Weight of The Tide – Epilogue

WOTT1

The debut album from US heavy hard rockers Weight of the Tide is a seven track foray into a landscape of mountainous rhythms, thunderous riffs, and thick emotive intensity; an encounter which bristles with inventive songwriting and openly impressive craft. There is so much to recommend about Epilogue and its powerful contents but despite that it just does not light a fire in thoughts or emotions with its presence. It is certain to be different for individual ears and tastes yet you cannot help feeling that there is a beast of an incitement lurking inside an album lacking the incendiary spark to bring it to life and grab the attention plenty of its qualities deserve.

The Nevada quartet is the creation of vocalist/guitarist Mark Moots and drummer Jason Thomas, two musicians whose history together embraces the success and impressive sounds of December and individually The Swamp Donkey and Cranium respectively. Formed in 2012, Weight Of The Tide is completed by former Knightfall/Beard The Lion guitarist Jestin Phipps and ex-Red Cel bassist Marcus Mayhall. The band has already sparked strong ripples of attention through their live shows, where they have shared stages with the likes of Eyehategod, Diamond Head, A Pale Horse Named Death, Raven, Volture, Skinlab, 36 Crazyfists, and Gypsyhawk since emerging. Now the band is poised to awaken broader climes with their SpiralArms vocalist Tim Narducci and Drag Me Under guitarist Jeromy Ainsworth recorded and mixed album. As the band’s name suggests, Epilogue and its sound is an imposing and heavy immersive proposition which leaves a healthy appetite for the band ahead in its wake, just not the lustful excitement it could have.

With tracks bred in an exploration of “Love, loss, betrayal and, hopefully, perseverance”, in the words of Moots, Epilogue descends on ears and thoughts firstly with the crushing energy and 4PAN1Tcreative intrigue of Ireland. Its sonic opening is soon drawn into a web of mightily swung beats and sonic resourcefulness, subsequently relaxing into a formidable and inventive examination of the senses. The guitars chug and flame with their varied resourcefulness whilst bass and drums create a barrage of bait and provocation, this around the strong tones of Moots. It is heavily enticing bait which manages to loosen its grip and adventure in places as potent melodies act as a temper to the riveting roar of the song. It is not a big deflation and only satisfaction and praise comes to the persistence of rich ideas and imaginative enterprise still tempting within the song, but it is enough for it to simply smoulder rather than blaze in personal tastes.

The open craft and skills of band and songs, as well as their adventure, is undeniable and just as prominent in the more gripping Proper Goodbye. A tapestry of guitar endeavour and great vocals embraces the listener first, its attraction an emotive enticing within sinew driven rhythms and a rawer provocation of riffs. There is also a sludgy atmosphere to the song which blossoms when the song slips into the dark shadows of increasingly intensive and predatory sounds. Without doubt the song and album is at its best and most inspiring when the band explores these ravenous twists and passages, welcome intrusions only enhanced by the spicy colour of solos and the sonic enterprise with the similarly sculpted yet individual Elder the immediate proof. Its heavy challenging entrance is an inescapable lure but hindered by stepping back in aggression for the Scott Weiland like vocals of Moots, who is at his weakest here and sounding like a fish out of the threatening waters around him.

Things take an unexpected turn next as Turning Point steps forward and the band reveals a pop punk/melodic rock adventure. It in many ways feels totally out of place on the album but is such a thumping and enjoyable fire of melodic energy and beaming enterprise it shines standing like a lighthouse in the dark landscape of Epilogue. Cynically you might say it is the band simply trying to place an open sure fire single of a doorway into the release but as it is one of the tracks which did have body and emotions fully involved there are no issues for us.

Both Stillwater and La Puerta grasp the previous heavy and at times exhausting oppressive sounds of earlier tracks, the first veining its lumbering intensity with a fine sonic toxicity whilst the second has a compelling argument to its aggression and sure swagger to its contagious stride. Each again though evades truly thrilling these maybe demanding ears, though both have varying ingredients, especially the latter, which means again we can only recommend people find out for themselves what these seriously accomplished songs offer.

Ending with the enthralling creative theatre and emotional Crowbar like turbulence of Fear And The Flame, the album leaves a potent impression and definite want to explore Weight Of The Tide closely in the future. Yes it did not get us rushing around exalting its praises but for a great many it is easy to suggest it will.

Epilogue is available now via Undergroove Records @ http://undergroove.bigcartel.com/product/epilogue

https://www.facebook.com/WeightOfTheTide

RingMaster 14/01/2015

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The Stranglers: Giants

With Rattus Norvegicus the very first album purchased by my own eager pennies The Stranglers and any release they offer up always makes the heart skip a touch and the juices of anticipation seep. Over their almost forty years in existence  the band never compromised in attitude or sound, and even if some releases did not match certainly the glories of the first decade or so, the band never offered half hearted or formulaic releases. The previous two albums Norfolk Coast (2004) and Suite XVI (2006) gave strong suggestion that the band were returning to the form that saw them as consistently one of the leading punk/rock bands. New album Giants not only confirms that feeling but announces The Stranglers have returned to being again a fiercely formidable band that easily can fire up the heart.

Giants is stunning, a release that dips into the strength and elements of previous releases to manipulate them into fresh sounds, alongside this the quartet go down new avenues and ideas for the creation of an eclectic album that impresses and excites. Since the days of Dreamtime albums have to a varying extent left one feeling hungry and dissatisfied, Giants though not only feeds the appetite fully it treats it to an excess of  quality and essential Stranglers.

Not only is the creative heart of the band back to full strength so is the bass of JJ Burnel, not that it has ever gone away but that element that makes one tingle right down into the deepest corner when its throaty grumbles erupt is back to its glorious muscular strength. The album opens with the first instrumental from the band for years and an instant notification that the band still is eager to incite the senses. Like a velvet clad grater the bass crawls over the ear whilst the guitar of Baz Warne lays its bluesy fingers firmly and wonderfully around the senses ably accompanied by keys from Dave Greenfield which courts the time of No More Heroes. The track though uncomplicated captivates from first note to last and sets up Giants perfectly.

The album never lets up in giving songs which wrap themselves eagerly and effectively around the senses. Whether vibrant and light or darker and with a firmer intent the tracks satisfy deeply with honesty and genuine imagination. Freedom Is Insane opens with waves upon the beach as emotive keys float through the air, with vocals from Burnell to match the song slowly dawns before exploding into a driven energy and depth reminding of the Raven days. Jet Black as always directs with the surest and firmest of hands whilst the keys of Greenfield call to the soul under his wizardry, it has been a while since his playing and conjurations sounded this wonderful.

Two songs in and the heart is won which the likes of the title track with its nostalgic prowl and solar powered melodies against gutsy vocals and basslines plus My Fickle Resolve only go to reinforce and increase the enthusiasm and desire to fall into the albums charms. The second of the two songs sways with a confident swagger as it strolls through the ear with a vibrant mesmeric English sound. The song radiates warmth and swings with a groove which takes one by the hand to encourage involvement physically and mentally.

Giants hits the deepest and most potently on two songs especially. Lowlands is a pulsating accosting of the ear with a resonance and chilled steel right out of Black And White. It barely takes a breath in its consistent pace and energy with Burnell and Warne in fluid unison musically and Greenfield treating us to more sounds that make the senses weak at their knees. It is one of those songs where its three minutes feels as brief as a thought swiftly flickering in the head to be gone before one can fully appreciate its power, songs like this is why replay was invented. Equally impressive, though the whole album is to be fair, is Time Was Once On My Side. A rock tune with seeds in the Meninblack period it leads one into new radiant pastures and creative wells within the band. The swift Madness ska pop moment raises a deep grin to add to the glow the song has already instigated.

With all four members exploring new avenues within themselves and re-energising past influences The Stranglers show they not only retain the strength and creativity we knew they had but are just as inspirational and important as ever. Giant is without doubt going to go down as a classic, with songs like Mercury Rising with its pop/rock blend of coarse and mellow and the Spanish sung metal tango of Adios (Tango), not forgetting the quirky simplicity of Boom Boom just as startling and thrilling as those mentioned.

In many ways with no disrespect to the band the album is a surprise though the band suggested they were always able to bring something special out in the previous releases. It is thoroughly exhilarating and pleasing to the highest degree, go find out for yourselves, you will not regret it. The Stranglers are back!

RingMaster 29/02/2012

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