(In this post DGR reviews the debut album by the Swiss band Frozen Gate.)
Occasionally some questions will arise as to how the NCS reviews process works. To be honest with you, the answer is fairly simple — we’re pretty freewheeling. We try our best to keep up with recent and relevant releases but often the authors of the site are pretty free to write about whatever strikes our fancy, which is why you’ll occasionally see reviews for albums that came out anywhere from the beginning of this year to two years ago on this page. If we think our readers will like it, we’ll write about it.
But, there are occasional quirks in this system that can often bring about discoveries: In this case it is that I am a giant manchild, who at his “wizened” age will still occasionally check out albums if the combination of cover art and album name strikes my fancy or in this case, amuses me.
Switzerland’s Frozen Gate released their debut album Behind The Dark Ice earlier this month and I came about it whilst scrolling through my various resources for recent releases. In this case the cover art for Behind The Dark Ice caught my eye — mostly for how stark it is. It can best be boiled down to just the band’s logo with a crest and some dark blue paint-brushing, evocative of a frigid land. It’s bare bones but it manages the job of matching its name sake of Behind The Dark Ice. I just had to have a look — while having no idea what sort of music Frozen Gate put out.
(Our old friend from New Zealand and occasional guest writer Booker brings us a collection of new releases discovered through their cover art, along with some very entertaining words.)
“You should never judge a book by its cover”, or so the saying goes. No doubt most of us try and do the same with our approach to metal. Yet somehow, in amongst all the diversity of music out there, the community of metal musicians seems to self-organize; just like some drops of T-1000 liquid metal coming together to form a greater terrifying machine, different minds and souls from across the world end up uniting in their artistic endeavours and adorning their albums with specific, identifiable, cover themes. For the most part, seeing a cover with a certain “typical genre X” album art style can lead you to a fair idea of what aural treasures lie inside, but sometimes they can come out of left field and surprise you. We shouldn’t judge albums by their cover, but let’s be honest: we might say we don’t, but we all do. Like masturbation.
Once upon a time back in NCS history, Islander ran a series called “Eye Catchers” dedicated to albums that hooked you in with their artwork (and other tasty aspects). As I was perusing Bandcamp for delicious new audio treats, I realised that I too was basing my decisions of what to listen to by inadvertently succumbing to the artwork, like a moth to flame. So I figured, the hell with it, let’s see where this folly-filled exercise leads me…. and after a few surprises, and some fails, here’s a few highlights I’d like to share.
I wasn’t able to compile a round-up of new things for yesterday, which means that I’m now up to my eyebrows in news and music that I’d like to share, or I would be if I had a head. But figuratively speaking, I do have more items worth spreading around than I have time or space to compile. Therefore, I’ve chosen somewhat randomly. But the first two choices were compelled not only because I’m a big fan of both bands but also because the artwork for both is stupendous.
Today Sweden’s In Mourning revealed details about their new album, including the magnificent cover art that you see above, which was created by the magnificent Kristian “Necrolord” Wåhlin. The name of the album is Afterglow and it will be released by Agonia Records on May 20.
You may have noticed that we’re now hip-deep in year-end LISTMANIA, and that tide will continue to rise from now into the New Year. This means that we won’t have quite as many new-music round-ups as we usually do, but I’m still going to try to squeeze a few in as time permits — including this one…
… which includes lots of eye-catching artwork as well as ear-catching music, but not many of my usual descriptions (because I’m hurrying).
The Chilean band Ripper turned a lot of heads last year (including mine, wherever I left it) with their debut album Raising the Corpse, and now they’ve got a new one on the way named Experiment of Existence. The advance track from the album that premiered today is a superior ass-kicker.
(Andy Synn reviews the debut EP of Australia’s Annihilist.)
Never underestimate the value of good album art. After all, first impressions DO count.
For every cheesy cgi monstrosity, for every uninspired and multi-hued “cosmic” abortion, for every generic “war is bad” post-apocalypse or totally brutal “I’ve never been consensually touched by a woman” guts-n-gore album cover, there’s something far more interesting and eye-catching out there, something that stands out from the pack and practically yells “check this out!”
Such is the case with Australian metallurgists Annihilist and their debut EP Vol. 1.
I find myself in Alaska this morning, preparing for a day of toil for my fucking day job. This means that posts on our putrid site will be scarce today. I’m also behind (again) in putting together round-ups of news and new music. Before I have to immerse myself in what I’m paid to do, I thought I would at least compile a selection of things I spotted over the last couple of days — and this selection is based principally on the attractiveness of the album art.
As announced yesterday, the almighty Autopsy have two new things headed our way. First, on November 13 Peaceville Records will release a jumbo set entitled After the Cutting that includes four discs “full of classics, new tracks and previously unheard rarities from deep within the band’s own archive”. This special release will also include “an expansive book penned by Dennis Dread recounting the career of the gore legend, featuring unseen photos and exclusive artwork”.
Wes Benscoter again handled the Autopsy artwork for After the Cutting. As you can see, it’s sick.
Your humble editor is about to have to devote the rest of the day to his fucking day job, and therefore this will most likely be the last post of this Friday on our putrid site, other than a big review we’ve got coming. And, sad to say, there’s not a lot of new music in this little round-up (until the end) because my time is regrettably short — but there’s a lot of impressive artwork for forthcoming releases that I spotted over the last 24 hours.
This Swedish black/death band’s 2013 debut album Grave Ekstasis drew lots of praise from assorted year-end lists at our site (and elsewhere), and yet I managed to miss it entirely until much later. I won’t make the same mistake twice.
What I saw today (and what you’re looking at above) is the amazing cover art by David Herrerias for the band’s next album, Apollyon. The band revealed the artwork yesterday, and so I assume the recording has been completed, but I haven’t yet seen any info about a release date or method of distribution. I’ll be watching for that….
(KevinP brings us another installment in his ongoing series of short interviews, talking this time with one of our favorite metal artists, Italy’s Paolo Girardi.)
K: So how did you get your start being one of the “go to” guys for metal album covers?
P: I already had done some local metal demo and CD covers here in my small town and villages around the ’90s and early 2000s. But then my friends Blasphemophagher wanted something for their first album, then second, then third and the most recent one. This gave me more popularity in metal. After that I did Diocletian, Tyrants Blood, In League with Satan, etc.
Three years ago (almost four maybe), I reached the point when I could live by painting alone, working all over the world. No more need to work in country, as frescos restorer, carpenter, or other occasional work. I was so glad ’cause I’ve never quit painting, even when I had to work 11 hours per day. After that, my daily wrestling training, then painting ’til after midnight. I’ve always believed at every cost. Obsession, passion, love, stubbornness, madness. Now, I still work hard to do my best for my respectful clients, bands, and labels.
We probably devote more attention to album art than the average metal blog, and the Swedish artist Pär Olofsson has been one of our favorites for years. His cover for Obsolescence, the new album by Abysmal Dawn, is a striking example of his work — and the album is damned striking, too.
So it’s a genuine treat for us to bring you this feature, narrated by Pär Olofsson and Abysmal Dawn vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliott, about how the album art evolved, with step by step images of the artwork, as it eventually took shape in the exchange of ideas between the two.
If you haven’t yet listened to Obsolescence, which is out now on Relapse Records, do yourself a favor and dive into that (you can here it and buy it on Bandcamp). It’s superb. You can find out more about the band and the artist via these links — and at the end of this post, check out their new video for the song “Inanimate”:
Here are a few items that caught my eye over the last 24 hours, partly because of the artwork, but in some cases also because of the accompanying news.
I’m going to put Hate in front of Behemoth for a change.
Thanks to a tip from Andy Synn I saw the announcement from earlier today by Poland’s Hate that they will be releasing a new album named Crusade: Zero on January 15, 2015, via Napalm Records. As usual, the album was recorded and mixed at Hertz Studio with the Wieslawski Brothers.