Feb 282010

What have we here? It’s another Par Olofsson album cover! And just a few days after we showcased some other album covers by this prolific Swedish artist (here).

Wonder what’s inside? Hey, whaddaya know!  It’s a CD!  Wonder what it sounds like? (putting CD in music player . . . and listening)

Fuck yeah! (pumping fist in air) This is some sick shit!

(Strike that. This is supposed to be a high-brow extreme metal site, rendering sophisticated musical analysis in literate journalistic prose. Start over.)

The band is called Arkaik. They’re from beautiful Riverside County, California. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Suffocation, Necrophagist, Dying Fetus, and Decrepit Birth. Their just-released debut album on Unique Leader Records is called Reflections Within Dissonance. And what’s the music like? Fuck yeah! This is some sick shit!

Damn. We gotta do better than that. Let’s use some adjectives besides “sick.” How about: insanely fast, technical, pummeling, rhythmically dynamic. How about some metaphors? Like standing right next to a jet turbine already spooled up to a full roar while an assault squad is blasting at your head with M4s on full auto — in a hurricane. (read more after the jump . . .)

Feb 272010

“bamf”

That’s the one-word review our NCS Co-Author IntoTheDarkness conveyed about Suffokate‘s just-released new album, No Mercy No Forgiveness. Actually, I guess that’s really three words. Anyway, to justify our existence, I thought I probably needed to flesh out that review just a bit. So here goes:

Bad ass motherfucker.

Not enough fleshing out? Yeah, you’re probably right. So lemme try again.

It’s deathcore.

And now that I’ve said that, I’m guessing about 75% of our readers are reaching for their mouses to move on with their web surfing. But hold your horses! Our bro IntoTheDarkness has listened to just about every deathcore release known to the civilized and uncivilized world, and he dismisses much of it as formulaic, no-talent crapola. But he said No Mercy was bamf. So there must be something here. So I’m listening to it. What do I hear?

Down-tuned, palm muted, hardcore guitar rhythms. Check. Jackhammer drumming, heavy on the blast beats and double bass.  Check. Roof-collapsing breakdowns that you can feel in your lower GI. Check. A combo of deep-throated death metal growling and vicious, demonic shrieking (often double-tracked in unison). Check. Lyrics? Yes, they have them. Enough said about that (who listens to deathcore for lyrical content?) But wait, there’s more — isn’t there? (don’t give up — continue reading after the jump . . .)

Feb 262010

This is just a mish-mash of funny shit we saw over the last 24 hours. I had planned to be talking about some new music today, but the demands of my day job kinda screwed over those plans, so there’ll be a slight delay until tomorrow. So yeah, today’s post is more or less filler. Forgive us.

MACHINE HEAD FIRES SAN DIEGO

First up, this kinda bizarre piece of news about Oakland metal band Machine Head (pictured above):

MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn has revealed that his band has “fired” the city of San Diego, and will never play there again. He tells Rock Radio DJ David “The Captain” Grant, “A lot of crowds are awesome. But if we’re playing San Diego, we’re not going to go on the radio and say, ‘San Diego crows are awesome’ — because they’re not. They’re beat. That’s MACHINE HEAD slang for ‘We don’t like them.’ They don’t come to a show and rage and go crazy. They come to a show and say, ‘Okay… this is cool. Oh, I like this song.’ We’re not into that. I don’t know why they come to a rock show with that kind of attitude. So we don’t go to San Diego anymore. They’re fired.”

This is the first time we can remember a band deciding to fire a whole city. Sure, bands have been known to write off a particular venue where they had a shitty experience, or refusing to participate in a particular tour because of bad experiences with a particular promoter.  But giving the finger to an entire city’s worth of fans? Maybe this is a manifestation of that NoCal – SoCal rivalry that’s been around since California became a state. Or maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

But we’re guessing that now, the feeling’s mutual. Maybe some enterprising photographer will figure out a way to arrange a shot of all metal fans in San Diego gathered in a stadium and flipping the bird at Machine Head. (more after the jump, including some embarrassment about Ozzy and some wet-your-pants funny shit about Tiger Woods . . .)

Feb 252010

On the last day of last year we published a post called UK Death Metal in Review, in which we wrote about five UK extreme metal bands whose music we really enjoyed during 2009. This week we discovered good news and bad news about two of those bands — Theoktony and Viatrophy.

It’s a vivid reminder of how fleeting the ups and downs of extreme metal bands can be in this narrow little niche of music we live by, and how lucky we are that so many bands insanely care enough about the music to hang in there when the pressures to give up can become so overwhelming.

THE GOOD NEWS

We thought Theoktony’s 2008 full-length, “I“, was a real head-turning slab of technical, no-holds-barred, heavily blackened death metal, played with a lot of heart. Vicious death vocals, a very heavy low end with absolutely insane non-stop blast-beat drumming, and grinding riffs — all performed with real technical flair, a healthy dose of groove, and a mournful sense of melody.

When we originally wrote about Theoktony, we were saddened to report that the band had recently split apart. At that time, guitarist Liam Millward wrote that he was continuing to record music, providing all the instrumentals and vocals himself, and was hunting for musicians to fill out the band — and we wished him luck, because what he and his comrades did with Theoktony was awesome. (read on, after the jump . . .)

Feb 242010

Not long ago we frothed at the mouth over the latest release (Blackjazz) by Norwegian avant metallers Shining. As we noted, the music isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for something wildly inventive and wickedly insane, Blackjazz is worth your time. Today we discovered that Shining has released a video of the song “The Madness and the Damage Done.” It’s built from live footage of the band’s concerts in Trondheim and Stavanger last month, and it’s hot shit. If you’re epileptic, don’t watch this.


SHINING (NOR): The Madness and the Damage Done

SHINING – Norwegian Blackjazz | MySpace Music Videos

Feb 242010

Miseration‘s new album, The Mirroring Shadow, is not at all what we were expecting — but it’s a most welcome surprise.

Our expectations were based on the band’s first album, 2007′s Your Demons – Their Angels. That album was a particularly melodic rendering of melodic death metal, marked by the same mixture of clean singing and harsh growling that vocalist Christian Älvestam brought to his former band, Scar Symmetry. In fact, the similarities to Scar Symmetry were far more dominant than the differences.

That wasn’t a bad thing (cuz we liked the old Scar Symmetry just fine), but it seemed to us that Älvestam’s partnership in Miseration with guitarist/drummer Jani Stefanovic had become less a catalyst for change than a vehicle for continuing on with the songwriting style and musical sound of the band Älvestam had just left.

But on The Mirroring Shadow, Miseration has become a different breed of cat altogether. And we mean something like a prehistoric sabretooth — big, fast, powerful, vicious, and with teeth the size of carving knives. (more after the jump, including songs to hear and a digression about album artwork. . .)

Feb 232010

We’re now almost two months into 2010, and it’s already time for our second update to the list of forthcoming new albums we posted on January 1.  (See the original list here and the first update here.) Below is a list of still more projected new releases that we didn’t know about on January 1 or at the time of our last update about a month ago — and there’s a lot of them.

Once again, we’ve cobbled together news blurbs about bands whose past work we’ve liked, or who look interesting for other reasons. Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway), these are bands that mostly fit the profile of music we cover on this site.

So, in alphabetical order, here’s our list of cut-and-pasted blurbs from various sources over the last month about forthcoming new releases:

1349: “Prosthetic Records will release the brand new album from Norwegian black metal legends 1349 in North America via an agreement with Indie Recordings. The new CD, which promises ‘a return to the band’s more traditional, raw-yet-technical black metal sound,’ is due on April 13. In support of the yet-to-be-titled record, 1349 will embark on a North American tour in April and May as the support act for CANNIBAL CORPSE (alongside SKELETONWITCH and LECHEROUS NOCTURNE).”

ABACABB: “ABACABB are currently out on the road headlining the Hot Dice On Black Ice Tour featuring Upon A Burning Body!. The tour just hit Texas and will be in California this weekend. Following the tour ABACABB will enter the studio with producer Will Putney at Machine Shop in New Jersey and will have a new album to be released sometime this summer.”

AEON: “Swedish death metallers AEON have set Path Of Fire as the title of their third album, due later in the year via Metal Blade Records. The CD was recorded in September 2009 at Empire Studio in Östersund, Sweden and was mixed the following month at Mana Recording Studios in St, Petersburg, Florida by Erik Rutan (HATE ETERNAL, MORBID ANGEL, CANNIBAL CORPSE). The mastering was handled by Alan Douches at West West Side Music (CONVERGE, HATEBREED, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN) in New Windsor, New York.”

AMORPHIS: “AMORPHIS will release its first-ever live DVD, Forging The Land Of Thousand Lakes, in early June via Nuclear Blast, in time for the band’s 20th anniversary. The filming took place on November 20, 2009 at Club Teatria in Oulu, Finland, where AMORPHIS was supported by STRATOVARIUS and BEFORE THE DAWN. In addition to the full-length live show, the anniversary DVD will include plenty of bonus material documenting the band’s impressive career.”   (much more after the jump . . . )

Feb 222010

Spastic headbangers rejoice! Meshuggah‘s live performance DVD/CD Alive is out and available for purchase.

We’re guessing the odds that (a) you care enough about extreme metal to visit sites like ours, but (b) have never listened to Meshuggah, are (c) pretty fucking small. If by some tiny chance you haven’t given Meshuggah a serious listen, then this would be a very good time to do it. If, as is likely, you already know the music, you’re going to have a meshuggasm watching and listening to Alive.

[From the NCS Dictionary: meshuggasm: intense or paroxysmal excitement; especially: an explosive discharge of neuromuscular tensions at the height of arousal produced by listening to Meshuggah.]

The Alive DVD includes live performance footage from Meshuggah concerts during 2009 in Montreal, Toronto, and New York City, and from a 2008 festival performance in Tokyo. The decision to compile and alternate performance cuts from different venues rather than show one concert from start to finish keeps the video visually interesting, and presumably allowed the band and the director to pick the best live performances of each song.

The video includes 12 songs performed live, 5 from the latest full-length ObZen (“Pravus”, “Bleed”, “Electric Red”, “Lethargica”, and “Combustion”), 4 from Nothing (“Perpetual Black Second”, “Stengah”, “Rational Gaze”, and “Straws Pulled At Random”), 2 from Chaosphere (“New Millenium Cyanide Christ” and “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled”), and 1 from Contradictions Collapse (“Humiliative”). (more after the jump, including a track from the CD . . .)

Feb 212010

The day before yesterday I flew from Seattle to my hometown of Austin, Texas, to visit family and friends. Yet another reminder that air travel basically sucks ass. One of the few upsides for me when I do it is the opportunity to catch up on new metal releases – and man, they’ve been piling up like snow drifts since the first of the year.

But all good things come at a cost, and the price I paid on this plane trip was being subjected to an almost non-stop attack of farting. Seriously, my section of the plane was Fart Central for more than three hours. I don’t know who the perpetrators were, though I have my guesses. All I know is that I was enveloped in a noxious miasma, one wave after another, for most of the fucking trip.

If you travel by car with friends, or you’re in a metal band touring by van, and a fellow passenger cuts one, you can roll down the windows, or in case of a particularly vicious attack, you can get out of the car — preferably after it’s come to a full stop.

Those options aren’t available at 30,000 feet. You’re trapped like an animal with its leg in a bear trap. You’ve heard how wolves caught in a trap have been known to chew through their own leg to escape? That’s how I felt. Probably not as bad as being water-boarded, but if given the choice, I probably would have swapped tortures.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Immolation, Miseration, Meshuggah, and Carnifex didn’t intend their new releases to be heard under these conditions. Let me tell you, it’s a big fucking distraction. You start getting into the music – and that’s some mighty fine music I was cranking out – and then your nose hairs start to burn, and you might as well be listening to Lady Fucking Gaga.

Anyway, forgive me. I had intended to have a review of one of these awesome albums prepped and ready to roll out today, but I really gotta have a do-over on the listening experience. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that whatever they pay flight attendants, it ain’t enough. And I’m thinking of wearing a ski mask for the return flight to Seattle. It might actually be worth the body cavity search I’d get from TSA at the security checkpoint.

Have a very metal day. We’ll get back to music tomorrow.

Feb 202010

This post is about Rush, “YYZ”, and Xerath (pictured above), in that order, and includes a video that will make you smile and maybe even laugh. Most likely you have no idea what we’re talking about. But look, it’s Saturday (for most of you). What else have you got to do while you’re recovering from whatever damage you did to yourself last night?

Rush is a 3-man Canadian rock band that’s been around for more than 30 years. There was a time when it would have been unnecessary to explain who they are, but times change.

Over the course of their career, they’ve accumulated 24 gold records and 14 platinum records (three of them multi-platinum). They rank fourth – behind the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Aerosmith – for the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band. Industry sources have estimated that worldwide, Rush has sold more than 40 million units.

Apart from being wildly popular for a long time, Rush has also been musically dynamic and inventive and has influenced many metal musicians over the years, including bands such as Dream Theater, Primus, and Symphony X.

Rush’s best-selling album of all was 1981’s Moving Pictures, which was certified quadruple platinum. The album was full of pop-friendly prog rock that got lots of radio play and greatly expanded Rush’s audience. It included one instrumental song called “YYZ” that sounds remarkably fresh today, after almost 30 years. (stay with us — more after the jump . . .)

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