Track Of The Week: Bullet Height – Hold Together

Let it be said that some things carry on the way they started. In Bullet Height’s case, it carries on the sonic storm previously began by debut single Bastion in February, heading towards potential live dates in the near future and a forthcoming album tentatively inbound for the year’s close. But Bullet Height’s roots date back much farther. Circa eight years ago to be precise. For Pure Reason Revolution, the former band that frontman Jon Courtney had a significant hand in, after the success of their opus The Dark Third and subsequent departure of violinist James Dobson, their songwriting took a turn in a more electronic based direction, birthing second studio album Amor Vincit Omnia; an album that transformed the band’s sound from an atmospheric progressive rock opera, into a punchier, synth-injected rock hybrid, with scaled down but still ever-present progressive leanings. This evolution was completed on third and what would become final album Hammer And Anvil, which in my opinion remains one of the most underrated albums of the decade, and would be the only Pure Reason Revolution album to be published by Superball Music, whom the band signed with prior to its distribution. Pure Reason Revolution were to disband in 2011, a year after Hammer And Anvil’s release.

Fast forward some five years later, elements of the sound encapsulated from Amor Vincit Omnia and Hammer And Anvil, the revival of the partnership with Superball Music and the union of Jon Courtney and IAMX keyboardist and vocalist Sammi Doll in Europe’s second biggest capital, brought together Bullet Height, a duo whose talents can equal the exhilarating and electrifying nature of their music. Though quiet for several months since being hotly tipped as one of the bands to keep an eye on in 2016, the emergence of second single Hold Together is a swift reminder of what whipped up the frenzy and excitement in the first place, and an excellent point of entry for anyone curious about the diversity of electronic rock.

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And a reminder and point of entry none more swift and excellent than the blasting of intense volcanic guitar tones, dark and deep synth throbs and a incredibly forceful percussive pattern. Such is the impact and ferocity of the introduction here, that it relegates Bastion to a mere nursery rhyme in comparison. If your eyes weren’t open before, they certainly will be. The cavalry is quietened for the vocals to take centre stage, the warm hum of synth hovering below and the drums remaining as imposing a presence behind them. It’s here we’re also treated to the luscious vocal harmonies that Jon and Sammi are capable of conjuring. Each individual voice has its own powerful merits, but together it produces an intoxicating sensation yet still a hint of menace which serves the aggressive instrumentation well throughout. Especially as it reaches the pre-chorus, where against a thunderous series of drum kicks and synth throbs that devolve into shrieks, adds that extra edge to twist the tension into a truly explosive chorus. Hitting with the accumulated musical force of a tempest, the guitars, synth and drums decimate anything in the immediate vicinity, with vocals picking up a soaring pop sensibility which sounds eerily calming considering the annihilation unfolding before you. The result however is unfathomably satisfying. A quick glitch from the synths and a drum fill later, and you’re thrown head first back into the carnage. Nuances like additional fury vented on the microphone, jagged guitar you can feel the volatility of, synths expanding and growing in character and ambience and even solo moments of formidable gritty synth stabs all keep the soundscape an unpredictable thrill ride all to the very end. Hold Together is much less a song and more an event; a shockwave of inconceivable artistic and musical vision which can be experienced as both punishing and piquant. It almost seems as if Bullet Height had a crack at their own personal Manhattan Project, and boy did they nail the execution. This duo have the chemistry, talent, uncompromising attitude and simply immeasurable ambition to solidify their status as one of the most awe-inspiring bands in the world at this moment, with the potential to supercharge their electronic rock engine into one of the planet’s all-conquering live acts, just around the corner. The world is theirs for the taking. If they don’t destroy it first.

 
Hold Together is out right now at all respectable music retailers as a digital only single. You can pick up their previous single Bastion at the same music retailers also. The band are in the process of gearing up for live dates in their native Berlin which are yet to be announced, but certainly worth keeping an eye out for. Bullet Height’s debut album has been pencilled in for a release in Winter 2016 which no doubt you’ll hear more about in the coming months. And for a taster of what’s to come as well as back story for the band’s formation, check out this short documentary on them.

Once you’ve digested all of that, go give them your support right here:

http://www.facebook.com/Bulletheight
http://www.twitter.com/BulletHeight

And if you want to give me your support, entirely optional, through a like, a follow or a subscription to the site down below so you never miss a post, you can do so:

http://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark
http://www.twitter.com/The_Soundshark

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Formalin

I don’t know if those who are reading this right now are into science much, but if you ever need a go-to name for a band or musical project, chemistry more often than not, will not fail you. Alkaline Trio kinda leaps out at me straight away as the most well-known example of a chemical reference in mainstream music, as well as my personal favourite Bullets And Octane, but lurking deep within the realms of the musical underground, there are many names derived from the periodic table of elements, chemical reactions, biological chemistry and so on and so forth. Sometimes that name can stand out so much, it starts to become educational. In the origin of Formalin’s name however, it’s not only scientifically educational but culturally educational, if you are familiar with the works of a certain Damien Hurst. Formalin, is also known as formaldehyde solution, of which formaldehyde is responsible for Hirst’s notorious shark exhibit being preserved for as long as it has been. Sorry, you came here for music, not A Level Science. But the synthesis of formaldehyde into formalin, shares a common property with the band itself, in their music is obtained through the synthesis of wavelengths and frequencies to create a aesthetically darker electronic pop hybrid. The production duo from Berlin are a growing name on the European electro-industrial scene for their fusion of clean, air-tight percussion and gritty but entrancing synth lines, all drizzled with a little sleaze for dancefloor seduction. There are some nuances from EDM and commercialised dubstep in there too, just to give a little harder edge and sharpness to the electronics, but there’s a whole realm of lavish future-pop melodies to take command of the exquisite rhythms and atmosphere. This year’s Supercluster is a testament to how crisp every note, beat and vocal comes across from these gentlemen, and by far one of this year’s most enchanting synth-driven albums. The empowering Above The Sun is perhaps the strongest case for this argument, its deep, penetrating drum pulse powering the architecture and precision of each synth layer for maximum effect. Some sparkle, some twitch, some scream and shout, and some throb, but all thread together to move your body in ways you had no idea it could. Of course this all plays into the hands of the vocals which speak directly to your aural channel, playing the devil’s advocate if it were, persuasive in tone but with a devious intention. There’s true substance in the Formalin recipe, a dazzling but ocean-deep formula, complete with the marvels and menaces of the marine kingdom to boot. The duo from Berlin are providing a sterling addition to the electro-industrial underground, produced with laser-precision calibre and with an addictive sensibility that deserves to breach forth into the spotlight.

Formalin’s three albums, this year’s Supercluster, 2012’s Wasteland Manifesto and 2010’s Bodyminding are all available from most respectable music retailers. A select few of their tracks are available on Soundcloud for your listening pleasure and they are due to be touring later this year too.

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