Mar 312012

Nope, this post has nothing to do with Vietnam. I just crawled out of bed not long ago, somewhat worse for wear after a little end-of-the-work-week blowout last night, and for some reason the bellowed words of Robin Williams from that movie of the same name blared into my damaged head. Maybe it’s because I felt like I’d awakened in a war zone.

This post has nothing much to do with Carach Angren either. I just happened to see this cover for their new album, Where the Corpses Sink Forever (due on May 18 from Season of Mist), and was reminded how much I like it. So what the fuck. Also, the creative facepaint connects to the first video I watched while chugging my morning joe. You’ll see what I mean.

And that’s what this post is really about — new music videos. I watched four of them in a row on this slightly hungover Saturday morning and liked all four, and therefore . . . here they are! I could have sub-titled this post “Bang Ur Fuckin Head and Then Melt It Down”, because that pretty much sums up the sequence of the following music.

AVATAR

I’ve developed a real weakness for this Swedish band since watching their can’t-look-away video for “Black Waltz”, which is the title track from their current album on eOne Music (we featured that video here, right after the start of this year). Yesterday, they released another video for a song from Black Waltz, which was premiered by Loudwire. This one’s called “Let It Burn”.

The video is a live performance of the song. Stylistically, the music is quite different from “Black Waltz”. It’s a straight-ahead, massively infectious headbanger, and if you’re like me you’ll be fist-pumping and yelling “LET IT BURN!” by the time you get to the end. It comes right after the jump.

Mar 302012

Well, well, what a happy coincidence. We just posted TheMadIsraeli’s review of Meshuggah’s Koloss album, and minutes later I see that the band have released an official video for “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion”.

My sweet fuck, this really is a heavy song, and the video is so damned much fun to watch. I don’t really need anything more than what it delivers — watching Tomas Haake methodically murder the drums, slo-mo headbanging by the rest of the band, Jens Kidman being . . . Jens Kidman, all against a black backdrop.

Do watch it after the jump.

Mar 302012

(In February, we published BadWolf’s early review of KOLOSS (here) — he got his greedy hands on it before his NCS comrades did. Now that the rest of us have had a chance to enjoy Meshuggah’s latest output, TheMadIsraeli weighs in with his own review.)

It’s time for me to put in my two cents on this beast.  I realize BadWolf already did a stellar review of this album, but I really want to get my take out there as well.  Meshuggah is one of my favorite bands of all time.  I mean, not only in the top 10 favorites, but definitely in the top 3 on that list.  Their sound is unmistakable, undeniable, and most of all, ever-moving.

But Meshuggah haven’t been moving forward in a straight line. Instead, they have often chosen to move sideways, contorting their signature sound since Nothing in whatever way they can while still maintaining its identity.  Now Meshuggah are back with their much anticipated opus Koloss.  Does it live up to the hype?  Does it solidify Meshuggah’s legacy as renovators and innovators of the ways of brutality?

Yes, but not in the way that you might have expected.

In significant ways, you will hear a different Meshuggah on this album, a Meshuggah who have become comfortable with their position and esteem, choosing now to play with their sound in less limit-pushing ways and to pursue instead an interesting idea: Evolution through regression.

Mar 302012

This post includes much less news than most news stories at NCS. Usually, if there’s not new music or at least the debut of album art or an album release date, I just wait until there is. Hell, I don’t even have a recent band photo for this thing. But, since the news concerns Darkthrone, I’m posting about it anyway.

For more than 20 years, Darkthrone have been doing things their own way, trends be damned. In fact, if you pay attention to the writings and interviews of Fenriz, you get the impression that very little in the evolution of metal since about 1993 seems to impress him. As the metal genre, writ large, has branched and changed, Darkthrone has seemed bent on diving ever more deeply into metal’s punk/thrash roots.

The band’s last album, Circle the Wagons (2010), for example, was full of references to bands such as Motorhead, English Dogs, Agent Steel, Metallica, Deathside, Puke, Slayer, Omen, and Savage Grace. You could almost say it was a nostalgia trip, except the stripped-down and often quirky songs were so much more original than any mere homage to a by-gone era. The band’s dedication to following their own path, even if the path may be taking you backwards, and their demonstrated skill as songwriters have made the release of new Darkthrone material a never-ending source of fascination.

And that brings me to the news: On March 18, Darkthrone posted this status on their Facebook page: “Right! This weekend was a blast, and we recorded two songs, that now only needs some bass and some mixing. Should be complete next week. Fenriz did a fantastic job on vocal on his song. Some photos should be posted soon.” And then yesterday, they posted this message:

“Ok, the photos did not turn out well. Damn. But I’ll post a couple of them soon anyway. We recorded the two songs “Lesser Men” and “Valkyrie”. They are now fully mixed and it’s a done deal. In July the album will be ready.

Mar 302012

(Andy Synn witnessed the Derby, England stop of the Reborn of Death Tour and apparently was so skull-rattled by the experience that he thought he was at the movies.)

What a line-up, am I right? It’s like a 6-round pummelling before that final knock-out blow. Each band softening you up for another vicious beating by the next. So, still feeling a little punch drunk from the experience, how am I going to manage to review the show for you fine folks?

Through the works of one Mr Sylvester Stallone.

Chronologically speaking, Carceri are the Rocky Balboa (Rocky 6, for those not in the know) of the evening. Definitely the newest act on the block, with a large legacy to live up to. Thankfully, much like their filmic counterpart, they manage to take familiar elements and give them just enough of a modern shine to justify their position. Playing cuts from their new album The Good Must Suffer The Wicked, with a backdrop of dizzying, morbid imagery scrolling and warping behind them, the group deliver an electrifying blend of punchy, mechanical riffage, bone-rattling blast-beats and massive death growls that deftly bears up under the weight of their Oscar-winning legacy.

Unfortunately, the position of Rocky 5 is occupied by Cerebral Bore tonight, as their brain-mangling death-grind has all the familiar elements and hits all the expected story-beats, but somehow lacks the inherent character and heart in its delivery. The vocals are utterly monstrous, but the drums have an overly-triggered sound that robs them of their brutality, and the bass and guitar never fully lock in correctly. The actors are all present, but something about the story is lacking. Close to the end of the set, however, the band debut a new song that shows real promise, picking up the pace in time for the closing credits.

Mar 292012

(DemiGodRaven checks in with his review of last Friday’s show in the Sacramento, California, area headlined by Conducting From the Grave and featuring a slew of other Sacramento bands, and his review is accompanied by lots of video.)

Marking the first time in a while that I’ve made the trip out to the Boardwalk in Orangevale, last Friday’s show was going to prove to be an interesting one. We had Sacramento hometown heroes Conducting From the Grave (it seems like every band opening for them holds them in some sort of reverence), who were going on a small headlining tour before they made the jump onto the monstrous All Shall Perish/Fleshgod Apocalypse and other-bands-that-have-floated-my-mind tour, playing with a bunch of scrappy local groups and Fallujah.

Unfortunately Fallujah couldn’t make it due to some difficulties and likely ongoing troubles stemming from their van situation, so another group out of my old hometown area of Hayward/San Leandro (according to their band profile) was brought in as a last minute replacement, making this a show consisting largely of a bunch of scrappy underdogs. John Abernathy of Conducting fame would find himself playing a double set that night as part of a new, semi-all-star group (in terms of the local scene) — a blackened death project known as Soma Ras.

I was initially worried that I would make it to the show late after some traffic horseshit on the way there since the show was supposed to start at 6:30 and I came barreling into the door at 6:48.   And the place was empty.

Mar 292012

Our fellow metal blogger, Full Metal Attorney, has been keeping his eye on the calendar, and he noticed that yesterday — March 28 — was the 20th anniversary of the release of Images and Words, the second full-length album by Dream Theater and a kind of milestone creation in the genre of prog rock/metal. To commemorate the occasion, he wrote a retrospective about the album. To commemorate his commemoration, I’ve written this post, because I’m curious.

This isn’t the first time I’ve leached off of Full Metal Attorney. I did this once before after he posted a piece about Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power on the 20th anniversary of that album’s release. And, y’know, one good turn deserves another, particularly when the turn means I don’t have to come up with my own ideas.

FMA’s post begins with these words: “[Dream Theater's] fan base is composed less of metalheads and more of music students and guitar nerds. There’s no mystery why that’s the case: The band’s musicians–who met at Berklee College of Music–are consistently named to be among some of the best in rock music. So music geeks love them. But Metalheads, as a rule, hate them.”

I don’t know if it’s true that Metalheads, as a rule, hate Dream Theater, because I don’t talk with anyone about Dream Theater, because I don’t like their music very much and I think discussing them would be boring. So although I must be one of those metalheads to whom FMA was referring, I am still curious about a few things.

Mar 292012

Josh Eldridge used to be head of publicity at Century Media Records, and then later in business development and A&R. I remember him fondly because he was the first major label rep who gave NCS a shot at a song premiere for a big-name band (Deicide’s “How Can You Call Yourself A God”). Later still, he became the head of marketing for The MuseBox marketing company and founded his own business called ConspiracyPR.

Now, in partnership with MuseBox, he has formed a new metal label called Gravedancer Records and has made a deal for worldwide distribution of the label’s first three signings by EMI. And these aren’t just any three signings. The first bands signed to Gravedancer are Byzantine, Chrome Waves, and Conan. This shows extremely good taste (not that we hold ourselves out as arbiters of taste, of course), and a reason to pay attention to what Eldridge and Gravedancer do next. Allow me to elaborate:

BYZANTINE

The revival of this West Virginia band, with the reuniting of Chris Ojeda and Tony Rohrbaugh, was one of the real bright spots of news in 2011. TheMadIsraeli interviewed both of them for this post in February, and we’ve been following their progress closely. Small pieces of awesome music have surfaced now and then, enough to make us confident that Byzantine’s next album will be something special. The most recent taste of what’s to come is a Chris Ojeda playthrough that has now appeared on YouTube. That’s the first thing that will greet you after the jump.

Mar 292012

In this post, two bands with new music, both swimming in the same musical sea. One old favorite and one new discovery: Tardive Dyskinesia (Greece) and NEOSIS (Switzerland).

TARDIVE DYSKINESIA

Our attachment to this band goes back to the early days of NCS when we featured their 2009 album Sea of See Through Skins in a post about “math metal” (a post that also included Textures, CiLiCe, and Hacride). What a quaint term “math metal” now seems. Those were the days before the term “djent” polluted our vocabulary, before everyone’s neighbor began writing off-kilter pneumatic riffs a la Meshuggah and calling them “songs”.

It’s been a long wait for a new TD album, though the band have periodically given us reasons to remember them, including a free recording of a live performance (featured here). But now they’re beginning the ramp-up process for release of their third album, Static Apathy in Fast Forward, which is due later this year. Recently, they started streaming a rough mix of a new song called “Prehistoric Man”, which will appear (though possibly in altered form) on the new album, and I’m really digging it.

The song features to good effect the band’s blend of turbulent, head-twisting rhythms and progressive-minded instrumental passages that first attracted us to them years ago, with perhaps a more prominent place for melody and a few other added ingredients as well. There’s quite a lot of clean singing in the song, though the mixing of clean and harsh vocals also appeared now and then on Sea of See Through Skins, but I think it works well in “Prehistoric Man”.

Mar 292012

(You remember Trollfiend, don’t you? He used to hang around these parts more often before he started his own metal blog, ALSO, WOLVES. In February, he graciously (and glowingly) reviewed Batavi, the new album by Dutch folk/pagan metal band Heidevolk. The review is here. Subsequently, he conducted this e-mail interview with Heidevolk’s vocalist, Joris den Boghtdrincker. Wait for the insightful Q&A about growing Viking beards . . .)

 

Your vocal arrangement is pretty much unique. How did that come about? Was it chance or planned?

Me and Jesse, our previous singer, met up at a concert and after a few beers we came up with the idea of a choir-like vocal style for a metal band. It wasn’t long before we got in touch with other guys who wanted to start a folk metal band so we decided to join forces. We took our mics to the rehearsal room and started experimenting with combining our vocals. Ah yes, the good old days of 2002!

How many drinking horns do you own?

One. I used to have two but the other one got lost at Ragnarök festival in Germany. I wonder to this very day if it was because of an overzealous cleaner, or if it was stolen. It hasn’t popped up on E-bay so far. I’m still trying to come up with a fitting curse for the thief in case it was indeed stolen. Any suggestions? A drinking horn can cause a lot of nasty injuries and embarrassment when not handled properly, you know. That reminds me of the time our old guitar player Sebas mistook a blowing horn for a drinking horn. He only found out after he poured the beer in.

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