Curse of the North – Curse of the North: I

COTN8_RingMaster Review

There are some releases where it is difficult to imagine anyone not being gripped by their proposals and such a triumph is the new self-titled album from US metallers Curse of the North. It is a beast of instinctive and addictive virulence that blends the ripest essences of heavy and classic metal with the muscular invention of modern rock ‘n’ roll. It is an encounter which seems to hone in on personal tastes, taps into the psyche to discover its deepest pleasures and then unleashes them across eight rigorously rousing encounters. Quite simply it is one of the most invigorating albums this year to set ears and passions alight.

Born in Seattle, Curse of the North currently consists of vocalist/guitarist Christiaan Morris, former 3 Inches of Blood member Nick Cates on bass, and Burke Thomas of McKagan’s Loaded and Vendetta Red on drums. Formed in 2010, the band has toured and shared stages with the likes of Red Fang, The Sword, Eyehategod, Destruction, Death Angel, Lord Dying, Valient Thorr, Kadavar, The Shrine, and Gypsyhawk whilst 2011 saw the release of their Matt Bayles (Mastodon, The Sword, Botch) produced first EP Revelations. A few line-up shuffles have also been part of the band’s growth which now unleashes Curse of the North: I. Produced by Morris and mixed by Kurt Ballou (Converge, High on Fire, Toxic Holocaust), with mastering undertaken by Ed Brooke, the album leaps on the listener from its first moment, the opening and every subsequent breath a roar of thick temptation.

Sleep While You Can is the first slab of persuasion, its start alone pure magnetism as Thomas creates a web of rhythmic arousal to set things in motion. Flames of guitar cross the compelling drum bait as the vocals of Morris spring their own enticing, a Glenn Danzig flavouring lining his tones and equally the shadows within the emerging tenacious metal canter of the track. Classic metal hues dance on ears too as a modern fusion of riffs and hook laded enterprise courts the imagination, the result being one terrific groove veined stomp.

COTN cover_RingMaster Review   It is a mighty start taken another level by Wheel of Swords, another track with an irresistible start to its creative alchemy. A great nagging from riffs as rhythms tumble vivaciously coaxes ears first, their lure replicated in varying tones as sterner grooves and muscular predation swiftly looms up with the again potent vocals of Morris at their helm. Like Black Tusk meets Baroness with a spicing of Sabbath and Clutch to it, the song has energy and pleasure in its hands with quick ease, handing over an exhausted and rapturous body to the following Into The Trees and its mellow climate around melodic prowess. Keys emotively caress as the guitars strokes the senses with elegant suggestiveness to match the melancholic voice of Morris. The first half of the song is wrapped in this mesmeric beauty, its second a rugged landscape of again incendiary rhythms amidst tangy classic metal/rock endeavour and striking vocals.

As good as everything is to this point, the best song on the album in The Tower eclipses it. Building up its intensity and hunger through early scythes of sound, the track quickly releases its handbrake and charges through ears like Therapy? on steroids. Its torrent of riffs and ravenous hooks storms the barricades like a transatlantic cousin to anything on Troublegum from the Northern Ireland trio, its contagiousness and vocal furor similar whilst creating its own uniquely irresistible tempest. The song is breath-taking, seemingly knowing where the personal sweet spot is and hitting it relentlessly, even when slipping into a dark theatre of sinister gothic intrigue.

Thomas is rhythmically imperious on the track, as everywhere to be fair, continuing his enslaving web of craft in The Electric Wall and especially the outstanding Blessed Burning. Morris and Cates are an equal incendiary match though as the first of the two tracks sees the band creating a High on Fire/Kyuss like mountain of creative tenacity and heavy rock ‘n’ roll seduction whilst its successor, from another hypnotic rampant rhythmic trap, strolls across Queens Of The Stone Age/ Mastodon toned terrain of sonic and vocal passion. The references given across all songs are mere colours in something distinctly Curse of the North, especially emphasized when as here the guitars spin a bluesy imagination as an intimate atmosphere soaks the song.

Oceans Rise lowers the intensity if not the emotive temperature next, well certainly for its opening moments as soon it too is a cauldron of thickly jabbing beats and sonic ferocity. Along its riveting length, the assaults and aggression ebbs and flows to fluid and powerful effect, the song an undulating roller coaster of a confrontation which, as the album, just gets richer and more imposingly enjoyable over time.

The album comes to an end through the sultry blues/surf rock seducing of Faceless Killers, a sonic and melodic bewitchment which too only blossoms to greater heights with every partaking of its sweltering, increasingly volcanic landscape. It is a stunning end to simply one of the major treats of 2015; a leviathan of rock ‘n’ roll to get seriously lustful over.

Curse of the North: I is out October 23rd via Static Tension Recordings.

https://www.facebook.com/curseofthenorth    http://www.curseofthenorth.com

Pete RingMaster 22/10/2015

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Potergeist – Crocodile Teeth

Potergeist 1

The lure of a southern blues swamp is unleashed once again by Greek band Potergeist through new album Crocodile Teeth, and once more ears are treated to a contagion of dirty uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll which is as unique as it is familiar. The band has a sound which even with constant evolution across releases has a recognisable presence but comes as something undeniably individual to the Athens quintet. As the new album shows it is fresh and it is invigorating, and one thoroughly enjoyable stomp.

When forming in 2004, Potergeist had a more straight forward Kylesa /Down like southern metal sound as evidenced on debut album Southwards two years later. By the time of its successor Muddy Mermaids in 2012, the band’s sound had got harder and more aggressive whilst delving into the darkest depths of blues. Tagged as swamp metal by the media, the Potergeist sound was matched in progression by the attention given them and a live presence seeing the band share stages with the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Monster Magnet, Pro Pain, The Haunted, The Shrine, Kylesa, and Paradise Lost. The outstanding Swampires unleashed its swamp toxicity in 2013, Potergeist’s third album darker and more voracious in sound and presence again. Though not outgunned in attack and ferocity, fair to say Crocodile Teeth takes the Potergeist sound to yet another depth of quality and invention.

Feeling as intense and intimidating at times as the last release the Peter Rutcho (Falling in Reverse, Revocation, Bury Your Dead, Havok, Seemless, The Ghost Inside) produced and mixed Crocodile Teeth reveals the band’s fullest and rounded sound yet, settings its stall out in the brief intro Swamp Muse Summoning before going for the throat straight after with its title track. Riffs and rhythms are an immediate barrage and temptation backed by a quickly emerging tangy groove. It is the first bait to the sturdy stride of the song quickly accompanied by the grizzled tones of vocalist Alex S Wamp. He is soon showing the great prowess of his grouchy and clean tones as guitars and bass cast their own intimidating and dynamic enterprise. There are no major surprises in song, or indeed album, yet as suggested earlier there is freshness and distinctive essence which ensures this is no run of the mill metal or Potergeist offering.

Crocodile Tears Artwork   The following Visit From A Swampire canters in on an infectious swing, riffs as rampant as the energetically skilled swings of drummer Tolis Toleas whilst grooves are as fiery as the melodies and solos which breed throughout. The track easily has body and emotions involved in its anthem as does What Then which comes next. The song is a touch more restrained in aggression and energy initially, but soon a bracing canter of raw riffs and rapier like rhythms entwined in the spicy grooves and bluesy melodic hooks of guitarists Nick XP and Stratal. Complete with an irresistible swagger, the song keeps things boiling over before in turn making way for the southern metal drawl and heavy rock brew of Truth. The track begins with the same groove the previous song left on but is soon sculpting its own tenacious and aggression roar. There is a touch of Crowbar in some ways to the song as the bass of Kostis Vihos brings a predatory proposal against the as dramatic but more welcoming vocals and sonic adventure cast elsewhere.

Atonement takes over next and is soon spreading a weave of southern rock inspired melodic spicing around the ever formidable and engaging rhythmic strength of the Potergeist sound. Featuring guest backing vocals from Anna Stephanou, the song is a warm slice of blues rock ‘n’ roll equipped with a dark edged groove and a blaze of imagination around the constant lure of Wamp’s vocals.

Roaming ears with a thick stance of sinew swung beats and bestial riffs The Preacher And The Witch stalks the appetite next with its magnetic web of sound. Both Fotis Benardo and Penelope Anastasopoulou add additional vocals to the tapestry of sonic and melodic craft. It is a fine song if without the spark of certainly the early songs, though much is down to a big personal appetite for when Potergeist go hell for leather in their rock ‘n’ roll, and quickly over shadowed by the excellent Eve. It too is more reserved in its gait and coveting a more classic metal whisper to its body but moulds everything and more of the band’s potent enterprise into a pungent slab of anthemic persuasion.

The album closes with Last Punk Standing, a compelling bellow of a song aligning mellower melodic tempting with a rigorous snarl resulting in a dramatic and impressive end to another mighty offering from Potergeist. We will admit that the previous Swampires still has the steal on the passions but there is no denying that Crocodile Tears is the band’s most accomplished proposition yet and one of the most enjoyable and satisfying slabs of metal driven rock ‘n’ roll you will hear this year.

Crocodile Tears is available digitally now and on CD and Vinyl via G.O.D. Records

https://www.facebook.com/potergeist

RingMaster 08/06/2015

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