Jan 312013

(In this post, NCS writer Andy Synn reviews the new album by Poland’s Hate, which is scheduled for release in North America on February 5.)

Ok, let’s start by acknowledging the elephant in the room, shall we? For years now (more than I’d care to count, in fact) it’s been de rigeur to punctuate any review or feature on Hate with references to… that other band. You know the one. The ‘other’ blackened death metal band from Poland. Begins with a ‘B’…

Anyway, I think that’s been done to death. We all know the similarities by now, just as we should all realise there’s more than enough room in the world for both acts to be taken and judged on their own merits. So I’m going to conduct this whole review without even once mentioning the ‘B’ word, or making reference to ‘they who shall not be named’. In fact, I’m going to pretend they don’t even exist.

Now Solarflesh is Hate’s eighth full-length album, and offers up a more refined – and perhaps even more crushing – take on a sound that the band have been developing since (at least) 2003’s Awakening Of The Liar, a hybrid of black atmospherics and brutal death metal aggression, which has slowly taken on more and more of a spiritual, metaphysical aspect as the years have gone by. Added to this is that, as opposed to… some other band… there’s always been something more intimate about Hate’s approach, something that works to set them apart, even as they give rapturous voice to their own inner demons.

Jan 312013

So, this morning I was poking around a nice new India-based metal blog established by our supporter “Deckard Cain” (Metalspree), and what should I spy but the news that Fractal Gates have a new album coming and a new video streaming. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I discovered this Parisian band 2 1/2 years ago through an insistent recommendation from one of this site’s original co-founders and was blown away by their 2009 album, Altered State of Consciousness, which I reviewed here. I was taken by everything about it, not only the music but also the artwork for each song and the sci-fi oriented concept behind the album — which is a tale of an apocalyptic future in which human minds escape into the depths of space, eventually to discover that they are not alone . . . and never have been.

The music itself was a kind of dark, brooding melodic death metal that at times reminded me of Insomnium, and I spun that album to death.

Thanks to Metalspree, I now know that the band have finished a new album — Beyond the Self — which will be released by Great Dane Records in February. It was mixed and mastered by the godly Dan Swanö with guest appearances by  Swanö himself (vocals) and by Septic Flesh guitarist Soritis. And based on a few samples, it appears there will once again be separate artwork for each song:

Jan 312013

Welcome to the 22nd — and final — part of our my list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. In each installment, I’ve been posting at least two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the six I’m announcing today, click here. And in the near future I’ll compile all the songs in a single post.

That’s right — six songs, because 666. Have you figured out yet that I’m really terrible at making choices among things I really like? Do you begin to understand why I don’t compile my own year-list of the best albums? I mean, shit, this thing has grown to 22 installments and the only reason I’m finally stopping is because the month of January is over today and even I realize that it’s getting out of hand.

But we’re going out in a blaze of glory — a blaze of death metal glory, with six songs representing six different flavors of the genre, beginning with who else but . . .

CANNIBAL CORPSE

TheMadIsraeli reviewed this legendary band’s latest offering for us (here) and included this summing up: “Torture is the latest crusade in Cannibal Corpse’s tyrannical campaign to rule over everyone and everything with audio carnage so visceral that simply listening creates a serious risk of blood-vomiting convulsions.  But Torture?  Torture is officially the best album of the Corpsegrinder era yet.”

Jan 302013

Well, holy shit. I’m nearly speechless. Here we have an awards event that I’ve been making fun of as long as this blog has been in existence — the REVOLVER GOLDEN GODS AWARD (sub-titled “Fellating the Old Gods Since 2009″) — and this year they actually nominate a band for best album who I actually care about.

Seriously, I had just about decided that these awards weren’t even worth making fun of this year, so irrelevant have they become to the kind of metal that matters to me and most of this site’s readers. And then they go and nominate Gojira and L’Enfant Sauvage for Album of the Year. And that’s not all: Mario Duplantier is nominated for Best Drummer.

There are a few other nominations that involve bands I like — both Ghost and Kvelertak are nominated for Best New Talent; Dethklok picked up nominations for Best Guitarist (Brendon Small), Best Drummer (Gene Hoglan ), and Song of the Year (“I Ejaculate Fire”); Refused is nominated for Comeback of the Year, and Deftones got some nods too (including Album of the Year). 

Jan 302013

Welcome to Part 21 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. In each installment, I’ve been posting at least two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the three I’m announcing today, click here.

All good things must come to an end, and this seemingly endless list will end tomorrow with Part 22, going out in a blaze of death metal glory. Today’s three songs, however, are another set that don’t come from the same genre of metal. If they have anything in common besides my belief in them, it’s that all three are heavy as hell.

HIGH ON FIRE

Our friend and fellow blogger Professor D. Grover the XIIIth reviewed High On Fire’s 2012 album for us (here), and I think it’s fair to say that he had mixed feelings about De Vermis Mysteriis, which he viewed as a bit of a step backward compared to the step forward represented by 2010′s Snakes For the Divine. I had the opposite reaction. Where the Professor viewed Snakes as HoF’s crowning achievement, I enjoyed De Vermis Mysteriis more than anything I’ve yet heard from the band.

I preferred the grimier, grittier tone that Kurt Ballou’s production brought to the sound and the utter darkness that suffused so much of the music. The standout track for me — a song that has gotten a shitload of play since I first heard  it — is “King of Days”.

Jan 302013

Here are a few new songs and videos I heard and saw yesterday and this morning that I thought were worth spreading around

NADER SADEK

Nader Sadek is an Egyptian set designer, visual effects director, and composer. His well-received 2011 debut album In the Flesh featured a host of name-brand guest musicians performing Sadek’s compositions. It made several of our “best of 2011″ year-end lists, including one from guest contributor Tamás Kátai, the man behind the brilliant band Thy Catafalque, who wrote about it as follows: “This is exactly like Morbid Angel and Chimera-era Mayhem mixed together. Odd, exciting, dark death metal exploiting the contributing musicians’ ability, charisma, and character to the maximum.”

On February 27, Sadek plans to self-release a live CD/DVD called In the Flesh. It’s a video of the first performance of In the Flesh on November 20, 2011, and includes the album’s original line-up — drummer Flo Mournier (Cryptopsy), guitarist Rune Eriksen (Aura Noir, ex-Mayhem), bassist Novy Nowak (ex-Behemoth, ex-Vader), and vocalist Steve Tucker (ex-Morbid Angel) — plus guest guitarist Sean Frey and operatic backing vocalist Carmen Simoes (Ava Inferi).

Today, GunShyAssassin premiered a song from the live CD, “Petropilia”. It’s completely obliterating and remorseless, a cacophony of blackened death rising up from oil-soaked vaults deep beneath the earth and catching fire in a great conflagration. All the performances sound fantastic, but I have to give an extra round of applause to Flo Mournier’s off-the-charts drumming. And I can’t wait to see the video of this show.

Jan 302013

I got into metal relatively late in my life. Not long after I started, metalcore began to emerge, and then melodic metalcore took off like a rocket, with me hitching a ride on the sound. Killswitch Engage were one of the bands firing the boosters, and their early albums became personal favorites. Time passed and the rocket’s ascent stalled, reaching no further heights and merely circling in a stable and eventually degrading orbit. My own interest waned considerably and I jumped off the ride, moving on to other (more extreme) things.

But, perhaps more from a feeling of nostalgia than anything else, I’ve been interested in hearing what the revamped Killswitch Engage have done with their new album Disarm the Descent, their first release since original vocalist Jesse Leach rejoined the line-up last year. The album is due for release by Roadrunner on April 2, 2013, with the first single — “In Due Time” — scheduled for release on February 5.

Yesterday that single debuted on Kerrang Radio (here), and it didn’t take long for a radio rip to appear on YouTube [UPDATE: KSE have now posted an official stream of the song in better quality sound]. There is nothing groundbreaking about the song. It follows the well-defined blueprint of the metalcore genre. Yet there is mediocre and bad metalcore and there is good metalcore, and this sounds pretty damned good to me (though I suspect the tug of nostalgia is having something to do with my reaction).

Jan 292013

(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the new EP by Entities from Sacramento, CA.)

While I think we can all agree that although djent, as an overarching fad and movement, is dying out and is in its death throes as we speak, that doesn’t say that the style in and of itself is bland or that there aren’t bands who remind us why this style got off the ground in the first place.

I am SURE, and am even willing to bet money, that djent as a whole will be a dead horse within two years and that NO ONE will give a single fuck about any of this shit nearly to the extent of the popularity it has enjoyed in years past.  However, I do think some bands are going to continue to push on and show that they are undeniable musical forces:  Vildhjarta, Uneven Structure, Means End, Born of Osiris, the list goes on.

I’m writing this piece, however, to talk about the new EP by Entities.  I think there are two types of bands within the djent community: those who want to milk the cash cow while they can, and those who sincerely have a passion for the style and all its elements.  Entities are definitely in the latter camp, bringing forth material that, while not necessarily original, is nonetheless a conviction-filled testimony to djent’s strengths and none of its weaknesses. 

Jan 292013

(In this post, NCS writer Andy Synn reviews the recent debut album by a Minnesota band named Amiensus.)

An unusual and unexpected delight, Restoration is a fine addition to the growing pantheon of American black metal – a style that I think has truly found its own identity, wearing its heart on its sleeve without regard for the judgemental restrictions of the established orthodoxy -  and will no doubt appeal to fans of Agalloch, Oak Pantheon, and Woods of Ypres. Yet its gloomy light and shrouded divinity should also find a home in the hearts of those with a love of the more emotive side of In Mourning and Swallow The Sun, to whose sound much of Restoration is a distant cousin.

Ostensibly a melodic, subtly progressive black metal act, with more than a touch of the earthen, resilient power of Drudkh, there’s definitely a dark beauty and pronounced gothic streak to be found on the record – particularly with the abundance of soaring, bleakly emotive clean vocals – which showcase a massive amount of potential and a laudable level of ambition and creativity from the Minnesotan five-piece.

Jan 292013

Welcome to Part 20 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. In each installment, I’ve been posting at least two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the three I’m announcing today, click here.

We’re down to the final week of this list. In almost all the installments that preceded this one, there was some kind of discernible theme or shared trait in the songs that I grouped together. There really isn’t one in this post, or at least not one that may conscious mind is able to identify. These are just three songs that grabbed hold of me pretty hard in 2012.

WOODS OF YPRES

Most people I know who are fans of Woods of Ypres have been fans for a long time, and they’re devoted to a point of rare intensity. When they listen to the band’s final album, Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light, they can’t separate the album from the eerie coincidence of David Gold’s death just a handful of months after its recording. The album’s reflections on death are inseparable from, and magnified by, Gold’s own tragic passing. For them, the knowledge that this album was Woods’ last lends the music a special poignancy.

I am not one of those people. Until Woods 5, I had never listened to any of the band’s albums all the way through, and even my sampling of widely heralded songs was limited. Given my tastes, the band’s music just never clicked with me. I can’t even honestly say that Woods 5 seduced me all the way through; some of the songs included more goth rock vibes than suited my appetites.

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