ssSHEENSss – Strapping Stallions

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It might be hard to be convinced by the band name but there is no such issue with the new album from Finnish heavy rockers ssSHEENSss. The band’s second full-length, Strapping Stallions is a compelling beast of a proposition, riffs and rhythms as cantankerous as they are aggressive yet there is an eclectic devilry across the release which aligns itself to a gripping inventive craft, it all resulting in an album which is resourcefully unpredictable, mischievous, and most of all great fun.

Formed in 2011, the Hamina sextet set to work on their self-titled but album at the tail end of 2012 with producer Billy Anderson (Eyehategod, Mr. Bungle, Melvins, Neurosis), before unleashing it on the world to eager reception in the February of last year on guitarist Harri Pikka’s own label Stabbing Records. It was an attention grabbing stomp and sound but one which between albums has evolved into an even more muscular and ferocious tempest of stoner bred sinew sculpted rock ‘n’ roll. Early this year the line-up of vocalist Mikko Kiri, bassist Edu Lethal, drummer Juho Harjula, and the triple strike of guitarists made up of Pikka, Porkka and Muhli, hit the studio with a new horde of songs. Mixed by Tomas Skogsberg (The Hellacopters, Dismember) and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Corrosion of Conformity, Beastmilk), what emerged was the riveting and virulently contagious Strapping Stallions.

The accompanying press release announces that the album and its sound is something fans of Turbonegro, The Hellacopters, and ZZ Top will want to devour, something easy to agree with though that is only one shade of the diverse flavouring of the encounter. Opening track Adios, Fucker! for example pungently reminds of Troublegum era Therapy?, and as the nine tracks come and flirt with ears and imagination plenty other references come to mind, though they cannot defuse the potency of originality also spewing from ssSHEENSss. The opener is an instant wall of thumping rhythms and predacious riffs, all sides of the song converging on ears with an irritable tenacity. Employing essences of punk and metal to its keen and voracious, the stormy treat as mentioned easily reminds of the aforementioned Northern Ireland trio but also with its melodic sultry swagger hints at the likes of Mondo Generator. It is a riveting and thrilling start to the release, honest rock ‘n’ roll with little need to add over the top flourishes but allowing guitars and rhythms to craft a compelling web of highly infectious baiting.

The excellent opening is not matched by a cover of ZZ Top track Concrete And Steel, though to be fair ssSHEENSss twist it into an individual incitement of their own with resourceful imagination. It is a more than decent encounter but ssSHEENSss_strappingstallions_800x800px_weblacks the spark and in the face potency of its predecessor, something the next up You And Your Daughters is more capable of. Bluesy grooves entwine ears straight away as beats jab powerfully across their fiery coaxing. With vocals and riffs joining the swift temptation on feet and emotions, it is a rigorously inviting opening accentuated by sonic flames searing the magnetic spine of the song. There is also a seventies hard rock breath to the caustic sound fuelling the proposition, a lure which easily secures full attention and appetite but it is the mid-way twist into a bordering on bedlamic post punk/garage rock venture reminding of The Three Johns, where a great track becomes an outstanding one.

The equally stunning Voice Distortion Call with its heady and weighty intimidation of air and power sparks another lustful wave of hunger for the release, its Queens Of The Stone Age like devilry a sonic toxicity impossible to resist. With grooves and a sonic colouring you can almost physically taste such its spicy twang, the song is a gripping slab of stoner bred ferocity; a track as volatile as it is creatively composed. Another lofty highlight of the release, it is followed by the more classic metal toned Wolf Street Blues where that earlier Turbonegro comparison comes in handy. It is an easy going and undemanding proposition but keenly contagious and enjoyable providing another flavoursome turn in the diversity of Strapping Stallions.

Shadow Animals with its anthemic rhythmic thumping and corrosive riffery sets the fires in the passions burning bright again, its virulent hooks and Kiri’s vocal prowess irresistible amongst nothing but inescapable enticements. Imagine Mastodon meets again QOTSA and you get a sense of the adventurous climate and canvas of the song explored and set ablaze by the band. Its successor Let’s Explode does not quite match its triumph but still provides a lively smoulder of stalking riffs and classic rock soaked sonic endeavour to eagerly embrace. With at times a southern lilt to chords and heated harmonies from vocals, it is an enthralling offering, though it and its predecessor come nowhere close to the brilliance of the next track.

It is rare to call a cover the best track in a seriously impressive release but the band’s version of Love Will Tear Us Apart is sensational. Easily the best version of the track since Joy Division’s own unleashing, the band turns it into a new depressive seduction giving riffs a more carnivorous growl and beats antagonistic agility which lies perfectly with the pulsating throat of the bass and the melodic toxins which seep from every chord and twist of guitar. Even the vocals make a dramatic statement, Kiri managing to hold onto the cold emotion of Ian Curtis’ unique delivery whilst adding further expressive twists. It is pure dark majesty leaving Saigon the unenviable task of following and closing up the album, which it does successfully with its own anthemic rhythmic lures and melodic rabidity creating a song which whispers Eagles of Death Metal and Kyuss meets Melvins.

It is a great end to an exciting release which in some ways might even have missed a trick or two to become a modern classic. Nevertheless Strapping Stallions is another firm treat for the year and ssSHEENSss a band with a dodgy name and a natural ability to create exceptional rock ‘n’ roll.

Strapping Stallions is available via Soulseller Records on 3rd October

www.sssheensss.com

RingMaster 03/10/2014

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Studfaust – Where The Underdogs Bark

Studfaust Garage

It is hard not to be turned on by a heavy dose of dirt encrusted, liquor encroaching rock ‘n’ roll and it does not come in much finer form than that which spills voraciously from the might of Norwegian protagonists Studfaust. A third heavy rock, third filth coated metal, and the final segment pure punk rock, the sound conjured up by the Oslo/Bergen hailing trio is pure venom fuelled antagonism. Imagine The Exploited and The Damned in their early days in salacious cahoots with Twisted Sister and Black Sabbath in the distinctive bed made by Motorhead and you get an idea of the weighty thrills and hostile rampage which makes their new mini-album Where The Underdogs Bark one of the year’s treats.

Studfaust was unleashed in 2011 by vocalist/guitarist Tore Bratseth aka Stud Bronson (ex- Old Funeral, The Batallion, Bömbers) and Bård “Faust” Eithun (Emperor, Blood Tsunami, Mongo Ninja). That same year they recorded and released debut single Half Human, Half Dynamite /1980’s Ladies to strong responses, its vinyl release via Soulseller Records subsequently sold out whilst their gigs equally stirred up attention and fans. The line-up became three soon after with the recruitment of bassist Pete Evil (Blood Tsunami, Mongo Ninja, Hellride). Again uncaged through Soulseller, Where The Underdogs Bark riles up ears and passions from start to finish with an instinctive wickedness which easily suggests it could and should trigger the widest spotlight upon them, certainly its devilry deserves it.

Half Human, Half Dynamite is the first riot to accost ears and instantly sets the juices flowing with raw and abrasing riffs aligned to urgent rhythmic provocation. Vocally too the track simply sparks the purest punk rock instincts Studfaust cover 2400x2400whilst grooves and spicy hooks tease and play with the imagination through mischievous rapacity. It is a glorious stomp and easy to see why the eager reception when released as that first single.

The following title track is just as feverishly contagious and incendiary. Caustic riffery from guitar and bass is courted by a simple but ridiculously addictive groove from the off as Eithun swings his sticks with all the muscular contempt he can muster. Within two songs Studfaust shows they have no interest in anything other than adrenaline driven, dirt kicking rock ‘n’ roll with a metallic predation to its raw devilment, the second track the perfect example with its unfussy and bordering on hostile ferocity.

A southern rock twang flirts with ears and thoughts as the next up Hell Is Full embraces the senses. Its gait is a slower heavy metal stroll than that of its more abusive predecessors and similarly veined with a repetitive and relentlessly attentive grooving and enterprising sonic causticity. There is a fire in the belly of the song too which gives it a distinctive toxicity to the others, whiffs of AC/DC and Turbonegro enhancing the abrasive seduction before it all departs leaving the floor clear for the punk aggression of Street Judges Gavel to roar and spill its feverish sweat upon it. A sense of Discharge adds another hue to what is, like all tracks, a seemingly Lemmy and co inspired canvas of middle finger energy and honest senses abusing creativity.

The outstanding Erection Of The Egoist with its ravenous and carnivorous bass swagger and infection spewing grooving takes the album to another irresistible level. The vocal squalls driving it are as uncompromising as the viciousness of the rhythms whilst that imposing lure of Evil pungent bait is as trapping s ever, but the real submission grabbing edge of the track comes with the lethal hooks and spicy grooves out of Bronson’s guitar.

The release closes with firstly The Devil Of Mine and its punk fest of flesh flailing riffs and rhythms bound in funk infested basslines and lastly the irreverent temptation of 1980’s Ladies. The first of the two growls vocally and musically with a pissed off attitude and intensity whilst its successor is sheer glam punk ‘n’ roll, kind of like Sex Pistols meets Towers of London for an inescapable and infectiously addictive rampancy.

Where The Underdogs Bark is not trying to invent or even reinvent the wheel but for a bodily fluid soaked slab of real rock ‘n’ roll it is hard to think of anyone who has thrilled and impressed as much as Studfaust do on their album. A must for all punk and metal infused rock ‘n’ roll fans everywhere.

Where The Underdogs Bark is available via Soulseller Records now @ http://www.soulsellerrecords.com

https://www.facebook.com/Studfaust

9/10

RingMaster 15/08/2014