Nigromante – Black Magic Night

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Initially breeding uncertainty about its presence, Black Magic Night the debut album from Spanish metallers Nigromante emerges as a rather captivating confrontation. It has flaws and at times struggles to make the fullest persuasion but equally it earns an appetite from the emotions which means it will be no stranger to regular attention. Unapologetically standing in the midst of N.W.O.B.H.M. and eighties US metal, band and album create a proposition which holds no surprises for fans of that era but plenty for them to get their teeth and neck muscles into.

Hailing from Madrid, Nigromante began in 2003 and over the years has become a sizeable proposition in Spanish metal if not yet breaking into a wider arena. Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Angel Muñoz and drummer Jorge Serrano and taking influences from the likes of Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Witchfinder General, Anvil, Motorhead, Venom, and Barón Rojo into their invention, Nigromante has bred a strong live reputation since forming and shared stages with bands such as Grim Reaper, Paradox, Midnight Priest, and Virus. Now after a trio of demos between 2004 and 2006, the band finally unleash a full-length encounter courtesy of Shadow Kingdom Records and though it is not exactly going to blow you away or set a new marker for old school heavy metal, it taunts and lingers long enough after the event to stand out and tempt a regular rampage with its accomplished rabidity.

It is fair to say that Black Magic Night does not start off with a bang, the first couple of tracks getting the job done and setting a2300647838_10the scene without raising any sparks in the imagination or emotions, though as it progresses the album addresses that with contagious enterprise. Nevertheless both the opener Heavy Metal Age and the following title track trigger and grab enough interest to allow the release to expand its presence. The first of the pair slaps the ears with heavy duty rhythms and charged riffs from the start, and though arguably forges a formula engagement satisfies as sinews ripple and sonic craft whips around the ears. The vocals of Muñoz also take a little time to adapt too, his grizzled tones strong but wandering with notes at times but again like the album they seem to blossom as the record progresses. The second track stomps in with nostrils flaring and riffs lashing the air whilst the rhythms of Serrano firmly steer the song. Like its predecessor it satisfies without leaving a lasting impression but it is impossible to deny its presence as again it does the job needed to ensure the listener stays on course with the album.

Things move up a level with In Nomine Pater, the initial melodic coaxing instantly soaked in strong potency whilst the familiar but infectious groove teasing behind the coarse vocals soon has the imagination and feet playing with its lure. That familiarity covers the whole song eventually but to a positive effect with comparisons to Anvil a definite overriding but not displeasing thought. The track twists and tempts with the guitar and bass almost wanton in their appetite to thrill and seduce the imagination. Muñoz is a skilful musician and though he like Serrano never gets or takes the song into intricate areas it is easy to see the craft and potential at work.

     Saturnalia of Blood with its predatory riffs and preying basslines provides an appetising moment similar in appeal to the opening pair before making way for the moments the album excels, starting with False Idol. The track is a masterful prowl of ears and imagination; guitar and bass stalking from the start whilst the drums punctuate their goading with forceful probing. It is a mighty start which explodes into greater heights as ridiculously addictive grooves and rapacious energy swarms all over the senses. Again there is something recognisable to the song, if indefinable, but with not for the first time a great breath of thrash urging on the intent and a magnetic cast of melodies and hooks lining up to incite the passions, the song is a scintillating provocation. It is immediately matched by the following pair of Syndicate of Crime and Soy Un Macarra, the first equipped with a Cape Crusader like toxicity and antagonistic predation plus a more than punkish snarl whilst its successor takes those same elements in a different guise and to greater infectious intensity to create a punk/metal track which would not feel completely out of place in a playlist from Fuckshovel or the Ruts. The songs steer the album to much greater heights whilst showing that the band has the capability to fuse plenty of elements into their classic metal assault.

     Satan Death Squad is another to walk the release’s highest plateau, the song a more standard old school metal slab of muscle but one with riffs and sonic intrigue which continues the hold on the imagination and emotions forged by the previous encounters. Definitely the quartet of songs takes the album from being an ok release into a beast which demands continued attention. Closing on Summoning Spell an underwhelming short instrumental, Black Magic Night from a shaky start turns into an album you just want a little bit more of again and again. It is not a classic or likely to threaten your favourite aural tipples but its pleases and entertains at times as if it reads your every want from a metal release and that is always well-worth checking out.

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8/10

RingMaster 07/01/2014

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Christian Mistress: Possession

Deep within its vibrant heart Possession the new album from US metalers Christian Mistress has a little siren at work. Once the release has laid its splendid and full charms upon the ear there is an irresistible urge and need to repeatedly throw oneself back into its impressive swirling blends of classic rock, heavy metal, and stoner rock. You can fight it, offer a well meant resistance but Possession always wins out with sounds that light up the ear and riffs that excite the heart.

The new album is the follow-up to the 2010 critically acclaimed debut Agony & Opium from the Olympia, Washington quintet and their debut on Relapse Records. Long awaited the album is a sure bet to elevate the band to greater heights and draw a growing swarm of new souls eager to be touched by their well crafted rock sounds. Inspired by and spiced by flavours past and present the release offers moments and elements first seeded in the likes of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, and Witchfinder General. They are not another band just copying the sound though or simply playing homage, Christian Mistress use these influences to fire up their own distinct invention and also add in a Blood Ceremony like stoner swagger that is tinged with psychedelic tones and punk rock. The last is less defined but it is there and offers a bite and attitude to stir up and impress.

From the opening track Over and Over the band reveals their cards and skills. Vocalist Christine Davis fills the song with a vocal that breathes energy and attitude and a lot of the punk feel stems from her delivery, as here where her tones recall early Siouxsie Sioux. Alongside her the guitars of Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel ignite sparks in the ear with their cutting play and enormous riffs whilst bassist Johnny Wulf is immense as his heavy lines rumble and intimidate. With drummer Reuben Storey equally formidable and impressive the band gives notice of what is ahead though not yet of how good things will get as the opener though agreeably strong is relatively unsurprising.

Pentagram and Crucifix is instantly a different beast to the opener. Big burly rhythms and heavy riffs to match accost the ear whilst a guitar litters the surroundings with acidic sounds which invites one into the throbbing mass. Again Davis delivers her words with a punk spite that is excellent and a great counter to the mesmeric play and a colleague to the eager might that crowds the ear. Christian Mistress never demand attention on any of their tracks instead they let the music give the invitation but their power does feel as if it is standing over one to ensure nothing is missed, the riffs like bouncers to the skilled melodic creations within .

The album is firmly consistent with songs like the striking Conviction, the Sabbath riffed The Way Beyond, and the prog/pixies meld of Haunted Hunted very rewarding. The latter of the three sounds strange on paper but musically that is what hits the ear to great satisfaction. There are songs which go further to leave one breathless and smiling ear to ear like the previously mentioned Pentagram and Crucifix. The title track is the biggest thrill on the album, the moment its riffs slowly crawl through the ear as Davis serenades with seductive grace it captivates the senses. The song unwinds like a pole dancer, tempting and teasing with a blissfully wanton groove and eagerly sensuous guitars. The track never breaks free to run riot remaining a seduction to the end enticing and flirting with the senses whilst Davis offers the steel with more punk styled vocals and harmonies.

Black to Gold and There is Nowhere come close to matching this stunning track, the first with a chunky moody bass that lifts the already enthused riffs, scorching solos, and anthemic flow is a tasty treat whilst the second driven by a heartbeat rhythm from Storey caresses the ear with sparkling guitars and vocals before building into a climactic heavy rock crescendo of bustling riffs and dazzling progressive guitar invention.

Possession is an excellent album, a constant pleasure no matter the amount of times one lets its impressive charms play with the senses. It also still feels like the band has a lot more to come within them, so watch this space and hold onto your hats as there is an exciting and irresistible creative storm brewing ahead and it is called Christian Mistress.

RingMaster 27/02/2012

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Interview with Jon Rossi of Pilgrim

Bringing forth the essence of “true doom metal”, Rhode Island metalers Pilgrim are about to unleash a brute of an impressive album in the shape of Misery Wizard. A monster of a release it is an intense assault of black dirges, resonating ravenous riffs and blistering caustic melodies that feeds and excites the senses. We had the pleasure of asking Jon Rossi from Pilgrim about the band and Misery Wizard.

Hello and thank you for taking time to talk to The Ringmaster Review.

Hails, and you are very welcome.

Could you please first introduce the band and tell us how you all met and the band started.

We are PILGRIM, a doom metal band from Rhode Island, USA. We all met in high school and bonded over good art and music.

What was the inspiration to start the band and for your music as a whole?

We all loved doom metal and wanted to start a project of our own, something that expressed ourselves uniquely but also paid tribute to our favorite bands. PILGRIM was born fairly quickly.

Your sound is fuelled by and the band’s intent is to ‘resurrect’ true doom metal. Firstly how do you feel about modern doom metal then?

Don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of great ‘doom metal’ bands around now, but we feel like, ESPECIALLY here in the States, ‘doom metal’ has become a blanket term to describe everything from stoner metal to funeral metal. We feel like we have a very good idea of what real doom metal should be and what it sounds like. In that regard, we are very unhappy with the current state of doom.

So is this intention as much down to your unrest and disgust at the way the genre has gone as it is simply music that you enjoy and are inspired by?

Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better, thank you.

Are you finding a ready audience for true doom metal or most need reminding of and showing its might first?

It seems like Europeans really love it and understand it and people here in the US are a bit… taken aback? Perhaps they are frightened and insecure about the fact that I am not fucking screaming into the microphone. Or maybe their fragile ears can’t handle a note suspended for more than a few seconds. Most DEFINITELY need reminding. Forgive us for not conforming to an over-popular norm.

Are there any current doom metal bands you would spend time on listening to?

Sure. Good old Pentagram and Saint Vitus are still kicking, touring and releasing new records. We love Electric Wizard and Blood Ceremony. Ramesses are godly as well.

Has doom metal always been the direction you had as musicians even before the band?

Not quite. We always wanted to make heavy, powerful, dark music, but before we found doom metal we really had no direction. My guitar playing and song writing really took off after I discovered bands that I finally could to relate to.

You are Rhode Island based, is there a vibrant metal scene there or do you have to generally travel further afield for gigs etc?

Rhode Island is a joke, generally speaking. Don’t get me wrong, some amazing bands have come from Rhode Island, but currently it’s “music scene” (if you could call it that) is a bit… I can’t quite find the word. Perhaps “boring” is a good choice.

You are about to release your impressive debut album Misery Wizard, what are the emotions on the ‘eve’ of its release?

I can’t wait to hold a copy of the vinyl in my hands. It’s taken so very very long. We are just excited the process is over with and we can continue to look forward to our new projects.

How long has the album been in the making?

It is a collection of our earliest songs, so probably about two years, since the beginning of the band. We weren’t sure what exactly we’d be releasing for the first record, it sort of just fell together on its own.

Is there a particular track or moment on the album that gives you the deepest satisfaction?

Although it is the least “doomy” track on the record, I love the song Adventurer. It’s a fantastical auto-biography of the band and our adventures and creeds. It is just so powerful to me.

Can you give us some insight into the band’s writing process?

I get inspired by a particular idea and I try my best to make a riff that represents the feeling of that thought. It’s like painting with music. Then I bring it to practice and the guys help me make it into a song by giving it backbone. I enjoy the process. They give me feedback and constructive criticism. I value their opinions highly.

The songs within Misery Wizard are epic in length and stature, how much is predetermined and how much is it a songs natural evolution that gives them this grand imposing feel?

You are an observant listener! I always say, the songs aren’t REALLY that ‘long’, on paper they are quite short, it is just the speed and style that make them come out so lengthy. It’s an acquired taste. A lot of old secular music was like this. It didn’t feel long to them, we just think faster today.

Lyrically the songs are diverse, what are the things that inspire and trigger the lyrics?

I am inspired by a lot of fantasy, whether it’s games or movies or books. Some of the lyrics are introspective, but I prefer songs that paint beautifully epic pictures. Sword and sorcery is my favorite domain! I suppose some of it also comes from a love of the occult and magic ritual, but recently we’ve been moving away from this style because of its redundancy in doom metal today.

One imagines live your sound is even more powerful and overwhelming than on the album, how easy was it to get that intensity on the recording and still keep the clarity too?

It was easy! Making the music intense and full of emotion is something that PILGRIM is exceptionally good at. A lot of it has to do with Krolg’s drumming, he is excellent at building walls of feeling and then smashing them down. When we recorded the record, it only took us three days (the first day being mostly drums). We are (usually) very well rehearsed.

Could you tell us about the excellent artwork on the album?

It was done by a wonderful Englishmen named Paul McCarol. We wanted to a parody of a Renascence-style painting using elements and themes from the record. We worked really closely with Paul to come up with that image. A lot of people claim that we are attempting to rip off the Cathedral style artwork. This simply isn’t true. We can clearly see how someone would think this, but it’s pure coincidence. We don’t really listen to very much Cathedral.

Does 2012 have dates and tours ahead to help promote the album etc, and any chance Europe will see Pilgrim this year?

Europe will see PILGRIM this year, we will be playing the “Heavy Days in Doom Town” festival in Copenhagen, Denmark and also a prior show in Oslo, the details of which are a bit hazy as of now.  We will be hitting the road here in the states starting March 1st, hoping to wind up down in Dallas, TX to play the SxSW festival.

What are your plans beyond Misery Wizard?

To go to Japan. We fucking love Japan.

A great many thanks for talking with us, have you any last words or thoughts?

Only Reverend Bizarre is real. Fuck everyone.

And finally can you give recommendations to Doom Metal fans of whom other than Pilgrim they should check out to explore the true doom metal sound?

Reverend Bizarre, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Revelation, Ramesses, Electric Wizard, The Wizar’d, Black Hole, Witchfinder General, EARLY Cathedral, EARLY Warning, and check out some newer bands Ice Dragon and Windhand.        

Misery Wizard is unleashed via Metal Blade Records on February 14th

Read the Misery Wizard review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/pilgrim-misery-wizard/

Ringmaster 10/02/2012

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