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The best kept secret in music


"Ermine - The Murra"

This Halifax trio self-describe their music as “post-prog,” a field that bands like Coheed and Cambria and Cave In call home. Appropriately, the music conjures visions of big men with feathered hair, moustaches, wearing kimonos whilst thrashing crystalline power lines from their Gibsons. Ermine walk the cobbled, narrow path of righteous emoting and technical ecstasy; a path verged by woods hiding dangerous creatures such as the Wank, the Geddy and the Maynard. To their credit they manage to tread the line with nary a wobble in their conviction. Along the way they create pocket epics that stand with a foot in the ’70s and a few toes pointing future-ward. The recording by Laurence Currie and Noah Mintz super-sizes the guitar/bass sparring and sets Matt Belyea’s double-tracked vocals a-soaring. Now they must cast their gaze to the west and do battle with the dragons that lie beyond: too loud and skilled for indie rock and not loud enough for death metal? Stay tuned.
- Exclaim

"Ermine - The Murra Review"

A chaotic album from this Saint John born and bred band now residing in Halifax. Each song leads you one way before abruptly turning you in another direction. Opener "Crystalline" starts off with the slashing of a few power chords before muting things a bit for the verses, then exploding again for the choruses. Second track "Velour" hooks you right away with a great riff that sticks in your head. Earnest vocals and drums rumbling just beneath the surface carry the song into a catchy chorus.

It might be the most accessible song for those not familiar with their progressive leanings.

"Creating Patience," starts with a thoughtful, arpeggiated riff that doesn't sound like even it knows where it wants to go before it bursts into a heavy riff. It breaks down again later, a circular bass line keeping things burning until the band kicks in again. This track actually reminds me a lot of something that could have been on Porcupine Tree's Deadwing album.

Actually, the whole album reminds me a bit of Porcupine Tree's progressive sound. This album is a little more frenzied and chaotic, which is neither better nor worse. Matt Belyea's soaring vocals and blistering guitar works great over the great bass work by Chuck Teed and the frenetic drum work by Mike Belyea.

Just when you think "Over Index" is burning out, the band changes things completely and the final minute of the song is a blast of pounding drums, distorted guitars and commanding vocals.

The Murra isn't the easiest album to get into if you're not familiar with Ermine's sound, and I'm not above admitting that I have no clue what these guys are singing about. As I've said, the songs are a little chaotic, but the band members are great musicians that take these powerful songs and harness them, sounding like they are ready to burst at any moment. An interesting listen that makes you think for a bit before you finally get lost in the music. - Moncton Times-Transcript

"Ermine - The Murra Preview"

Do you think Coheed and Cambria are a bunch of pretentious D&D playing geeks who have suckered in the MTV demographic with their pseudo-prog? Do you think Queens of the Stone Age are hotel wrecking, success gone to the head, rockstar pricks? Do you find Tool to be inaccessible or Wintersleep too passive? Maybe you would answer no to all the questions posed. It's possible you would say yes as well. The answer is neither here nor there. Canada's forgotten underdog of a son, Ermine, has forged a path that bears a resemblance to all of the above, though much more notorious, artists. They have kicked around the ever-growing Canadian scene for several years, only now to release their first full length album, The Murra. Call it prog. Call it stoner. It doesn't matter, the album is top shelf, pretentiousness and rock star douchebaggery not included. -

"Ermine - The Murra Review"

Too many local musicians and industry types have long bemoaned
the glory days of Sloan, Jale and the major label interest in Halifax 15 years ago. Living in the shadow of the past, a slew of great local acts have sadly slipped into extinction.

The recent successes of Joel Plaskett, Matt Mays and others have again brought the spotlight
to the leading edge of East
Coast music. Several acts are on the verge of wider acclaim; one of those bands is Ermine.

Originally from Saint John,N.B.,
but now based in HRM, Ermine consists of Matt Belyea (vocals, guitar), Mike Belyea (drums) and Chuck Teed (bass, keyboards).
Ermine’s music is difficult to define,
but has best been described as
“post-prog rock, a cleaner,more concise spin on the traditional progressive school of song crafting.” The band has often been compared to A Perfect Circle, Tool & Incubus. The band’s debut album, Maps of the Rise and Fall, peaked at No. 24 on the Canadian College Charts two years ago.

Ermine’s sophomore effort, The
Murra, was recorded in Halifax by
Laurence Currie (Sloan, Wintersleep)
and mastered by Noah Mintz
(Broken Social Scene, Death From
Above 1979), and confirms the
band’s evolution as musicians and
as songwriters. It is scheduled for official release on Feb. 14.

The track Creating Patience has
enough catchy, explosive riffage to
win the band long-overdue mainstream-radio play.With Teed holding down a wild rock bottom end, this tune is as good as anything out there today. The Choir My Hunters is the heaviest track and showcases the powerful, driving drum work of Mike Belyea. This is gritty, stirring rock that underscores the band members’s
growth as players and performers.
This should be great live.

- Halifax Daily New


Maps of the Rise and Fall (2003)
The Murra (2006)


Feeling a bit camera shy


What's in a name? Nothing, if you're Ermine.

The brainchild of Matt Belyea (vocals, guitar), Mike Belyea (drums) and Chuck Teed (bass, keyboards), Ermine is named after a weasel with a white winter coat. The moniker, however, is insignificant; the trio just enjoyed how the word rolled off the tongue.

"I also liked the way it looked on a page," adds Mike, a graphic designer. "Kinda like a rectangle with a beginning and an end. I think we were all just sick of arguing about a name with meaning, so we settled on one that had none at all."

Like the name, Ermine's music is hard to peg down, but is best described as post-prog rock, a cleaner, more concise spin on the traditional progressive school of song crafting. Influences come from all ends of the spectrum - rock, metal, classical and jazz are all part of the band's musical canon. The result is simultaneously ear pleasing and awe inspiring.

"I think our approach to writing is pretty challenging, but still super fun," says Mike. "The foundation of the songs can be kind of complex and layered, but we always keep in mind that a good song should be nice to listen to. Matt always finds a great vocal melody and guitar hook to float over some pretty weird riffs."

"I'm a huge fan of strong vocal lines and harmonies," adds Matt, Mike's younger brother. "It can be hard to find a catchy line in odd time signatures or over tough guitar riffs, but I guess that's part of what makes this band so fun for me."

Ermine's meticulous methodology is evident on their sophomore album The Murra. Recorded in Halifax by Laurence Currie (Sloan, Wintersleep) and mastered by Noah Mintz (Broken Social Scene, Death From Above 1979), The Murra showcases the band's evolution as songwriters while highlighting each member's musical maturation.

Vocalist Matt Belyea became the group's chief melodic force and principal penman during the writing of the album, which resulted in Brian Wilson-esque harmonies and a consistent lyrical voice. Drummer Mike Belyea increased the depth of the band's already full sound by adding keyboards and extra percussion to his repertoire. And Chuck Teed honed his impressive bass skills to a fine point, enhancing the bottom line while supplying countless signature riffs.

"I think our songwriting now has gotten a lot more focused," explains Matt. "Our first album was more sporadic, but this time we really try to keep a consistent theme in each song. We still play around with variations a lot, but it's more subtle."

The Murra builds on the foundation the band set with their debut album Maps of the Rise and Fall. Independently released and distributed, Maps peaked at number 24 on the Canadian College Charts, received critical acclaim across North America and was nominated for multiple industry awards (MIANS, ECMA).

Now operating on BBQ Records and distributed through Sonic Unyon, the band expects to expand their already growing audience.

"We really hope this album gets some attention and opens doors for us," Mike says. "It's tough trying to break into the market when your music isn't exactly the trend at the moment. We want people to see that we're a band they can sing along to, and then realize they've been singing along in 7/8."

Ermine may just be a word to Mike, Matt and Chuck, but the name speaks volumes about the band's music. Ermine isn't trendy. Ermine might seem a bit obscure. But Ermine's driving force is its sound. And Ermine sounds great.