Jun 152014

Welcome to another edition of MISCELLANY. Here’s how this game works: I pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, usually focusing on under-the-radar groups who may have been overlooked by our readers. The selection process is fairly random. In this case I picked a couple bands who were recommended to me by a friend and a couple whose names came from the band themselves or their PR people.

I try to limit my listening to a song or two and then write my impressions, while streaming what I heard so you can form your own opinions. I don’t know in advance whether I’ll like the music, so there’s an element of surprise involved (good or bad) — though in this case I had some reasons for believing the music would be worthwhile. Here we go…

VIT

Vit’s 2013 EP The Dry Season came highly recommended from Ryan Schutte of Seattle’s Lb.! (he called it “a masterpiece”). The EP is available on Bandcamp, and upon visiting that page I saw that the EP includes guest appearances by Austin Lunn (Panopticon) on resonator guitar and banjo and Johan Becker on violin.

A little more poking around revealed that Vit’s drummer John Kerr is also a bandmate of Lunn’s in Seidr. And then I saw that the EP was mixed by Topon Das (Fuck the Facts) and mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD) — and after all that my expectations had grown quite high.

May 122014

I’m bending the normal self-imposed rules of the MISCELLANY game today. Usually, the way this works is I randomly pick bands whose music I’ve never heard before, I listen to a song or two, I write my impressions, and I stream what I’ve heard so you can form your own judgments. For today’s installment of the series, however, the selections aren’t exactly random: The bands were recommended by people whose judgment I trust, and in all three cases I listened to a song before deciding to make them the subjects of this post.

The truth is, all three of these albums are ones I would really like to review in full, based on what I’ve now heard. But I’m so far behind in my reviews that I fear I’ll never manage it. Rather than run the risk of failing to write anything at all, I decided I would at least do this.

DESECRESY

Patrick Bruss, the main man behind the excellent Crypticus, recommended this first group, and it was a very enthusiastic recommendation — for which I am truly grateful.

Desecresy are a two-man band from Finland, and their new album (their third) is entitled Chasmic Transcendence. It was released in mid-April and is now streaming in full at the Bandcamp site of Spain’s Xtreem Music, where it can also be ordered and downloaded (here). Although I hadn’t previously heard of this band (so far as I can remember), the songs I’ve heard from this album have blown me away like an acorn in a hurricane.

Apr 122014

I did say that I intended to post three editions of MISCELLANY on three successive days, but yesterday kind of got away from me. So, with an unplanned hiatus day, here’s the third installment.

Once again, here’s how the MISCELLANY game works: I pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, usually focusing on under-the-radar groups whose names I’ve never heard before either. The selection process is random; for these three editions of the series, I tended to focus on bands who’ve written us recently. I try to limit my listening to a song or two and then write my impressions, while streaming what I heard so you can form your own opinions. I don’t know in advance whether I’ll like the music, so there’s an element of surprise involved (good or bad). For this listening session I once again investigated the music of three bands.

DIM AURA

Dim Aura are based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Earlier this year they self-released a debut album entitled The Negation of Existence (though they’re searching for a label to facilitate wider distribution). The band have put four of the album’s eight tracks on Bandcamp. I started with the first one, “Scarred Flesh Supremacy”, but I’ll just tell you up-front that I really cheated on the MISCELLANY rules and wound up running right through all four songs. They’re all good and they don’t all sound the same.

Apr 102014

As promised, I’m posting three editions of MISCELLANY in three successive days, this being the second.

Here’s how the MISCELLANY game works: I pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, usually focusing on under-the-radar groups whose names I’ve never heard before either. The selection process is random; for these three editions of the series, I tended to focus on bands who’ve written us recently. I try to limit my listening to a song or two and then write my impressions, while streaming what I heard so you can form your own opinions. I don’t know in advance whether I’ll like the music, so there’s an element of surprise involved (good or bad). For this listening session I investigated the music of three bands.

OPHIDIUS

Ophidius are an instrumental death metal band from New Jersey. Their debut album (or I suppose you could call it an EP too), The Throat of the World, was released via Bandcamp last December and it’s available for a price you name. It consists of four songs, and the band explain that the compositions were inspired by “The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim”.

Apr 092014

MISCELLANY is probably the most irregular of the regular features at NCS.  Though I’ve found that it’s a good way to discover new music, I often let weeks or months go by before revisiting the series. But this week there will be an unusual burst of activity. I have the 65th edition today, and both the 66th and 67th editions are in various stages of completion. With luck, I will post them over the next two days — three in a row!

Here’s how the game works: I pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, usually focusing on under-the-radar groups whose names I’ve never heard before either. The selection process is random; for these three editions of the series, I tended to focus on bands who’ve written us recently. I try to limit my listening to a song or two and then write my impressions, while streaming what I heard so you can form your own opinions. I don’t know in advance whether I’ll like the music, so there’s an element of surprise involved (good or bad). For this listening session I investigated the music of three bands.

NIHILO

Nihilo are from Switzerland. They’ve released three EPs, as well as a previous full-length (2010′s Concordia Perpetua). In March of this year they released a new album entitled Dum Spiro Spero, which features cover art by Paolo “Madman” Girardi, and was a promising sign, all by itself.

Mar 192014

Are you shocked? I know I’m shocked. After doing these MISCELLANY installments about once every three months, here I am writing another one less than a week after the last. I wish I could say this is the beginning of a new regime, but I ain’t nearly that fuckin’ organized. This is today and tomorrow is another day.

The rules of this road: I randomly pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, I listen to one or two songs and write my impressions, and then I stream what I heard so you can form your own opinions. As I did last week, I decided to just pick the last three bands I heard about over the weekend with recent Bandcamp streams. Although I didn’t know exactly what they would sound like, it turns out there’s a common theme, and it can be summed up in this immortal line from Aliens II: “Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” Substitute “your skull” for “site”.

NUCLEARHAMMER

I know I’ve heard this Toronto band’s name before. How could you forget a name like Nuclearhammer? But I’m virtually certain I’d never heard their music before. I became aware of them via a message from our longtime supporter Utmu. It turns out they have a new album coming in June named Serpentine Hermetic Lucifer, which follows their debut full-length from 2009, Obliteration Ritual, with an EP and a bunch of splits in between. Naturally, the album is being released by Nuclear War Now.

Mar 132014

Every time I write one of these MISCELLANY posts I promise myself that I will do them more often. But, as ever, the promises you make to yourself are the ones most easily broken: My last installment in the series came more than three months ago! But hope springs eternal, so I’m promising myself I won’t wait that long to write the next one. Why I would trust a proven liar I don’t know.

Anyway, here’s how this game is played:  I randomly pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, I listen to one or two songs and write my impressions, and then I stream what I heard so you can form your own opinions. This time I decided to just pick the last three bands I heard about with recent Bandcamp releases. They’re all from the U.S.

BARROWLANDS

I learned of this Portland band’s new album via an e-mail alert from Bandcamp that I found yesterday. The name rang a faint bell, and through a search of our site I learned that our guest BreadGod had put their 2012 demo in the “Honorable Mention” category of his “Best of 2012″ list for NCS. The new album, released March 11, is entitled Thane and I knew I had to listen simply because of the wonderful cover art by Sam Ford.

Dec 042013

I want to thank all of the guest writers who have sent in such excellent posts for publication during my vacation. I’ve got five days left before returning to earth with a thud, and some really interesting guest posts remain to be published between now and then. And if any of you are still pondering whether to send in something, there’s still time.

Though I haven’t been listening to much music during this trip, I did set aside some time a few days ago to go exploring. And for those who don’t know, that’s what this MISCELLANY series is all about: I pick a band whose music I’ve never heard, usually focusing on names that aren’t household words, and I listen to a song or two. I write my impressions, and I stream what I heard so you can explore right along with me. I picked four bands for this trip, and they turned out to be a really diverse lot.

OBSCURE SPHINX

I came across this first band via an album review by Madam X at Angry Metal Guy. I usually read what she writes anyway, but in this case there was a double attraction — the other being that album cover you’re looking at. It’s a photo of a doll created by Klaudia Gaugier, and once I saw it I knew I would be listening to the music.

Oct 232013

A reminder about the rules of MISCELLANY:  These are the only posts on this site that feature music which hasn’t been filtered in advance by me or any of the other writers. I randomly pick bands whose music I’ve never heard before, I listen to a recent song or two, I write down immediate impressions, and I stream the music that I heard. When I play this game, I try to focus on bands who are under the radar. It’s a good way to discover and spread the word about new music, but it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

Here’s how I picked the bands in this edition of MISCELLANY: I saw a Facebook post by my friend Prof. D. Grover the XIIIth urging me to pay attention to a St. Louis band named Black Fast and their recent album Starving Out the Light. That became my first pick for this expedition. After hearing a few songs, I liked them on Facebook, and not long after that I saw a status they posted recommending a song that premiered yesterday which was a collaboration between two more St. Louis bands — Indian Blanket and The Lion’s Daughter. I listened to that song, which became my second stop on this MISCELLANY tour. And then I discovered that The Lion’s Daughter have an album on Facebook named Shame On Us All — and that became my third and final pick for what turned into a St. Louis edition of MISCELLANY.

BLACK FAST

The Black Fast album was released via Bandcamp in August of this year and it follows a self-titled EP from 2011. The featured song on Bandcamp is the album’s fourth track, “Obelisk”, and I listened to that one and then checked out the album opener, “Levitations”. They’re both head-whipping riff machines with bounding bass lines, jaw-dropping guitar solos, and caustic vocals. “Blackened thrash” is a start at a genre description, but doesn’t do justice to the intricacy or the strong progressive leanings of the songwriting. It’s kind of like a mash-up of Vektor and Blotted Science.

Oct 042013

After almost four years of hit-or-miss experimentation, we’ve arrived at the glorious 60th edition of MISCELLANY. I wish I could tell you that I have something red-hot and extra-special lined up to celebrate the occasion, but that’s not the way MISCELLANY works. The way it works is that I randomly pick bands I’ve never heard, I listen to a song or two, I write my impressions, and I stream what I heard so you can make up your own minds.

All of which means that when I picked the following bands I didn’t know what they would sound like or whether they would be worth a damn: Omnihility (U.S.), Dejadeath (Spain), The Slow Death (Australia), and Elision of Animus (Portugal).

OMNIHILITY

I know I’ve heard this band’s name before, but I’m also pretty sure I never listened to their music until deciding to make them my first stop on this MISCELLANY tour after receiving a message from the band. They’re from Eugene, Oregon, which I confess warmed my heart, since I know they’re going to be enduring the same dank Pacific Northwest winter that I am, or something very close to it.

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