May 312010

On the night of May 28, Dark Tranquillity‘s 2010 WE ARE THE VOID TOUR made its scheduled stop at Studio Seven in Seattle, and two of your NCS collaborators were present to take in all the awesomeness this show had to offer.

This was a must-see event for us, because Dark Tranquillity was one of the bands that first hooked us on extreme metal. And apart from the significance of that, we catch their live act whenever possible because they dependably deliver outstanding performances. Of course, they weren’t alone — Threat Signal, Mutiny Within, and local band Blood and Thunder were also on the bill.

So, here’s our report on the concert, plus we’ve got an unusually large batch of performance photos to show you after the all the verbiage.  (And if you think these photos are amateurish, you should see the hundreds we took that didn’t make the cut!)

BLOOD AND THUNDER

We’re not gonna say too much about this band’s performance here  – because we devoted a whole post to them yesterday. In a nutshell, they kicked massive amounts of ass: A great stage presence; technically excellent playing; and one catchy, headbangable song after another. This band churns out modern melodic death metal that deserves a wider audience.  (We do have some photos of the band’s performance that we didn’t put in yesterday’s post — so we’re putting those up at the end of this one.)

(stay with us after the jump for the rest of this review, plus all those photos we promised . . .)

May 302010

Two nights ago, one of my NCS collaborators (Alexis) and I hit Studio Seven in Seattle for Dark Tranquillity‘s headlining We Are the Void Tour. Along with Threat Signal and Mutiny Within, the night also featured an opening performance by a Seattle band called Blood and Thunder. We’ll be posting our review of the entire show tomorrow, but we decided it was time to focus on Blood and Thunder in a way that the typical format of our concert reviews doesn’t really allow.

The two main draws for us at this show were, of course, Dark Tranquillity (who were cosmically awesome) — and the band we’re writing about today. We’d seen them for the first time a month ago when they opened for The Finnish Metal Tour on its Seattle stop (reviewed by us here), and we were super-impressed. Now that we’ve had the chance to see and hear them a second time, we’re even more blown away.

The local Seattle metal scene has a growing number of talented bands that we predict you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the near future, but Blood and Thunder may just be the best un-signed extreme metal band in Seattle.

We spent time talking with some of the guys after their set at Studio Seven. In addition to being superb songwriters and musicians, they’re as nice a bunch of metalheads as you could want to meet, and they were patient enough to pose for some photos outside the venue (like the one above and a few more after the jump). But they’re also dead serious and very intelligent in the way they’re going about trying to make a name for themselves in this overcrowded niche of music. It was an eye-opening conversation for us.

(Continue reading after the jump for our report on that conversation, our review of Blood and Thunder’s set, and a big batch of our barely tolerable concert photos of this band in action . . .)

May 292010

If you’ve been visiting this site regularly, you know that we’re suckers for cool album art. In fact, we’ve been engaged in an experiment, off and on, to test the completely illogical hypothesis that if album art is eye-catching, there’s usually something about the music that’s worthwhile, too. You can see our last test cases here and here.

Today’s example is that mind-bending motherfucker up above. The art is by Kenneth Fairclough, whose MySpace page is at this location. It’s the cover for the first EP of a New York metal band named FXZero.

It seems to be a twist on iconic images of the Madonna and Child, except this conception wasn’t immaculate and Mary don’t look too thrilled about daddy’s visitation, or about the offspring of their not-so-blessed union. Looks like the rest of the world isn’t too happy about the visit either, given the destruction that surrounds this bizarre trio. The beret is a nice touch, too.

This thing is so eye-catchingly strange that it’s worth a closer look. Let’s blow up part of this image. Bigger is better, right?  (after the jump . . . and we’ll get to the music, too)

May 282010

A few days ago, we started a post by saying, “Sometimes when we listen to metal, we just want to get mentally pulverized.” If you never feel that way, well, please go on about your business and come back tomorrow when we’ll probably be writing about something else.

But today, we’re in that mental-pulverization mood. And in case you’re also in the mood to have your brains scrambled, have we found the right short-order cooks for you: Aeon and Exhale. Coincidentally, both bands are from Sweden. They each employ different techniques on the grill, but their new albums both get the job done in masterful fashion.

AEON

With a few of the inevitable line-up changes, Aeon (pictured above) has been playing for more than a decade, and Path of Fire (released on Metal Blade) is their third full-length album and the first since 2007. The album was mixed by Erik Rutan and mastered by the ubiquitous Alan Douches.

The name of the game is technical death metal, and it’s as sweet as it is punishing. With few exceptions, the songs depend on low-end, driving riffs and hammering double-kicks that put us in mind of an inexorably charging train, scattering sparks and belching smoke. The picking is fast and dynamic, yet there’s no flash-for-the-sake-of-flash going on here — each song is built around a defined rhythmic structure designed to burrow heavy grooves into your skull.  (more after the jump, including songs to stream . . .)

May 272010

This is a reminder that two of the three perpetrators of this site (Alexis and IntoTheDarkness) host an internet-only radio show every Friday morning from 10:00 – 12:00 Pacific Time on KSUB, the radio station of Seattle University.

We usually think about posting a reminder after the show has already started, or sometimes after it’s done — but this week we’re ahead of the game.

There’s not a lot of talk on this show, other than Alexis and IntoTheDarkness telling you what you’ve just heard and are about to hear. It’s basically one track of extreme metal after another for two hours, with no commercials, and the playlists they create are killer.

To hear the show, you’ll 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

May 272010

Well, fuck, we knew we’d feel guilty about having some fun at the expense of Ukrainian metal band Semargl in our post a few days ago about their latest video, and sure enough: The band was nice enough to leave a comment on our MySpace page complimenting our post.

Gotta hand it to ‘em for having a sense of humor about themselves (and about us). And the truth is, we’ve had that song “Credo Revolution” stuck in our heads for days — so much so that we started listening to samples from three other tracks off the band’s new album that are streaming on their MySpace page.

It’s a mix of divergent styles — some death metal, some groove-oriented power metal, some hard rock (as on “Credo Flaming Rain” — with guest vocals supplied by Nera (Darzamat), who’s pictured above with the band). This is definitely not the kind of thing we usually listen to here at NCS — but confession is good for the soul, and we confess that we’ve now ordered Ordo Bellictum Satanas.

Not sayin’ you should, just sayin’ we did.  We’ll probably feel guilty about that too.

May 272010

More than a month has passed since we posted our last update about the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, and we figured it was time to check in again.

Since our last update, Exodus, Forbidden, and Testament have signed on. That’s a heavyweight injection of Bay Area thrash into this floating festival (we’ll give you the complete current line-up of 18 bands after the jump). Plus, in related news, the Swedes have gotten in on the act by putting together their own metal cruise (more on that after the jump too).

If you don’t know what this cruise is, we’ll fill you in: The organizers have chartered a cruise ship (Royal Caribbean’s “Majesty of the Seas”) capable of carrying 40 metal bands (which means they’re still targeting 22 more bands to fill out the line-up) and 2,000 fans, departing Miami on January 24, 2011 for a 5-day, 4-night cruise in the Caribbean, including a stop at the Mexican island of Cozumel.

The 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise has got great potential — both good and bad. It could be a truly awesome experience. It could also be a clusterfuck of cosmic proportions. And there’s no way to know which it will be until that cruise ship limps back into port, probably on fire, at the end of the voyage.

We’ve got some thoughts about what could make it orgasmically good, and what could make it suck big-time. But we’d bet the farm that unless Royal Caribbean is run by metalheads (not likely), they have no fucking idea what they’re about to get themselves into, and that increases the risk of suckage.  (more thoughts, and other related stuff, after the jump . . .)

May 262010

If you live in the U.S. and you’re like us, you’ve been keeping your eye out for news about the 2010 North American installment of the THRASH AND BURN TOUR – because previous versions of that tour have been pretty decent.

Well, we’ve got some breaking news. The identity of the bands on the tour have now been announced — and the co-headlining acts are Born of Osiris and Asking Alexandria.  The full line-up comes after the jump, with a few more tidbits of info . . .

[UPDATE: The dates, cities, and venues for this tour have now been released -- and we've added those after the jump, too . . .]

May 262010

Sometimes when we listen to metal, we just want to get mentally pulverized. Sometimes we want to get lost in something sweepingly complex that requires serious attention. Sometimes we want to be transported by something that’s beautiful as well as powerful.

Rarely, we find music that accomplishes all those objectives at once. Martriden‘s latest album Encounter the Monolith pulls off that hat trick.

One of our faithful readers (the always astute Andy Synn) recommended Martriden to us, and man are we glad he did.

This music (released in February) puts us in mind of a Pacific storm surge assaulting a rocky coastline. Waves of “symphonic” black metal crash with explosive force against jagged stone (as at the outset of “The Three Metamorphoses”), and then the wave-front recedes in passages of relative calm, and the band shifts into prog-metal instrumentals reminiscent of Opeth.

The intensity builds again to full force as storm clouds roll inexorably overhead, heavy rain batters down (with Meshuggah-like pummeling, as on “Heywood R. Floyd”) and megatons of power explode with brute force.

And then at times, as in the beginning and middle of “Death and Transfiguration,” and unexpectedly in other songs, we can imagine the storm passing and glorious rays of sunshine piercing the clouds, when quiet instrumental passages take over or clean guitar leads emerge with soaring melodies.  (more effusiveness follows after the jump, plus a song to stream . . .)

May 252010

We don’t spend much time on this site poking fun at metal bands. It’s not that we’re morally opposed to the practice. In fact, we have fun reading other sites that do exactly that on a daily basis. It’s just not our style.

But once in a blue moon, we just can’t resist. Like today. We’ll probably feel guilty about it later.

So, the band that caught our baleful eye today is a Ukrainian outfit called Semargl. Try saying that out loud. Even the name is kinda funny, though it’s probably drawn from some ancient demonology text, or at least H.P. Lovecraft.  [Update: Based on a little more research (see the comment at the end of this post), Semargl appears to have been a Slavic pagan deity, depicted as a winged lion or winged dog.]

In addition to the demonic (but funny-sounding) name, the band has got the corpse-painted aspect of a grymm black metal outfit, plus Latinate album titles like Ordo Bellictum Satanas that inspire thoughts of satanic recipe books for the cooking of your fellow man in the fiery depths of Hades.

And to carry the theme further, the band’s web site includes a creed called Satanosophy that proclaims principles such as “Our message is: God should be destroyed” and “Our superiority is Satanic Infernal fire” (in addition to photos of a naked chick who looks like she’s meditating about Satanosophy).

So, with that lead-in, you probably think you’ve got a pretty good idea about Semargl’s music — but you’d probably be wrong. What we’ve got here, at least on the strength of the band’s new video for a song called “Credo Revolution”, is pop music with black-metal trappings, corpse-paint with plenty of tits and ass, tremolo picking and electro dance beats (courtesy of Jonny Maudling from Bal-Sagoth).

We’re still trying to wrap our minds around that concept — but it seems to be working out quite nicely for Semargl.  And we can guarantee that even if you’re having an unbelievably sucky day, this video (and the song) will put a smile on your face — or your money back! (more after the jump, including that video . . .)

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