Max Pie – Odd Memories

MaxPieBand_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review

Fair to say their name is still as dislikeable as it was when we covered their excellent album Eight Pieces, One World album two years ago but musically the Belgian metallers still rock the juices out of us as proven by new encounter Odd Memories. Max Pie fills their third album with all the essences which made its predecessor a surprising and compelling proposition but it is with bigger and bolder imagination and creative energy. We are no major heavy/power metal fans here to be honest but once again Max Pie has given us one thumping and rousing time.

The band was formed in 2005 by vocalist Tony Carlino taking inspirations from bands such as Symphony X, Van Halen, Toto, Queensrÿche, and Dream Theater into their emerging ideas. A slightly unstable time in personnel graced their early years before Max Pie released debut album Initial Process in 2012. Fan and critically acclaimed it was surpassed by Eight Pieces – One World a year later in presence, sound, and praise. Its release was followed by the band playing numerous festivals and undertaking tours with the likes of Symphony X, Evergrey, Fates Warning, Avantasia, and Queensrÿche. Now they return with, as the last album, the Simone Mularoni mixed and mastered Odd Memories and simply their finest, most inventive proposal yet.

The album opens with its title track; an instrumental ripe with a foreboding atmosphere and epic textures all cinematically imposing on the imagination. This type of beginning is becoming a common practice across varied metal offerings but when done right, as here, it makes a potent invitation into any release. As the track slips into the following Age of Slavery, a sizzling electronic coaxing colludes with rampant riffs and a melodic embrace of keys. The thick commanding rhythms of drummer Sylvain Godenne shape and invigorate the track further, framing the growling vocals of Carlino perfectly. The frontman’s diverse delivery is as magnetic as ever, some elements more powerful and potent than others but like the music, a constant lure that likes to stretch and push both song and musician. As the guitar and keyboard craft of Damien Di Fresco builds and expands its enterprise, the track blossoms into a sturdy and fiery encounter to really kick things off.

It is also, in many ways, a relatively straight forward and maybe expected proposal from the band, the new exploration showing itself more from Odd Future on. Keys breed the first mesmeric caress on the third track before guitars and the wonderfully dark throated bass of Lucas Boudina bring their hues to the emerging and stirring landscape of the encounter. Once vocals join, the song settles into a melodic roar and sonic flame of melodic and heavy rock ‘n’ roll, their union a heated and tenacious arousing of ears and thoughts veined by sparkling, and at times understated temptation from the keys. It is when things go off kilter with a glorious stretch of discord kissed invention and melodic bedlam that the song really comes alive and if there is any moan it does not play in this great moment long enough.

MaxPieOddMemories_Reputation Radio/RingMaster Review     Promised Land opens on a vivacious escapade of keys quickly encased in storming riffs and rhythms, it all quickly blooming into a virulently contagious slice of rock pop with classic metal and progressive rock hues. It has single running through its potent craft and lusty veins, every second of the track a bold and rousing incitement for body, voice, and emotions. Such its power and lure, it gives next up Love Hurts a hard time trying to follow it, and as mesmeric in melodic beauty within tempestuously emotional and physical terrain that it is, it never quite finds the same full-blooded personal reactions as its predecessor. It is undeniably superbly crafted and woven though and does leave only fully satisfied thoughts before the darker, ravenous excellence of Don’t Call My Name takes over. The guitars alone are predatory with their creative rummaging of the senses whilst the keys float with celestial temptation above them and the uncompromising rhythms spearing it all. Reaping the ripest elements of technical and progressive metal, band and track pulsate as they gnaw on ears, adding melodic and harmonic balm to the increasingly irresistible voracity on offer. With Carlino also on fine form, the track is the pinnacle of the album, reason alone to eagerly approach Odd Memories.

The acoustically brewed Hold On slips in next to transfix and from a slow start to its persuasion grows into a big favourite. Whether by chance or intention, it has a Bowie-esque essence to it, a floating whisper in quieter moments which does it no harm. It is a scent soon out flamed by vocals and the sonic blaze giving the song rich crescendos and a breath-taking finale before Unchain Me takes the listener on another tumultuous ride of rugged metal and tantalising electronic adventure.

No prizes in guessing some of the scenery within Cyber Junkie, its electronic and industrial endeavour a potent spicing to another song offering a compelling fusion of bestial metal and melodic flirtation, the former steering the ship with invigorating success. As Don’t Call My Name before it, the track is a masterful web of varied and diverse styles in one predacious provocateur, thoughts of bands from Anthrax to Armored Saint, Dream Theater to Skyharbor coming to mind across its exciting and again show stealing soundscape.

The album is finished by The Fountain Of Youth, a song which either a raging storm of a canter or a gentle caress enthrals and sparks only the keenest attention and support from ears and emotions. Like a couple of other songs it takes longer to get all of its hooks inescapably entrenched but with its additional symphonic elegance and emotively hued strings, the song has seduced long before realisation notices.

Wrapped in the excellent artwork of Didier Scohier, Odd Memories and indeed Max Pie have caught us again with a tempest of sound and invention driven by craft and passion. This time it is bigger, more adventurous, and confirming the band as one of progressive power metal’s finest.

Odd Memories is available from June 19th via Mausoleum Records @ http://www.maxpie.be/shop.php

http://www.maxpie.be/   https://www.facebook.com/maxpiemusic

RingMaster 19/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Skyharbor – Guiding Lights

© Naki Kouyioumtzis. SkyHarbor, on a roof top with London skyline behind them

Whilst Guiding Lights did not exactly blow us away as it might have, there is nothing but praise and recommendations which can be offered over the new album from progressive metallers Skyharbor. The successor to the band’s acclaimed 2012 debut album Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos, the new ten track exploration reaps all the essences which made its predecessor standout and explores even richer and more adventurous landscapes of technical and imaginative invention aligned to impassioned creativity. Taken individually, the tracks within Guiding Lights tempt, enthral, and impress without exception but as a whole for whatever reason, the album becomes one thrilling immersive journey but which loses the definition between the different exploits, tracks often blending in without very intensive attention. It is a personal issue we came up against and will not apply to all, and to be fair still could not stop the album standing out as a remarkable and seriously appetising next step in the striking evolution of the band.

Formed initially as a studio project by songwriter/guitarist Keshav Dhar, Skyharbor, the India based band has grown to become one of the rigorously captivating propositions in world progressive metal, in the studio and as the live touring band it evolved into. Starting its line-up growth around 2011 with the linking up of drummer Anup Sastry (Jeff Loomis, Intervals) and Another Vertigo Rush bassist Nikhil Rufus Raj, the band soon emerged as a potent and persistently intriguing presence, its first shows seeing Skyharbor as an instrumental trio. Signing with Basick Records led to the release of the double-disc album Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos, the album seeing Sunneith Revankar (Bhayanak Maut) the vocalist on one disc and Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT), who had previously contacted Dhar with the suggestion of collaborating, on the other. Soon after confirming Tomkins as permanent vocalist, the band with second guitarist Devesh Dayal joining the line-up found themselves sharing stages with the likes of Lamb of God, Bass Monuments, and TesseracT as well as going on to play numerous festivals up to the latter part of last year when the band took time out to write and create Guiding Lights. With Goddess Gagged bassist Krishna Jhaveri replacing the departing Raj, the crowd-funded new album also released via Basick, has stepped forward as a dramatic and riveting next step in the band’s ascent.

Opening track Allure instantly transfixes; melodies and sonic enterprise vibrantly rippling across the song’s fluid canvas like warm summer rain on a clear stretch of water. Almost as swiftly though there is an intensity of passion and GuidingLights_Coverrhythmic incitement which with an agitated beckoning, streaks across the immersive embrace of the track. It is a masterful lure of a song, the outstanding vocals of Tompkins, as across the whole album, smooth and clean with engrossing expression to their narrative. Every aspect of the track and band impresses it is fair to say, the dark toned shadows of bass excelling in the clarity given and guitars bewitching whether laying down elegant designs or brewing up a more tempestuous persuasion.

The impressive start is emulated by the following Evolution, the track a rawer fiery proposition than the opener. The imposing beats of Sastry which commanded attention in the first song take an even more grievous pose in their swings here, though they are unafraid to temper the attack in the more temperate passages of the song. Though not a violent storm, the track still blusters from its rugged start with rigorously heavy scything riffery before finding a mellow and reflective emotive calm to explore, not quite the eye of the tempest but a temporary peace in a gripping maelstrom.

Both Idle Minds and Miracle keep ears and thoughts firmly engaged, the first taking on a poppier breath with its contagion without drifting from the raw emotion of its provocative exploration and a sonic endeavour where the throaty predation of the bass and sensuous melodies from guitars align for another intriguing captivation. The second of the two tracks soars through a celestial atmosphere, vocal and resourceful invention from guitars a radiant and acidic beauty which flares perfectly across the more vigorous traits of the song. As across the release, both are as excitingly unpredictable as they are skilfully sculpted and a potent continuation of the rich creative parade already unveiled.

Through the mesmeric and dramatically flavoursome scenery of Halogen and the more tenaciously challenging adventure of New Devil, the album whips up further greed in the appetite; the second of the two with its provocative and ferocious energy an irresistible incitement and with its intrigue drenched ingenuity, another peak to the album. Both leave thoughts and emotions bound in their creative emprises as does the Porcupine Tree like elegance and resonance of Patience which is subsequently followed by the long mystical temptation of the album’s title track. From its haunting opening ambience, the track brews up into a stormy flight merging rhythmic and emotional turbulence with thought encroaching melodies and vocal passion. As with so many of the tracks, once departed the song is a slim memory but in its hug the track steals ears and thought from the outside world with ease.

Guiding Lights is completed by firstly the excellent seduction of Kaikoma, a song exploring electronic and sonic temptations within an infectious and lingering progressive immersion of the senses. It is a thrilling investigation, one of the major pinnacles of the album which sets up the expansive realm of the finale. The Constant is an undulating terrain of thick and subtle structures, sublime and concussive textures, and gripping creative drama. It is a powerful and thrilling encounter which epitomises the album in that it is absorbingly and bracingly enjoyable as company and inspiration but whether it is its length or there being so much going on, it loses attention at points within its impressive landscape.

With every member of the band mouth-wateringly exploring their stunning individual technical and creative depths, the bottom-line is that Skyharbor has not only created another exceptional proposition to bask in, but one pushing them to the forefront of progressive metal. Guiding Lights is an outstanding journey which challenges for all the right reasons and though for us it works better taken as individual trips in its extensive emprise, it is nothing to complain about and only something to enjoy.

Guiding Lights is available now digitally and on CD via Basick Records @ http://music.basickrecords.com/album/guiding-lights and http://store.basickrecords.com/home/products/guiding-lights-cd/

https://www.facebook.com/Skyharbor7

RingMaster 11/11/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Voyager – V

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Breath-taking and ravenously compelling, V the new album from Australian metallers Voyager, is one of those releases which just steals thoughts and emotions from the surrounding world, enslaving ears and imagination with no respite until its incitement is done. It is a powerful and intensive encounter, one demanding attention with a creative rabidity which fuels the thumping rhythms and raging riffs which sculpt the thirteen designs of the album. Equally though a mesmeric beauty radiates and shimmers with a kaleidoscope of sonic colour and melodic emotion across the release in riveting invention to consume everything from ears to passions. The album is a magnificent beast, which puts most other offerings in the shade.

As you can assume from its title, V is the fifth album from the Perth quintet and finds in our humble opinion their unique fusion of melodic and progressive metal with a wealth of other essences at its finest yet. Following the rigorously acclaimed The Meaning of I of 2011, the new album shows Voyager ascending to new heights not only in songwriting and sound but also in the way they texture and align every essence of a song into a flaming tempest which has the unbridled contagion of pop linked to an exploratory progressive imagination metal and locked into the predacious voracity of metal. Fan-funded via Kickstarter and recorded with producer Matt Templeman, V leaves similar genre clad bands in the starting blocks, though to be honest few if any come to mind as comparisons to the rich colour and sound of Voyager right now.

The release opens with its two singles from the album, and through the pair alone rapture and devotion for the release is virtually 654367989302 UPC-Vguaranteed. The new single Hyperventilating instantly soaks ears in an electro mist which is secretive of things ahead, though the wait to find out what is pending is mere seconds as djent bred vivacity strides through ears. The guitars of Scott Kay and Simone Dow prey on the senses right away as the rhythms of Ashley Doodkorte jab and puncture with just as intense voracity. Around them though it is the keytar seduction of Daniel Estrin which is mesmerising the imagination ready for his equally impressive vocals to charm and infest thoughts. Less than a minute in and the song is in full command; its earnest and dramatic stance magnetic whilst the climactic chorus is pure virulence. It is a gloriously anthemic merger of antagonism and seducing, dark and light, the bass snarl of Alex Canion, who also provides excellent backing vocals, a pronounced protagonist. Veined with an Eastern mystique well onto its adventure, the track is aural alchemy, an enslaving epidemic to which there are no cures.

The following Breaking Down continues the outstanding start. Featuring guest vocals from Daniel Tompkins (In Colour, Skyharbor, ex-TesseracT), the song from an orchestral caress launches into a fiery and enthralling blaze of heavy metal riffs, progressive enticement, and melodic expression. As it predecessor there is an uncaged hunger to the charge of the song but urgency cloaked in pungent emotive melodies and immersive enterprise which again isolates ears and mind from any outside interference. It is a monster of a song swiftly matched by A Beautiful Mistake which hosts another guest in UK born, Perth living vocalist Zemyna Kuliukas. A sinister gurning of sound opens up the song before again gnarly guitar endeavour casts their bait as the continuing to truly impress vocals of Estrin explores ears. Only three songs in and it is hard not to think the musician is providing his mightiest moment yet as a singer. There is a snarl and belligerence to the under belly of the song which is translated in the rhythms and jagged riffing, but under the elegance and evocative flames from vocals and keys it is just another rich texture to a delicious weave, within which Kuliukas potently shines.

The very brief rhythmic and atmospheric narrative of the excellent Fortune Favours The Blind leads into the just as imposingly dramatic and thrilling You, The Shallow, the track a rapacious predator cloaked in the robust hues of a blazing sunset which dance emotively over the senses. Thumping rhythms build a towering intimidating frame which the sonic drizzle and blistering enterprise of the guitars hangs absorbingly from, but it is again the ravenous almost savage agitation of the riffs and the exceptional vocal qualities which brings the deepest submission.

The diversity of the songs from each other also makes a mouth-watering tempting across the album, the roaring pop flames of Embrace The Limitless within a swirling pool of electronic light and the electro rock marauding of Orpheus straight away adding to the rich landscape of the album. The pair permeates every pore and synapse with their simultaneously raw and polished beauty before making away for another major pinnacle in nothing but mountainous highs. Domination Game is a warrior of a song, its sinews charged and rippling on the rhythms and battle hardened riffs which bring the track to bear on senses and imagination. Within their cage the vocals stalk and light thoughts with their own specific intent. It is a confrontation in many ways but one where the fire of passion and searing melodies temper any pungent emotion poised to unleash its venom. It is an outstanding slice of ingenuity with not for the first or last time, an eighties synth/indie pop breath within its metallic canvas.

The pair of Peacekeeper and It’s A Wonder impress instantly but take a little longer than other songs to reveal their full hypnotic beauty and toxicity, though there is no particular reason why it is so. The first of the two reminds in small ways of fellow Australians Circles as well as UAE band Absolace as it explores its deep emotional depths with a slow expansive wash of heart sculpted reflection whilst its successor stakes its narrative out on another raging surge of crushing rhythms and senses entangling riffs and bewitching grooves. The song is another stunning spike in an unrelenting line of pure brilliance across V, a track which casts its own unique epic tale of light and shadows within the triumphant broad narrative of the album. It has an unrelenting evolution to its premise too, a horde of styles and flavours unleashed so that as many songs, it feel so much bigger, longer, and lingering than the mere five minutes it needs to capture the passions.

The industrialised air of The Morning Light around a symphonically embracing melodic bathing of invention is followed by the brilliant piano and vocal incitement of Summer Always Comes Again. Poetic strings wrap the song in their evocative flourishes as the song grows into another major treat of the album. Estrin has been likened to Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon by Deftones’ Chino Moreno, which you can understand but here song and vocal style is sheer Julian Cope, both aspects a pleasing resemblance of the great arguably undervalued man. It makes the song glow as a piece, and that essence also seeps vibrantly into the closing metallic pop excellence of the closing Seasons Of Age. It is an inferno of pop majesty and metal causticity, combining for a final exceptional summit of a sensational album.

To be honest only ears not words can truly relay the quality and brilliance of V and everyone behind it, so a recommendation to go explore a definite album of the year contender just cannot be forceful enough. In fact you might as well give the title to Voyager now as it is going to take something very special to eclipse their triumph.

V is available now digitally and physically via Bandcamp at: http://voyager.bandcamp.com/

http://voyager-australia.com/

10/10

RingMaster 03/06/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Dzyen – Self-Titled EP

 

Photo Debbie Todd

Photo Debbie Todd

Providing impressive food for thought, UK progressive metallers Dzyen unleash their debut EP to instantly thrust themselves on the genre radar but equally with a rich blend of flavouring to their potent sound it has plenty to draw in a wider expanse of metal fans from groove through to alternative.  The five track encounter is a feisty and inventive riot of sound and energy suggesting that the Stanley, County Durham hailing band is a proposition to keep a close and eager eye upon. Their self-titled EP is striking without being startling, imaginative without being ground-breaking but certainly is one thickly flavoursome and captivating release which sparks imagination and emotions.

     Made up of vocalist/guitarist Scot Goodrum, bassist Bryan Tulip, and drummer Niel Linney and formed in 2011, the band takes influences from the likes of Tool, Periphery, Sikth, and Trivium into their thoughtful and enjoyably crafted adventure. With 15 years of experience behind them from roots which began in death metal, the trio has evolved into a progressive/melodic metal persuasion which has been earning good attention and acclaim from fans and other artists such as members of Tesseract, Monuments, Novallo and Skyharbor, some of whom appear on the EP funnily enough. The release of first single Digital Senseless last December sparked an eagerness and appetite to find out more about the band which their EP feeds whilst confirming all the promise previously suggested.

    The single opens up the EP and features guest vocals from Daniel Tompkins (Skyharbor, White Moth Black Butterfly) as well as a0975414611_2Novallo guitarist Gino Bambino.  A collaboration written by band and guests, Digital Senseless is an instant forceful rub on the ear with a contagious bait of djent seeded riffery and an intensive rhythmic scouring of the air to open up its presence. The mix of vocals between Tompkins and Goodrum is a fiery mix of clean and raw which works a treat and one which at times the sounds struggle to keep up with in impact. Nevertheless the pleasing track strides confidently and powerfully with a compelling veining of melodic enterprise through its bulging muscular body as well as a thoroughly infectious chorus.

     From the strong start things only get tighter and more contagious, Beneath The Surface stepping forward next with progressive nostrils flaring and grooves writing within the instantly appealing temptation. From opening scratchy guitar strokes the track expels a heavy commanding breath, again djent sculpted riffs and crisp sinew driven rhythms plus a great throaty bass sound leading the way into the heart of the song. With a melodic and mellow caress accompanying the chorus within a still rigorous metallic pressuring, the song sparks thoughts of Mudvayne and American Head Charge. It is a healthy mix which the band explores and filters into their individual expressive endeavour for a deeply satisfying and thrilling portrait of sound and enterprise which easily twists the emotions around its infectious enticement.

      Neurosis next keeps the lofty heights going. The best track on the release, it is a voracious impact with thumping rhythms and carnivorous riffs driving its intent whilst the vocals of Goodrum create a fluid blend of raw surfaced attacks and ever agreeable melodic clean tones primed to seduce. The song like most always seem to stomp midway between clean and aggressive, never leaning too far into either despite often hinting a preference but always finding an impressive union which never fails the band. In saying that there is no doubt that this is the most combative track on the EP and shows with ease that the band can create corrosive rampages quite easily and skilfully if they want.

    The good times keep coming as Dzyen offers up an accomplished and thoroughly satisfying cover of Just So You Know, the aforementioned American Head Charge classic. It is fair to say that the band does not stretch or reinvent it in any dramatic way instead providing a faithful and ravenous version which easily hits the spot and with the song already a favourite it just cannot fail to add another big positive to the EP.

   The closing Dualism Part 1 took longer than other songs to fully convince with numerous plays unveiling its rich depths and thrilling textures in their complete persuasion. Featuring and written with Sam Gitiban, the vocalist of US progressive metallers Novallo, the track is an eight minute expanse of gritty rhythms, twisted grooves, and melodic tempting which has a Slipknot feel in their mellower moments. It also comes with an unexpected and unpredictable want to turn in on itself with additional styles and progressively bred imagination evolving into a resourceful provocation which alone shows the richness and expanse of the songwriting and adventure within the band.

     With a Lee Jackson directed first music video in the immediate future soon followed by a debut album and touring, as well as this inspiring and promising entrance, Dzyen look like making 2014 a breakthrough year to remember for them and us. A definite must check out release of the coming year.

www.facebook.com/dzyenband

http://dzyen.bandcamp.com/album/ep

8.5/10

RingMaster 13/01/2014

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