Still in Texas, still working my ass off (but not on NCS), still not able to listen to much metal — but I did have time for a quick swim through the effluent of the interhole, and these things caught my eye (and ears).
Thanks to my NCS comrade Andy Synn, I saw the striking cover art above, by Valnoir Mortasonge, which Finland’s Amorphis posted on their Facebook wall, along with this announcement:
I’m seriously considering a legal change of my name to include the words “Ass Backwards” in it. I mean, I’m not fooling anyone anyway, so I might as well be up-front about it.
Case-in-point: Instead of writing a chronologically oriented and comprehensive review of the recently concluded Maryland Deathfest XIII, I just started tossing out random collections of photos over the last three days, mainly as a way of explaining why I wasn’t doing much of anything else for the site. And now, rather than starting over with something that actually looks like a thoughtful report on an amazing event, I’m going to continue with what I started and fill in the gaps I left, working my way backward to the pre-fest show last Wednesday.
Once again, there will be more of my photos in the continuation of this series than my words, which may come as a continuing relief to many.
Editor’s Note: Have you heard the news? Have you heard that Amorphis will be playing Tales From the Thousand Lakes (1994) in its entirety at Maryland Deathfest XIII next year? Our old pal Trollfiend heard the news and seemed pretty excited about it, especially since, if memory serves, it was the last Amorphis album he liked (or at least part of it).
I couldn’t leave him in a state of unmitigated excitement, what with his high blood pressure and all, so I reminded him that he had never finished his no-holds-barred cage match with the discography of Amorphis, the one he started (here) way back in December 2011. Apparently, Trollfiend is vulnerable to guilt-tripping, and so here — more than two years after he engaged in “no rules” combat with Tuonela — we bring you Round 5. This promises to be gory…
It has been more than two years since I set foot in the arena.
I have forgotten many things, but the brutal reality of my last battle against the hordes of Amorphis still cuts deep into my soul. I wander the sands, once watered with fresh blood. I am Alone.
I stand at the spot where the assassin Tuonela fell, her neck broken by my own hands. I remember then, as I do now, the horror that I felt; that I could be so callous, cold, unfeeling. That I could discard my oath so readily. I had sworn to serve, and had felt betrayed, but her words haunted me still.
“It is you who are the betrayer.”
Nothing makes sense to me anymore. The harsh cries of circling vultures sound like wails through a bent metal tube, perhaps an alto sax. They grate on my nerves like her accusal. I was the victor then, but now? She has become the Goddess at whose feet I weep, and I am but a Sad Man.
I didn’t have time to compile a daily round-up yesterday, so there’s a lot of shit to cram into this one. I’ll try to keep words to a minimum and let the music, the videos, and the imagery speak for themselves.
ITEM ONE: CHTHONIC
2011’s Takasago Army marked the time when I finally got into Taiwan’s Chthonic. It was interesting and multi-textured, in addition to kicking large amounts of ass. So I’m now quite interested in their next album, Bú-Tik, which will be released by Spinefarm this summer. Today, the sexy cover art was revealed. Apparently, nearly 100 people volunteered to be the model for it.
The album cover is eye-catching for sure, though it doesn’t exactly suggest that the new album will be devoted to history and tradition. Yet in this new interview the band’s eye-catching bassist Doris Yeh suggests that it will. I’m up for it.
Nothing has changed, my blog time is still restricted by paying work, but I still have a few discoveries from the last 24 hours to spread around.
These Finnish icons have a new album named Circles that’s coming from Nuclear Blast on April 19 (EU), April 22 (UK), and April 30 (US). Yesterday they premiered a lyric video for a new single that’s being sold right now. The song’s name is “Hopeless Days”. It will be welcomed by die-hard Amorphis fans.
What the song has: Morose lyrics, a captivating melody, a memorable chorus, heavy chugging, a climactic guitar-led finish, and Tomi Joutsen hitting the clean notes cleanly with his distinctive delivery. What the song doesn’t have: Bite.
I thought I’d provide a quick update of things I noticed while web-surfing and reading e-mails this afternoon. As always, I’m sharing mainly what interests me, while hoping it interests you as well.
We first reported about this tour on December 2 when its existence became public but before any schedule had been announced. Today, all the dates and places were finally announced. And as a reminder about why this matters, the tour features Finland’s Ensiferum as the headliner, as well as Tyr (Faroe Islands), Heidevolk (The Netherlands), Trollfest (Norway), and Helsott (Los Angeles). Plenty of ass should be kicked by these pagan brethren.
The schedule consists of 21 shows, launching in Denver on March 30 and concluding in New York City on April 21, and it includes Canadian dates, too. Here’s the complete schedule:
(Here’s Round Four of Trollfiend’s head-to-head, no-holes-barred cage fight with Amorphis. In this match, there are charges and counter-charges of Betrayal, and eventually a killing blow. To catch up on what’s going on here, read this post. Also, be sure to check out Trollfiend’s own blog, ALSO, WOLVES.)
The crowd is oddly silent as I step into the arena for this, my fourth battle against the music of Amorphis. I look up from the blood-soaked sand to see that the crowd is not merely silent; the arena is empty. Why was I summoned to do battle with no audience to witness?
Foreboding sets in…something is not right.
And then I see her, stepping from the shadows: the serpent assassin herself, Tuonela. So this is how it is to be. My victory has frightened Amorphis, and so they send their silent killers in the darkness.
I have fought the ancient and deadly Order of the Clean-Sung before. I know their dirty tricks. I know how they can fool the mind with raspy hooks and beguile the soul with the lament of sirens. I am prepared…but still this sense of doom pervades. My victory over Elegy still boils in my blood, but it was a victory hard-won, and I am not sure I have the stamina or the wits for this battle.
I have to remind myself why I am here. The Betrayal. Yes, in capitals, because it was an event so profound that it deserved a name. Amorphis won my confidence with their folk-tinged melodic death metal. I pledged my fealty to them, unto death. And they turned on me. Even then I could not believe they would consort with the Order…I was blinded by my pain and rage. But Tuonela stands now before me, as damning a piece of evidence as you could want.
(Here’s Round Three of Trollfiend’s head-to-head, no-holes-barred cage fight with Amorphis. Trollfiend gets a whiff of perforated bowel at the end — but whose? To catch up on what’s going on here, read this post.)
The first two rounds of this gladiator combat were pretty much write-offs for yours Trolly…I knew the opponents I would be facing, was intimately familiar with all their savagery and skill…I knew I was no match for either. I still faced them in the ring, because I knew the sight of my blood would arouse you, and I am here for no lesser reason than to have you all cheer over my broken corpse.
However, my next opponent, 1996’s Elegy, is a relative unknown. I have a vague recollection of facing it once before, many years ago, and as I recall I defeated it readily by exposing the weak spot in its armour, the clean vocals of Pasi Koskinen. However, I am an old man now, and not as swift with the killing blows as I once was. Elegy has had time to practice, train, and learn MY weaknesses. I don’t know how this fight will turn out, but I know for sure that it will be bloody.
The opening attack, ‘Better Unborn’, is a clever manoeuver, taking my love of Middle Eastern rhythms into account, but I parry it easily. This is worrisome, however…an album released in 1996 has LEARNED MY WEAKNESSES. As I fret over this development, my heart grows cold, because ‘Better Unborn’ was a feint, and it worked. While I was worrying, ‘Against Widows’ came in and smashed off the side of my skull with the dual hammerblow of harsh and clean actually working together in a song.
(Andy Synn provides an unexpected SYNN REPORT, seizing upon the imminent calendar change to discuss the re-recording of 12 songs by 12 tremendous bands — and of course we’re including the music, which means 24 tracks. Fuck, this would be a mixtape that KILLS.)
So here it is, a surprise Synn Report to finish off the year. Arbitrary though the distinction may well be, the end of the year provides a perfect excuse to attend to a similar theme, the transition from the old to the new – re-workings and re-recordings.
Are they better? That’s an argument for the ages? Are they necessary? Hell, that’s probably an even worse argument to start up…
Primarily, re-recordings serve a twofold purpose – 1. to reinvigorate songs that might otherwise not be getting the set-time they deserve, and 2. – to royally piss off a band’s fan-base. Although there’s a chance that the second isn’t entirely intentional. Still, the re-recorded album courts controversy like almost no other, whether it’s a varied collection of songs that are chosen to receive the treatment, or a full re-recording of an entire album.
The full re-recording of an entire album is clearly the most contentious option, while single track re-recordings are often a much more successful and welcome proposition, most often appearing as b-sides and bonus tracks for the avid collector. The full-album re-recording, however, remains exceptionally and unequivocally divisive, alienating as many old fans as it attracts new ones.
So here’s a list of some of those renewed tracks that I think definitely have something to offer the listener, both old and new. I’m sure I’ll have to turn in my kvlt card after this, for promoting something so new and shiny, but ah well…