Aug 312011

I’ve visited San Diego a couple of times. It seems like a nice town. You visit Balboa Park, and you see carefree people enjoying the beautiful surroundings and (when the fog isn’t insinuating itself) the sunshine. Fun-loving folks are out having fun at eateries and watering holes in the Gaslamp Quarter. There are beautiful beaches and ocean vistas, and you can catch a ballgame at Petco Park (as long as you don’t mind watching the Padres lose). But . . . there’s also a vile, dark, underside to this superficially pleasant city, and its name is Condemned.

Condemned is a brutal death metal band with a penchant for creating songs that slam. I don’t claim to be an expert in the subgenre of death metal called slam, but I can claim to have suffered brain damage listening to Condemned’s 2007 debut album, Desecrate the Vile. This was a tragic occurrence, because I have so little brain to damage that damaging any of it is a serious loss. However, I have managed to soldier on.

Unfortunately, I suffered further brain damage this afternoon listening to the first song to debut from the new album by Condemned, Realms of the Ungodly, which will be released by Unique Leader on November 9. Fortunately, November 9 is a long way off. I’m on a waiting list at a Seattle hospital for a brain donor, and I’m hoping I’ll be a lucky recipient before November 9. It would be nice to have a whole new brain before I listen to a whole album’s worth of songs like this one. Otherwise, I could be in some real trouble.

The new song is called “The Divine Order of Babylon”, and it’s decimating. The music is ugly, scary, and horrific — but it’s got groove, too. What’s left of my brain, while mourning the part that was killed off, remembers enjoying the song while it lasted. It’s enjoying the awesome album cover by Jon Zig, too. You can listen to the new song after the jump. Maybe your brain is too large and you’d like to reduce it to normal size. Continue reading »

Aug 312011

Three days ago we reviewed the new EP from Italian face-melters Eyeconoclast, Sharpening Our Blades On the Mainstream. Eyeconoclast’s drummer is Mauro Mercurio, and his participation on the EP is one of the things that drew us to Eyeconoclast in the first place. Mercurio was the drummer for a phenomenal Roman death-metal band called Hour of Penance from about 1999 until 2010 and he’s been involved in other projects, as well as doing session work (e.g., he was the session drummer on Oracles (2009), the debut full-length by Fleshgod Apocalypse).

I’ve said before that I don’t know enough about the art of drumming to be a sophisticated critic of drum performances in extreme metal bands. I know what I enjoy hearing and I know when drumming makes an impression on me as I listen to a song and when it doesn’t particularly stand out, but my understanding isn’t much deeper than that. I’m also susceptible to a feeling of awe at sheer, unadulterated speed, especially when the performer is making use of the whole kit at a blazing pace.

Mercurio is one of those drummers who leaves my mouth hanging open, drooling slightly, with a cretinous glazed look in my eyes. I got that gap-mouthed, glazed look this morning when I saw a video that Mercurio put up on YouTube yesterday. It shows him laying down the drum track — in one take — for the title song on that Eyeconoclast EP. According to Mercurio’s note accompanying the video, the tempo of the whole song is 300 beats per minute (bpm). If my math is right, that’s 5 beats per second. This seems very fast to me. The normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Can the human heart beat at 300 bpm without exploding?

Mercurio also notes that in this recording, there were no triggers on the snares or toms and no studio editing on the drum track. Watch this shit after the jump, and in case you missed the song itself when we reviewed the EP a few days ago, you can hear that after the jump, too. Continue reading »

Aug 312011

(I fancy myself a death-metal aficionado, and yet I am learning something new today, thanks to Andy Synn’s report on the discography of Emeth. Allow me to say, FUCK YEAH!)

This Belgian death machine will most likely be new to a lot of you, having spent most of the dark years since it first burst from its cadaverous womb subjugating the scum and villainy of Belgium’s metal underbelly beneath its heel.

Though Belgium does seem to possess an untapped hotbed of bands from all across the genre spectrum, the butchers of Emeth deal solely in a violent trade of brutal death metal that shifts back and forth between incisive hooks and nigh unlistenable, raging mania.

The group’s name means “truth” in Hebrew – a fitting epithet indeed, for a band whose aim is to plumb the depths of the human condition and expose these dark, often disgusting, truths about our fragile existence.

Yet far from being simple death-obsessed goreophiles, the men of Emeth choose to follow a more enigmatic path, delving into themes of insidious terror and shadowy mental torment, as brutal and horrific as any nightmarish concoction of their cannibalistic brethren.

Each album deals with its own terrible truth, the tormented facts and elusive fictions of the physical, the mental and the existential, whose faceless vehemence and formless horror weigh heavily upon our lives. Continue reading »

Aug 302011

Taiwan’s Chthonic is the source of not one, but two of the best metal videos of 2011. We featured one of them here and the second one here. Chthonic is also the source of one of the year’s most interesting albums. Oh hell, why pussyfoot around? In my opinion, it’s also one of the year’s best metal albums.  Our own Andy Synn was pretty high on it, too, as you can tell from his review.

The album was released in certain parts of the world weeks and weeks ago, but it’s not scheduled for official release by Spinefarm Records in NorthAm until September 6. The band will be following that up with a three-week North American tour in support of Arch Enemy, accompanied by DevilDriver and Skeletonwitch. Fucking tasty line-up, that one.  The tour dates, which thankfully include The Emerald City, are after the jump.

But the main reason for this post is to alert you that the entire album is now available for streaming at AOL.  It’s worth hearing, and HERE is the link. Continue reading »

Aug 302011

(We are so pleased to feature the first NCS guest review (and we hope it’s not the last) by one of our readers and frequent commenters, the only guy around here who gives Phro a run for his money, Trollfiend.)

I sometimes find myself compelled to defend my love of folk and pagan metal to the people I talk about music with, regardless of whether or not they might also like it or, if I’m being honest, whether or not they care.  This is because the genre has a bit of a reputation, possibly deserved, of being a little cheesy.  You know what I mean: furs, swords, war paint . . . this is what a lot of people think of when they hear “folk metal”.  For those of us who love it, though, that image is as fundamental as corpse paint is to old school Norwegian black metal.

Unfortunately along with this expected trope often comes a certain level of dismissal: You see a bunch of dirty assholes in fur cloaks and you automatically think, ‘Oh great, another pile of wannabe Vikings.  I bet that guy drives a Prius.’  If you take that approach to Russian folk metal powerhouse Arkona, however, you’re missing out on having your ass kicked all over Siberia in all kinds of heretofore undiscovered and not entirely unpleasant ways.

Like a lot of female-fronted bands, especially in metal, Arkona pretty much revolves around its frontwoman. In this case, however. It’s not because the record label thinks tits and leather pants are going to sell more albums…it’s because iron-piped Masha “Scream” Arhipova is a fucking ballbusting Slavic demon goddess with a whip made out of broken vodka bottles and a voice that is like getting punched in the face with a bear.

So when I was offered the chance to review Arkona’s latest album Slovo (released Aug 26, 2011) I sharted myself with glee.  After I changed my pants (no one likes to sit in cold shart) I sat down to have a listen. Continue reading »

Aug 302011

If you’re like me, you could stand to shed a few unwanted pounds. You get in the habit of drinking a few too many beers on a regular basis, you let your diet go to hell, you sit on your ass for too many hours every day, and before you know it your previously sleek self with the body that made members of the opposite sex, or the same sex, pant after you like dogs in heat has become something that causes you to get rid of all the bathroom mirrors.

But don’t abandon hope! You, too, can have a body like Ola Lindgren, the only constant member of Grave, the legendary Swedish death-metal band. Lindgren is somewhere in his 40s and undoubtedly has decades of crap food and heavy drinking behind him. But that hasn’t stopped Lindgren from staying in fighting trim, with sculpted abs and the kind of body-fat percentage that would make a marathoner jealous.

Some of you would probably guess that Lindgren stays in shape by burning thousands of calories performing on stage in a rigorous touring schedule. But that would be wrong. You don’t have to be a popular death metal musician and vocalist to stay in shape. All it takes is the right diet.

And now, for the first time, Ola Lindgren has revealed the secrets of staying trim in the underground metal scene, with daily diet regimens that will take off those unwanted pounds and keep them off! Yes, you too can have a body like Ola Lindgren’s, and all you have to do is subscribe to “Lindgren’s Health Blog 666”. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Aug 302011

(NCS writer TheMadIsraeli serves up Part 2 of his week-long series on modern melodic death metal.)

One of the complaints I’ve always heard about melodeath is that it isn’t aggressive enough. Well, to those complainers, In Dread Response is here to tell you to fuck yourself.

The debut of this New Zealand band, released in 2008, is really something to behold. I mean, just listen to the two singles (one here and one after the jump):

Continue reading »

Aug 302011

“Love” is not strong enough a word to convey the depths of feeling I have for this music. Its sweet, subtle notes are seductive, awakening long-dormant passions, transporting the listener to realms inhabited perhaps by angels, but certainly not by mere mortals.

Listening to the album, like a walk through peaceful woods in the early fall, captures the lush sensations of surrounding nature — the soft caress of a breeze just beginning to carry a chill, the dulcet tones of a whippoorwill calling to its mate, the gentle rustle of leaves shifting against each other before the life departs them and they fall to blanket the forest floor, the glistening shards of light piercing here and there through the canopy overhead.

A sense of peace and tranquility suffuses the soul, inspiring thoughts of the sublime beauty of creation and the care of a mothering earth for her children. No, even that is inadequate; my poor words fail me.

Think instead of being lent the wings of a dove and soaring among the clouds for moments all too brief, the corporeal magnificence of the earth below, and above, the unfathomable mysteries of the universe receding into the limitless distance. Your heart bursts with elation, your mind fills with wisdom, but alas, the ethereal beauty of the album reaches its end, and so too does your tranquil journey through the skies.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Aug 292011

(TheMadIsraeli delivers another installment of Revisiting the Classics, focusing on a personal favorite of mine.)

Shit is on now.

If you don’t know who this band is, you shouldn’t even be reading a site called No Clean Singing. Dying Fetus are the kind of elite, prestige-incarnate band whose achievements you wish you were capable of achieving with your sorry lives. [EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m sure TheMadIsraeli wasn’t really talking about you — just some other poor schmucks who, unlike you, and your close friends, are incapable of grand achievements.]

This is one of those bands whose every album I possess. Love every album, every song, every riff, every breakdown, you name it. Dying Fetus, Suffocation, and Vader are my elite of death metal, and so far no one else has earned admission to their company.  Killing On Adrenaline (1998) is the album when the band (or maybe, in the end, more specifically, guitar-brutalizer and guttural-barker John Gallagher) found their sound. After a couple of VERY prototype-sounding releases, the formula found on Killing On Adrenaline became the solidified sound that would continue to mark the music of the band and its various incarnations up to this very minute.

I know that most people, when talking about the classic Dying Fetus album, would go to the band’s release after this one, Destroy The Opposition. While that album is great, there is a rawness and energy on Killing that it doesn’t have, most likely a product of the band’s excitement in discovering who they were. This album also features most of the so-called classic Dying Fetus lineup — vocalist/bassist Jason Netherton, guitarist and mastermind John Gallagher, rhythm guitarist Brian Latta, and drummer Kevin Talley. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Aug 292011

(Andy Synn reviews the latest album from Finland’s Ghost Brigade, and after that we’ve got the new official video for “Clawmaster”.)

Finnish gloom-merchants Ghost Brigade return with their third album, Until Fear No Longer Defines Us. Befitting its beautiful artwork, the album has a full and evocative sound; lush, melancholy melodies shimmering like starlight atop mountains of heaving, Neurosis-esque riffage, while subtle keyboard embellishments (provided once again by Swallow The Sun’s Aleksi Munter) provide unobtrusive, yet unashamedly progressive undercurrents.

Compared to its predecessors, this record is more exposed and more wide-open, less claustrophobic and confined, yet in many ways just as oppressive in its heavy, dark atmosphere. Colder and more sombre than the albums that came before it, it is as if, stepping outside of their self-imposed isolation, the architects have become aware of the vastness of the sky above them and of the oppressive, stupefying insignificance of themselves in the grander scheme of things.

Opening with the acoustic ode to woe that is “In The Woods”, the album throws a curveball right from the off, skilfully adept fingers plucking out elegant melodies from weeping nylon strings as vocalist Manne Ikonen breathes life into a tale of sorrow and broken dreams with his clear and sophisticated vocals. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »