We’ve already delivered quite a flood of posts today, at least measured by our modest standards, but since tonight is the most metal holiday of the year, I couldn’t end our posting day without a round-up of newly discovered music suitable to the occasion. This is a big bag of special treats for your ears, the musical equivalent of those apples embedded with razor blades and worms that I like to keep around in case any neighborhood brats come calling. Just think of it as a big playlist of putridity, and feel to skip my words, as long as you don’t mind the thought of me weeping.
Black Altar are a black metal band from Olsztyn, Poland, with two albums and assorted shorter releases to their credit since 1997. Their latest offering is a five-song EP named Suicidal Salvation that was released on October 25 by Darker Than Black Records (and is being distributed here). I had never heard Black Altar’s music before, and all I knew about this EP was that it includes songs that were intended for a split with Shining that apparently didn’t come to pass.
I found two streaming examples of the EP’s music — a full track named “The Sentence” and a teaser reel of excerpts from all the songs. I’ve embedded both of them below. But I’m so taken with the band’s music that I also found two of the four tracks that they contributed to a 3-way split (Emissaries of the Darkened Call — Three Nails In the Coffin of Humanity) with Thornspawn (Texas) and Varathron (Greece) that came out at the end of 2012. Those songs are “I’m Demon” and “Nighthunter”.
Not long ago Australia’s Portal released a new official music video for the song “Curtain” from their tremendous 2013 album Vexovoid. It was produced by Panorama Programming and directed by Zev Deans, who drew inspiration for the video from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Conqueror Worm”.
And the video really is inspired. “Curtain” is a horrifying assault of blackened death metal, thoroughly inhuman, oppressive, and doomed in its atmospherics. The video matches the music in its hopelessness and its ominous obscurity. You can watch it after the jump, and I thought it might also be interesting to include the text of Poe’s poem, too.
Trick or treat!
Talk about a Halloween treat: Today the MARYLAND DEATHFEST confirmed the appearance of 30 new bands at next year’s 12th edition of North America’s best extreme metal fest — bringing the total to 63. And even that fairly recent flyer up there is still incomplete. Check out this list of the names announced today:
Aeternus (Norway) – Exclusive US appearance!
Creative Waste (Saudi Arabia)
Enthroned (Belgium) – Exclusive US appearance!
Necros Christos – Exclusive US appearance!
Two days ago New Jersey’s East of the Wall released their latest opus, Redaction Artifacts. It has already been showered with praise from many quarters, including Austin Weber’s review for our own humble site (here), which called the album “eclectic and captivating”, “a swirling hodge-podge of hostility, soothing calm, frequent tempo shifts, and beautiful singing mixed with hoarse bellows⎯all while being shred-filled and shaded by mercurial melodic explosions”, and the band’s “finest album yet”.
While we would like to believe that all right-thinking people accept our word in such matters as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — despite the fact that we rebelled against our own site’s name in recommending the album so strongly — the music speaks more powerfully than mere words. And while two songs from the album have previously been made available for streaming, we are privileged today to bring you Redaction Artifacts in its entirety. So listen to it next, and if you like what you hear, the album is available now, on CD through the band directly HERE, CD and digital at Amazon HERE, and the LP via Science Of Silence HERE.
In July of this year, Chimaira released their seventh studio album, Crown of Phantoms, and NCS writer TheMadIsraeli reviewed it here. Recently he got the chance to interview Chimaira’s main man Mark Hunter via Facebook chat, covering such topics as Crown’s place in the Chimaira discography, the band’s most recent line-up changes, what Hunter listens to when he’s not in Chimaira mode, action movies, and more. Here we go:
Mark Hunter: Hello! I am here and ready when you are.
TheMadIsraeli: Alright so, to be brief with this, this conversation is going to be completely unedited except for typos and I might format stuff to make more sense. I don’t like censoring shit or leaving shit out so…
MH: Sounds good to me.
TMI: So let’s get the Chimaira related shit out of the way, I’d like to make this more of a general interview about metal in general as well as other stuff. Crown of Phantoms. How do you feel about where it sits in the Chimaira discography?
MH: I am extremely proud of the album. The entire recording process was a blast and I learned a lot. I hear sonic trademarks that ensure the name “Chimaira” is represented well, and I also think the songwriting as well as musicianship is at its finest hour. I’m excited to write more as I feel we only cracked the surface.
Maybe you don’t realize that you need a Meshuggah fix, but you do. In fact, needing it and not knowing you need it could be the source of many of your mental and emotional instabilities. If you watch these two videos, you could become a happier and more well-adjusted person. And by “happier and more well-adjusted”, I mean vacant-eyed, slack-jawed, and slobbery.
I almost didn’t post the first video. I almost didn’t even watch it. I don’t like being the last metal blogger in creation to post about things, so when I see a video that has already made the rounds, I kind of assume that everyone who cares has seen it and I should spend my time on something else. But I got an e-mail today from Johan, an NCS reader who was actually at the club in Sweden where the video was filmed, watching the performance as it happened, and he changed my mind.
As he explained in his message, “Last year Toontrack (creators of drum-software and sample-libraries) decided to throw a staff party/PR stunt by having Periphery and Meshuggah play gigs at Scharinska villan in Meshuggah’s hometown of Umeå. Nothing special right? Except for the fact that Scharinska is a tiny club fitting 300 people in total, maybe 200 in the actual concert room, and that only 100 tickets were released to the public. The rest were given away to employees and partners. Needless to say, the gig was tremendous and the crowd was boiling (literally, it was insanely hot)…. The camera that is shooting straight towards the stage is pretty much where the back of the room is, it’s that tiny.”
Last Sunday I reviewed the latest EP (Basic Instinct) by a three-man Israeli band named Promiscuity. In a nutshell, I liked the shit out of it. It’s the kind of infernal rock ‘n’ roll that makes a direct connection to the spirit of early Venom, Celtic Frost, and Bathory, without just aping any of those bands. The review led to a conversation with the band’s founder, bass player, and lyricist, who calls himself Werewolf (the other two members are one hell of a vocalist/guitarist named Butcher and the formidable drummer from Sonne Adam, Steel)
I don’t do many interviews. Time is too short, given what else I try to do with this blog, and I don’t hold myself in terribly high esteem as an interviewer. But this one I couldn’t resist, not only because I’m so high on the music but also because this would be my first direct contact with a metal band from Israel, which is a musical scene I know next to nothing about.
And so, beginning early one morning (for me), Werewolf and I messaged each other back and forth on Facebook, taking unsynchronized breaks for snatches of sleep (the time zone difference is pretty significant) and to pay attention to our respective day jobs. We finished yesterday, and you’re about to read the conversation.
It’s a long, wide-ranging discussion (which includes tips about some other Israeli bands), because it turns out that my interview subject is bright, articulate, thoughtful, and funny — especially for a werewolf. And for those of you who like to listen to music while you read, I’m going to help you out.
We may have another post for you today, a full-album stream of a recently reviewed album, but this depends on the whims of the technology gods. In the meantime, below is what purports to be a list of reasons for admission to an insane asylum in the late 1800s, sent to me by a friend (thank you Patrick). Exactly why he thought this would interest me, I’m not completely sure. But of course it interests me intensely, mainly because the vast majority of these reasons look like metal band names.
Actually, I’m pretty sure some of these ARE metal band names.
(Our man DGR do know how to write a fuckin’ show review, and this is his latest.)
I apologize for dragging ass as long as I did with the review on this one. I had hoped that some good quality video would be out by the time I wrote this, but as time continued on, it became more evident that this would likely be a text-only review. Flash back to October 19th, the day after my birthday. This show would be my personal celebration. I was going to go see one of the most ridiculous shows out there and I was going to drunkenly enjoy every second of it — that there might be some good music happening that night would only be a bonus.
This being a Saturday show, I knew that the crowd would be huge, and that prophecy was fulfilled pretty quickly when I showed up a full twenty-five minutes before doors, and for the first time ever, wound up waiting in line around the block. Other times I’ve been to shows, I’m usually within the first fifty or so people and then the crowd forms about ten minutes before doors. Not so in this case, and that’ll learn me for when/if Gwar come around again.
They’ve played Sacramento before, with Cancer Bats and Devildriver, but I sadly wound up missing that show due to work and I was determined not to do so this time, subjecting myself to weeks of graveyard shifts in order to insure that I had that Saturday evening off. It was an exciting as hell evening in a packed as hell venue, with one of the most energetic crowds I have seen in this city in some time.
Amiensus and Oak Pantheon are two Minnesota bands we watch closely at this site. Both of them produced debut albums in 2012 that we praised in our reviews — Restoration by Amiensus (reviewed here) and From A Whisper by Oak Pantheon (reviewed here). Both of them can be considered black metal bands, but both of them have incorporated so many other musical elements that diverge from the Scandinavian orthodoxy that one day we will have to concoct a new genre name for what they are doing. “American black metal” isn’t specific enough, and although both bands come far closer to Agalloch than they do Marduk or Taake, “Cascadian black metal” isn’t right either.
While we continue to ponder just what shorthand to use in describing what each of these bands are doing, we can now consider their latest creations, which come conveniently packaged together in a new forthcoming split release entitled Gathering. Before I heard a note, I had a good feeling, because both the main album cover (“The Plains of Heaven”) and the alternate cover (“The Great Day of His Wrath”) were crafted from 1849 paintings by John Martin, and that just exudes good taste, as does the decision to have both tracks mastered by Arsafes (Kartikeya, Above the Earth) (and he mixed the Amiensus track too). Those good feelings proved to be prescient, because both bands’ contributions to the split are stellar.