Jan 312010

Last week we ran a look-back at Eryn Non Dae‘s striking 2009 album Hydra Lernaïa, and then followed that with an interview of the band’s terrific bass player Mika André. In the interview, we asked Mika if he would recommend some other French metal bands that we might not know about here in the U.S. of A. He obliged, and of course we had to go check them out. Two of his choices hit us in the sweet spot. You might dig ‘em too, so here goes:

DOPPLeR

DOPPLeR (pictured above) is a three-man band that hails from Lyon and appears to have been playing since 1998 — and their years of experience show in the music. The line up is Yann Coste on drums, Xavier Amado on bass, and Yoann Brière on guitar/vocals. Their latest album, Songs to defy, was released in the fall of 2008 by SKrecords. So much for the hard data. What do they sound like?

Here’s a string of genre labels, all of which roughly suit some of what’s going on in Songs to defy: progressive, experimental, noise rock, hardcore, punk, tribal. But while you can slap a genre label on some bands and that tells you about all you need to know, it doesn’t work here because, as the album title suggests, these songs defy labels.  (more after the jump . . .)

Jan 292010

Can you give me 8 minutes of your time? I don’t mean the time it will take you to read this, but 8 minutes I’ll invite you to spend streaming a song afterward.

I don’t ask that lightly. Once upon a time, early in the last century, or even a very few years ago, 8 minutes would have been nothing. But I appreciate that today life moves quickly, our attention spans are limited, and whether we use our time wisely or frivolously, 8 minutes still counts.

But if you’ll consider that request, now imagine this: You are who you are, but you’re not who you are at this moment. Instead, you’re crouching on a sodden plain at the crest of sunrise. You’re wet and cold. Your clothes are thin, and insufficient to repel the chill. The darkness envelopes you, and you are alone.

You’re hungry and shivering, and when the sickly light grows brighter, though not bright enough to fully penetrate the fog and the rain, you will be fighting. Not for yourself alone, but for someone you love – your spouse, your brother or sister, your parents, your soulmate, anyone for whom you imagine you would risk your life – or for something within yourself that’s important.

Those you love are behind you, or what is important to your self is within you, and in front of you is a threat. You may be a man or a woman, but you are alone, and no one else will aid you. Your life may be forfeit, but there is a chance. And if all else fails, you will go down with a scream of defiance on your lips and you will do what damage you can to your foe before the end arrives. (if you’re still indulging this weird post, continue reading after the jump . . .)

Jan 292010

As part of our periodic look-backs at 2009 and the albums that really grabbed us by the throat, we wrote yesterday about Eryn Non Dae and their mind-bending 2009 release, Hydra Lernaïa. The band also graciously agreed to answer some of our off-the-wall interview questions by e-mail.

They also generously agreed to my request for a plane ticket to Toulouse so I could see them play live on February 18. And all I have to do is buy them tickets to fly back with me to the U.S. so they can play here. Such a deal!

Bass-player Mika André was the designated hitter for our curve-ball questions, and he responded to them just as you would expect based on END’s music: No rushed, off-the-top-of-the-head answers, but responses that reflected some serious thought, effort, and intelligence. Not your typical metalhead interview — just as END is far from a typical band.  (read the full interview after the jump . . .)

Jan 282010

We didn’t start this blog site until Nov 23 last year.  So when metal bands were releasing albums earlier in 2009, we weren’t around to publicly flap our gums about them. We’ve been trying to make up for lost time by occasionally writing about bands whose 2009 releases really made an impression on us.

Today we’re writing about a band from Toulouse, France called Eryn Non Dae, and their striking 2009 full-length debut, Hydra Lernaïa — an album unlike anything else we heard last year and one of our favorites.

The band was also kind enough to participate in an interview by e-mail, and we’ll run that in Part 2 of this post tomorrow. We tried to come up with some unusual questions, and what we got back was consistent with the music these dudes create.  They didn’t just dash off the first thoughts that popped into their heads — they took their time, and their answers are thoughtful, intelligent, thought-provoking and far from run of the mill. Definitely come back here tomorrow and check it out.

In the meantime, if you’re not familiar with the band, allow us to introduce you to them and to the unique album they dropped on an unsuspecting world last year. (continue reading after the jump . . .)

Jan 272010

We have seen the future of extreme metal, and it is bright!

The METAL AS ART tour featuring Hypno5e, Revocation, and The Binary Code is one we’ve been waiting for with bated breath for months. We’ve been curious about Hypno5e and huge fans of Revocation and The Binary Code for a while now (we’ve written about our admiration for Revocation here and The Binary Code here and here).

On January 26, the wait ended as the tour rolled into Seattle’s Studio Seven, with support from local band 7 Horns 7 Eyes — which was the biggest revelation of the night — and two of your NCS Authors were there.

This was, bar none, one of the best shows from end to end that we’ve seen in many moons. These are young bands that are capable of carrying the future of extreme metal on their shoulders.  If merit counts for anything (and unfortunately, it doesn’t always), these hard-working dudes will find a place in the vanguard and the kind of widespread notice they deserve.

For our detailed review of the performances and a big collection of our amateurish photos, continue on after the jump . . . .

Jan 272010

Late last year we wrote about the storm surge of new metal over the last few years. Even if you confine yourselves to bands with labels, it’s enough to swamp the average listener. And if you also consider extreme metal being churned out by unsigned bands, it’s impossible to hear everything that might actually appeal to you, even if you’re devoted to only one or two sub-genres and don’t care about the rest.

Given this state of affairs, one of the most useful things a site like this one can do is help you sift through the floodwaters and try to point out the hidden treasures that might actually change your life (or at least your week). And here at NCS, we try to give equal coverage to extreme metal from other lands.

This week we’ve been on sort of a mini world tour of metal. On Monday, we visited Greece and wrote about Gus Drax. The next day we hopped the Atlantic to visit Costa Rica and Sight of Emptiness. And today we’re jumping back across the ocean to Italy and Vomit the Soul.

The first two bands we visited this week produce metal that’s infused with melody. But if melody is what you’re after, you should continue your web-surfing right now, because you won’t find even a whisper of it in what Vomit the Soul blasts out. But if every now and then you like to have your brains scrambled by a visceral sonic assault that completely removes you from what’s going on around and within you, this is a band you should definitely check out.  (more after the jump . . .)

Jan 262010

bgg

See those pictures above? In descending order, that’s Arch Enemy, Behemoth, Dragonforce, Dez Fafara, Carnifex, Axl Rose, and the late great Dimebag, all flipping the bird. This is a pretty random selection. If we’d had more time, we could have made this photo gallery a lot longer. For every metal band you’ve got on your personal music player, odds are that somewhere there’s a photo of them giving the finger.

Who are they flipping off? Is it the photographer? Is it you, their adoring fans? Is it the world in general? And why are they doing this?  (more after the jump . . .)

Jan 252010

Sight of Emptiness plays Gothenburg-style melodic death metal. But they’re not from Sweden, or from anywhere in Europe, or even from the U.S. Sight of Emptiness hails from — of all places — Costa Rica.

Costa Rica isn’t known for its melodic death metal. In fact, until stumbling across Sight of Emptiness, we didn’t know anyone in Costa Rica played any flavor of death metal. And for that reason, we probably wouldn’t have been tempted even to listen to this band’s musical output. But what changed our minds was the news that the band’s second studio album, Absolution of Humanity, which is expected to be released late February/early March, was mastered in Sweden by Jens Bogren, who has done similar duties for the likes of Opeth, Amon Amarth, Soilwork, Bloodbath, Katatonia, and Symphony X.

The band has posted three songs from Absolution of Humanity on its MySpace page, and has released a performance video of a fourth song, “Faceless Dream.” Based on this offering, the band is definitely following the trail blazed by bands such as Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates, but that’s not a bad thing.  As pathfinders go, those bands are peerless. And Sight of Emptiness has both good songwriting skills and solid musical technique, and we particularly liked the impressive vocal range of frontman Eduardo (aka “Filthy”) and the occasional touches of Spanish musical passages added to the mix.

This is some catchy, headbanging fun. The novelty of being an extreme metal band from Costa Rica may be the initial hook for these dudes, but there’s substance here, too. Sight of Emptiness is currently unsigned, but we’re wishing ‘em luck in finding a label.

Check out this video of “Faceless Dream” by Sight of Emptiness:

Sight of Emptiness – Faceless Dream from Sight of Emptiness on Vimeo.

Jan 252010

Doesn’t matter what flavor of metal you like, if you’re a headbanger you got a weakness for guitar gods, amiright?

But have you heard of Gus Drax? No? Let me introduce you.

Gus Drax is from Greece.  He’s 22 years old. He plays with UK prog metal outfit Biomechanical and has recently signed on to play with German thrashers Paradox, too. He has an instrumental solo album on the way called In Search of Perfection. And he can play guitar like nobody’s business.

Seriously, this dude has got some truly eye-popping chops, and based on a few songs from his forthcoming solo effort that have recently been made available for streaming on his MySpace page, he’s got major-league songwriting skills, too. These prog-metal instrumentals vary in tempo but are infectiously melodic and densely packed with some truly amazing solo riffage. But Drax’s playing is not simply a display of technical pyrotechnics. It’s got heart and soul in spades.  (more after the jump — including a sample song and a video)

Jan 242010

I’m hung over. That could possibly explain my ornery reaction to a few recent pieces of news, courtesy of Blabbermouth. Here’s one:

Ozzy Osbourne is planning on releasing a concert DVD later this year featuring never-before-seen footage of his band — including late guitarist Randy Rhoads — performing in 1981. Ozzy wrote yesterday (Friday, January 22) on his Twitter profile after viewing the Randy-era material, “I’m speechless.”

Man, if that were only true — and if only Ozzy would remain speechless for the rest of his mush-mouthed life. And if there’s any remote chance that watching the DVD would render the rest of his grotesque family speechless, I hope he makes them watch it too.

So, I have to wonder, who would buy this? I’m envisioning wasted 50-something headbangers with beer guts the size of Montana and wandering minds, or teenagers who think it’s cool to be retro. Of course, it’s inevitable that someone will read this who doesn’t fall into either of those categories and will think I’m a complete asshole. Someone won’t mind Ozzy’s attempt to trade on the memory of a dead guy and will want to punch my lights out. To which I would say, get in the fucking line.

But wait! There’s more! (after the jump . . .)

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