Jul 152010

We named this site NO CLEAN SINGING for a reason, which is spelled out in excruciating detail on the “ABOUT” page. In a nutshell, the personal tastes of myself and my two sometimes-collaborators veer toward the more soul-shakingly cathartic side of the extreme metal continuum. And for us, that tends to correlate with the absence of clean singing. But from the beginning, we’ve admitted that there are Exceptions to the Rule.

To be brutally honest (which is the only kind of honest we know how to be), there are some songs by some bands that live with us in our memories precisely because the melodies are so unforgettable — particularly when paired up with adrenaline-laced rhythms and blowtorch power. And sometimes those songs have featured clean singing. Sometimes the clean singing is part and parcel of what makes the songs so unforgettable.

There might be a better example of what we’re talking about than Sweden’s Soilwork, but if there is, it ain’t coming to mind. The first notes of songs like “Exile”, “Black Star Deceiver”, and “Stabbing the Drama” start playing, and the whole, epidemically infectious songs immediately come tumbling out of our corroded mental databases like the vivid images of old, close friends.

At the same time, Soilwork has been capable of harder-edged, melodeath marauders like “Needlefeast”, “Follow the Hollow”, “Like the Average Stalker”, and “The Chainheart Machine”. Those songs, and others like them, have tapped into the reptile parts of our brains that just want to headbang, windmill, and slam into shit.

Soilwork’s hallmark ability to straddle that divide between melodic death metal and metalcore, between mayhem and epic melody, is exactly what’s made them an NCS favorite despite all the clean singing.

So, what are we to make of the new Soilwork release, The Panic Broadcast? As a group, the three of us are conflicted. (what we mean? follow along after the jump . . .)

May 172010

The three of us responsible for this site follow Soilwork like a pack of hungry dogs after a meat wagon. We’re anxious for their new album, The Panic Broadcast (due on July 2 in Europe and on July 13 in America). We’re anxious for their appearance in Seattle on July 27 along with Death Angel, Augury, Mutiny Within, and Swashbuckle.

Basically, we’re just anxious. But to calm our over-charged nerves, Soilwork has just put up a new song from The Panic Broadcast on its MySpace page. It’s called “Two Lives Worth of Reckoning,” and it reminds us why we think Soilwork kicks all kinds of ass — galloping, howling metal infused with an infectious melodic chorus.

The Panic Broadcast is the first album to feature original guitarist, songwriter and producer Peter Wichers since his return to the band in 2008. And man, based on “Two Lives Worth of Reckoning,” he sounds like he’s in fine form.

Go here to stream that track. And check out the album cover above. Created by Bartosz Nalezinski, it kicks all kinds of ass, too.

Apr 302010

Today we’re continuing the experiment we began two days ago, to test our hypothesis that at least in the world of extreme metal, cool album cover art usually means there’s something worth hearing in the music. Yeah, we know it’s a ridiculous, illogical hypothesis, but at least in our random experience we think there’s some truth to it. Besides, it’s proven to be an interesting vehicle for checking out some new music.

The test methodology we used is this: We looked at news blurbs on Blabbermouth over a recent 48-hour period about new or forthcoming albums, and every time we saw a cool album cover, we visited the band’s MySpace site and listened to what was available from the album.

In Part 1 of this experiment, we reported on our first two test samples — a forthcoming album from Keep of Kalessin and a recently released album from Trident. So far, our samples confirm the hypothesis. Today, we’re reporting on the results of three more samples, courtesy of Setherial, Trigger the Bloodshed, and Witchery.

The first sample is an album called Ekpyrosis scheduled for release in May on Regain Records by that Swedish band, Setherial. The cover art, by an artist named Bartosz Nalezinski, is pictured at the top of this post. We thought it was kinda cool — a ghoulish metamorphosis of some traditional Christian iconography. But is the music cool?  We have our own opinion … after the jump. (plus the other test results)

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