Nov 172017

 

(This is Andy Synn’s review of the performance by Norway’s Ulver at the Islington Assembly Hall in London on November 15, 2017.)

Despite the fact that Ulver are definitely not a Metal band by any measure (in fact they’ve not been a Metal band for so long that even stating that they’re “not a Metal band” seems utterly redundant at this point), I’m always happy to cover them here at NCS, whether on record, or in the live setting.

When people ask me “why” I keep covering them, particularly in the light of their most recent, shamelessly electro-pop turn, I always answer them in two ways:

Firstly, it’s entirely possible to make “Pop” friendly music which has both depth and substance. Yes, the majority of today’s big sellers may, in general, be the most vapid, soulless examples of “popular” music, but there’s still a rich legacy of acts and artists who have made a very successful career out of twisting and subverting the expectations of their audience in a variety of surprisingly clever ways.

Secondly… well, it’s Ulver, isn’t it? And if any band has earned my trust over the years, it’s them.

Which is why I recently found myself in Islington Assembly Hall watching the band perform material from their latest album, The Assassination of Julius Caesar.

Nov 112017

 

You can go long or you can go short. You can pound your musical erogenous zones or you can shrivel up and go dry from something far outside the rim of your bullseye. You can fragment your mind or feel it coalescing in configurations that become receivers of new visions. Every day there are new opportunities.

I’m speaking of metal, of course. I got doses of all those experiences this week, but bit off almost more than I could chew with this week’s flood of premieres, and got squeezed by my fucking day job on top of that, so I failed to compile a round-up until now, and hence it’s a big one.

Catching up is an impossibility, of course, and this time it happens that my choices (all the way up to the last one) are mainly indulgences in a particular mood rather than my usual effort to throw darts all over the metal dartboard. The one thing I haven’t done is incorporate black metal, because I have tomorrow’s SHADES OF BLACK column for that.

AETHERIAN

We’ve been writing about this Greek band for years, beginning with their first single in 2013 and including their second one in 2015, their debut EP released the same year (and reviewed by DGR here), their amazing single and video from last year, “The Rain”, the first single (“Seeds of Deception”0 from their debut album, The Untamed Wilderness, which will be released by Lifeforce Records on November 24th, and the second one (“Shade of the Sun”). And now there’s a third, accompanied by a video.

Nov 102017

 

(Andy Synn wrote this feature about the masked UK duo Nordic Giants.)

The following article is less of a review and more of a… recommendation that you check out the band Nordic Giants, whom I recently discovered at this year’s edition of Damnation Festival (yes, I realise I’m late to the party on this, but that’s the joy of festivals, you can stumble upon something entirely new and wonderful completely by accident).

Now, a word of warning – though the majority of their songs are instrumental, the duo also make use of guest vocalists now and then, so there is some (utterly sublime) clean singing involved in a number of their tracks.

As a matter of fact, the band in general are a walking (but not talking) exception to our general rule, in that they’re not actually a Metal band at all, but I can definitely see their particular brand of dynamic, cinematic Post Rock appealing to fans of everyone from Junius and Sólstafir to Sigur Ros and latter-day Ulver.

Nov 082017

 

Sewing confusion and discord seems to be a persistent part of our mission statement, wholly apart from all the misspellings and typos. And so it’s time once again to flummox people who take our site’s name literally or have become used to receiving severe audio punishment at the hands of most bands whose music we recommend. Even people who are familiar with the previous albums of the band who are the subject of this post may be surprised by what they’re about to hear.

What we have for you is a full stream of People Used To Live Here, the enthralling new full-length by Spook the Horses from Wellington, New Zealand, which will be released on November 10th by Pelagic Records.

Nov 042017

 

I have a big bulging list of new music I’d like to recommend, but rather than try to stitch them all together, which would probably take all day, I just picked one new EP and two singles. As usual, the selection of these three bands off the list was pretty random. But as usual, I like the music a lot and I wanted to provide some variety, and as you’ll discover, there sure as hell is some variety here.

CRUCIAMENTUM

I wrote no fewer than four posts about Cruciamentum’s 2015 debut album Charnel Passages, including one in which I picked a song from the album called “Piety Carved From Flesh” for my list of 2015’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. Cruciamentum have now returned with a new EP called Paradise Envenomed, which was released digitally via Bandcamp and other platforms (and on 7″ vinyl by Profound Lore) just two days ago.

Oct 302017

 

You’re about to have the chance to hear a full stream of Guilty Pleasures, the fourth album by the French underground band Jessica93 in advance of its November 3 release by MusicFearSatan and Teenage Menopause.

I nearly didn’t agree to host this premiere, despite how hard the album hooked me. It’s pretty far away from the varieties of extreme metal that are our bread and butter, and the vocals are entirely clean, which always generates confusion among those who take us at our word when they see the site’s name.

But then I thought, if someone as musically tunnel-visioned as I am can get enthusiastic about this music, maybe the same will be true of others who usually come here to get their skulls fractured and their brains purified by flamethrowers. And in fact I do think there are aspects of the music that are likely to appeal to segments of metal fandom. Besides, you’d have to be the victim of a C4 cervical fracture not to reflexively move to these songs.

Oct 182017


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It occurred to me that the tag I came up with for these round-ups of new tracks — “Random Fucking Music” — could be misconstrued. The idea wasn’t that this would be random music you could actually fuck to, although I guess you could fuck to some of it if you were like certain members of the non-human animal kingdom who pound away in a frenzy for a few minutes (or less) and then go off to find more food or take a shit, leaving the female of the species looking either confused or bored and wondering, “Is it in yet?”

Yeah, don’t remind me, I know human males do that too. I guess maybe an album-length funeral doom track could provide some reciprocal coital benefits, but I assume most people like to shift into a higher gear at some point, except for those who pass out somewhere along the way. I’ve never seen a sloth have sex. Might be worth investigating.

Oct 102017

 

(Here is Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by the Norwegian band Fleshkiller, which was released on September 15.)

It’s no great secret that a number of the NCS crew are fans of Extol, myself included.

So when it was announced (quietly) that the band were going back on hiatus, but that guitarist/songwriter Ole Børud would be continuing on in the same vein with his new project Fleshkiller I’ll admit that my feelings were somewhat mixed.

On the one hand the realisation that there wouldn’t be any more Extol for the foreseeable future (if ever) certainly stung but, at the same time, I was happy to know that Børud would be carrying on the band’s legacy by repurposing the riffs, melodies, and songs that had already been written into material for Awaken.

Because, and let’s be brutally honest here, his guitar work has always been probably the most defining element behind Extol’s sound, just as it is the driving force behind Fleshkiller.

Oct 022017

 

(Music writer Konstantin, who in past years has written for Serbia’s Nocturne Music Magazine, rejoins us with this review of the new album by the French band Soror Dolorosa, which was released by Prophecy on September 15.)

The last 15 years have put France mainly “under the light” of the black metal scene and created a solid number of followers worldwide. Completely justified, one could say, taking into consideration the impact that French bands have created on extreme metal in this period. At the same time, several other good bands have come out, but have received drastically less attention and fewer fans.

The birth and death of French cold wave happened almost three decades ago, and you could count on the fingers of one hand the bands that have lasted for more than just a few years. A certain revival was finally seen in the debut album of Soror Dolorosa in 2011. At last, we are now able to see and hear their third LP, four years after their solid sophomore release No more heroes. There wasn’t much to hear from them in this period. They played only a handful of concerts, but at least now we know the reason. And the reason is excellent – Apollo is finally out and they have made their best record so far.

Sep 282017

 

When you see that a metal band is releasing a double-album, one thing you know without being told is that they must have had a lot of ideas. When you see that the total length of a double album is almost two hours, you’re inclined to resort to all caps, and at least one exclamation point: A LOT OF IDEAS! But what you won’t know until listening is whether there were enough GOOD IDEAS to justify the risks of such an imposing creation.

Because, let’s face it, in a fast-paced age plagued by famously short attention spans when many (if not most) single albums barely top half an hour, going THIS BIG can be a deterrent to listeners. Will they be as devoted in listening to the music as the band were in creating it?

The Belarusian doom band Woe Unto Me will learn the answer to that question, because they have taken precisely that risk. Their new album, Among The Lightened Skies The Voidness Flashed, will be released tomorrow (September 29th) through Solitude Productions, and we have a full stream for you today. It consists of two records, and together they are nearly two hours long. And they are indeed full of ideas — but they address big, timeless questions too, questions of such intrinsic weight and pervasiveness in the human conscience that you can better understand why they did what they have done.

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