Jul 132017

 

(Our friend and long-time NCS supporter Booker from New Zealand prepared this guest post about an unusual new band from NZ named Alien Weaponry.)

New Zealand is a strange place; trust me, I live here. It refers to itself as “God’s own” country, and sees itself as an idyllic little egalitarian (supposedly) land at the edge of the earth, filled with natural beauty, and sparsely populated with easy-going sports-loving people. And yet, behind this idyllic facade it hides a dark past – and hides it well. But as readers of this site know, the hidden, darker side of human nature just happens to be something of a favourite theme for metal. All too often society seems to act like the evil queen in Snow White, only wanting the mirror it holds up to shower it with platitudes and reflect the good. But metal holds up the mirror which flatters not.

Not surprisingly, then, eventually a New Zealand metal band would come along which would dare speak openly of the country’s past. But what would be a surprise, is that it would take a band whose members are still in high school to do it – and in what seems to be a world first, do it with lyrics in Te Reo, the language of the indigenous Māori people. Welcome to Alien Weaponry.

Feb 032017

 

(Our long-time supporter and occasional contributor Booker returns to NCS with this review of the new album by Finland’s Diablerie.)

Music goes through phases, some of them short-lived trends. And let’s face it, metal is no different. But there’s always some stallion musos that keep true to their hearts and let fly with the rhythms and sounds that light their own fire, regardless of the changing moods around them. Like those stalwart bands that kept cranking out solid thrash throughout the ’90s and 2000s, while grunge and nu-metal captured hearts and minds, only to see the hunger for riffs and blazing solos come back full circle into fashion again.

Strangely, one branch of metal which the world seems to have shied away from in recent times is industrial. I say strange, because given it’s got solid, heavy rhythms, the fusing of “traditional” metal instruments with experimentation – in the form of electronica, synths, and samples – and often bleak and dystopian lyrics and themes, you’d think it would fit right into a cover of “these are just a few of my favourite things” sung by a true kvlt metal fan.

But for reasons beyond my comprehension, the world’s gaze has shifted elsewhere, and industrial has largely been left to fade into the background. Well, if you’re like me and have a penchant for riffs that slam like concrete sledgehammers and aren’t afraid of synths that would fit in an ’80s soundtrack, fear not: because Finland’s Diablerie are one of those bands who have been toiling away in the shadows and quietly following their own industrial compass. And now they bring us their second full-length album The Catalyst Vol. I: Control via Primitive Records.

Oct 252016

ragnarok-cover-art

 

(Our long-time supporter and occasional contributor Booker returns to NCS with this review of the new album by Norway’s Wardruna.)

Wardruna are an exception to the rule here. On the one hand, because of the singing, which is not only “clean”, but is often chanted, whispered, or spoken-word, as well as being in a language few of us would understand. And the foreign-ness of it means that the significance of the vocals – the message, or meaning — is simply the rhythm and emotion the vocals produce, rather than the what the words signify – arguably, in that respect, perhaps not too far off a lot of the metal we listen to.

But they’re an exception, too, as you won’t find any distorted guitars here, nor any traditional drum kits, blast beats, breakdowns, or sounds belonging to the mosh pit. But what’s on offer will hopefully move and entice you all the same.

Jun 202016

Acyl-Aftermath

 

(Our long-time New Zealand supporter and occasional guest writer Booker reviews the new album by the Paris-based band Acyl.)

Back in 2012, Islander put out a request for fellow readers to pitch in a review or two while he was otherwise occupied. One of the belated efforts I offered was a review of Acyl’s Algebra album, which I’d been cranking on high rotation since randomly discovering it some months earlier in the nether regions of the internet (it’s amazing what you’ll find back there!). That post was one of my first here at NCS, and just like a bad case of herpes I’ve kept coming back ever since. So long, in fact, that Acyl have had time to tour, hit restart on the writing process, orbit the sun a few times, and record and release a follow-up album: Aftermath, which came out at the start of the month.

May 032016

Bosch-christs descent into hell

 

(Our old friend from New Zealand and occasional guest writer Booker brings us a collection of new releases discovered through their cover art, along with some very entertaining words.)

“You should never judge a book by its cover”, or so the saying goes. No doubt most of us try and do the same with our approach to metal. Yet somehow, in amongst all the diversity of music out there, the community of metal musicians seems to self-organize; just like some drops of T-1000 liquid metal coming together to form a greater terrifying machine, different minds and souls from across the world end up uniting in their artistic endeavours and adorning their albums with specific, identifiable, cover themes. For the most part, seeing a cover with a certain “typical genre X” album art style can lead you to a fair idea of what aural treasures lie inside, but sometimes they can come out of left field and surprise you. We shouldn’t judge albums by their cover, but let’s be honest: we might say we don’t, but we all do. Like masturbation.

Once upon a time back in NCS history, Islander ran a series called “Eye Catchers” dedicated to albums that hooked you in with their artwork (and other tasty aspects). As I was perusing Bandcamp for delicious new audio treats, I realised that I too was basing my decisions of what to listen to by inadvertently succumbing to the artwork, like a moth to flame. So I figured, the hell with it, let’s see where this folly-filled exercise leads me…. and after a few surprises, and some fails, here’s a few highlights I’d like to share.

Feb 042015

 

(Our guest Booker reviews the new album by Finsterforst.)

One of the unique features of this fascinating piece of technological architecture we call ‘the internet’ is the way in which information becomes searchable, indexed, codified and filed away in virtual perpetuity. And as we all know, that can be terrifying when used to spy and pry into people’s lives, or when someone logs into your Amazon account and finds out about that copy of ‘Bronies’ you bought (http://youtu.be/ohnuyqJyEW0)…… yeah, um, that happened to… a friend….

But for someone like me with more memory problems than the guy from Memento, it’s a glorious reminder of ‘how the fuck did I find out about this band?’. Case in point — I can pinpoint the first time the hammering tones of Finsterforst graced my earholes, as this post featured the ‘Nichts als Asche’ video from their previous album Rastlos. And after a few google searches, it was clear the 5-minute odd video was effectively the ‘radio edit’ version (or would that be ‘youtube edit’?) of the 12-minute opening track of the album. Color me intrigued.

Ever since, Rastlos had me hooked with its blend of folk metal, mixed with some strong orchestral influences, traditional Germanic singing, and a touch of Neue Deutsche Härte influence.  And now, a touch over two years later, Finsterforst offer us the follow-up Mach Dich Frei.

Dec 102014

(Guest writer Booker returns to NCS after an extended hiatus with this review of the new album by Intervoid from the wilds of northeast Ohio.)

There are those who follow, and then there are those who take another path. We probably all like to think that the world of metal is made up of people who fit into the latter group. Maybe you like to think you’re part of that group, too, and that this bent in your character has made you take the red pill and set in motion a series of events that has led you, inexorably, here. But there’s an even more extreme group who throw all semblance of caution to the wind, raise middle fingers to the gods, and have the temerity to… release an album in December.

I can hear you screaming in disbelief, “Who would do such a thing?!”. Yes, who would… who would violate the sacred sanctity of the year-end list, which now has spread into November like an out-of-control blob consuming ever more months in an ever-increasing race to be first. Maybe these people know something we don’t? Maybe they’ve just got better things to do than to schedule their musical creations around the whims of the internet metal nerds? I have another idea – they are not human. And this brings us to Intervoid, whose debut LP just dropped as a late-breaking treat to top off the year.

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