelling and continually evolving feelings and narratives within their own creative arts. To be honest Far West is not that easy to portray in words certainly its intensive persuasion and effect on the emotive core of the listener, but bear with us as we do our best to relay the might and majesty of the encounter.

A fall through sinister and menacing sonic air brings opener White Mountain Return into view, its rasping breath soon speared and making way for a bone resonating call of repetitive drums and electronic niggling. With percussion adding inciting suggestions to the already hypnotic hold of the track, the guitars stroke coaxingly as a flight into wide and seductive endeavours beckons. The listener at this point is standing on the edge of an epic cliff top poised to take a leap of faith into the arms of the melodic winds and warm yet mysterious realms of the song. Once into the aerial tide of energy and creative breezes with hawk like sonic strikes keeping shadows a constant threat, thoughts and emotions are triggered into an almost exhausting stretch of imagination and visual evocation.

It is a stunning start seamlessly transforming into the equally compelling γη-νομος / Gnomi. Within a few melodic caresses mellow vocals add their masterful fascination to this new stance of adventure, the hot teasing air of the track kissing the senses along the sultry walk now being undertaken in the imagination. As the track plays with the listener’s invention, igniting further emprise within their simultaneously emerging story, the song graces the passions like a mix between The Doors, Caravan, and Helldorado. It is a western lilted submergence leading to the darker but no less intensively tempting fires to come.

Arche stalks the ear with a drone bred persuasion, the rhythmic framing and compulsion soon joined by the swarming intent and breath of scenery carving sounds. The narcotic call of the track is a virulent captivation, its hold and enticement increasing with every persistent energetic yet funereal beat and each melancholic but warm melodic beckon. It is a stroll through a menacing cavern of doubts and shadows but with a silent rich lure from Cave Of Light: The Prima Materia waiting ahead to envelope magnetised senses. Underground electronic bubbles of light breath energy into the cavernous ambience of the new song with again beats making their descriptive tale before the stunning mix of vocals, sky soaring harmonies, and Gregorian chant like flames court and sway with the equally irresistible guitar and brass fuelled beauty. It is a sensational piece within nothing but outstanding epics of songwriting and vision, a track which places its recipients into a hall of ‘gods’ visually whilst taking an inward tour of personal depths and emotions.

The album closes with firstly You Are A Dream Like Your Dreamer: The Dark Peace, a piece of music which stands within its own distinctly impacting conflict of dark and light, and lastly the enchanting Circular Ruins, a track based on the Jorge Louis Borges story of the same title. Far West is a deliciously evocative and emotionally incendiary piece of work which is intense and outstanding as a whole or as individual adventures, either having the same strength and impact on thoughts and passions…one of the albums of the year? We think so!

Master Musicians of Bukkake is:

David Abramson: percussion, drums, tef, shaman shakers, green fog

B.R.A.D: percussion, vocals, candles, sights unseen

Don McGreevy: percussion, drums, 12 string electric and acoustic guitar, mellotron, bass, brass arrangements

Randall Dunn: korg analog synths, mellotron, divining rod, water seeking foolishness

Milky: electric and acoustic guitar, synths, vocals, mossy fuzz

Timm Mason: electric guitar, serge modular synth, electric bass, insects

 

Additional “Far West ” Congregation and guests:

Samantha Boshnak: trumpet, flugelhorn

Naomi Siegal: trombone

White Mountian Voices: Nils Petterson, Rabia Quazi, Richie Rico

Keith Lowe: contra bass

Craig Flory: baritone and tenor saxophone

http://www.mmobmusic.com/

9/10

RingMaster 13/06/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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