Islander

Aug 202014

 

(Austin Weber reviews the new sophomore album by Trioscapes, which is being released today by Metal Blade Records.)

Music that lies at the intersection of jazz and metal has always interested me. The first Trioscapes album that came out not long ago in 2012, called Separate Realities, certainly scratched that itch. What excited me the most about the record was that it certainly seemed like only the beginning of where they could go with their sound, if they followed their heads.

While many are familiar with them as the side-project of Between The Buried And Me bassist Dan Briggs, saxophonist/flute player Walter Fancourt (ex-Mars Volta) and drummer/electronics artist Matt Lynch deserve just as much credit.

When Separate Realities was released, I immensely enjoyed it — but the band have experienced an exponential growth in their sound on Digital Dream Sequence. The leap into larger uncharted waters on the new record is simultaneously jaw-dropping and smile-inducing. They may be the same band toying with the same ideas, but the expanded and more unconventional depths of these new compositions gives the band a fuller, more adventurous sound than they previously exhibited.

Aug 202014

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: West Virginia’s Byzantine are nearing the end of a Pledgemusic crowd-funding campaign to help finance the making of their next album, To Release Is To Resolve, and NCS writer TheMadIsraeli caught up with the band’s main man, Chris “OJ” Ojeda, in an exclusive audio interview that we’re streaming at the end of this post. TheMadIsraeli introduces the conversation as follows:

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Chris “OJ” Ojeda from Byzantine is a riot.  The guy’s got an obvious fire for what he’s doing, and handles the hardships he’s endured with a surprisingly casual and hopeful outlook.  He’s one of my favorite vocalists out there, and his riffs are distinct and have always stood out to me.

As the driving force behind Byzantine, the guy may feel like he’s got a load on his shoulders to prove that the band’s stellar comeback comeback album (2013′s Byzantine) wasn’t a fluke.  From what I’ve heard of the new record, though, I’d say we’re in for something better than even that last one. You’ll get a taste of it at the end of this post.

Aug 202014

If you’re a fan of Swedish death metal but you’re also hungry for something out of the ordinary, you need Usurpress in your life. This band from Uppsala have completed recording their second album – Ordained — and it will be coming out later this year via Doomentia Records. It follows the band’s 2012 full-length debut, Trenches of the Netherworld, and a handful of splits and shorter releases. Today we’re bringing you a taste of the new album — and it’s a two-fer: In addition to the premiere of a new song, we’re giving you a first look at the full-gatefold album cover by Ola Larsson, which is just downright gorgeous.

The new song is “Storming the Mausoleum”, and it’s a good representation of the Usurpress sound. Though it’s a compact four-minute affair, it’s packed with enough variations that it seems to end too soon — and if you’re like me, your first impulse after finishing it will be to hit “play” again.

In addition to that distinct, fat, corrosive guitar tone that’s the hallmark of the genre, plus gruff, bone-chewing vocals, the band show their affinity for d-beat rhythms — plus some other twists and turns. It begins with huge, lumbering,  swampy riffs and sledgehammer drum hits but then accelerates, with grinding tremolo-picked guitar parts and knee-capping percussion. Before it ends, the band shift into a galloping rhythm, inject menacing spoken-word vocals, and lace the music with odd, dissonant scales that aren’t exactly par for the course. It’s an excellent song, and an excellent teaser for what promises to be an album that’s both brutal and interesting.

But before we get to the song, feast your eyes upon this (click the image to enlarge it):

Aug 202014

Photo by Guðný Lára Thorarensen and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason

Here’s a quartet of things I saw and heard over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth your time. I could have sub-titled this “The Exception to the Rule Round-Up”, because the vocals are almost all of the clean variety.

SÓLSTAFIR

I’ve written about every advance track that has appeared from Sólstafir’s new album Ótta, which will be released by Season of Mist on August 29 in Europe and September 2 in North America. So I guess it stands to reason that I’m going to write about the full-album stream that premiered yesterday at Noisey.

I love the album, but I’m not sure were going to review it. We didn’t get our promo copy of the album from the label until less than 24 hours before the stream went up (and only about 10 days before the European release date), and I do sometimes wonder what the point is of writing a review when everyone can hear the album for themselves, especially when there are so many other albums whose music is less accessible that are also worth praising. There’s always a point to bringing music to the attention of people who might not be aware of it, but anyone who regularly visits our site couldn’t possibly remain unaware Ótta.

Anyway, whether we write more about the album or not, you really should go listen to it. Among the previously unreleased songs, “Non” in particular has been getting repeated spins among our staff. The goddamn riff at the end is just glorious. Go here — you’ll be glad you did:

Aug 202014

 

(In this post DGR reviews the new album by Novembers Doom.)

Chicago-based Novembers Doom are a band of many, many albums over the span of a twenty-year career, and many musicians if you want to be funny,. They’re also a band of many descriptors, hailed as a variety of things over the years — a death metal group, a doom metal band, a gothic-doom metal band — and often incredibly hard to pin down. Some even go so far as to call them America’s answer to Opeth… which I’ve seen in more than one review.

With such a long and storied career the band have pretty much earned the right to be whatever the fuck they want at any given moment, but they’ve always stuck to a pretty strong foundation comprised of doom with a heavy gothic influence a la My Dying Bride, a death metal band, and a mournful, clean-sung group that absolutely thrives on despair.

It’s a bastard offspring of differing genres, but ones so closely related that Novembers Doom figured out not only how to combine them but also how to jam them together so well that nobody really veers close to their style. Bled White, with its spare cover art, is only the group’s latest chapter in a very large book at this point. It sees the band sounding as strong as they’ve ever been, and fully confident.

Some of the best and most miserable work they’ve have ever kicked out lies within the album’s hour-and-eight-minute run time — establishing it as a worthy successor to the band’s previous records and also providing an excellent starting point for people who’ve long heard the name but have never jumped in before.

Aug 192014

 

We don’t write much about deathcore at this site, which may be why we’re not exactly a “go to” location for bands in that space who are interested in getting some increased exposure for their music. But Fail To Decay from Rochester, Minnesota, happen to include James Benson of Amiensus in their ranks, and that’s a band we’ve written about more than once in glowing terms. So when he asked us to check out Fail To Decay’s new music video, that got our attention — and now we’re bringing the video to you as well.

It was directed, filmed, and edited by Rico Roman Productions (The Human Abstract, Born of Osiris), and it’s for a song named “All Seeing Eye” off Fail To Decay’s 2014 EP, The Black Book., which was mixed and mastered by another favorite of this site, Roman “Arsafes” Iskorostenskiy (Kartikeya, Arsafes).

Aug 192014

 

Editor’s Note:  Have you heard the news? Have you heard that Amorphis will be playing Tales From the Thousand Lakes (1994) in its entirety at Maryland Deathfest XIII next year? Our old pal Trollfiend heard the news and seemed pretty excited about it, especially since, if memory serves, it was the last Amorphis album he liked (or at least part of it).

I couldn’t leave him in a state of unmitigated excitement, what with his high blood pressure and all, so I reminded him that he had never finished his no-holds-barred cage match with the discography of Amorphis, the one he started (here) way back in December 2011. Apparently, Trollfiend is vulnerable to guilt-tripping, and so here — more than two years after he engaged in “no rules” combat with Tuonela — we bring you Round 5. This promises to be gory…

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It has been more than two years since I set foot in the arena.

I have forgotten many things, but the brutal reality of my last battle against the hordes of Amorphis still cuts deep into my soul. I wander the sands, once watered with fresh blood. I am Alone.

I stand at the spot where the assassin Tuonela fell, her neck broken by my own hands. I remember then, as I do now, the horror that I felt; that I could be so callous, cold, unfeeling. That I could discard my oath so readily. I had sworn to serve, and had felt betrayed, but her words haunted me still.

“It is you who are the betrayer.”

Nothing makes sense to me anymore. The harsh cries of circling vultures sound like wails through a bent metal tube, perhaps an alto sax. They grate on my nerves like her accusal. I was the victor then, but now? She has become the Goddess at whose feet I weep, and I am but a Sad Man.

Aug 192014

 

The Belgium death cult Emeth were the subjects of Andy Synn’s 18th SYNN REPORT for NCS, in a series that’s now approaching its 50th edition. Back then, in August 2011, the band had produced three albums of striking savagery mixed with seismically shifting tempos, technically immaculate instrumental work, and incisive hooks. Now Emeth are on the verge of releasing their fourth album through their new label, Xtreem Music, which has proven to have a reliable eye for brutality that’s a cut above the ordinary.

The band’s new album is entitled Aethyr and it’s expected to hit the streets in September of this year, with pre-orders coming soon. Given the passage of six long years since the band’s last full-length (Telesis), one might well wonder whether time has pacified Emeth’s ferocity or dulled the edge of their blades. Well, wonder no more, because today we’re bringing you the premiere of the new album’s title track, and it should banish all fears.

Aug 192014

 

There’s a song premiere at the end of this post. It’s a really good song. Those of you who are squeezed for time or afflicted with attention deficit disorder, I won’t blame you if you jump to the bottom and press Play. But I’m going to have my say about the whole album, because Transient is one of the most interesting I’ve heard in 2014. It might even be the best album Krieg has yet produced in a career that’s coming up on two decades. And if you think that any one song on this album will faithfully represent all the rest, even the one we’re premiering, you might want to read on.

Increasing age is a double-edged sword for all of us, and it’s a particularly unpredictable blade for musicians, one that’s just as liable to cause self-inflicted wounds as to carve new trails through the underbrush. On the one hand, skills can improve and the accumulation of life experiences can add maturity and new depth to an artist’s creativity. But goddamn, it can also make you boring, or lazy, or both. Some bands are content to tread water, some of them try to force-feed a fire that died out long ago, and the sparks sputter instead of blaze. Transient is about the furthest thing you could imagine from that.

Neill Jameson (aka Imperial), the man behind Krieg, cemented his place in the black metal underground a long time ago. He’s older now. By the sounds of Transient, he might not be any happier, but he sure as hell isn’t treading water. What he’s done instead is to feed the smoldering fires of the black metal vehemence he has tended so well with an array of new and different fuels, producing flames of different colors, though the overarching emotional hue of the album as a whole is still mostly bleak, blasted, and broken.

Aug 182014

 

Fortune (or Satan) has smiled on us, because today we have been chosen to deliver unto you a stream of the new album by Midnight, from beginning to end, from “Penetratal Curse” to “Aggressive Crucifixion”, and beyond. And we introduce you to No Mercy For Mayhem with this review of the album by our brother BadWolf:

 

Jamie “Athenar” Walters spent a long time recording demos, 7-inches, and splits as Midnight before he released his debut album, much like many other solo black metal musicians in America. But that long gestation period, I’m afraid, is where the similarities end. Midnight is nothing like Krieg, Xasthur, or Weakling. Bedroom black metal? More like satanic sex dungeon metal-n-roll. The only thing atmospheric about Midnight is the thin film of grindhouse sleaze that permeates its propulsive stew of old-school black metal and cock rock.

Further far afield from midwest black metal, Midnight has a distinct look and aesthetic. With painted cover art featuring hooded executioners and scantily clad women, the band has a sense of style, all wrapped up in violence, delinquency, and BDSM naughtiness. For a pretty anonymous, gender-indifferent genre, Midnight deals with sexual subjects, while sporting a strong, theatrical sense—something that used to be a big part of black metal until everyone but Immortal forgot about it. Live, Midnight comes across like a crust-punk KISS, albeit with hoods instead of platform shoes (an upgrade, if you ask me).

Walters’s 2011 debut, Satanic Royalty, wound up being one of my favorite albums of that year—too bad I didn’t get a chance to hear it until 2012. That record mixed Venom-and-Motörhead-isms with arena-ready hooks. For the past two years, I’ve been frothing at the mouth to get a taste of its followup, and the Complete and Total Hell compilation album (reviewed here), though incredible, just did not scratch the itch. Seeing Midnight’s energetic performance at Maryland Deathfest 2013 only made the wait more unbearable.

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