Dec 312009

Alan McFarland (Man Must Die)

As 2009 draws even closer to the end, we’ve continued to think back about albums we really enjoyed this year.  Among them were releases from five UK bands that could loosely be classified as death metal, though they sound almost nothing alike.  Four of them — Man Must Die, Viatrophy, Ignominious Incarceration, and Xerath — turned out killer new albums in 2009, and the fifth — Theoktony — was a prodigiously talented band we only discovered this year, though sadly its future is in doubt.

We don’t pretend that this post is a comprehensive review of the best UK death metal of the year, because we’ve no doubt there are awesome 2009 releases we simply haven’t heard.  The five we’re covering here are simply albums that happened to grab our attention  — and didn’t let go.

Dec 302009

Two days in a row now, and Blabbermouth has posted news items that have cracked me up. Like yesterday, I figured you might could use a good laugh too.

Item No. 1 comes to us from Bulgaria. Clearly, I’m deficient in my knowledge of Bulgarian metal. Otherwise, I already would have heard of the band whose photo is above – Insmouth (not to be confused with Dominican Republic black metal band Innsmouth).  According to Blabbermouth, which undoubtedly is just reprinting a press release from the band, Insmouth (spelled with one “n”) had established itself as a “legendary outfit” before breaking up in 2003 when the guitarist married a Brazilian sports reporter and moved to Brazil.

Can’t tell you how relieved I am to see that Bulgarian metal bands know how to give their fans the finger just like U.S. bands. Anyway, here’s the breaking news from Bulgaria:

The original lineup of INSMOUTH, Bulgaria’s most influential crossover band, will reunite for a performance at Tangra Mega Rock radio’s fourth birthday party on March 24, 2010 at Universiada Hall in Sofia. Also scheduled to appear are ER MALUK and ODD CREW.

Before going on an indefinite hiatus in autumn 2003, INSMOUTH enjoyed a triumphant five-year career, establishing itself as a legendary outfit on the undergound scene. The band released two albums — “3D Freak Accelerator” (1999) and “Cross Over The Crossover” (2002) — as well as the “Lara-Croft” EP (2000), with tracks like “Shakalakamuthafaka”,“Despair”“Sexulted” and “Freak” becoming firm fan favourites.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of a song called “Shakalakamuthafaka” is already making me firm.

I tried desperately to find a download of the tune, because I just know with a name like that it’s got to be good.  (Remember that ad slogan for Smucker’s jelly?)  Alas, no luck in scrounging a copy of “Shakalakamuthafaka.”  But just in case you’ve got a calendar conflict on March 24 and can’t catch the reunion performance at Tangra Mega Rock, I did find a video of Insmouth (one “n” dammit!) performing “Lara Croft.” Kinda like a Bulgarian version of Disturbed, but worse. But hey, if you wanna be the first kids on your block to say you’ve listened to Bulgarian metal, check it out here.

Item No. 2 comes to us by way of Estonia and a “fierce pagan metal band” band called Urt.  Which reportedly means “Soul of Death” in the South Estonian language called Setu.  (Stupid me, I thought Urt was the sound you make after finishing a six-pack of PBR). Anyway, here’s the breaking news from Estonia (after the jump):

Dec 292009

What do pop star Ke$ha, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley have in common? Is it that they all like cock rock? Ke$ha says she does. Maybe the others do too. But I wouldn’t put money on it. No, what they have in common is they’ve all provided us with “teachable moments” this year.

As for Gates and Crowley, they got to know each other on July 16, when Crowley came to Gates’ home after police received a neighbor’s report about a possible burglary at that address. Crowley claimed Gates became abusive and arrested him.

In an effort to cool off the dispute between them, which had ignited into a headline-grabbing national debate about race relations, President Obama invited Gates and Crowley to have a beer with him on the White House lawn. The White House billed the chatfest as a “teachable moment.”  After the beer summit, Crowley said he and Gates had agreed to disagree.

I don’t know about you, but the lesson I learned from that “teachable moment” was this: don’t say anything about a cop’s mama to his face.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I already knew that, but hey, it never hurts to be reminded.

In the case of Ke$sha (and I really don’t want a case of Ke$sha), her ridiculously popular song “Tik Tok” has recently prompted an electronic discussion among Elise at Reign in Blonde, me, and some articulate people who’ve been posting comments at RIB, about that “us against the world” attitude that infuses metal bands and metal fandom and causes some of us to look down on pop music (or even more broadly, all non-metal music) as shallow and inferior.  I think it’s a discussion worth continuing.  (more after the jump)

Dec 292009

Courtesy of Blabbermouth, the flyer above and the story below.  Made me laugh.  Figured you might could use a laugh too.

Reunited Australian “grindy thrash” band GUANTANAMO BAY CITY ROLLERS returned to Adelaide’s Enigma Bar on December 19, 2009 for the first time since supporting INSECT WARFARE there on February 22, 2008. The group’s lineup was the same as it was for the 2008 concert:

Chappy (vocals)
Cheese (guitar)
Jonny (drums)
Mikey (guitar)
Gardy (bass)

A fun time was had by all, with a crazy moshpit, tequila shared around the crowd, and Chappy wearing nothing more than a novelty crocodile head G-string for most of the show, all in celebration of Cheese‘s 30th birthday.

I like these dudes already. I’ve always felt there should be more crocodile-head G-strings in live metal, and how can you go wrong with a band fronted by guys named Chappy and Cheese? And wouldn’t it be cool to mosh with a kangaroo?

The band is streaming some songs from their debut album Alcoholocaust on their MySpace page. There’s a really nasty photo embedded in the music player on that page, but if you can get past it, the tunage is actually a pretty damn good mix of grind, punk, thrash, and power violence. I also found 3 more tracks that aren’t on MySpace and appear to post-date Alcoholocaust. Check ‘em out below. If you’re not drunk already, they’ll make you wanna get that way. (Aptly descriptive track titles too.)

 
 
 

And who, you non-Aussies may ask, is Anthony Callea? Go here and then you’ll know.

Dec 292009

Yeah, I know it’s not Monday. I was working on this piece with the intent of posting it yesterday, but got sidetracked on the actual Monday morning by some provocative comments from Elise at Reign In Blonde about my weekend rant on Ke$ha. Still, I like the alliteration in the title, so what the fuck — I’m using it anyway.

And this morning I’m thinking:  Enuf about Ke$ha.  Not enuf about math metal.  Need to fix that.  And voilà! (Doesn’t mean we’re dropping the conversation with Elise.  It’s too interesting to just let it go, and I think there’s more to be said — just not right now. In the meantime, you should read her latest observations here.)

As we draw close to the end of 2009, I’ve been thinking back on some bands we haven’t written about that made the year a great one for extreme metal.  This weekend, in an (unsuccessful) effort to cleanse my mental palate of the polluting effect of “Tik Tok,” I spent time listening again to three European bands that can be classified, for want of a better term, as “math metal” – Textures, Tardive Dyskinesia, and CiLiCe – and a fourth European band I used to classify the same way that has now swum deeper into the prog metal end of the pool — Hacride.

All four have often drawn comparisons with Meshuggah. Occasionally, some writers have even branded them as Meshuggah derivatives. Unfair criticism!  They each have their own sound, successfully blending highly technical instrumental work with melody, and they each produced awesome albums in 2009. [Correction: the Textures album was released in 2008.] (More after the jump — including streaming songs from each band)

Dec 282009

This past weekend we finished dribbling out our list of the Ten Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs of 2010. Here’s the final line-up:

1.  Asphyx: Sorbutics

2.  Mastodon: Crack the Skye

3.  Amorphis: Silver Bride

4. Goatwhore: Apocalyptic Havoc

5.  August Burns Red: Meridian

6.  Pelican: Ephemeral

7.  Scale the Summit: Age of the Tide

8.  Daath: Wilting On the Vine

9.  Molotov Solution: The Harbinger

10. Revocation: Dismantling the Dictator

Yes, the list is finished — and for your listening pleasure, we’ve added a playlist of the listed songs to our MySpace page – with one slight alteration:  we couldn’t find Scale the Summit‘s “Age of the Tide” on MySpace, so our playlist includes another of our favorites tracks off Carving Desert Canyons.  

Even though we finished the list, your NCS Co-Authors had some infectious favorites that didn’t survive our final negotiations – but they just missed by a nose. So we’re going to roll those out later this week. It’s the next best thing to just reneging on our commitment to make this a list of the Top Ten and instead renaming it the Top Fourteen.

Dec 282009


Yesterday I posted a rant about a song by Ke$ha called “Tik Tok” that is the No. 1 selling single on iTunes and is at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Among other things, I said it made me wanna claw my skin off in big hunks, that a whole album of similar songs would make me want to vomit up all my internal organs, and that it was yet another sign of the increasing idiocy of popular culture.

Elise from Reign in Blonde (one of the two sites that was our inspiration for NO CLEAN SINGING and one of our essential daily reads) posted this comment about the rant (and I hope she won’t mind that I’m featuring it here):

“I actually really like that “Tik Tok” song. I’m not saying YOU have to, but it honestly feels like too many people still MAKE metal or LIKE it just to “stick it” to other genres or to prove they’re better. Heavy music is fully capable of standing on its own. I like to think of myself as a peacemaker.”

I usually prefer to impulsively shoot from the hip and then forget about whatever nonsense I’ve written, but Elise’s comment brought about some moments of self-reflection. That in turn caused me to confess some things to myself. And then I impulsively decided to share those confessions, after which I’ll forget abut the nonsense I’m about to write:

  • I listened to “Tik Tok” once before writing yesterday’s post (via this video of the song). I haven’t listened to it again. I don’t want to listen to it again. Unfortunately, 24 hours later, I still can’t get the damn thing out of my head. I listened to metal non-stop yesterday in an effort to cleanse my mental palate, but it hasn’t worked.
  • That doesn’t mean I like the song. But I confess I’ve got a Pavlovian response to just about any music with a compulsive groove in it (check out our recently completed list of The Ten Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs of 2009 if you have any doubts). Again, that doesn’t mean I think it’s good music. I just can’t help myself. Put a coconut cream pie in front of me and I’ll eat the whole thing, but that doesn’t make it good for me.
  • I confess that I went a little over the top when I said an album filled with songs like “Tik Tok” would make me feel like vomiting up all my internal organs into a steaming, slimy pile at my feet. Only a surfeit of tequila has ever made me feel that bad. But I still agree wholeheartedly with none other than the executive producer of Ke$ha’s forthcoming album, one “Dr. Luke,” that “a whole record of that might get annoying.” (More confessions after the jump)
Dec 272009

Yesterday, our post about female-fronted death metallers Bloodshoteye included a comment about the shortage of competent female death growlers howling their wares on the current scene. On the somewhat related but more general subject of last frontiers for female singers, this morning someone sent me a link to a story that popped up in today’s New York Times about a new pop star named Ke$ha and her single “Tik Tok,” which has soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The Times calls it “one of the most successful white-girl rap songs of all time.” Here are a few more excerpts from the article:

This has been a banner year for white-girl rap, as these things go. There was the debut album by the Philadelphia rapper Amanda Blank, the relentless and suffocating “I Love You” (Downtown). On “Boom Boom Pow,” the pummeling Black Eyed Peas hit, the surprise twist was a rapped interlude by the group’s singer, Fergie. Even the country-pop singer Jessie James tried it out on “Blue Jeans,” a song that practically owes a publishing check to Dem Franchize Boyz for appropriating the cadence and concept of their 2004 song “White Tee.”

The white female rapper has been one of the last frontiers in hip-hop, but Ke$ha is reframing the conversation. “Her talky, blonde-y, white-girl rap thing, there’s no one else doing that right now,” said the producer and songwriter Lukasz Gottwald, a k a Dr. Luke, who signed Ke$ha to his imprint and executive produced “Animal.”

. . . “Being that she was willing to do that, and she liked it, I’m in support of it. A whole record of that might get annoying though.”

No shit “Dr. Luke.” But “annoying” is an understated adjective. “Tik Tok” all by itself makes me wanna start clawing off my skin in big hunks like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Thinking about a whole album of this stuff makes me feel like vomiting until all my internal organs are in a steaming, slimy pile at my feet.

The Times observed that “The very existence of the casually rapping white girl reflects decreasingly stringent ideas about race and gender.” No, what it reflects is the increasing idiocy of popular “culture.”

“A banner year for white-girl rap”? Really, who gives a flying fuck. Yet another reminder, as if I really needed one, that whenever I venture out into the world of what passes for pop music I’m almost always morbidly sorry I did.

Ima go listen to Bloodshoteye again.  Bye.

Dec 262009

Female death metal vocalists are few and far between. Frankly, I don’t understand how dudes can produce those sounds on a regular basis without destroying their voices. I know there’s a secret, I just don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I haven’t yet watched Melissa Cook’s The Zen of Screaming instructional video.

But what I really don’t understand is how any woman can produce those harsh, deep, gutteral, death growls — at all. I could tick off on the fingers of one hand the women who are currently carrying it off reasonably well (if I had a six-fingered hand): Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, Grace Perry of Landmine Marathon, Elizabeth Elliott of Dreaming Dead, Mel Mongeon of Fuck the Facts, Krysta Cameron of iwrestledabearonce, and occasionally Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist.

As of this morning I need to add a seventh name: Jessica Desjardins of Canadian deathcore band Bloodshoteye.   (More after the jump, including some video)

Dec 262009

Here at NCS, we’ve been putting a different spin on year-end listmania. Ours isn’t a list of the best metal full-lengths of the year. It’s not even necessarily our list of the best individual extreme metal songs of the year. What we decided to do was create a list of the most infectious extreme metal songs we’ve heard this year. We’re talking about songs that produce involuntary physical movement and worm their way into your brain to such an extent you can’t get ‘em out (and wouldn’t want to).

We haven’t ranked our list from #10 to #1 because that would be too much fucking work (and your co-Authors would still be arguing about it this time next year). In addition, when we started naming our entries on this site, we hadn’t yet figured out the whole list. So, we’ve been dribbling them out one at a time, in no particular order.

Of course, only after naming the first 9 entries did it dawn on us that we only had one spot left. If only our tiny brains hadn’t been hard-wired with the decimal system we could have made this “The Fourteen Most Infection Extreme Metal Songs of 2009.” But you reap what you sow. With only one spot left, and still lots of songs on our collection of candidates, picking #10 proved to be especially vexing for your Authors. But now it’s done.

Our list heretofore:

1. AsphyxSorbutics

2. MastodonCrack the Skye

3. AmorphisSilver Bride

4. GoatwhoreApocalyptic Havoc

5. August Burns RedMeridian

6. PelicanEphemeral

7. Scale the SummitAge of the Tide

8. Daath:  Wilting On the Vine

9.  Molotov Solution:  The Harbinger

And to see our tenth and final entry on the list, continue reading after the jump.

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