We missed out on a Rearview Mirror post last Sunday, so I thought I’d double-up for this Sunday’s edition. As usual, we’re looking back at metal from past years, and in this case providing a bit of music from two bands that no longer exist (though one of them still officially seems to be “on hold”). The careers of both bands overlapped, and both were favorites of mine while they lasted.
Himsa were founded in Seattle in 1998, taking as their name a Sanskrit word that means “harm” or “violence”. In June 2008 they announced their demise, and in August 2008 they played their last show. In between the beginning and the end, the band released four albums and two EPs on such labels as Revelation Records, Prosthetic Records, and Century Media.
(TheMadIsraeli prepared this round-up of music from yesteryear that’s been keeping him company lately.)
The scarcity of my writing last year stemmed partially from a desire to go back and listen to shit I liked or loved from past years, whatever it was, and fuck being musically relevant. This is something I hadn’t done in a long time, and I have to admit that doing this just about saved me from burning out on music altogether. This music blogging thing, it can become genuinely tiresome in the race to try and keep up with what’s worth noting. Listening to albums that may or may not be worth the time you just spent listening to them, to find out whether they are or not, can take a lot out of you sometimes.
I decided it’d be cool to write a piece here and there where I give some commentary on those older albums I’ve listening to, hence the title “Irrelevant Listening”. Maybe this could be a monthly thing, but as much as I intend to get back on the horse in regards to everything else, I’d hate to try and schedule this in any way. However, I have been noticing a pattern where I tend to change my “irrelevant listening” playlist every month or so.
So here are the records that had my attention this past December.
Although we’re getting deep into our site’s own year-end lists, there are still a few more “big platform” sites whose year-end lists I’ve been waiting for, and this is one of them.
Vice Media, Inc. traces its origins back to a punk magazine called Vice Montreal that was started in 1994. Since then, Vice has grown into a multimedia network that includes not only Vice.com but also nine other digital channels. One of those is Noisey, which was launched in 2011 and focuses on music across a range of genres, including rock, rap, metal, and punk. Noisey proclaims that it “reaches millions and millions of readers and subscribers a month, a must-stop source for new music, investigative journalism, and artist-sourced content.”
This year, Noisey brought metal journalist Kim Kelly on board as a writer and member of its editorial staff, and yesterday the site published her ranked list of “Top 10 (Mostly) Metal Albums of 2015”, followed by an additional un-ranked list of “40 Favorite (And Occasionally Not Metal) Albums of 2015”. Here they are (and to read Kim’s comments about all the albums and listen to music streams, go HERE).
It seems that almost every day brings news of metal bands or other artists associated with metal attempting to raise money for their projects (or their own survival) through crowd-funding campaigns. If we attempted to provide news of such things on a consistent basis, we’d probably never get anything else done around here. But the three items I’ve collected in this post caught my eye for differing reasons, and so I’m making an exception.
VALE OF PNATH
(Austin Weber graciously volunteered to write this first blurb, and these are his words.)
Back in 2011, a little-known band from Colorado called Vale Of Pnath dropped a monster of a debut full-length through Willowtip Records named The Prodigal Empire. With the passage of time, The Prodigal Empire has been rightly lauded as top-tier technical death metal music that fans of the genre hold dear. In the years following its release the band has lost and gained various members, which has unfortunately delayed the release of a follow-up from the group.
(Here are some musings written by Andy Synn.)
Despite what you might have seen and read elsewhere, I still think there’s a certain art to writing reviews. Not Picasso-level art, certainly, or Muhammed Ali-level art… but art all the same.
Of course this proposition isn’t helped by the umpteen badly written, badly researched, and grammatically suspect publications you can find out there in the wilds of the interweb, nor by the plethora of click-bait, troll-magnet reviews seemingly designed just to stoke controversy and discontent… sorry, I’ll get off my soap-box and get back to the point…
Anyway, I for one count myself very lucky to have a voice, however small, in the Metal community at large, that people actually listen to and respect. And it’s not something I take lightly. I don’t think of myself as particularly special or important as a result of it, but I do acknowledge that – as a wise, two-dimensional man once sort-of-said – “with a modicum of power comes a modicum of responsibility”.
Or something along those lines.
(After a two-month break, Father Synn returns to NCS, ready to cleanse you of your manifold metal sins. Prepare to share your putrid failings in the Comments and accept the penance.)
Repent!!! Repent all ye sinners and sodomites!!! Repent and confess, for Father Synn has returned from his long pilgrimage in the vast and godless wilderness, eager to hear your tales of woe and transgression once more.
As always, let mine own flaws and failings be a lantern, leading you along the path of redemption!
I’ve failed. This makes the seventh day in nearly 6 years, weekend and holidays and inclement weather included, when I haven’t been able to post something of substance. I blame California Deathfest, and my inability to spend the hours before the next night preparing something for our putrid blog.
I have photos and lots of thoughts about the bands I saw on Saturday night, but that will have to wait until Monday. All I’ll say for now is that the photo above is a hint about the band whose Saturday set, for my tastes, was the best of the day. But it was a very, very close call, because it was a very strong night of metal, which included these people:
(We welcome back New Zealand-based metal writer and broadcaster Craig Hayes, who brings us this interview with Elise Gregg-Schofield of New Zealand’s Cephalopod, whose new EP was released this summer.)
Losing the primary songwriter from any band often means the demise of said band is sure to follow. However, although New Zealand metal band Cephalopod lost one of its key founding members a few years back, the group has ended up making a giant compositional leap on their new EP, A Bad Case of Unreality. The band’s last release, 2012’s Materialization, featured plenty of high-energy thrash mixed with vocalist Elise Gregg-Schofield’s howls. But when it came time to record A Bad Case of Unreality, Cephalopod clearly had a whole new set of goals.
Not only is A Bad Case of Unreality is more complex and adventurous release than Cephalopod’s previous EP, but Gregg-Schofield’s vocals are far more dynamic, too. Far from sounding like a band recovering from the exit of a key songwriter, A Bad Case of Unreality finds Cephalopod revelling in new energy and renewed enthusiasm. The EP sees Cephalopod inject intense layers of intricacy into ten-tonne pandemonium on “Ape Brain” and “Loose Teeth”.\, while “Blue and Righteous” and “A Bad Case of Unreality” dig into brutal technical mayhem like Cephalopod have never done before.
All up, A Bad Case of Unreality presents a band that’s free to experiment with a wider range of influences and creative inspirations. No Clean Singing recently caught up with Cephalopod vocalist Gregg-Schofield to discuss A Bad Case of Unreality, and those changes in the band’s sound and attitude.
(It is time once again for you to purge yourselves of your metal transgressions. Father Synn is waiting. He does not like to be kept waiting. And as always, he leads by example.)
Today’s sermon is a very special one, my children, as it deals with the thorny topic of… the replacement vocalist.
Yes, indeed, no matter how, or why, a band elects to replace their vocalist there’s always going to be a contingent of fans to whom the “new guy” will be anathema. A selection of listeners who cling to the past, regardless of what the future may hold (despite the fact that a new singer in no way invalidates what has gone before).
So today I choose to celebrate these poor, unloved souls… those whose succession to the throne of metaldom is fraught with controversy and complainers, yet who soldier on with heads (and mics) held high!
Now hear my confession, and take heed!
a pleasant slumber
Hey there, happy Friday. I got back home late last night after a short out-of-town trip for my fucking day job. I didn’t write anything to post this morning before crawling into bed and sleeping like a dead man. By coincidence, none of our other regular writers sent me anything last night or this morning. So, basically, I got nothing right now.
I do have a very nice album premiere planned for today, but I haven’t finished writing it yet. In the meantime, rather than just have the site sit here with nothing on it except yesterday’s posts (as good as those are), I thought I’d try something out for a change — basically, the idea is to see if you’ll do my work for me.
One thing I haven’t managed to do this week is put together a round-up of new songs and videos. So, what I’d like to propose is this: