Mar 312010

We’re now a full three months into 2010, and it’s time for our third update to the list of forthcoming new albums we posted on January 1.  (See the original list here, the first update here, and the second 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 two updates — and the new sickness is still spreading in epidemic proportions.

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 since our last update about forthcoming new releases. Look for the bands you like and put reminders on your calendar. Or if you’re old school like us, just get em tattooed someplace you can see without a mirror (because reading stuff backwards is hard).

ANAAL NATHRAKH: “U.K. extreme metallers ANAAL NATHRAKH have commenced work on material for a new album, tentatively due before the end of the year.”

ANNIHILATOR: “Canadian thrash metal veterans ANNIHILATOR will release their 13th, self-titled album in Europe on May 17 via Earache Records, in Japan through Marquee and in Australia via Riot Entertainment.”

ARISE: “A two-minute video trailer for The Reckoning, the fourth album from Swedish death/thrashers ARISE, can be viewed below. Due on March 22 through Regain Records, the CD features guest appearances by Jonas Kjellgren (SCAR SYMMETRY, ex-CARNAL FORGE), Mikael Stanne (DARK TRANQUILLITY) and Jake Fredém (NOSTRADAMEUS).” [NOTE: the album is now scheduled for release on April 6.]

(more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 302010

In the spring of 2009, undisclosed disagreements led to the departure of two of the three members of Romanian black metal band Negură Bunget. But although founding member Hupogrammos and Sol Faur were on their way out the door, they finished working with co-founder Negru on a re-recording of the band’s 2000 album, Măiastru Sfetnic. The new work, called Măiestrit, was recently released, and as we wrote yesterday, it’s a remarkably impressive work.

With Hupogrammos and Sol Faur gone, Negru set about recruiting a new line-up, including a guitarist and vocalist called Corb and a guitarist called Spin. In all, the new Negură Bunget is a six-piece band constructed to give even more attention to traditional folk instruments. And the new line-up has just released its debut album, Vîrstele Pămîntului (now available on iTunes).

We listened to Măiestrit first, and then wondered how Vîrstele Pămîntului would compare, both in musical style and in quality.

The answer to the first question is that the latter album has moved even further away from black-metal stylings and deeper into the territory of progressive folk metal. But in terms of quality, the re-constituted Negură Bunget has taken no steps backward. The new album is a passionate and entrancing combination of extreme metal and traditional folk melodies and instruments, and we like it a lot.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 292010

I’ve said before that I’m a latecomer to the charms of black metal, and I’m trying to educate myself. Romania’s Negură Bunget has been on my list of bands to check out, but I decided to wait for two new releases that were forecast for this year. Those albums — Măiestrit and Vîrstele Pămîntului — have recently become available, though the bands that produced them are not entirely the same.

Up until the spring of 2009, Negură Bunget consisted of drummer Negru, vocalist/keyboardist Hupogrammos, and guitarist/bassist Sol Faur (all pictured above). At that point, the latter two members left the band (and are now involved in a project called Dordeduh), and Negru recruited new artists to continue creating music under the Negură Bunget banner.

The first of the two new releases, Măiestrit, is a re-recording of the band’s 2000 album called Măiastru Sfetnic, and the new production was completed in 2009 by the three original members of the band. The second album is the work of Negru and his new bandmates. Today we’ll write about Măiestrit and tomorrow we’ll come to Vîrstele Pămîntului.

We haven’t listened to the 2000 recording of Măiastru Sfetnic, but Negru explained in a recent Decibel magazine interview (May 2010 issue) that the new release is both an enhancement in production and a re-imagined interpretation of the music, prompted by the band’s complete dissatisfaction with the 2000 album.

Obviously, we can’t comment on the previous release or contrast the old with the new. But considered as a stand-alone effort, Măiestrit is completely captivating in its emotional power and is one of the most impressive albums we’ve heard this year. (more after the jump, including a track to stream from Măiestrit . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 282010

Not long ago, we confessed on this site the reason why we so rarely post negative reviews about new music. It’s not because we like everything we hear (though undoubtedly some readers think we’re too easily impressed). It’s because we’re devoted to extreme metal and we’d rather sing its praises than spend our time slagging hard-working bands whose music doesn’t happen to zap the right chords in our addled brains.

The problem is that sometimes we hit a stretch of listening where, by sheer chance, we go through several albums in a row that don’t strike those chords — and then we’re out of time. We’re under self-imposed pressure to get something new up on this site, but we just don’t have any new music we can honestly praise at that moment. So then what the fuck do we do? We post pictures of catz. Or woodpeckers.

We hit one of those stretches the last couple of days. So, what to do? We were thinking about pictures of toads (don’t breathe sighs of relief too quickly — we might still do that eventually). But this time, with apologies to all our toad lovers, we’re trying something new. Just for a change, we’ll say a few brief words about those albums we heard recently that, by random chance, just didn’t get us all hot and bothered. They’re not bad. In fact, the musicians are extremely talented, and there’s parts of them we think are pretty fucking cool. But on the whole? Not music we’re likely to listen to a second time, given our tastes.

So, after the jump, hit-and-run comments about Triptykon (pictured above), Ne Obliviscaris, and Persefone.  And just so you can form your own conclusions, we’ll give you a song to hear from each album — because this really comes down to a matter of personal preference.  (continue reading after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 272010

Maybe there’s a band out in the world someplace that sounds like Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse — but if so, we haven’t heard it yet. Their 2009 debut album, Oracles, combined blowtorch death metal with (gulp!) classical music.

Guess we’d better define our terms here. By “blowtorch death metal,” we’re trying to convey the almost overpowering onslaught produced by rapid, atomizing, chainsaw guitar rhythms, blazingly fast drum noise (heavy on the blast beats), shred-tastic ax solos, and staccato, brutal-death-metal gutturals — all mixed together in a fuzz-heavy production. You know, like a blowtorch to the face. You could search high and low and not find more pulverizing sounds that could still be called music with a straight face.

If that’s all Fleshgod Apocalypse had given us in Oracles, it would have been enough –because the blowtorch metal was ass-kickingly over the top. But they didn’t stop there. They added to the mix some massive grooves and unexpected segments of majestic melody.

But they didn’t stop with that either. Sprinkled here and there (briefly) on Oracles were intros, outros, and interludes of classical or medieval music — pianos and strings, orchestral passages, monastic chants. Talk about a mind-bending concept — one moment the music is tearing along like the back end of a jet engine and in the next moment you’re hearing a Viennese waltz. We know that sounds kinda ridiculous, but believe us — it works.  (read on after the jump . . . and listen to a new track . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 262010

The Republic of Moldova is a nation of about 3.5 million people, physically the size of Maryland, located near the Black Sea between Romania and Ukraine. Once part of the Soviet Union, it gained independence in 1991. Like many of the former Soviet Republics, it has faced economic challenges, and by most standard economic measures it’s one of the poorest countries in Europe. As a launching pad for extreme metal bands, you’d have to think it’s not ideal.

Yet even in this small country that most Americans probably haven’t even heard of, there’s an underground metal scene. And it has produced a band called Neuromist that we think is worth close attention.

There are four guys in this operation: Kirill (“Cyke”) Zmurciuk (guitars), Mike Grigorash (drums), Alex Petriuk (bass), and Vladimir Ghilien (vocals).  After starts and stops lasting almost two years, they’ve finally finished and released their first album, called Move of Thought — and it’s a striking debut. In fact, we like the music so much we’ve agreed to help the band distribute the album by making it available for free download in its entirety on this site.

As if trying to break out their music from Moldova weren’t a big enough hurdle, these dudes have focused their efforts on a style of metal that presents more-than-typical challenges to success, both in songwriting and in execution. They list among their influences bands such as Atheist, Coroner, Cynic, and Meshuggah (plus some other interesting names), and that’s indeed the musical landscape where they’ve chosen to make their mark — with remarkable success. (more after the jump, including a track to stream and that download link we promised . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 252010

This is turning into Invisible-Oranges-link-week. A couple days ago we wrote here about a post at that site on the “Top 10 Most Overused Words in Metal Journalism.” The list unfortunately included some of our favorite words, including the word “fucking.” So, of course we had to litter our own post with F-bombs, just to make ourselves feel better. And that drew some pretty goddamned funny comments, which also made liberal use of F-words, including an observation from Cosmo Lee that we were all starting to sound like Frank Mullen.

At the same time as I stumbled across that Top 10 post at Invisible Oranges, I also read Cosmo Lee’s review (here) of a new album by a German black-metal band called Imperium Dekadenz. That beautiful review really grabbed me. As we try to do at our site, Cosmo Lee included a track from the album to stream — and the song just floored me. So without delay I bought the album the quickest way I knew how (iTunes) and listened to the whole thing — and I was even more floored.

I thought, there’s a chance some of our readers at NCS might not also follow Invisible Oranges, and this is music I really need to share. So my original plan was just to tell you the album is awesome, point you to Cosmo Lee’s review, make a song available, and quit while I was ahead. That would have been the smart thing to do, because seriously, I didn’t think there was a snowball’s chance in hell I could improve on Cosmo’s review.

But I’m not so smart. It occurred to me that although I couldn’t improve on that review, I could translate it into the kind of verbiage we tend to use here at NCS. You know, language written by and for mentally impaired people. And then I thought, what the fuck, I might as well go all-in and channel Frank Mullen while doing that!  So here goes:  (read on after the jump, if you’re mentally impaired . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 242010

We don’t listen to much hardcore music here at NCS. It’s not that we don’t like it. It just doesn’t rattle our cages as much as other kinds of extreme metal. But in recent years certain metal- and death-metal influenced hardcore bands have infiltrated our music players and fought an effective behind-the-lines assault on our brains.

Over the last few days we’ve come across some news items about a few of those bands that we’d like to share with you, along with some of their songs: The Contortionist, Monument to Thieves, Legend, and The Last Felony.  They’ve all got new music on the way that we’re pretty hot to hear. They don’t sound alike, but the one thing they have in common is the ability to write powerful, passionate songs with infectious grooves, and some dynamic variations from the norm to accompany the breakdowns.

(By the way, we’d rather call these bands “core-metal” instead of “metalcore” or “deathcore” because nowadays those latter terms trail along a bunch of baggage that we don’t think fits these bands.)


The breaking news about this Indianapolis-based band is that they’ve signed with Good Fight Music and will be entering the studio this spring with producer Ken Susi (Unearth‘s guitarist) to begin recording a debut album for a mid-to-late-summer release.

Good Fight Music is the label division of Good Fight Entertainment, which was founded by industry veterans Paul Conroy and Carl Severson, who were former partners at Ferret Music, Warner Music, and ChannelZERO. (more to come, after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 232010

This weekend I spent a little time catching up with other metal blogs I like. If I weren’t so fucking wordy in my own writing, I’d have more time to read on a daily basis and wouldn’t fall behind. Anyway, there’s one post I wish I hadn’t read. It was Justin Norton‘s feature on the “Top 10 Most Overused Words in Metal Journalism” at Invisible Oranges. It made me cringe. Here’s how it started:

“Writing about metal is a lot like covering sports. Dozens of releases drop week after week like games stack up during a season. Just like sports writers try to find ways to make a touchdown pass sound like a major event, it’s tough to find a novel description for the umpteenth grindcore or black metal album. So the same words and phrases show up again and again.  Trust me, I’ve used them all.”

And then he proceeded to catalogue the 10 worst offenders — the overused, cliched words that metal writers litter in their album reviews like Big Mac wrappers on the sidewalk. You know, our oldest friends — the words we use constantly here at NCS, particularly No. 9. We can’t bear to include the painful descriptions that followed each word in Justin’s post, but here’s the list:

1. Brutal
2. (Enter genre) and add a y (e.g., progg-y, doom-y)
3. Epic
4. Blackened
5. Melodic
6. Majestic
7. Any adjective hinting at bodily harm (e.g., pummeling, bruising, scorching)
8. Full-length
9. Fucking
10. Lots of adverbs (e.g., kick-ass)

(Groan. . .) Kind of hits the mark, doesn’t it? But is there another side to this story? Shit, we hope so. (By the way, “shit” wasn’t on the list, so I feel safe in using that word.) For example, if I had to write a whole review without being allowed to use the word “fucking,” I’m afraid I’d have some kind of seizure. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 222010

Suomalaista Metallia! We seem to be on a Finnish metal roll over the last week. First Kalmah, then The Jasser Arafats, and now Blastanus. Or maybe we’re just on a weird-band-name roll. On the subject of what this band’s name means, here’s a multiple-choice quiz:

(a) Pronounced “BLAST-uh-nus”, the name of the Finnish pagan deity who rules the underworld; lord of the heroic dead who perished by flame and sword;
(b) Severe gastrointestinal condition caused by eating too many wild berries in the Finnish countryside;
(c) What would happen if a cow tried to stifle a severe sneeze;
(d) None of the above.

If you chose (d), congratulations! From the band’s MySpace page: “The concept of Blastanus derived from the sick minds of two friends who at a young age decided to stop trivializing their existence and concentrate on the things that matter the most in life: Blastbeat and, well, you know, assholes!”

You’re probably already beginning to makes guesses about what kind of metal this is. But slow down a minute and hear us out.

Blastanus has one album to its credit. Self-released in July 2009, it’s appropriately called Odd, and consists of 16 tracks ranging in length from 00:07 to 04:12. The basic foundation is grindcore, with all the elements you might expect — pervasive blast beats inflicted at such high speed as to create a fused wall of sound, vocals that alternate between low-end gutturals and piercing shrieks, and distorted guitar riffs that spin like a band-saw shearing through wood.

But grindcore is just the foundation, and on top of that Blastanus has pulled materials from other genres to erect an intriguing residence for themselves. (more after the jump, plus a chance to download the album . . .) Continue reading »