Jan 252011

It don’t take much to get us sidetracked here at NCS. As you know, we’ve got the attention spans of sand fleas on a crowded beach. Case in point:

We wuz crankin away, tryin to get an album review finished, and made the mistake of using lolcat-speak on a post about how you can upload your own image to use with comments on this site. That prompted our buddy Phro to make an lolcat-style caption for a band photo we ran recently in another post. And it prompted ElvisShotJFK to suggest that lollorises would be more NCS-friendly than lolcatz. (That may be a cryptic reference to some of you, so you can go here if you want to see where it came from.)

Anyway, those comments made the dim lightbulbs in our heads flare briefly, and we put aside the album review and got to work on those ideas. Actually, we only got to work on one of them, and for the other, we talked Phro into doing all the work. He created captions for a batch of band photos, most of which we’d run in recent NCS features (except a scary one of Suffocation’s Frank Mullen with a shotgun), and sent us the links for his creations. And we used lolcat-builder to create captions for some loris photos, like the one up above.

After the jump, we’ve got a montage of Phro’s work with band photos interspersed with our loris pics. Is this metal? Probably not. Is it funny? Probably not. Is it now out of our system, so we can go back to writing about music? Probably not. Is it too late to stop us from running this post? Absofuckinglutely.  (subtract IQ points by continuing after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 242011

We look forward to new albums by The Haunted because it’s always an adventure. To borrow Forrest Gump’s famous line, they’re kind of like a box of chocolates: You never know exactly what you’re gonna get. You might get thrash or melodeath or grind or metallic hardcore, or even something that closely approaches hard rock. It’s probably fair to say that all those ingredients have always been present to some extent in The Haunted’s music, but to greatly varying degrees, depending on the album or even the song within the album.

What you can generally count on, even if you can’t exactly depend on a precise style, is that the music will be super-charged with groove and power, packed with infectious riffs, and scalding in the caustic vocal delivery of Peter Dolving.

The band came together 15 years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Two of the original members (brothers Jonas and Anders Björler) were alumni of the extremely influential Swedish melodeath band, At the Gates, and a third of the original members, guitarist Patrik Jensen, has also been active in Witchery for about as long as he’s been with The Haunted. Dolving was also in the band at the outset, but left after release of The Haunted’s first album, only to return again in 2004 on the band’s fourth record, rEVOLVEr. Those four are still together, with drummer Per Möller Jensen replacing ex-At the Gates drummer Adrian Erlandsson in 1999.

A new album by The Haunted (their seventh) is scheduled for release in March on Century Media. It was engineered and mixed by Tue Madsen, and it will be called Unseen. And now we have a taste of the surprises in store on Unseen, because on Saturday night the band played a song from the album at Swedish radio’s annual music awards. We’ve got the clip after the jump . . . along with a video retrospective on The Haunted’s music. Continue reading »

Jan 232011

I expect people from outside the world of extreme metal are massively confused by the way we talk and write about the music we like. Pretend for a minute that you’re not part of this metallic world we inhabit and think about how you’d react to hearing people describe music as “brutal”, “bludgeoning”, “sick”, “putrid”, “vicious”, “morbid”, “frigid”, “pummeling”, “evil”, or “skull-cleaving”. Or reading a review that describes vocals as “acid-drenched” or “bestial”, or raves about music that “guts you like a fish” or makes you want to “bang your head”.

If you were a square, these adjectives and metaphors would sound like condemnation, when instead they’re meant as high praise. In what other musical genre do fans praise their music with terms like these? The answer is — nowhere else.

Of course, there’s a reason why metalheads rave about extreme metal in terms that (figuratively) signify bodily injury or illness, demonic possession, or mental decimation. In our humble opinion, it’s because those terms are linguistically accurate. The words capture what we feel and what we imagine — and sometimes what we do — when we listen to the music, even when there’s a melodic core to the songs (as there often is, even though many non-metalheads would never be able to hear the melody).

Maybe that answer just begs the question, or suggests a new one: Why do we like music that evokes these kinds of feelings and images? That’s an old subject, one that comes up whenever most of us try to explain to a non-metalhead why we like this music (eg, the kind of music we cover at NCS). But we’re not sure we’ve ever directly invited a discussion about the topic here at NCS. So on this Sunday morning, that’s what we’d like to hear — your thoughts about why we like music that’s best described in the kind of terms quoted above — and we’ve got a newly uploaded video that sets the mood quite nicely while you muster your thoughts. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 222011

A month has passed since we ran our last MISCELLANY post. A month between these posts is way too long. With that kind of lag, we’re even more behind in checking out new bands. We may have to run a bunch of these posts next week in an effort to catch up.

For any new readers out there, here’s the drill: NCS keeps a running list of bands who look interesting based on band e-mails or MySpace friend requests, reader recommendations, press releases, or news blurbs, and then every so often I pick a few names off the list and go listen to a song (or sometimes two). In these MISCELLANY posts, I write about what I heard and give you a chance to listen, too.

Because we don’t know the music in advance, there’s no guarantee about the results, but we’ve had good luck in the past.  For today’s installment in this series, I listened to music from Achren (Scotland) and Giant of the Mountain (The Republic of Texas) — and was blown away by both. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 212011

If you’ve registered as a user at NO CLEAN SINGING and ever posted a comment, you know that the image accompanying your post is a random icon called a Gravatar. If you get tired having a computer algorithm pick your icon for you, and you’d like to pick your own image, you can.

Thanks to our buddy byrd36, who reminded us, the way to do that is visit the Gravatar web page (here) and register a profile by providing an e-mail address, and then picking or uploading an image to be your icon. For example, a bunch of bats hanging from a tree like putrescent fruit. If you’ve already registered here, I assume you need to use the same e-mail you used for the NCS registration if you want the image you choose at Gravatar to appear when you post comments here. Once you’ve created the Gravatar profile, the image you picked will appear anywhere else on the web when you post a comment using the same e-mail address, as long as the site is Gravatar-enabled (and all WordPress blogs, like NCS, automatically enable Gravatar).

Sorry about the lolcat-speak in the post title. Sometimes I can’t resist — especially since I read a few days ago this stunning piece of news: There’s a Seattle-based company called Cheezburger that owns the icanhascheezburger web site, plus a shitload of other idiotic sites, all of which collectively draw more than 16.5 million people a month and generate more than 375 million monthly page views; and on January 18, Cheezburger announced that it had raised $30 million from venture capital investors. Huh. You can make big money from lolcatz but not from playing in a metal band. Go figure.

Jan 212011

One week ago, we posted a piece by NCS contributor Siddharth Darbha introducing us (and many of you) to an Indian metal band called Scribe. You can read Siddharth’s article here. Siddharth noted that Scribe’s 2010 album, Mark of Teja, had been nominated for Best Album at the 2010 edition of The Jack Daniel’s Rock Awards.

By way of background, this is the sixth year for those awards, which are organized in association with Rolling Stone (India) magazine. This year, 280 entries were submitted for the 16 award categories, including Song of the Year, Band of the Year, and Album of the Year. The editors of Rolling Stone whittled the list down to five nominees in each category, and those were then presented to a nine-member jury of judges. The award winners were decided by a combination of weighted jury votes and popular votes on a specially created web site. Bear in mind that the nominees for each award came from a range of genres — not limited, for example, to extreme metal.

Last night, the awards were announced at a live event at The Hard Rock Cafe in Mumbai. And guess what? Scribe pretty much ran the table, winning the Popular Choice awards for Song of the Year (“1234 Dracula”) and Album of the Year, as well as the Critics’ Choice Awards for Song of the Year and Band of the Year. Scribe’s Srinivas Sunderrajan also won the Bassist of the Year award. For all the results, go here.

Congratulations to Scribe for carrying the flag of Indian metal to the top of the heap — and congrats also to Demonic Resurrection for winning the Popular Choice award for Band of the Year. Pretty damn cool to see two metal bands like this being named Band of the Year against competitors from “more accessible” genres.

And along the same lines, did you know that on Monday of this week none other than Watain‘s album Lawless Darkness won the Swedish version of the Grammy award for “Best Hard Rock” Album of the Year? It did. “Hard rock” clearly means something different in Sweden than it does in the U.S. Holy shit.

Jan 212011

(Here we have the fourth installment in our week-long effort to catch up on albums we like with shorter-than-usual reviews.)

Light the torches in a cave deep underground, let the cavern fill up with black smoke, tread carefully through the decaying skulls of those who were not worthy, and bow down at the altar of irresistible convulsion in the shrine of double-bass and the blackened riffing that cannot be denied. All ye acolytes of Immortal, Immolation, Incantation and Behemoth, take heed: The ceremony is about to begin, with the Lords of the Nine presiding.

That’s the name of the debut album by The Evil Amidst Lords of the Nine. It was released in late September 2010, but we only discovered it recently. It’s a concept album about demon mythology in the realms of dark fantasy. It’s also so well-attuned to our tastes that it could have come out a decade ago and we’d still be writing about it.

The members of The Evil Amidst are well-practiced in the black arts of bone crushing: the line-up includes two members of Malevolent Creation Gio Geraca on lead guitar and Gus Rios on drums; Kult ov Azazel‘s Xaphan on guitar; HatePlow‘s Lenny Warmbrandt providing the vocals; and Kamelot‘s Sean Tibbetts on bass. But from what we’ve read, this band isn’t just a one-off side-project, but a group that apparently intends to stay together, tour, and continue recording notwithstanding the members’ commitments to other projects. And well they should.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 202011

This will be quick because my fucking day job calls.

“Heavy” is a word we apply to some forms of metal but not others. Howl is heavy. Very fucking heavy. Up above is video evidence of that fact. It’s high-quality footage of the band playing at SXSW. There are three songs on this video: “Heavenless”, “Oma”, and “Horns of Steel”.  If you’re interested in more info about this band, you can check out our review of their 2010 album Full of Hell here.

UPDATE: The fucking embed code to that Roxwel video doesn’t appear to work. You should still watch the video, though I almost hate to send you to the Roxwel site because they pretend to give you an embed code, but it doesn’t fucking work. But I like HOWL well enough to provide the link anyway. Here it is.

But wait, there’s more. After the jump, we’ve got a just-released song from Finland’s Rotten Sound off their forthcoming new album Cursed. Listen to it and let us know what you think.  Gotta go now. Continue reading »

Jan 202011

(This is the third installment in this week’s run of brief album reviews – or at least brief by our usual standards.)

Five days ago we posted a review of a forthcoming album by a long-running Polish death metal band called Hate. At roughly the same time as we were listening to that album, we were also listening to a new album by a band called Hat, which is the Norwegian word for . . . wait for it . . . hate. Actually, it’s the word for hatred, but close enough. So, you could say it was a hate-filled week at NCS, except what we’re feeling for the music of Hat is far from hatred.

The Norwegian word hat is pronounced like the English word “hot”, and that’s a good word for Hat’s forthcoming album, Vortex of Death: It’s hot. That is, if you like your black metal extremely old school and chilled down to the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

Hat is a two-man horde originally formed in 1993 by Nevresch and Undertrykker under the name Ravner. They were inactive from 1996 to 2006, and then reunited under that Norwegian name for hatred. They released a demo in 2008 called Livet Ebber ut (“life ebbs away”) and then a debut record in 2009 called The Demise of Mankind. Perhaps you’re beginning to get the sense that in the world of Hat, there is no sweetness and light. But the album has hooked us, and one unusual song in particular.  (more after the jump, including a track . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 192011

Two words: Obscura, Cosmogenesis.

If those words make you smile, you will want to read this post. If those words make you yell, “FUCK YEAH!“, you will absolutely, positively want to read this post.

You may have known that Obscura will be releasing a new album called Omnivium in North America on March 29. You may even have seen the cover artwork for the album (designed and laid out by Orion Landau).

But did you know that about 4 hours ago, Obscura released a song from Omnivium for the purpose of titillating the masses? We found out via an e-mail from NCS contributor BadWolf, in these words:  “Holy Shit. One song in and it’s an album of the year contender. One word: Opethcore. It exists now. And it is truly amazing.”

Y’know, we really don’t need to say anything more about this song other than to say that we’re just as fucking enthusiastic as our bro BadWolf. Zip on past the jump and hear it for yourselves. Fuuuuuuuuuck yeah. Continue reading »