As I announced a few days ago, we’ve launched a new series at NCS in which we’re inviting readers to submit pieces for publication with the goal of putting the spotlight on lesser known bands from the towns, cities, and regions you folks call home — whether in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. For details about this project, go HERE.
Yesterday we posted the inaugural piece in this series by Grant Skelton (who had the idea for the series in the first place). Hot on the heels of that, I received a submission by Seattle resident Eric Bauer (who has his own blog — “High Defamation” — here). As it happens, Eric’s piece puts the spotlight on a Seattle band that’s one of my favorites — and they’re also a group of very cool people on a personal level.
But I thought, in keeping with Grant’s original idea, that a “Local Focus” piece on Seattle ought to include a few more bands, and so with Eric’s permission I’m adding three to this post following his own feature.
(In a continuation of his recently inaugurated NCS series, KevinP runs down his list of the best releases from the month that’s about to end.)
Last month I had what seemed to be a reasonable amount of music to wade through, 24 releases. This month, I was at 40, so naturally there were some tough cuts I had to make. Nice problem to have, no complaints really. Like last month (and every month), please feel free to share your comments, thoughts, and favorite releases in the Comments section below.
5. Devouring Star – Through Lung & Heart
Very little is known about this Finnish band, who came onto the scene in 2014 with a two-song demo, and they now release their full-length album through Daemon Worship Productions. While you will see them listed as a black metal band, it’s quite another story.
I’m way behind on plans to collect new discoveries for our usual round-ups, but I thought I would leave just this one new disorienting thing for your listening and viewing pleasure before calling it quits for this Wednesday.
The architect of the video you’ll find at the end of this post is Nick Vasallo, the lead vocalist and songwriter for the excellent technical death metal band Oblivion – who also happens to be assistant professor in the Music Department at Cal State Polytechnic University (Pomona) and a composer of contemporary classical music whose works have been performed internationally.
For this piece, which is entitled “Inches From Freedom”, Dr. Vasallo conducted an experiment, using the talents of five performers scattered around the globe. Here’s how he describes what you’re about to see and hear:
(Our man Austin Weber turns in this review, with his photos, of a recent performance by Felix Martin and company in Louisville, Kentucky.)
Beyond it’s aggressive attraction, metal at its core is about evolution and will, a desire to explore experimental and uncharted musical territory. In just the past few years, 14-string guitarist Felix Martin has been wowing audiences and expanding upon his unique blend of genres, playing largely in an eight-finger, two-handed tapping manner, one hand on each neck of a double-necked guitar configuration. His playing spans metal, jazz, blues, traditional Venezualuen music, country, and other genres that you’ll discover as as you delve into his back-catalogue, starting with his first record, Bizarre Rejection, a record that I’m proud to own.
Recently here at NCS, I wrote about his latest video, and also mentioned his most recent tour. Unfortunately for me, though, his tour date in my hometown of Louisville was added at the last minute, so I was unable to request time off work. This meant that I had to rush to the venue after work and missed the set of NCS favorites Barishi, arriving just as Felix Martin and his band were setting up. Really pissed that I missed Barishi because of work, but I tried to make it up to them by having Barishi and Felix Martin and his band stay at my place for the night.
There’s nothing wrong with metal that wholly honors the purity of the particular sub-genre in which it dwells, whether it be black metal, death metal, thrash, or something else. But there’s still something particularly intriguing about bands who branch outside the traditional confines of individual genres and attempt to integrate a variety of musical influences, creating sounds that can’t be classified with any well-defined purist labels. That’s what the London-based band Beautality have done on their new album Einfallen: A Tale Ov Torment & Triumph.
Even the band’s name signals their intent to dissolve genre boundaries and express ideas through a hybrid of moods, atmospheres, and styles, and that mission is reflected in the songs they’ve created. In this post we bring you the premiere of one of the new album’s tracks — an epic-length work entitled “From the Abyss” — which follows previous premieres at Metal Hammer and Invisible Oranges.
This is a “feel good” story accompanied by badass music, which makes it a very metal story.
Derek Neibarger, who makes his home in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife Chrissy and a menagerie of pets, began his musical life as a teenage bassist in 1984. In 1990 he added lead vocalist to his resume. He has recorded and toured with multiple bands covering every genre from punk and hard rock to jazz and blues. At one time or another he has shared the stage with such artists as Neurosis, Green Day, Local H, and The Urge. Beginning in 2012 he decided to start writing and recording music as a solo project that he named Godless Angel.
By that time he had become a daily reader and active supporter of this site, and we watched as he began turning out individual songs on a completely DIY basis, and eventually entire collections of songs in the form of two digital releases — the album-length Year One (2013) and the Dying Dead Undead Unholy EP (2014). And then, on January 20 of this year, we saw the happy announcement that Godless Angel had signed with the Finnish label Inverse Records for the release of a new album named Harvester of Shadows.
Inverse explains: “Drawing inspiration from horror and science fiction genres, the lyrics for Godless Angel paint portraits of everything from axe murderers, vengeful aliens, and zombies to demons, mutated rats, and a vile creature lurking in the shadows of an insane asylum.” And as you’re about to find out, the music is more than a match for the viciousness and brutality of the subject matter — because today we’re stoked to bring you the premiere of an official lyric video for one of the new songs: “Containment Breach In Sector 6“.
(As described in yesterday’s last post (here), we’re beginning a new series conceived by Grant Skelton in which we’ve invited guest writers (and maybe some of the regulars around here) to put the spotlight on bands from their own local and regional communities who don’t get the kind of media recognition they deserve. In this post, Grant kicks off the series with a local focus on bands from his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee – and a couple from elsewhere in Tennessee.)
When people think of my hometown of Memphis, they don’t think about metal. Memphis is definitely known for its musical history, most recently exemplified by “Uptown Funk,” thanks to Bruno Mars. If you asked someone to name a metal band from Memphis, then they might fire back with, “Uhhh…Saliva?” Or perhaps they would call attention to Skillet. I can’t knock Skillet, but they’re not the focus of this article. They sell records, and definitely don’t need my meandering and frivolous opinions to sell any more.
Metal prides itself on being “underground.” In that regard, metal is often like panning for gold. Every now and then, you find a real gem that nobody seems to have discovered except for you. That’s the purpose of websites like this one. Below are a few gems I recently found. The first four are local metal bands from Memphis, Tennessee. The final two are an exception to that rule, but are still from my state. I hope the readers enjoy this installment of a local metal showcase.
(In this latest edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of the late, lamented, and apparently resurgent The Agony Scene from Tulsa, Oklahoma.)
Recommended for fans of: Devildriver, At The Gates, (early) The Black Dahlia Murder
“Metalcore” is such a dirty word these days that bands go to great (sometimes hilarious) lengths to avoid it. But it’s easy to forget that there was a time when it offered something both fresh and new and utterly vital to the metal scene as a whole.
Case in point, The Agony Scene were, in my humble opinion, one of the unsung heroes of early millennial Metalcore, with roots deeply embedded in the Northeast hardcore scene, but possessing a uniquely visceral sound which pulled in a host of influences from across the Death Metal spectrum.
The band specialised in hacking, machete-like riffs, rib-cracking drum work, and throat-ripping, Carcass-esque vocals, occasionally veering into moments of seditious melody or creepy atmosphere, only to shift back into punishment mode at the drop of a hat.
You may have noticed that I’ve been referring to the band in the past tense, as they unfortunately broke up after the release of their third album Get Damned. However, that’s not entirely accurate any more, as it appears the band have a new album in the works (and a visceral new logo to go with it), so I’m hoping to hear more from them very soon!
NCS supporter and budding contributor Grant Skelton wrote me to propose an idea that I thought was cool. But it will become a reality only if we get some help.
Grant’s idea was for NCS to invite guest contributors to write a showcase on bands from their cities/states/regions within the U.S. The bands wouldn’t necessarily have to be unsigned and independent bands, but the mission of the series would be to put the spotlight on lesser known names — bands who don’t get much media coverage, and maybe even don’t have any official releases (beyond demos) under their belts.
The goal would be to post installments in the series once or twice a month, with the lofty aim of eventually trying to cover all 50 states. Grant also suggested that we consider inviting international contributors — which makes sense to me, given that we write about bands outside the U.S. at least as often (and maybe more frequently) as we do home-grown products. So this invitation includes people who live outside the U.S., too.
Existential Animals come our way from Oberlin, Ohio. They made some serious first impressions last year with the release of their debut EP Surrealith (which was graced by one of my favorite pieces of art by one of my favorite metal artists, Paolo Girardi, and also included a guest vocal appearance by Will Smith of NCS favorite Artificial Brain). Existential Animals are now back with a two-song single — “Prism Prison/Apopheniac” — that’s due for digital release on March 3. The artwork for the single, created by Cameron Almasi, Yuri Popowycz, and the band’s Mark M-R, is stylistically quite different from Surrealith’s cover, but it’s just as eye-catching. As you’re about to discover, the music’s eye-opening as well.
What we’re about to show you is a colorful and frenetic animated music video for one of the two new songs, “Prism Prison”, which is itself colorful and frenetic. It’s a purely instrumental form of technical death metal that may bring to mind fond memories of Blotted Science. There’s a lot of fret-wizardry on display, and as the song barrels along its brain-twisting course it becomes increasingly complex, blending start-stop rhythms, call-and-response interchanges between the bass and the guitars, and deranged note swarms that build to a frenzied crescendo.
But here’s perhaps the most surprising thing about the song: cunningly intertwined within the matrix of instrumental intricacy is an infectious melody that you may not even realize you heard until the song ends — and then it surfaces in your head and makes you want to go back and re-live the experience. That’s an impressive achievement.