Album Review – Ritual Aesthetic / Wound Garden (2018)

One of Denver’s most promising metal outfits returns with a hard-hitting album of terrifying digital aggression, blending melodic dance rhythms, harsh metal guitars and dark experimental noise atmospheres.

Formed in 2013 in Denver, Colorado, in the United States by Sean Ragan (also known as Sean Von Helvete), who was drumming for Los Angeles-based Industrial/Melodic Black Metal band Dawn of Ashes at that time, Industrial Metal outfit Ritual Aesthetic returns in 2018 with their second full-length installment titled Wound Garden, not only a follow-up to their 2014 debut release Decollect, but more important than that, a highly recommended album of terrifying digital aggression for fans of the most demented form of industrial music, blending melodic dance rhythms, harsh metal guitars, aggressive EBM styled vocals and dark experimental noise atmospheres.

What was born as a solo project by Sean quickly evolved into a full-bodied mechanized beast, now featuring the aforementioned Sean on vocals, Grant Nachbur on the guitar, Daniel Combs on bass and Jeremy Portz on drums, delivering high-quality, berserk Industrial Metal through their sharp instruments. Written by Sean and Jeremy together with Alex Crescioni and Ron Hutchinson, engineered by Sean in Denver, and mixed and mastered by Alex Crescioni at Stygian Sound in Los Angeles, Wound Garden is a step forward in the career of Ritual Aesthetic, showcasing a focused and talented band that definitely knows how to effectively travel between the worlds of electronic and metal music, always sounding fresh, vibrant and insane for our total delectation.

An ominous and mechanized intro named Stasis kicks off the album by setting the stage for the sonic onrush entitled Life Amnesia, where the quartet gives a lesson in lunacy, blasting piercing, industrialized sounds spearheaded by Sean and his eccentric roars. Furthermore, the song’s background electronic effects help boost its impact even more, not to mention Jeremy’s assembly line-like pounding beats. And The Analog Flesh feels almost like an ode to the thunderous music by giants like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and Fear Factory, blending the most powerful elements from Industrial Metal and Neue Deutsche Härte, with the guitar lines by Grant being at the same time very subtle but as venomous as hell.

And it looks like their wicked party has no time to end, as they blast another dense and disruptive Industrial Metal tune titled Divided, where the guitars and background keys create an interesting paradox of sounds while Sean continues his ode to madness through his raspy growls; followed by the slower, darker and more demonic Dread, showcasing creepy guitar lines and vocalizations, as well as a heavy as hell atmosphere, cutting our skin deep from the very first second just like what happens in Malefaktor, a modernized wall of industrial and robotic sounds and noises. Throughout this insane tune, Daniel and Jeremy beautifully generate a rumbling and Stygian base for Sean and his demented vocals.

If you think their regular music is not weird enough for your twisted mind, you’ll have a sonic orgasm with the rest of the album, where Ritual Aesthetic offer the best of the metal and electronic worlds combined. The first remixed tune of this wicked combo is called Mechanism Of Desire (Electronic Substance Abuse Remix), being highly recommended for lovers of pure industrial and electronic music, sounding as crazy and eccentric as it can be with the help of their friends from British Industrial Noise project Electronic Substance Abuse. Then it’s time for American Industrial Metal act Seraphim System to experiment with Ritual Aesthetic’s music in Chemical Weapons (Seraphim System Remix), also bringing forth a metallic, industrialized extravaganza of sounds, almost like the soundtrack to a horror movie. And last but not least, it’s American Dark Electro entity Xentrifuge who adds huge dosages of electricity to the song Amnesiac (Xentrifuge Remix), with Sean’s vocals matching perfectly the music proposed.

In a nutshell, if you’re searching for a crisp and heavy alternative in the world of Industrial Metal, Ritual Aesthetic are among us to offer you exactly what you’re craving in the form of Wound Garden, which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to such distinct entity from the always fruitful underground Industrial Metal scene by paying a visit to their official Facebook page, and grab your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page, from the Cleopatra Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. And then, as soon as you have Wound Garden on your hands, let your soul be embraced by its hard-hitting mechanized sounds. You won’t regret having that wicked experience at all.

Best moments of the album: The Analog Flesh and Divided.

Worst moments of the album: Dread.

Released in 2018 Cleopatra Records

Track listing 
1. Stasis 1:29
2. Life Amnesia 4:27
3. The Analog Flesh 3:32
4. Divided 4:33
5. Dread 3:12
6. Malefaktor 4:33
7. Mechanism Of Desire (Electronic Substance Abuse Remix) 6:58
8. Chemical Weapons (Seraphim System Remix) 3:23
9. Amnesiac (Xentrifuge Remix) 5:11

Band members
Sean Ragan – vocals
Grant Nachbur – guitar
Daniel Combs – bass
Jeremy Portz – drums

Album Review – Cloud Catcher / Trails Of Kozmic Dust (2017)

Blasting top-of-the-line music since their genesis in 2013, this cosmic power trio is inviting you for an electrified journey through the realms of Rock N’ Roll, Experimental Metal and Acid Rock with their brand new album.

There’s a cosmic power trio hailing from Denver, the capital of Colorado, in the United States, that has been forging their own path in music by blasting top-of-the-line Heavy Rock since their genesis in 2013, described by the band members themselves as “heavy-boogie rock on acid”. The trio, known as Cloud Catcher and consisting of Rory Rummings on guitar and vocals, Kam Wentworth on bass and Jared Soloman Handman on drums, has spent considerable time crafting their own style of heavy cosmic rock, taking deep inspiration from the music by Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad, Spirit Caravan, Led Zeppelin and tons of other classic groups, resulting in their brand new amazing album titled Trails Of Kozmic Dust.

Cloud Catcher have been on a roll since day one, delivering year after year high-quality material, starting with their debut EP Colossus in 2013, followed by some rehearsal demos in 2014, the full-length album Enlightened Beyond Existence in 2015, and the single Righteous Ruler in 2016, before returning with the full-bodied Trails Of Kozmic Dust now in 2017. Displaying an enthralling cover art designed by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration, this is an album that will expand your music horizons and put you on a trance from start to finish, and you won’t even need to take any acid to feel the band’s chaotic, groovy and intricate music flowing through your veins and especially through your mind.

Psychedelic sounds warm up the listener for a journey back to the 60’s and 70’s entitled Astral Warlord, a vibrant and electrified tune full of breaks and variations where albeit all musicians sound incredibly creative and focused, it’s Jared who steals the spotlight with his refined technique, setting the perfect tone for the song’s crazy, poetic lyrics (“Winds of dawn are howlin’ / Calling your name in the dark of the night / Winter comes for your life / Cold is the steel that ends your strife”). Celestial Empress brings more top-tier Heavy Rock smoothly flowing from the band’s sharp instruments, with Rory delivering an inspired performance on vocals. Moreover, the instrumental pieces sound like a hybrid of the early days of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, in special the excellent bass lines by Kam and the fiery guitar solos by Rory. And without allowing the listener to breathe, the power trio keeps blasting rumbling bass lines and distorted riffs in the groovy Beyond The Electric Sun, a song that contains all elements fans of the genre are always searching for, those being heaviness, progressiveness, craziness and  tons of feeling, with its final instrumental sequence being beyond astounding.

Then we have quick Jazz-inspired break from all insanity going on, named Dimensional Interlude, followed by Visions, a psychedelic composition tailored for lovers of Grand Funk Railroad and Captain Beyond (with a metallic twist à la Iron Maiden), with sheer acidity emanating from the guitar lines and vocals by Rory while Kam and Jared keep the reverberation at a maximum level with their pounding bass and drums. After listening to such powerful song, you’ll certainly ask yourself how far into space this talented band can go with their music. Anyway, the title-track Trails Of Kozmic Dust is yet another a complex, soulful creation by Rory, Kam and Jared, quickly transporting you to another dimension, not to mention the song’s eccentric lyrics (“Trails of kozmic dust connect my soul / Tellin’ me secrets that should not be told / Time is iridescent in black holes / Trails of kozmic dust will guide you home”).

Before the final curtains fall in Trails Of Kozmic Dust, the low-tuned, menacing bass guitar by Kam slowly drags us to the world of Cloud Catcher in the  Blues-ish Heavy Rock instrumental trip Super Acid Magick, with its last minute being a demolishing display of how intricate Experimental Rock can be; whereas Righteous Ruler, which builds an instant connection with its predecessor, sounds as if the band is returning to planet earth after such otherworldly voyage through the realms of rock music, again showcasing potent riffs by Rory and the always roaring bass by Kam, while Jared continues to do magic behind his drums. In addition, if you want to know how good this power trio sounds when they convey all their music madness to the stage, you can enjoy an amazing live performance by Cloud Catcher at the Marquis Theater in Denver, on December 19, 2015 playing several songs from Trails Of Kozmic Dust by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE.

If you enjoyed becoming part of the hallucinatory sonic expedition led by Cloud Catcher, go check their Facebook page for more news, and purchase Trails Of Kozmic Dust at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Totem Cat Records’ Big Cartel in CD or LP format, at the Stickman Records’ webstore, at Discogs or on Amazon. The never-failing fusion of Rock N’ Roll, Experimental Metal and Acid Rock has always had an enormous potential to blow our minds under any circumstances, but when the band in question has an undisputed, full-blown talent like Cloud Catcher as we can see in Trails Of Kozmic Dust, we know that mental explosion will be even stronger and more potent than anyone could expect.

Best moments of the album: Astral Warlord, Beyond The Electric Sun and Visions.

Worst moments of the album: Righteous Ruler.

Released in 2017 Totem Cat Records

Track listing
1. Astral Warlord 5:31
2. Celestial Empress 5:41
3. Beyond The Electric Sun 7:06
4. Dimensional Interlude 1:03
5. Visions 4:28
6. Trails Of Kozmic Dust 6:21
7. Super Acid Magick 3:34
8. Righteous Ruler 5:42

Band members
Rory Rummings – guitar, vocals
Kam Wentworth – bass, backing vocals
Jared Soloman Handman – drums