Jun 292016

Conjuror-I

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Conjurer, which will be released on July 1 by Holy Roar Records.)

We all know by now that hype can be a double-edged sword.

Certainly it can serve to drum up some necessary excitement and anticipation where it’s needed, there’s no denying that. But equally, it can set up unrealistic expectations that act like the proverbial albatross around a band’s collective neck, particularly in cases where certain blogs and magazines (and even the band’s own PR) keep throwing out sweeping comparisons and wild exaggerations as part of a veritable onslaught of hyperbole.

It can honestly leave you wondering whether to believe what you’re reading, or if it’s simply another example of puffed-up propaganda from the media group mind.

Birmingham-based quartet Conjurer (whose name you may have seen mentioned here at NCS once or twice before) have built up something of a buzz for themselves in the few short years they’ve been together, based almost entirely on the strength of their live performances.

And, as such, their debut EP, the ungooglable I, has a lot riding on it. Not only is it the band’s first chance to solidify their own sonic identity on record, but it’s also their first opportunity to prove whether or not all that hype and hyperbole floating around in the digital aether is actually justified.

So… do they deliver the goods? Or are they all mouth, and no trousers?

Jun 292016

Black Funeral-Ankou and the Death Fire

 

Well, I’m two days late with this post. My original plan was to follow Part 1, which appeared on Sunday, with this Part 2 on Monday. But I got busy posting other things both Monday and Tuesday, and so here we are. Having delayed too long already, let’s just get right to the music….

BLACK FUNERAL

The Texas band Black Funeral was born from the mind of Michael W. Ford (aka Akhtya Nachttoter) in the mid-’90s, and although other members of the line-up have changed over time, Ford has persevered, releasing 8 albums that began with 1995’s Vampyr – Throne of the Beast. And this year, roughly six years after the last Black Funeral full-length, another one will be upon us in September via Iron Bonehead Productions and Dark Adversary.

Jun 282016

Almyrkvi-Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom

 

(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Iceland’s Almyrkvi, now available on Bandcamp.)

Black Metal has a long history of dealing with darkness in all its many forms… so it’s not surprising that so many of its adherents eventually turn their eyes towards the vast, vacant heavens and seek inspiration in the bleak emptiness of the void.

And so it is with Iceland’s Almyrkvi, the brainchild of Sinmara guitarist Garðar S. Jónsson, whose debut EP Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom seeks to capture the fearsome cold and endless nothngness of the celestial abyss in five impressively atmospheric and morbidly mesmerising tracks.

Jun 272016

Au Champ Des Morts cover

 

In April we were privileged to bring you the premiere of the title track to Le Jour Se Lève, the debut EP of a precocious French band named Au Champ Des Morts, and today we share with you a stream of the entire EP, which has now been released by Debemur Morti Productions.

ACDM was founded in 2014 by Stefan Bayle (Anorexia Nervosa) and Migreich (VULV), and this EP is a precursor to the band’s debut album, which will also be released by Debemur Morti. The EP consists of two songs, both of which quickly establish this band as one to watch closely.

Jun 202016

Belakor-Vessels

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Australia’s Be’lakor.)

With so much of its musical territory cannibalised in the boom and bust of the Metalcore bubble, and with so many of its originators/innovators either breaking up or shifting their sound (for better or for worse) into pastures new, it’s been a rough decade or so for the style known as “Melodeath”, particularly since most of its adherents seem to have long since settled into a comfortable rut of rehashing and reusing the same old riffs and the same old melodies, ad infintum, ad nauseum.

Heck, there’s practically a cottage-industry these days dedicated to churning out a stream of generic-brand Insomnium clones, as if the masses of faceless At The Gates rip-offs and soulless In Flames copycats weren’t already diluting the genre enough as it is.

So perhaps you can understand that, as much as I was looking forward to hearing the latest Be’lakor album, my expectations were tempered somewhat by my general dissatisfaction with the state of the modern Melodeath scene, and my still somewhat lukewarm feelings towards 2012’s solid, but unspectacular, Of Breath and Bone.

But blow me down and call me Shirley if the Aussie quintet haven’t stepped up their game on this one.

Jun 202016

Acyl-Aftermath

 

(Our long-time New Zealand supporter and occasional guest writer Booker reviews the new album by the Paris-based band Acyl.)

Back in 2012, Islander put out a request for fellow readers to pitch in a review or two while he was otherwise occupied. One of the belated efforts I offered was a review of Acyl’s Algebra album, which I’d been cranking on high rotation since randomly discovering it some months earlier in the nether regions of the internet (it’s amazing what you’ll find back there!). That post was one of my first here at NCS, and just like a bad case of herpes I’ve kept coming back ever since. So long, in fact, that Acyl have had time to tour, hit restart on the writing process, orbit the sun a few times, and record and release a follow-up album: Aftermath, which came out at the start of the month.

Jun 192016

Astrophobos-Enthroned in Flesh

 

In today’s Shades of Black installment I’ve collected reviews and streams of three EPs, a new album, a new song, and a new video that I’ve been enjoying lately. As usual, all of the music is in a blackened vein, though all of the bands are distinctively different from each other in their musical approach. I hope you’ll find that one or more of them suits your tastes.

ASTROPHOBOS

Astrophobos is a Swedish black metal trio from Stockholm who released a debut EP in 2010 named Arcane Secrets and a debut album in 2014 bearing the title Remnants of Forgotten Horrors. I really enjoyed that debut full-length, although I only managed to write about a video for one of the songs. Now they have a new EP (Enthroned in Flesh) due for release in August, and this past week DECIBEL premiered an excellent new song from it called “Blood Libation”, which is now up on Bandcamp.

Jun 172016

VIRUS-2400X2400

 

(We present this guest review of the new Virus album, written by Chrysostomos Tsaprailis, who also writes for Avopolis Music Network, Metal Invader, and for his own Industries Of Inferno blog.)

It’s really quite remarkable how a music genre, normally considered rather “off-limits” for a certain audience, can become accepted by it, if introductions are handled by a recognizable and trusted (by the particular audience) artist. In the case of experimental avant-garde rock, the Trojan horse in question, responsible to a large degree for its acceptance by the black metal audience, is one of the most congenial members of the Norwegian extreme music scene, namely Carl-Michael Eide, or Czral as far as his Virus persona is concerned.

He was certainly not the only one responsible for the embrace of unconventional (for the scene) music by a large part of the scene’s fans; remember that during the years around the millennium’s turn Norway teemed with experimentation. Still, Carl-Michael, firstly with the short-lived but ultra-influential Ved Buens Ende, and afterwards with Virus, managed, with an almost extraordinary casualness, to engraft the mind of a seemingly stiff audience with components that on a first level appeared incompatible with it. What is more, he managed that without losing any of the listeners’ respect, most probably due to his simultaneous participation in more traditional acts.

Jun 142016

Caecus-The Funeral Garden

 

(Andy Synn reviews the debut album by the Illinois band Caecus.)

There’s something to be said for being in the right place, at the right time.

The advent and ascension of bands like Fallujah, Black Crown Initiate, and Ne Obliviscaris (to name but three) over the past several years has indicated something of a creative renaissance and renewed interest in the more Progressive wing of the Technical Death Metal scene, one very much separate from the predominant chug’n’sweep approach of the “core” crowd, or the tappy typewriter drums of the Unique Leader crew.

As such, it seems like the perfect time for a band like Illinois-based Prog/Tech types Caecus to play their hand, roll the dice, and see if their particular brand of fluid, energetic riffage and extravagant lead guitar work has what it takes to ride the crest of this wave, or else sink back into the depths.

Jun 142016

Blut Aus Nord-AEvangelist-Codex Obscura Nomina

 

To get right to the point: On June 17, Debemur Morti Productions will release Codex Obscura Nomina, an album-length split by Blut Aus Nord and Ævangelist, and we now bring you the chance to listen to all of it.

The album includes one EP-length track by Ævangelist named “Threshold of the Miraculous” and four tracks by Blut Aus Nord, which are themselves parts of a unified work called “Spectral Subsonic Waves (The Sound is an Organic Matter)”. Each piece stands alone, yet they achieve the ideal for a split release of any kind: They complement each other in ways that enable them, together, to magnify the impact that each produces separately.

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