For the second day in a row, I was disconnected from the internet for almost the entirety of Wednesday, with very little time to listen to music or write about it — and the same thing is going to happen today. But I did manage to find a few new things last night and this morning that I wanted to recommend. And here they are…
This Portuguese band have been around for 17 years, but this is their first appearance at NCS. They have a new EP entitled Larvas coming our way in May via The Czech Republic’s Bizarre Leprous Productions. It includes 13 tracks and more than 30 minutes of destruction. Four of the songs are new, six of them are live recordings from the band’s performance at the Obscene Extreme Festival in 2013, and the remainder are remixes by other artists of tracks from the band’s last album Gorefilia.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the second album by Arcania from France.)
Arcania are an unknown gem, one I didn’t even know about until I stumbled across the video for a single off their sophomore album Dreams Are Dead. They channel the neo-melodic death metal, heavily thrash-infused sound of the likes of Darkane, Carnal Forge, and like bands. I ended up coming away thoroughly impressed, both with material from this record and from their debut Sweet Angel Dust. I quickly asked Islander to snatch a promo and here we are.
Arcania play their music pretty straight. The riffs are a blaze of technical dual-guitar acrobatics, the drumming is belligerently unrelenting in true thrash spirit, and the vocals of guitarist/vocalist Cyril Peglion are reminiscent of Gojira’s Joe Duplantier. He never screams per se; his vocal style is like if Duplantier did nothing but his melodic howling all the time, and so it’s kind of hard to say whether this qualifies as an exception to our rule as a result. His vocals definitely carry melodies, but you can feel the power surge hitting you. If it’s a singing voice, it’s certainly an unusually harsh one.
(In this post DGR reviews the debut album by Forever Dawn — the serious musical project of The Vegan Black Metal Chef.)
This is a review that has been a long time coming. Recently it’s probably the one that has been weighing on my mind the most, considering that I’ve consistently had the Bandcamp page for it open since finding it two weeks after the disc came out. I think by the time this poor thing is published, I will have deleted and restarted it close to ten times — in part because I wasn’t sure how to approach this release, wondering if I was paying it enough respect or even capable of analyzing its deeper value or whether it was worth listening to.
In part it has also taken some serious time to get my teeth into and be able to talk about because trying to pin it down to one genre is incredibly difficult; I want to make the argument that tagging it as just Industrial Black Metal feels wrong, but I don’t want to launch into some four-paragraph screed about what those words mean to me, given that genrification is already pretty goddamned subjective, without talking about the release as a whole beforehand.
But enough of the lengthy preamble, just what the fuck are we looking at here?
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Cormorant.)
Prog-metal pirates Cormorant have never been ones to shy away from change. Heck, their entire career thus far has been one of slow evolution, from their early beginnings with 2007’s The Last Tree, through the attention-grabbing Metazoa, up to 2011’s game-changing Dwellings.
Coming in the wake of the departure of bassist/vocalist Arthur von Nagel, and his replacement with the similarly talented Marcus Lusbombe, it seems change is still in the air for the group. Earth Diver betrays a fundamentally more blackened edge, expanding and exploring the limits of Cormorant’s established sound, landing somewhere between the prog-death magic of Edge of Sanity and the folk-tinged black metal of Drudkh, but with a style and a flair all its own.
Is it a perfect album? No. But perfection is overrated. Perfection is stagnation. Rather, Earth Diver functions as a prime example of raw passion and creativity, growth and change, the sound of a band unafraid to take chances, to experiment, interweaving tone and texture, interbreeding influence and imagination… pursuing progression in the truest sense of the word.
(Guest writer Booker returns to our pages with a review of the latest album by Siegewyrm from Buffalo, NY.)
As DGR has started divulging at the start of his reviews, sometimes you come across bands in the most random of ways. Case in point for my discovery of Siegewyrm:
Mechina, whom I love dearly not only in real life (purely platonic, musically I’m talking here!), but also happen to ‘like’ in my parallel online existence on Facebook, posted a link to a feature at The Monolith that included their new release Xenon. And while my saner self pondered whether I could really handle a “best of January” list given my post-end-of-year listmania hangover, my sneaky music-oholic self had already clicked through to said list and begun imbibing all it had to offer, whereupon I stumbled across Siegewyrm’s Harvest Begins.
According to Metal Archives, these chaps from Buffalo, NY started off as “Siege A.D.” circa 2007, releasing one album under that moniker before adopting “Siegewyrm” as their call to musical arms, with two albums Legends of the Oathsworn (2012) and Harvest Begins (2014) now under their belt.
(BadWolf turns in this live show review and also proves he’s got some photographic skills.)
This summer, progressive rock legends Yes announced not only that they would tour, but that their show would consist of not one but two—two!—of their classic records, 1971′s Fragile and 1972′s Close to the Edge, in their entirety.
What in the fuck does this have to do with The Ocean? More than you’d think.
On their spring co-headlining tour with Scale The Summit, The Ocean elected to play their 2013 album Pelagial front-to-back. It’s a bold move. Metal fans, as a rule, demand the old stuff. Even if the new Metallica record is awesome, nobody will want to hear more than a single song from it in a live setting—everybody will want to hear Master of Puppets in its entirety. The former album, no matter how slick, will enver have the ‘classic’ status that we attribute to their older work.
Then again, sometimes a band can smell a classic the minute they shit it out.
(Andy Synn reviews the surprising debut album by a Vermont band named Barishi.)
This one only came out at the tail-end of last year, so I think we can be forgiven for missing out on it in the holiday rush. However, the fact that such a strange, yet incredibly compelling, album failed to ping on our radar is one mistake I’m happy to be able to correct.
Over-simplifying things for the sake of brevity/clarity/hyperbole (delete as appropriate), Barishi – whose name which I dearly hope is drawn from the novel Silverheart and not from… other sources – perform a type of wilfully avant-garde prog-metal, one which mixes Intronaut’s more melodic and psychedelic tendencies with the hardcore bite and bitterness of Poison The Well and the same sort of autistic-savant creativity of Ihsahn’s solo output.
Granted, at first glance it seems like the band’s strange arrangement of sounds and influences is something of an odd conglomeration, opposing styles and off-kilter elements fighting against each other for attention in a crazed cacophony of wild, untamed melody and sudden, spasming aggression. But give it time. It’s not an immediate album. At some point things will start to come together – you’ll tilt your head just so and thing will slot into place. The madness will suddenly make sense, as odd dispositions and disjunctions become conjunction and creativity.
And that’s when things start to get really interesting.
(In this post DGR reviews the new album by Finland’s Insomnium.)
Taken at face value, the idea behind the title of Shadows Of The Dying Sun is an easy one to grasp. Poetically phrased, yes, but when the opening line of its titular song (and album closer) is, “We’re nothing more than shadows…”, you get a real quick understanding of what lies behind the title.
Very few things in the world can make me as pensive as an Insomnium disc, and Shadows Of The Dying Sun has had me thinking about the passage of time lately. It is a crazy thing to realize, but with this album Insomnium have been a part of my life for almost a decade, as I joined the zeitgeist like so many others did with the masterful Above The Weeping World. Since then, the band have been a hallmark of consistently great music, with Across The Dark representing an incremental jump forward and One For Sorrow feeling like another amazing disc as it grew on me.
I never could have told the past version of myself — who came to see Insomnium as such an important band, one who showed there is beauty in emotions such melancholy, depression, and frailty — that in later days I’d be reviewing their music and getting the opportunity to talk to guitarist (and one of the main songwriters) Ville Friman for a previous website. Insomnium are the band I go to for lyrical gems such as, “You can’t win always/but you can lose every time”, that absolutely take the wind out of my sails. So at face value, Shadows Of The Dying Sun should be more of that for me — another album that would let me roil in my melancholy and depression, allowing the group to overtake me with visions of cold and blue.
Yet this time it’s weird, because as far as messages are concerned, Shadows Of The Dying Sun is a surprisingly straightforward and hopeful disc… for Insomnium.
Those of you who are sharp of eye, pointy of ear, and patient enough to wade through my last rant about Facebook’s business model will have already felt the chill of Minnesota’s Nuklear Frost. But simply using the hair-raising shriek from the intro track “Uranium Censer” to express my own contempt (and to reward the perseverance of readers) was hardly an adequate tribute to an album that I’ve listened to and enjoyed repeatedly since it came out in mid-March.
The album’s name is Subjugation, and I first found out about it through a Facebook link to their music by Amiensus, another Minnesota band who share a member with Nuklear Frost (guitarist Joe Waller). It proved to be a great discovery.
Nuklear Frost deliver riveting melodic black metal that hits like a maelstrom in full fury, yet the songs are so packed with righteous riffs and ominous melodies that the music exerts a strong magnetic attraction. The songs have identity and staying power; it’s an album that will draw you back again and again, and not simply for the pure rush it delivers to all good adrenaline junkies.