Oh Captive – Two Mirrors

Oh Captive Online Promo shot

It is hard to supress a roar of frustration and disappointment when after enjoying a new and thrilling encounter from a band with all the tools and sounds to be a major presence in British alternative rock, they announce ‘on the eve’ of its unveiling they are to be no more. That is what has happened with Bristol quartet Oh Captive. Just a couple or so weeks before new EP Two Mirrors is released to light up ears and appetites, the band announced it had called it a day, though it might emerge to be more an internal evolution resulting in a name change and new direction rather than a full departure. Time will tell but whatever the outcome, they leave behind two impressive releases and a collection of vibrant and inventive songs, their latest the most captivating yet.

Formed in 2012, Oh Captive swiftly lit their local music scene and subsequently set about the whole UK scene with their energetic live presence, playing with the likes of Sonic Boom Six, UK Subs, Straight Lines, Max Raptor, Sharks, Blitz Kids, I Divide, Fighting With Wire, and Scholars along the way. Their sound has drawn comparisons to the likes of Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic, open and potent spices in the band’s debut EP Advance Creature, which was released in the March of 2013. It was a stirring and dynamic offering rippling with a potential which has been realised with sizeable success within Two Mirrors. The past year has seen Oh Captive supporting the likes of Marmozets and Arcane Roots, and make highly successful appearances at festivals such as Leopalooza and New Age, whilst media attention has grown as potently too. Now it may be over, but if so the band has gone out with a bang and ensured attention for their next exploits will be eagerly attentive.

Oh Captive - Cover Artwork   Two Mirrors opens with Recover, an instant ear grabbing proposition as vocalist Tim Kelly and a tangy rub of guitar combine a minimalistic but highly tempting bait to bring the song into view. It is not long before the heavy throated bassline of Tom Hitchins and the punchy beats of drummer Chris Hill leap in, accompanied by sonic flames cast by the guitars of Curtis King and Kelly. Immediately there is a drama to song and sound, light and dark textures colluding in an imposing but inviting web. Settling down a little for the continuation of the narrative from Kelly, the song increases its lure as it builds to energetic crescendos and an anthemic chorus. There are no major surprises in the melody soaked track but there is a bold invention to match its gait, which leaves expectations and predictability absent protagonists in the outstanding encounter.

The impressive start is backed with similar strength by Motion / No Motion. The second song is a rhythmically raucous stomp from its first breath with Hitchins offering a magnetic lure of a bassline. It is a dark coaxing surrounded by the concussive stick ability of Hill, a thick drawing of attention never wavering even as they are immersed in the sonic and melodic blaze of the guitars and the ever impressing tones of Kelly. There is something missing compared to its predecessor though, a small element just stopping it drawing the lustier satisfaction bred by Recover, but nevertheless the song has feet and imagination leaping in tandem with its resourceful enterprise.

Live Fast Don’t Last explores more of a croon for its creative shape and emotive intensity next. It has a slower flow and a more immersive canvas than the last songs with melodic tenacity and evocative expression from the vocals providing a deeper reflective colour and emotion to the encounter. It smoulders and tempts pleasingly as it shows another side and depth to the band’s songwriting and its creative realisation, though again cannot quite emulate the success of the first track and indeed its successor.

The EP’s title track brings it all to a lively and impressive close. Two Mirrors bounds along with another invitingly dark bassline aligned to eagerly swung beats, whilst their union is drenched in an anthemic energy and charm which the band seems to conjure at ease. Veined by richly enticing and tenacious guitar craft, the song makes a pungent end to a fine and enthralling release. If this is to be the end of Oh Captive, song and EP has seen them go out on a high and will leave fans saddened and newcomers kicking themselves for not discovering their promise and quality before.

The Two Mirrors EP is available from March 23rd through all digital outlets.

https://www.facebook.com/ohcaptive

RingMaster 23/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/

dragSTER – Dead Punk

Photo by Uglypunk —

Photo by Uglypunk

 

Not sure about you but the quality of British punk rock right now is inspiring tingles not that far removed from those felt when its first generation of sounds and bands were in their heyday. This is all down to bands like Coventry quintet dragSTER and ridiculously exhilarating releases like Dead Punk. Rampaging with thirteen riots of hostile punk ‘n’ roll, the band’s third album is a tempest of feet inflaming, passions rousing ferocity with a strength of invention and virulence to match. There has been some extraordinary rock ‘n’ roll storms in recent times but few can be said to have come close to the fire and flare of Dead Punk.

Formed in 2006, the Coventry hailing dragSTER built, on a love of 50’s iconography, sci-fi and B movie horror, and ‘dirty, fast and energetic music’, their own punk turbulence which was soon stirring up a nest of attention with its voracious energy and aggressively forceful sounds as pungently evidenced on the Rat Scabies produced Trailer Trash EP. Extremely well and greedily received by fans and media alike, the band reinforced their emergence with first album Step Into The Deathray in 2007. It was swiftly devoured upon release whilst subsequent shows with the likes of The Damned, The Buzzcocks, Sham 69, Eighties Matchbox and Electric Frankenstein only enhanced and increased their reputation before second album Here Come The Meat Robots in 2010 had its impressive say. Released as Dead Punk on STP Records, the release marked out the band as one of the most exciting prospects in UK and European rock ‘n’ roll. Featuring ex and current members of bands like UK Subs, Texas Terri Bomb, Criminal Class, and Pigface, dragSTER has pushed on again in both songwriting and sound to now uncage one of the modern punk classics.

A slither of an intro leads ears into the opening fury of Gatecrasher Hostage as Dead Punk begins consuming ears. The song is an instant roar, expelling abrasing riffs and thumping rhythms around the fiery confrontational tones of vocalist Fi Dragster. Ears and appetite are immediately seduced by the onslaught, especially as potent hooks and spicy grooves add their bait to the straight forward but already juicy sound. The machine gun bursts of beats from drummer Ryan Murphy only inflame the intensity and addictiveness of the encounter, leading the listener into a predacious web of dark temptation from guitarists Diesel and Ben Kelly, the latter following up with a short toxic solo of magnetic enterprise. It is a delicious bellow of a song and entrance by the album, a triumph straight away surpassed by its title track.

Dead Punk is, as all tracks to be honest, an addiction forging anthem of belligerence and cantankerous endeavour bound in grooves and hooks to lose inhibitions over. With nostrils flared and dragdradramuscles giving ears a thorough going over, the track compounds its might with a chorus even the deaf and deceased would be drawn to engage in. There is no escaping the slavery of the song, a potency grabbed by Drink You Pretty next and twisted into a new furnace of tangy grooves and chorus placed vocal roars. The song growls and rages with a raw infectiousness and diversely flavoured enterprise, squalling like a mix of X-Ray Spex and Midnight Mob with a healthy dose of  Distillers added. Also repeating and increasing its prowess and bait is the bass of Tom AK, the throaty and at times grizzled tones conjured bringing a perpetual primal lure to this and surrounding tracks, bait again is impossible to resist.

Through the broader dirt clad hard rock spicing of Cattle Prod, band and album keep the variety and thick attraction of the album blazing before Evil Craze provides another massive thrill with its balls to the wall punk rock savagery quipped with another seriously habitual roar of a chorus. The protagonist bursts from the speakers with an almost physical and certainly visceral presence, Fi raging over it like a Queen of attitude and defiance whilst vocally and musically the band beside her unleashes their individual and creative furies to equal intensity and glory.

Such its magnificence, there is an instant fear or feeling that maybe the next track has a mountain to climb to impress but that is soon dismissed by the rampant fifties seeded rock ‘n’ roll of The Dead Are Out In Droves. Garage and old school punk meets horror punk with metal bred venom for company; the track casts its own unique anthem of quarrelsome and addict making sounds, passing on the same challenge to compete to Terminal Loser. Opening with a Generation X like lure of guitar courted by a demonic bass temptation, the song is soon rumbling and grumbled with every note and swiping beat. That antagonistic intent is matched by the fearsome and ever captivating Fi as she opens up the pop tainted heart of the song. A Spinnerette whisper adds to the rigorously seduction at work whilst the guitars scowl and tempt with a canvas of vicious and riveting endeavour which ensures that the track easily matches the potency of the previous storms.

The furiously caustic sounds of Just Wanna Fuck provides one minute of unbridled punk lust next before Liar Like That stamps its raucous authority on ears and emotions with a volatile union of vocals for the chorus the final key in the corrosive passions chaining encounter. Both leaves ears exhausted and spark a serious greed for more, a want and need fed copiously by firstly the Misfits stroked raging of Death By A Thousand Cuts and straight after by the stalking temperament of Indonesian Buzz Cut. The first of the two seizes ears with a raw wind of riffs and bass grievances splintered by the crippling swings of Murphy whilst the second, from a prowling gait of an entrance is soon a viper’s nest of incendiary rhythms, stabbing riffs, and vocal incitement. The pair also come with their own breed of contagion posing as choruses and a lack of thought of using their toxic hooks and inflammatory grooves sparingly.

The refreshing melodic and mellower tones of Fight Fire With Gasoline infuse more new spicery to the album, though that is not to suggest it lacks the same unforgiving attitude in sound and voice as any other proposition with Dead Punk. Thoughts of Penetration come to the fore as the fascinating encounter croons and blazes within its inventive presence before leaving final track Skull Ring to bring it all to a highly satisfying end. The closer is a dark protagonist openly sculpted from the gene pool of seventies punk, The Adverts a suggested spicing, and a bracing and ravenous bruising of unfriendly and irresistible rock ‘n’ roll impressively completing an outstanding provocateur of a release.

Dead Punk is not only one of the finest if not best punk release of recent times but stands on the front line of any emotionally and energetically charged slab of rock ‘n’ roll heard over the past twelve months or so.

Dead Punk is available via STP Records now on CD @ http://www.stprecords.co.uk/page4.htmn and digitally @

www.dragsteruk.com

RingMaster 16/01/2015

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Manilow – Cease and Desist EP

 

 

Manilow

With the aggressive contagion of Fuckshovel, the sonic seduction of PiL, and the raw energy and antagonism of UK Subs, UK punks Manilow make a striking and irresistible entrance with debut EP Cease and Desist. Consisting of four varied and ridiculously compelling songs, the release is a spark lying in wait to ignite the passions of all punks past and presence, as well as the start of a potent and greedily devoured presence for the band.

Tagged as post punk but as much punk, alternative, and noise rock as that equally rich spice, Manilow springs from South London and has seemingly already brewed up a strong buzz around themselves in the year since forming. Now making a fuller and wider announcement of their presence, sound, and intent, the trio of vocalist/guitarist Dean Moston, drummer Gary Cardno, and bassist Paul Chamberlain stir up a nostalgic and distinctly fresh and antagonistic storm with the excellent Cease and Desist EP. Co-produced by Part Chimp’s Tim Cedar and mastered by former Quireboy Guy Bailey, the EP twists and stomps with a creative relish and down to earth attitude which seizes the imagination whilst inflaming old school ears and fresh adrenaline fuelled bodies.

Cease and Desist opens with Missing, an instantly caustic blaze with bluesy riffs and grooves flirting with throaty bass bait and heavily jabbing beats. Unpolished and excitingly abrasive, the track strides with a seventies breath recalling the likes of Angelic Upstarts and Ruts, and a garage punk scuzziness with whispers of the Stooges. It is an instantly and increasingly addictive encounter, easy to add limbs and voice to whilst it roars and provokes.Cease and Desist CD Cover

The following Law Here ventures into the post punk side of the band. From a potent and firmly coaxing cold bassline, guitars respectfully flare up and drizzle psych kissed sonic designs over ears and thoughts. That PiL reference is a strong whiff here with the breeze of keys provided by Chamberlain tempering and seducing that appealing scent. Perpetually colourful in its elegant and reserved but caustically toned flight, the song swirls and growls like something related to early The Horrors and The Damned whilst transfixing ears with constant resourcefulness and magnetism.

Things kick up another gear with the final pair of tracks. Firstly there is the brawling tenacity and charm of Control Issue. From its first second, riffs snarl and badger the senses whilst the beats of Cardno rap with fresh menace. Fuelled by the aggressive tones of Moston, the song seems to grow in attitude and contempt but invites further listener participation with its terrace like bred chorus and sonic invention. It is a rip-roaring treat of a provocation matched by the closing might of Vitamins. A resonating throb of bass announces its intimidating appearance, a predatory lure swiftly wrapped in a sonic acidity from Moston’s guitar. From within the impending assault a rhythmic hypnotism emerges, Cardno soon gripping feet and hunger with a Wire like temptation. It is not too long either before compelling and contagious hooks leap at ears and passions, their simple but irrepressible enticement the lead into a vocally raw chorus. With spicy blues hues brought through the melodic and scorching endeavour of the guitar to flirt with the uncompromising hook driven spine of the song, the closer is a riveting and blissfully satisfying end to an excellent debut.

Punk in all its shades and corners is going through a thrilling adventure right now, especially in the UK, and adding another fresh and delicious string to its bow is Manilow.

The Cease and Desist EP is available from October 10th @ http://manilow.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/Manilow.band/

RingMaster 10/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Oh Captive – Advance Creature EP

Oh Captive Online Promo Shot

Disregarding the deceptive label of post punk seemingly placed upon them, certainly on the accompanying promo sheet, what UK’s Oh Captive actually cast is a magnetic brew of pop punk and alternative rock around a rigorous spine of muscular melodic rock. Presented on their debut EP Advance Creature, the band’s sound it’s an exciting blend of passion and sonic textures drenched in striking craft and undeniable potential. It is a release which sparks fires in the emotions though not always retaining the same intensity, but from start to finish provides a fuse to the imagination and ignites a keen appetite for Oh Captive now and in the future.

The Bristol quartet emerged in 2012 and took little time is awakening an eager following locally before last year striking out around the country with bands such as Sonic Boom Six, UK Subs, Straight Lines, Max Raptor, Sharks, Blitz Kids, I Divide, Fighting With Wire, and Scholars. Comparisons to the likes of Coheed & Cambria and Twin Atlantic have fallen upon the band over time, comparisons relatively easy to understand listening to their four track debut.

The release opens with Beds Of Many Ghosts and immediately has ears entangled with enticing melodies, crisp rhythms, and a coaxing Oh Captive Cover Artworkhook which lays down the first seductive bait. Settling into its confident stride, the track relaxes around the vocals of guitarist Tim Kelly but all the time is creating a virulence of hooks courted by an emerging groove. It is a striking narrative coloured further by thirsty shadows provided by bassist Tom Hitchins and the guitars of Kelly and Curtis King which weave a provocative and contagious web of enterprise. The song is an irresistible encounter, one which has a familiar air to it in many ways but steps beyond that security with bold imagination and a thoughtful swinging design from the impressive rhythms of drummer Chris Hill.

The excellent start is swiftly supported and matched by Terrible Lives. The track again shows no restraint in unleashing contagious hooks and evocative melodies around a persistent rhythmic beckoning which frames the fine tones of Kelly ably supported by those of King. The song teases with guitar and rhythms alone at times; the bass held in reserve but once involved in the suasion opens up the depths and darker textures of songs and songwriting. Like the first track, it creates a tapestry of smart twists and turns employing a skilful persistently changing gait evolving the face of the song whilst brewing an almost toxic groove to wrap the track and subsequently steal the show in a quite scintillating climax. Both songs are strongly memorable but the second really gets under the skin with that deviously addictive groove most of all.

The remaining two songs do not reach the stature of their predecessors though both only cement an impressive introduction to the band. The title track steps up next, its tender melodic start courted by a sonic mist before it expands into a rich and evocative blaze of passionate sounds and lyrical reflections. Perfectly balanced and vibrantly poised, the track courts the senses with a masterfully woven venture of dark rhythms and radiant melodies aligned to similarly captivating vocals, and though it does not entrench itself in the memory as those before, its presence only enhances the promise of the band.

The closing Retreat Being reasserts punchy rhythms and almost rapacious sinews to the skeleton of another track which is just at ease crooning at and seducing ears as it is forging a sturdier imposing persuasion. The bass of Hitchins is especially vocal and melancholic in the track to lead thoughts deep into an emotional intensity but as excellent as the song is again it lacks the spark to impact beyond its departure.

Overall Advance Creature is an EP which potently grips thoughts and emotions throughout. It is a striking entrance by Oh Captives, one soaked in a promise which suggests the band is going to have a rosy future whilst providing plenty of exciting investigations ahead.

The self-released Advanced Creature EP is available digitally from April 28th

www.facebook.com/ohcaptive

8/10

RingMaster 27/04/12014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Boy – Darkest Visions

boy 2

Imagine a mix of The Angelic Upstarts and UK Subs with an equally potent blend of Rocket From The Crypt and Turbonegro, and you have a sense of Czech punks Boy and the body of their outstanding debut album Darkest Visions. Fusing old school British punk with a touch of glam and raw rock ‘n’ roll, band and release make a dramatic entrance to a worldwide market with their Rebel Sound/Voltage Records released rampage. It is an encounter which has a welcome familiarity to its brawl but just as strongly a unique breath and substance which marks out Boy as a band with a potentially mighty future within the world of punk rock. The band name suggests wishy-washy media friendly teen pleasing blandness, what you get is raw antagonistic punk rock of the finest order.

There is little we can reveal about the background of the band with any available bio offered in Czechoslovakian, but they are a quintet from Brno who have previously released a three track 7” EP via Voltage Records last year and before that had a track on the 2012 compilation Brno stále v plamenech (Brno Still In Flames). Their new full-length is produced by Turbonegro’s Tommy Akerholdt and features numerous guests including Ronnie King (who has worked with NOFX, Rancid, Offspring, Snoop Dog) on piano, Shawn Smash (Total Chaos) on guitar, Daniel Marusack (Chancers) on flute, Theresa Kovalová (Calm Season) on cello, and Martin Maleček (ex – Centaury ,SRK) on conga. That piece of info alone tells you the flavoursome design and sounds bursting from within the punk bred tempest, though the album starts off with a more straight forward belligerent sound.

The title track opens things up with a fiery welcome, hooks blazing vociferously within the ears whilst vocal samples bred from 9/11 place front coverthe drama of the release. It is a heavy weight welcome with sinews building up their intent and intensity ready for the following I Need Your Hate. The second track is immediately snarling and gnawing at the senses, riffs bordering on carnivorous and rhythms an imposing barracking. The excellent rough vocals roar and confront with a voracity which matches the passion of the sounds around them, the song further flaming with seductive melodies from within its rapacious onslaught. There is nothing dramatically ground breaking about the song but with impressive individual skills, a scorching solo, and anthemic band vocals it is an irresistible proposition.

Never Break Us Down binds the imagination next with an instant addictive groove, a lure aligned to numerous sharp hooks and that again virulent anthem seeded suasion which already the band proves they are expert at sculpting. The resourceful romp offers that earlier mentioned RFTC comparison as well as holding a touch of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones to its catchy temptation, both elements re-occurring across the album and adding extra spice to the outstanding raucous charge of punk ’n’ roll. It is a mix which lights up Back For More to a different degree, the band grazing the senses with greater causticity and ravenous breath. Again there is a compelling contagion to the track which has attention and appetite impatient for more which Stay Free more than happily provides. Abrasing ears with acidic sonic swipes from the first second along with an evocatively brewing wash of keys, the track broadens its riveting narrative with a wonderful dark cello croon and atmospheric shadows. It is like a mix of UK band The Duel and Russian punks Biting Elbows, an invasive seduction which subsequently stretches further into a NOFX like imposing. The track is quite glorious, pushing the invention and songwriting of the band whilst still entrenched in their epidemically appealing seventies seeded punk.

Stop Talking To Me stalks and riles up the imagination next, riffs on a chunky prowl speared by predatory rhythms. The vocals are vitriolic in delivery and malevolent in intent, a seemingly different voice leading the intrusive belligerence as the track squares up to the senses and emotions. It is a great strike but one which ends far too soon, only one minute forty seconds in length, and closes on a frustrating and actually very annoying fade-out. These grievances are soon forgotten though as Drop The Bomb scores ears with an acrid flame of guitar punctuated by keys and wisps of melodic guitar invention. The song strides purposefully with a slow predation, absorbing imagination and the by now constantly submissive passions. It is another total captivation revealing yet more of the depths of sound and invention within Boy, the unveiling continued with the heavy rock exploits of It was the Alcohol. The track is prime punk and hard rock with glam devilry and metal toned hunger, and impossibly addictive especially its infectious chorus which is bait only the deaf or the six feet under could resist joining in with.

The album comes to a close with firstly the thrilling quarrelsome bluster and catchiness of Fashion Police then the incendiary glory of Just A Number. The last track is an aggressive scrap of spellbinding hooks, fierce riffs, and punchy rhythms all merged into a rabid contagious punk spat, a last lingering triumph to sear the sound and name of Boy in to the memory and passions.

Darkest Visions is one of the punk glories of recent years and a potent suggestion that Boy has all the armoury and invention to be a real force in punk and rock rioting across numerous horizons to come.

Darkest Visions is available through Rebel Sound and Voltage Records now as a black vinyl release with a 12 -page booklet and in a deluxe version clad in silver foiled artwork.

https://www.facebook.com/PUNKROCKHOOLIGANS

http://www.boy-punk.com/

9/10

RingMaster 19/04/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Ambassadors of Shalom – Abdicate Self

Ambassadors of Shalom

     Thirteen tracks of mouthwatering old school punk with a crate load of hooks and barbed riffs to entice any appetite, Abdicate Self the new album from UK Christian punks Ambassadors of Shalom is a thrilling introduction to the band and its blaze of Evangelistic punk rock. Hailing from the North West of England, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Neil Roddy, bassist/vocalist Pete Field, and drummer Joe Wilson challenge and evoke thoughts with a hungry punk invention which just as easily ignites the imagination and emotions. The songs on the album are well seeded and versed in the ways of original punk rock, each providing a thoroughly satisfying anthemic bait, but also each comes with an individual adventure to bring an identity singular to the band.

    Ambassadors of Shalom was formed in the January of 2012 after an acoustic gig in Stoke community centre and from there took little time in grabbing the attention and passions of local fans. In August the same year, the band signed with Californian label Thumper Punk Records with Abdicate Self the new impressive offering. The album is one of those enjoyable encounters which seems familiar but just as potently finds a new intriguing presence. From the opening track Astray, the Tim Davies (Brohnis Music) recorded and produced release picks on the ears and imagination with a flurry of incisive and virulently effective hooks and riffs. The first song makes for an energetic antagonist from its first breath, guitars stirring up the air whilst the bass lays down a shadowed prowl which only recruits an immediate appetite. Crisp rhythms around the lead and backing calls of Roddy and Field respectively next engage before the song pulls all into an enthused riot of invention and contagion. It is a masterful and irresistible lure into the release, an invitation forcibly backed by the remaining vivacious body of the album.

     This Ain’t Home stokes up the hunger next with a starting anthemic bait of rhythms which the guitar subsequently crafts a 1908240_671390592925450_835805858_ncaustic sonic wash with bluesy flames onto. It is a sultry raw sound complemented by the charge of clean riffery and rhythmic enticement which splits the blaze of sonic heat. Though not as potent as its predecessor the song keeps the album rigidly in focus with ease before both Jesus Said and United We Stand offer their scuzz kissed storms of punk evocation. The first is a scowling yet warm mesh of stirring noise which crosses the senses like a mix of Angelic Upstarts and The Adicts whilst the second is an equally pleasing street punk brawl of anthemic vocals and coarse alluring riffs. Both songs have an intensity which draws attention and thoughts even if slightly lacking the richness of barbs and grooves found elsewhere upon Abdicate Self.

    Both the UK Subs/Crisis like Break ‘Em Out and the groove veined Opposite The Enemy keeps things boiling nicely, the pair forceful yet respectful slices of resourceful punk urgency and invention, before the release flicks up a gear starting with the ridiculously catchy We Don’t Need It. One of those songs you only need to hear the first line of the chorus once to be bitten and soon joining in with its declaration, it is a brief but meaty slab of punk beckoning setting up the emotions for the likes of the excellent Death By Love and equally impressive Blamethrower. The first of this pair scowls and stomps with a raw causticity to the vocals and a Sex Pistols like draw to its sound, and though arguably the song is the least unique on the album it is one of the most potent and eventful, not forgetting thrilling. Its successor loaded with the strongest imagination of the whole release is just as compelling, a Melvins like texture grazing the senses whilst hooks and seductive temptation teases like a mix of The Vibrators and Suburban Studs.

    A punk version of the hymn Nothing But The Blood follows and is an exceptional and unexpected treat before the album’s finest moments arrive, starting with the outstanding Julia. Hooks and a rhythmic dance of sinew soaked in ripe energy kicks things off before the song settles into an inciting and persistently shifting venture. Its groove and riotous hooks easily reminds of the Ruts whilst the surrounding less intensive but eager rock brew around accentuates the pull of those other incisive elements.

    The album is concluded by the exciting and rousing Victory before finally the combative and antagonist glory of the album’s best track, It Is Finished brings one impressively enjoyable encounter to a close. Abdicate Self is not only Christian punk at its best, but for anyone wary of that tag, it is punk rock at its best. Ambassadors of Shalom have unleashed a debut which sees the band closely tailing most other frontline punk provocateurs.

https://www.facebook.com/AmbassadorsOfShalom

8.5/10

RingMaster 12/02/2014

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James Stevenson – Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over

JS

With a long list of notable and successful musical exploits on his CV, guitarist James Stevenson finally uncages his debut solo album, Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over and a richly pleasing sultry slice of blues bred rock it proves to be. Hailing from London, the man has enhanced and fired up more bands, tours, and records than runs made by English batsmen this winter, but it is surprising in many ways that it is only now that his first full-length has emerged to make a persuasion, something it does with skilful ease.

Stevenson first made his mark when joining UK punks Chelsea in 1977, his addition to the band not the last time he would be called and thrust into the deep end when joining outfits over the years. Picking out some highlights on his long resume, Stevenson from playing on the band’s first two albums, numerous singles, and undertaking many tours around the UK and Europe, moved to featuring on Charlie Harper of the UK Subs first solo single Barmy London Army before joining Generation X. This was a short lived time as Idol a few months after quit the band to start his own solo career in the US. Stevenson then played in the emerging Kim Wilde’s backing band and formed Hot Club with ex-Pistol/Rich Kid Glen Matlock and ex Deaf School / Original Mirrors singer Steve Allen. Already we are missing out plenty of other projects and artists the guitarist was involved with to this point and will continue to as further choice moments in his career saw him after the band’s split joining Gene Loves Jezebel in 1985 to replace the band’s guitarist who had a nervous breakdown as their first US tour was underway. Filling in at the eleventh hour, Stevenson joined the band permanently at the end of the tour playing and helping write subsequent albums such as Discover, The House Of Dolls which contained The Motion Of Love, the band’s biggest UK hit, and Kiss Of Life which was released after the twins Jay and Michael Aston fell out and the latter departed the band. With the world of GLJ rumbling on with releases and messy disputes between the twins to simplify things, Stevenson also played with The Cult on their 1994 world tour, The Alarm on shows and recordings, on Gene October’s solo album which he also produced, and was part of the reforming of Chelsea.  This is just the surface of all the work Stevenson has been involved in over the years leading up to and around Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over, shows and tours with The Cult, GLJ and The International Swingers which also features vocalist Gary Twinn (Supernaut), bassist Glen Matlock, and drummer Clem Burke (Blondie, Slinky Vagabond, Magic Christian), on-going adventures.

Stevenson’s album confirms and builds on the promise of the The Shape Of Things To Come EP which came out earlier this year, opening track Suzi’s Problem an immediate heat of tempting melodic flames and sizzling persuasion. The gentle blues rock swagger which drives its breath is a compelling enticement soon flourishing to greater effect with smouldering vocals and harmonies alongside shimmering expressive keys. The potent guitar style of Stevenson shines within the evocative textures woven to add to the impressive and riveting start, an introduction which is gently anthemic and magnetically absorbing.

The following Go Mister! takes things up another plateau, the initial guitar bred bait and coaxing vocals harmonies provided as across the whole album by The Sexpistilettos, a shadowy radiance. There is a definite gothic rock air to the song, a blend of Sisters Of Mercy/March Violets seduction with a punkier intent fused into a stirring melodic rock allurement. The song is a masterful and irresistible encounter which lingers and almost alone provides the album with a potential heady stature amongst the year’s wealth of rock albums.

Both the blues rich Twilight Riders with its great heavy nagging riffs and melodic passion, and the slowly burning Come On People stroke the imagination, the second finding a funk bred lilt to its tempting which is accentuated in Give It Up, a track which shuffles and dances with the emotions through agitated rhythms and exotic melodic enterprise from keys and guitar, not forgetting the ever mesmeric harmonies. Though the songs along with the emotive Why Am I Still Waiting For You and the equally evocative Been A Long Time Now, fail to find the heights of the opening few songs they leave a healthy appetite eager to feast on the album time and time again.

Another major highlight comes in the sinewed shape of Naturally Wired, a track sculpted with a deliciously growling bass and fiery sonic endeavour cast into a thrilling dark and absorbing stretch of intensive rock ‘n’ roll. There is also an air of hard and glam rock wrapping the grooves and glowing keys which only ignites the passions further as the heat of the track sizzles the air.

Completed by the gentle temptations of the title track and the acoustic led Been A Long Time Now, two songs which again give imagination and hunger enough to find strong satisfaction within, Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over is a thoroughly enjoyable presence for ears and thoughts. To be fussy the vocals of Stevenson do not always manage to rival the sounds and there is a bigger leap between the pinnacles of the album and the other still magnetic tracks than one would wish, but the enjoyment it offers is full and long term. It may have taken time to get there but James Stevenson has made his debut album one to enthuse over and recommend wholeheartedly.

http://www.jamesstevenson.info/

8/10

RingMaster 10/12/2013

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