Nov 062017

 

(This is Wil Cifer’s review of The Dusk In Us — the recently released ninth album by Converge.)

Twenty years ago a friend of mine said to me, “There is this band you would like called Converge, they are like if Sunny Day Real Estate was metal-as-fuck hardcore”. Over the course of those 20 years things have changed for the band. They got a new drummer and put out this album called Jane Doe that turned heavy music on its head. Their guitarist Kurt Ballou is now a highly sought-after producer. With their guitarist behind the mixing board for The Dusk In Us, you might expect to be hit by a wall of guitar. This is not the case. Instead you get guitars with a warm organic sound that sit back in the mix like they are just running straight into their amps. Even in the album’s more experimental moments it retains a very organic sound.

“Eye of the Quarrel” makes it pretty clear that their punk side has not gone anywhere. Bannon’s vocals are not screamed with the same emotional tumult of earlier albums. You can actually understand what he is yelling. They do return to the kind of grit I want from them on “Under Duress”. The chorus is almost sung in a throaty bellow, with the drummer throwing in angular accents and odd-timed punches.

Jul 272017

 

Because this is our first round-up of news and new music this week I’m including some items that you may have already noticed elsewhere. But to increase the chances of surprising you with a new discovery, I’ve also included a few excellent new songs from more obscure names. I’ve also chosen them from among a very big list of new releases with the aim of providing diversity of sound. Before we get to the music, I have a couple of news items to share.

THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER

Two days ago The Black Dahlia Murder posted that photo at the top of this post on their Facebook page, with no comment. It shows the hand of the esteemed Kristian Wåhlin, aka Necrolord, nearing completion of a very eye-catching piece of red artwork.

Putting two and two together, we can deduce that this will become the cover art for a new album by The Black Dahlia Murder, the existence of which was disclosed in June. In addition, more recent disclosures indicate that the album will be called Nightbringers and will be released on October 6.

May 042016

Roadburn-2016-OfficalArtwork1

 

The 2016 edition of the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands, is now in the history books. It was the first edition of the festival to be presented at the newly renovated 013 venue, and it boasted a typically impressive and diverse line-up of bands. While none of the NCS scribes was on hand for this year’s event, we do have beautiful photos of many of the performances, thanks to Kris T. Therrian of 17 seconds photography.

We’ve divided these photo collections into four parts, one for each day of the festival, and we’re rolling them out on successive days here at our site. You can see photos from Day One here and Day Two here. The remaining installment will appear tomorrow. Many thanks to Kris for letting us share these memories with you. For more info about her work, visit these links:

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:

Oct 202014

According to reports here and here, the 2015 edition of THE DECIBEL TOUR will include At the Gates, Converge, and Vallenfyre, plus one more band yet to be announced. This news was apparently divulged by Richard Christy on Saturday night on stage during the “Decibel Takes Manhattan” show, which featured Amon Amarth, Sabaton, and Vallenfyre.

I haven’t seen any more information than what is reported above, but this is exciting news. I’ll now have my fingers crossed, except for those rare occasions when I need those fingers for something else, that this thing will stop in Seattle.

That is all.

UPDATE: The tour schedule has now been announced. Here it is (I can un-cross my fingers):

Nov 112013

Here are three new recommended videos that premiered in recent days, two of them this morning. Recommended by me, because I like them.

SATYRICON

When Andy Synn reviewed Satyricon’s self-titled 2013 album for us, he wrote this about the song “Phoenix”: “Instantly divisive, seemingly designed to be hated, its clean, almost bluesy vocals (courtesy of Sivert Høyem) and ringing guitars initially like a step beyond all bounds of the group’s history. But look closer. Those drums, those slow-blooming riffs, they retain the essence of the band. Listen to what the song represents. They have rediscovered their spark, their fire, and their roots – but not perhaps in a way that they, or any of us, would have thought. It’s strange. It’s unexpected. It’s provocative… It’s Satyricon through and through.”

On September 8 Satyricon performed “Phoenix” as part of their concert with the Norwegian National Opera Chorus in the Norwegian Opera House in Oslo. That performance has now become the first official music video from the new album, and it again features Sivert Høyem on vocals. I love this song (and yes, I know it’s nothing but clean vocals), and the video is damned cool, too. Watch it next.

May 232013

You may remember that last August Converge and Napalm Death released a split, both digitally and as a 7″ vinyl record. (If you missed that, it’s still available here.) Converge contributed two songs to the split, a song called “No Light Escapes” and a cover of Entombed’s masterful “Wolverine Blues”. The cover song included a multitude of guest vocals. It turns out that when Converge created the cover track, each of the guest vocalists recorded a full version of the song, which Converge then used to compile the final version included on the split.

Today, Converge released a digital EP entitled Pound For Pound: The Wolverine Blues Sessions, which includes the complete mixes of each guest vocalist’s recording (as well as Jacob Bannon’s and Nate Newton’s), presented as five unique versions of the song, to wit:

1. Wolverine Blues w/ Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, etc)
2. Wolverine Blues w/ Jacob Bannon (Converge, Wear Your Wounds)
3. Wolverine Blues w/ Kevin Baker (All Pigs Must Die, The Hope Conspiracy, etc)
4. Wolverine Blues w/ Nate Newton (Converge, Doomriders, Old Man Gloom, etc)
5. Wolverine Blues w / Tomas Lindberg (Disfear, At The Gates, etc) and Kurt (Converge, etc)

Check out a full stream of this unusual EP right after the jump. You can get it here.  Cool cover art, too.

Jan 302013

Welcome to Part 21 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. In each installment, I’ve been posting at least two songs that made the cut. 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 three I’m announcing today, click here.

All good things must come to an end, and this seemingly endless list will end tomorrow with Part 22, going out in a blaze of death metal glory. Today’s three songs, however, are another set that don’t come from the same genre of metal. If they have anything in common besides my belief in them, it’s that all three are heavy as hell.

HIGH ON FIRE

Our friend and fellow blogger Professor D. Grover the XIIIth reviewed High On Fire’s 2012 album for us (here), and I think it’s fair to say that he had mixed feelings about De Vermis Mysteriis, which he viewed as a bit of a step backward compared to the step forward represented by 2010’s Snakes For the Divine. I had the opposite reaction. Where the Professor viewed Snakes as HoF’s crowning achievement, I enjoyed De Vermis Mysteriis more than anything I’ve yet heard from the band.

I preferred the grimier, grittier tone that Kurt Ballou’s production brought to the sound and the utter darkness that suffused so much of the music. The standout track for me — a song that has gotten a shitload of play since I first heard  it — is “King of Days”.

Nov 202012

I stayed home from work yesterday. I picked a bad day to do that. Yesterday afternoon we lost power on our island due to a really nasty day-long storm that raged through the Puget Sound area. We got the generator going, but the DSL service in our area went down at the same time the power did, and it didn’t come back before I went to bed. This morning, the power and the DSL were both back.

The experience vividly demonstrated how obsessive I’ve become about this fucking blog. Being disconnected from the internet for about 12 hours prevented me from keeping up with what was happening in the world of metal. I experienced feelings of anxiety and intense frustration. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

It got so bad that I drove in the darkness  through the driving wind and rain to the ferry terminal, where the power was on and an internet connection was available. I sat there for about 30 minutes, getting this morning’s first post ready to appear automatically and doing a bit of web surfing, and then decided I shouldn’t leave my wife alone in our powerless house any longer and went home. Fucking sick, that’s what I am. I need help of some kind.

This morning I spent hours catching up on what I missed while the net connection was down. I found dozens of interesting-looking things. Even after winnowing out the ones that turned out to be less interesting than they first appeared to be, I still have more shit to share than would manageably fit in one post, so I’m dividing them into three posts, of which this is the first. I’m going to cover the new music and videos in alphabetical order.

But before diving in, here’s one piece of breaking news: Year-end listmania is almost upon us, and it begins with DECIBEL magazine selecting All We Love We Leave Behind by Converge as its Album of the Year. Here’s the proof, as it appeared on the Converge Facebook page:

Oct 042012

Late yesterday I discovered that Converge had launched a full-album stream for All We Love We Leave Behind on YouTube. Originally, I intended only to include that piece of news in a post I was putting together with other new music streams that surfaced yesterday. But as I listened to the album and began attempting to describe briefly what I was hearing, the post began to take the shape of a review.

It’s not the kind of review I would normally write — I haven’t listened to the album multiple times, or made notes about what I was hearing, or sat back and attempted to collect my thoughts after putting some space between me and the music. Hell, I’m not even 100% sure that I’m matching up the songs with their correct titles, because there’s no index to the album stream that tells you for sure when one song stops and the next one starts — and given the dynamics within the songs and the nearly seamless flow from one to the next, it’s not always patently obvious (though the changing artwork is a signal).

But fuck it, I’m so caught up in what I’ve heard that I’m going with my near-stream-of-consciousness first impressions, and that’s that.

********

All We Love We Leave Behind will be released by Epitaph Records on October 9. In its “deluxe” limited-edition CD format, there are 17 songs (14 songs on the regular release), and that deluxe edition also includes a hardcover, clothbound book with 48 pages of full-color original art by vocalist Jacob Bannon. Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this release almost as much for the artwork as for the music. In fact, I pre-ordered that expensive limited edition copy because of anticipation over the artwork, having heard nothing of the music. (You can see the variety of bundles and formats for the album at this location, where they can also be pre-ordered.)

But because of this full-album stream, the music is now available for all of us to hear in advance of the official release, and I unwittingly made a wise call in pre-ordering this baby. The stream not only includes the music, it also includes much of the individualized artwork that Jacob Bannon created for each song, and the art is amazing, as I suspected it would be. And the music? It’s equally amazing.

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