May 312013

(NCS contributor Austin Weber returns with this review of the sixth studio album by Poland’s Antigama.)

If the metal-as-noise paradigm has any truth to it, grindcore has always pushed that maxim relentlessly, essentially willing you to find something enjoyable within such abrasive sounds. Of course the best grindcore bands have always had a knack for rising above mere raw aggression to take grind to a refined, more delicately controlled state of chaos. As a group, Poland’s Antigama have wisely merged the two schools of thought, which means they do spend time assaulting your ears in noisy fashion, but  do it with a more developed manner of songwriting with more structure, which I will dub “grown up grind”. They’ve been on this path since 2002 and over the course of numerous full-lengths and splits they’ve gotten consistently better and more disturbing with each release.

Meteor feels like the work of a band who are smartly aware of the current grind landscape and subtly bringing to their music certain sonic comparisons to the best elements of several top-tier grind bands. They’ve managed to channel the essence of Kevin Sharpe’s (Brutal Truth) deep, barked enunciations as well as having an influence from their death-metal-meets-punk riffs. They also have more than a few toes dipped in the Pig Destroyer school of deathly diverse riffing and complex suffocating drumming, and they tie all this together with a production reminiscent of Mumakil.

The end result is murderous and catchy but with an oddball side to it that is uniquely Antigama. From the very beginning they always had an experimental nature that’s set them apart from the pack. However, they’ve been greatly refining this aspect of their sound for some time, culminating in out-there extremes like “Paganini Meets Barbaplex” and the ambient film score feel of “Black Planet”. the closer off their last record, 2009’s Warning

May 312013

Deep down at the filthy core of all good brutal slamming death metal are riffs — atonal, palm-muted monstrosities that produce a visceral, physical effect, the kind that get your guts churning. Effective vomit vocals are important, too. You want them cavern-deep and gruesome; you may or may not want them to sound like a mess of puffed-up bullfrogs competing for sex on a wet night. A healthy serving of percussive obliteration, you want plenty of that, too.

You get all of that in Empires of Great Enslavement, the new EP by Sweden’s Vomitous. But you get more, too. To begin, you have the brilliant cover art by one of our favorite metal artists, New Zealand’s Nick Keller. We featured the cover in one of our daily artwork posts at the NCS Facebook page back in March and have been looking forward to the music it would house ever since.

Empires encompasses six tracks, one of which is a short, atmospheric introduction and two of which appeared on a 2012 demo. The band tend to launch the songs with a barrage of sonic obliteration, all rapid-fire riffing and thundering drums. But the music is rhythmically dynamic, sometimes slowing into massive, skull-caving slam segments, the most convulsive of which occurs in “On the Column of Insignificance”, and sometimes exploding in a flurry of jabbing, pneumatic riffage (as in “Infectious Urethral Re-Leakage”).

The songs are also occasionally spiced with squealing pinch harmonics (“Atrocities of Unspeakable Magnitude”), grisly tremolo leads (“Scorched Earth Apocalypse”), or even the kind of groaning, fret-sliding chords that remind me of what Gojira has popularized (“Scorched Earth”, again). And kudos for the distorted vocal sample at the end of the title track, an excerpt from Lovecraft’s eloquently frightening poem “Nemesis”.

May 312013

Normally I would have used the “Seen and Heard” label for this round-up of items I found yesterday while rooting through the interhole. But there’s something about these four items that suggested an alternate title . . . .

BEHEMOTH

Poland’s Behemoth have been busy recording their tenth full-length album — which is now projected for release by Metal Blade this coming fall — and yesterday the band announced that they’ve picked a name for it: The Satanist. Despite fame, some degree of fortune, and Nergal having survived multiple trips to court defending against charges brought under Poland’s laws against giving religious offense, Behemoth don’t fuckin’ back off, do they? Here’s a statement from Nergal that accompanied the news about the album title:

“It took us over two decades to come up with a title that…says it all. While our new songs artistically take surprisingly adventurous directions, our message stands steadfast—Proud and Radical. THE SATANIST stands for undying yearning for liberation and love for freedom in all aspects of life. Considering all our life experiences that often took dramatic curves I couldn’t think of more appropriate and fitting statement of who and where we are now.”

There will undoubtedly be a steady drumbeat of album updates from the band and Metal Blade over the summer. Undoubtedly we’ll post most of them here, too. Because, Behemoth!

May 302013

(Here’s TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by The Black Dahlia Murder, which will be released on June 11 by Metal Blade. At the end of the review you’ll find all three of the songs that have premiered to date.)

Some bands only get better with age. I honestly feared that The Black Dahlia Murder would have sold out by now, compromised their sound, watered it down (especially due to the unusual amount of acclaim they’ve received as an American melodic death metal band), but instead they’ve only become more vicious.

I’ve been a fan of this band since before Unhallowed with the A Cold-Blooded Epitath EP and have remained a die-hard fan since. The savage way in which they attack their melodic assault, the vein-bursting stylings of Trevor Strnad’s now patented and oft-copied high and low vocal attack, and a commitment to producing music that’s melodic without pussing out in the slightest have really cemented BDM as an unstoppable force in American metal.

And the thing is, Everblack is The Black Dahlia Murder’s best album yet. Deflorate and Ritual both had cool things to offer and were great albums, but this is definitely BDM at their most brutal and dark.

May 302013

There are dozens of especially happy In Flames fans out in the world today. The band have just released an official video for their song “Ropes”, which appears on the album Sounds of A Playground Fading, and all parts of it are excerpts from fan-made videos.

In Flames started the project near the beginning of this year with a call for fan videos, whether live footage, home videos, tribute-band performances, playthroughs, or anything else related to In Flames. They apparently received hundreds of clips from all over the globe, and then Erik Engstrand edited all those submissions into the video you’re about to see.

I really enjoyed watching it. It includes a cool reappearing, sepia-toned montage of the fan clips, and then the fan-made excerpts themselves, of course. Watch it after the jump.

May 302013

In mid-April Amon Amarth brought us a stream and a free download of the title track to their forthcoming album Deceiver of the Gods, which I duly reported here. At that point, I wrote this:

With this band, here in 2013, you know with a high degree of certainty what will lie within. Both thematically and musically, the band have settled on a formula that has made them exceedingly popular. It’s a formula that happens to appeal to me, though I must admit that I would love it if the band broke their own mold every now and then and fired something different in the kiln.

Today brought us a stream — and a free download — of the new album’s title track. It’s a thrashier attack than much of what was to be found on 2011′s Surtur Rising, but no less catchy than what you would expect from this band, and with an appealing dual-guitar melody in the mid-part. As my NCS colleagues have pointed out, it also includes a key change!

Have Amon Amarth broken the mold with this song? Nope — it will not throw the Amon Amarth faithful for a loop, nor will it change the minds of those listeners who aren’t impressed with this brand of Viking-themed melodic death metal. But it’s only one song. We may still hear something we aren’t expecting.

Today, Stereogum has exclusively premiered a second song from the album by the name of “Shape Shifter”. I give up. I abandon all semblance of analytical objectivity. The song drives me into 100% fanboy mode. There is only one word for this, no matter how overused that word is: EPIC.

May 302013

EDITOR’S NOTE: A French reader of this site whose moniker is Eldhoraz has devoted an impressive amount of effort gathering and analyzing data from Encyclopaedia Metallum about the release of metal albums over an extended period of time. He has organized the information both within geographic regions and according to eight metal genres and has created a variety of interactive charts displaying the results.  At the end of this article, you’ll have the chance to download a spreadsheet file containing his analysis, along with a document describing his methodology in further detail. Very interesting stuff, and we’re very happy to share it with you.

Well. Although I spend all my spare time listening to and fun-facting about metal, I’m basically a graduate student in a scientific field. And when these two aspects of my personality spend a night together, there comes, sometime later, this cute and cheeky baby.

Here and there, I often read sentences such as, “Finland is definitely the most metal country on Earth,” or “I knew Southeastern Asia was mostly death metal,” and it inspired me to quantify “metalness” in time and in space, in order to distinguish the factual from the fictional.

So I spent some days – and some nights – on the amazing database of Encyclopaedia Metallum, collecting data to satisfy my curiosity. And here are some of the interesting things that came out of that analysis.

First, I’d like to denounce an urban legend: Finland is NOT the most metal country on Earth. It’s Luxembourg! Well, if we don’t consider countries with fewer than 500,000 people, Finland wins up the irons, with 1780 bands per million people. Finland is followed by Sweden (1129), Norway (781), Denmark (363), and… Estonia (342) ! Needless to say, it seems that Northern Europe has the touch. In comparison, the United States ranks 25th with only 150 bands per million people, the UK ranks 24th, France is 27th, Germany 9th, etc. But Finland is even more impressive. It is not only first in the general ranking, it’s also the most metal country in every granular metal sub-genre defined for purposes of this analysis!

But these insights are not the only ones that the data give us. We also obtain interesting charts like this one:

May 302013

 (NCS contributor Austin Weber reviews the new album by Spain’s Hybrid.)

The sickening debut by Wormed on Planisphaerium was a stunning experience, one that stuck with me and was replayed often. A couple years after its release in 2003 I felt a curious need to check Metal-Archives.com and see if any members of Wormed had side-projects. Which led me straight to Hybrid, a band that at the time included one of the founding (and still current) Wormed guitarists, J. Oliver, alongside guitarist Miguel Angel aka Migueloud (Human Mincer), who coincidentally joined Wormed after quitting Hybrid.

Upon finding out about Hybrid, I had to grab their debut The 8th Plague. On their debut they sounded like industrial-influenced technical death metal, with a penchant for punishing, thick grooves, mathcore moments, and a fetish for grindcore flourishes. As if that wasn’t enough diversity to create some off-kilter unique metal, they also had intriguing use of both sax and synth while also possessing a skill for skronky discordant guitar-sounds.

On The 8th Plague they conjured sounds both alien and cold, owing more than a nod to the legacy of Gorguts. The hard-hitting and ever-switching drumming by Chus Maestro was the driving force of the album and not just an anchor for the guitars. He graced the album with constantly shifting patterns and abrupt changes in tempos, often switching between grind patterns and Latin jazzy playing to keep things interesting.

May 292013

Today has brought an absolute flood of new streaming metal that’s pleasing to these ears (in addition to our own streams of new music today). And by “pleasing”, I mean music that will jam an icepick in your eardrum, pour nitroglycerine down the hole, and detonate it.  There’s so much to be heard that I’ll attempt to hold my own words to a minimum and let the music speak for itself. So here we go, in alphabetical order:

AUTOPSY

Autopsy’s new album, The Headless Ritual, comes out June 24 in Europe and July 2 in the U.S. on Peaceville Records. I’m awful hungry for it. Today Lars Gotrich continued with his ongoing mission to infect NPR with metal viruses and filthy-up the place by premiering a song from the album named “Arch Cadaver”. In his words: “‘Arch Cadaver’ is classic Autopsy, but it’s also a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll party. Sandwiched between a minute of deranged doom and a left-right-channel guitar-solo face-off, there’s a whiskey-swigging, Motorhead-pounding rhythm that boogies at an insane pace.”

That about sums it up. Go here to jam that shit.

May 292013

(We’re delighted to bring you a full-album stream of the new release by Finland’s (Psychoparalysis), and we precede it with this review by TheMadIsraeli.)

Who wants some old school early 90’s prog death? (Psychoparalysis) will have you covered pretty well on that front. Their debut album Human Disposition has me hooked, and I think it will hook you all as well. What we have here is old school goodness that calls back to the likes of Death, Atheist, Napalm Death, Pestilence, and Sepultura. It seems like regardless of what comes out that’s modern, polished, and boundary-pushing, my love ultimately still comes back to doing shit the old way. Something about the older sound of death metal just hits a note with me that I can’t say any modern-sounding band does as well. Maybe it’s the character, the ethos, or the fact that something about those bands just seemed to emanate an intensity we aren’t hearing as much nowadays.

Whatever the case, it’s obvious that (Psychoparalysis) have a passion for the brutal sounds of old, as I do. The album is pretty much a tribute to everything 80’s and 90’s on the brutality front. Opener “Throne Of Mammon/The Numbers Become My Enemies” is an immediate example of what’s in store — technical thrash riffing, death metal dissonance and excessive force, and prog song structures. (Psychoparalysis) have a very focused sound, and a recognizable one. It leans toward a vocal style that barely qualifies in the death metal realm, in the same harsh, thrash way that the vocals of Daniel Mongraine of Martyr do, dipping in and out of a bestial Barney Greenway-esque tone and back to harsh yells.

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