Jan 202017

 

(We present Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by The Drowned God from Lansdale, PA.)

Never underestimate the value of good artwork. That’s my advice.

I frequently despair at some of the absolute crap that some bands, both new and old, choose to represent their music. If I see one more badly-drawn “Metal monster” cover that looks like it was produced by a toddler with more crayons than brain cells, or one more soulless and shiny photoshop rendering of a woman standing awkwardly in front of a generic post-apocalyptic landscape, it will be too soon.

Because, like it or not, your album art is often the first experience a potential fan has of your music. And first impressions count. As the old saying goes, the first bite is with the eyes…

Case in point, the fantastic artwork for Moonbearer by Can Pekdemir which you can see above immediately grabbed my attention the moment I laid eyes on it. Eye-catching, evocative, and a little haunting to look at, it immediately raised questions in my mind, questions like:

Who was this band?

What was the connection between their music and the strange, shadowy silhouette which adorns their cover?

And where the hell was I…?

Jan 202017

 

(Wil Cifer wrote this review of the new album by Code Orange, which was released on January 13 by Roadrunner.)

The kids are all grown up now, so welcome to what could become 2017’s equivalent of You Will Never Be One of Us. This album shows a band going from a more post-hardcore sound to refining themselves into a snarling machine.

It’s also worth mentioning before we dig into the nitty-gritty of Forever that the guitar tone on this rather well-produced album is mean as fuck. Gone is the reckless punk attitude, replaced with very precise execution, and the syncopation is ridiculous more often than not. After the opener you are ready for whatever they are going to throw at you, so to my ears it did not feel jarring.

Jan 192017

 

(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Deviant Process from Québec City, Québec.)

Whichever way you slice it, last year was a very good year for fans of the more technical side of Death Metal. From the weird and the wonderful, to the brash and the brutal, 2016 offered a wealth of diverse delights and hidden gems across the length and breadth of the ever-expanding Tech Death spectrum.

And one of those hidden gems was Paroxysm, by Canadian destroyers Deviant Process.

So, as yet another part of my ongoing attempt to catch up with some of last year’s most overlooked and underrated albums, here’s my succinct summation of the band’s full-length debut.

It’s awesome. Now go buy it.

What? You wanted a bit more detail than that? Fine… but never say I don’t do anything for you!

Jan 192017

 

(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new fourth album by the Russian project Talsur.)

I would guess that Funeral Doom is a hard kind of metal to write. Your songs are long, your tempos are agonizingly sluggish, you’re running the risk of using hammy black metal synths and killing the intended vibe, AND you have to write captivating melodies, all at the same time. It is a style of metal that, for me, has the smallest number of noteworthy bands, yet at the same time those bands who stand out REALLY stand out. In truly capturing the essence of sorrow, despair, and the lamentation of your own fragility and mortality, Funeral Doom offers a musical experience that truly doesn’t exist anywhere else in the pantheon of the metallic arts.

Talsur is a one-man Russian project with multiple releases to his name, boasting different stylistic inclinations on each one (the samples I checked out of his last record had a sort of industrial blackened take on a doom sound), and now finds himself doing ANOTHER new approach with Slough Of Depond.

Jan 182017

 

(The UK-Ireland Tour of Meshuggah and The Haunted rolled through Nottingham, England, on the night of January 14, 2017, and our man Andy Synn was there — and files this report, with video evidence.)

Why do we go see live music? That’s a question which I’ve been pondering, cogitating on, and generally wondering about for many, many years.

After all, in one sense all that’s going to happen is that we’re going to hear some songs we already know, played with (potentially) more mistakes, in a venue where the sound quality is always a question mark, whilst packed in cheek-to-jowl with a plethora of ne’er-do-wells of dubious morality and questionable personal hygiene.

But, often when we go to see a band and they play TOO perfectly… the reaction is generally just as bad as if they’d played terribly. So it’s clearly not just a case of going to see a band to watch them reproduce the music from their albums wholesale.

I don’t have an answer to that question above by the way, it’s just something that’s been on my mind for a while. If you think about it, the whole process of going to see live music is a little odd after all.

Though I suppose if you think about anything too much it starts to seem a little weird.

Jan 172017

 

(This is Part 2 of a 3-part series written by Austin Weber about noteworthy January releases and a few from the end of last year. Find Part 1 here.)

While the quantity and quality for label-released metal in January seems a bit sparse as far as my tastes go, the underground never disappoints and 2017 is already off to a fantastic pace due to plenty of lesser-known acts dropping killer new material. Just recently I came across a number of new releases (and a few largely unknown ones from 2016) that you just might want to check out — presented here in three parts.

THEORY IN PRACTICECrescendo Dezign

I’ve already reviewed this elsewhere, but since it’s a self-released effort, I felt it was worth sharing here for anyone who didn’t catch it when it dropped last week without much media attention. These legendary Swedes have a long and rich history in the death metal and technical death metal scenes dating back to the mid-’90s to the early 2000s before their initial hiatus. Since returning in 2015, Theory In Practice have deftly proven that they’ve lost none of their initial spark, with an inspired two-song EP we covered here called Evolving Transhumanism.

Jan 172017

 

If you begin the task of educating yourself about the phenomenon known as “Viking metal” you’ll probably first see references to Bathory and perhaps Enslaved, soon followed by a group of famous Swedes with their longboats and drinking horns on stage, but it won’t be long before you see the name Helheim.

“Viking metal” is indeed a phenomenon rather than a genre of music, which quickly becomes evident when you consider that bands as diverse as those listed above, as well as other groups such as Unleashed, Manowar, and Moonsorrow, have all carried that label at one time or another. To the extent there is a unifying factor, it derives from a lyrical and thematic focus on ancient Norse culture, mythology, and paganism, rather than a consistent sound — and even there, the depth and focus of the themes can be significantly different.

Helheim go beyond the most familiar (and often caricaturish) thematic tropes of most bands branded as Viking metal, with a devotion to Norse heritage that treats it as still relevant to modern life, and still shrouded in mysteries of the Runes that are worth exploring, and perhaps best understood in the spirit they convey rather than through archaeological and linguistic dissection.

As you’re about to discover, Helheim’s music also goes light years beyond the most familiar tropes of “Viking metal”.

Jan 162017

 

(This is Part 1 of a 3-part series written by Austin Weber about noteworthy January releases and a few from the end of last year.)

While the quantity and quality for label-released metal in January seems a bit sparse as far as my tastes go, the underground never disappoints and 2017 is already off to a fantastic pace due to plenty of lesser-known acts dropping killer new material. Just recently I came across a number of new releases (and a few largely unknown ones from 2016) that you just might want to check out — presented here in three parts.

CARBON COLOSSALThe Disassembly of Earth

Recently a friend shared Carbon Colossal with me, and I’m really glad he did. Longtime NCS fans may recognize the distinctive artwork as familiar, since it’s done by a perennial favorite here, Luca Carey. Using his bright and extremely psychedelic art for such a dark release works quite well in a fucked-up kind of way. The Disassembly of Earth is some sort of technical doom from hell, gone a death-metal-infused path, with fleeting blasts of black metal peppered in between all that.

Jan 162017

 

(Andy Synn prepared this review of the debut album by the Irish band Partholón.)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this whole “Post-Metal” malarkey seems to be one of the easiest of Metal sub-genres to do – get yourself a bunch of delay pedals, mix a few churning riffs in with a plethora of gloomy, hanging chord progressions, and bob’s your creepily over-attentive uncle – but also one of the hardest of Metal sub-genres to do right.

Just ticking the right boxes in the right order isn’t enough. You have to have some sense of identity, some sort of character, to be able to stand out from the crowd.

Yes, everyone can do it. But not everyone can do it well.

Which is where Partholón come in.

Jan 152017

 

It’s time to blacken the Sabbath again. As usual, I find myself up to my eyebrows in new advance tracks and new or newly discovered full releases I’d like to write about. I picked this group not only because they’re among the best of what I have on my list but also because they provide an array of different sounds and a mix between higher-profile and more under-the-radar bands.

PILLORIAN

Agalloch is no more, of course, and I would guess that many people who mourn the band’s dissolution blame John Haughm, certainly in part because of a poorly worded and widely lampooned statement he made when the news broke last year. His former Agalloch comrades have joined forces with Aaron John Gregory of Giant Squid to form a new band named Khôrada, who are now busy recording demos — and I’m quite anxious to hear what they’re creating.

Meanwhile, John Haughm founded Pillorian.

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