(Andy Synn presents a collection of songs to celebrate the International Day of Happiness, which the UN has established as March 20th — today!)
How are we all doing today? Good?
I only ask because today is apparently International Day of Happiness, so we should all be feeling that little bit brighter and sprightlier as a result.
Today is also the day when the UN releases their annual World Happiness Report and, wouldn’t you know it, but our Norwegian brethren (and lady-brethren) have only gone and dethroned the Danish as the world’s happiest nation!
So, in tribute to this momentous occasion, here are five bands who help make Norway the happiest place on earth.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Norway’s Blood Red Throne.)
Eight albums in and it still feel like Norwegian wrecking crew Blood Red Throne never quite get the respect they deserve. I mean, by this point the band are effectively a Death Metal institution, and even their lesser albums (of which there aren’t many) are still more than capable of levelling a small town.
Maybe Union of Flesh and Machine will be the album to change that. Or maybe it won’t. Only time will tell. But it’s hard to deny that the band’s latest album is yet another top-tier terminator of crushing, grooving, blasting belligerence and cold, calculated aggression.
I have for you a big selection of new and newly discovered songs and videos that I’d like to recommend. As you can tell, I got tired of using the “Seen and Heard” title for these round-ups, at least for today. Also, the riffs really are the kings and queens of most of these songs (but not all). I’m presenting all this stuff in alphabetical order by band name. Genre-wise, the music is all over the place….
Ape Cave are from Portland, Oregon. At the end of May they released what I think is their debut EP, named Primordium (with the eye-catching cover art above). I found out about it through a link posted by a Facebook friend.
When you press “play” on the Bandcamp stream below, you’ll hear the EP’s final track first. It hooked me hard, and the other two songs are just as good. Ape Cave blend thick, heavy riffs and gut-rumbling percussion with psychedelic lead guitar machinations and raw, wretched vocal vituperation, creating a bleak and often disorienting atmosphere while punching hard enough to rattle your bones.
(NCS writer Andy Synn attended part of the Bloodstock Festival in England last weekend and files this report, with his own photos.)
For various reasons I was only able to make it to the one day of Bloodstock Festival this year. Thankfully that one day happened to be headlined by the legendary Emperor, so I’m not massively complaining!
Due to some issues getting my new laptop (it’s lovely and shiny and I’m writing this column on it right now), I ended up running a little late that morning and so, after picking up my two companions, got to the festival site a little later than planned. As a result I missed out on both The King Is Blind and Shining (Nor), but was there in time to see Old Corpse Road bring their eloquent mix of dark folklore and blackened intensity to the Sophie Stage.
We present Part 7 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two I’m announcing today, click here.
BLOOD RED THRONE
Norway’s Blood Red Throne greeted 2013 with a new self-titled album featuring a new line-up of talent. Andy Synn summed it up as follows in his NCS review:
“Marrying the demented aggression of Cannibal Corpse to the teeth-grinding groove of Pantera at their most abrasive, shot through with touches of subtly complex guitar work a la Death at their most focussed and hostile, BRT’s seventh full-length album captures every aspect of their sound in microcosm, while also being their shortest, most refined, record since 2003’s Affiliated With The Suffering….
“…For all their extremity – and there are moments on this album where the mind-bending blast frenzy, the ravenous banshee howls, and the crushing meltdown riffage combine into an eruption of absolute face-melting extremity – Blood Red Throne are a band with real character. That, along with their monstrous, inhuman tightness (and unbelievable ability to consume alcohol) is their key strength.”
(Andy Synn reviews the new, self-titled album by Norway’s Blood Red Throne, which will be released May 25 by Sevared Records.)
I think even the members of Blood Red Throne would admit that their line-up over the years has been far from stable. Though core-member Daniel Olaisen (a/k/a Død) remains a consistent thread throughout their history, the band have by my count now had 4 vocalists, 3 guitarists (so only one change there, luckily), 2 bassists, and 5 drummers. That’s a lot of members.
Funny thing is, I don’t think the quality of their output has suffered in the slightest. There are albums I personally prefer, but you’d be hard pushed to argue that BRT have any weak links in their musical chain.
The group solidified a new permanent line-up in 2011, just after the recording of Brualitarian Regime, an album that featured the final recorded appearances of long-time vocalist Vald and original bassist Erlend Caspersen. However, although both Ivan Gujic (gutiars) and Emil Wiksten (drums) made their debuts on Brutalitarian Regime, new vocalist Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen and new bassist Ole Bent Madsen have, so far, only been introduced to the band’s fanbase via their appearances on the band’s many tour dates and live shows. So this is the first chance we’re all getting to hear the new iteration of the band as a recording entity, and to see what the newly redefined collective brings to the table.
I already posted one kind of round-up this morning, one that involved sending you away to other sites to hear new songs that are exclusively streaming elsewhere. But the last 24 hours were so chock full of new musical discoveries that I need to add a second round-up. In this one, however, I can give you the music to hear and the videos to watch at our very own humble site.
BLOOD RED THRONE
And the first offering comes your way from the icy fastness of southern Norway where Blood Red Throne sit on their blood red throne. As previously reported, this band are celebrating the 15th year of their existence with a new, self-titled album in a special edition LP box set that’s been up for pre-sale on Blood Red Throne’s Bandcamp page (here) since March. It will be released by Sevared Records on May 21. It features that sweet cover art by Rafael Tavares that’s staring at you above.
Today, the band premiered a music video for one of the new songs, which bears the wonderfully descriptive title of “Primitive Killing Machine”. It’s a merciless meat-grinder of a song, but as your head is pulled down into the teeth of the machine, it will be ringing with an exotic melody and banging happily away as it’s being pulverised and pulped. Nasty video, too.
Now that I have your attention, thanks to that new album cover above, I have three more random pieces of new music to share with you today.
It’s been way too long since we’ve featured anything by Finland’s Bob Malmström here at NCS. I first tumbled to them in December 2011 after catching their official music video for a song called “Eliten”, which was a kind of searing, headbanging, thrash/hardcore/punk onslaught, as rendered by a bunch of dudes in suits sipping champagne. For a fair amount of background about the band’s politically incorrect philosophies and interests, you might check out the post I wrote at that time.
Today brought a fresh reminder of how much ass this band kick: the debut of a lyric video for the title track from a new Bob Malmström album entitled Punkens framtid, which, according to Google Translate, means “Punk future” in Swedish. The new song rocks so hard it nearly knocked me flat, but I somehow kept my feet despite bouncing around in a solo mosh pit of my own making.
I’m making a slow start on the blog today. I was putting the finishing touches on a pocket-sized fusion reactor that runs on spit, produces beer as a by-product, and will supply the power (and beer) needs of an entire neighborhood for a century. I’ve been working on the idea for a few days and figured I’d just go ahead and get er done.
Also, I stayed up late last night partying with my co-workers after completing that month-long day-job project I’ve been whining about, and I got obliterated.
Anyways, here are a few things I saw and heard this morning after finishing the reactor and waiting for those skull trolls in my head to stop hammering on shit with lead mallets. I hate skull trolls.
According to a press release I got, Austria’s Belphegor have finished tracking drums, bass, and guitar for their new album, working with producer Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal). That’s the good news. The bad news is that the release of the new album has been pushed back to early 2014. Frontman Helmuth Lehner, who nearly died last year as a result of complications from a typhus infection he contracted on tour in Brazil, is scheduled to record vocals in June and July, with mixing and mastering to be done in September.
(Andy Synn witnessed the Derby, England stop of the Reborn of Death Tour and apparently was so skull-rattled by the experience that he thought he was at the movies.)
What a line-up, am I right? It’s like a 6-round pummelling before that final knock-out blow. Each band softening you up for another vicious beating by the next. So, still feeling a little punch drunk from the experience, how am I going to manage to review the show for you fine folks?
Through the works of one Mr Sylvester Stallone.
Chronologically speaking, Carceri are the Rocky Balboa (Rocky 6, for those not in the know) of the evening. Definitely the newest act on the block, with a large legacy to live up to. Thankfully, much like their filmic counterpart, they manage to take familiar elements and give them just enough of a modern shine to justify their position. Playing cuts from their new album The Good Must Suffer The Wicked, with a backdrop of dizzying, morbid imagery scrolling and warping behind them, the group deliver an electrifying blend of punchy, mechanical riffage, bone-rattling blast-beats and massive death growls that deftly bears up under the weight of their Oscar-winning legacy.
Unfortunately, the position of Rocky 5 is occupied by Cerebral Bore tonight, as their brain-mangling death-grind has all the familiar elements and hits all the expected story-beats, but somehow lacks the inherent character and heart in its delivery. The vocals are utterly monstrous, but the drums have an overly-triggered sound that robs them of their brutality, and the bass and guitar never fully lock in correctly. The actors are all present, but something about the story is lacking. Close to the end of the set, however, the band debut a new song that shows real promise, picking up the pace in time for the closing credits.