Apr 302010

If you happen to be reading this post between 10:00 a.m. and noon, Pacific time, today (Friday), show some love to two of your NCS Co-Authors and tune in to their radio program. We can guarantee they will be playing two hours of some sweet extreme metal. 

You will need Winamp, iTunes, XMMS or an mp3 player capable of listening to shoutcast streams to tune in. You can listen by clicking this link. And for future reference, here’s the URL:

http://www.seattleu.edu/ksub/default.aspx?id=26824

So go do it!

Apr 302010

Today we’re continuing the experiment we began two days ago, to test our hypothesis that at least in the world of extreme metal, cool album cover art usually means there’s something worth hearing in the music. Yeah, we know it’s a ridiculous, illogical hypothesis, but at least in our random experience we think there’s some truth to it. Besides, it’s proven to be an interesting vehicle for checking out some new music.

The test methodology we used is this: We looked at news blurbs on Blabbermouth over a recent 48-hour period about new or forthcoming albums, and every time we saw a cool album cover, we visited the band’s MySpace site and listened to what was available from the album.

In Part 1 of this experiment, we reported on our first two test samples — a forthcoming album from Keep of Kalessin and a recently released album from Trident. So far, our samples confirm the hypothesis. Today, we’re reporting on the results of three more samples, courtesy of Setherial, Trigger the Bloodshed, and Witchery.

The first sample is an album called Ekpyrosis scheduled for release in May on Regain Records by that Swedish band, Setherial. The cover art, by an artist named Bartosz Nalezinski, is pictured at the top of this post. We thought it was kinda cool — a ghoulish metamorphosis of some traditional Christian iconography. But is the music cool?  We have our own opinion … after the jump. (plus the other test results)

Apr 292010

We have a pile of new, unheard releases stacked so high on the “Incoming!” table at the NCS Island that it’s in serious danger of collapsing into a heap of digitized rubble. So what are we listening to?

Well, of course, in our usual ass-backwards fashion, we’re listening to, and writing today about, an album by a French black-metal band called Aosoth that came out in December of last year. Why? Because Ashes of Angels is just so fucking raw and nasty that we can’t help but dig the shit out of it.

Of course, cats in heat are also raw and nasty, but that doesn’t mean we like listening to the noise they make. But Aosoth brings more to the cat fight than sharp claws and hair-raising howls.

Every song features a vehement blend of barn-burner blast beats and rapidly whumping double-bass (like a helicopter’s rotors whirling up to speed), high-energy tremolo-picked guitars that sound like a plague of mutant locusts, and serrated shrieking vocals. Those are the primary tools in the tool box. But what Aosoth does with those tools from song to song is unpredictable, and addictive as hell.  (more after the jump, including a song to stream . . .)

Apr 282010

In our more sentimental, naive moments, we like to think that if you lead a good life, good things will come your way. That’s the first thing we thought last night when we saw the announcement of an incredible tour launching this fall. And then we realized that you could lead the most disgustingly vile life imaginable, and all it would take for you to see this tour would be to live within driving distance of 21 select cities. So, call it random chance if you want to be strictly logical. But since one of those select cities is Seattle, we like to think it’s our reward for being so fucking good.

Feast your glazed, hooded eyes on this international line-up:

NILE (U.S.)
EX DEO (Italy)
PSYCROPTIC (Tasmania)
KEEP OF KALESSIN (Norway)
PATHOLOGY (U.S.)

See what we mean? That’s as strong a line-up from top to bottom as we’ve seen in many moons. It’s metalhead luxury beyond the dreams of avarice. It’s got to be a reward for something, doesn’t it? So for all of you out there who’ve been good, congratulations.  And for all of you who have been disgustingly vile, check out the the list of tour dates after the jump to see if random chance has allowed you to live within driving distance of one of the anointed cities.

It’s really hard to say which of these bands we’re most stoked to see, because they’re all awesome, but Psycroptic is certainly in the running. Those devilish tech-death savants from Tasmania have put out one ass-kickingly brilliant album after another and recently released an awesome live CD/DVD combo called Initiation. So, in honor of this tour’s announcement, we’ll play you a song from that live album (also after the jump . . .)

Apr 272010

We’re suckers for eye-catching album art.  We’ve found, more often than not, that when the album art is really cool, there’s something worth hearing in the music, too. That’s not based on a statistically valid survey, of course, and it doesn’t make any logical sense. But in our own personal case, it seems to be true.

To test out that hypothesis, we hunted through news items on a recent 48-hour period at Blabbermouth to find eye-catching album art, and then we listened to music from the albums in question.

For example, check out that one above.  Actually, if you’re already on this page, you don’t really have any alternative but to check it out. But it’s pretty fucking cool, isn’t it? It’s the cover to a new album called Reptilian by Norway’s Keep of Kalessin, which will be released n North America on June 8 via Nuclear Blast and in most of Europe on May 10 through Indie Recordings.

Based on the track listing (which you can see here), it appears that many of the songs will have something to do with, uh, dragons. So whaddaya know? In addition to being scary cool, the album cover actually has a thematic connection to the music.  The band’s guitarist Obsidian C. commented on the cover: “The music on Reptilian is more in your face and direct than before so we chose this cover and the title to emphasise that directness as well as focusing even more on the fantasy elemement in the band. This beast of an album is staring at you and it’s going straight for your throat!”

Well, if we had a dollar for every band that used the “straight for your throat” line to describe its music, we could quit our day jobs and flog away on this blog full-time. The question is whether Obsidian C. is spouting mere puffery or whether the music really is as cool as the album cover.  That’s the point of this little experiment. What’s the answer?  (we’ll give you our opinion, after the jump, plus another test case for our hypothesis about cool album art and cool music . . .)

Apr 262010

Three months ago we stumbled across a young Greek guitar virtuoso named Gux Drax, and based on the evidence of a few instrumental songs that were then available from a forthcoming solo album, we wrote a short post saying how blown away we were by what we were hearing.

The complete album is now out, and we’ve had it on heavy rotation since it arrived from Greece. It’s called In Search of Perfection, and as far as we’re concerned Gus can ease up on the search — because it’s nearly perfect.

We’ll tell you about that album and why you definitely should track it down, we’ll give you a song to stream from the album, and you can read our interview of Gux Drax — all that after the jump.

Apr 252010

Insidious Disease is an international super-group.  What does that mean?  It means that the members come from bands that extreme metal geeks like us hold in high esteem, and they’re spread among many countries.  To be specific, the members of Insidious Disease are:

Marc “Groo” Grewe (ex-MORGOTH) – Vocals
Sven Atle Kopperud (a.k.a. Silenoz) (DIMMU BORGIR) – Guitar
Shane Embury (NAPALM DEATH, BRUJERIA, LOCK UP) – Bass
Tony Laureano (ex-DIMMU BORGIR, NILE, ANGELCORPSE) – Drums
Jon Øyvind Andersen (a.k.a. Jardar) (OLD MAN’S CHILD) – Guitar

Seriously — gaze upon those names, and be honest: You’re interested, aren’t you? We sure as hell were. And we weren’t the only ones, because this band has just signed a worldwide deal with Century Media Records. They’ve recorded 12 songs for a debut CD to be called Shadowcast, and from what we’ve heard, it’s going to be a fucking killer.  (more after the jump, including a song . . .)

Apr 242010

The next album from Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn will be called Invictus.  It’s scheduled for release on different dates in May throughout Europe and on June 8 in North America. Yesterday the band put up the second track from Invictus on its MySpace page. It’s called “Combat”.

And if you thought the first song from the new album (“Omen”) was good — which we sure as fuck did — then you really have to hear “Combat”. It starts with a hammering riff and a howl, and takes off from there into a sonic war zone. It blends the fury of bombs exploding with feverish melodic riffs, Marcus Bischoff‘s distinctive shrieking, blackened keyboard pulses, and snatches of industrial dance-floor daze.

The song is heavy as fuck but galvanizing in its get-up-and-move compulsion. We thought “Omen” was outstanding (and said so here), but “Combat” is another step up. Based on these two samples, Invictus promises to be a landmark in the Heaven Shall Burn pantheon of discography. Seriously, go check it out here.

Apr 232010

On the night of April 21, The Finnish Metal Tour 2010 played Seattle’s El Corazon, and two of your NCS Co-Authors were there to bear witness and file this report — along with a big batch of our amateurish photos.

With the likes of Finntroll, Moonsorrow, and Swallow the Sun on the bill, we expected nothing less than excellence on stage, and that’s what we got. Which brings to mind a question we’ve had before:

How does a country with only 5.4 million people produce so many awesome metal bands? We still don’t know the answer. But whatever the explanation, here’s hoping it doesn’t stop. Judging by the reaction of the full house at El Corazon, we’re not alone in feeling that way.

Before the procession of Finns took the stage, two local bands got the growing crowd nice and warmed up.

BLOOD AND THUNDER

This five-piece Seattle band plays Gothenburg-flavored, melodic death metal, driven at a galloping pace by some flashy keyboard and guitar work. They’ve got some good song-writing chops, too. The songs were memorable, and we’ve been drawn to the band’s MySpace page to listen again.

They’re one of those rare bands whose lead vocalist is the guy behind the drum kit, and his evil, death-metal vocals make a nice contrast with the memorable melodies. We were told that the band has finished tracking a debut album, to follow an EP released last year. We definitely want to hear it. A strong start to the night!  (our concert notes continue after the jump, plus lots of photos at the end . . .)

Apr 222010

We got caught in a temporal vise. On one side was The Finnish Metal Tour 2010 at El Corazon in Seattle last night. Two of your NCS Co-Authors hit that up, and man, was it awesome! Finntroll (pictured above in one of our photos from last night), Moonsorrow, Swallow the Sun, and two very good local bands (7 Horns 7 Eyes and Blood and Thunder).

Those Finns don’t do half-measures. They all played long and late. We’re not complaining — but let’s just say it was the wee hours of the morning before we hit the rack. That’s one side of the temporal vise. And on the other side? The fucking day job. And the time in between the two just got squeezed down into a wafer-thin layer of almost nothingness. Certainly not enough time to finish messing with all the photos we took or to write our reactions to what we saw and heard.

So, to tide you over until tomorrow, when we can post our review and a batch of photos, we’re doing this: After the jump, we’ll post one photo from each of the Finnish band’s sets last night plus one album track to stream of a song from each of those sets. So, you’ll get songs from Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, and Finntroll to hear as you gaze at the photos — and imagine just how ridiculously good this concert was.  (all that, after the jump . . .)

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