Jun 302012

I got cajoled into seeing a movie today that I didn’t really have any interest in seeing, and it turned out to be worthwhile. One line, often repeated, was: “Everything will be all right in the end, so if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.” There was also a speech near the end about success in life being measured by how you handle disappointment, and about the only failure being the failure to try. And then I got home and there, waiting in my e-mail in-box, was yet another chance for untold riches.

Despite all of my disappointments in sincerely answering similar e-mails, most of them from Africa, and my failure to obtain even one goddamn penny from any of these seemingly helpful correspondents, I had the movie’s lines ringing in my ears, and so I decided to try again. Full of renewed hope, and believing it must not be the end, I decided to really turn on the charm in answering the following e-mail from a helpful agent of the FBI:

From: “Ms. Tracy Sanson”
Date: June 30, 2012 9:47:29 AM PDT
Subject: THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
Reply-To: mstracysanson2012@rediffmail.com

Hello,

I must let you in on the real facts about your delayed payment. As a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on local and foreign debt attached to the World Bank office in Washington, DC, USA, I am very much aware of the ordeal you are passing through in order to actualize your long delayed payment.

Jun 302012

To start off the weekend right, I have some top-shelf video entertainment for you, from Borracho and . . . those Gallic dudes we may have mentioned once before around here.

BORRACHO

Yesterday, I spied a video that combined two of my favorite things: an epic metal jam and film footage of Mother Nature at her awe-inspiring best. Yes, I used the word “epic”, and I know that means I’ll have to punish myself in some really hurtful way, but goddammit I just can’t talk about “All In Play” without using that grossly-cliched-and-therefore-forbidden word.

“All In Play” is the name of the song around which Richard Bomgren (a Swedish fan of the band who has done other music video work) constructed this video. It appears on Borracho’s June 2011 debut album, Splitting Sky, which I’ve mentioned before in connection with their last video (for “Concentric Circles”).

The song is a long, slow build, filled with thick, ropey riffs — and I’m talking about the kind of cables they use to tie down big ocean-going freighters, thicker than a fat man’s waist — gut churning bass chords, drums that go off like gun shots, and Noah Greenberg’s gritty vocal squall. It’s a soulful, heavy, head-moving piece that’s my favorite song on a very strong album.

Jun 292012

A Forest of Stars (or more precisely The Gentlemen’s Club of A Forest of Stars) is a 7-person UK band whose music I haven’t previously explored, though their name is wonderful. My ignorance about them vanished rapidly today. They’ve collaborated in the creation of a new music video that’s probably the best one I’ve seen this year. I have a difficult time imagining that it will be surpassed.

The video is for a nearly 10-minute song called “Gatherer of the Pure”, which is drawn from the band’s new concept album A Shadowplay For Yesterdays. The album is scheduled for release on August 13 by Lupus Lounge / Prophecy Productions.

The music is a kind of very eccentric black metal. In keeping with the Victorian garb of the band members and their archaic names (e.g., “Mister Curse”, “The Gentleman”, “Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts”, “Mr John “The Resurrectionist” Bishop”), the song sounds like history re-imagined — an occult conflation of the old (and odd) and the new.

The music is sometimes symphonically bombastic, sometimes waltzing, sometimes skin-scaping, and much else besides. It tells a story. I don’t know that from the lyrics, much of which I can’t make out, but the mere progression of the music makes that undeniable.

The animated video tells a story, too — a very dark and dramatic one. Visually, it’s stunning — no other word for it. It’s like watching the Indonesian shadow puppet theater called wayang kulit set against a backdrop of Victorian London and seeing it through a 19th-century stereopticon (don’t ask me where I pick up all this trivia). The visuals are so amazing that they almost overshadow the music, though I think that’s because what you see and what you hear mesh so seamlessly.

Jun 292012

(In this latest edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Devian, with musical accompaniment, of course.)

Recommended for fans of: Witchery, Belphegor, Hypocrisy

OK, so the last edition of The Synn Report clearly only touched a nerve with a minority of you, and that’s okay. These are all bands that I love that I want to give a shout-out to, I don’t expect everyone else to love them. But I can pretty confidently predict that more than a few of you will fall balls-deep in love with these guys…

Sadly no longer a unit, Devian were conceived in 2006 by ex-Marduk members Emil (drums) and Legion (vocals) along with several other members of the Swedish underground scene (including, at one point, ex-Edge of Sanity and current Scar Symmetry vocalist Roberth Karlsson). Between 2006 and their eventual dissolution in 2011 they produced two killer albums of blackened death metal with a distinctive thrash edge and a keen ear for razor-sharp melody.

Bring on the blasphemy!

Jun 292012

As explained in Part 1 of this feature, I mean no disrespect to any of the bands mentioned herein when I refer to them as riff-raff. I guess I’ve been called a motherfucker so many times by bands during live shows that I’ve become convinced we’re all riff-raff, and surely that’s how the straight world looks at all of us, so why the hell not? Plus, there’s the appeal of alliteration.

This post is a continuation of my earlier report on news, music, and videos I saw over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth sharing. Even after dividing this into two parts, there’s still a shitload of stuff left to pass along. So I will try to be brief with my verbiage (yeah, like that will happen). In this post: Reports of new Season of Mist albums from Rage Nucleaire (featuring Cryptopsy’s Lord Worm) and Khonsu (featuring the Grønbech brothers and Thebon from Keep of Kalessin); Jucifer’s new Bandcamp page; new music videos from Profane Omen and Whitechapel; new songs from A Band of Orcs and Dysrhythmia; and for Mike Patton fans in the audience, a blurb about the revival of Tomahawk.

RAGE NUCLEAIRE

I just saw this, but three days ago Season of Mist announced the signing of a four-piece black metal band called Rage Nucleaire. It got my attention because the band was formed by Lord Worm, former vocalist of Cryptopsy. The band are working on a debut album called Unrelenting Fucking Hatred and they describe the music as a “hate-filled blend of melodic black metal and violent industrial.” Their list of influences range from early Emperor and Immortal to Anaal Nathrakh and Mysticum. The other members are bassist Alvater (ex-Frozen Shadows), guitarist/keyboardist Dark Rage, and drummer Fredrik Widigs.

The band have a new Facebook page here, which will allow me and you to sniff around for more info as it emerges. At the moment, although I’m hungry for some music by this group, I have none to share, nor do I have a release date yet.

Jun 292012

Students of Greek mythology will recognize Kharybdis as the name of a sea monster, a spawner of whirlpools who together with Scylla created a smashing gauntlet of death from which few seafarers escaped. Karybdis is also the name of a smashing UK-based metal band whose mythology-themed debut album From the Depths we’re proud to stream for you in full today.

I’m almost (but not quite) at a loss for words to describe the music on From the Depths. It’s like a full-speed collision of a multitude of metal genres — most prominently, melodic death metal, groove metal, thrash, and hardcore, with different elements more dominant than others, depending on the song. Imagine a fusing of the musical styles of At the Gates, Lamb of God, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Darkest Hour. Or think about The Absence or the late, lamented The Famine — but don’t forget to throw in a few symphonic enhancements, a jazz guitar solo, and old-school breakdowns (the kind that break necks without being introduced by a bass drop).

You get Gothenberg galloping; jagged pneumatic riffing; blazing, layered melodic leads and swirling solo’s; booming bass lines you feel all the way through your core; wonderfully varied attacking drums; tempos that turn on a dime; and an impassioned vocalist (Rich O’Donnell) who has an extended range of unclean styles, from cavernous roars to cauterizing howls and paint-melting shrieks.

Also, every one of these high-voltage songs functions like a giant mosh-trigger — press play and you’ll be looking for the first solid object against which you can hurl yourself. But shit, this thing also includes string instrumentals that sweep and dance with elegance — and I’m talking about real strings (violin, viola, and cello), not the artifice of a synthesizer.

Jun 292012

Yes, I’m still trying out titles for these posts in which I collect metal news, new videos, and new music that I’ve seen recently. I mean no disrespect to any of the bands featured in this post. In my lexicon, “riff-raff” is a compliment, plus I really wanted some alliteration; otherwise I probably would have called this “Rounding Up the Motherfuckers”.

Yesterday I saw and heard a lot of things worth passing on, so I’m dividing this collection into two parts, with the second part to follow a little later this morning. In this Part 1 are observations involving new albums from two excellent bands –Results by Murder Construct and Cold of Ages by Ash Borer – plus a recent live performance by In Mourning caught on film, plus a from-the-horse’s-mouth report on a potential Mastodon collaboration with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and In Flames’ Björn Gelotte.

MURDER CONSTRUCT

This band is a super-group of sorts, featuring Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan on vocals, Exhumed/Phobia/Impaled’s Leon del Muerte on guitar and vocals, Intronaut/Uphill Battle’s Danny Walker on drums, Bad Acid Trip’s Caleb Schneider on bass, and Fetus Eaters/Watch Me Burn’s Kevin Fetus also on guitar. The name of their game is death-grind, and I fuckin’ loved their 2010 self-titled debut (described here).

Jun 282012

(In this post, DGR reviews the new albums from Anathema and Storm Corrosion. Sample songs are at the end.)

Also: Hey guys! You all like Steven Wilson, too, right?

It isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that a lot of us have our pleasures outside of the metal realm. Sometimes, you just need to take a break from all the yelling and ass-kicking’s you receive from your dispenser of choice. A lot of music lies in wait out there beyond the bounds of metal, and if you know where to look you’ll find that a lot of it is surprisingly good. You already read NCS, so you full well know this though, you sexy reader you. I tend to find my solace from stuff outside of metal in the type of electronica rock that the label Fixt usually peddles (as well as more heinous techno like BT and Pendulum) and Prog.

I’ve never drifted too deeply into the prog genre per-se, especially since it is such a huge umbrella term, but what I do find, I usually enjoy. One of my favorites has been Porcupine Tree, and to a broader extent anything in which its members have involved themselves outside of that band. A large part of the attraction is Steven Wilson, and he is prolific as hell in music at the moment. I mention this because it seems like I talk about him a ton anyway, so the fact that he is present in Storm Corrosion means it shouldn’t come as much of a shock to find them included in this post. Not only that, but I’m going to talk about his fellow compatriots in Anathema, who may have just released one of the best non-metal discs to come out this year.

Jun 282012

(We welcome London-based guest contributor Alex Franquelli, who reviews the forthcoming album by Katatonia.)

Similar but different. The thin line separating criticism and appreciation when discussing the artistic value of the Swedish godfathers of “depressing metal” is such that the resulting balance between the two currents aptly describes the status of the band itself. Both camps are in fact not completely devoid of cynicism, and a subtle but relevant amount of expectation is shared by those who see Katatonia as either an epitaph or an epigraph at the beginning of a new chapter for heavy metal. 2012 marks the return of the band at whose helm Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström (vocals and guitar respectively) seem to sit pretty comfortably, sharing the role of producers with David Castillo at the mixing desk.

Is Dead End Kings the natural continuation of Night Is the New Day (2009)? The recent additions of Per Eriksson on guitars and Niklas Sandin on bass might be enough to make you draw your own conclusions, but what is revealed by listening to the new album is a thoroughly new concept of music which goes beyond an easily predictable evolution. Dead End Kings appears to be less direct; ambitions are set reasonably high, and the progressive hints, which punctuated the previous full-length album, now play an effective role in making the sound more dynamic and prone to dramatic changes of keys and atmosphere.

Jun 282012

(Andy Synn has music recommendations for Gojira fans . . .)

So with this being unofficial Gojira week here at NCS, I thought I’d try and continue the theme a bit, while also branching off in my own direction.

What you’ll find here are five bands, some of whom we’ve covered before, who I think will appeal to a good number of you Gojira fans out there, for a variety of reasons.

Now I’m not trying to say any of them is better than the French eco-behemoths, nor am I trying to replace them in your affections. Instead this column exists for two reasons:

1. I know that Gojira are one of those bands who captivate even the most casual of metal fans. I know several people myself who aren’t obsessive metal-explorers like myself and instead have a much more varied taste in music, but who nevertheless carry a pretty impressive torch for the band. So for these people I wanted to bring some attention to other bands who might suit them, who they might otherwise not have time to investigate for themselves.

2. I also know that many of us (myself included) have a real appreciation for Gojira, but don’t LOVE them unconditionally, as many do. Now while that does make me the perfect (cough…) candidate to critically appraise the band from a pretty objective standpoint – hence why you might find find my reviews a little more critical, in some ways at least, than others – it also makes me feel like I’m missing something. I know exactly how good the band are, and there are songs I do love, even albums, but for some reason the band and I are just not getting to the stage where I can put a ring on it. SO for those like me who “get” Gojira, but don’t “GET” Gojira as much as others, here are a few alternatives that might just fill that empty hole.

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