(Chicago-based NCS supporter and occasional scribe Leperkahn found himself in Paris just in time to catch part of the first Fall of Summer Open Air festival and provided us this report.)
As previously stated, my arse was lucky enough to be in Paris at the time set for the inaugural Fall of Summer Open Air. This new festival took place in Torcy, which is only a few kilometers outside of Paris, and accessible by a short 15-20 minute train ride from one of the downtown stations. Though I can’t speak from experience, this strikes me as a somewhat unique feature among most European festivals, which often require you to go much further away from such a large metropolitan area as Paris (or London or Berlin, for example). This also made my detour to the festival a plausible idea once I learned that schedules matched up – a 2-3 hour train or drive wouldn’t have been feasible given my schedule with school.
Anyway, enough about my boring details. Long story short, getting from my dorm to the campsite and festival was surprisingly easy, and provided one entirely unexpected surprise.
After I arrived at the Torcy train station, I had to take a bus to get a little closer to the site. Also on the same bus over was none other than Attila Csihar, of legendary black metal band Mayhem. In a moment that should probably have revoked my metal cred eternally, I didn’t recognize him at all, and only learned who he was after someone asked how his band was doing (which I learned was Mayhem) and then again when yet another person positively identified him as Attila. Regardless, he was a pretty nice guy (and a fast walker – I probably made the trek to the other side of the lake twice as fast by trying to keep up with him).
Five years ago I didn’t own any 7″ vinyl records. I can’t even remember reading about any 7″ vinyl records five years ago, at least in the realm of metal (though I hasten to add that the darker, deeper corners of the underground were largely unknown to me back then). My how things have changed.
Though I’d venture a guess that most 7″ records today are being released by smaller underground labels, it seems like everyone is getting into that game. What’s more, some of the best songs you’re likely to hear this year are waiting to be discovered on these small vinyl releases rather than on full-length albums (and fortunately, many of them are also being made available for download, for the record-player-challenged in the audience).
Here are three examples of superb 7″ releases from 2014 that I’ve discovered quite recently (thanks to a Facebook post by Krieg’s Neill Jameson). You’ll understand why I’ve grouped these three together after you hear them.
VEGAS is an acronym, which stands for “V.ermouth E.quilibrium G.hanoush A.sphyxia S.onata“. The band’s members are scattered around the globe, but I couldn’t tell you their names because they don’t exactly publicize them. They trace their musical inspiration to such bands as Japan’s G.I.S.M. and hardcore heavyweights Integrity. I was unfamiliar with them (because I only dabble in hardcore and crust) until hearing their new four-song 7″, Sagevisule.
This is bleak, multi-faceted, throat-gripping music — an amalgamation of riveting melodies (including acoustic ones!), massive riffs that slam with the weight of sledgehammers, bone-smashing percussion, and a combo of bearlike vocal roaring and shrieking blood spray. The pacing varies from doom-stricken stomps to crust-punk rampages, with incinerating guitar solos and head-smashing breakdowns to add extra punch. And goddamn, this thing really punches hard.
(Our friend Leperkahn wrote this review of the new album by Ireland’s Ilenkus.)
If you remember the ancient days of roughly a year ago, you may remember a post by the name “Random Discoveries in Dublin”. Cringe-worthy title aside, I wrote of a chance encounter with two Irish bands, Gacys Threads and Ilenkus, at Fibber Magee’s in Dublin, while on a vacation to visit family. This was both my first post for any site, my misguided step into the world of metal journalism that I still pretend to be a part of, and my introduction to the mercurial post-metal of Ilenkus. Back then, they were playing shows on the strength of their first full-length, Rule By Thieves. A year past, they now return to the fray with a new full-length, The Crossing, a disc that further expands on the Dillinger Escape Plan-meets-The Ocean sound they had used to breath new life into post-metal.
First song “Devourer” does quiet a bit to continue injecting new life into post-metal. Unlike so many hordes of their colleagues, Ilenkus choose to open the album not with a soft, ethereal melody or intro, but with a damn-near grind-y explosion of sound, acting as a slap in the face to the tranquility you might be expecting. These first moments prove to be the first of many times the band defies the listener’s expectations on this album. Just as quickly as Ilenkus start with “Devourer”s firestarter of an intro, they move just as suddenly into a softer, foreboding sense of ominous calm, then escalate back to cacophony with the ferocious bellows of guitarist/vocalist Chris Brennan and the propulsive riffs of guitarist Sam Ellis (I’m taking a random guess here, it could be any of the three guitarist/vocalists in the band – Ellis, Brennan, or Josh Guyett), establishing an ebb and flow of catharsis and despondence that runs like a thread throughout all of The Crossing.
When I used to think of current Finnish death metal (not the melodic kind), I tended to think of crushing death/doom, or perhaps a few famous death/grind deviants. Mine eyes have now been opened wider.
Obscure Burial are a relatively young band from Turku, Finland, whose first demo was released in 2012 by Ireland’s Invictus Productions. Invictus, which has dependably refined tastes in filthy extreme music, is about to follow up that first abomination with a second one. The new demo is named Epiphany, and it’s due for release on September 15.
Anyone who shies away from raw, flesh-rending, berserker blackened death metal with a heavy emphasis on speed can stop reading right here, because that’s what you’ll get in spades from Epiphany – and from the song we’re about to premiere: “Night Queen”.
On the other hand, if you get a flooding adrenaline rush from ripping riffs, weapons-grade drumwork, and vocals that sound like a demon pantheon, you’re about to get a satisfying fix for that addiction. In fact, you may not need another fix for days or weeks, because this is potent, uncut, and borderline toxic stuff.
(In this post our man in the UK, Andy Synn, reviews a live September 4 performance in Islington by the collaboration between Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval known as Casualties of Cool.)
Last Thursday I was lucky enough to see Casualties of Cool, the world’s finest proponents of Ambient Canadian Space-Country, perform a gorgeous, mesmerising set at The Union Chapel in Islington. And it’s taken me a while (I have been somewhat busy/ill in the intervening time) but I’ve finally got round to penning some thoughts about the experience.
To start with, for those of you who don’t know, the venue itself is pretty magical, a beautifully apportioned and enclosed chapel with rows of pews on ground level before the stage (and pulpit) and several more on balconies up above. The stained glass windows and hanging wrought-iron chandeliers add a touch of weight and worth to the surroundings, while the candles flickering in alcoves in each overhang only enhance the warmth and beauty of the place.
When it came to the show itself… well, there’s a reason this was sold under the title Casualties of Cool, and not under Devin’s own name. Because for once this really wasn’t a Devin Townsend show.
(Here’s DGR’s writeup about the new album from The Haunted. I think it’s finally time to suck it up and rename the site NO SHORT REVIEWS.)
Exit Wounds has been out for a week plus by now, and I am still consistently surprised by how The Haunted are one of the few bands out there who can do anger and aggression incredibly well. It’s hard to believe that a group lucked into having two incredibly distinct and different frontmen, both of whom were able to help elevate the band with a sense of utter malice — whilst directing it toward two different things. There’s always been an essence of conviction to the band’s reason for yelling, when so many other groups out there have a sort of toothless aggression, metal and brutality for their own sake and feeling like it was done paint-by-numbers style. The Haunted have always had bite, where other bands have felt like being gummed to death by the world’s angriest toddler, full of energy but not a whole lot getting done.
When the band effectively hung up their hats, it was a bummer, because although there are people out there who will relentlessly bitch about Unseen, it was a progression in one of the two ways that the band could have followed after The Dead Eye. It was joyfully demented, but not necessarily as sharp and pointed as The Haunted usually are. That said, it’s not like the band haven’t done a “return to form” before; it seems to be The Haunted’s calling card, but listening to the group talk, maybe it just wore on them a little bit too much. Which made the sudden re-formation both surprising and exciting. Two of the group’s members decided to stick it out, and on top of that the band filled in the empty spaces with Haunted members from the past, as well as recruiting a hell of a weapon in the form of Feared guitarist Ola Englund.
Exit Wounds, released September 2nd here in lovely North America (and a week earlier in Europe), is the result of the group’s new lineup, one for a band who may have found themselves with a lot to prove this go ’round. It’s a common narrative: re-formed band with a new lineup and a new album, scrappy as hell, and coming off of a divisive as hell previous disc. The crazy thing with Exit Wounds is that it also feels partially like an unintentional comeback tour, especially after pulling back musicians who haven’t associated with the band for some time. So, flag planted, line drawn in the sand, foot on the ground, pancake on head, robe and wizard hat donned, various other metaphors for standing your ground and facing opposition — just how well does Exit Wounds make the case for The Haunted’s continued existence?
You’re really not going to find anything better today that costs you nothing — including even the air you’re sucking in — than this two-song single released yesterday by a band from Arizona named Ill Breed. I found it sitting in my e-mail in-box after a long, frustrating day at my fucking day job, and man alive, was it refreshing.
I was in the mood for something crushingly heavy and cathartic and spine-tingling, and when I listened to these two songs, I got all that, and I got more besides.
What’s extra cool about this music is that it’s not all one thing. It’s freaked-out howling feedback and weird noise. It’s skull-clobbering hardcore. It’s tribal drumming and headbanging riff rhythms. It’s strutting, stomping, testerone-fueled chest-baring, topped by venom-spewing, bile-vomiting vocal mayhem. It’s groaning doom chords and hard-jabbing thuggery.
I thought I’d pass along a few more recently discovered items before calling it quits for the day. Obviously, I think everything in here is worth your time.
I’m about as peace-loving a soul as you could ever meet, yet much of the music I enjoy is violent. Maybe listening to violent music helps me keep cool most of the rest of the time. But I really don’t listen to violent music for therapeutic purposes — I listen to it because I get off on the power and the energy.
Violence in metal takes many forms. Fistula’s new album Vermin Prolificus (released by To Live A Lie Records) is the kind that just wants to beat you senseless with grotesque sludgy riffs and tear your throat out with raw, shrieking vocal extremity.
(In this post Andy Synn reviews a live performance from September 3 in Derby, England.)
I kind of knew already this was going to be a good night, even before setting foot out the door. For one thing I have never, ever, seen a bad Unearth show — the Massachusetts maulers always bring it hard and hit that sweet spot between metal and core every time. Plus The Hairy Dog is a great venue, both sound and layout wise (and the fact that I wasn’t driving, so could enjoy a few beers, definitely helped too!).
But what would really make the evening special, and a tad bittersweet, was the fact that this would be potentially my last chance to see Shadows Fall live, as the band have announced they are going on an extended hiatus from touring. And, you see, Shadows Fall have been one of my favourite bands ever since I caught them supporting Kittie in Manchester back in February 2002, long before the release of The Art of Balance brought them to the attention of the metal-loving public at large, so this show really would mark, in many ways, the end of an era for me.
For the music reviewed in this post, we need to turn back the clock. In the first place, the music was released more than two years ago, in June 2012. In the second place, the unholy spirit that surges through the songs is older still — much older — but it’s no less ferocious and its appetite for destruction is still insatiable.
The band’s name is Maze of Terror and they’re based in Lima, Peru. Their sole output to date consists of a five-song EP entitled Skullcrusher, and points must be awarded for truth in advertising: This EP is one hell of a skull crusher.
I could tell you this music is the kind of throat-throttling, honestly deviant, impeccably executed thrash that would have been right at home on mix-tapes from 30 years ago that people are still talking about today. Or I could tell you this: