Beyond the Shore – Ghostwatcher


     Though Ghostwatcher, the new album from metalcore band Beyond the Shore is not rifling the senses with anything dramatically new or before unheard, there is no denying the release is one beast of an album which leaves a sure and invigorating satisfaction behind. The Lexington-Fayette, KY quintet has released something which is as skilfully accomplished as it is destructively hungry but also finds a middle ground between extremes to heartily feed the appetites of all fans from metalcore, hardcore, and metal.

Formed in 2008 whilst its members were still at school, Beyond The Shore has evolved in sound and craft into an attention grabbing senses exploring brute of a band as evidenced by the new album. Since forming the band has shared stages alongside the likes of Born Of Osiris, Shai Hulud, MyChildren MyBride, Of Machines, and After The Burial, as well as drawing strong attention through their The Arctic Front EP in 2009 and subsequent single Shotgun Sunrise. The five-piece entered a studio to record Ghostwatcher last year before talking with many labels about releasing it. Eventually they and Metal Blade Records reached a deal to unleash the impressive album and expectations of its virulently addictive presence point to the band breaking through to new heights of recognition.

Opener Dividers is a short seizure of the ear bursting from an ominous ambience into a clutch of staccato bled riffs and firm Beyond the Shore - Ghostwatcherrhythmic persuasion.  The vocals of Andrew Loucks immediately show a range from guttural growls to squalling confrontation, he delivering a seamless blend which certainly ignites a healthy dose of interest alone. Musically the track does the business too without lighting fires but at its briefness also has no time to agitate any doubts before handing over to Half Lived. The second song rampages with djent clustered strikes and ravenous rhythms from drummer Chris “The Lieutenant” Stinnett, easily capturing the imagination even if again not being outwardly innovative. Where it does excel though is the hunger each area of the track has to devour the senses with enterprise and the again impressive vocals, where a clean delivery shares the stage with the scowling passion. What also stands out is that nothing is taken to extreme but still holds a distinct character, the clean vocals snarling to avoid any sappiness and the bestial assault holding a restraint to offer clarity to the lyrical intent. The vocalist also has no fear in switching within the space of a few words his style and continually doe sit with a fluidity which only impresses. By its conclusion with an excellent guitar solo blaze grabbing headlines too, the track makes the strongest persuasion with matching rewards.

The best two moments on the album follow immediately in the dramatic shapes of Transitions and Homewrecker. The first is a furious furnace of uncompromising drum violation and equally predatory bass spite from Eli Masharbash, but it is the outstanding guitar invention and imagination of Zach Hunter and Jared Loucks which seal the deal. Opening with a Korn like beckoning and plunging bass resonance, the track wraps the ear with a gentle sonic caress before forging this restraint to an urgent and carnal rhythmic attack. As mentioned the guitars shape and sculpt the heart of the song with a siren like craft which the vocals once more exploit with inventive greed. Though the band has a metalcore centre the soak of other flavours like technical and nu-metal bloom potently ignite stronger fires. The second of the two is a harder violent proposition, an irresistible violation of malicious intent and invention. In the eye of its storm though there is a mellower progressive breath at large which is unexpected and works well, the band escaping its caress before it unbalances the thrilling savagery.

Across the synapse twisting Glass Houses, as well as Milestone, and #Dreamkiller, the band continue to bring variety and compelling malevolent encounters though all tracks lyrically look to the light in their challenging themes. The middle song of the three is an instrumental which is nicely crafted and intriguing with the electro element of the band given a full atmospheric rein. It does not quite fit in the album for personal tastes, accomplished and engaging though it is it feels just like an interlude before the action restarts, which it does with vengeance on the latter of the three songs. The track snarls and gnaws on the ear with a sonic progressive insidiousness leading the second line behind again intrusive intensity of energy and aural aggression.

A further pinnacle comes from Breathe on Ice, a hypnotic twist of metalcore and hardcore invention veined with the seduction of the devil as well as a venomous imagination which also only he could have bred. It is another exceptional track which cements the energised passion triggered by the release within. Ghostwatcher may not be the most original or unique album to thrill your ears, hard to argue that issue, but it is certainly one of the most powerfully rewarding.


RingMaster 05/04/2013

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Shai Hulud: Reach Beyond the Sun

pic nathanielshannon

pic nathanielshannon

There is a full tank of positives you can place upon hardcore punk metallers Shai Hulud but the richest element they have is their passion, the fuel to their songwriting, creativity, and performance. It has always driven their sound and set the band above most similarly gaited bands, the furnace which fires and defines their distinctive and provocative confrontations. Returning after five years with new and fourth album Reach Beyond the Sun, the band and sound has lost none of its intensity, in fact it sees the band even more confronting and ferocious than ever. Released via Metal Blade Records, the album sees the band brewing their recognised sound into another raw and abrasively inciting tempest. It is less metal lined than previous release Misanthropy Pure and arguably a step back to earlier releases in sculpted intent but a storm from the band which is better than ever.

Reach Beyond the Sun is produced by New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert who was the vocalist upon Shai Hulud’s 1997 debut album Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion. He also performs vocal duties upon the new album bringing extra fire and visceral angst to the riveting release matching the imposing hardcore punk venomous sound. The album also features guest vocals from the likes of Jay Pepito (Reign Supreme, Blacklisted), John Vigil (The Ghost Inside), and Louis Hernandez (Alpha & Omega) among many, as well as former Hulud vocalists Matt Mazalli, Damien Moyal, and Geert van der Velde, all on the track Medicine to the Dead. Lyrically the band evokes and incites emotions as powerfully as ever, inviting and challenging the listener to delve deeper into feelings and thoughts personally and in regard to society and the world. Sonically and verbally the release scorches the senses and emotions to provide a canvas and aural caustic paint box to picture the scourge and wonder that is the human condition.

The release immediately and potently squalls within the ear with opener The Mean Spirits, Breathing, the vocals of Gilbert 11183_JKTcoursing through the senses with fire in their blood to match the scything rhythms of drummer Matt Covey and scarring sonic riffing from guitarist Matt Fox, all stalked and matched by bassist Matt Fletcher. With a melodic acid as rich and vigorously fruitful as the aggressive changeable stance of the song, the track is a powerful blaze of inventive and direct confrontation which energises and intimidates with impressive force.

     I, Saturnine with its corrosive breath and anthemic animosity and the irresistible title track both continue the impressive start to the release, the second of the pair one of the biggest pinnacles of the release. Through its heart driven intensity and intriguing shifts of energy and pace there is a torrential rain of sonic punk confrontation in sound and word which ignites deep inside. Through the likes of the towering A Human Failing, a track which stares you straight in the eyes and demands attention and thought, and the sensational Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With the Pain of Living the band just enrich and devour the senses and emotions further and deeper. The latter of the pair is a delicious unpredictable maelstrom of anger, imagination, and intensity which shifts its pose and structure relentlessly to simply magnetise and thrill.

The already impressive album gives its biggest triumph in the stunning To Suffer Fools, a brawl of punk, hardcore, and antagonism sculpted into a virulent contagion of malevolent sonics and breath-taking ingenuity which infests, infects, and seduces the passions. The track is the band at its most powerful with energy to splinter bone, a spite to wither defences, and a skilled prowess from all to leave most other bands inventively and inspirationally in their wake.

With songs like Monumental Graves and At Least a Plausible Case for Pessimism leaving further elevated heights within the outstanding Reach Beyond the Sun, Shai Hulud show no let-up in their ability to inspire and set bench marks for other hardcore/metalcore bands to aspire to.


RingMaster 22/02/2013

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Enabler: All Hail The Void

Stripped bare, relentlessly violated, and left a gibbering wreck on the floor, no not a scene from an entry within the Hostel movies franchise but the course and aftermath of the annihilatory bliss that is All Hail The Void from the Milwaukee-based extreme metallers Enabler. To call it an assault is to underplay its ferociousness and merciless intensity but within the violent hurricane of sound there is a creative brew of imagination which without attention can almost go unseen. Given focus the release emerges as one of the more exhilarating albums to corrupt the ear this year.

All Hail The Void is not an easy listen but nor is it so harsh that it offers nothing for those with more melodic veins to their tastes. Enabler unleash a storm of hardcore, punk, crust and varied flavours of extreme metal  but spearing it all are some of the most delicious and addictive grooves and hooks you could wish for. Ok they come with a caustic rub for the senses as intrusive as the aggression but they are as sweet as the cruellest pain and equally addictive.

Formed in 2009 by vocalist/guitarist Jeff Lohrber (Harlots, Eyes Upon Separation, Trap Them, Today is the Day, Shai Hulud), Enabler persistently has drawn increasing attention with their powerful sound. Consisting of guitarist Greg Thomas (Misery Signals, Shai Hulud, The Risk Taken), bassist Amanda Daniels, and Andy Hurley (Racetraitor, Kill the Slavemaster, Fallout Boy, The Damned Things, Earth Crisis)on drums alongside Lohrber, the band through the release of splits with the likes of Drainland and Ambassador Gun, and their EP’s Eden Sank To Grief and War Begins With You (both re-released together on the album Year One CD), have twisted metal inside out, gathering extreme flavours into their own fury of creativity. All Hail The Void is a mighty continuation of their staggering sound and a real treat.

Released July 16th via Southern Lord, the album captures the imagination from the start, the emotive strokes of a lone guitar at the beginning of F.A.T.H. an irresistible invitation for the ear even with the brewing intensity lurking behind it. A gentle start full of drama the song soon explodes into a knee buckling force of aural vengeance as riffs bruise the ear and sonic melodic scythes blister every surface they come in contact with. Like being trampled underfoot by a raging bull in the tight streets of rural Spain the track leaves one breathless and drained, senses grabbing for some kind of security though the chances of safety are destroyed as the following song The Heathens soon crushes any bones and sinews left intact. An equally vindictive piece of songwriting and its eager realisation the track contorts synapses with vicious melodic scrapings and a rampant groove intent on submission. With drums pummelling and laying bruise upon existing bruise whilst guitars flay the air mercilessly Lohrber spews unrestrained anger and spite with the strongest accuracy, the combination of all like in the opener quite glorious.

The excellent Speechless with its hypnotic dirty sonic groove and prowling bass from Daniels which intimidates with every note continues the impressive start. It is a riot of insatiable energy and twisted riffs which ignites every favourable spark within. More punk than hardcore it is another of many possibly destined to be classics on the release.

Though the album barely exceeds the thirty minute mark it feels much bigger and certainly has a titanic effect on the body. Tracks like the title track with its stalking riffs and taunting groove, the unpredictable They Live, We Sleep with its sonic blinding of the senses and haunting sanity twisting melodies, and especially Save Yourself, are all mesmeric violations which rupture and fire up every part of their recipients. The latter of the three is the best song on the album, a nasty stomping brute of a song with destructive grooves so addictive they leave one with permanent whiplash.

All Hail The Void initially came over as an impressive album but its persistence on the ear and our increasing insatiable desire to keep returning to it saw it evolve into one of the hungriest and fully satisfying intrusions of the year, and Enabler a band which should be in the ear of everyone.

RingMaster 10/07/2012

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