Feb 282011

It takes very damned little provocation for me to post about Amorphis. I’ve got no new music for you to hear. All I have is the just-released cover for the band’s next album and a few morsels of additional information about it: It will be called The Beginning of Times, it will include 12 songs, it will be released by Nuclear Blast at the end of May, and a single called “You I Need” will be released in April.

Yes, the giant egg suspended above our metallic world is about to hatch, ushering forth the awe-inspiring, Phoenix-like Amorphis bird, fully formed and shrieking its heavenly cries to the skies, and before the glorious hatching a few drops of golden Phoenix-like albumen will be allowed to escape and bathe our anxious, upturned faces in its golden elixir, comforting us in the message from the firebird inside, “You I Need!”

Actually, it’s not really the egg of a Phoenix pictured in Travis Smith‘s album art, which is intended to interpret the mythological birth of the world from the egg of a goldeneye (for more details about the creation myth in the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, go here), but I’m not being graded on this thing. Am I?

Hey, sorry about all the egg metaphors. I promise, I’m finn-ished with them. My Monday work-day has turned my brain to uncooked yolk. Oops! Well, anyway, since I’ve now got Amorphis on my yolk-like mind, I might as well play a couple of videos.  (after the jump . . .)

Feb 282011

We don’t usually start the week with one of these posts, but I got jammed up with non-blogging life over the weekend and didn’t get it done for Sunday. I hate when life does that.

So, here we are, late as usual. But the rules of MISCELLANY haven’t changed: I look at the NCS running list of bands we’re interested in checking out, compiled from e-mails, press releases, MySpace friend requests, and the whisperings of my cat. The thing about the list is, it’s limited to bands whose music we haven’t heard. I stab names off the list, more or less at random, and I go listen to a song (or maybe two). I record my reactions (to make myself feel important), and then make the songs available for you to hear, too (given the remote possibility that you might feel like making up your own minds about the music).

For today’s foray into the unknown, I listened to a new track from Monolith Deathcult (Netherlands), a couple new songs by Neongod (Norway), and new music from The Doomsday Prophecy (New Jersey).

MONOLITH DEATHCULT

I’m not sure why it took me so damned long to listen to this Dutch band. They’ve produced four full-length albums since 2003 — though the most recent (The White Crematorium 2.0) was a re-recording of the band’s second album. I’ve read about them here and there, but never took time to listen, even after the controversial buzz generated by 2008′s Trivmverate. (more after the jump . . .)

Feb 272011


We’re jumping the gun on this post, since the month doesn’t end until tomorrow. Why? Uh, because this post is ready to go and we don’t have anything else finished for today yet. Work and other shit interfered with our grand plans for a Sunday post.  We might still get another one up later today, but for now, feast your eyes on the barrage of metal headed our direction.

What we do with these installments of METAL IN THE FORGE is collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last 30 days (or in this case, the last 27 days) about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know them yet. And in this post, we cut and paste the announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

This isn’t a cumulative list, so be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming New Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported in previous installments. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. There’s some awesome shit on the way.

Feb 262011

This will be quick, because I hadn’t planned on any posts today besides the earlier THAT’S METAL! nonsense, but what I’ve found this morning is just too much awesomeness not to share with you: brand new songs from Obscura, Gorguts, and Between the Buried and Me.

OBSCURA

This band have a new album called Omnivium due for a March 29 North American release on Relapse Records.  In mid-January, we featured the first song from the album, called “Septuagint”. Now, the band have released a second song, called “Vortex Omnivium”, which you can stream after the jump. As you listen, you can also gaze upon the wonderful album art above, executed by Orion Landau (who has also created art for the likes of Origin, Dying Fetus, and Disfear).

Obscura, if you don’t know, is a German progressive death metal band from Germany composed of guitarist/vocalist Steffen Kummerer (Thulcandra), guitarist Christian Müenzner (ex-Necrophagist), fretless bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Pestilence), and drummer Hannes Grossmann (Blotted Science, ex-Necrophagist). All of these dudes are exceptional musicians — very fast, hyper-technical, jaw-droppingly good. As their last album (2009′s Cosmogenesis) abundantly demonstrated, they can also write songs that are as catchy as they are technically challenging.

For purposes of this post, it’s also fitting to note that the band took their name from a 1998 Gorguts album called Obscura. Listen to the new song right after the jump.

Feb 262011

Here we go again: a round-up of news items and other stuff that made us think, “That’s metal!”, even though it’s not music.  As usual, we’re adding our own tasteless commentary at no additional charge – and given the nature of the first two items today, our commentary is even more tasteless than usual. Let’s get right to it:

ITEM ONE

I don’t know about you, but I was bottle-fed as a baby, or so I’m told. Since those long-ago days, breast-feeding has made a resurgence. So have breast pumps for new mothers who work and want to store up bottles of the white stuff for their babies when they’re not around.

It was only a matter of time before some creative entrepreneur realized the possibilities of bottled breast milk — and the time has arrived. If only I lived in London, I could finally get the breast milk that was denied me as a baby. The wait might even have been worth it, because now you can get it in an ice cream cocktail with whiskey.  (more after the jump . . .)

Feb 252011

Black metal in Ireland seems to be alive and well and exploding with talent. I have a feeling that metalheads outside of Ireland will be hearing more and more about that scene. Here in the Emerald City, where the weather is now probably even more dank and dreary than in the Emerald Isle, we know the names Primordial and Altar of Plagues, but we have now heard the music of two Irish black metal bands in as many weeks — Eternal Helcaraxe (which we wrote about here) and now Wound Upon Wound — that have truly knocked us down.

Listening to the five-song, 2010 EP (Grievance) by Dublin’s Wound Upon Wound is like witnessing a musical odyssey. Whether what we hear is evidence of the band’s song-writing progression over time in a particular musical direction or simply canny track organization, moving from the first song to the last is a fascinating and immersive experience – like being slowly pulled into an increasingly dark and somber dream.

It is also a genuinely impressive experience, because the band play with great confidence and a remarkably mature understanding of song structure and the ways in which music can elicit a range of emotional responses. This is a taste of potentially wonderful things to come, and we won’t have to wait long for confirmation, because Wound Upon Wound have a debut album on the way.  (more after the jump, including a track to hear . . .)

Feb 242011

Do you remember that not long ago we compiled an NCS list of THE MOST INFECTIOUS EXTREME METAL SONGS OF 2010? Well, some of you do. Others are newcomers and still others have recently destroyed the brain cells that were responsible for remembering that list.

On that list, we included a Soilwork song, “Epitome”, from their Panic Broadcast album. I really wrestled with that one, because I thought there were three songs on the album that were viable candidates. The first time I thought about it, my choice was “Let This River Flow”. And then I changed my mind, partly because many of you let it be known, through comments and otherwise, how much you liked “Epitome”.

“Epitome” is a very infectious song, and a good song, too. But I’ve still got a soft spot in my heart, or in some other organ that functions when I feel heartless, for “Let This River Flow”. So, imagine my excitement in seeing, just minutes ago, that Soilwork has released an official video for that song. I so excite that I gotta put it up here on our web site — especially because it’s my favorite kind of metal video. (go watch it after the jump . . .)

Feb 242011

We’ve got a couple of quick updates for you about bands we like (used to like?), one of which we’ve been writing about recently — The Haunted and Ulver. The cause for the updates? Both bands have recently made brand new songs available for streaming; in The Haunted’s case, it’s the third song to be released from their forthcoming album.

The verdict? Well, there’s good news and bad news.

THE HAUNTED

Previously, we’ve featured the first two songs from The Haunted’s new album, due for release next month: “No Ghost” and, as recently as yesterday, “Disappear”. Today, the band put up the new album’s title track, “Unseen”, for streaming on their Facebook page.

The good news is that if you like Chevelle-style hard rock with metal riffs and clean singing, you will like the new song. It’s probably better than whatever is topping the hard rock charts these days, but honestly, I wouldn’t know because I don’t get near that kind of music any more.  The bad news? (more after the jump, including Ulver’s new track . . .)

Feb 242011

(Today, NCS contributor BadWolf reviews the new album by New Zealand’s Ulcerate.)

Give it up for New Zealand’s Ulcerate for knowing how to throw a curveball at me. The band is signed to Willowtip, my go-to label for death metal that has as much Dillinger Escape Plan in the mix as Cannibal Corpse. When I see Willowtip on a CD, I expect winding technical and chaotic riffage (on bass and drums, as well as guitars) to force my skull into a state of rapid decompression. In effect, I fully expect their records to be all experience and no songwriting—in this case the experience of being “that guy” in Scanners.

The Destroyers of All does nothing of the sort. Instead, it bakes its listener to death—a fitting follow-up to their last album, Everything is Fire. The album is in every possible way comparable to a desert, so much so that I want Ulcerate to do the soundtrack to the next stupid adaptation of Dune—this is the sound of wandering sand-worms. The song structures are vast and majestic, and make good use of so-called negative space. The last record burned the earth; this record sifts through the cinders at a leisurely (torturous) pace.

As has been pretty openly stated over at Invisible Oranges, this is a death metal record made by people who like “-post,” metal. That is to say, it has songs with long and irregular structures without refrains or choruses, and a general sense of minimalism.

Full disclosure: I am a filthy, filthy whore for this sort of thing. Neurosis and Isis make me shiver with anticipation when the proper mood strikes. I even like long-form repetitive black metal (Dear Wolves in the Throne Room, play Ohio, you bastards!). Coincidentally, I feel the same way about films with long, majestic shots of deserts. Yes, I am that asshole, and this album seems tailor-made to suit my taste.  (more after the jump, including a track to stream . . .)

Feb 232011

Fuck me, I just realized a couple days ago that it’s been almost eight months since the last time we did one of these EYE-CATCHERS posts. I guess it was always a variant on the MISCELLANY posts, and that series has continued while this one languished — until today.

In case you’ve forgotten, EYE-CATCHERS was both an experiment and a vehicle for discovering new music. The experiment was designed to test the completely illogical hypothesis that cool album art tends to correlate with cool music. There’s really no reason why the two should go together, but in my experience, they do, more often than not.

Of course, my experience has been completely anecdotal, with no statistical significance behind it at all. Undoubtedly the day will come when I’ll see a cool cover and then run for the vomitorium after I start listening to the tunes. But from the time when we started this experiment last April until it petered out in July, most of our test cases validated the hypothesis.

Today we’re reviving the experiment. It’s also yet another random way to make listening choices from the enormous pile of metal that’s constantly accumulating here. For those of us at NCS, randomness is appealing because we like surprises, and also because our lives are pretty much a collection of random experiences anyway.

So, today’s test cases for this renewed experiment are Illdisposed (a venerable band from Denmark who’ve got a new album coming); Blaspherian, from Texas (who also have a new album on the way); and a Finnish band called The Undivine. After the jump, we’ll reveal our test results and provide you the musical evidence, too.

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