This is the second part of a collection of short reviews that I began earlier today (here). The idea was to focus on new EP-length releases I had recently discovered and enjoyed, though the ones addressed below are substantial — all of them in the 24-to-26-minute range.
CAGE OF CREATION
The first release in this collection (III) is the final part of a trilogy of EPs by the Russian trio Cage of Creation. It was released on March 4th. I became enamored of it almost immediately, from the first ringing, scratchy notes, the burly bass line, and the dark chant in the opening track, “Act IX”.
I decided to devote a couple of this Saturday’s posts to new or newly discovered short releases. I’ve also started work on a SEEN AND HEARD round-up of advance tracks from forthcoming releases, though I’m not sure when I’ll finish that one. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Monday. There will be a SHADES OF BLACK feature tomorrow as well. Hope you enjoy these first three EPs.
When last we heard from Sweden’s Puteraeon back in 2014 they had inflicted The Crawling Chaos upon us, which was their third album. They have returned this month with a new three-song EP, The Empires of Death. They’ve launched videos for two of those songs so far, “Providence” and “At the Altars” (which was just released today), and there will be one for the third track, “Epitaph“, as well.
(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Germany’s Heretoir.)
“Post-Black Metal” is a funny old term. Its relatively amorphous nature means that no-one can really fully agree quite what it refers to, or quite what its defining characteristics are as a (sub)genre.
But, to my mind, in order to be considered “Post Black Metal” a band has to have at least some actual Black Metal in their sound (yes, I know that, strictly speaking, “Post” implies after/beyond, but no-one expects a Post-Metal or Post-Rock band to NOT have any Metal/Rock in them, do they?).
It’s not enough to just have a little bit of blackened DNA left over in your system, or just to count certain bands among your influences… if your music doesn’t contain at least some of the sonic markers of Black Metal, then why even bother referring, even obliquely, to it at all?
The reason I’m saying all this is that there are a lot of bands out there, particularly in these Post-Alcest years, who could be considered as Post- “Post Black Metal” at this point, and a full 666 degrees of separation removed from the genre from which they (supposedly) derive their sound.
And while there are those who still think/act like using the words “Black Metal” gives whatever they’re talking about a certain amount of instant credibility, the truth of the matter is that the over-use of terms like “Black Metal” and “Post Black Metal” has not only diluted their meaning in a frankly rather unhelpful manner, but also led to many otherwise worthwhile artists being judged (and found wanting) by a wholly inappropriate set of standards.
So please, don’t think of The Circle as a “Post Black Metal” album. It’s not. But if you judge it on its own merits, by what it is, rather than what you think it should be, I think you’ll find that it really is a great album on its own terms.
(Andy Synn reviews the fourth album by New Jersey’s Fit For An Autopsy.)
It’s a little-known fact, but we actually quite like Deathcore here at NCS… at least, when it’s done well.
After all, our purview has always been to write about Metal, in all its forms, regardless of style or sub-genre. As long as it’s good, as long as it has the passion, the power, and the energy we’re looking for, we’ll write about it.
It doesn’t matter if the band is big or small, new or old, mainstream or underground. Black Metal, Death Metal, Prog, ‘core, or Post-… if the quality is there we’ll do our darnedest to cover it.
Which leads us, nicely, to the new album by New Jersey noisemongers Fit For An Autopsy.
(Andy Synn attended the performance of Devin Townsend, Tesseract, and Leprous in Nottingham, England, on March 18th and files this report.)
Despite the fact that this site is called “No Clean Singing” we’re actually big fans of clean sung vocals here… well, in the right circumstances anyway.
No, the site’s moniker originally stemmed not from a blanket hatred of clean singing, but from Islander and co’s growing dissatisfaction with all the bands shoehorning clean vocals into their songs in a desperate attempt to appear more “accessible”, and therefore more marketable, at the cost of both their overall intensity and their underlying integrity.
I personally have a lot of love, and a lot of respect, for bands on the heavier end of the spectrum who are able to integrate and incorporate clean vocals into their sound in a way that feels totally natural. After all, it’s generally a lot more difficult to hold onto a melody and to hit all the right notes than it is to simply scream your lungs out atop a parade of blastbeats/breakdowns/bombastic riffs (not that I’m attempting to downplay the skill and strain involved in being a good screamer/growler).
So when a show like this rolls around, featuring three bands whose singers are all capable of knocking it completely out of the park (and practically into orbit) with their clean singing abilities, you’d best believe that we’re going to write about it.
I’m in a jam again. This was a busy week for me at my fucking day job, and I had a bunch of personal stuff to deal with that was unrelated to NCS, so I didn’t have time to post any round-ups of new music on top of the other things I did write and edit. I didn’t even have time to make my all of the usual daily forays through our clogged in-box or pay close attention to the music that friends and bands were posting on Facebook.
Even so, when I started listening to new things last night I had a large list of songs to check out. I liked more of those than I’ve got time to write about now. I picked the following five because they make a diverse playlist (and because they’re really good, of course).
I’m beginning with a track that absolutely floored me when I heard it, and it has continued to floor me every time I listen to it again. It’s the final song on an album named Explore the Void by the Finnish band Craneium.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new fourth album by Colorado’s Havok, which was released by Century Media earlier this month.)
I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE Havok. These guys are the quintessential example of what an excellent re-thrash band sounds like. Old school energy and attitude, but new school song-writing, technicality, and slight tinges of hybridization with other borrowed styles.
Thus far, Havok’s got what I call a pretty flawless discography. The EPs, while underdeveloped, were great; Time Is Up was the best thrash album of its year; and the band’s last release Unnatural Selection was definitely up there in its year, too.
It’s been four years since Havok released anything, marking the first time the band have gone more than two years between major releases since their inception. While they’ve certainly been gaining recognition (rightfully so) and touring like fucking madmen, the band have clearly been working on their sound, and where to go from here.
(The MadIsraeli reviews the new album by Warbringer, which will be released on March 31 by Napalm Records.)
Warbringer are a band who up to now never quite hooked me. They’re no doubt talented, and they are definitely in the upper echelon of the old school thrash revival. I should’ve liked these guys more. They were essentially more aggressive Twisted Into Form Forbidden, but I always felt they played it too safe, enough so that it kept me from being enthralled by their music. Having said that, I’ve always been willing to give the newest Warbringer album a listen when one comes out, because I WANT to like these guys more than I have.
The main thing that really makes these re-thrash bands any good is when they know how to blend the old school with modernity, and in the past Warbringer were too busy living in the past and imitating it rather than emboldening it with a new-school spirit. That is, until Woe To The Vanquished.
(We present DGR’s review of the new album by the death-grind super-group Lock Up, which was released on March 10th by Listenable Records.)
It is rare that I find myself admiring a musician for the amount of fun he seems to be having on a disc; but I sincerely hope that one day I have half as much fun as Nick Barker seems to be having with the toms on his kit on Lock Up’s new disc Demonization.
We open with musing on that fact because if there is one dominant thing you won’t help but notice over and over during the vicious barrage of auditory violence that Lock Up wield against their listeners during Demonization, it is the constant drum fills that feature the upper part of the man’s drum kit as he just flies through the whole thing. Someone pulled him aside and told him ‘go fast’, and that is what he did for most of the album, save for three songs where the group actually slow down slightly, and he unleashes some ultra-tight blasts and rolls constantly, making sure every drum and cymbal available to him gets the everliving shit beat out of it.
But of course, that’s much like the entire listening experience; it is why we come to grind-stalwarts Lock Up in the first place, right?
I have some friends on this site (and I’m thinking mainly of Andy, Austin, and Gorger) who have a talent for compiling collections of brief reviews that get their points across concisely and then let the music carry the baton across the finish line. I’m going to try that here myself, because I’ve sadly admitted to myself that I’ll never get around to writing proper reviews of these releases. These aren’t even improper reviews, just impressionistic streams of consciousness.
Three of the following releases are albums I hinted on Sunday would be covered in an extension of my SHADES OF BLACK series. The fourth one is an EP that popped up unexpectedly. I’m hoping to compile another collection like this one for later in the week.
SCÁTH NA DÉITH
I was very impressed by this Irish band’s 2015 EP, The Horrors of Old (reviewed here) and I’ve been meaning to write about this album for a long time, ever since it came out in mid-January. I kept delaying until I could find the time to write something long, detailed, and adequately reflective of the enthusiasm I have for it. And then I realized that day may never come. Turning even one new person onto the album would be worth something as meager as this little “review” — better this than further procrastination.