Johnny Wore Black – Ultra Violent Light

Pretty much enamoured with the Johnny Wore Black sound and creative adventure since its first couple of singles way back in 2012, the past two to three years have been seemingly rather quiet for the band. It has as ever been a busy time for the project’s creator and vocalist/writer Jay Coen though, the man throwing his stuntman body and audacity around in a number of features you may have heard of which include Game Of Thrones, Ready Player One, Spectre, Hitman’s Bodyguard, Rogue One, Spiderman-Far From Home and more. Now the band has returned with new album Ultra Violent Light, a simply compelling release which shows that Coen has also been rather busy these past months growing, honing, and exploring his project’s already established musical prowess.

Released in two parts over the course of 2014, Johnny Wore Black’s debut album, Walking Underwater, deservedly drew acclaim and a major flood of fans the way of the band. It was a tapestry of melody wired metal and rapacious rock as contagious as it was imaginative and emotively provocative. Ultra Violent Light is more of the same yet a whole new realm of craft and invention across every aspect making its predecessor so captivating.

Coen’s continuing link up with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson is as alive and potent as it has ever been within Ultra Violent Light too, for which he has also enlisted the creative courage of Earthtone 9 members in drummer Simon Hutchby and guitarist Gez Walton, the latter also producing the album alongside David Bottrill (Tool, Stone Sour, Dream Theater), to realise his new collection of songs.  Additional enterprise from keyboardist Cameron Daniel William Hill, cellist Kate Shortt, vocalist Adam Sedgewick, and bassist/vocalist George Donahue only adds to the bold and imaginative canvas of the release.

Ultra Violent Light opens up with latest single Gun True Love and instantly had attention wrapped up as Coen’s vocals come entangled in the evocative wires cast by the guitar. It is a coaxing which respectfully nags but with an intimation of darkness which expands as the track erupts with muscular dexterity. The tone of Ellefson’s bassline is growling manna to these ears but just as magnetic is the web of melodic enticement and vocal harmonics which tempts from within the more volatile climate of sound and emotion.

Straight away there is a richer depth and feel to songwriting and music in comparison to previous releases, a realisation compounded by next up One Sexy Scar. Carrying drama from its very first note, the song breaks from its slightly tempestuous entrance into a composed stroll with warm keys and melodic caresses. Even so there is a perpetual lining of volatility which simmers and boils up as the mercurial character and air of the track persistently enthrals before the following Plastic Ocean creates its own tantalising yet stormy captivation of sound and character. It is a moment of seduction as threatening and imposing as it is flirtatious, in so many ways a predator and relentlessly alluring.

Honey Club is similar in nature with the big swings of Hutchby an instinctive incitement even when adding restraint to their trespass and the wiry intimation of Walton’s guitar as provocative as the grizzled voice of Ellefson’s bass. Another track bewitchingly capricious, Coen’s ever individual tones croon and richly lures the listener into the heart of the song, a contender for best track with its unapologetically resourceful touch and darkly brooding imagination.

Through the likes of the arguably less bold but just as infectious and dark RIP Mr Man and Boy Soldier with its melancholic grace, emotive intimacy, and turbulence corrupted tranquillity, band continues to expand the emotion fuelled storytelling and creative emprise of the release. It is an adventure which reveals more by the listen, the deeper into its heart you venture the more it expresses its richness and agility as proven yet again by the similarly composed Southern Storm, a song with a seemingly intensely personal heart amidst a military rhythmic bearing. It has echoes of Big Country to its inventive scenery and an Americana/folk whisper to its breeze in a proposition becoming more powerful and compelling with each listen.

Broken uncages an anthemic tempest of metal infested rock ‘n’ roll next, the track an robustly eventful and muscular affair with a virulent catchiness and evocative twists of thoughtful calm to its armoury while the album’s following title track borders on the carnivorous with its rhythmic spine and senses prowling riffs, but a predatory stalking aligned to vocal and melodic charisma lined with emotional angst.

The album closes with Ultimate Fighter which deceptively opens with Coen’s magnetic tones alongside Hutchby’s spirited beats under a sonic sigh aligned to a shadow courting grumble of bass. It subsequently ignites in a chained tempest with beats exploring even greater tenacity as guitars flame and vocals roar. It never explodes into the beast expected but becomes a just as dynamic and imposing anthem with invention in its enterprise and zeal in its release of that adventure.

It is truly an outstanding finale to a release which thrilled from the off but really came to life and magnificence by the subsequent ventures into its imaginative lair, becoming a seriously must explore encounter along the way.

Ultra Violent Light is out now via EMP Label Group across most stores.

Pete RingMaster 31/08/2018

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Johnny Wore Black – Comfy Slippers


Taken from the breath-taking album Walking Underwater Pt. 2 which gave British melodic/alternative rock an inspiring and thrilling fresh breath last year, the new video/single from Johnny Wore Black whilst making another potent nudge at newcomers to the band’s stirring release, reminds the rest of us just how provocatively powerful the band’s sound is. Comfy Slippers also confirms just how creative and exciting it is too and why Johnny Wore Black has been stirring up fans and media alike around the world these past couple of years.

The band is the brainchild of London based songwriter/producer and stuntman (Les Miserables, The Dark Knight Rises, Fast and Furious 6, Fury) Jay, and a vehicle for his invention and imagination which has been no stranger to acclaim thanks to the previously mentioned album and its predecessor, Walking Underwater Pt. 1 the previous year. With a wealth of attention grabbing and appetite igniting singles around both releases too, some of those and a few within both albums co-written with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson as well as also featuring his renowned musical talent, Johnny Wore Black has been an emerging force awakening not only the British music scene but also a far wider and attentive global spotlight. Comfy Slippers quickly reveals why, its anthemic and equally intimate resources inescapable evidence to their increasing success.

Awakening in a thick flaming of melodic guitar around welcoming riffs and crisp beats, the song soon settles into a magnetic enticement led by the smooth and emotive vocal tones of Jay. His voice is a gentle caress but with a steely edge which perfectly reflects the emotional drama and clarity of the lyrical narrative. Musically the song holds check allowing voice and words to paint the stirring picture but all the time it is also building an equally potent and tempestuous air. This only reinforces the strength of the song’s heart whilst creating its own captivating tapestry of sonic enterprise and striking adventure.

Comfy Slippers is an irresistible slice of Johnny Wore Black for fans and a masterful doorway into the creatively incendiary world of the band for newcomers. If you are yet to take that step then the band’s new single is the perfect and thrilling opportunity with its outstanding video, which we will leave for you all to explore without spoilers, an equally great starting place.

Comfy Slippers is unveiled June 15th with additional track and video Firefly also available.

RingMaster 15/06/2015

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Johnny Wore Black – Gift of Desperation


Continuing a powerful emergence with UK melodic metal, Johnny Wore Black is poised to release new single Gift of Desperation, a song which cements the project as one exciting and creatively potent encounter leaving thoughts and imagination aflame and pleasure a fiery reward.

Johnny Wore Black is the creation of London songwriter/producer Johnny Jay, the former leading force of The Jay Harley Band. Across previous singles and tracks, Jay has built a formidable presence garnering strong acclaim which the new release only will add to one assumes. Renowned for his work with musical collaborators Jay linked up once again for Gift of Desperation with David Ellefson from Megadeth who contributed to previous releases Up In Flames and debut single All The Rage, a track released in conjunction with Help For Heroes to raise funds for Help for Heroes and Combat Stress. Co-written by Jay and Ellefson, the single out on October 15th is an enthralling teaser for forthcoming album Walking Underwater which is out early next year. It is also being released to accompany Ellefson’s biography, My Life With Deth, an eye-opening no punches pulled account of his journey from thrash metal legend to Lutheran minister.

The track is a provocative instigator of emotive and passionate reactions, its presence a vibrant mesmeric blend of intense shadows and gift-of-desperation-johnny-wore-black-cover-1600pxmetallic sinews around melodic flames which inspire adventure and contemplation in thought and emotive response. A pulsating dark lure opens up the song behind a singular guitar beckon, their tempting soon joined by a throaty bass call and an intimidating yet welcoming atmosphere. It is a relatively reserved introduction but one with plenty to provoke and suggest a tempest is brewing behind the excellent vocals of Jay and richly hued guitar play. Though the song never does explode into the hinting storm it never allows senses and thoughts to rest, continually engaging them with a riveting melodic tonic and rhythmic incitement which pulls the strongest hunger in their direction.

Themed by an exploration ‘of the harsh realities of finding a way out of the darkness’, the Grammy award winning producer David Bottrill mixed Gift of Desperation is a smouldering and irresistible bait to the artist and forthcoming album, another temptation which surely will see the first full length from Johnny Wore Black under the strongest anticipation.

The single is accompanied by a video also featuring David Ellefson which was filmed in London.


RingMaster 18/09/2013

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Johnny Wore Black: Up in Flames

Up In Flames, the second single from Brighton based band Johnny Wore Black, is one of those songs which just ignite a lustful need to know and hear more about the artist behind them. It is a stirring slab of rock music which fires up (I could not resist) the imagination whilst thrilling the senses with sinewy strength and melodic enterprise.

Formerly The Jay Harley Band, and led by Jay (Johnny) Coen, Johnny Wore Black found great critical acclaim with debut single All The Rage, a track released in conjunction with Help For Heroes to raise funds for Help for Heroes, and Combat Stress, and given a remix re-release for Remembrance Day 2012. The track brought them strong attention and coverage through the likes of Metal Hammer, Revolver, Music Week and ITV News. The new single is sure to enjoy the same responses to its muscular and well-crafted thoughtful enterprise whilst brewing great anticipation for a forthcoming album.

Like its predecessor, Up In Flames features David Ellefson from Megadeth on bass, his distinctive touch adding extra spice to a flavoursome treat. The song rises into life like feisty embers, its sonic emergence behind a precise guitar opening into a restrained stroll. Riffs are firm and compulsive yet reserved alongside beckoning vocals and teasing melodic mastery, all enthralling as they wait for the lighting of the touch paper to the surging energy which fuels the infectious chorus. The track has the same immense presence of Deftones atmospherically fused with the warm elegance of A Perfect Circle, the impactful passion of Tool, and the melodic hunger of a Soundgarden. It is a strikingly impressive sound which feeds all appetites for muscular rock through to powerful and passionate incitement. As expected the hypnotic invention of Ellefson stands out but no more so than the fiery guitar craft and the anthemic presence to the chorus and excellent vocals as a whole. The climactic moments building to the incendiary outbursts too are equally contagious and irresistible, making the song an insatiable pleasure from start to finish.

As mentioned Up in Flames alone makes the eagerness for debut album Walking Underwater intense but after hearing the outstanding track Noise, a new song from the band which was sent through with the single, the wait to taste its delights will be without doubt impatient. There are a few bands in the UK on the brink of major recognition at home and worldwide, to that list you can now add Johnny Wore Black.

RingMaster 25/11/2012

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