Sep 162014

 

(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).

Sep 112014

 

(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.

Sep 082014

 

(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.

Aug 272014


Eistnaflug revelers.

(Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based writer and NCS fan who visited Iceland in the fall of 2012 during the Iceland Airwaves festival and was generous enough to send us interviews with such bands as AngistBeneathKontinuumSólstafirGone Postal, and Skálmöld. In July of this year she returned to Iceland for the Eistnaflug metal and rock festival (“Eistnaflug” being Icelandic for “flying testicles”), and we are once again the beneficiary of her writing. Today we present Part 2 of a three-part report on the festival, illustrated with Gemma’s own photos. Visit her own excellent blog here and check out more of her reporting on the festival at KEXP’s web site. Part 1 of her report for us is here and Part 2 is here.)

 

For the few of us who bothered with the hours before – or even slightly after – noon on Saturday, the desperate drunkenness of Friday night had given way to a comfortable morning buzz. Fewer than two dozen made it to the first show of the day at 1 p.m., AMFJ.

Which was too bad. Aðalstein Motherfucking Jörundsson is one barefoot guy at a little table in the middle of the floor. There wasn’t much to see, but there was a lot to hear. The set started out doomy and moved into a rave-worthy beat supporting vocals distorted beyond recognition. It was some killer industrial noise.

https://amfj1.bandcamp.com/

Aug 262014


Sólstafir’s Addi Tryggvason with Skálmöld at Eistnaflug

 

(Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based writer and NCS fan who visited Iceland in the fall of 2012 during the Iceland Airwaves festival and was generous enough to send us interviews with such bands as AngistBeneathKontinuumSólstafirGone Postal, and Skálmöld. In July of this year she returned to Iceland for the Eistnaflug metal and rock festival (“Eistnaflug” being Icelandic for “flying testicles”), and we are once again the beneficiary of her writing. Today we present Part 2 of a three-part report on the festival, illustrated with Gemma’s own photos. Visit her own excellent blog here and check out more of her reporting on the festival at KEXP’s web site. Part 1 of her report for us is here.)

 

The second day of Eistnaflug began at noon with sets from Pink Street Boys and Oni. I, on the other hand, began less ambitiously, arriving at the venue after 2 p.m. I don’t know anything about the first band, but was sorry to have missed the sludgy, Neskaupstaður-based Oni.

http://oniiceland.bandcamp.com/releases

 

The first band I saw on Friday was In the Company of Men. Billed as mathcore, the effect was individuals doing their own thing in the company of others. But they each went to eleven with it, and maybe my math isn’t very good.

https://www.facebook.com/InTheCompanyOfMen/timeline

 

I had heard that Morð (“murder” in Icelandic) was divisive in the local black metal community. In the event, I couldn’t really see what was so unorthodox. Was their corpse paint all wrong, or was it a slight tendency to slip into groove? Whether tr00 or transgressive, Morð put on a good show.

http://morth.bandcamp.com/

Aug 252014


Azoic at Eistnaflug

(Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based writer and NCS fan who visited Iceland in the fall of 2012 during the Iceland Airwaves festival and was generous enough to send us interviews with such bands as AngistBeneathKontinuumSólstafirGone Postal, and Skálmöld. In July of this year she returned to Iceland for the Eistnaflug metal and rock festival (“Eistnaflug” being Icelandic for “flying testicles”), and we are once again the beneficiary of her writing. Today we present Part 1 of a three-part report on the festival, illustrated with Gemma’s own photos. Visit her own excellent blog here and check out more of her reporting on the festival at KEXP’s web site.)

 

When I arrived in the remote fjord town of Neskaupstadur, I was determined to catch as many of the nearly 50 bands as possible. But a late night drinking with new friends and a breakfast that may have included beer interfered with my good intentions. Although the first band on Thursday didn’t take the stage until almost 3 p.m., I missed them.

The first band I did see was Azoic. With Ragnar (Raggi) Sverisson on the drums, I expected great things, and got them. What I didn’t get was vocals – it was an entirely instrumental set.

I ran into Raggi later and he explained that the set was all new music, and they hadn’t finished the lyrics yet. Okay, that’s one choice. Azoic’s 2012 Gateways can be found here:

Aug 132014

 

(Guest writer Ben Manzella attended the final show of the Oathbreaker-Cult Leader tour on August 7 in San Francisco and provides this review, with a few photos and some music streams.)

Outside a fairly non-descript art space, about 3 people began to line up. Along with 3 bands from around California, the night at Submission in San Francisco would feature Oathbreaker and Cult Leader. As we waited, suddenly a crew of about five people just walked right into the venue and we realized that we (the group who had already been waiting about 45 minutes or more) could actually go in. As I said, the venue was fairly non-descript, but this no-frills space was well-suited for the no-frills music that was set to be featured this night.

I’ll admit, because I was going in blind with the “local” support, I mainly watched their sets rather than try to get photos. And in all honesty, at least from a photographer’s perspective, that was probably for the best, considering the challenging lighting the venue offered.

Aug 132014

 

(NCS writer Andy Synn attended part of the Bloodstock Festival in England last weekend and files this report, with his own photos.)

For various reasons I was only able to make it to the one day of Bloodstock Festival this year. Thankfully that one day happened to be headlined by the legendary Emperor, so I’m not massively complaining!

Due to some issues getting my new laptop (it’s lovely and shiny and I’m writing this column on it right now), I ended up running a little late that morning and so, after picking up my two companions, got to the festival site a little later than planned. As a result I missed out on both The King Is Blind and Shining (Nor), but was there in time to see Old Corpse Road bring their eloquent mix of dark folklore and blackened intensity to the Sophie Stage.

Aug 102014

Last weekend (August 2-3) I spent two beautiful days in Denver attending the Denver Black Sky Festival. For someone who had never attended a metal festival of any kind before this year, I’ve had three great experiences in a row — MDF in May, Gilead Fest in July, and now Black Sky in August. I’d like to say I deserved it, but who would I be fooling?

The festival took place at The Gothic Theater and at Moe’s BBQ, both located in the same block on S. Broadway. I made the trip with three compatriots from Seattle, and we met my NCS comrade Badwolf from Toledo in what became an MDF reunion (and an unanticipated turning point for BadWolf’s life). We spent Saturday and Sunday at The Gothic, and missed some bands we ideally would have wanted to see at Moe’s, but had to make some tough choices.

The Gothic is a very cool, spacious, multi-level, vaulted-ceiling venue, with a wrap-around balcony on the second level, a big floor, and a great main stage with good lighting. The festival organizers set up a second stage opposite the main one, just in front of the bar at the rear of the floor. They called it “In the Round”, because its location enabled the audience to stand all around the stage; you could stand behind the second stage as well as in front of it (and you could also look down on it from the balcony above).

Jul 212014

Adam Bartlett and Thou — photo by Shane Stornanti

Part 1 of this report is here; Part 2 is here.

Yesterday was the third and final session of the GILEAD FEST at the Masonic Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and it proved to be a day of megaton doom bombing mixed with strafing runs of blackened hellfire. It also featured two of the most emotionally searing moments of the entire festival and a final encore at the end of the night that was both surprising and eminently appropriate — and a whole helluva lot of fun.

Once again, the event was blessed with a beautiful day. Once again, the event planners and volunteer staff pulled everything off smoothly. Once again, all the bands I saw were wonderful — though I’m sorry to say that I spent so long toiling over yesterday’s report that I missed the first two groups, Northless and Alraune. We arrived not long before Seidr took the stage…

SEIDR

Seidr’s massive double album Ginnungagap was released by Bindrune last fall. It was the first of the band’s music I had heard, but it was enough — the chance to hear Seidr live was one of the paramount reasons why I made the trip to Oshkosh.

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