Max Tovstyi “Mesmerize” Album Review + Stream…


Mesmerize – Vinyl // CD // DD

Clostridium Records – released May 21, 2018

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr



Kyiv, Ukraine

Other Projects:
The Heavy Crawls
Lucifer Rising
The Red Sterns



While most of us have taken the summer to live life, the way we do, soaking up all of the joys life offers us while taking a break from the ‘every-day’ as it were. Max Tovstyi is the exception to the rule here. Having completed another tour with The Heavy Crawls and their rotating cast of members, he completed his Broken Bricks Studios project, including getting the right building and equipment, and doing most of the work himself. During all of this he had going on, Max was able to complete a series of 12 songs that tend towards a more blues-feel record, complete with faster tempo tracks interwoven with the slower, and Max does it ALL on this album. Previously, he seemed to concentrate on the space-rock type of structure and letting his guitar work speak for itself while sitting at the helm of his creative juggernaut, steering into the world.  This time, it is just him, no pretense, no other minds involved so we get PURE Max, claiming responsibility for every nuance and note.

I had been contacted directly by Max to review this solo-outing, the day before it’s release and upon initial listening, I was floored with the simple purity of each track, surprised with the dozen compositions that sound very little like anything I had heard before from…

Pro Shot

From the power chord intro of ‘Rising Sun’ through to the phased-out beginning of bonus track ‘So Unfamiliar’ and it’s slow-cascading tempo, there is just so much to ingest here. While ‘Wait Till Tomorrow’ comes out of the gate relatively quick, he slows to a mid-tempo pace that allows him to flex his muscle, including harmonizing alongside himself in the chorus and you can hear some multi-layered soloing as it permeates the air around. ‘Interstellar Girl opens with a jazzy drumline that leads right into some funky 70’s sounding keyboards that follow the pumped-up bass line and is jaunty enough to keep your head moving along, and ‘Feel Like Dying Now’ keeps that feel but is a diatribe in sadness as Max describes what took him there, all frosted in some of his most-personal soloing he has done yet.

‘From The Blues To The Funk’ sounds like something lifted directly out of Mississippi mud and by the time you have reached the three minute mark, the funk has overtaken the bass and the ‘funk’ is all over the place, replete with some sassy horn work for good measure. ‘Yesterday’s Blues’ is more traditional in arrangement and delivery but still containing his heart on his sleeve, much like the token ‘heartstrings-puller’ delivery of ‘You Have To Make Up Your Mind’ that includes some female back-up vocals to compliment the chorus here.

‘Show Me The Way’ maintains this feel and does not disappoint while tracks like ‘World Of Sin’ give you something to chew-on with the lush mix that manages to convey a little of the previously mentioned space-rock’ feel and still feeling heavy as fuck, where ‘You Know That I Know’ is one of the faster tracks offered and keeps it moving as much as any other from this album. ‘Show Me The Way’ sums up the rest of the record in keeping with that standard 3/4 time sig that is so prevalent with the blues overall.

Painting_Album Cover

The one that stands out and away from the others on this in I didn’t just want, I NEEDED to listen to this one over and over, that being the title track ‘Mesmerize’ with what can only be described as fuzzed-out, punch you in your chest hard rock brought perfectly into this century by Max’ own hand. The structure/arrangement/delivery is flawless and FOR ME, is the best I have heard from Max to this point.

Having watched this all develop has been fascinating and I can only hope for more, including a tour to the USA. Get it if you haven’t already, share it with ALL that surround you and when all else fails, keep it LOUD!!

THE COLD STARES ‘Head Bent’ Review & Stream

Head Bent – DD//CD//Ltd. Ed. LP
Small Stone Records – Release Date: June 16th, 2016
Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker

I always dig it when a band I’ve been hip to for awhile, usually when hardly anyone else was aware of them on a large scale, begins to break out of thay pseudo “obscurity”. Nashville, Tennessee’s The Cold Stares are possibly the next band in my wide spectrum of somewhat secret enjoyments that are poised to experience that revealing spotlight. See, I saw the band back three or four years ago when they were out supporting Rival Sons (I think it was) on a date here in Kentucky. I was immediately sold on the duo of guitarist/vox Chris Tapp and drummer/vox Brian Mullins aka The Cold Stares for a variety of reasons, usual ones like the fact that the guys make flat-out incredible music. It’s almost incomprehensible to believe or even accept that it is just two guys playing this astounding music, getting this amazing sound, wielding this inhuman power.

Now, after a couple of well-received EP releases and the ice-breaking 2014 effort A Cold Wet Night And A Howling Wind, the duo are back with their new full-length, ‘Head Bent‘. The eleven song opus was produced and mixed by the band with Greg Pearce and mastered by Chris Goosman (Acid King, La Chinga, Solace, Lo Pan, Freedom Hawk, etc.). It just dropped this past week  on June 16th via Small Stone Records and I assure you now, with all foregone knowledge and sincerity, this record is going to blow your mind, my friends.

Continuing in the Small Stone tradition of hosting some of the best, heaviest, hard rock hitting the ground rocking and a’ rolling, there comes this. Yes, this is exactly what Rock & Roll in the year of our Lord 2017 sounds like, music rife with testicular fortitude and an undiluted, devil-may-care attitude. Taking heaping piles of blues and Americana-flavored folk rock into their own sound, The Cold Stares emerge victorious masters of electrified emotion here. Songs like ‘John‘, ‘Ball And Twine‘ and ‘Break My Fall‘ are full of soul, each exudes ample amounts of raw emotion and talent. But even they are mere drops in the bucket when you tear into the meat and marrow of this outing.

From the darker doom moments of ‘Neighbor Blues‘ to the blistering ‘Stuck In A Rut‘ or the Led Zeppelin-meets-Aerosmith feel of ‘Kings‘, there’s limitless miles of territory traversed. Just when you think you’ve heard the best the album could possibly offer, the next song queued up obliterates that assumption. Title track ‘Head Bent‘ or the astounding stand-outs ‘Price To Pay‘ and ‘One Way Outta Here‘ will simply blow you away. They simmer, they rock… they groove, they roll…all while you find yourself never wanting the album to end.


New Album Review – Bask “Ramble Beyond”


Ramble Beyond – Vinyl // CD // DD // Merch

Self Aware Records – America

This Charming Man Records – UK/EU – Release Date: March 24th, 2017


“Letter to the listener:

Progressive; heavy; psychedelic; Americana, have all been used to describe Bask. The truth, we are four musicians based in Asheville, North Carolina who love making music. We want rhythm heard for miles, melodies remembered for weeks and an honesty and sincerity felt to your bones. Most of all we want you to listen without concern for what you are hearing. To listen only for the sake of hearing. Esse Quam Vid”

Pro Band Pic


And so was my introduction to BASK a four piece group of individuals that keep to the two guitar / bass/drums formula for pure rock and roll, complete with two part vocals, yet they prefer to refuse any labeling, asking us each to listen for the pleasure of what we are taking in is giving as they weave each of these six compositions together with an ease that makes this second release a gem in and of itself. Scott Middleton , Jesse Van Note , Ray Worth and Zeb Camp make up what is BASK and this six-song offering of 39 minutes of some of the most sonic interlaced meanderings of four energies twisting through time and sound be it the quick fade in of winds stirring skies underneath the trees of ‘Asleep In The Orchard’ before the power chords enter and take you back to the almost dreamy texture as that voice enters describing the fruit hanging around as you close your eyes to see the picture this quartet is painting with lush, lingering strokes that keep you entranced and moving at the same time. ‘A Graceless Shuffle’ comes out with a staggered gallop pace and upbeat yet still rolling along the road type of jaunt with “The paths all closing in” as the tempo shifts to a faster cadence as the shuffle goes on, up until “…the strychnine in my blood.” closes out. ‘In The Black Fir’ begins with that haunting slide that makes your hands grab an air guitar and comes on with that heavy-handed thick chording that drives forward taking you with willingly for the entire seven minute plus opus of our traveler. So many musical textures are contained in this track alone to garner every rock-tag out there and shows exactly why BASK ask you to listen for the sake of the listening itself as they let you savor each flavor as one and a whole, all at once. The dark ominous fade-out is perfection. ‘Kindled Green’ opens cleanly and before you are 30 seconds in, bone-crunching chords are all over you as the clean notes continue in that lofty manner we have come to expect from the first half of this album and then a vocal harmony enters and shows another flavor not expected but full of the savory just the same that washes your palette with a warmth of remembrance and the heavy comes right back to compliment as the vocals echo along in the confines and you grasp each repeat.




The slowing pace belies the end and then… slow fade in of swirling notes that slip around your feet and slightly bending clear notes take you to ‘The Lonesome Sound’ as the words of life describe us all one at a time and all at once together as one and none at the same time. Slower-paced but ever so heavy and plush and just plain complex that there is no denying this band their own request to listen for the pure joy that listening to this WILL give you regardless of musical preferences. Most bands write the greatest record in their arsenal with the first one, and then they try to recapture whatever they think that one had and a lot really do fail miserably. BASK has done the seeming impossible and come out swinging as a band that appears to have grown and matured to become 300% of what they were with the first release. Closer ‘Mush! Carry Me Home’ perfectly wraps this record with another tale that shows the lyrical majesty that has permeated this one from the front and allows each member to shine as this song brings back around each ingredient that has made this meal so satisfying and wanting even more as the last drops off. If they come anywhere close, you GOTTA GO and support them. I have a feeling it will be one to talk about for years to come if this release is any indication. Get the record and go support!!


Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr