Jan 062018

 

I had a very busy week, both on and off our site, so busy that I wasn’t able to cobble together a round-up of news and new music. However, I did try to keep abreast of what was coming out, and my list of intriguing tracks that appeared over just the last week is YUGE — so YUGE that I’m afraid I’ll have to resort to an OVERFLOWING STREAMS post on Monday, one in which I don’t do anything but just stitch together new music streams and release details without commentary.

But I decided I would do something for today as a head-start (in addition to working on a SHADES OF BLACK post for tomorrow), and here’s what I’ve done: I picked the latest recommendations from three of my NCS colleagues, and then added one of my own, which happens to be the latest new song premiere that I’ve listened to. But first, a news item…

PANOPTICON

A few days ago the administrator of Panopticon’s official Facebook page posted the artwork you see above, along with these few words: “Slip case cover for the new double album. the scars of man on the once nameless wilderness. Out in March on Bindrune Recordings in the USA and Nordvis in Europe. Art by Hanna Larsson of Sólfjall Design.”

Jan 052018

 

(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the Portuguese band Sinistro, released today by Season of Mist.)

 

Is it just me or… are we undergoing something of a Doom renaissance right now?

I may be somewhat late to the party in acknowledging this – explicitly at least – but it definitely seems to me that the last 6-12 months have seen a real resurgence of interest in the style, bolstered by a plethora of truly spectacular releases running the gamut from the more gothic end of the spectrum, all the way to the groaning weight of the most crushing Funeral Doom, via the brooding misery of the always-welcome Peaceville sound…. with little sign that this slow-moving tide is starting to slacken off or ebb.

But, with albums as good as Sangue Cássia still coming out, why would we want it to?

Jan 032018

 

(In what has become an annual tradition, former NCS writer, ex-Invisible Oranges editor, and current contributor to Decibel and Noisey, Joseph Schafer (whose NCS moniker was BadWolf) brings us a year-end list of favorite Not-Metal albums.)

 

As in previous years, this is my favorite article to write. There remains something delicious and transgressive about extolling the virtues of mainstream pop music to metal fans on a metal-centric platform. The reason why is no mystery: metal is intended itself to be delicious and transgressive, but too often becomes a stale and staunch conservative vomitorium. Eat the same diet of blast beats, high-gain distortion, and Lucifer sigils, vomit them back up, ingest a new round of the same, repeat.

I like a Roman feast as much as the next guy, but I also know to take myself out to sushi every so often, remaining Fukushima background radiation be damned. And yes I know that’s not what a vomitorum was actually used for but you all gleaned my meaning regardless, and if not what’s wrong with you?

Besides, as any social media window left open too long will tell you: even staunch metal fans love plenty of extra-metallic material. Tom G. Warrior loves David Slyvian. This is no great act of rebellion, this is the simple acknowledgement that metal is pop music, as in art meant for popular consumption. That is no damning admonishment. It describes Mozart, too.

Dec 232017

 

(Andy Synn wrote this installment of his occasional series about things that come in fives.)

As you’ll no doubt be aware, a little over a week ago saw the sudden and untimely demise of Sanctuary/ex-Nevermore vocalist Warrel Dane.

And while this is, assuredly, a heavy blow indeed for his friends and loved ones, it’s also a loss for the Metal scene as a whole, since I would contend that Dane was, without doubt, one of the most unique and distinctive singers (not to mention lyricists) of the past twenty years.

His death also means that the long hoped for Nevermore reunion will never happen and, even though there was some lingering bad blood between them, I’m sure that his ex-bandmates (Loomis, Sheppard, and Williams) must still be reeling from the shock of his passing.

So, having given things a little bit of time to settle (I didn’t want us to be accused of “cashing in” on his death, or anything like that) I’d like to present you with five of my favourite Nevermore songs, as a minor tribute to Warrel Dane and his remarkable voice.

Dec 102017

 

I didn’t expect I would be able to prepare this round-up. I’m still on vacation (through December 15), and have been pretty faithful to the promise I made to She Who Must Be Obeyed that I would not blog (much) during this trip. For example, we had nothing on the site yesterday, which is a rarity.

But, I had a small amount of time to myself this morning, and there didn’t seem to be any harm in checking out some new music. I’ve barely glanced at the NCS e-mail box during the last week, so I decided to start making my way through the mail that arrived over just the last two days (more than that would have devoured my limited blog time this morning). What you will hear in this round-up is the result of that limited and hurried survey.

First, however, I want to share a piece of news that I had missed until Andy Synn indirectly led me to it.

NECROPHOBIC

On Friday I posted Andy’s list of his favorite 2017 EPs. One of his choices was inadvertently omitted from the text he originally sent me for posting, and when he caught the error, he sent me some further text, and the omission happened to be a 7″ EP called Pesta that Necrophobic distributed during a tour.

Dec 022017

 

We’re rushing toward the end of the year like an out-of-control car speeding toward a precipice. And I find myself getting a similar panicked feeling, as if it will be a world-ending event for a metal writer and I only have four weeks to finish spouting off about 2017 releases, a task made even more daunting by the fact that I’m leaving on a 12-day vacation tomorrow (as explained here), and by the prospect of all the LISTMANIA stuff we will be doing between now and December 31 as well.

Of course, this is a completely irrational feeling. There’s no law which prevents us from continuing to write about 2017 releases after New Year’s Day, and no doubt we will. Nevertheless, I’m still feeling a feverish compulsion to give as much attention as I can to recent releases (and a few forthcoming ones) before “time runs out”. So I’ve crammed music from five bands into this post, without nearly enough time to say what I want about them, and I also have some hopes of finishing a SHADES OF BLACK post for tomorrow before beginning my 12-day hiatus. Don’t know if that will work out or not….

INQUISITOR

Thanks to a message from Conor O., and then a subsequent e-mail from the Dutch label Hammerheart Records, I learned that after a 22-year hiatus, Inquisitor have returned with a new album, and it’s an explosive resurrection for sure.

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.

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