Jan 182017


(In what has become an annual tradition as we near the finish line for our LISTMANIA series, our good friend and long-time NCS comrade BadWolf (aka Joseph Schafer) takes a break from his responsibilities as editor of Invisible Oranges and brings us his year-end list of top non-metal albums from 2016.)

Three things kept me from turning this list in sooner, one large and fairly insurmountable, the other small and petty but terribly uplifting.

Let’s begin dark, and head upward toward the light, because these albums are, on the whole, not very pretty.

Jan 132016

NCS Best of 2015 graphic


(In what has become an annual tradition as we near the finish line for our LISTMANIA series, our good friend and long-time NCS comrade BadWolf (aka Joseph Schafer) takes a break from his responsibilities at Invisible Oranges and brings us his year-end list of top non-metal albums from 2015.)

My duties as editor of Invisible Oranges keep me from writing on No Clean Singing as much as I’d like (that being, pretty much at all) but this site still feels like home. I think, for the first time, this is the only article I wrote for Islander in the past twelve months. That said, it’s still my favorite piece to write.

If you’re interested in my metal top 10, it lives here at Invisible Oranges. Look at the comment section for a little snark from our beloved Andy Synn. It’s ok, buddy, I don’t like most of the bands on your list, either.

Maybe Synn and I will have more in common outside the realms of metal. That said, some of these records are quite heavy — a couple made it into the metal top 10 lists at Invisible Oranges. I excluded them for the sake of having a more cohesive metal list of my own.

May 042015


(BadWolf reviews the Seattle date of the Decibel Magazine 2015 Tour, accompanied by exclusive photos taken by Madison Leiren, except where noted.)

This is the third of four annual Decibel Magazine tours that I’ve reviewed for No Clean Singing (I missed the third installment, featuring Napalm Death headlining, due to Maryland Deathfest. I’m not sorry). At this point in time, the mechanics of the tour itself — the way it interacts with coverage in the magazine, the way that the lineup is formed over time, and the way it is presented artistically — are becoming apparent to me.

Rather than simply assess the show I saw itself, it’s important to discuss these deeper factors, because Decibel Magazine wields a lot of market power in the United States, and the US remains the biggest music market in the world even though metal remains relatively unpopular here. In that respect, however, the tour is operating in an easy middle ground between what I would call respect for profits and respect for the metal zeitgeist. They do that by locking in headliners that already have clout and draw, but aren’t going to pursue metal as a full-time activity, and slotting openers who intend to make a career out of music. At least that’s how it’s worked for the past two years.

It seems as though 2014 was a prototype and 2015 was the first successful rollout of a set Decibel Tour formula. The recipe is as follows:

Mar 232015

(BadWolf brings us this review of a live performance in Seattle by Enslaved, YOB, Ecstatic Vision, and Bell Witch, with photos by Madison Leiren.)

My Wednesday evening at El Corazon on March the 11th was, in many ways, a redemption shot. I was there to see local Seattle funeral doom merchants Bell Witch, as well as Philadelphia’s uncategorizable Ecstatic Vision, Eugene Oregon’s doom wunderkinds YOB, and Norway’s progressive black metal institution Enslaved.

To begin, here is my list of grievances to be resolved that evening:

First, grievances with myself:

Feb 272015


(In this post BadWolf reviews the live performances by Mayhem, Watain, and Revenge at El Corazon in Seattle on January 27, 2015, with photos by Madison Lieren.)

For a minute there I was so inundated with European black metal, its tropes, and its lyrical hullabaloo, that I forgot about the genre’s troubled, violent, church-burning past, and in a sense that’s where I wanted to be from the get-go, since unlike some people I actually found the genre’s flirtations with homicide and terrorism to be a turn-off before I actually listened to the music.

Leave it to Norway’s Mayhem, original purveyors of quote-unquote dangerous black metal to drag me back into my discomfort zone by headlining the Black Metal Warfare tour, a nationwide trek wherein the second generation provocateurs, alongside Watain and Revenge, inspired mosh pits, threw blood on the crowd, and peddled tee shirts lionizing “Panic, Terror, Arson, Metal, Chaos.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right,” I thought to myself, looking at the merch rack hobbled in the corner of Seattle’s El Corazon, “I fucking love blowing stuff up. Silly me, where *did* my balls go?” A prescient thought, as the night wound up being a testament to testicular fortitude.

Jan 082015


(BadWolf provides his annual list of personal favorites among not-metal albums released in 2014.)

I’ve never written so few lists at the end of the year. During my first year at No Clean Singing, I wrote three separate lists. Many writers compose even more, and I have no idea how they do it. However, each year my format has changed as I think of new ways to think about music. As time goes by, I simplify, I erase boundaries.

There’s only one meaningful distinction in my list this year: metal vs. not-metal. My metal list is currently up at Invisible Oranges, and it serves as my unified vision of 2014 in heavy metal. However, this is my favorite list—my favorite piece of copy that I write each year. There’s something about writing about mainstream music on an underground metal blog that strikes me as fun and transgressive.

More to the point, I always loved reading the opinions of metal heads and musicians about non-metal music. To people outside of the culture extreme music is what sets us apart. Inside the community, however, our tastes in other genres of music can offer interesting window into people’s personalities. I also wonder if the commonalities we find outside of the music reveal something about the threads that other artists and metal share. For example, my #1 album is, I know, fairly popular among metal bloggers, but you’ll have to wade through my bottom nine to get to it.

Dec 022014


(BadWolf has been missing in action for a while, spending much of his blog time helping to run the esteemed Invisible Oranges, but today he re-surfaces with a new post in an NCS series he created to take us off our usual beaten paths,)

I’m pretty certain I am the strongest proponent of California resident Jerimiah Johnson’s one-man industrial rock-pop outfit The Ugly Façade that exists. However I’m pretty sure that’s more a result of lack of exposure than a mark of quality, because The Ugly Façade is the real deal, as evidenced by Johnson’s latest album (more of an EP, really) Many Waters, now available at any price on Bandcamp.

I first became aware of The Ugly Façade in the wake of an article I wrote for Stereogum.com about Trent Reznor, the musician behind Nine Inch Nails. Reznor is one of my favorite songwriters on earth, and while Nine Inch Nails is not precisely metal, or extreme, the band has a large following in the metal subculture, and has had a profound influence on several groups, including The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Faceless, Author & Punisher, and others.

Oct 022014


(In this post you will find BadWolf’s interview of Jamie Walters, aka Athenor, of Cleveland’s Midnight.)

Cleveland’s Jamie Walters struck gold (though maybe he didn’t know it) when throwback metal outfit Boulder became inactive and he formed his one-man project Midnight. Part black metal and part cock rock, Midnight has won over a surprising number of fans with a mixture of powerful hooks, depraved lyrics, and shocking imagery. The band’s 2011 album, Satanic Royalty, made me a fan. Their set at 2013’s Maryland Deathfest made me a devotee. Now, with their sophomore LP, No Mercy For Mayhem, I am a fanatic. Still, Walters’ music has the hooks, but perhaps not the ethics we as listeners demand from modern rock music. I got on the blower with Walters to see what satanic royalty has to do with sexism and an undying love for AC/DC.


I don’t see that many interviews with you.

Jamie: No, I try not to do too many interviews. I don’t know, over the internet. . . I’m not really an internet type of person, so over the internet you get kind of just like short answers, kind of half-ass, and then over the phone it’s always just like, ‘hey, we’re just talking’. I don’t like talking to people but it’s like, sometimes it doesn’t come across as an interview, because then you start talking about the Steelers, the Lions, kind of stupid shit — you know? — that has nothing to do with an interview. So.


You’re from Ohio, you’re like, you’re an Ohio boy, and you never play Ohio.

Jamie: Well, I wouldn’t say never, but not as much, you know, I guess just as much as any other cities.


Well, I mean, you played Cleveland maybe twice last year, you’re from Cleveland. . .

Jamie: Yeah, yeah.


. . . and you’re about to do this Hell’s Headbangers warehouse show.

Jamie: Okay, it’s just a warehouse, essentially, so I’m sure you’ve been to a warehouse, it has a bay door, a garage, and all that kind of stuff, and it’s a warehouse. You know, it’s basically like a private party here, just do a little gig here in the parking lot and play in the, you know, the bay doors, and just have bands play, and just have hotdogs and pop or whatever the shit and those guys are good and it would be cool. And of course they think on a little more bigger level I guess, and it’s like yeah, well, just have it open to everybody…. I thought it would be like a private party at most, you know, 40 people or something like that, but I guess beyond that it grew bigger than we anticipated. I don’t know. We’ll see, but it seems like there are a lot of people coming.

Sep 022014


(In this post we present BadWolf’s interview with Tomas Lindberg of Lock Up, Disfear, and of course At the Gates, whose comeback album At War With Reality is headed our way in October)


“We still have a sense of urgency.”

That’s what Thomas “Tompa” Lindberg, vocalist of Swedish death metal legends At The Gates told me in between vocal takes as he called No Clean Singing from the studio. Now that At The Gates have finally released the cover art for their upcoming album At War With Reality, their first in 19 years, Lindberg is ready to talk—about finding his screaming voice, his political views, and the magical realist literature that has informed his new work.


So, you’re in the studio right now?



How’s it going?

Very well. All the drum tracks are totally done, and guitar tone is set and Anders has done the long song. We’re going to do guitars on one song, then I’m going to do vocals, because we do the whole setup so I can alternate so I don’t burn out the voice. You know, we’re going to have the first song written, really, finished today.


It’s good that you’re taking care of your voice, because I saw you at MDF and I have no idea how you can do what you do for an entire hour.

Me neither. Sometimes, life is a bit of a struggle, but it’s intense live because then no one can really . . . you can’t rewind and listen to it again. Well, you can on YouTube. In the studio, you need to be perfect 100%, all the time.

May 062012

(BadWolf is sacrificing what’s left of his peace of mind for the greater good of NCS, beyond which there is no greater good.)


Dear loyal readers, haters, and bad skaters

It has come to my attention that many of you out there do not receive nearly enough furious metal nerdrage delivered instantly to your mobile devices.

To this end, I have joined twitter.

For my first act as future Alpha Male of the instant-communication inforverse, I declare that I will follow every single metal-related twitter user that you readers insist I follow, in order to filter out the filler and relay to you killer bits of inane, digitized NOTHING!

Follow me at @BadWolfNCS and leave me suggestions as for who to follow in the comment thread below. Here’s the profile link: https://twitter.com/#!/BadWolfNCS


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