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

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Blackwitch Pudding – Covered In Pudding Vol. 1

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A year ago Oregon metallers Blackwitch Pudding released debut album Taste The Pudding, a collection of tracks which the trio of Wizards ‘took back stole and diluted their invention’. The story goes for newcomers to the Portland band, is that for 600 years Blackwitch Pudding has been “conjuring evil riffs, casting spells and wreaking supernatural havoc upon this planet” only to have mortals steal their creativity for their own success. That is the short version of the tale behind the presence of the band and their striking releases which take existing songs and turn them into the beasts they feel they were meant to be. You cannot call their tongue in cheek exploits the work of a cover band because of the whole new character and twisted invention they evolve songs with as well as the new warped lyrical adventures each comes with. Simply they take an established canvas and build a new ravenous predation of doom speared with caustic stoner grooves, biting hooks, and narratives of sex, drugs, and witch bred salaciousness. Now the band has unearthed the Covered In Pudding Vol. 1 EP and another quartet of singularly compelling and questionably sinful exploits.

Opening track Night Of The Blackwitch, stemming from Roky Erickson‘s Night of the Vampire, is a dank and pestilential crawl over the senses, riffs moving with erosive rapaciousness and rhythms with a military bearing which is as deceitful as the hypnotic seduction within their malevolent intent. Psychedelically enhanced and insidiously aired lyrically and sonically, the song makes for a black soaked night of incitement complete with the rawest vocals to be found still churning syllables in a graveyard. It is doom with a ridiculously enticing core which overpowers the mischievous intent to its sculpting and devilry.

The following and irresistible Toke’n Man is equally as lumbering in its primal filth clad predation as it ‘steals’ back the essence of Rush track Working Man. You can almost taste the fumes of its hazy breath and addled imagination as Blackwitch Pudding - Covered in Pudding (web)the track seeps relentlessly over senses and imagination. Riffs make for the darkest web whilst rhythms again have a controlled frame to their corruptive endeavour but it is the bass stalked grooves and vocal recruitment of the band which makes the strongest toxic persuasion.

Kiss lose their anthem God Of Thunder to the threesome next as they unleash Gods Of Grungus and its bar room brawl of liquor soaked ferocity and devilment. Whereas the first two songs had a laid back senses consuming gait, the third track sees the band break into what can best be called a limping swagger with is muscles swinging lethargically and an energy keen to riot yet not too far away from the next swig of alcoholic poison. It like its predecessors is a magnetic treat to make you forget the source of their birth, each track so far improving on the original canvases.

Bong Hits and Lust completes the EP with an eleven minute epic doom transformation of Diamonds And Rust of Joan Baez and Judas Priest fame. It is a rabid and vicious slab of slow ear entwining doom revelry which exposes more of the undoubted skill and craft of the band members and of course their cauldron of possessed diablerie.

To be honest it is hard to know how to take the EP and album before it. Certainly it is a thoroughly enjoyable and accomplished encounter to easily recommend indulging in, but something inside for all the work and enterprise the band puts into each track wants Blackwitch Pudding to confront with something completely of their own…though maybe they already do that in another guise?

The self –released Covered In Pudding Vol. 1 is available now digitally and on 200 limited-edition, wizard-conjured cassettes @ http://blackwitchpudding.bandcamp.com/

http://blackwitchpudding.com/

8/10

RingMaster 14/08/2014

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Dearly Beloved – Enduro

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Hazily immersive and virulently seductive, not forgetting mouth-wateringly compelling, Enduro the new album from Canadian rock band Dearly Beloved is another unexpected treat for the year. You sense the dramatic presence and striking sounds of the release is not something new as their existing fans can surely confirm but as our introduction to the Toronto protagonists, the release comes as a potent and thrilling new adventure. Merging sultry essences of stoner and progressive rock with the creative voracity and enterprise of garage punk, Enduro is a glorious ride of sweltering textures and magnetic imagination wrapped in a scuzz kissed melodic vivacity which flirts contagiously from start to finish. It is a magnificent encounter and the start of a torrid union between the band and our passions, and a horde of many others we predict upon its uncaging.

Dearly Beloved is centred round guitarist/lyricist/vocalist Rob Higgins (ex- Change of Heart, Doctor and nephew of Rush’s Geddy Lee), and vocalist Niva Chow and from the release of their critically acclaimed third album Hawk vs. Pigeon, has been on a non-stop charge of shows, including tours with the likes of Julie Doiron, Cancer Bats, Wrong Guys, and Grimskunk as well as venturing into the UK and Europe with their renowned stage performances. Now with the successor to their previous triumph, the band is set to reap even greater success and rewards, hindsight showing that as impressive as the last album was its successor takes things to a new inventive height.

Recorded at the infamous Californian Rancho De La Luna studios (Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss), Enduro saw Higgins and Chow recruit Eamon McGrath as guitarist and co-writer for the 15-day creating and recording of the album. Also involved were Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene), Dave Catching (Eagles Of Death Metal), Chris Goss (Sound City Players) and Dave Elitch with its mixing undertaken by Adam Kasper (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). Apparently there were not even skeletons of songs prepared before the recording of the album but that obviously was in no way an issue such the sonic ingenuity which has evolved from the process. As soon as feedback soaks ears and a dulled yet intrusive resonance brews at the opening of the title track, intrigue is pricked and swiftly fed along with the imagination as rhythms roll in on rugged sinews, flames of sonic coaxing erupts, and the bass grumbles impatiently. It is a captivating start and one pushed to greater strength by the breath-taking vocal union of Higgins and Chow. Theirs is a rigorously captivating union, whether sparring or uniting in their delicious persuasion. Guitars have a mesmeric yet simultaneously raw air to their enterprise around them whilst the heavily swiping rhythms simply enslave an eager appetite for song and release. Like a rugged union of Mars Volta and Jane’s Addiction, the song is a wanton fire of craft and invention, a psychedelic seducing which is scintillating.

The following Olympics Of No Regard rides boldly in on another rhythmic enticement courted by potent hooks and grazing rubs of db COVERguitar. Its confident stroll continues unabated but still relaxes along the way for evocative shimmering surf rock twists and expressive stoner abrasing which are as unpredictable as they are engaging; a union constantly repeated across the whole album in the startlingly new characters and designs of songs, as next up Astor DuPont Payne. The track is sensational, from its initial tingling of guitar a riveting incitement which grows in presence and potency as acidic melodies entwine the senses, vocals breathe seduction with each syllable, and captivating grooves dance around thoughts like the flames on the opening credits of Tales of the Unexpected. The bass also is a tempting impossible to resist, its dark wiles a persistent shadow in an incredibly imaginative and creatively fascinating triumph. Psychedelic pop rock at its finest and most unique, the song is a new pinnacle in nothing but so far across the release.

Both the more voracious Not My Pig with its punk bred attitude and the aggressive Seven Plagues get feet and passions involved further, the first a song which stalks and abuses with a caustic toxicity across all musical fronts which is as bewitching as the ever impressing embracing vocals. The following song revels again in the punk part of the band’s heart, raging and brawling with rhythms and grooves but only within an invigorating pop tenacity and enticement which tempers and inspires equally the thrust of the track. Neither matches the heights already set but both inflame and feed ears and thoughts with full satisfaction. A sufficing pushed into gluttony with the brilliant The Guile Of Pricks and its instinctive rock ‘n’ roll. Garage punk meets psychedelic pop, the track is another raw yet fluid enveloping holding a Pixies experimentation and QOTSA stomping before making way for the desert smothered sounds of Between Finger & Thumb, where Perry Farrell and co again spring to mind in tandem with at times Melvins. Though not as instant as other tracks it is an evolving web of sound and ingenuity which steals a mighty share of the plaudits.

The smouldering beauty and melodic glances of All Sins Are Forgiven come next and simply leave passions in a pool of ardour, a mellow tempting which leads into incendiary imposing and provocative crescendos across its enthralling suasion. The song tantalises and mesmerises with intimate yet expansive radiance and reflection to cast another slice of creative alchemy into the album before the voracious canter of Run For Your Life decides to make its claim for best song honours. Pop punk with antagonistic devilry, the track is rock music as it should be; fiery, inventive, and ridiculously contagious.

Closing with the brief psychedelic and slightly psychotic smothering of Ether Binge, a song which drifts with melodic venom and seducing shadows, Enduro is instinctive brilliance. There are times where like the final track you feel songs are incomplete in some way or as they were created in short time, their ideation suggesting and unfulfilled body but it does not bring any sense of negativity to the sensational sculpting. In fact it adds to the loose and primal feel of the album, one though conjured through precise thought and unleashed imagination from all involved. Enduro is our introduction to Dearly Beloved giving us a two directional investigation of the immense band from here on in, must be our birthdays.

Enduro is out now on Aporia Records in Europe and eOne Music in Canada now!

http://www.dearlybelovedmusic.com/

9/10

RingMaster 10/06/2014

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Glory Glory – So Long

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Seemingly holding a torch for eighties new wave and indie pop, Canadian band Glory Glory unveil their new tantalising EP, a release which mesmerises and tempts with a melodic seduction which is hard to find any resistance to. So Long is an encounter which makes a pleasing impression on first listen but evolves into an irresistible and essential breeze the more you allow it to stroke and coax the imagination. There is a smile to the music of the band which radiates incessantly from within the release, an enticing charm which caresses senses and thoughts whilst an understated but rich invention blossoms deep within the songs. It all adds up to a rich persuasion which maybe does not give its recipient a blood rush but certainly leaves them smouldering with content.

Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Glory Glory was formed in 2006 with a sound which was said to be more post punk sculpted. They create a brew though which merges a wealth of styles and essences to defy any exact labelling, So Long just as its slightly rawer and darker predecessor, the You Need a Heart to Live EP of 2011, providing the richest evidence. The new three track proposition was mixed by Grammy nominated producer Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, The Strokes), and pushes the band’s presence into an even greater potent spotlight which is sure to open up wider attention on the band. The trio of Adam Warren, Ryan Brown, and Gavin Maclean has already drawn references to the likes of Rush, Grizzly Bear, Caribou, and Twin Shadow their way but as So Long wraps its suggestive arms around the ears there is a definite feel of China Crisis and Scritti Politti to the offerings.

The first of those two comparisons is loud in opening track Take My Time. From its opening lure of dark bass tempting the track has GG coverintrigue and attention gripped and primed for the swiftly following tangle of guitar crafted melodies, they having a ABC whisper to them, and excited percussive endeavour. It is a gentle but lively start given extra warmth by the flowing mellow vocals and occasional backing harmonies. The song strolls with relish through the ears, casting a dream bred elegance and glaze over its captivating narrative, whilst a slight Two Door Cinema Club air adds to the textured beauty of the song.

The impressive start is backed up by the slower gaited but equally absorbing and immersive Indigo Son. The atmosphere of the song is part celestial and part sultry, its melodic romance nestling provocatively with thoughts whilst the poised joyful swagger of the song provides that Scritti Politti enticement to its enthralling textures. Though not as dramatically gripping as its predecessor, the song holds imagination and appetite firmly in its resourceful enterprise whilst providing a hazy climate to the emotively engineered suasion.

The closing Everybody Lies envelopes and dances with the senses much as the opening song, it’s certainly individual adventure wrapping a refreshing weave of invention and evocatively hued melodies around body and reflection like a graceful temptress, one as across all the tracks driven by a dance seeded pulsing and rhythmic ensnaring. Though much like the surface of the music lyrically everything seems a peaceful soar, beneath shadows and flirty twists play their part in trapping imagination and emotions. It is a clever and imaginative underbelly which only adds to the overall caressing whilst forging deep textures and colour to the songs.

Though So Long is the first we have heard of Glory Glory, a swift look at their previous and also thoroughly appealing EP shows the evolution in progress within the band’s songwriting and sound. It is an exciting emergence which is increasing its potential to spark a greedy anticipation for their forthcoming horizons. Glory Glory looks like being a band we are destined to hear and enjoy for a long time to come.

The So Long EP is available now @ http://gloryglory.bandcamp.com/

http://www.glorygloryband.com/

8/10

RingMaster 20/04/2014

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The RHODA MAY ‘Sessions’, out 6th January

Rhoda May Online Promo Shot
UK PROGRESSIVE NEWCOMERS RHODA MAY RELEASE STUNNING DEBUT EP!
 
Coming at you from Surrey (home to Hundred Reasons, Reuben, Vex Red, Foe and Godsized) hugely promising instrumental rock outfit ‘Rhoda May’ are primed to be the next band to nationally break. Pulling from everyone from Rush and Led Zeppelin, to Deftones and Tool, Rhoda May set loose ‘Sessions’ on Monday 6th January.
Although originally conceived during the middle part of 2012 by long time friends Will Pain (Guitar), Mark Sanger (Drums) and Andy Page (Bass), it wasn’t until this year that the band were officially spawned. Ignited by an impromptu knock on the rehearsal room door by a local venue promoter who happened to overhear the band rehearsing, the guys were instantly asked to support popular London rockers Senser. Duly obliging, the trio were swiftly spurred into action and Rhoda May were formed.
From their debut show with Senser, Rhoda May’s climb has been vastly encouraging and recent supports with Heights, Freeze The Atlantic and Three Trapped Tigers have further cemented the band’s fledging reputation. The enterprising three-some have also been working on a series of live videos with Emma Dalesman (Stagecoach, Tommy Reilly), which can be viewed here – www.rhodamay.com/video/ .
The videos were also recorded by producer Jason Wilson (We Are The Ocean, Reuben, Dinosaur Pile Up) who handled their first ‘347 sessions’; the band also recorded a later session titled ‘589 live session’. Both recordings were put down live and in their entirety. Due to the quality and the glowing early feedback for the live sessions, the band decided to release both recordings as a stand alone record. Aptly entitled ‘Sessions’, the EP is an immensely impressive collection of six absorbing cuts of modern rock. From the opening guitar scapes and twisting rhythms of ‘#3’, to the engaging post-rock bite of ‘#4”, on to the fuzzed-up melodic appeal of ‘#5’ and to the majestic groove-laden journey titled ‘#8’, the band illustrate their genuine creative craft, which displays true imagination and the nimble ability to take the listener on an engrossing musical voyage.
Rhoda May - Cover Artwork

Starsoup – Bazaar Of Wonders

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An adventure which coaxes emotions and imagination into expanding its evocative narratives, Bazaar of Wonders the debut album from Russian progressive rock band Starsoup is a richly engaging and intriguing encounter. It is a release which maybe does not ignite a burning fire in the passions but certainly leaves them smouldering with an appetite to explore enthusiastically the excellently crafted and skilfully presented songs. The album is an enticing proposition, a colourful weave of heavy metal and progressive invention merged with additional varied flavours, a mix which captivates from start to finish.

Started at the tail end of 2011, Starsoup is the studio project of vocalist/guitarist Alexey Markov (Shadow Host, Distant Sun) who has keyboardist Andrew Gryaznov (Timesquare) alongside him. Their album, which evolved around the compositional foundation of a quartet of songs written and melodically composed during Markov’s time in the band Crime Of Passion where he was the vocalist and Gryaznov played keys, took over a year to emerge as other projects and the involvement and time of guests upon the release extended its ‘birth’. With a presence and sound which sparks thoughts of a diversity of bands from the likes of Dream Theater, ArcticFlame, and Stone Sour to Rush, Fates Warning, and Avenged Sevenfold, the album is a striking declaration of strong impressive vocals and melodic exploration within a senses inciting keys sculpted grandeur.

The Moscow duo open the Sublimity Records released album with the band’s first single Angels, one of the previously mentioned coverfour songs which bred the album and as the others re-recorded and evolved for the album. With the impressive piano skills of Gryaznov making an emotive invitation, guitars and bass soon ignite the air around a firm and commanding rhythmic frame from by Alexander Vetkhov who provides drums and percussion across the whole of Bazaar of Wonders. As the strong and expressive vocals of Markov start unveiling the lyrical narrative, his delivery across the whole of the album diverse and potent, the track mixes up a power ballad like stance brewed with a feisty energy. It is a welcomingly introduction to the album and a clear portent of things to come, keys and vocals the brightest beacons within creative songwriting and striking musicianship across all aspects.

The following Ain’t No Superman confidently idles in with a jazz funk like swagger, its heat accelerated by melodic guitar flames. Into its stride the song is a more straight forward heavy rock encounter but one with a wealth of additives which keeps it unpredictable and intriguing, if less successful than its predecessor. Nevertheless there is plenty for the ears to get excited by, as also with Try. An acoustic guitar and piano resourcefulness wraps the ears before Markov fills the ballad with his fine voice backed with good harmonies. As it walks into its fullest height there like in all songs, is a fire in its belly which empowers the passionate bursts which erupt from within the melodic canvas. If aggression is the want the song, and ultimately the album are unlikely to suffice but for melodically spawned emotive adventures the release is a refreshing offering.

Both Cradle of War and Rumors of Better Life continue the ballad seeded attack, though the first of the pair from its elegant first third with a glorious flame of saxophone to its breath explodes into an intensive and muscular persuasion which constantly flirts with the passions throughout its impressive venture. Its successor is a mesmeric sunset of seductive melodies and evocative charm, a caressing wash of beauty which without enflaming emotions feeds them and thoughts skilfully.

The album’s best track Past Bites bruises the air with a fine array of sinewy riffs and crisp rhythms, a Metallica edge and essence seeping into the boisterous elements whilst again inventiveness fuels the triumph of the track and the intense hunger for its presence. It is the pinnacle of the release which makes the likes of the following The City and the Stars and Voices of the Wind seem pale in their balladry, though both again are impressively crafted. Between them though there is the excellent instrumental Bazaar, a piece of composing and realisation incendiary to imagination and emotions brought with a sonic mastery  which simply seduces from start to finish; guitar, keys, and bass exceptional provocateurs in its mystique clad temptation.

The closing trio of songs, Road to Sunset with its great sultry sax calls and anthemic vocal mixes, the heavy metal bred Perfect Loser, and the closing piano conjured instrumental Rain in the Desert ensures the album ends on an enterprising and enjoyable stance, each individual and additional lures to a fine album. As said earlier, Bazaar of Wonders does not leave fires raging in the passions but certainly makes Starsoup worthy of close attention.

https://www.facebook.com/Starsoup

7.5/10

RingMaster 08/11/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Unified Past – Spots

Unified Past - Spots - by Ed Unitsky

Journeying through eleven evocative soundscapes of carefully sculpted sonic sunspots stretched over imaginative colour strewn melodic canvases, Spots the new album from US progressive rock band Unified Past is an enthralling and magnetic adventure. It is a release which leads senses and emotions by the hand into heated flights of provocative designs across triumphant landscapes, each venture a key to their and the listeners unique imaginative plays. It has to be said that personal preferences come from the metal side of progressive alchemy but Spots has little problem in lighting up the senses and emotions very successfully.

Formed in 1984by Steve Speelman ( guitars/vocals/keys) and Victor Tassone (drums), New Yorkers Unified Past has released five albums leading up to Spots over the years, each building and earning the band acclaim as well as a strong reputation in their homeland. With bassist Dave Mickleson now alongside the founding pair, the trio according to those long acquainted with the band has with this sixth album created their finest moment yet. It is hard to be dubious listening to the album and easy to see how the experience and skills of the three has honed a release which works the listener on numerous levels. The experience and pedigree of the band you can only assume is an important factor alongside the inventive heart of the band to its success; Mickleson who is also currently the bassist for Joey Belladonna’s bands Chief Big Way and Belladonna, Tassone who has recently worked on The Colin Tench Project, Andy Bradford’s Oceans 5, and John Orr Franklyn’s Reaching Ground Project, and the classically trained Speelman uniting their talents and gained know-how for something rather special with the Melodic Revolution Records released album.

A fusion of classic 70’s progressive rock with strong spices and flavours of more current melodic fires, the album opens with the eager passion and energy of Blank. From a mesmeric celestial introduction rhythms and sonic invention scramble into position before relaxing into a seventies flame of melodic rock and progressive persuasion. Keys soak the ear in a flowing ambience which lays down the platform for the guitar to twist and enflame the air with excellent thought and rich sonic hues. It is an instantly engaging mix skirted by strong mellow vocals and a rhythmic firmness veining the track. Arguably not a dramatic stealing of attention to set things off, the song nevertheless captures the imagination to seal the same fate for thoughts and emotions.

The following Deep is bred of the same seeds in many ways as its predecessor but with the sinewy bass croon and a wealth of irresistible hooks and excellent vocals from Speelman, the song winds its way into the reflective depths of thought and exploration to again engage the listener and take them on a hypnotic flame of enterprise.

The first of six instrumentals steps up next in the vibrant form of Hot. The piece is a stirring mix of progressive jazz rock which saunters along with a mischievous swagger and fun driven invention to its continually teasing presence; little touches like a slip into the classic refrains of Shortnin’ Bread and a great piano boogie like coaxing increasing the enjoyment and lure of the track. It raises the appetite further for the album which is soon rewarded with firstly Seeing and then the excellent Tough, both tracks individual temptations which evocatively stroke the ears and beyond. The first of the pair has whispers of Hawkwind and even Yes to its endeavour whilst its successor brings a sturdier metallic flair to its sultry instrumental climate, its title a potent reflection of its heart and frame.

From the sizzling embrace of Age, its breath almost folky in touch within a throaty narrative of sound lying inside a fusion best described as Rush meets Metallica with King Crimson in attendance, the album goes on a course of four instrumentals. They have a tall order to match the heights of this impressive track but the fiery weaves offered by Sun and the sweltering charm and elegance brought by Big certainly stand strong in their majestic attempts. Next up Wet does fall short though again the piece of music is a scenic descript for the imagination to submerge within whilst the short bass driven G again shows the devilry which walks within the album, its open carnality irreverent and voraciously tempting, and sure to put a smile on the face.

Spots brings a closing rising soar to the album through the passion recruiting melodic and sonic glory of The Final. Though by this point the instrumentals have admittedly stolen the show, the last song confirms the rich craft and expansive textures the band evolves throughout Spots and their songwriting. With vocals returning to bring an appealing plaintive to the unfolding musical story, the track is an absorbing pleasure bringing an enthralling experience to a lofty conclusion. Progressive metal may still be the preferred destination if given a choice but Unified Past has certainly given food for thought and a very enjoyable encounter.

http://www.unifiedpast.com/

8/10

RingMaster 18/10/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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