Islander

Feb 082016

Heiress 2016
Heiress and John Pettibone (far right)

 

John Pettibone has been a fixture in the Seattle music scene for more than two decades. During the early and mid-’90s he was the front man for a pioneering straight-edge hardcore band named Undertow, and later became the vocalist for the fondly remembered and sorely missed Himsa from about 2000 until the band ended in 2008 (several us at this site are huge Himsa fans to this day, and I featured them in one of my Rearview Mirror posts only a week ago).

Since the end of 2008, Pettibone has been the vocalist for Heiress, a band founded by guitarist Wes Reed who have recorded two highly regarded albums — 2013’s Early Frost and 2015’s Of Great Sorrow — and now have a third one coming soon. The new one is named Made Wrong, it was recorded with producer Matt Bayles, and it’s set for release on March 18 by The Mylene Sheath (pre-orders are expected to begin on February 19).

It has become increasingly difficult to sum up Heiress‘ sound in simple genre terms as the sound has evolved, and that’s likely to become even more of a challenge after people hear Made Wrong. It’s dark, heavy as hell, emotionally intense, and intensely memorable, too. I have lots of other thoughts about the music that I’m going to try to sum up later this week. For now I’ll just say it’s an album you won’t want to miss.

I have the good fortune to bring you an interview I conducted by e-mail with John Pettibone last week — and you’ll get some insights about Made Wrong along the way.

Feb 082016

Obscura-Akroasis

 

(Andy Synn reviews the eagerly awaited new album by Obscura.)

Let me ask you something… when you see an album being universally praised across the board, especially if it’s an album by a band who it seems were “predestined” in some way to be a big deal, do you ever find yourself a wee bit suspicious of this outpouring of goodwill and fawning praise? Do you ever find yourself questioning the motives and intentions of the writers/reviewers in question? Do you ever find yourself thinking “well, duh, of course you were going to say that… but what’s it really like”?

Because I do.

I think it’s normal to be a little suspicious of any artist or album that’s receiving nothing but positive (often overly so) reactions from the Metal press. Heck, I think I know enough about the “scene” these days to have a good idea of which publications still retain their integrity and impartiality (such as it is)… and which ones don’t… and think I have a pretty good sense of when a review was clearly pre-planned and effectively written out even before the writer heard the album. Such things come with the territory.

But I’m here to tell you now that the praise being flung Obscura’s way for their new album Akróasis? It’s all very much deserved.

Feb 082016

Rapheumets Well

 

Based in Hickory, North Carolina, Rapheumets Well are a group of storytellers who are in the process of weaving a complex science fiction saga through their music. The story began in their 2014 debut album Dimensions, and on March 18 it will continue through the release of their second album, The Exile. As sci-fi fans ourselves, today we’re pleased to bring you the premiere of a lyric video for the new album’s opening track, a song named “Resurrecting the Blood Gate“.

The band’s name is itself drawn from this interdimensional, world-spanning tale of conflict and perseverance. Within the fictitious universe of Sovael, ancient architects known as the Atai have aided in the propagation of sentient life throughout the cosmos. As the band explain, Rapheumet is the name of a deity personified as a trickster, “a master of portals and interdimensional travel” who “often creates chaos for unsuspecting voyagers”, and in the band’s name “Well” refers to gravity wells, “which like black holes are catalysts of change and gateways between the cosmic plains.”

Feb 082016

Terjiz de Horde-1

 

(We present Andy Synn’s very interesting interview with members of the Dutch black metal band Terzij de Horde.)

No matter how hard we try, every year there are a number of frankly amazing bands/albums we simply don’t get around to covering, despite our best intentions.

Self, by ravenous Dutch dilettantes Terzij de Horde, is one of those albums.

Packed with manic, high-voltage tremolo lines, howling, cathartic vocals, and storm-blasting drum work, it’s undeniably a Black Metal album right down to its darkly cerebral core, but (as you’ll soon discover) the music on Self is just as undeniably rooted in the essential elements of Punk and Crust/Hardcore at their most visceral.

And it’s this fearless embrace of other genres – both their differences and their commonalities – coupled with the band’s penchant for massive, harrowing riffs, nerve-jangling dissonance, and moments of creeping, atypical melody, that make Self such an instantly engaging, endlessly rewarding listen.

I could definitely go on about this album at length, as it really is one of the best releases – Black Metal or otherwise – that came out last year. However, as you’re about to find out, the members of the band themselves (in this case vocalist/lyricist Joost Vervoort and bassist/lyricist Johan van Hattum) proved themselves to be extremely capable and interesting interview participants, and so I’m more than happy to let their words do all the heavy lifting this time around!

Feb 072016

Nordjevel-ST

 

Once again I’ve collected newly discovered music that could be considered shades and phases of black metal. Unfortunately, on this Sunday I’m pressed for time, and so, with apologies to the bands (who are probably the only people who might actually read my drivel instead of skipping right to the streams), I’m going to have to truncate my review commentary. Somehow, you’ll have to take in the music without me detailing for you what you’re hearing.

NORDJEVEL

I’m not sure how Nordjevel eluded my hawklike gaze. Their self-titled debut album has already been released by Osmose Productions, with several song streams preceding it, yet I only found out about the band and the album a few days ago.

Feb 072016

Zatokrev-Silk Spiders Underwater

 

As I explained at the outset of this list, I didn’t have it finished when I began it. I’ve been making it up as I go along, without any pre-set idea of how long it would be. But since we’re now a week into February of 2016, I’m forcing myself to bring it to an end by this time next week. It hasn’t been easy, but I spent hours yesterday going through my still-massive list of song candidates and I’ve now got things in place in my head — or at least these things.

Beginning today and continuing through next Sunday I’ll post three new songs for the list each day. Except for next Sunday’s installment, I know which three I’ll post each day. And at the end, I’ll still have many more songs I’d like to post. But all good things must come to an end, and so this exercise will, too.

For most of the installments in the series up to now, I’ve grouped the songs according to certain themes, usually some kind of genre similarity in the groupings. But for most of the remaining installments, I’m focusing on variety, and grouping the songs together in ways that I think make for interesting listening, moving from one song to the next. To see the other songs on the list up to this point, click this link.

ZATOKREV

This band is so damned good. I feel that they haven’t yet gotten the widespread and tumultuous celebration that they deserve. I picked a song from their last album (The Bat The Wheel And The Long Road To Nowhere) for the 2012 edition of this list, and I’ve picked one for 2015 as well, because 2015 brought us another great new Zatokrev album — Silk Spiders Underwater…

Feb 072016

Rearview Mirror

 

Sweden’s Necrophobic was formed in 1989 by drummer Joakim Sterner and guitarist David Parland (who left the band in 1995 to concentrate on Dark Funeral and took his own life in 2013). Their debut album, The Nocturnal Silence, was recorded with Tomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studios and was released by Black Mark Productions in 1993. It really has not aged in 23 years; it’s still a great album. Six more albums followed, the most recent of which is 2013’s Womb of Lilithu, and it’s a very impressive discography, with a sound that blends ingredients from black metal and death metal while incorporating memorable melodies into a framework of undeniable savagery.

Not surprisingly given the band’s longevity, there have been many line-up changes over the years, with Sterner being the only constant member. In recent years the band has included guitarist Fredrik Folkare (Unleashed, Firespawn) and bassist Alex Friberg (Firespawn).

One of the most recent changes was the ouster of long-time vocalist Tobias Sidegård in 2013 on the eve of Womb of Lilithu’s release after being convicted of domestic violence and sentenced to prison. He has been replaced by none other than Anders Strokirk — the man who was Necrophobic’s vocalist when they recorded The Nocturnal Silence but left the band not long after its release.

Feb 062016

Severed

 

In recent years, Iceland has developed a reputation as a spawning ground for excellent black metal bands, but the country’s contributions to extreme metal go well beyond those black arts. And as convincing proof of that, I give you Severed.

I first came across the band’s music back in 2012 when they were using the name Severed Crotch. Even then, I was late to the party. By that point they had released a couple of demos in 2007 and a debut album in 2010 (The Nature of Entropy). Now brandishing a more truncated name (suggestive of more generalized and less crotch-specific violence), the band have recorded a new five-song promo that’s intended to lay the groundwork for their next full-length album.

The band have been gradually releasing songs from the album for streaming since last fall, and today we’re fortunate to bring you the fourth one, a track named “Edge of the Abyss“.

Feb 052016

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(KevinP reviews two Florida shows this week by Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris as part of their in-progress U.S. tour.)

I always bemoan the fact that Florida gets the shaft when it comes to tours, whether it’s from US bands or groups from the rest of the world. So when Ne Obliviscaris announced they were coming to Florida, for not 1 but 2 shows, I was tickled pink (to say the least).

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 seconds is aware I have no interest in Butcher Babies or Cradle of Filth, but hey, you can’t really expect a new band on their first US tour flying over from Australia to do a headline jaunt right off the bat.

Upon further inspection of the tour dates, there was a gap in the schedule, conveniently due to the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise leaving out of Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, February 4th, and returning on Monday, February 8th.

Feb 052016

NCS Best of 2015 graphic

 

(Year-end lists… you just can’t kill em’. But Andy Synn has made a habit of crowning our annual LISTMANIA series with one final offering — his selection of the last year’s top songs — and this year is no different.)

Did you REALLY think I was done with lists? Are you really that naive? Oh, how foolish are those who are most willing to be.. umm… fooled. Or something.

Yes, it’s no secret I enjoy making lists, and as such have a particular fondness for the end-of-year period here at NCS, not just because it lets me indulge my numero-erotic list-making proclivities in full (and in public, no less) but also because I sincerely enjoy reading and debating all the other lists we publish and reference and, in the process, discovering bands I’d otherwise overlooked.

The hardest list to pull together though is the list of my favourite songs of the year. Not because of any hard-fought pretence of objectivity (there’s none of that here), but because there’s simply so many options to choose from, with my initial list coming in at well over 100 entries, each drawn from albums across the length and breadth of my Great/Good/Disappointing lists of last year.

But, finally… finally… I managed to whittle it down to the ten selections you’re about to encounter.

I’m not suggesting these are the definitive “Best” songs of the year by any means, they’re just ten tracks which have burrowed their way under my skin and into my brain the deepest.

So, without further ado…

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