(Andy Synn returns to his occasional series focusing on new releases by UK bands, with a trio of reviews and music streams.)
Just squeaking in under the wire before next week’s massive round-up, The Best of British is back once again with three killer cuts of prime metallic meat for your delectation.
Now you might be surprised to know that I still sometimes get accused of “not supporting the scene” enough, mostly in cases when Joe Douchebag is angry that I either haven’t covered his favourite band, or when I’ve had the temerity to suggest that his favourite band really isn’t all that good.
I suppose it doesn’t help that, despite playing in two bands myself, and writing for a couple of different publications, I still don’t really think of myself as part of “the scene”, which often tends to be too cliquey and insular for my tastes, with an unfortunate predisposition towards applauding bands just because they happen to be from the UK, and/or because they know the right people.
But I do feel that since I have my ear a bit closer to the ground than our other contributors (for obvious reasons) when it comes to up-and-coming acts from the UK, it’s important to use this knowledge to single out the bands who I feel really are deserving of praise and of wider exposure.
I’ve always felt that if you really want to “support the scene” then you should be asking, and expecting, more from it. You should be more, and not less, discriminating. If you want your scene to grow – rather than simply stagnate, producing the same interchangeable crop of bands year in and year out – you need to throw your support behind bands who can truly hold their own on the world stage.
And that’s the purpose of these columns. To bring these bands to a wider audience as best I can.
The cover art for the new album by Kratornas could hardly have been better conceived. Like the artwork, the music pours sulfurous satanic hellfire down upon the damned (and everyone else) in a superheated torrent. The album’s name suits the music as well: Devoured By Damnation. And there’s no reason to just take our word for it, because below you’ll find our premiere of a full album stream to coincide with its release today by Grathila Records.
Kratornas began in the early ’90s as the solo project of a musician in the Philippines named Zachariah — though the debut album of Kratornas didn’t appear until 2007. In 2011, after the release of the second Kratornas album, Zachariah moved to Canada. And here we are, roughly 7 years after the last album, ready to be scorched by the new one. For this album, Zachariah is accompanied by a human drummer, GB Guzzarin, though he continues to handle vocals, guitar, and bass by himself.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Sahg from Bergen, Norway.)
I have something to confess. Something that’s probably going to cut deep into my well established metal cred (ha!). You see, I don’t really like Black Sabbath.
There, I said it. Let the shaming begin.
It’s not that I actually dislike them. Far from it. As a matter of fact I enjoy them whenever I hear them (particularly the Dio era), and fully respect the band’s timeless legacy (more on that in a moment).
But they’re just not the sort of band whose albums I’d ever spin for my own enjoyment.
However, in the same way that although I’m not really much of a Slayer fan (there goes the last of my credibility), yet still absolutely love many bands who count them as a major influence, there’s a number of artists in my collection who cite Sabbath as their prime reason for being, and who can trace the roots of their sound right back to the Brummie masters (of reality).
And one of those bands is Norwegian doom-groove quartet Sahg.
Oneironaut is the new album by Crimson Moon, this project’s first full-length in more than a decade and only the third since its inception in 1994. The album is an imposing, hour-long work, with five of its six tracks exceeding 8 minutes in length, including the closing title track, which nears the 20-minute mark. But it’s also one of the most captivating, most multifaceted, and most compelling black metal albums you’ll encounter this year, even as it comes when 2016 is about to gasp its last breaths.
Oneironaut is being released today by W.T.C. Productions, and to help spread the word of its advent, we have a full album stream for you.
(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Dischordia from Oklahoma City.)
As I’m currently sifting through all the various releases from this year’s crop, in preparation for my annual list-stravaganza, I’ve been able to pick out a few trends and patterns which have developed over the last twelve months.
One in particular has stood out – just how much good Death Metal, both from established names and underground upstarts, that’s been released in 2016.
And that includes Thanatopsis, the second album by Oklahoma triumvirate Dischordia.
Last month we premiered a song from the debut EP Döda Vägar by the mysterious Swedish band Mylingar. At that time I decided to defer my thoughts about the EP as a whole, with the idea of completing a review closer to the release date. That’s one plan I managed to complete, and just in the nick of time, because the EP is being released today by Amor Fati Productions and can now be heard in full.
The music on the EP is a nightmarish hybrid of black and death metal that seems designed with the objective of inflicting torment and terror on a thermonuclear scale. It ignites one violent hurricane of hate after another, each song ravaging the listener’s head with horrendous and even stupefying power. The effect is to produce the kind of adrenaline surge in the listener that I imagine is akin to a near-death experience in a midnight war zone, where you’re surrounded by combatants that aren’t fully human.
Lots of people are starting to make year-end lists, and we’re continuing to gear up for our own LISTMANIA extravaganza (we invited our readers to begin sharing their lists here earlier today), but time hasn’t stood still for all that: New songs and new albums continue to roll out, and I continue to make lists of what I come across.
Here are new songs from seven bands among the many that grabbed me over the last week. I decided to use a different title for this collection than the usual “Seen and Heard” heading, for reasons that will become evident as you listen.
Aksaya are a French band whose new album Kepler will be co-released by Satanath Records (Russia), More Hate Productions (Russia), and The Ritual Productions (The Netherlands) on December 15. Two songs are now available for listening, the first of which is a free download at Bandcamp: “Anomalie, Prélude À La Découverte” and “Non Morietur”.
Let’s have a show of hands: How many of you are fans of Stanley Kubrick’s film Full Metal Jacket? Well, quite a lot of you, though I can’t say I’m surprised. Now, raise your hand if you remember the name that Private Gomer Pyle gave his M14 rifle, the one he ultimately used as the instrument of his own destruction. Not quite as many… but those of you who remembered “Charlene” got it right.
The band whose debut EP we’re premiering today remember it, too — the name they chose for themselves, Charlene Beretah, is a tribute to that movie. And their music turns out to be just as dark, depraved, and depressive. In fact, the EP’s name is Depraved / A Very Long Week, which combines the names of the two songs you’ll find there.
(Here’s Austin Weber’s review of the new album by Montreal’s Teramobil.)
Some of you may have caught Teramobil’s initial 2013 release, Multispectral Supercontinuum, which we covered here at NCS in 2013. It got a lot of coverage elsewhere too, and for good reason. The line-up and the music were jaw-dropping.
The band is a power trio consisting of Dominic “Forest” Lapointe (Augury, First Fragment, ex-Beyond Creation) on six-string Bass, Mathieu Bérubé (Unhuman) on Guitar, and the always amazing Alexandre Dupras (Samskaras and Unhuman) on drums.
Out of nowhere, without any warning, the band dropped their second album yesterday called Magnitude of Thoughts. Even Luc Lemay gets in on the experience, playing some incredible stuff on second guitar on all of “Thanatonaut”.
(Todd Manning reviews this re-mastered (or in some cases mastered for the first time) compilation of tracks by the now-defunct Spazz originally recorded from 1995-1996, plus a full live set from 1996.)
I always have drawn a rather false analogy when comparing music genres that goes something like, Metal is to Classical as Punk and Hardcore are to Jazz, trying to express the relative approaches of the musicians and their interactions as ensembles. More or less, Metal and Classical often seem to put a premium on a certain sort of precision, whereas Punk/Hardcore and Jazz, often at their best, rely on a tight sort of looseness, a sense that everything could fall apart at a moment’s notice, but yet the band manages to hold everything together, creating an enthralling dynamic tension.
All that being said, if most Hardcore were analogous to a Hard Bop quintet in full swing, then Powerviolence represented the most gonzo of Free Jazz ensembles, and Spazz was the king of the musical renegades.