(Father Synn has once again donned his cassock, dusted off his manual of medieval penance, and prepared himself to receive your abominable confessions.)
Greetings once again my loyal cadre of sinners and sycophants. What a joy it is to be here once more among you all, after last week’s unplanned absence!
I see more than a few familiar faces out there bearing a look of contrition and shame… or maybe that’s just the hangover kicking in. I know mine is.
So come, join me in another bout of confession and prayer… it’s good for the soul, don’t you know?
“Bloody Mary, full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for us now and at the hour of our death… which we all hope is soon…”
You may have noticed that over the last day and a half it has been difficult to connect to our site. You have probably been getting messages that tell you there has been an error establishing a database connection. Sometimes, with persistence, you can get through, and sometimes you can’t. The reason this is happening is… well… fuck if I know!!!
Your humble editor has spent significant amounts of time with our web host’s tech support people, who have given conflicting and inconsistent explanations and no useful advice about how to correct the problem. At one point they thought the issue was caused by the fact that our dedicated web server was running an out-of-date version of the MySQL database software. They upgraded that… and it didn’t help.
Then they informed me that we have been experiencing frequent spikes in the load on the server that it is unable to handle. Initially they had no explanation for that, but later told me that it appears we’re being deluged with spam comments. Our spam filter prevents them from appearing in the Comment sections, but they’re still incapacitating our server — at least that’s the best guess I was offered by those tech support people.
(NCS supporter and occasional contributor Grant Skelton is looking for help… )
Fellow NCS Comrades –
I was recently brought on board with Local X Radio, a station here in my hometown of Memphis, TN. I run the station’s metal format, Metal X, which airs a show each Monday from 7pm – 9pm CST. Our April 20th show featured music from No Clean Singing alumni Beyond Grace (“Omega Point”) and Godless Angel (“Containment Breach In Sector 6”). With Islander’s permission, I wanted to tell you a little about this opportunity and my vision for it.
Hosting a metal radio show has been a dream of mine for more years than I’d like to admit. I initially contacted the station back in November (ironically, right around the same time I began contributing to this lovely website). Fast-forward to February. Evidently my email had been lost in the cyberbowels (if Austin Weber can make up words, I can too) of the Internet. Alas, it was rescued and my query was answered. After a couple of initial meetings, the station manager offered me a chance to make a dream into a reality. I have carte blanche when it comes to Metal X. But this isn’t just about me playing what I want. It needs to be about something more than that.
(DGR reviews the new EP by Worse.)
“No, there is nothing”
There’s something under the currents of the latest release by San Francisco-based grind band Worse, To Be Alive Is To Be Alone.
Grind, I’ve hypothesized before, is one of the ultimate plug-and-play genres — loaning itself incredibly well to expulsions of anger and violence. We like to parrot the phrase that a huge chunk of heavy metal’s appeal comes from the cathartic release aspect, and the grind and powerviolence genres remain high on the menu for doing that.
Worse, whose self-titled release I pounded out a review for last year, was a vortex of sound. In that review I compared their release to the sound of someone kicking their instruments down a flight of stairs. To Be Alive Is To Be Alone, is a wholly different beast, one that is more composed, and this time around, more prone to self-harm, and more inwardly explosive than before.
Tomasz Alen Kopera – “Ascension”
(TheMadIsraeli has some ideas and invites some feedback….)
So I haven’t written much lately, and I’m sure you all have noticed that. The last year was really rough for me personally, and it sapped away a lot of my energy and passion over time. I’ve come back swinging in a huge way all the way from the brink of a bad place last year, and now the current delay in my writing is due to me trying to get my life together and moving in a way I never have before.
With this new commitment to reshaping myself, I also want to recommit myself and redefine my tenure here at NCS and write the absolute best stuff I can for the site, provide the best content I can possibly muster, and I hope get back to my old borderline inhuman output. For now, instead of trying to churn out piece after piece, I am focusing on making what I write count and be super-substantial. I want to recommit myself to my original goal of writing about music that is nothing short of borderline perfect for me, and I have been recapturing my passion for metal quite quickly as of late.
photo by Tim Flach
In the 5+ years NCS has been alive, we’ve failed to post something new on only four days (including weekends and holidays). Yesterday was the fourth missed opportunity. You may be wondering what produced this tragedy. I thought about just using this excuse.
In reality, it was crunch time for the project at my fucking day job that has kept me on the U.S. east coast for the last three weeks. I got three hours sleep the night before, and the hours when I was awake allowed no time for me to even format and post what other people have written — apologies to everyone who wrote things to help keep the site from going dark and have been wondering why it went dark anyway.
Every November here at NCS we renew a few year-end traditions that have been a part of our site since the early days, and I thought now would be a good time for a reminder, since we depend on our readers for help in rolling them out.
First of all, we’re approaching another birthday for our putrid site. We made our first post on November 21, 2009, and by resorting to higher math with the aid of a calculator, I’ve determined that in 10 days we will be five years old! We won’t need your help with that celebration when the blessed day arrives — we’re capable of patting ourselves on the back all by ourselves. We do accept presents; cash is preferred.
Second, we will soon be starting our year-end LISTMANIA series. There are three parts to that endeavor: We publish year-end lists of metal’s best albums that we find on certain “big platform” websites and zines; we publish year-end lists by our own staff writers and by special guests; and we provide a platform for our readers to post their own lists of favorite releases from the year that’s nearing an end.
We’ll need your help on that last part, so put your thinking caps on and start winnowing down what you’ve heard into the best of the best — we’ll invite you to start sharing your lists in about 2 weeks.
(We welcome guest writer Grant Skelton who delivers this opinion piece on the impact of social media on metal.)
When I was about 6 years old, I can distinctly remember seeing Pantera’s music video for “Cemetery Gates” late one night on MTV. At the time, it was unlike anything I had heard. It was beautiful balladry and at the same time auditory madness. And I had to hear it again. And again.
In the 80’s and 90’s, you knew a band had “made it” when you saw their music video on MTV. It was MTV or bust. There was no other option. Many a metalhead during this period would stay up into the wee hours of the morning, VHS tape primed and ready, to record their favorite band’s brand new video. If you didn’t, you might not see it again for another week… or maybe not at all.
You couldn’t pull your phone out of your pocket, swipe the screen, and open your YouTube app. You couldn’t Google it. You just had to sit and languish for seven more days while all of your friends at school gave accolades to the video that you were too lame to see. If you were lucky, one of your friends might lend you the VHS tape that they had recorded. Hopefully they remembered to put down their beer long enough use the tracking knob.
(We welcome our guest Jeff from Life In the Vinyl Lane, who will be reporting on the Iceland Airwaves festival in the near future.)
This is Jeff from the Life in the Vinyl Lane blog, coming to you from the land of the midnight sun and black metal, Oslo, Norway. I’d asked Islander if I could send a dispatch from this year’s version of Iceland Airwaves, which is just around the corner, and while I was at it I figured I’d tell you a bit about what’s out there for metal fans who might be visiting Oslo, since we stopped off here prior to the festival.
Now, to be fair, at least 99% of the No Clean Singing readers are probably bigger and/or more knowledgeable metal fans than I am. Let’s get that out there right from the start. I came of age in the early 1980s, back when you couldn’t turn on MTV without seeing Quiet Riot and Mötley Crüe videos in regular rotation, before metal was ghettoized into “Headbangers Ball”. So while I discovered the genre in the 80s, I didn’t advance too much past there — the hardest stuff on my shelves are the classics like Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Slayer, and most of the bands featured on No Clean Singing are new to me, with the notable exception of Iceland’s Sólstafir. Maybe that makes me a tourist here. I don’t know.
Be that as it may, I knew that since we were spending a few days in Oslo prior to Iceland Airwaves this year, I owed it to myself to check out Norway’s black metal scene, and some quick research indicated that the one “must visit” stop on the trip was Neseblod Records.
According to Metal-Archives, Cleveland-based Nunslaughter have released more than 140 recordings, only four of which have been full-length albums, the rest mostly consisting of splits, EPs, and live albums. Hells Headbangers is releasing two more splits this fall, and I spent some time with both of them this past weekend.
In this split with a relatively new Chilean band named Perversor, Nunslaughter contribute two tracks — “Impure Thoughts” and “Bless the Dead”. “Impure Thoughts” is a thick, black, boiling cauldron of riff liquor, a mix of d-beat rhythms, skin-flaying black thrash, and grisly corpse-crawling death metal. “Bless the Dead” switches up the beats and the styles, too, and at its core is a head-wrecking chug-stomp, catchy as fuck and impurified with a wash of vocal pollutants. The songs are gone before you know it, but it’s a sweet trip while it lasts.