Here are things I saw and heard today.
I saw a temperature gauge at high noon here in The Emerald City: 63°F. And the sun is shining. All of you poor fuckers who are broiling like burgers on a charcoal grill everywhere east of the Pacific Coast can hate me now, and along about January you can remind me that I made this obnoxious crack at your expense.
I saw that awesomely phantasmagoric piece of artwork up above. It’s by Ken Sarafin of Sarafin Concepts. It’s for a death metal project called Bunch, of which Sarafin seems to be a member — one of many. Here’s this description from the Bunch FB page: “Bunch is a band formed from 28 different members, each playing one note a song. Occasionally during recording, a member might repeat a note several times. If that happens, a break with cookies is required afterwards. Bunch likes cookies.”
There are a bunch of Bunch demo tracks at this location. I picked one to stream after the jump.
(In this post, DGR reviews the absolutely blistering, chaotic new offering of death metal insanity from Sweden’s Miseration.)
For those of you not familiar with Miseration, this is one of Christian Älvestam’s many projects. For such a prominent vocalist, his list of endeavors is unsurprisingly lengthy, but Miseration have been going for a while as a death-metal-focused pet project between Älvestam and musician Jani Stefanović, who is responsible for the guitar work on this new album but previously also recorded the drums, bass, rhythm, and lead.
The band made a solid debut in the densely packed release Your Demons, Their Angels, but truly got people talking with the absolutely relentless slaughter of their 2009 album, The Mirroring Shadow. After that, the band seemed to have drifted in limbo for a time, but have now returned with a rebuilt lineup and their third release, Tragedy Has Spoken.
Stylistically, it serves to combine the two previous records, creating a longer and even more pressure-packed version of their music. It has the speed and almost ridiculous drumming of The Mirroring Shadow, while lengthening the songs to the more epic timestamps that filled out Your Demons, Their Angels. The songs are now more fully fleshed-out, whereas on The Mirroring Shadow they were a massive wall of blasts and guitars. It’s a different album than what has come before, but goddamn if it isn’t interesting — to say the least.
It’s more than interesting: When you fervently hope, as I have, that a band like this will capture people’s attentions, it’s great to hear Tragedy Has Spoken. You hear the music, and you hope that this will help inspire a newer generation, who (I hope) will take what they can from this insanity and eventually make kick-ass music of their own. All I can say is, man, it is nice to see Miseration putting out music again. Well, I can say more . . .
In case people have forgotten, instrumental metal works just fine at this site, because . . . if there is no singing in the metal, then there can be no clean singing in the metal. Get it?
Over the last few days, I’ve accumulated enough new discoveries to justify this post. The first one is just a news item (no music, unfortunately), but for the rest I have listenings — quite varied listenings, and quite good, and all by solo artists. The subjects are Cloudkicker (U.S.), Alexander Bateman (U.S.), You Big Ox (U.S.), and Gorod guitarist Mathieu Pascal (France).
Cloudkicker is Ohio denizen Ben Sharp. Cloudkicker was the first of the so-called “bedroom guitarist” projects to hit my radar screen, and I fell hard for the music. I was late to the party, of course. I found out about Cloudkicker in 2010 after one of this site’s original co-founders turned me on to Sharp’s 2008 debut album, The Discovery. His 2010 album, Beacons, made many of our 2010 lists of the year’s best albums, and I even picked one of the songs from the album for our list of 2010’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.
I subsequently discovered many other then-solo guitar instrumentalists, including Tosin Abasi, Dan Dankmeyer, Keith Merrow, Tre Watson, and Chimp Spanner, but the memory of that first Cloudkicker discovery has stayed with me. So I was excited to see the report on Ben Sharp’s tumblr that he plans to release a new Cloudkicker album called Fade in August. It will go up on the Cloudkicker Bandcamp page, and we’ll report when that happens, as soon as we find out.
To be brutally honest, which of course is the only kind of honest we know how to be at this site, I will confess something at which I’ve only hinted (ever so subtly) in the past: I really have a low tolerance for clean singing in metal.
It seems that most of our other writers are more receptive to clean vocals than I am, but even for them it seems to be more the exception than the rule. Every now and then, something clean will penetrate my own defenses and tickle me in the nether regions, but I bathe more often than that happens, and I don’t bathe except when it gets to the point that plants die as I walk past them.
On the other hand, I just fuckin’ love big meaty riffs that maketh my head to bang, and flesh-scalding solos, and music that sounds evil. So what am I to do about Castle?
They’re from San Francisco and they’re the latest signing by Prosthetic Records, which got me curious enough to watch the video released yesterday for a Castle song called “Corpse Candles”. The track is from their second album (and their Prosthetic debut), Blacklands, which will appear on September 11.
Here are a few items of interest I came across this morning that I thought were worth spreading around.
ITEM ONE: WINTERFYLLETH
Winterfylleth are a UK black-metal band whose name should be familiar to long-time NCS readers, since I’m high as a kite about this band, having fallen head-over-heels for their second album, The Mercian Sphere (2010). In May, I reported that Candlelight Records was re-issuing the band’s debut full-length, The Ghost of Heritage, after a remastering by Colin Marston. What I didn’t realize then but have discovered this morning is how close the band were to completing their third album.
Now I know that Candlelight is prepared to release a new Winterfylleth album — The Threnody of Triumph — in September. I also saw that the September issue of Zero Tolerance magazine will include a feature on the band AND a track from the new album — “Void of Light” — on a bonus CD. I’m hoping that song will surface on the web soon. I’m eager to hear the new album. You should be, too. Find Winterfyleth on Facebook here.
ITEM TWO: ILSA
I saw today the album art for the forthcoming album by D.C.-based crust/doom occultists Ilsa. It’s a real eye-catcher:
(In this post, DGR reviews the new album by Abnormality from Marlborough, Mass.)
I’ve covered Massachusetts-based death metal up-and-comers Abnormality before. Granted, that site burned down and rests in ashes, but if you were following TNOTB in mid-2010 then you likely saw my review of these guys’ (and gal’s) EP The Collective Calm In Mortal Oblivion. I had gotten familiar with the group’s appearance prior to that in one of the Rock Band games, but was still impressed with their style of brutal death with some grind guitar work. They’re a five-piece consisting of four guys on instruments and one very talented lady handling the death growls.
Abnormality have kept going since then and have returned two years after Collective Calm with a full eight-song debut album that keeps going with the wordy titles — Contaminating The Hive Mind. Since I enjoyed Collective Calm, it was pretty much an unspoken rule that I’d be checking out this one in hopes that they could kick out eight songs of solid brutal death. The group have changed their sound slightly, due to some better production that makes them a little easier to hear, but yes, they have indeed given us eight songs of solid brutal death with very little in the way of compromise or ridiculousness. It’s a meat-and-potatoes death disc with a lot to offer genre fanatics and is also accessible enough to lure new people into the madness.
Contaminating The Hive Mind is a slab of death metal, about thirty-five minutes in length, that picks its foundation and sticks to it pretty rigidly. Abnormality have got the chops to hang with a lot of the more popular bands in the genre these days, but they’ve also become a bit more mathematical and machine-like in their writing. They make heavy use of a start/stop formula that sees the whole band picking up speed only to completely stop for a quick second and then picking right back up as if nothing happened. Those quick moments of silence are your only real reprieve from the low-end grinders that this band like to throw out. Title track and album closer “Contaminating The Hive Mind”, for instance, has a somewhat common beginning rhythm that bounces up and down before moving into a battering of blasts.
On August 12, 2012, the Closing Ceremony will mark the end of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Two days later, on August 14, Demonic Resurrection, Bloodguard, Karybdis, and one more band to be announced will finish off whatever is left of London with a free live show at The Unicorn Camden.
The Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games will be entitled “A Symphony of British Music” and will be broadcast worldwide. The DR-Bloodguard-Karybdis show will be entitled “Darkness Over London” and it will not be broadcast anywhere. Only those fortunate enough to appear in person at The Unicorn will get to witness the darkness, and they will not have to endure an endless parade of commercials, or an endless parade of athletes. They will also not have to pay anything to enter the venue, because the show is free.
A total cast of 4,100 performers will take part in the London 2012 Closing Ceremonies. A somewhat smaller cast will take part in “Darkness Over London”. However, it is unlikely that they will be wearing ridiculous costumes, opting instead for tasteful band shirts, or no shirts at all. We have not been advised as to whether they will be wearing pants. It will not cost anything to find out what they are wearing or not wearing, because the show will be free.
Organizers of the Closing Ceremony have reported that the August 12 event will feature “some of the country’s most globally successful musicians, along with some of the industry’s stars of tomorrow”. This means it is highly unlikely that the Closing Ceremony will include any metal bands, and therefore it is highly likely that it will be boring as shit. “Darkness Over London”, however, will feature some terrifically ass-kicking metal by three rising stars in the only industry that matters — The Industry of Metal.
(BadWolf makes me very jealous sometimes. Case in point: He attended a concert by the legendary Iron Maiden in Detroit on July 18. He provides this report. Credit for the photos goes to Mahlon Orrin.)
There are limits to how excited someone can reasonably be for an event. I try and contain my excitement, these days. After all, excitement is kissing cousins with anxiety, and the two frequently swap clothes when I’m not looking.
So when I say that I was unreasonably excited to leave work on July 18th and see Iron Maiden, I want you to have some idea of what I mean: enough caffeine, testosterone, and adrenaline running through my veins to rouse a narcopleptic doormouse.
It was to be my first Iron Maiden concert. Bruce Dickenson and co. remain some of the last classic metal gods that one can see in the United States—and reportedly the only ones who still put on a half-decent show, besides maybe Motörhead (not that I know, I’ve never seen Motörhead either). That Maiden, known for eschewing classics in favor of new material, were playing an all-retro set only frosted my cake.
My best friend, d00sh c00gr, and I felt so elated at the opportunity that we broke a personal vow and returned to Detroit Energy Theater, where we have witnessed many large summer metal shows (most of them involving Slayer) completely wrecked by a combination of bad sound and shitty fans.
It’s time to venture forth from the cozy, hermetic confines of our metallic island and see what the outside world has to offer. We do this timidly and with trepidation, because the outside world often seems like an unpleasant place, full of selfish, disgusting, cruel, and stupid creatures known as human beings. This generally seem to be the condition of human beings when they are not making or listening to metal.
However, for your entertainment, we are willing to risk exposure to these ugly creatures in order to find images, videos, and news items that are metal even though they are not music.
Item One is the photo above. Sometimes, when you’re livin’ right, you’re in the right place at the right time and the shit just jumps into your mouth and all you’ve got to do is be alert enough to open wide and savor life’s unexpected delicacies. That’s what that lucky American alligator up there is about to do. On the other hand, you get those days when you’re moving with the current, free and easy, you think you’re on the right course, you decide to make a big leap ahead — and you land right in the toothsome jaws of some big fuckin’ catastrophe, like that Florida gar. Ain’t life great?
That photo (taken by Marina Scarr) is metal. So are dozens of others that have been submitted in the 2012 edition of The National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. All of the thousands of submissions can be found here, but I came across a site that has collected 45 of the best ones. Seven more of my favorites are right after the jump.
I have friends (and a wife) who do not understand my near-obsessive fascination with metal. I can’t explain it to them, but not because I have no explanation. It’s because the words would make no sense to someone who hasn’t personally exposed themselves to the magnificent diversity of the music. And even then, of course, the explanation would fail unless the listener really appreciated what they’re hearing.
And diversity is a real key to why I can barely leave the music alone long enough to keep a job and avoid losing all the friends I’ve got. There’s just never a dull moment. Something new is always right around the corner, and for someone like me who’s really not wedded exclusively to any micro-genre, it’s impossible to get stuck in a rut because there’s so much variety. The offerings in this post are an example of what I’m trying to say.
It’s a scrambled assortment of songs from forthcoming albums, but just a very small taste of how dynamically different metal is. The bands are Carthage (U.S.), Munruthel (Ukraine), and Trollfest (Norway).
For friends of NCS, Carthage won’t be a new name. We reviewed their first EP last October (here), and then in February we featured the initial song to emerge from their debut album (here). The album still seems to be a work in progress, but at least we now have a second track to consume — “Years and Darkness”. I’ve been listening to the song off and on since it premiered earlier this month, meaning to write about it, and finally decided I ought to get off my lazy ass and get that done.