Dec 312014

 

Here we have Part 8 of our continuing list of 2014′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. For the other songs we’ve previously named to the list, go here.

Since this is the last day of the year, it seems like a good time to take stock of our progress on this list. Only problem is, I have no fuckin’ idea where we are. After today I’ll have rolled out 17 songs, but I don’t know whether we’re halfway through or a third of the way or only a quarter deep. So let’s just keep going, shall we?

INFESTUS

In a word, the latest album by Germany’s InfestusThe Reflecting Void — was (and is) stunning. Andy Synn concluded his review of the album with these words:

““The beautiful, unforgettable cover art embodies the album so well – this is music from the darkest depths of the human mind, a black, malignant tumour of pain and anguish which spreads its tendrils widely to encompass a host of dark emotions and warped musical influences, creating a truly immersive, unforgettable experience.”

Dec 312014

SLUG SALT LAVA

I first encountered Slug Salt Lava (from Istanbul, Turkey) in the early fall of this year, when their First-Promo rumbled my innards and captivated my mind (I reviewed it here). They’ve now released a new EP entitled Radiated Soundscapes, and these five new songs have only strengthened my affection for what they’re doing.

The music is entirely instrumental in a style that straddles sludge, stoner, and doom. Consistent with the band’s post-apocalyptic thematic concept for the music, the melodies have a dismal atmosphere and the pacing never accelerates past a mid-paced rumble, but guitarist Ersin Taş again shows a talent for concocting fat, fuzzy riffs that have a way of taking up residence in your mind — while getting your head bobbing to their beat.

Dec 312014

 

As another year gasps its last breath I’m once again feeling forlorn about my inability to review more of the fine metal I heard over the last 12 months. There’s no way to catch up now, of course, but I still feel compelled to make one last gasp of my own. With so much to choose from, I’ve chosen somewhat randomly,focusing on two excellent short releases that display just a fraction of metal’s phenomenal diversity. This is the first of these two reviews; the second will follow shortly.

SVARTSYN

I vividly remember the first time I listened to black metal. It was about 9 years ago, and it was something from one of Rotting Christ’s earlier albums recommended by a friend who felt I needed to broaden my horizons. I remember having a visceral negative reaction. It was so much more harsh than the metal I’d been listening to, and my mind just wasn’t ready for it.

Dec 312014

 

(TheMadIsraeli returns to our pages with this review of the new second album by Stealing Axion of Tacoma, Washington.)

Holiday break from academic slavery has arrived, so I suppose it’s time to get some writing done.

I praised Stealing Axion’s debut Moments to the high fucking heavens — it’s still an album I listen to often to this day.  The perfect intersection between death metal brutality, progressive ambition, and syncopated grooves that defined the best aspects of the djent movement has had me hooked since I first heard it.  I’ve been eagerly anticipating Aeons, and I’ve been watering at the mouth for a long time, considering that I knew from being in contact with the band that a lot of this music was already written at the time Moments came out.  I even got to hear a clip or two (ones that didn’t make it onto the album) and couldn’t have been more excited.  Aeons is a very different record from Moments in its approach.  The music this time is slower, and much of it drags and pulls you under with the weight of the grooves.  A lot of this album borders on being doomy, but with syncopation as a heavy component of the grooving.

The central elements are still there, though, and what the album sacrifices in driving energy compared to its predecessor it makes up for by bringing forth spine-crushing slow-mo beatdowns and lush atmosphere that drenches you like glowing plasma rain.

Dec 312014

 

(Andy Synn brings us the 53rd edition of The Synn Report, reviewing the discography of KYPCK.)

Recommended for fans of: Crowbar, Ghost Brigade, Pallbearer

Well, it looks like we have just enough time left in this year to sneak in one last Synn Report. But what band should I cover?

Thrashy prog/power metal? Technically twisted Death Metal? Creepy industrialised Black Metal? Razor-sharp Melodeath? Groovy Nu-Metal? (all of these are potential future entries, don’t you worry…)

No, I’m thinking we need to celebrate the death of the year, and the dawning of a new one, with some Russian-themed Doom Metal from Finland. How does that sound?

Formed back in 2007 and naming themselves after the Russian city of the same name, KYPCK (pronounced “kursk”), these Finnish fatalists have distilled some truly deep and deathly Doom and gloom from the historical antagonism between Finland and Russia, grooving and grinding their way through three albums worth of songs dealing with themes of pain and loss and the futility of war.

Dec 312014

 

(NCS contributor Alain Mower — who needs to continue his “Womanowar” interview series in the New Year (hint, hint) — again provides us a year-end list of favorite 2014 releases.)

For the newcomers who were fortunate enough to not stumble upon my end-of-the-year list in 2013, I will be the first to tell you that – while predominantly metal – this is not a strictly ‘No Clean Singing’ metal year-end list, but a list of any and all albums that I thought were objectively the most enjoyable.

Also, as the masochists who visited my 2013 list and have made the questionable decision to return for this edition will inform you, my music tastes are a Rorschach spectrum of possibilities.

As you might imagine, the open-ended format coupled with scattershot musical tastes produces what Islander refers to as a “wonderfully eclectic list of favorite releases” – also known as the “Why didn’t we use protection?” child, of which I consider myself a proud member.

So yes, while “words are wind,” there are non-metal albums in this list and, unfortunately, “Gorguts” was not my favorite album of this year because I’m trying to be different and only appeal to hipsters. You have been forewarned.

Dec 302014

Today we bring you Part 7 of our evolving list of 2014′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. For the other songs we’ve previously named to the list, go here.

I’m really not sure how this happened. Somehow I’ve rolled out the first six installments of this series without including even one piece of vicious, old-school Swedish death metal, even though that’s my main musical comfort food. Well, I’m going to fix that right now by including not two, but three songs in this installment (and I’m going to fix it again before this series reaches the end).

JUST BEFORE DAWN

As I wrote in my review of Just Before Dawn’s The Aftermath, “Anders Biazzi has two things going for him: He can write death metal riffs that are pure gold, and he’s friends with a bunch of monster vocalists and soloing guitar demons.” And to quote myself again (because if I don’t, who will?):

The Aftermath captures and combines all the qualities that make this kind of old school death metal a primal, undying force while at the same time enriching the canon with songs that are vibrant and memorable. I think you’d have to be very jaded and hide-bound not to feel the spark, no matter how wedded you may be to the classics. And therefore I say, it’s unusually good.”

Dec 302014

 

(Andy Synn reviews the debut album by New Jersey’s Death Fortress, released in November 2014 by Fallen Empire Records and featuring amazing cover art by Ola Larson.)

Despite our best efforts – and through no fault of our own – we still missed out on covering a lot of albums this year. There’s simply so much music, and so little time, that stuff always slips through the cracks. And, often, that means some real gems get missed.

Case in point, here we have Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable, a visceral slab of pitch-black perfection, with its foundations firmly rooted in the old school, but with a vision fixed firmly on new horizons.

Raw and ravenous, dark and droning… atmospheric, oppressive, and morbidly melodic… it’s six songs of writhing riffs and hypnotic, swirling murk that rattle your bones and scrape your nerves raw with shameless, sadistic pleasure.

Dec 302014

 

Perhaps the last of the “big platform” year-end metal lists we will re-post this year, NPR’s Lars Gotrich has today unveiled his line-up of favorite metal albums from the year that’s about to exhale its final breath.

For this of you who’ve been paying attention, earlier this month we jokingly reprinted “just the heavy stuff” from NPR’s overall cross-genre list of the site’s 50 favorite metal albums from 2014 — a list that consisted of one album, Pallbearer’s Foundation of Burden. But although NPR’s resident metal guy only got one slot to fill in that overall list, he got free rein on this new list. And what did he do with all that freedom?

Well, he compiled a list of 10 albums whose hallmark is diversity. Of course, Pallbearer reappears along with one other album that’s becoming (understandably) a near-ubiquitous presence on 2014 year-enders — Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata. But with a nod to High Spirits, he’ll make our man BadWolf a happy camper, and fans of Origin (whose name has appeared almost not at all in the other lists I’ve seen) will likewise be pleased. For myself, I got the biggest grins from seeing Skull Fist, Thou, and Wo Fat (!) on the list. And I’ve also now got some albums I’ve never heard of to go check out (like the one whose cover is partially exposed up above).

Dec 302014

 

The Australian musician Dis Pater has been involved in a multitude of many-hued projects (I’m still very much looking forward to hearing more from his work in Dissvarth, mentioned here), but perhaps his best-known creations have appeared under the banner of Midnight Odyssey. 2011’s Funerals From the Astral Sphere was a very impressive debut album of atmospheric black metal, and next spring I, Voidhanger Records will bring forth the second Midnight Odyssey full-length, an album named Shards of Silver Fade. As the old year draws to a close, we give you a glimpse of what the new year holds in store as we premiere a song from Shards: “Hunter of the Celestial Sea”.

The notes we received accompanying “Hunter of the Celestial Sea” included these words:

The funeral doom grandeur of Tempestuous Fall and the dark-wave vibe of The Crevices BelowDis Pater’s past projects — have been successfully injected into Midnight Odyssey’s cosmic black metal body, redoubling the emotional intensity and dark majesty of its melodies. The result is nothing short of an epic masterpiece, a visionary night voyage of approximately 2 hours and 23 minutes connecting our ancient pagan past with the apocalyptic feelings of a cosmic death.

“Each song has taken an immense amount of time and energy, so much that I have been left with little to no desire to even listen to music over the last 12 months or so. It combines elements of all my previous releases, from all my previous projects, a true convergence of styles and musicality. If this were the last Midnight Odyssey release, I would be very proud for it to be so.”

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