(You can’t say we don’t take care of our broke-ass readers. DGR brings you word of some free Bandcamp releases that are worth your time.)
We’re broke, we’re all broke. We were broke before the holiday season and we’ll be broke after it. One of the huge unifying things among musicians and fans these days, especially the most fervent ones, is that it seems like we’re always fucking broke. That’s why when a band releases something for “name your own price”, which is usually code for “free”, and it is really good, I try to get it out there. While it is always suggested that you donate generously to these groups, it’s nice to get these experiences, and truly enjoy some artwork with serious passion behind it, for little up-front.
So, I found myself slowly (very slowly) collecting free projects over the past few months that had just come out that I found enjoyable and wanted to spread out to the world. This time, the collection includes a bedroom guitar virtuoso project — ever the staple of the name your own price scheme –, a grind band hailing from the Pacific Northwest, and a melodeath project hailing from lovely Corona, California, home of many things and places that are within the city limits of Corona, California.
(Our supporter xBenx has compiled a series of guest posts, this being the ninth installment. Each one focuses on a different band that he fears may have been overlooked by the masses, and today the spotlight is on the now-defunct UK band My Cross To Bare.)
There’s nothing worse than wasted potential, especially in music. The number of bands I pine over for having released only one album, or worse, one demo, is endless, though it’s not as if my grief will subconsciously force them to release anything more. My Cross to Bare falls into this category. They should have gone on to become one of the UK’s best (extreme) bands. They were even on Siege of Amida at one point (at a time when that label was on a signing frenzy) for their second album, and this made me beyond excited.
Regrettably, it wasn’t meant to be. Apparently, that second album was recorded but never unleashed, with no explanation as to why or how. All that’s left was their monolith of a debut, which combined death, grind, and a dash of hard/noisecore so emphatically that it was startling. A fitting epitaph it seems:
(In this extensive guest post, Booker details the history of Greek band Chaostar, reviews the band’s discography, and provides lots of sample music and videos.)
Every now and then some of our favourite metal musos delve into that ‘other’ territory of music – you know, that strange place that incorporates all those non-metal genres. It’s terrifying to think some people actually enjoy pop for example, but the world is a dark place, full of all kinds of horrors and outlandish fetishes. While we’re all familiar with fusion of metal with other genres, what I’m talking about here is when metal musicians release entire albums with their feet squarely planted in non-metal territory. And if you’re reading this blog you’d probably agree with me that metal can boast some of the most amazing musicians on the planet, so it can be interesting to see what their minds produce when put to other ends.
Which brings us to the topic of this here rant – Christos Antoniou, of Septic Flesh, not only sports some of the greatest dreads in metal, but has revealed himself over the years to be quite a creative individual indeed, and with a degree from the prestigious London College of Music, it should be no surprise that he is responsible for the symphonic elements in Septic Flesh’s works, particularly more prominent on their latest albums. But probably lesser-known is that he has also been the helm of a side-project in the form of Chaostar – a neo-classical “band” he uses to pursue his more experimental side as a composer.
Over the years the band has also included other members of Septic Flesh — Spiros Antoniou (aka Seth Siro Anton, vocalist; who has also done some of the band’s artworks), and now Fotis Bernando (drummer for Septic Flesh) — as well as a cross-over of musical elements between the bands. So if you’re in the mood for a retrospective look over their discography of experimental, often gothic, but largely non-metal, works, read on…
(Our supporter xBenx has compiled a series of guest posts, this being the eighth installment. Each one focuses on a different band that he fears may have been overlooked by the masses, and today the spotlight is on the sadly departed Boston band Grief.)
Grief were such a mystery to me, in the sense that when I first discovered them there was miniscule info to latch upon (shows how old I am). Yet, tracking down most of their albums was pretty easy, even ten years ago. Now it’s more arduous, although Come to Grief’ is, somewhat strangely, on iTunes. But I digress. What about the music?
It’s tortured, misanthropic sludge of the highest order, for me, even higher than that of Eyehategod. Controversial I know, but Grief just had a broader sonic palette and better songs that can worm their way nefariously into your brain.
(In this guest post, Johan Paulin features an eye-popping list of metal bands, all of whom hail from the same relatively small town in northern Sweden. Tons of music in here, too.)
As most metalheads with more than a fleeting interest in extreme metal know, Sweden has been a forerunner ever since Quorthon struck his first minor chord back in the 80’s. The explanations for how a population the size of Sweden’s could spawn so many good metal bands have varied, and I won’t get into them now, but it’s safe to say that the great band / population ratio is over the top. Still, for all the bands you do know, dozens more toil in more or less obscurity and deserve a better fate. Thus, when Islander called upon us readers to contribute while he took a well-earned vacation full of cloudgazing and Krokodil [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desomorphine], I decided to take the opportunity to champion some of the great bands that originate from my hometown of Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå is located in the northern part of Sweden and has a population of about 120,000 in the whole municipality, making it the 12th largest city in Sweden according to The Font of All Human Knowledge. If that may seem laughable to many of you, you’ll be rolling on the floor when I tell you that the population of London is equal to the population of my whole country! So, fuck demographics and let’s get on with the metal.
(In this guest post, Booker identifies works of literature that he was inspired to read as a result of metal, along with the specific music that provided the push. If you’ve had similar experiences, we’d like to hear about them in the Comments, along with any thoughts you might have about Booker’s post.)
Well, if you’re reading NCS, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that metal is one of mankind’s greatest creations. When I’m feeling generous I’d even expand that to music in general. You know what one of human beings’ other greatest creations is? Sending humans to an orbiting lunar body in specially controlled atmospheric craft and protective suits? Pfft, no! Using a modified virus to evoke lasting immune responses to deadly diseases? Meh.
What I’m talking about is writing. That’s right, writing, without which those other achievements wouldn’t even be possible. When you think about it, it’s pretty mind-blowing that we can scrawl lines on paper, and now digital displays, and someone else can look at those hieroglyphics and almost instantaneously discern meaning, enabling us to convey ideas and thoughts to someone else without even talking to them! From one side of the planet to another, or even from one mind to another across the abyss of time and the divide of death. Think about that after smoking a few pipes (oh my god, it’s like there’s people reading my mind!… over the internet!… and I’m reading some thoughts from someone who’s dead!… woooaahh).
And with writing came literature (and humorous toilet graffiti). Not surprisingly, given the vast array of ideas and storylines conveyed by literature, some of those works have in turn inspired musicians to craft musical works covering the same themes, and when metal musicians do it you get what I’d call a veritable orgy of humanity’s greatest creations – metal meets literature, all getting off over each other. That’s what I’m talking about! But what I’m going to cover here is taking this one step further – not just metal albums inspired by literature, but albums/songs/bands that have in turn inspired me to go back to the source and read the inspirational literature in question.
(Our supporter xBenx has compiled a series of guest posts, this being the seventh installment. Each one focuses on a different band that he fears may have been overlooked by the masses, and today the spotlight is on the long-departed Upheaval, from Indianapolis, Indiana.)
Here’s another borderline case; a band who purposely blur the best of several genres to concoct a distinct cacophony that will be nothing but complete noise to most. This is understandable, especially when an entity like Upheaval endeavour to be as abrasive as possible but without stepping radically outside their influences’ paradigms. Whereas their kindred spirits in Creation Is Crucifixion (will post about them separately) annoyingly dabbled with unnecessary electronic sequences, Upheaval didn’t push to create compositions that were completely impenetrable.
Instead, they deftly blended venomous strains of death and black metal with metallic hardcore that acknowledged, but never parodied, their influences. Despite their antiquity (first two tracks are from 1997), there is something timeless about these apocalyptic hymns, or maybe it’s simply the fact that I’m unable to renounce my past musical obsessions. See what you think and decide if I’ve been merely indoctrinated:
I decided to take another break from vacationing to browse the interhole for news and new music, because I continue to have this paranoid suspicion that things continue too happen even when I’m not paying attention. And hellfire and damnation, did I quickly find many items of interest! I’ve collected three items in this post and will try to package up the others in a post tomorrow . . . because vacationing calls me like a siren, and I forgot to stuff my ears with wax.
As explained in this review, the debut album by Norway’s Blodsgard — Monument — is in my humble opinion one of the year’s best, and certainly one of my personal favorites. Yesterday brought the premiere of the first music video for the album, for a song named “Sjeler Vil Brenne” (“souls will burn”). It’s a great song, and the video, though mysterious, is transfixing.
The film was made by an Australian company named Shining Dark Productions. Interestingly, Blodsgard have stated that they left the video interpretation of the song entirely in the production company’s hands, “as we believe in the integrity of the artist and the importance of complete artistic control”. Perhaps a risky move, but one that I think worked in this instance.
(Our supporter xBenx has compiled a series of guest posts, this being the sixth installment. Each one focuses on a different band that he fears may have been overlooked by the masses, and today the spotlight is on Norway’s Myrkskog. Those with long memories may recall that Myrkskog were also the subject of one of Andy Synn’s early SYNN REPORTS.)
For me, Myrkskog were somewhat overshadowed by Zyklon, understandable given the latter’s credentials, but the former were no slouches. In fact, their supreme blitzkrieg of blackened death, which is meticulously calculated in its delivery and jammed to the brim with gloriously scything glacial riffs, is gloriously addictive once you give in and submit yourself. What I like best is how the two genres are melded, they’re almost crystallised to the point where they are in complete harmony, yet there are brief instances where one still dominates the other.
Myrkskog are now back together apparently, and ’bout time. It’s been ten years since the last album and there’s no need to keep us waiting any longer.
(NCS contributor Austin Weber has delivered unto us a three-part introduction to new and forthcoming releases by 7 bands. In this third and final part, he focuses on Jeff Hughell, Reciprocal, and Fraud. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here.)
The end of the year is usually a slower time for new music releases, a time when much alcohol is consumed and countless amounts of money are wasted on bullshit soon forgotten. But fortunately I’ve got plenty of releases and new songs to catch up on and spread the word about.
JEFF HUGHELL – CHAOS LABYRINTH
As one of metal’s most talented bassists, Jeff Hughell is literally in a league of his own, as he primarily plays in two-handed tapping style, which is quite uncommon. Already he has been a part of numerous quality projects, but what most don’t know is that he is also a solo performer. He already has one release of bass-and-drum-only death metal under his belt called I Came To Hate. Now he has recently released a second bass album called Chaos Labyrinth. This is an insane album, and is stuffed with a lengthy, jaw-dropping number of guest spots.