Oct 312012

On the morning of October 1, in a surprising move that we reported soon after it happened, Death Grips put up their newest album, No Love Deep Web, for streaming and free download. Why was that surprising? Well, they had signed a contract with Epic/Columbia to release two albums this year, and No Love Deep Web was supposed to be the second one.

Releasing it for free download didn’t seem like something your average big-name record label would approve. But Death Grips apparently wasn’t happy with the label’s decision to postpone release of the album until sometime in 2013, so they just self-released it anyway. At the time this happened, I wondered whether Death Grips really had given a big-time FUCK YOU to Epic, or instead had just launched a really clever marketing campaign that the label might have even known about and condoned.

Well, we got our answer to that question not long ago, because Death Grips posted on their Facebook page an image of a confidential e-mail dated October 1 from Epic’s chief in-house corporate counsel to the man who appears to be Death Grips’ manager, accusing the band of breaching their contract and demanding that the free download be stopped and that masters of No Love Deep Web be turned over to Epic immediately. To get a better look at the e-mail, click on the image above and you’ll see a bigger copy.

As we know, Epic’s demands weren’t met. So what are we to make of this? And where does this scuffle stand now?

Oct 312012

“Halloween” is a contraction (first used in the 16th century by the Scots) of “All Hallow’s Evening”. It’s the night before a Christian feast day (Nov 1) known as All Hallows or All Saints. How a Christian tradition got wrapped up in ghouls and goblins and spirits of the dead is a long story. But at least a big part of the story is that, like many Christian holidays, this one was intertwined with (and piggy-backed on) a far older pagan celebration known as Samhain (pronounced sah-win or sow-in).

“Samhain” comes from the Old Irish word for “summer’s end”, and in the medieval Gaelic calendar it marked the end of the harvest season and the coming of winter. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge, “In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Some of these rituals hint that they may once have involved human sacrifice.” It was “seen as a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world.”

There’s a metric fuckton of metal that would be appropriate to play in commemoration of Samhain tonight, but I thought I’d go with some quite diverse black metal that I heard for the first time over the last 24 hours. The bands are Satanic BloodSpraying (Bolivia), Vomitchapel (U.S.), and Profound Lore’s latest signing,  A.M.S.G. (Canada), and this post includes two EP reviews, so settle in.

SATANIC BLOODSPRAYING

I’ve not been able to find much information about this Bolivian band beyond the fact that Hells Headbangers released their debut album At the Mercy of Satan in July of this year. It’s an 8-song, 24-minute barrage of vicious, swarming riffs, relentless drumbeats, and vocal blood spray. The music is mangling but also imminently headbang-worthy.

Oct 312012

(We welcome guest writer Tyler Lowery back to NCS with the second of two reviews we’re publishing of the unexpectedly just-released second album by Rings of Saturn. You can find our other one here.)

 When I heard the intro of the new Rings of Saturn album, I had it set in my mind that this would mark their descent into a tired deathcore outing. The almost Whitechapel-esque guitar intro riff that led into the viciously fast riffing and quick-bursting blast beats for the first few moments left dread in my heart. I was expecting the worst to happen at the drop of the bass, leading into a meaningless and redundant breakdown. To my very pleasant surprise, this never occurred.

What did follow was a very well-organized trip through some of the most brutal and technical riffs this side of Obscura’s Omnivium. Rings of Saturn have completely refined and tightened their sound since their debut release in 2009. Focus has pushed all that pure aggression into tight boxes that, once released, wreak utter devastation. In doing this, guitarists Lucas Mann and Joel Omans have spent more time relating their mastery of their art in fine passaging and provocative soloing. The guitars are still top notch, though, and do not flinch for a second. The leads switch often between a very tech-heavy smear of notes and sharply rooted melodic tremolo picking to heavy churning and crushing riffs.

While this is a very fast, very technical album, there is still a good bit of space in between for well-placed and patient guitar work. I wouldn’t call the playing transcendent, but it is certainly very impressive. The first track, “Objective to Harvest”, has an almost spaced-out midsection. “Faces Imploding” breaks for a few phrases toward the end of the track with a Faceless-tinged clean passage that leads into one of the first prevalent breakdowns on the album, which thankfully doesn’t overstay its own welcome. And probably one of the tastiest excerpts is toward the end of the album on “Fruitless Existence”. The song closes with a very groove-oriented clean outro, almost waving goodbye to a passing battlefield.

Oct 312012

(Today we have not one, but two reviews of the new album by Rings of Saturn, and this one comes to you courtesy of TheMadIsraeli. Check out the second one here.)

Speaking of Br00tz rank, Rings of Saturn just got promoted to fucking grandmaster general McFuck you up prestige levels.  It’s shitty what happened with Dingir getting leaked, so I figured I’d do my part by showing my support for this album, because it’s fucking good. It’s rather odd, considering that I admittedly didn’t think the band’s first album was all that impressive.  Dingir, however, is a monster.  A tentacle raping brain scrambling “oh fuck I think I’ve been sonically anally probed” monster.

Technical deathcore, like deathcore generally, gets as much of a bad rap as anything -core, and usually for good reason.  It’s often just breakdowns with sweeping in between.  Much of it sounds boring as fuck-all to me (the style doesn’t really lend itself to dynamics very well), so it means something that I’m actually reviewing this.  The fact this album has legitimate riffs helps its case quite a bit.  The breakdowns and chugs are here, for sure, but that’s balanced by a plentiful amount of tech-riffing that hits the spot.

Some people might still find this album unsatisfying, because like most tech-deathcore, it isn’t dynamic — but this time that’s not a drawback.  There is a definite intensity going on here that is rather unmatched, except maybe by Infant Annihilator (sans ass-fucking in the woods).

Oct 312012

(Here’s BadWolf’s review of the new album by Sweden’s Witchcraft, which is an Exception to our Rule.)

When I started writing for this website in 2010, I really believed in the title of this website—No Clean Singing. Looking back at that year, the best work in metal sat squarely on the extreme side of the spectrum (with a few exceptions, of course). Two years later, I’m in awe of the deluge of great retrospective metal releases coming out of the woodwork—much of its from relatively major labels. Case in point: diehard retro-metal band Witchcraft just released their fourth album, Legend, through Nuclear Blast.

So I suppose this is what certain other blogs would call vest metal—in the pejorative. And while this certainly has been the year for retroactive throwback acts, Witchcraft are in no way part of the femme-doom wave of 2012. Nor are they some sort of cash grab band trying to ride the coattails of Ghost. On the contrary—Witchcraft as a band go back nearly a decade.

I got into Witchcraft in 2007, immediately after the release of their third album, The Alchemist, which was my gateway into Pentagram, St Vitus, and other such baroque doom. After five years of silence, I thought they’d broken up—in fairness, the band go through lineup changes like a machinegun spits bullets. The only really consistent member is vocalist Magnus Pelander, who had gone on to record a solo record. The solo debut is still cooking, but Legend comes out of the oven with a sharper production job backing Pelander’s still-incredible voice through nine excellent tracks.

Oct 312012

Fuck.

A review by: TheMadIsraeli

There is no other word.  I mean, I’ve tried to figure out other words to use concerning this album. It hasn’t gotten its proper due praise here at NCS since it came out.  ”Cryptopsy’s best album since And Then You’ll Beg…“ only begins to understate it.  For me, this might even be their best since fucking None So Vile.

I mean, I’m pretty sure we all thought this band was just done when The Unspoken King came out.  That album was made of so much shit and piss that it literally could’ve formed its own land mass from the concentration.  It might’ve even been a livable landmass of piss and shit, but still… when you listen to music, do you want piss and shit, or the sonic equivalent of thundering punishment from the metal gods that channels and focuses the most powerful and ferocious aspects of humanity? Phro might (with enthusiasm) beg for the former, but I’m pretty sure 99.99% of us want the latter.

Cryptopsy’s new self-titled is the first bout of new material since founding guitarist Jon Levasseur rejoined the band, and boy is this album a kick in the teeth, balls, solar plexus, whatever fucking else sounds brutal.

Every single moment of this album pretty much dictates that you listen to it with a permanently affixed Jens Kidman face as you butcher your entire city’s population.  You get back that alien, angular riffing that’s pure trademark Cryptopsy, combined with those interspersed moments of random lounge jazz and blast furnace melodeath.  Tempo changes abound, the slams are boulder-splitting, the technicality is fret-blazing, and the vocals of Matt McGachy this time are FUCKING DISGUSTING.

Oct 302012

Sweden’s Soilwork have been working with producer Jens Bogren on a new double-CD album, The Living Infinite, which will be released sometime next year by Nuclear Blast. Today, they announced the first North American tour in support of the album — and it’s a mammoth one. It will begin on March 12, 2013, in West Springfield, Virginia, and finish on May 7 in Worcester, Massachusetts.

I’m sure I’ll see this tour, especially because it’s coming to a relatively compact venue in Seattle, but also because I still have a warm spot in my heart for Soilwork despite a musical trajectory over time that’s been less than completely satisfactory, given my tastes. With a new double-CD worth of new music to promote, I suspect there won’t be much room for the really good, hard, older stuff, but we’ll see.

Also, Jeff Loomis is along for this ride, and I’d see this show even if he were the only name on the bill.

The line-up on the whole is curious — you certainly can’t accuse the organizers of lacking a taste for musical variety. In addition to Soilwork and Loomis, the tour will include Blackguard, The Browning, and Wretched. As for me, I’ve never been able to get into Blackguard, The Browning are a guilty pleasure, and Wretched — they kick ass. And what do you think?

Oct 302012

Here’s another daily round-up of tumultuous metal (and artwork) that caught my attention while I rooted around the interhole over the last 24 hours. In no particular order:

MITOCHONDRION

These Vancouver-based beasts have two releases on the near horizon. First, Dark Descent Records will be releasing a 7″ single named Antinumerology that includes two new Mitochondrion songs: “Insummation” and “137 (Antinumerology)”. The striking artwork has been created by Richard Friend (Loss, Father Befouled), and you can see it on the right (click the image to see a larger version). I haven’t found a release date yet, though it looks like sometime in 2013.

Second, Siege Engine Records will be releasing a double LP version of the band’s 2011 album, Parasignosis. The label is giving away a free test press copy of the LP, though you have to be on Facebook to enter the contest. To do that, “Like” the Siege Engine Records Facebook page and then click on the “Contest!” link toward the top of the page and enter the e-mail address associated with your Facebook account.

The artwork for the LP was created by Alexander L. Brown, and apparently will include a Parasignosis poster that looks stunning (not sure if this will be sold with the LP or separately). A detail from the poster is up above. A photo of the whole thing is just after the jump, and more detail shots can be seen here. This is really great work.

Oct 302012

Every day brings shitty news, both large and small. We usually don’t write about shitty news. We usually try to write about things that make the shit in life more tolerable. So I guess you could call this post a different kind of Exception to the Rule.

SANDY

Who came up with the name of “Sandy” for this storm? Sandy is a freckle-faced girl with a beaming smile and sparkling eyes, wholesome and playful, the girl next door. If the hurricane naming gurus wanted an “S” name for this thing, they should have gone with something like Shedim.

Sandy made landfall at 8 pm, Eastern Time, last night, with hurricane-force winds extending up to 175 miles from the center of the storm and tropical-storm-force winds spreading out 485 miles from the center. At least 17 people have been killed so far and this morning more than 7 million people are without power in a multi-state region.

Businesses and schools are closed, roads are closed, subway and commuter trains have been shut down, more than 13,000 airline flights were canceled, even the Erie Canal was shut down. In Manhattan, waves topped the sea wall in the financial district, sending cars floating down streets and flooding the Ground Zero construction site. The Jersey Shore was devastated. A well-known replica of the H.M.S. Bounty was sunk off the North Carolina coast. And on and on and on.

The fuckin’ thing has even extended its reach into the Midwest. Chicago officials warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepares for winds of up to 60 mph and waves exceeding 24 feet well into Wednesday. And though the storm has been downgraded from hurricane status to a tropical storm, it’s not finished wreaking havoc on the Northeastern US and Canada.

Oct 302012

(photo by Burton Rast)

Surly, don’t-fuck-with-me poses are a dime a dozen when a metal band holds still for a promo shoot. I’m pretty sure that in Drug Honkey’s case, this is no pose. And if you think these dudes look like badasses, their expressions are downright friendly compared to the music on their latest album, Ghost In the Fire.

This album is the fourth for them and the first for me, so I won’t be comparing it to their previous work. That would be pointless anyway, since diehard fans of the band have undoubtedly worn out their earholes with the music by now (Ghost was released in May) and have drawn their own comparisons. Instead, this very tardy review is for people like me in my pre-Ghost state — people who haven’t yet exposed themselves to what Drug Honkey do.

And what they do is manufacture atmosphere — blasted, burned, and black. They suck all the air out of the room and fill the void with a psychoactive fog that’s the stuff of nightmares.

They make the sound of a gutted city whose lifeless buildings are crumbling, imploding, and burning like giant waste bins beneath the bridges of catastrophe. It’s the noise of giant earth movers digging mass graves. It’s the soundtrack to the sun burning out and the planet freezing in utter darkness. It’s a recording of demons convulsed in the throes of insanity.

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