Apr 232014

(TheMadIsraeli reviews the second album by Arcania from France.)

Arcania are an unknown gem, one I didn’t even know about until I stumbled across the video for a single off their sophomore album Dreams Are Dead.  They channel the neo-melodic death metal, heavily thrash-infused sound of the likes of Darkane, Carnal Forge, and like bands.  I ended up coming away thoroughly impressed, both with material from this record and from their debut Sweet Angel Dust.  I quickly asked Islander to snatch a promo and here we are.

Arcania play their music pretty straight.  The riffs are a blaze of technical dual-guitar acrobatics, the drumming is belligerently unrelenting in true thrash spirit, and the vocals of guitarist/vocalist Cyril Peglion are reminiscent of Gojira’s Joe Duplantier.  He never screams per se; his vocal style is like if Duplantier did nothing but his melodic howling all the time, and so it’s kind of hard to say whether this qualifies as an exception to our rule as a result.  His vocals definitely carry melodies, but you can feel the power surge hitting you.  If it’s a singing voice, it’s certainly an unusually harsh one.

Apr 232014

I was away from the internet for 8 hours yesterday. On the one hand, it was kind of refreshing. On the other hand… I sure as shit missed a lot of metal news. The first item I saw upon returning to the wired world was a post by Andy Synn in our NCS group on Facebook, spreading the word about the Conquerors of the World Tour, with a comment: “Stick Dimmu in as headliners and you’d have ALL the symphonic bluster you could muster.” No shit.

Here’s the announcement that appeared on the Septicflesh Facebook page:

“”We are thrilled to announce that we will be returning to North America/Canada with our blood brothers in Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hour of Penance and Necronomicon,” comments SEPTICFLESH. “This promises to be a night in darkness to be remembered as we prepare to unleash our colossal new album ‘Titan.’”

No dates yet, but this promises to be one of the year’s can’t-miss outings. As soon as we get the schedule, we’ll slap it up on the site without delay.

Apr 222014

(In this post DGR reviews the debut album by Forever Dawn — the serious musical project of The Vegan Black Metal Chef.)

This is a review that has been a long time coming. Recently it’s probably the one that has been weighing on my mind the most, considering that I’ve consistently had the Bandcamp page for it open since finding it two weeks after the disc came out. I think by the time this poor thing is published, I will have deleted and restarted it close to ten times — in part because I wasn’t sure how to approach this release, wondering if I was paying it enough respect or even capable of analyzing its deeper value or whether it was worth listening to.

In part it has also taken some serious time to get my teeth into and be able to talk about because trying to pin it down to one genre is incredibly difficult; I want to make the argument that tagging it as just Industrial Black Metal feels wrong, but I don’t want to launch into some four-paragraph screed about what those words mean to me, given that genrification is already pretty goddamned subjective, without talking about the release as a whole beforehand.

But enough of the lengthy preamble, just what the fuck are we looking at here?

Apr 222014

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Cormorant.)

Prog-metal pirates Cormorant have never been ones to shy away from change. Heck, their entire career thus far has been one of slow evolution, from their early beginnings with 2007’s The Last Tree, through the attention-grabbing Metazoa, up to 2011’s game-changing Dwellings.

Coming in the wake of the departure of bassist/vocalist Arthur von Nagel, and his replacement with the similarly talented Marcus Lusbombe, it seems change is still in the air for the group. Earth Diver betrays a fundamentally more blackened edge, expanding and exploring the limits of Cormorant’s established sound, landing somewhere between the prog-death magic of Edge of Sanity and the folk-tinged black metal of Drudkh, but with a style and a flair all its own.

Is it a perfect album? No. But perfection is overrated. Perfection is stagnation. Rather, Earth Diver functions as a prime example of raw passion and creativity, growth and change, the sound of a band unafraid to take chances, to experiment, interweaving tone and texture, interbreeding influence and imagination… pursuing progression in the truest sense of the word.

Apr 222014

Here are five items I found yesterday that I thought were worth sharing. The first and last items will tear you a new one. In between those you’ll find some tantalizing news and a song that’s an exception to our “rule” but will rock you all night long.

MIASMAL

Miasmal are a Gothenburg death metal band who share members with Agrimonia and Martyrdöd and whose self-titled debut album came out in 2011. Their second album, Cursed Redeemer, is scheduled for a May 13 U.S. release by Century Media (April 28 in the EU). Last month we featured a song from the album named “Until the Last”. Yesterday Noisey/Vice premiered a second track, “Call of the Revenant”. In a word, it’s stupendous (and, as noted, it will tear you a new one).

Seriously, there’s something about this song. On the one hand, it sounds utterly familiar — voracious vocal howling, heavy-drilling down-tuned riff grisliness, death/crust grinding and crawling, punk-inflected Swedeath rhythms. On the other hand, it not only captures this old-school radiance terrifically well, it sounds… vibrant and new. The rapacious, marauding energy is explosive and it begs to be played over and over again.

Apr 212014

Swimming through the effluent of the interhole this morning I came upon these life rafts that buoyed my spirits. May they make you buoyant as well.

AUROCH

Last November I reported the happy news that Vancouver’s Auroch had signed with Profound Lore, for the release of the band’s next album during 2014 (that same report was merely the prelude to a review of the band’s killer 2013 EP Seven Veils, which you should hear if you haven’t). And now we have the album’s name — Taiman Shud — and the cover art by Cold Poison, which you can see above and which is damned cool — cold, grim, and undoubtedly fitting for what I expect will be an immense and forbidding death metal release.

The official release date was also announced:  June 24, 2014. A vinyl edition will be coming in July via Dark Descent.

And in other Auroch news, it was announced that Tridoid Records will be releasing the band’s previous album From Forgotten Worlds on vinyl this coming August.

Apr 212014

(Guest writer Booker returns to our pages with a review of the latest album by Siegewyrm from Buffalo, NY.)

As DGR has started divulging at the start of his reviews, sometimes you come across bands in the most random of ways. Case in point for my discovery of Siegewyrm:

Mechina, whom I love dearly not only in real life (purely platonic, musically I’m talking here!), but also happen to ‘like’ in my parallel online existence on Facebook, posted a link to a feature at The Monolith that included their new release Xenon. And while my saner self pondered whether I could really handle a “best of January” list given my post-end-of-year listmania hangover, my sneaky music-oholic self had already clicked through to said list and begun imbibing all it had to offer, whereupon I stumbled across Siegewyrm’s Harvest Begins.

According to Metal Archives, these chaps from Buffalo, NY started off as “Siege A.D.” circa 2007, releasing one album under that moniker before adopting “Siegewyrm” as their call to musical arms, with two albums Legends of the Oathsworn (2012) and Harvest Begins (2014) now under their belt.

Apr 212014

(BadWolf turns in this live show review and also proves he’s got some photographic skills.)

This summer, progressive rock legends Yes announced not only that they would tour, but that their show would consist of not one but two—two!—of their classic records, 1971′s Fragile and 1972′s Close to the Edge, in their entirety.

What in the fuck does this have to do with The Ocean? More than you’d think.

On their spring co-headlining tour with Scale The Summit, The Ocean elected to play their 2013 album Pelagial front-to-back. It’s a bold move. Metal fans, as a rule, demand the old stuff. Even if the new Metallica record is awesome, nobody will want to hear more than a single song from it in a live setting—everybody will want to hear Master of Puppets in its entirety. The former album, no matter how slick, will enver have the ‘classic’ status that we attribute to their older work.

Then again, sometimes a band can smell a classic the minute they shit it out.

Apr 212014

I don’t have any rhyme or reason why I combined the items in this post. The mind works in mysterious ways, especially after it has been pickled in alcohol.

“WHISKY AND DOOM”

A friend of mine who reads the New York Times every day sent me a link to an article by Charly Wilder in yesterday’s Travel section, because he knows I love metal, even though he doesn’t. I’d like to just copy and paste the whole damn thing, but I’d probably get a take-down notice from some lawyers for copyright violation. So I’ll just paraphrase.

The article is about an event (“Taste the Doom”) that has been happening off and on since 2011 in the back rooms of various Berlin bars (Germany, not North Dakota) in which the organizers pair single-malt whisky and doom metal. Until experiencing them together the writer was not a fan of single malt (“a decent drink but hardly worthy of all the macho lore and rhapsodizing on peat content and cask type”) or doom (“with its sludgy guitars and demon voices, it was hard to imagine it being enjoyed unironically by actual adults — or really anyone not planning a murder-suicide”). But when she tried them together beginning two years ago, “it all made perfect sense”.

Apr 212014

(Andy Synn reviews the surprising debut album by a Vermont band named Barishi.)

This one only came out at the tail-end of last year, so I think we can be forgiven for missing out on it in the holiday rush. However, the fact that such a strange, yet incredibly compelling, album failed to ping on our radar is one mistake I’m happy to be able to correct.

Over-simplifying things for the sake of brevity/clarity/hyperbole (delete as appropriate), Barishi – whose name which I dearly hope is drawn from the novel Silverheart and not from… other sources –  perform a type of wilfully avant-garde prog-metal, one which mixes Intronaut’s more melodic and psychedelic tendencies with the hardcore bite and bitterness of Poison The Well and the same sort of autistic-savant creativity of Ihsahn’s solo output.

Granted, at first glance it seems like the band’s strange arrangement of sounds and influences is something of an odd conglomeration, opposing styles and off-kilter elements fighting against each other for attention in a crazed cacophony of wild, untamed melody and sudden, spasming aggression. But give it time. It’s not an immediate album. At some point things will start to come together – you’ll tilt your head just so and thing will slot into place. The madness will suddenly make sense, as odd dispositions and disjunctions become conjunction and creativity.

And that’s when things start to get really interesting.

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