May 162013

John Hyduk (photo by Andrew Spear)

I love to read good writing. The subject matter doesn’t even matter much. When the writing is lively and evocative, when it has style and flair, the prose is its own reward.

Unfortunately, I don’t read as much as I used to back before I began messing with this blog. But yesterday I read two things that were really good; part of why they’re good is that both writers use short, punchy sentences and phrases. They have a cadence, like a drum beat. I try to remember this lesson in my own writing, but for some perverse reason I continually forget it. What made both essays even more striking is that the authors — John Hyduk and Randy Blythe — aren’t people whose main occupation is writing.

One of the pieces is hilarious. The other is powerfully moving. The first one has nothing to do with metal, the other is very much about metal. I’m putting both of the articles right in this post.

I think I’ll start with the funny piece first. A fellow sufferer in the decade-long woe of the Seattle Mariners baseball team sent me the link. You’ll probably understand why if you read it (misery loves company). The author is a man named John Hyduk. As you’ll see, he works the graveyard shift for a beverage distributor outside Cleveland, Ohio. In his words, he’s “a yard monkey, climbing around inside semitrailers in the dark with a flashlight, checking pallet tickets against the product loaded, matching invoices . . . making the world safe for carbonated refreshment.” He writes as a hobby, or maybe he actually collects some extra money in doing so, I don’t know. He’s good enough that one of his essays got him nominated for a 2012 National Magazine Award.

May 042013


Go ahead, watch it. You’ll be glad you did.


Went the chicken.

And that’s how we do it on Broadway.

Apr 242013

Here are a few things I’ve been listening to recently. They’ve been bouncing around my head, insisting that I say something about them, and so I am. They have no connection to each other and one of them isn’t even metal at all. But for different reasons all three songs have sunk their claws into the mushy gray matter and won’t let go. Let me know what you think.


I latched on to this Minneapolis band because of the artwork you see above. It’s a Mark Riddick creation for the vinyl LP version of the band’s 2010 album Via Negativa (which was their fourth full-length), and it fuckin’ kills — one of my favorite pieces he’s ever done. The vinyl will be released at some point later this year by Behold Barbarity Records, and the album is available for streaming at the Teratism Bandcamp page. Unfortunately, you can’t download it there but CDs are available here.

But the song that’s been wrecking my head recently isn’t from that album (though the album is massively good). Instead, it’s one I found after the Riddick art drew me to the Teratism FB page. It’s called “Shadows Flee the Burning Sons of Light” and it will be included on a forthcoming vinyl 12″ EP named La Bas, which consists of four previously unreleased Teratism tracks (recorded in 2009) and a cover of “Come To the Sabbat” by Black Widow. And that EP also features this vicious Mark Riddick cover art:

Apr 172013

Here’s a thing that happened yesterday in Seattle, the city where I work: Shortly after 10 a.m., Seattle police responded to a report of a suspicious item near 3rd and Yesler in downtown Seattle. It was a backpack left at the entrance to a bus tunnel near the county courthouse, and guards reported they had seen wires in the backpack.

The courthouse — a very busy one — was closed, and the entire area was blocked off to pedestrians and vehicles for more than an hour. The police department’s Arson Bomb Unit was dispatched to the scene.

The backpack contained a hair dryer. And no explosives.

The police department said in a blotter post: “While the Seattle Police Department has not received any information about a threat to Seattle following Monday’s tragic events in Boston, MA, the department is taking reasonable precautions to protect our community, and has increased patrols in our neighborhoods and around critical infrastructure.”

And you ain’t seen nothing yet, but if you live in the United States, you will.

Apr 042013

I have some really cool things to post today, including Andy Synn’s report on Day Two at Inferno Festival, a special tag-team review of Soilwork’s new album, and part one of a two-part post by guest contributor Austin Weber putting the spotlight on some underground bands we haven’t covered here before.

HOWEVER, as I write this it is approximately 2 a.m. and your humble editor has just returned to his humble abode after being humbled by Soilwork and Jeff Loomis at El Corazon in Seattle, and I must now fall into bed before I fall on my face. I will get those other posts ready to go just as soon as I wake up, which should be sometime in 2014.

In the meantime, I would like to get an important discussion under way so I’ll have something fun to read when I wake up. Please watch the video after the jump and leave a comment with your explanation of why those fucking dogs are doing what they’re doing.

Mar 202013

Yeah, that’s a pretty grandiose claim since it’s only March and I have no crystal ball that would tell me what the rest of 2013 will bring. But I can’t imagine any other music video will be more fun than “Bad Motherfucker” by Biting Elbows.

Our friend Professor D. Grover the XIIIth e-mailed me about this video two days ago, and I’ve been so smashed by work that I didn’t watch it until this morning. His e-mail gave it a big build-up, and man, was he right.

Biting Elbows are an indie/punk band from Moscow, so I guess you’d have to say they’re “off topic” for this site — but the video is definitely metal. After seeing it I did a bit of research and learned that 18 months ago they released another one named “Insane Office Escape” with the music from their single “The Stampede” as the soundtrack. It was directed by the band’s front man Ilya Naishuller, and it apparently racked up 2 million hits in a matter of days.

The new video, also directed by Naishuller, is for a song named “Bad Motherfucker”. Sub-titled “Insane Office Escape 2″, it starts right after the closing moments of the previous video. It’s a piece of branded content for the Russian vodka company Neft, whose product is used at the start of the video as an impromptu disinfectant; if you pay attention, you’ll also see the company’s logo reappearing in odd places later.

Feb 252013

I’m feelin’ kinda fucked up today. Unfortunately, that feeling probably isn’t going away any time soon.

Here’s the deal: Unlike certain other metal sites and a very small number of metal blogs, this one isn’t a business and creating content for it isn’t a full-time job for me or any of our regular writers. In my case, the old fuckin’ day job usually leaves me enough time to devote significant attention to NCS, but every now and then it demands its pound of flesh in a rather extreme way — and it’s doing that now.

Beginning today and for the next 3 weeks (and possibly a bit longer) I will be away from home and immersed in a project that will kill off not only my days but most of my nights. I’m lucky that these kinds of assignments happen rarely, but when they do happen, they become nearly all-consuming. Don’t ask me for details — I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

The only silver lining to this cloud is that the project could end much sooner than I’m predicting — but whether or not that happens is beyond my control.

Feb 142013

And what are my reasons for posting this on a metal blog?

Jan 182013

(Wayne Barlowe: “Unholy Communion”)

Here’s how my week is going.

On Sunday I went to the airport in Seattle. I got on an airplane and I flew for about 3 1/2 hours to a place. I got off the airplane and I went to a hotel. I met up with other people and worked Sunday night. I went to sleep. I woke up and worked all day Monday and until late on Monday night. I did the same thing again on Tuesday. Tuesday night I kicked back a little with the people I had been working with. I went to sleep. After getting shit-faced.

Early Wednesday morning I went back to the airport and flew for another 3 1/2 hours to a different place, even farther from Seattle. I got off the airplane and went to a hotel.  I met other people and worked until late Wednesday night. I went to sleep. I got up on Thursday morning and did the same thing, except at the end of the day I got on a train and traveled for 1 1/2 hours to another place.

I met other people there who I work with and had dinner with them, got shit-faced, and then I went to a hotel. It was late by then. I went to sleep.

It’s now Friday morning. I’m about 2,000 miles from home. I think I’ll do some work today. Tonight I’ll be going out to dinner with people I work with. Most likely I will get shit-faced. Most likely I will go to sleep after that.

Jan 102013

Briefly departing from our usual focus on metal, I thought I’d mention that the nominations for the 85th annual Academy Awards were announced this morning by actress Emma Stone and Oscars show host Seth MacFarlane. As usual, many of the the nominations were predictable and expected and some weren’t. And once again, there were omissions that will get many movie fans riled up and pissed off.

Not surprisingly, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leads this year’s Oscar race with 12 nominations, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, and acting nominations for Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones.

Surprisingly, Life of Pi picked up a whopping 11 nominations, including best picture, best director for Ang Lee, best adapted screenplay, and a shitload of technical nominations.

The best actress nominations included both the youngest and the oldest nominees in the history of the category: 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild” (she was 5 years old when the movie was filmed) and 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva for the Austrian drama Amour. The other nominees are Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, and Naomi Watts for The Impossible.

As mentioned, Daniel Day-Lewis picked up a predictable best actor nomination for Lincoln, but so did Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables, Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, and Denzel Washington for Flight. Now for a few oversights . . .

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