(Andy Synn reports on the first day of Oslo’s Inferno Festival 2015 and provides photos. For Andy’s report on the pre-fest show last Wednesday, go here.)
The first day of the festival proper began (for me at least) promptly at 6:15 when Spellemann Award-winning Death Metallers Execration took the stage.
Down and dirty, with a hint of something creepy just beneath the surface, the band’s blending of rolling, Vader/Autopsy–style death-grooves, Behemoth/Watain-esque stomp and swagger, and touches of eerie, Morbid Angel-ish atmosphere – accentuated here and there by unexpected progressive touches, flashes of surprising technicality, and an undercurrent of lurching sludge – should, by all rights, be an awkward mix. Yet somehow they make it work, taking this amalgam of sounds and using it to whip up an absolute cacophony of ugly, unrepentant nastiness that’s also as infectious as sonic syphilis.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Norway’s 1349.)
Something that I’m more than willing to admit to is the fact that, when writing a review for NCS, I’ll take time to peruse other sites and see how the opinions I’ve formed stack up against those of other writers, and how well (or not) they fit with the common consensus.
I don’t see much of a problem with it personally, although I know several other writers who like to review in a vacuum, without the potential confounding influence of other people’s opinions. Often it means I stumble upon interesting factoids that I might otherwise have missed, which add context to my own work, or interesting interpretations that make me revisit what I’ve written in a different light.
Of course, occasionally you cross paths with the sort of completely biased review written by an oblivious fanboy, or an ignorantly negative attack written by someone with an obvious agenda, but mostly I find the opinions of other writers (particularly the ones whose opinions I really respect, regardless of whether I share them) to be a great help to me in my own work.
Why am I saying all this at the start of what’s meant to be a review of the (awesome) new album by 1349?
I sometimes play fast and loose with that “Shades of Black” title, but this time it genuinely fits the music I’ve collected here. The song streams represent many different shades and phases of black metal, and regardless of your preferences within the genre, I suspect you will find something to like before you reach the end. Of course, I like all of it.
The long-running Greek black metal band Varathron will be releasing their fifth album, Untrodden Corridors of Hades, later this fall. It comes five years after their last full-length, but based on the strength of the new album’s first advance track, this is one of those cases where I’m inclined to say, “It was worth the wait!”
“Realm of the Obscure” is thoroughly galvanizing, a non-stop rush of multi-faceted riffs that writhe like serpents, stab like knives, and hammer like mallet blows. The acrobatic and often pyrotechnic drumwork is equally varied and matches up beautifully with the varied movements of this long song, and the vocals are thoroughly ravenous. It’s the kind of music that’s voracious and malignant but with a highly seductive melody and an aura of imperial might. Really excellent.
I haven’t had much blog time available since last Thursday because of job-related travel and activities, so I’ve fallen behind in posting about new songs and videos that I think you might enjoy. To catch up, I’m including a giant fuckload of them in this two-part post. And in a rare display of brevity, I’m letting the music speak for itself.
I’ve also salted this post with a smattering of older music that I discovered only recently. So here we go, presenting the music in alphabetical order by band name. Part 2 will follow late today.
New Video: “Slaves”
Album: Massive Cauldron of Chaos (to be released in NorthAm on Sept 30)
Band location: Norway
Label: Season of Mist
I’ve fallen behind in completing some reviews (one in particular) that I had planned to post on Monday of this week. Partly, this is the result of how many new music premieres and press releases of interest I’ve found this week. The last 24 hours have been no different. What follows is a sextet of such things.
THE MONOLITH DEATHCULT
One of this site’s favorite bands made this statement yesterday:
“We have some exciting news! To bridge the gap between TETRAGRAMMATON and our forthcoming album we decided to record some tunes from our first album The Apotheosis. This because The Apotheosis is sold out and we simply aren’t in for an ordinary repressing. We will release it as an EP+ some cool rare recordings we collected through the years. The title of the EP will be BLOODCVLTS & DEATHCVLTS.
At the moment we have no idea how and who will release this EP. Maybe it will be on vinyl, maybe on CD or maybe only on Itunes and Spotify. Stay tuned!”
Happy Fourth of July Hangover Day. Hope none of you American readers lost any fingers in a gunpowder accident, put out an eye with an errant sparkler, or lit off a bottle rocket in your ass. I have some news items and new metal for you that I spotted over the least 24 hours. This is a big collection, but what else have you got to do?
Striker are from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Metal Archives says they are a power metal band. This means the odds are very high that I won’t be able to stand their music. However, the cover art for their new album City of Gold is so goddamned awesome that I may be forced to listen to at least one song whenever the first advance track appears. You can click the image above to view a larger version of the piece, which is by one of my favorite metal artists, Berlin-based Eliran Kantor.
The album is due from Napalm Records on September 9 in North America (Aug 29 in Europe, September 1 in the UK). If anyone can give me a reason to bury my prejudices and listen to a Striker song, I will try to keep an open mind.
Behemoth, Goatwhore, 1349, Inquisition, Black Crown Initiate, and Drawn and Quartered performed at Studio Seven in Seattle on Saturday night (May 3, 2014). It was one of my most eagerly anticipated shows of the year. But I had a sinking feeling about it before the concert began.
I paid extra to get advance VIP tickets for myself and some friends (for what turned out to be a sold-out show) because they promised a meet-and-greet and early admission. An e-mail from the ticket-seller notified us that we needed to be at the venue no later than 3:45 for the meet-and-greet, and even earlier than that to pick up the tickets at will-call. This provoked groans, given that the show wasn’t scheduled to begin until 6:00. Of course, this was a metal show, and the odds were high that nothing would actually happen at 3:45, but we didn’t want to risk missing what we’d paid extra for. So we were there at 3:30. And of course nothing happened until 4:15.
In the meantime, we got soaked when the drizzling rain outside the venue became a downpour. And while shaking ourselves like wet dogs in a doorway we speculated that since this was the last stop of the tour, the promoters might have been having trouble waking up any of the musicians for the meet-and-greet. This suspicion was strengthened when we were finally ushered inside, to find obviously fatigued representatives from all the touring bands sitting along a long row of shadow-shrouded tables in the dark venue, waiting one-by-one to sign tour posters we were given at the door.
Agalloch – photo by Veleda Thorsson
These are things I noticed over the last 24 hours that I thought you might want to notice as well.
When I found out that Agalloch was going to play a special show at Highline in Seattle on May 17 with YOB and Wounded Giant, I didn’t crow about it on our site. I can be pretty boorish when I want to be, and even when I’m not trying to be, but even I recognized it would be a dick move to express my joy about something I could see but the vast majority of our readers couldn’t. But now, finally, Agalloch has announced an official tour — Serpens In Culmination.
No doubt, the news will still be painful to fans who aren’t within reach of one of the stops, especially people who are also fans of Obsidian Tongue, Vex, and Jex Thoth, because those bands are also appearing at select stops on this tour. But on balance I feel okay about posting this news. Here’s the first part of the schedule, as announced late yesterday by Agalloch and Profound Lore:
I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the announcement that’s the subject of this post. And as I wobbled in a sudden affliction of vertigo, the words “holy shit” repeatedly escaped my slack-jawed mouth. About all I’m capable of doing at the moment is re-printing the official press release. Grab hold of something solid in case you feel faint, and read on…
The Metal Alliance Tour is back for their fourth ferocious year of wrecking heads. Festival organizers Dan Rozenblum and Steve Seabury of High River Entertainment are proud to welcome to American soil the mighty Behemoth as their 2014 headliner. This will be the first time in over a decade that Behemoth will tour North America in support of their new record The Satanist released on April 2nd through Metal Blade Records. The tour will be rounded out by New Orleans natives Goatwhore, 1349, Inquisition and the buzz worthy unsigned act Black Crown Initiate.
“This tour is no exception for our love of all things heavy.” states Rozenblum. “This tour is for metal fans by metal fans.” adds Seabury. “this bill explores our appreciation for the dark and black side of metal. Behemoth have been a favorite of ours and we are stoked to have them headline the fourth edition of the Metal Alliance Tour!”
(Our man Andy Synn attended the INFERNO FESTIVAL in Oslo, Norway, on April 4-7, 2012, and here’s his review of the first day’s inferno.)
Running a little late, the first band of Inferno Festival 2012 for me was, somewhat ironically, a band from just down the road from my own home. Anaal Nathrakh were, as always, a nasty proposition in the flesh, delivering some seriously abusive blasting accented by Dave Hunt’s tormented screams and regal singing voice. Definite highlights were the annihilating (and deceptively melodic) “Satanarchist” and the unforgiving mindfuck of “Pandemonic Hyperblast”, the band seemingly focusing on their more unrelenting material this time out.
Tonight’s show was noticeably (and unusually) sloppier than I’m used to, with a few obvious errors in timing and tightness evident to the familiar listener. This was all explained though, with Dave Hunt educating the crowd on the shittiness of US border control who had failed to allow his cohort Mick Kenney over to Oslo for the show, leaving them to conscript a last minute stand-in guitarist, whom the extreme pressure understandably left ill at ease.
Even more pissed off than usual, at one point the band’s ever-volatile frontman, responding to an ill-advised heckle from the crowd, verbally confronted his abuser, saying that although he didn’t “want to sound like Phil Anselmo”, he was in no mood to take shit from anyone after the band put all the effort into pulling together and making it over to Inferno despite these last minute setbacks. Despite its problems, this set proved that nothing short of total global extinction can stop the march of Anaal Nathrakh.