Campus: Empathy

As the windows and doors to your thoughts, emotions, and soul are blasted and virtually shaken off their hinges by Empathy the new EP from Belgian post hardcore band Campus, you know this is one release you are not going to forget in a hurry, or want to. Empathy is immense, a sonic wind tunnel of intensity and aggression veined with inspired invention and melodic enterprise. The enormity of the EP is clear as one lies on the floor grasping for a new breath to chase off the numbness that pervades every sinew as the release signs off from its deeply satisfying four track obliteration of safety.

Released May 28th via Small Town Records, Empathy is destined to ignite passions within a great many more than ever before. With a sound which has traces of bands like Architects, Underoath, and While She Sleeps to its formidable and imaginative creation, the release is the next step on the quest to conquer far afield from their already worshipping homeland. The EP follows their thoroughly acclaimed 2009 album Oh, Comely! which itself followed a well received debut two years before in We Are The Silence. That initial release led them to opening up the Belgian leg of the Taste of Chaos tour of the same year and saw them share stages with the likes of The Used, Rise Against, Aiden and Gallows. Since then they have not looked back as shows and tours with the might of bands like Alexisonfire, Cancer Bats, Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon, Underoath, and Architects filled subsequent years as well as numerous festival appearances.

It is probably fair to say outside of Belgian the band has still to find the heights their music deserves but with an impressive appearance at the Hit The Deck Festival in the UK this year, slots at the Burnout Festival, Hevy Festival, and Skatefest upcoming and most of all with Empathy this feels like the point the rest of the world takes notice.

The release opens up with the title track and within seconds has the senses reeling. As the rhythms of Josse Wijckmans pummel the ear hungry growling riffs prowl with a predatory intensity and overwhelming energy. Vocalist Martijn Leenaerts scowls and unleashes pure venom to match the tumultuous attack. His delivery is persistently varied and an example to many other same genre frontmen that mixing up things is a mighty tool. The guitars of Tijs Mondelaers and Fabrice Parent strip flesh with the sharpest of harsh riffs and energy whilst mesmerising with a melodic invention that leaves blisters seething within the ear. They are openly impressive and again show that thought and diversity can be a weapon of the greatest devastation.

From an impressive start the band raise the bar with Lone Wolf, another track to fly from first note with rampaging energy and dehabilitating effect. As with the first song bassist Tuur Geeraerts is a growling vehement presence bringing the darkest shadows and depth to the songs. Abrasive and provocative the track riles up more than the ear and leaves the first search for air an urgent need.

Downtime is a lumbering brute of a song, its heart, pace, and towering muscle the heaviest on Empathy. It does not neglect the other elements the band does so well neither, offering an impatient groove to wind around the ear with a grip borne of spite and melodic craft to light up the skies of the song like meteor shards, white hot and violently incisive.

The EP closes with the best song within its angry walls in Young Bastard. All the great things that preceded it return in greater heart and intensity. Vindictive, the aggression is lifted to its greatest heights leaving the senses ringing out for mercy and relief but wanting more and more of the same. Within this synapse melting the song explodes with the most infectious groove and clean vocals to ignite flames of primal energy. The track reminds of Red Tape with a twist of Ghost Of A Thousand at times and is easily one of the best tracks heard this year.

If Campus does not breakout to infect the world with their great sounds then justice has never had a place in music but with Empathy the feeling is their time is just shifting up multiple gears.

RingMaster 17/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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FireFallDown: These Wounds

Excitable and bursting with a plethora of things to share and as many sounds to pleasure with, the debut album from UK funk punk band FireFallDown is an infectious and thrilling treat. These Wounds has an insatiable hunger to leave everyone partying and broadly grinning, taking them into an elevated emotional state and fulfilled in heart and thoughts. With a passion and an impressively crafted collection of songs the album is a refreshing and vibrant dynamo of great imaginative sounds and unbridled boisterous energy.

London based Filipino-British trio FireFallDown began in 2006and took no time in inciting attention with a relentless and persistent touring of the UK, Philippines, Poland, and the U.S., building on the immediate attraction and lure their expressive and tightly melodic fusion of pop punk, high energy rock  and jazzy funk has upon the ear. Two singles garnered them further concentrated acclaim whilst support slots for Coheed and Cambria only raised their profile further. Now with the release of These Wounds as well as the band headlining the 150 Fest UK-wide tour next spring there is a sense they are about to explode and draw in a great many more to their sonic mission.

Released through the newly formed Small Town Records sub-label Love Music Movement on May 21st, These Wounds immediately introduces itself to the ear with the roisterous energy of Mr. Rockstar. A pop punk song with irresistible funk tendencies it riles up the senses with open and honest addictive melodies and stirring riffs.  It is a song that refuses to be ignored, exhilarating with persuasive and impossible to deny energy veined with fun warm melodic hooks and passion driven lyrical and musical intent. The band openly state their influences as the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink 182 and at times throughout the album that is easy to hear but another predominate flavour that comes through here is Alien Ant Farm, though FireFallDown have a tighter and more defined infection than the Americans ever cultivated.

The album from a strong start just gets better and better as each track teases and pleases. From the following Jimmy Eats World meets NOFX like punk sounds of Commissioned, through the excellent rampaging single and title track from the album, to the mesmeric Dear Mom And Dad with its Green Day spicery, the album ignites and sparks welcomed emotions. The trio know how to captivate their audience through a combined intelligence of songwriting and thoroughly intriguing and surprising array of sounds. No song is alike but always distinctly FireFallDown and though it carries many tastes that one can find as seeds from other bands all is twisted into their own recipe of impressive and expressive funkcore.

These Wounds is exceptional and an album which works itself deeper into the heart the more it is allowed to wrap its enthusiastic creativity and incessant charms around the senses. Without a weak track or an ounce of predictability the release is a consistent gift to the senses. Strong and giving throughout there is a trio of consecutive tracks where it reaches its fullest height and satisfaction. I Am The Way races in on mischievous rhythms from Andrew to lead one straight into the incendiary guitar of Jon who lights things up further into the song with an explosive solo. His vocals as throughout the album are excellent and welcoming with a bite and edge ensuring one pays attention to his words. The bass of Joel is a prowling brooding creature which again as with the other two enhances each song with well crafted lines and play. Another Alien Ant Farm like song with traces of Sugar Ray it is immediately followed by the equally immense Stand Tall. This is an aggressive rock track recalling the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they were at their best with a punk intensity that kicks open the way for the song to release its raucous muscular energy.

Logic and Fallacy completes the three exceptional peaks with another heavier rock driven power and sturdy spine. It further shows the diversity within the band and their creativity offering a fuller Incubus/ Bad Religion lined slice of punk rock. It is triumphant and as with every song on These Wounds sets FireFallDown out as a band that inspires and lights up all who welcome it into their individual worlds.

These Wounds is excellent; a release that the more you allow it to entertain incites thrills that go deeper and deeper. Simply FireFallDown are the future of UK pop punk with their inspiring multifaceted sound.

FireFallDown have donated all the proceeds from the album launch, Heal These Wounds towards the medical expenses of their close friend Brittany Kamruddin in her fight against Lyme disease, for more info go to their website    

RingMaster 10/05/2012 Registered & Protected

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Violet:The Brightside

The Brightside from UK alternative rockers Violet is a challenging, surprising and unpredictable creature and all the better for it.  The release never rests from testing the senses ensuring intrigue and unexpected ingenious twists are the very least one gets from the listening experience. It is obvious from the EP that the band puts a lot of thought into their songwriting and how to present it and it is no surprise that since their formation in 2007 they have grown into a formidable name in the UK underground rock music scene. The release drips creativity and well crafted music which even if it does not fully connect leaves one in no doubt to the talent within the band.

Already having inspired a keen acclaim and following with their self released debut album and EP’s, the septet from Derbyshire recently signed with Small Town Records.  First thing the pairing did was re-release The Brightside EP with three extra bonus tracks added. With the new opportunity to be spread across the country and beyond the release the thought is that the EP is the beginning of a steep rise in their appeal and recognition, the release marking them out as a band that will be very important to the UK rock scene.

The first unavoidable thing of the songs is the dual vocal attack from Jonny Nelson and Charlie Bass. They swing from a wonderful emotive and clean side that soars great heights as often as it caresses the ear over to an opposite extreme of a caustic and grating screamed attack that tests persistently. This works greatly on the whole though the coarse side of the vocals lack a distinct variety at times which does not always sit easy upon the ear though this is tempered by the impressive clean side of the partnership. The vocals do lead to one slight problem though in that with the duo being so powerful and attention grabbing the creative and inspired music and its craft often slips by without notice behind without  focusing on it. For appreciative music fans this just means a deeper richness to delve into and discover upon each visit but one can see others less patient and attentive listeners missing the full impressive might on show.

The EP opens with the title track to give an immediately striking impression upon the ear. As guitars stir into action with open grace and the clean vocals slowly swarm over the ear stroking a response the song is an instant pleasure. Harsh less welcoming vocals then grip tightly to pull the senses into a fully awaken state whilst the band consumes with a majestic touch combining both their melodic imagination and aggressive intensity. As the vocals grip the focus firmly the guitars of Sam Bass and Joe Middleton weave triumphant patterns that ignite the heart once given their attention.

A deeply impressive start eclipsed immediately by the following Youth, And Those Who Keep It. Again initially coaxing with mesmeric harmonies and melodies the peace is shattered by the screams which initially wrong foot the ear into a unsure reaction. Then as the keys of Tommy Cotton bring a warm reassurance with their flowing touch alongside the great clean vocals everything slips into perfect place. With the bass of Liam Westnidge a dark presence throughout and the drums of Robbie George holding a great balance between both sides of the sound the song hits deep.

The songs bring influences from far afield moulding them into their own distinct sound bringing as previously mentioned an unpredictable element to each and every track that is very satisfying. The likes of …But Have You Heard Of Me, the succinctly layered brilliance that is Perspectives, and the epic sounding  Seven For A Secret all lifting the emotions firmly as the band captivates and questions the ear.

Unable to tell when the bonus songs of Everyone Will Listen, Just Like Summer, and Away From Everything come in the timeline of the songwriting of the band there is a notable different feel to them though not in sound direction. There seems an ever better fluidity between the harsh and siren aspects of the music but sound wise there is a slightly less clarity which leaves one unsure if the songs are older or younger than the rest of the EP. What is evident is the tracks are just as impressive especially.

The Brightside is an excellent release and an inspiring introduction to Violet for those who have yet to have the pleasure. Full of promise and dripping creativity the band are on the verge of big things.

RingMaster 13/04/2012 Registered & Protected

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