Mar 222014

Aw hell, here we go again.

The writing has been on the Facebook wall for a while, and I’m not talking about your writing. I’m talking about the invisible writing of Facebook’s programmers, the increasingly demonic sigils inscribed into the backbone of the Facebook monolith that determine what its users will and won’t see in their news feeds.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written on the subject of how Facebook manipulates the selection of content that each user will see, but the story is a continuing one, with a consistent theme. This is just the latest chapter in the company’s efforts to leverage their gargantuan user base for the extraction of more advertising dollars — including money that Facebook Pages can spend to “promote” their posts so that more people will see them.

Honestly, on a day-to-day basis I don’t pay much attention to developments such as the one I’m about to describe. Other people watch Facebook’s moves like a hawk, because they can have a big effect on big bidness. I generally avoid the subject because it makes me queasy. But my fellow metal blogger Angry Metal Guy recently alerted me to a new piece of intelligence that confirmed some of my recent suspicions — and I’m writing about it because misery really does love company.

Mar 152014

Hey, I’ve been drinking mayonnaise, but I think Mr. Pickles is one metal doge! I think you will, too, even if you’re laying off the mayonnaise.

What?  You don’t know about Mr. Pickles?  Read this description of the new Adult Swim cartoon series, coming this fall:

“In Mr. Pickles, the urban sprawl of modern society pollutes the old-fashioned town where the Goodman family lives with their lovable pet dog, Mr. Pickles, a deviant collie with a secret satanic streak. From creators Will Carsola and Dave Stewart.”

Go ahead, watch the pilot for the series next. Trust your old pal Islander: No matter what else you see today, it will not top this video for sheer undiluted whatthefuckedness.

Sep 112013

Today is the 12th anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers in Manhattan. I don’t like to think about it. Even 12 years later, the memory of watching the whole, horrible spectacle unfold on TV all day is painfully vivid. Unfortunately, it became even more vivid because the TV at my house this morning was tuned to a news channel that replayed, for several hours, the same coverage of the event that it broadcast 12 years ago. I didn’t sit there and watch all of it, just enough to sink my spirits again.

Both before and after 9/11/01, worse things have happened in other countries, and I’ll admit that the emotional trauma I feel in thinking about this tragedy is a product of the fact that it happened in my own country. Tribalism is still very much with us, isn’t it?

Well, I don’t want to dwell on something so morbid (I don’t enjoy thinking about morbid things unless it’s morbid music). I also don’t know that anything good comes from this kind of remembrance; for me, it leads nowhere, it’s not intended to be political in any sense, it’s just an expression of grief, a grief that wells up inside on these anniversaries whether I want it to or not.

The memory, which makes me far more sad than angry, shifted me away from the metal I intended to listen to and moved me to a song by a one-man Swedish black metal band named Lustre, whose 2013 album Wonder (about to be released on the Nordvis label) may be the most beautiful one I’ve heard this year. It’s one of many I should have reviewed before now but haven’t. While I try to re-orient myself to what we usually do at NCS, I leave you with that simple but moving song. It’s name is “Moonlit Meadow”.

Sep 082013

We’re kind of light on the metal at NCS this weekend, and I’m about to explain why.

At the beginning of the summer my wife and I watched a documentary about a band. My wife, to put it mildly, is not into metal, so it was more a question of me going along on her ride than me being behind the wheel. The movie was History of the Eagles. In a word, it was superb.

I suppose it helps to like The Eagles’ music, which I do, but as a look at the rise and fall and resurrection of an unlikely group of very talented and collectively dysfunctional singers, songwriters, and musicians over a 40-year period, the movie is a fascinating story in its own right. (Did you know that The Eagles, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which was released in 1976, was the best-selling album of the 20th Century in the U.S.?  True story.)

Right after we finished watching the movie, my wife asked if we could find out whether the Eagles were touring again — and of course, they are. Because she and I almost never hear live music together and because we haven’t taken even a short vacation together in quite a while, I splurged on a very pricey pair of tickets to an Eagles show in Vancouver, BC, which finally took place two nights ago on September 6, 2013. We hit the road from Seattle that morning.

With five hours of the indie rock and alt-folk favored by my wife blasting in the car on the round trip and a long evening of The Eagles in between, the closest I got to metal until arriving home again last night was driving past The Rickshaw venue on the way into downtown Vancouver. But I couldn’t help thinking about the contrasts with metal that the weekend revealed.

Aug 022013

This has been the kind of day when I’ve wanted to go postal on our web host (Bluehost). Our site — and every other site hosted by Bluehost, HostGator, HostMonster, and JustHost — has been down for nearly the entire day. A few times it has come back up for a few minutes, and then disappears again. It’s up again now, but who knows when it will go down again? Fuckers.

Anyway, I’m posting this now mainly to let people know that we’re still here. But I’m also including some music that cheered me up and diverted my murderous mood, to the point when I’m not even thinking about those Bluehost clowns. It’s not metal, but it’s from Finland, so that kind of makes it metal anyway. Fucking Bluehost.

The band has got more umlauts in their name than Bluehost has IQ points: Räjäyttäjät. Apparently, it means “Detonators” in English. Apparently, in Finland they call the band’s music “Räjä ‘n’ roll”. They’re releasing their debut album on August 30 via Ektro Records. You gotta admire this album title, which I like much better than motherfucking Bluehost:

AWOPBOPALOOPOP ALOPBAM RÄJÄ!

The song I heard is an advance track called “Ei Hauskaa”, which apparently means “No Fun”. But I’ll tell you, I had a shitload of fun listening to it, even while hoping that the earth swallows up Bluehost and shits it out.

Jul 312013

This is a rant, so if you’re not in the mood, just skip it. Won’t hurt my feelings.

I got pissed off by something that happened on the NCS Facebook page yesterday. That’s pretty rare. The fact that I’m still pissed off is even more rare (I’m old enough to have figured out that although giving in to my temper occasionally has its uses, most of the time it accomplishes nothing good).  So, dumbass that I am, I’ve stewed about it, trying to understand why.

In a nutshell, I wrote a post yesterday about a re-recorded song by Deprecated. Like just about everything I write here, I was excited about it. Like everything we post here, I added a status on our Facebook page about the post for people who follow us there. In my FB status, I asked the rhetorical question whether people would like to hear some brutal death metal performed by Derek Boyer and Terrance Hobbs of Suffocation, Matt Sotelo of Decrepit Birth, AJ Magaña (ex- Disgorge (USA), and drummer Torrey Moores, and then I added, “I’m going to assume you said yes”.

Someone who shall remain nameless put this comment on the status: “I really really don’t like suffocation or decrepit birth. I’ll pass.” I suppressed the desire to respond with some snarky retort, and simply wrote, “I guess I made an erroneous assumption. :)” To which the original commenter wrote: “It happens when you’re trying to promote something. c:”

Jul 022013

Yeah, you guessed it. I’m a little behind in getting today’s first post finished, so I needed some filler. Holy shit, have I got filler.

WINNY PUHH

I got a link from The Professor (aka groverXIII) encouraging me to watch this next video after first stating that he had no words to describe it. I watched it, and I’m speechless, too.

But I’ll at least tell you who you’re watching and where the performance occurred (though I’m sure some of you have already seen this weirdness). The “who” is Winny Puhh, an Estonian punk band who dress in spandex wrestling shorts and hairy monster masks. They have two drummers who play while spinning around in the air. With their drum kits. Eventually, everyone winds up in the air. There are a bunch of weird instruments in the line-up, too. You’ll see.

The “where” is Eesti Laul 2013, the March 2 television broadcast of Estonia’s national competition to select the country’s representative to the Eurovision Song Contest. Winny Puhh performed the song “Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti”, which I think means “There’s a weasel eating me alive anus first!”

Sadly, Winny Puhh didn’t win, though they did make it to the final 10. The winner of the Estonian competition finished 20th out of 26 in the Eurovision finals. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

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.

Cluck.

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.

TERATISM

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:

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