Aug 312012

Someone left a comment on one of today’s earlier posts saying “NCS has always been the most long-winded out of all the metal sites.” Really hurt my feelings. Made me feel real low and pouty. Some people just wanna know if the shit is awesome or not. Makes me wanna just clam up and let all this shit that I saw and heard today speak for itself.

EARLY GRAVES

New Early Graves album. Red Horse. Out 10/30 on No Sleep Records. Pre-Order available at http://www.nosleepstore.com/. New song, too. Also called “Red Horse”. Fucken explosive crusty punky grindy mayhem. Pure awesomeness. (thanks Utmu)

Aug 312012

In the early days of this blog, we developed a fascination for the French metal band Eryn Non Dae.. We’ve posted about them a lot since early 2010, most recently here. The band’s own description of their music is one I would endorse: “Complex and brutal structures, black and apocalyptic moods, an obscure music where dissonant compositions carry an in-your-face, aggressive vocal style… A trip into the depths of the soul.”

Our interest began with the band’s 2009 album Hydra Lernaïa (reviewed here), and I’ve been following their news ever since, while waiting for their next release. Finally, that day is about to dawn.

The new album is named Meliora, and it will come with that wonderful cover art you see above, which was created by the band’s (obviously multi-talented) bassist Mika André. It was recorded by Mobo (Conkrete Studios), who also recorded Hydra Lernaïa as well as albums by a multitude of other French bands, including Gorod’s latest release, A Perfect Absolution. It’s scheduled for release in October, but excerpts of the songs are available for listening at this location.

Because I’m planning a full review closer to the release date, I won’t say much at this point about my reactions, except I’m blown away by what I’m hearing. It’s crushing, searing, complex, intense music. 

Aug 312012


(In this post Andy Synn reviews the just-released debut album on Season of Mist by Norway’s Khonsu.)

There’s something incredibly exotic, even erotic, about the darker side of music.

Whether you believe that music (and art) creates some sort of spiritual or emotional connection, or whether you see it merely as a stimulus for strange, internal chemical reactions, the fact remains that ever since Sabbath struck their first doom-laden chord there has been an inherent darkness to our music that touches something within us far different from what the rest of the world experiences.

The hybrid black metal sound of Khonsu absolutely revels in this darkness, wrapping its post-industrial, post-apocalyptic (but never post-metal) sound in a shroud of shade and shadow, while taking the audacious (and risky) step of using the keyboards as a leading instrument, utilising this expanded sonic palette to great effect to realise both extroverted concepts and introverted neuroses in equal measure.

Always a dangerous choice, in the wrong hands this often results in nothing but pompous farce or overblown, soulless theatrics. But Anomalia bucks this trend – instead of simply filling out the sound in a passive fashion, the ever-present synth lines and haunting keyboard refrains actively control and direct the direction of the music and have been given the necessary time and care that they need to realise their potential. Rather than being treated as an afterthought, a mere parlor trick or cynical attempt to expand the sound, the synth work here is an integral part of each song’s foundation, granting each one a thematic breadth and depth outside and beyond the confines of black metal’s traditionally guitar-based aesthetic.

Progressive in intent and ambition, the structures of all the songs, which you may have gathered are all of a somewhat significant length, are complex without being convoluted, intelligent without being impenetrable, and though each track is a singular contained chapter, they all contribute, individually and as a collective, to the overall direction of the album.

This is pure Blade Runner black metal, born and raised in Perdition City under the hazy glare of neon lights, where the blood of the dragon meets the sprawling sound of tomorrow.

Aug 312012

It’s time to celebrate another metal anniversary. Tomorrow, September 1, 40 years will have passed since the official release of Black Sabbath’s fourth album. Hard to believe: Forty. Fucking. Years.

As I’ve done in the past, I’m stealing from my fellow metal blogger Full Metal Attorney, who is a lot more on the ball watching the calendar for events like this than yours truly. He discusses the significance of this album on his own site today, proclaiming it the pinnacle of Black Sabbath’s career, surpassing each of the band’s first three albums — Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971).

FMA attributes the album’s excellence mainly to Tommy Iommi’s riffs, especially on “Supernaut”, “Wheels of Confusion”, “Cornucopia”, “Snowblind”, and the song he calls “the heaviest Sabbath song of all”, “Under the Sun”. But he also praises the performances of the rest of Sabbath — Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and of course Ozzy.

As FMA himself acknowledges in the article, lots of people would disagree with him putting Vol. 4 above Paranoid and Master of Reality. He chalks that up to the presence of the weird experimental track “FX,” the relatively long acoustic instrumental “Laguna Sunrise,” and the piano/synth ballad “Changes” — but he asserts that these quirky, imperfect songs are precisely what has made the album so memorable after 40 years, in addition to all of the album’s phenomenal successes.

Aug 312012

(photo credit: Nick Palmiretto)

(In this post, Dane Prokofiev [formerly known as Rev. Will around these parts] returns to NCS with another installment in his Keyboard Warriors series, in which he interviews well-known metal writers. Today’s subject is the thoroughly awesome “Grim” Kim Kelly.)

The name “Grim” Kim is, surely, not unknown to denizens of the metal blogosphere and physical print media.

Starting at the tender age of 15, the New York-based female metal writer worked her way up from underground fanzines to bigger outlets, and she has been at the craft for nearly a decade since. Her career as a metal writer seems to be one of the most successful cases around, as evident from her perennially expanding portfolio (she recently became a staff member of Pitchfork Media), and so it is only natural to inquire: what were the unique life experiences that shaped her to be who she is today?

Of course, that is not all that perks the interest of the body modification enthusiast’s admirers and peers. In this interview, No Clean Singing delves into certain iffy metal issues with the seasoned metal scribe as well.

 

Hello Kim, it’s time to start talking about yourself again! Were you christened (or satanized) “Grim” Kim by a good metal pal, or did you come up with it yourself?

It’s a nickname given to me by my friend Curran Reynolds. He runs Precious Metal, a weekly metal night at Lit Lounge in Manhattan, and when I was in college in Philly, I’d often come up to catch the show and hang out. I eventually started DJ-ing there upon occasion, and he decided that “Grim Kim” was to be my DJ name. When I started writing for MetalSucks I used it as my pen name ‘cause everyone else there had a quirky nom de plume, and from there, I guess it just stuck. People like rhymes.

Aug 302012

You know, if I owned a kvlt metal record label (and therefore, by definition, did not care about food or running water), I would do something like this.

The phone would ring one day, and someone would say, “Would you be interested in signing a band composed of these folks?”

Mike Scheidt (YOB)-Vocals

John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune, ex-Ludicra)-Guitars

Sigrid Sheie (Hammers of Misfortune)-Bass

Aesop (Fucking) Dekker (Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros, ex-Ludicra)-Drums

I’d think on it for about two seconds, while wiping the drool off my mouth, and while the inner me would be squealing like a little girl, I’d try to play it cool and ask if there was any music to hear. And upon being told Not Yet, I’d just go ahead and give up and ask where to send the contract, and then excuse myself to go change my shorts.

I’m not exactly sure it went down like that in the offices of Profound Lore. All I know for sure is that this band is a real thing, it’s called VHÖL, they’re recording an album, and Profound Lore plans to release it.

Aug 302012

Here’s a quick round-up of news items I saw today. I may have more later . . .

SOILWORK

That’s a really good promo shot up there, don’t you think? It was taken by Hannah Verbeuren. Could there be a relationship to the band’s fabulous drummer Dirk Verbeuren?

In addition to seeing that great photo, I also saw the news that Soilwork’s new album, The Living Infinite, is going to be a double-album. According to the band’s front dude Björn “Speed” Strid , it will be: “A REAL double album, in the true sense of the word, which means no fillers and no left-overs.”

Oh, let’s hope that will prove to be true! And let’s further hope that with all that extra room it will include the kind of harder-edged, melodeath marauders like “Needlefeast”, “Follow the Hollow”, “Like the Average Stalker”, and “The Chainheart Machine” that Soilwork once enjoyed delivering, in addition to the catchy, poppier, cleanly sung stuff that dominated The Panic Broadcast (2010). I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy that last album, because I did, but I kept waiting for something with real teeth in it . . . and waited in vain. Now I’ll start waiting again . . . .

On the other hand, I don’t think lack of teeth will be the problem with this next band’s new album.

Aug 302012

Riven, the 2011 album by Germany’s Satyros, was one of my favorites from last year. The band self-released it last March, and I posted this review in April. I also included one of its tracks on our list of 2011′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs (here). It was an ambitious undertaking, a true musical journey consisting of 12 songs and approximately an hour’s worth of diverse music that took years to create, and yet the band released it for free download on Bandcamp – as they have with everything they’ve released to date.

Satyros are now working on their third album, but in the meantime they’ve started a new project, the concept of which is just as interesting as the music. They call it the Open-Anthology-Project, and its first product is an EP named The Dirt of Ages, which Satyros put up on Bandcamp yesterday to celebrate their 7th anniversary as a band. For the EP, the band assembled three songs not included in their previous works — but this is only the beginning.

Satyros intend to use the project as a vehicle for releasing future songs that would not be part of albums. As the band explain, “This allows us even more artistic freedom to experiment with new sounds, styles, and blends of genres than before, apart from our songwriting for upcoming full-length outputs.”

This is a cool idea, and one that I hope catches on with more bands. My sense is that most bands create music that for one reason or another never make it onto an album or EP, maybe because it diverges from the musical style that identifies the band or perhaps because it doesn’t fit within the concept or arrangement of music on a larger release. But if the band is nevertheless satisfied with the music, giving it away on Bandcamp (or some other platform) could benefit fans as well as giving the band an added vehicle for ongoing creative expression. 

Aug 302012

This is a review of Reprisal, the fourth album by Devolved. In writing it, I feel conflicted. On the one hand, I’m delighted that the band have given me the chance to hear the album in advance of its release. On the other hand, I feel a sense of guilt because it is so far in advance that our beloved readers won’t be able to share in the full awesomeness of the music until November 20, 2012, which is something like 80 dog years from now. It’s so far in advance that I can’t even feed you a link for pre-orders.

Obviously, my sense of guilt hasn’t stopped me from forging ahead. I just want to be clear that it’s not because I enjoy torturing you. Except, of course, those of you who enjoy being tortured, and you know who you are, and to you I say, “Happy to be of service!”

And yes, Reprisal is awesome, Devolved’s best album yet, and one of the year’s gems. It benefits significantly from the changes that founder/lyricist/drummer John Sankey has made since the band’s last album, taking greater control over the songwriting process and bringing on board two new performers — Mark Hawkins (guitars and bass) and Mark Haggblad (vocals) — both of whom are simply superb. Between the three of them, they have constructed an unstoppable killing machine.

The music delivers cold, mechanized power with almost inhumanly fast, ridiculously precise drumming and riffing. The rhythms have an industrialized quality — jabbing, hammering, jolting, in a start-stop flurry of pneumatic, piston-driven blows, with the drums, guitars, and bass often tightly in sync. The sound conjures mental images of some giant robotic factory in overdrive, fabricating ominous ranks of weaponized cyborgs ready to begin crushing and blasting our frail humanity.

Aug 302012

(In this post TheMadIsraeli brings us a fascinating change of pace, with a review of classical music composed by Nick Vasallo.)

Today we aren’t reviewing a metal album.  Today we’re reviewing a classical album.  We at NCS are classy men anyhow, so why not?

Though in all seriousness, classical music has been (dare I say it) the foundation of metal (not rock) as we know it.  Yes, there is no doubt that Blues was as integral to metal’s development, but I think classical is an even bigger part of the equation.  You can take even brutal tech-death like Cryptopsy or Suffocation and find a way to draw parallels with baroque, classical, or even romantic-era music.  This shit flows through the veins of the most brutal of music, so in my mind it actually seems entirely relevant that this kind of music should be reviewed here.

Of course, I didn’t just go and pick something out of the blue; this album is even more related to metal than most of its genre.  Why?  Because the Vasallo in question is Nick Vasallo – one-third of up-and-coming tech-deathers Oblivion (whose three-song demo I reviewed in February — it fucking owned).  I was quite surprised to find out that he’s a classical composer and that this is actually his musical forté (maybe even over metal?), although it’s quite obvious in his work that he tries to incorporate his love of metal into this niche, as well as both Western and Asian classical music.

This creates an interesting dynamic.  Usually we humans take the old, the established, and try to find ways to keep them fresh, yet grounded in convention.  Vasallo does the opposite, taking a tried and true ancient form of music that brought us some of the greatest masterpieces ever written and breathing new life into it by reversing the roles, where the orchestral instrumentation is made a student of the metal.  I realize that sentence sounds garbled as fuck, it may not even make much sense, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.

So, in essence, what does metal have to bring to this table?  I suppose it should be noted that in my dialogues with Vasallo, death metal seems to really be his thing.  So, to rephrase the question, what does death metal offer?  What does it capture that’s relevant to these compositions?

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