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:
(Andy Synn interviews Runar Pettersen, press manager of the long-running Inferno Festival, which has been staged in Oslo, Norway, since 2001.)
To start with, I wonder if you’d be able to give our readers a bit of a condensed history and background to the festival, as I don’t always like to assume everyone who comes to our site necessarily knows the ins and outs of the festival scene, particularly in Europe. So when/why did the festival start, who was involved, what were the early years like?
It started out as a two day festival in 2001. The festival boss, Jan-Martin, used to run a small club called Mars here in Oslo, and used to book bands there. He wanted to book Borknagar for a gig (after he ran into guitarist Jens F. Ryland one day), and when they were looking into dates for the show, there happened to be an open spot on Easter at Rockefeller. So from this Borknagar gig came the idea to turn it into a two-day festival. There weren’t any similar festivals back then, only much smaller or much larger outdoor festivals, so it was very unique. Only Norwegian bands played the first year and, when it turned out to be a success, it was all set to continue on the next year.
(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.