GraVil – No More Forgiveness

Four years on from the release of their repeatedly acclaimed and imposingly impressive debut album Thoughts Of A Rising Sun, British metallers GraVil return with its successor No More Forgiveness. Not that the band has been away, becoming an increasingly potent force with a live presence alone which demands new attention each and every time. The years between though has seen the London based outfit breed real maturity in their songwriting and sound as well as an anger fuelled aggression which takes no prisoners as it ignites the senses. There was next to nothing about that first full-length which left you feeling that the band could have majorly improved upon yet it has been blown out of the water by the creative might and raw intensity of No More Forgiveness.

Written and recorded over a 15 period, No More Forgiveness saw the band take a whole new approach to its creation compared to its predecessor. The majority of writing was done online and by telephone, the band employing cloud and home studio technology whist attacking the lyrical side in one intensive week. Talking about the new album vocalist/lyricist Grant Stacey said, “There is a massive sub-context of loss within the new album, with 2016 notably being a brutal year; however No More Forgiveness pulls in a lot of strength from negativity that all too often engulfs our society and ways of life. It’s time to make a stand and do what’s right… and this is us, doing things right.” It is a power and emotional turbulence which is immense within the release, the fuel to its uncompromising ire and intensity within a voraciously charged and crafted encounter leaving the listener exhausted and invigorated.

Produced by Dan Alba (Voices, Sarah Jezebel Deva), No More Forgiveness opens up with Detonate; a track instantly devouring ears with rapacious riffs and fierce rhythms. A quick breath taken after the first surge is followed by a senses enveloping tide of sonic trespass led by guitarists Tony Dando and Charlie Webster. Stacey is soon snarling in the midst of it all, drummer Perrin leaving mighty indents with his swings as the bass of Sparx matches the irritable tone of the vocals. Bound in imagination stoking grooves and an unpredictable array of hooks and twists, the track is a mightily stirring opening to the album setting down the benchmark No More Forgiveness rarely misses thereon in.

Following the introspective examination of the first, Are We Alive scours the feelings of losing control; defiance soaking its roar as a web of enterprise is spun by the guitars. Jagged grooves and spiky beats collude with the brooding tone of the bass, Dando’s melodic flames scorching their invasive union with suggestive intensity before the outstanding I Am The Blood spills its venomous contagion. As in all tracks, despite the open hostility there is an instinctively infectious air and endeavour which has the body rocking as hard as thoughts are evoked and provoked by its imposing words and emotions. Group vocals only add to its rousing presence and energy, the track a beast of an uprising in heart and inspiration.

Plagues, Thieves And Murderers is a predator of a song, slipping in on a sonic mist before prowling with discontent through ears with the antagonism of the bass and biting intent of the drums to the fore. Even when settled, the song stalks the senses with Stacey masterfully scowling as riffs add toxic animosity to the increasingly compelling trespass of the senses and emotions. It is hard to pick a favourite proposal amongst all ten but the disappointment loaded contemplation of the music scene comes swiftly to mind each time the question arises as too its successor Locate The Traitor. Like a warrior, the song stands bold and tall, bellowing in voice and energy as grooves swarm and flirt with the imagination while rhythms harry the senses. It too has the body rocking with zealous endeavour, the track prime GraVil in a whole new ball game in design and release.

Next up Choke In Silence is an unforgiving tide of aural intensity and emotive gall sharing adventure with a wealth of multi-flavoured textures and alluring melodic spices, the song as sultry and beguiling as it is barbarous, while Fractured, Divided is bewitchment full-stop. Featuring the striking vocal beauty and elegance of Metaprism’s Theresa Smith, the song blends Celtic/folkish spices with metal bad blood. It is drenched in raw emotion stemming from Stacey’s opening up the feelings he felt at the loss of his baby a few years back, the track sparking a thickly evocative and physical connection with thoughts and emotions even without initially knowing its background. On top, that union of contrasting vocals is simply irresistible as the track provides another peak in the lofty heights of the album.

New single Decommissioned steps forward next, the track initially hiding its musical vendetta behind melody nurtured smog before unleashing its rancorous tone and intensity like a fusion of Slipknot and Raging Speedhorn. Bred from the vitriol found in betrayal, there is no escaping the bitterness or galvanic potency of the track; its arousal of thoughts and attitude all have faced an unbridled stoking of pleasure which Forever Is A Prison keeps burning with its nagging riffs and biting beats alongside friction spilling vocals and melodic toxicity. Though at times the track does not quite match the heights of other songs within No More Forgiveness, it is the height of their prowess rather than its lacking which decides as again Dando exhilarates with his adventure and the band as a whole leaves a memorable invasion and heavy pleasure in its wake.

The release is closed up by One Eyed King which in only its first bundle of creative seconds has ears and appetite enthralled and even more intensively gripped as grooves sear and hooks pierce within a fiercely enjoyable barbarity of rhythmic vindictiveness and vocal conflict. It is an immense and thrilling not forgetting formidable end to an album which thrusts GraVil to the fore of the current metal scene. It was easy to think that after that mighty first album, GraVil had found a peak hard to massively improve upon; how wrong that thought was with No More Forgiveness leaving it and most other current releases engulfed in its wake.

No More Forgiveness is out now across most online stores.

https://www.facebook.com/gravil/

Pete RingMaster 10/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sinnergod – Self Titled

sinnergod-online-promo-shot_RingMasterReview

For quite a while now and across a handful of releases, British alternative/gothic rockers Sinnergod has suggested they are in line to seize the British rock scene with their dramatic and ever growing sound. With their new self-titled offering the Manchester hailing outfit has come to that day, their second album a compelling and increasingly irresistible theatre of dark rock and metal announcing the band ready to help lead British rock.

Formed by twin brothers Mark and Chris Hampson in 2007, Sinnergod quickly grabbed attention and plaudits. Within months of hitting their stride live, the quintet earned a slot playing Bloodstock Open Air Festival. A trio of EPs followed, Two Thousand and Never in 2009, A World in Grey three years later with Behind Every Corner uncaged the following year. Each provided an ear and imagination pleasing proposal, each showing fresh evolution and adventure in the band’s sound leading up to the well-received and impressive debut album Seven Deadly Sinphonies in 2014, a release featuring special guests Bill Moseley (Devil’s Rejects, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Tobias Keast (Esoterica). Live too, the band has continued to establish themselves as one of Britain’s finest propositions, sharing stages with the likes of Misfits, Deathstars, Orgy, KMFDM, Sarah Jezebel Deva, Voodoo Six, and Blaze Bayley along the way.

This has now all been eclipsed by their self-titled offering. The new album is a monster of an adventure; a collection of songs which roar and resonate in ears and imagination. Sinnergod draw on the catchiest of eighties hooks and electronic seducing to light the darkest portrayals of emotion amidst an enjoyably invasive sound. It is music which at first appears familiar in some way but needs mere moments to reveal its own distinct and magnetic character.

It opens up with Dead Of The Night, its intro a shadowy and suggestive symphony drawing the listener into the subsequent and swiftly addictive mix of choppy riffs and melodic reflection. As the swiping beats of Chris Hampson land the guitars of Mark Hampson and Sam Saint collude with the keys of Paul Swindells to cast a transfixing weave of emotive sound. Mark’s impressive vocals soon share their heart; lying melancholically upon the blossoming landscape of enterprise as a dark edge is provided by James Dunn’s bass, its shadows in turn prowling the infectiousness of the track’s rousing chorus.

The impressive start is quickly outshone by Burn. The track is glorious, slipping in on the mist of keys as slightly deranged vocals tempt. Once in full heavy motion, riffs and rhythms march masterfully across the senses, vocals and steely melodies combining to further trap the listener. The song is a creative predator, challenging and seducing with every imaginative stride growing into something akin to Nine Inch Nails meets Poets Of The Fall but unique in its own skin.

As the last track is different to the first, The Endless with its symphonic hues offers yet another shade of adventure to the album. As unapologetically catchy as it is muscularly voracious, the song ebbs and flows like a sonic storm, moments of relative emotion packed calm instantly hit by surges of tempestuous energy and sound for another plateau of craft and enjoyment within the release, a success matched by the electronic stomp of I Never Had a Gun. Creating a tapestry of essences found in the likes of Abandon All Ships, Fear Factory, and Silent Descent, the track simmers and bubbles over as it strides relentlessly through ears and into the psyche before making way for the crystalline opening of 1000 Sins. Pretty soon though, its sinew swung rhythms and pulsating theatre of sounds swamps ears; eighties electronic flavouring hinting at bands such as Depeche Mode and Gene Loves Jezebel in tandem with Sinnergod’s own creative might. Addictive and fiercely persuasive, the listener will find themselves quickly emotionally and physically involved, certainly going by the effect song and album had on the office here.

sinnergod_album_cover_artwork-jpg_RingMasterReview There is also an element of early synthpop fuelled Ministry to the track, before Al Jourgensen dived head first into metal, and a flavouring which soaks the next up serenade of The Watched. Another which sonically simmers but with a liveliness which infects hips and feet, the song is a hug of melodic and harmonic expression and beauty.

Across the gothic electronic and keys shaped dance of Joshua’s Day and the engrossing darklight of Supernatural, a seducing with the open scent of Dave Gahan and co to it, band and album simply flow over the senses, like poetic fog laying heavy but welcomingly before We’ve Been Expecting You rises from a single evocative melody with gothic and orchestral majesty to stand god like over ears while casting its magnanimous musings. As with many songs, it feels like something you may already know yet every note and twist is a new and fresh exploration to album and the dark rock world Sinnergod are poised to take in their creative palms.

The thickly satisfying Johnny Sits Perfectly Still is arguably the least adventurous track upon the album yet needs little time to have ears and participation secured before We Don’t Have Anything looms from portentous shadows and erupts into a Korn/Machine Head spiced foray into ears and passions. The song epitomises the Sinnergod sound; meaty and dark, heavy and melodically aflame with an unrelenting intensity and energy to tempt and lift the spirit. It is an explosive and thrilling end to the album, though the minute long desolate and forlorn soundscape of instrumental XII actually brings the album to a close but it is its predecessor which leaves the last lingering imprint.

Sinnergod is a band on the march and heading to the frontline of British rock/metal, though to be honest their new album suggests they are already there.

The self-titled Sinnergod album is out now through all platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/sinnergod/  http://www.sinnergod.com/  https://twitter.com/sinnergodUK

Pete RingMaster 15/09/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Winter Storm – Within The Frozen Design

 

WS3

    Listening to the potent and promise soaked Within The Frozen Design, you easily get the feeling that UK symphonic metallers Winter Storm are poised to move up into a more intensive limelight. Whether this, their second album is the spring board time will tell but it is hard not to expect on a near horizon to see the band making a big contribution at the fore of the genre. The twelve track release has issues which make you query if their time is quite yet but simultaneously provides an absorbing and skilful melodic embrace which only raises and stretches a keen appetite for the band and its expressive sound.

     From the West Midlands, the quintet has earned a strong reputation and loyal following with their dark melodic metal, a sound honed through gothic shadows and symphonic atmospheres. Formed in 2008, Winter Storm were soon gripping attention live, supporting the likes of Alestorm, Sirenia, Theatres Des Vampires, To Mera, and Sarah Jezebel Deva early on before going on to share stages with the likes of Delain, Die So Fluid, The Birthday Massacre, ReVamp, The Lotus and many more. Debut album Serenity In Darkness of 2010 drew critical acclaim its way as have numerous festival appearances over recent years to cement and increase the band’s stature within British melodic metal. Now the strongly anticipated self-released Within The Frozen Design brings 2014 into a sharp focus for the band and its fans, an album if not setting raging fires undoubtedly reaffirms the creative strength and impressive potential of Winter Storm.

     As the album title, and band name come to that, suggests the tracks frequent a chilled and icily haunting realm but one clad in WS-coverbeauty and a melodic artistry which only warms. From the opening scene and drama setting intro Cold Creation, the album is soon caging ears in a rhythmic probing and brooding intensity as Wasted Feelings opens its arms. Its initial riffs seem predatory with an attitude to match the punchy rhythms barracking the senses. Equally though there is a breeze of synth colour floating over and through the aggressive touch of the track, its melodic soothing eventually tempering the snarl of the song ready for the impressive tones of vocalist Hannah Fieldhouse. Her voice is rich and tempting but with a restraint which sets her pleasingly apart from many other female fronted genre bands. The track provides an unpredictable expanse of sound and twists which without being startling in their impact only seduce the fullest attention on and satisfaction with its feisty yet elegant narrative.

     The following Shadow Weaver like its predecessor makes a forceful and rapacious entrance; riffs and rhythms a cage of antagonistic intent wrapped in more keys sculpted temptation. Dark with a gothic ambience, the song again guided by great vocals flirts with and triggers the imagination as it ventures through a rugged landscape of heavy riffs and sonic enterprise. Pretty much like the album the song is a slowly persuasive encounter but one which proves its strength and quality through deliberate attention. The same can be said of the next up Symmetric Flow, a captivating wind of melodic vocals and endeavour within a sturdy and uncompromising heavy metal frame. Again the offering is not as instant to convince as you would maybe expect or like but unveils plenty to enthuse about upon closer attention. That is one of the ‘problems’ of the album, tracks do not leap out and grip preferring a slower seduction but this comes with a need to fully extend a concentrated focus on the album to reap it’s definitely existing  rewards. It is hard to be critical though even if listeners need patience when immersing in the album.

    Afraid To Speak steps up next, gently wrapping a sultry breeze of melodic enchantment around thoughts if again without sparking any major reaction; that power is left to its successor Beneath The Mystery. The track also springs from a reserved start to open up sinew driven riffing and heavily striking rhythms within the keys designed eighties sounding gothic weave which feels seeded in the likes of Sisters Of Mercy and Play Dead by. It is a fiery encounter yet one which does not erupt or stretch its attributes as far as you expect or would like, again an accusation you can make on Within The Frozen Design as a whole.

   After the brief but decent enough instrumental Broken World, the album undulates a little but keeps the listener enthused starting with the impressive Universal Design, a track offering another accomplished and magnetic web of gothic and symphonic metal with a bite and almost antagonistic breath. It provides sizeable bait for the senses to devour eagerly before the enjoyable if underwhelming Gatekeeper shows its class. It is sandwiched between the previous track and the equally thrilling Dark Awakening, the song a heavy footed shadowed drenched beast with radiant beauty casting ripe melodic tantalising. As elsewhere the guitar craft and imagination is an irresistible lure whilst the epic tone of the track is aggressively bewitching.

     Completed by the overlong but appealing instrumental Waves Of Misery and the final slice of gothic allurement of The Frozen Siren, the album is a pleasing and enticing encounter. The cloudy production at times does the release no favours, cloaking some of the piercing strengths of instruments and voice but Winter Storm and Within The Frozen Design emerge from it with strength and quality. As mentioned earlier the album does not ignite a fire in the passions but definitely provides company which only invites the fullest satisfaction.

www.winter-storm.com

7.5/10

RingMaster 22/01/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Bone Orchard Show 34

The Reputation Radio Show has a well established recognition and notoriety for finding, championing and promoting the best of the independent artists and sounds around the globe. Unrelenting and tenacious the promotions company/radio show is acknowledged as the prime source for finding the best talent of all genres with the introduction of the same followed closely. The intense and heavier world of sound is discovered and unleashed through The Bone Orchard, a show where anything with muscle and a riotous tendency is eagerly presented. From all forms of metal and industrial/harsh electro through punk and psychobilly on to noise and psyche with all in between, The Bone Orchard bears their individual shadowed fruits eagerly.

This past week saw the latest episode bringing six of the most impressive and exciting bands around as well as bringing a debate on some aspects of music. Hosted by the blue hued Pete Ringmaster and Reputation Radio Show CEO and mastermind Johnny Summers, the show cleared the sinuses and lit up the ears of all those with urges to match and compliment the great sounds played.

Opening with the traditional opening intro provided by Mr Strange of The Shanklin Freak Show, a band the hosts would talk about at length within the show giving the audience the latest developments from their carnival, the show immediately treated the eager crowd to a track from the debut album Defaced from UK rock band The Self Titled to be released June 18th. Mr Nobody is a stunning track, a metal and rock fusion with stirring vocals from frontman Mark Campbell over a brew of inventive and powerful sounds. With an insatiable thirst for gigging and an equal demand wanting them for shows, The Self Titled are one of the best bands in the country right now, their sharing of stages with the likes of Forever Never and Sarah Jezebel Deva as well as acclaimed festival appearances, leaving nothing but devoted fans in their wake.

Next there was a burst of real punk rock from another band from the UK in the mischievous bruising shape of Dirt Box Disco. With self declared influences ranging from Kerbdog, The Damned  and the Ramones to The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band and Showaddywaddy, the quintet from Burton on Trent make music which is honest, feisty, and insatiably infectious. The contagious track played, I Am Rock n Roll, was an exclusive from Legend another album to be released June 18th. The song played and the album the song comes from is one which revives the true 1977 spirit of punk meshing it with rock sounds as anthemic and voracious as you could wish for.

Before a lively debate about bands including cover songs in their live sets which saw the hosts at opposing lecterns but ultimately ended in the blue man being right, so he claims, things became intensified with the devastating aggressive sound of Amongst Carrion. From South Wales the five piece metallers woke up the airwaves with their track The Fear In Her Eyes taken from their latest EP We That Should Not Be. With a melodic groove recalling In Flames and the brutal riffage of an August Burns Red, the track easily declares the band as an emerging force in UK extreme metal. They have definitely moved on fully from their early days as a cover band, the point which inspired the following discussion.

Continuing the UK theme Leeds band Ourfamous Dead provided the next outstanding track with their forth coming single Claws At The Door. A rampant brew of hardcore, punk, and electro the song is the latest step in the vision of band founder and song writer AJ Reeves. Fresh off a UK tour with another Bone Orchard favourite The Sun Explodes, the quintet are a band on an accelerated rise pulling in acclaim and fans with each show and release persistently. Having supported the likes of The Blackout, Funeral For a Friend and Gallows, the band is fast approaching the point where others are eager to share stages with them.

As the final featured band of the night, US melodic metal band Vajra stunned and thrilled the listeners with their epic masterpiece Inside The Flame. Taken from their forthcoming album Pleroma, to be released in July, the song is a hypnotic and powerful example of the darkly melodic progressive rock fused with Eastern Indian influences which they inventively create. Led by the glorious voice of founder/producer/keyboardist/songwriter Annamaria Pinna, the band is one with a craft and imagination which is sure to find a feverish demand over the months ahead.

Closing out with Irish metallers iBURN, a band which is frequently requested since the debut of their song Where It Begins taken from their new EP of the same name, and another band which leaves you wanting more, The Bone Orchard dished up another formidable dose of new and impressive music. If anyone tells you there is nothing good or new coming out, place them in front of the podcast of the show, and they will soon be put right by this group of bands alone.

With the show primed to unveil more outstanding artists and sounds across the weeks ahead you can catch this, previous and future shows over at The Bone Orchard page at The Reputation Radio Show site as well as watching a selection of videos from a host of the bands featured on the show.

Get in touch with the show via  boneorchard@reputationintroduces.com

RingMaster 16/06/2012

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Silent Descent: Mind Games

The debut album Duplicity from trance metal band Silent Descent had fans and media alike enthusing and drowning it in critical acclaim to set the band as one of the rising forces in UK metal. Now they return with their follow-up album Mind Games and it is fair to say the septet from Dartford has set the bar even higher. The album bristles with intense energy whilst pulsating through dazzling and mesmeric sounds that envelope and sends the senses into welcome spasms of rapture. It is immense and continued evidence of the gripping further promise of the band.

Silent Descent formed in 2006 and set about forging their love of Scandinavian melodic death metal with trance elements to create a unique and compelling sound. They soon established themselves as an impressive new force with Duplicity two years later alongside being declared ‘Top Unsigned Band’ by KERRANG! Radio.  Since then they raised their stock with stunning live shows whilst sharing stages with the likes of Skindred and Alestorm as well as earning strong acclaim from their appearances at the Bloodstock Festival 2008 and the Download Festivals of 2009 and 2010.

Mind Games is a powerful release that feasts upon the senses with deliberate intent to consume and agitate, its blend of  heart thumping aggressive intensity and bewitching yet intrusive electronic manipulations and soundscapes a full and greedy experience that one cannot resist diving deeply within. From the opening synth led instrumental Overture there is an instant siren pull, the brain mesmerised by the expansive sounds though aware that soon a violation is going to crash the peace. Psychotic Euphoric is that intrusion, an intensive examination of the ear as it burns the flesh through thunderous rhythms and scorched guitars from Tom Callahan and Jaco Oxley. As a balm the flowing warm synths of Paul Hurrell caress the damage as do the clean vocals alongside Tom Watling who just as impressively punctures the ear drum with his bile encrusted growls.  The blend is perfect between the glittering trance sounds and melodic metal directness. The band brings Pendulum into an In Flames mix and then twists it upside down into their openly unique concoction.

The title track raises the temperature further. Its groove playing the emotions like a conjuror whilst the drums of Jerry Sadowski cane the ear skilfully and with perfect control. The dark immense riffs fuse a compelling union with the escalating work of Hurrell and Kipster with his DJ/Samples invention, but it is the heavy handed malicious tones that make the track as powerful and irresistible as it is.

Bricks is the first track where bassist Jimmy Huang is more distinct, his menacing prowling riffs bringing a depth and sinister essence behind the flowing smooth melodic majesty of the vocals and keys whilst the black metal scrawling vocals of Watling again is instinctively and eagerly challenging. Four tracks in and there is a certainty brewing  that the album is going to continue to deliver to its every end the high quality and consistency so far. The excellent imaginative Coke Stars and probably the most inventive song on the album, the emotive and explorative electro expanse of Devoid, plus the provocative immense Sober Thoughts soon provide the evidence,  holding  on to and improving the great heights and invention already reached.

Mixed by Pontus Hjelm (Dead By April) and on some tracks by hard dance DJ Technikal, plus featuring vocals from Sarah Jezebel Deva, Mind Games is a deeply enjoyable and impressive album. To be fair at times the distinction between songs is not as defined as one would have hoped, there being a similarity that invades the creativity but as the songs are of such quality it is just been picky to be honest. The craft and thought in the music as well as the realisation is stunning.  Silent Descent certainly lead the way in UK trance metal, the album pushing its boundaries with possibly only The Browning and their brutal merciless take on the genre being a step ahead across the globe right now. Go grab Mind Games you need its infiltrating splendour in your lives

RingMaster 17/04/2012

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The Dead Lay Waiting – Almost Heaven

It has been impossible to miss quite a flurry of negative almost vehement reviews and first reactions to the new album from UK metalcore band The Dead Lay Waiting. Certainly Almost Heaven is not the perfect album or a classic in the making but it is also far from being the car crash and failure that many seem to be declaring. Obviously any review is down to personal opinion and taste as much as the evidence that is the music but it is hard to understand the harsh and destructive views of many towards the album and band itself. Maybe The Dead Lay Waiting is simply the current band to hate much as My Chemical Romance and Disturbed and countless others have been before them. All that is apparent from Almost Heaven is that though not flawless the album is a very agreeable and enjoyable release that shows a band creative and with great promise.

From their coming together in 2007 the band has grabbed attention, making a marked impact on a swiftly growing fan base. Debut EP Memories Of A Massacre in 2007 followed the next year by a self titled one plus an appearance at the 2008 Bloodstock Open Air Festival increased the interest and led to signing with UK based label Rising Records. January 2010 saw the release of the band’s debut album We Rise surrounded by acclaimed performances at Download in 2009 and ’10, plus tours with the likes of Trigger The Bloodshed, Bleed From Within and Sarah Jezebel Deva. The band this year found themselves nominated for KERRANG! Magazine’s ‘Best British Newcomer Band’ award, and the Metal Hammer Golden God ‘Best Underground Band’ award, their stock and rise continuing at a rapid rate, something surely Almost Heaven will accelerate further. 

The album starts with an ascending intense sound erupting into the explosive ‘This Day Will Be Your Last’ through the brief but mountainous intense ‘Wake Up’. Crushing riffs and ear bending rhythms pour incessantly over the senses, vocals growling deeply and threateningly aided by lighter screamo chants and shouts. As following track ‘Take Me Away’ picks up the hard lined energetic baton it is apparent The Dead Lay Waiting know how to create and deliver flesh melting sounds and have a string ability to write memorable and intricate songs. It is also clear that they are far from the finished article which gives exciting promise ahead from the impressive sounds within Almost Heaven.

One can understand some of the criticism laid at the band’s door for as good and as agreeable the strength and incisive music within the album is there is not a great deal of originality there. This is not to say it is just reproducing sounds others have created but there certainly is nothing awe inspiring or jaw dropping either. This can be said about75% of all releases this year so it is a criticism that applies to a great many. The two things that do stop the album from being a major land mark is firstly and something that I never thought I would complain about, that the songs are too varied within their own skins. This makes songs such as ‘Always Ask Why’, chaotic with many elements included which would really work if they were better blended with a more seamless feel, something experience will surely improve. It should be remembered this is a very young band and credit should be given that they do try to be different and attempt to make their songs unique, it is just they need to know when less is more. The other problem with the album is that it feels like the band is trying too hard, as if comments given and seemingly continuing made them try so hard that their instinctive touch and ease was held down.

Despite this the album is an impressive release with songs like ‘Open Your Fucking Eyes’ with its crunching basslines, the abrasive ‘Choke on Your Words’, and the immense ‘Burnt to Ashes’ easily bringing great pleasure and pulse racing emotions. Even the epic meanderings of the closing title track ‘Almost Heaven’, despite its slightly overblown near ten minute journey gives far more joy than doubts.

Almost Heaven has its negatives but far more positives and is far ahead of the majority of albums coming out of the woodwork these past months. Why some have such a downer on the band is hard to comprehend unless it is solely based on their seemingly manufactured visual image. The Dead Lay Waiting will ahead make those doubters eat their words one suspects; they just need more time to find their very own unique sound and undeterred belief.

RingMaster 27/11/2011

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Sarah Jezebel Deva – The Corruption Of Mercy

After the negativity for her decent debut solo album with even Sarah Jezebel Deva herself not over enamoured with the end results there has been a subdued anticipation for its follow up even with the impressive pedigree of artist.  For all of those holding back investigating The Corruption Of Mercy released via Listenable Records, the recommendation is easy just dive into its splendour and enjoy. The release may not quite touch album of the year standards but its generous and glowing sounds matched by eager intensity and emotive energy is a sure thing to pleasure the senses and feed all harmonious and adventurous taste buds.

It does seem strange that it had taken until 2008 for Sarah to take the step into the limelight with her own solo work. Fourteen years as a backing singer with Cradle of Filth, and work with bands like The Kovenant, The Gathering, Mystic Circle, Trigger The Bloodshed, Mensrea (GWAR side project), Graveworm, Tulus (Name later changed to Khold), and Creations Tears (Featuring ex Paradise Lost drummer Lee Morris) has sealed her place in metal even if it subdued her potential in many ways. 2005 did see her join forces with Tommy and Chris Rehn to form Angtoria whose album God Has A Plan For Us All gained strong acclaim. The band never toured with her COF duties always the pull away for her.  Three years later she did take the move to go solo releasing her debut album A Sign Of Sublime , featuring a host of guests including Dave Pybus (COF/Angtoria/Anathema) on bass, Chris Rehn (Angtoria) keys/programming, Martin Powell (Ex COF/My Dying Bride/Anathema) keys and Max Blunos (Trigger The Bloodshed) on drums.

For The Corruption Of Mercy which she started working on immediately after her debut, Sarah Jezebel Deva brought together a permanent and touring band under the umbrella of her name consisting of guitarists Dan Abela and Jonny Gray, bassist Ablaz and drummer Jamie Abela. The album also has the guest wizardry of Pzy-Clone from The Kovenant to contribute programming and orchestration. Recorded at Legacy London Studios, England the project’s official website states ‘Sarah feels “The Corruption Of Mercy” should have been the first album.’ With the major step forward in all aspects musically, lyrically and song craft it is understandable and the reason people should not think twice about checking the album out.  

The songs within the album are as firmly varied as Sarah’s vocals are impressive; her soaring and glorious tones matched by the diverse and large soundscapes conjured up, though at times the band unveils the simple and elegant sounds to equal effect. The release starts off with ‘No Paragon of Virtue’, a large dramatic song with soaring orchestral sounds fused against driven energetic heavy riffs and thrusting beats. The song sounds like an even more theatrical version of Stolen Babies but staying well within the bounds of pomposity. The song is immense and grows even deeper into the heart the more times one enters its charms.

The straight forward and satisfying direct rock flow of ‘The World Won’t Hold Your Hand’ comes next before passing over to the melodic majesty of ‘A Matter of Convenience’.  Though it is not exactly a ground breaking song its smoothness, expressive vocals and lyrics, and captivating allure makes it a highlight amongst many. The dark synth vein running through it brings a twinkling wickedness also adding to its power.

A great song that leads into the album’s finest moment in the glory of ‘Silence Please’, which like the opener it is another grand and sparkling theatrical flourish of sounds. Sarah’s vocals are as expansive and wonderfully soaring as the orchestral arrangements both swarming over the striking intense riffs and attack. One can imagine it framing any highly dramatic gothic movie scene or dark hearted animation, the sound larger than life and as powerful as one would wish.

The remaining tracks all bring bright creativity and impressive substance from the stunning piano and voice piece ‘Pretty with Effects’, the pulsating urgency and striking harmonies of ‘Sirens’, to the folk metal tinged immensity of ‘The Eyes That Lie’ a track that Arkona would eagerly grab, the songs ripple with engaging mesmerising beauty and beguiling energy, Even the cover of The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’, a track well bled dry by multiple versions is a mighty fine and different effort.

 The Corruption Of Mercy is a thoroughly impressive and enjoyable release and evidence that Sarah Jezebel Deva herself and the band are a more than formidable and important part of anyone’s playlist, and as this piece comes to a close whilst listening once more, the album is nearer that best of the year step than ever before.

RingMaster 09/11/2011

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