(Andy Synn reviews the debut album of Argentina’s Downfall of Nur.)
Every year I hope that there’s going to be an album/EP/artist in general that becomes the year’s big discovery, not just for me, but for our readers here at NCS.
Previously I’ve directed your attention to bands like Amiensus, Khonsu, and Ion (and I’m more than willing to take credit for Hellish Outcast as well), while other writers here have in turn uncovered such amazing bands as Progenie Terrestre Pura and Wildernessking, which have gone on to become not only personal favourites of mine, but well-deserved favourites of this site and its community as a whole.
And although I thought I’d already stumbled upon this year’s entry when I came across the debut EP by Exgenesis (reviewed here) there’s no rule saying that a year can’t have more than one big surprise up its sleeve.
Which, of course, leads us to Umbras de Barbagia by Downfall of Nur.
(Wil Cifer provides this interview with Mirai Kawashima of Sigh, whose new album will be released on May 4 by Candlelight Records.)
I recently got to catch up with and pick the brain of Sigh’s main man Mirai Kawashima to discuss the new album Graveward and the ghosts of metal past, present, and future.
With Scenes From Hell you took a sharper turn into a more progressive sound. Graveward retains that but steps back into a more metal direction as well. What inspired this?
Mirai: The biggest inspiration on this album is 70s / 80s Italian zombie flicks. At first I was planning to make it filled with old keyboards like Minimoog, Mellotron, Hammond, Fender Rhodes etc., as a dedication to those movies. The final result was pretty much different from the initial plan, but I think you still sense the atmosphere of zombie movies.
I’m not sure what you meant by “metal direction”, but Graveward is filled with mid-paced to up-tempo songs, I mean they’re slower than those on Hangman’s Hymn or Scenes from Hell. In that sense, Graveward is a very metal album. Other than that, the change of guitarist affected a lot on the sound. I’ll talk about it later.
(Our Kansas-based friend Derek Neibarger — the man behind the Godless Angel death metal project and the inventor of the Cat Hand Rest©, brings us this interview of Zhema Rodero of Brazil’s long-running Vulcano, who will be performing at this year’s Maryland Deathfest in the U.S.)
The Brazilian death metal scene has provided me a seemingly endless source of exciting new discoveries for many years. Like many other metalheads, my introduction to South America’s deadliest export came in the form of now-legendary Sepultura. My insatiable appetite for new music inspired me to dig deeper into the Brazilian metal scene. My efforts have been rewarded with one savage and crushing band after another, and in the case of one band in particular I strongly believe that I might have discovered ground zero of the Brazilian death metal movement. The name of that band is Vulcano.
I don’t remember the exact circumstances under which I was introduced to Santos, São Paulo blackened death metallers Vulcano, but I definitely owe the Metal Gods of the Universe a massive “Thank You”! The death metal pioneers have released nine slabs of audio warfare since forming in 1980, and influenced an entire generation of extreme metal artists, Sepultura among them.
I was extremely fortunate to have been granted an interview with founding guitarist, Zhema Rodero.
(Electric Wizard recently completed their first North American tour in over ten years, and Leperkahn caught their show at Chicago’s Metro on April 7. He provides these thoughts and photos of the event.)
I feel like I should start this off by saying that I’m really sorry that this is three weeks late. This school might have it in for me, but every once in a while I try to stick it to the man by neglecting work to do things like write this review.
Electric Wizard recently rolled through Chicago, as well as quite a few other cities across North America, bringing Satan’s Satyrs along as support. Unbeknownst to me at the time they announced the tour, this was the first time they had toured North America, barring a performance at MDF 2012, since 2002. This may explain why the Chicago show, as well as quite a few others, sold out quicker than I would’ve expected (granted, I’m used to a San Diego turnout, where almost nothing will sell out in advance, and you can comfortably buy a ticket for a show the day before).
Here’s a bit of fairly hot-off-the-press news from Canada’s Kataklysm: First, they’ve announced that their twelfth studio album Of Ghosts and Gods will be released on July 31 (via Nuclear Blast Records).
Second, as you can see, they’ve disclosed the cover art, which was created by an artist called artist Surtsey. I like it. (According to the band, the background shows an ancient incantation written in Aramaic.)
And third, they’ve announced that there will be music videos created for every one of the album’s ten songs, with each video crafted to reflect the concept behind the music.
(NCS supporter and occasional contributor Grant Skelton is looking for help… )
Fellow NCS Comrades –
I was recently brought on board with Local X Radio, a station here in my hometown of Memphis, TN. I run the station’s metal format, Metal X, which airs a show each Monday from 7pm – 9pm CST. Our April 20th show featured music from No Clean Singing alumni Beyond Grace (“Omega Point”) and Godless Angel (“Containment Breach In Sector 6”). With Islander’s permission, I wanted to tell you a little about this opportunity and my vision for it.
Hosting a metal radio show has been a dream of mine for more years than I’d like to admit. I initially contacted the station back in November (ironically, right around the same time I began contributing to this lovely website). Fast-forward to February. Evidently my email had been lost in the cyberbowels (if Austin Weber can make up words, I can too) of the Internet. Alas, it was rescued and my query was answered. After a couple of initial meetings, the station manager offered me a chance to make a dream into a reality. I have carte blanche when it comes to Metal X. But this isn’t just about me playing what I want. It needs to be about something more than that.
KevinP sort of stole my thunder yesterday on our site when he named Abjvration’s debut one of the Top 5 releases of April. But I’ll go him one better: The Unquenchable Pyre is one of the best releases I’ve heard all year.
The EP comes our way from Caligari Records. Originally, it was to be released exclusively on tape, but yesterday the label decided to begin making some of its offerings — including this one — available for digital download on Bandcamp. In the format in which I’ve listened to the EP, and as you can hear it on Bandcamp, the five tracks are in a single audio file. With just a couple of exceptions, it’s not entirely clear when one song ends and the next one begins; they flow from one to another, for the most part without discernible breaks. And they work supremely well that way. It’s like a single concerto of horror and pain.
Imagine you’re behind the wheel of a steroid-fueled muscle car going too fast through a hairpin curve on a mountain highway — and your brakes suffer catastrophic failure. You blast through the guard rail, briefly experience the thrill of flight, and then proceed to barrel down the mountain listening to your ride violently shake itself apart, bolt by bolt, while some inhuman horror in the back seat roars at you to stop fucking with the brakes and give it more gas.
You got that vision in your head? Okay, good. That’s kind of like what Ascended Dead’s new EP sounds like. If you don’t find the metaphor helpful, just picture your own brain: same thing will happen to it.
(Comrade Aleks brings us this interview with Sfack, vocalist/guitarist of the Italian doom band Fangtooth.)
It’s time to heed the call of the restless sea and dive into the dark, hungry depths under hypnotic songs of heavy waves and howling winds. The Italian doom band Fangtooth have returned to their listeners with a second full-length record after three years of praying to Neptune and other ancient deities of sea.
The band’s mates are true to the traditions of their land, and therefore they somehow avoid Lovecraft-inspired lyrics, but how long can they resist the voice of madness? How long can they hold the path of traditional doom metal? Fangtooth navigator Sfack is ready to clarify this.
Oh what the hell, even though it’s well past the time when we usually stop posting, I think you should listen to this new Chelsea Wolfe song, the name of which is “Iron Moon“.
My NCS comrade BadWolf told me about the song; there was a lot of heat coming off him when he did. He has talked my ear off (actually, both of them) about Chelsea Wolfe over the last year or two. He lusts after her music (and I think her as well) with the fervor of a true zealot.
I do understand the attraction(s), but I have a pretty simple, one-track mind when it comes to music. In general, if it’s not incinerating (and “Iron Moon” isn’t that), it needs to be very heavy or very terrifying. “Iron Moon” gets pretty close to both of those comfort zones.