Nov 302011

This has nothing to do with music, but it’s goddamned funny and it comes awfully close to what I’ve been composing for my annual Christmas rant, and I just had to share it. So there. The author is Colin Nissan, and his article appeared on the McSweeney’s Internet Tendency web site:

“I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That shit is going to look so seasonal. I’m about to head up to the attic right now to find that wicker fucker, dust it off, and jam it with an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables. When my guests come over it’s gonna be like, BLAMMO! Check out my shellacked decorative vegetables, assholes. Guess what season it is—fucking fall. There’s a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash.

I may even throw some multi-colored leaves into the mix, all haphazard like a crisp October breeze just blew through and fucked that shit up. Then I’m going to get to work on making a beautiful fucking gourd necklace for myself. People are going to be like, “Aren’t those gourds straining your neck?” And I’m just going to thread another gourd onto my necklace without breaking their gaze and quietly reply, “It’s fall, fuckfaces. You’re either ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest or you’re not.”

Nov 302011


On a day at NCS that began with Vallenfyre, it seemed only fitting to bring our posting day to a close with news about Asphyx.

They’re one of those bands whose name springs to mind immediately when I see or hear the phrase “death/doom”, and they made a strong comeback with Death…The Brutal Way (2009) after a nearly decade-long recording hiatus. They’ve now finished work on their newest studio album, titled Deathhammer, and today Century Media announced that it will be released on February 27, 2012 in Europe and February 28 in North America.

In addition to that welcome news, the band also released an image (above) of the cover art for the album, created by Axel Hermann, who worked on all of the band’s early releases. Brutal.

One more tidbit — the new album was mixed and mastered by the legendary Dan Swanö, who produced Death…The Brutal Way as well as the band’s Live Death Doom release. And speaking of that DVD, I’ve added a clip from the DVD after the jump featuring the title track to the last Asphyx album. Twenty years on, and still wielding the deadly hammer of doom. Gotta love it.

Nov 302011

NPR isn’t the “go to” source of metal recommendations for anyone I know. They’re not exactly known for having their fingers on the pulse of the underground. But I’m not turning my nose up at NPR either. They’re covering metal on a big platform that’s mostly read and heard by people who could use some metal education (not to mention some sphincter-loosening), and that’s a good thing in my book.

What’s more, they’re not giving metal just a half-hearted, brush-of-the surface kind of attention either. They’ve been featuring music from some bands (e.g., Portal) that are guaranteed to turn even white people white and make treacly blood plasma ooze from ears more used to hearing the kind of mainly soporific music that dominates the rest of NPR’s music coverage.

Therefore, when NPR published its metal columnist’s list of the 25 Best Metal Albums of 2011 today, I took a look — first, because I was curious, and second, because I was interested in seeing what the non-metalhead super-majority of NPR fandom is being exposed to as representative of the best metal.

Guess what? It’s a mixed bag but it’s a decent list. Those of you who thought Pitchfork’s list was hipsterish may have a similar reaction to the NPR list. But on the other hand, it includes names whose 2011 albums we’ve praised here at NCS this year — Cormorant, Tombs, deafheaven, Ulcerate, Krallice, 40 Watt Sun, Disma, and Flourishing. You’ll also find other names to which you’ll probably give a throaty “Fuck yeah!”, as I did. Check it out after the jump. What do you think?

Nov 302011

(Brutish friend of NCS, SurgicalBrute, brings us a further installment in what may be turning into a continuing series.  This time he’s spotlighting Drowned (Germany), Speedwolf (U.S.-Denver), Depravity (Finland), and Grá (Sweden).)

I remember when I first got into metal I was trying to absorb everything. I’d see names like Dismember, Overkill, and Darkthrone tossed around message boards and off I’d go to check them out. I was discovering new bands every day, and even if a band didn’t appeal to me the first time around, I would do my best to give them a fair try because my tastes were always changing.

It was around this time that I discovered something fairly simple….I hate technical metal. Bands like Nile, Meshuggah, and Necrophagist. I tried them over and over again, and while I can appreciate the skill of the muscians involved, more often than not, it sounds so cold and clinical that it comes across flat to my ears.

I think that’s why I eventually found myself gravitating toward the darker underbelly of metal. While the music is rarely complex, it’s the raw energy these bands bring with them that I enjoy so much.

So, in an effort to bring a few more of these bands to wider attention, it’s time for another dose of underground metal. \m/

Nov 302011

(For our third album review of the day, here’s Andy Synn’s take on the 2011 release by French band Bahrrecht on Ketzer Records.)

I originally picked this album up solely because of its dark, brooding cover art, depicting an ominous figure, shrouded in shadows, his distorted, cadaverous features crowned by a skeletal helm. Contained within I found ten tracks of violently cathartic black metal, a revenant risen up from the depths of the genre’s murky past.

The Bahrrecht itself is an enigmatic beast, concealing its true self beneath layers of lies and deception. Through its veins flows the titanic spirit of the lords of Blashyrkh, whilst beneath its bestial hide lurks a very human malice. Its powerful sinews flex with dark promise, moving with the dissonant grace of Deathspell Omega, its black heart beating in time with the angular aggression of latter-day Marduk.

Musically, the album stays true to these elements, inter-mixing its blasting savagery with imperial majesty and tribal mysticism, delivered with a freshness and vitality that belies its ghoulish nature. Yet behind its grim and frost-bitten visage lurks a mind as sharp and deadly as a steel trap, twisting and turning with serpentine aplomb, shedding the skin of ages past and discarding the useless remnants of useless nostalgia in favour of the sharpened clarity of reborn vision.

Nov 302011

I bet this will sound better than Loutallica.

According to a comment by Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, the band will collaborate with a Canadian singer named Feist on a limited-edition 7-inch single due next year. According to this article from The Guardian, the Canadian singer was introduced to Mastodon on a BBC TV show called Later … with Jools Holland and thought “these two worlds [should] collide”.

“We’re going to do everything we can to work with Feist and have a split 7-inch to support independent record stores,” Sanders told MTV Canada . The next international Record Store Day will take place on April 21, 2012. “The idea is for Mastodon to cover a Feist song and throw some hair and dirt on it. [Then Feist will] take a Mastodon song and pretty it up a little bit.”

According to reports, the two acts got the idea in late October, when Feist performed songs from her album Metals and Mastodon performed some of their songs on that BBC show. Feist told HitFix: “[Mastodon frontman] Brent [Hinds] and I were nodding at each other, and he’s like, ‘Nice riff,’ and I’m like ‘Nice tone,’” she said. “So backstage I’m thinking about letting these two worlds collide, how they should collide, so I’m like, ‘How about Metals meeting metal?’ Brent was like: ‘Well, I do like that “Bad in Each Other” song, I could see that.’ Maybe now I will look into learning to cover “Oblivion” or anything off [The Hunter]. That album’s amazing.”

Hmmm, two worlds colliding. When has that happened recently? Will this be a Loutallica-style train wreck or something that can actually be heard without experiencing a wave of nausea? In an effort to anticipate the answer to that question, I watched the video of Feist performing that song “Bad In Each Other” on Later . . . with Jools Holland.

Nov 302011

(This is the second of today’s two NCS reviews of A Fragile King. The author of this one is Islander.)

Much has already been written, including in our own articles at this site, about what prompted Greg Mackintosh to write Vallenfyre’s music and to bring his friends together to record it. But although the album may have been born from the death of Mackintosh’s father, A Fragile King is anything but sentimental.

At a time when the most popular death metal is all about flash and speed, sonic firestorms calculated to make jaws drop in wonder at the performers’ technical wizardry, Vallenfyre throw themselves back in time to recapture the gory glory of European death metal in its early days, when young dudes who would become legendary were prowling the musical landscape under names like Nihilist, Dismember, and Bolt Thrower. Communing with those grisly spirits, Vallenfyre have produced a master work of doom-shrouded, early-days death metal.

The album owes its success as much to tone as to style. The bass and rhythm guitar are tuned low and heavily distorted, producing that beautifully raw, crushing, gut-churning tone of giant chainsaws cutting through dense old wood. The higher-register (but still distorted) guitar leads and solos provide a piercing contrast to all that mammoth grinding — but the sound is no less ill. The beautifully crafted leads and solos writhe and squirm and bore into the skull like overheated brain drills, the insidiousness of radiation sickness compared to the blown-transformer buzz of the other stringed instruments, but equally deadly.

The percussion rhythms are also something of a throw-back. With minimal use of blast-beats and double-bass, Adrian Erlandsson enlivens the music with fills that are as interesting as they are remorseless (and, of course, we get a healthy serving of tasty d-beats, too). And then, there are Greg Macktintosh’s vocals . . .

Nov 302011

(This is the first of two NCS reviews of A Fragile King by Vallenfyre. The author of this one is TheMadIsraeli.)

If you didn’t already get the point from our numerous posts about these guys, they’re the shit.  Islander was going to review this, and I hope he still does. I’d hate to think I stole some fun from him, but considering that this is filthy, dank, dingy, doom-soaked, old-school death metal, it’s right up my fucking alley and I can’t resist writing a review.  If you’re a total whore for bands like Asphyx or Hail Of Bullets, as I am, you’ll find a comfortable home here.

If the banshee wail of feedback that starts “All Will Suffer” doesn’t give you a clue, its crunchy buzz-saw toned opening trudge of a riff will.  The entire song is a slog through disease-ridden, stygian marshes at its finest.  The first thing that immediately sticks out is a quality that makes for great death metal:  The ability of a band to insert subtle hints of melody into an otherwise atonal framework.  This is definitely one of the strengths that Vallenfyre has going for them in spades.  A Fragile King is loaded to the brim with memorable half-melodies, we’ll call them.

“Desecration” actually has a purely melodic outro, a mournful one with an almost funeral-doom character, in contrast to the song’s otherwise dissonant and sinister aura.  Other tunes like “Ravenous Whore” or “Cathedrals of Dread” bring the speedier moments of savagery, eviscerating everything above and below.

The riffs are solid, burdensome, and colossal in scope.  Listening to them almost produces a sensation of being drowned in a tidal wave of blood-soaked flesh. What also hooks me about this album is the absolutely immense Winter vibe (fittingly, I recently wrote a “Revisiting the Classics” piece on Into Darkness). “Seeds” really channels that feeling, but raises it (or rather sinks it) to an entirely new level of grim and morbid.  You can literally feel yourself subsiding into the floor.

Nov 292011

Just so that last post featuring me tooting my own horn about myself doesn’t linger at the top of the NCS site for the next 8 1/2 hours until tomorrow’s first scheduled post, I have this official video, just released, from the most excellent Noctem, whose new album Oblivion our most excellent Andy Synn reviewed here and who Andy also interviewed here.

The featured song is called “The Arrival of the False Gods”, which Andy described as “all piledriving rhythms and violent vocal catharsis whose brooding guitar adds a palpable sense of menace to the proceedings”. If you’re an epileptic off your meds or have a moral problem with bands who play with pig heads on stage and eat pig organs during the performance, don’t watch this.

P.S. My interview by The Number of the Blog can be found via THIS LINK.

Nov 292011

You know, if I don’t spread the word about this, who will?

A new writer at The Number of the Blog who goes by “Rev. Will” over there (and has masqueraded under a different name at NCS) is running a new series called “Keyboard Warriors”, in which he interviews other metal bloggers. He started off strong, featuring interviews of Adrien Begrand (Decibel, Terrorizer, Dominion) and Vince Neilstein (MetalSucks). And then he went right off the rails by electing to interview . . . me.

If you have nothing better to do, go check out the interview at TNOTB (here) and leave comments appropriate to the subject matter.

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