Feb 022017

 

(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) returns to NCS with this review of the new album by New Zealand’s Into Orbit, which will be released on February 3 — and we have a just-released full stream of the album as well.)

Countless bands try to grab our attention with an enticing vocal hook. Hell, even in the world of extreme metal, where vocals are frequently an indecipherable blur, words and lyrics still play a crucial role in imparting meaning. At the other end of the spectrum though, instrumental bands seek to convey meaning without any lyrical or vocal cues, and that’s obviously a tougher task. When it all goes well, audiences can decipher meaning from moving songs, and that forges a connection between fans and bands. But when it all goes wrong, because a band is technically proficient but emotionally sterile, instrumental music is simply tedious background noise. Elevator music, at best.

It’s rare to find an instrumental band that manages to transmit its message evocatively. But the music of New Zealand instrumental duo Into Orbit has received rousing applause at home for doing just that. In some ways, Into Orbit are building on a legacy established by New Zealand bands such as Jakob or Kerretta –– both guitar-led instrumental groups with fan bases in Europe and the US. Jakob and Kerretta have gained international recognition because they make truly gripping music, and there’s no question that Into Orbit’s superb new album, Unearthing, is filled with captivating music too.

Nov 072016

setentia-darkness-transcend

 

(We’re grateful to New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) for bringing us this review of the debut album by New Zealand’s Setentia, which will be released on November 11 by the Finnish label Blood Music.)

Setentia are an atmospheric death metal band from New Zealand. They write hard-hitting, complex songs where jagged melodies do battle with tremolo deluges on dissonant soundscapes. The band’s accomplished full-length debut, Darkness Transcend, intertwines gut-felt ferocity with forward-thinking expressiveness. And yes, with those creative hallmarks, Setentia have been compared to New Zealand’s much-lauded death metal behemoth Ulcerate, many times.

That’s an understandable comparison to make. Sonic similarities aside, Setentia and Ulcerate have higher profiles than most other New Zealand death metal bands because they’re signed to international record labels (Finnish label Blood Music, in Setentia’s case).

Nov 012016

metaltower-myopic-dystopia

 

(Our friend, New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) is back with us again with this review of the new album by NZ’s remarkable MetalTower — and the premiere of a full album stream.)

 

New Zealand progressive death metal band MetalTower have shared the stage with international touring acts like Carcass, Krisiun, and Psycroptic. And that trio of bands also happens to be the perfect representation of the musical diversity that the long-running MetalTower exhibit on their latest full-length, Myopic Dystopia. No Clean Singing is proud to be hosting the album’s worldwide premiere, and here’s a few hundred words of praise about Myopic Dystopia to get you started.

Where to start? Well, how about those aforementioned bands. Like Carcass, MetalTower inject a sense of self-awareness into their whirlwind tunes; see Myopic Dystopia’s “Fvk Mourning”. MetalTower also exhibit a Krisiun-like desire to snap necks and shatter spines with hammering riffs and percussion on tracks like “Futility”. And if Psycroptic’s mix of bombarding metal and technical prowess has impressed you before, then you’ll likely admire MetalTower’s combination of ferocity and finesse too.

Oct 242016

winter-deluge-devolution-decay

 

(New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) returns to NCS with this review of the forthcoming second album by NZ’s Winter Deluge.)

Changes within a band can lead to creative uncertainty or even outright artistic collapse. But that’s clearly not an issue for New Zealand black metal outfit Winter Deluge. Last time we heard from the group was back in 2012, when they released their hate-fuelled full-length debut, As the Earth Fades into Obscurity. Since then, Winter Deluge have cycled through a few bassists, and lost and gained both a guitarist and a vocalist. But none of those changes has dented or derailed Winter Deluge’s malevolent mission in the slightest.

Oct 202016

verberis-vexamen

 

(We welcome back New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises), who wrote this review of the debut album by Verberis, which has recently been released by Iron Bonehead Productions.)

The roster of German record label Iron Bonehead Productions reads like a who’s who of pre-eminent cult metal bands. That’s certainly true when it comes to bands who reside in the far-flung isles of New Zealand. Indomitable underground New Zealand bands like Vassafor, Sinistrous Diabolus, Veneficium, Witchrist, Diocletian, Creeping, Prisoner of War, Solar Mass, and Heresiarch have all had storming works released under Iron Bonehead’s banner. And next on the label’s list of uncompromising releases from the southern latitudes is Vexamen: the debut full-length from blackened death metal band Verberis.

Apr 212016

 

Sinistrous Diabolus-II

 

(New Zealand music writer and broadcaster Craig Hayes rejoins us with this review of the new album II by Sinistrous Diabolus, which was self-released on March 31, 2016, and is available on Bandcamp.)

Many of metal’s most interesting bands are intensely dramatic without ever indulging in any overt theatrics. Often those bands are fronted by singular musicians whose creations reflect the pitch-black depths of their own trials and tribulations. Those musicians aren’t playing ‘make believe’, and their music frequently burrows into the darkest recesses of our own minds.

Cult New Zealand death/doom band Sinistrous Diabolus definitely fits into that category. And the band’s new full-length, II, is a monstrous, spine-chilling album that delivers an altogether soul-crushing experience. Fans of Australian death/doom band Inverloch’s excellent Distance | Collapsed album from earlier this year will find comparable levels of heaviness awaiting on Sinistrous Diabolus’ II. But if the name Sinistrous Diabolus doesn’t leap to mind when you’re contemplating the gloomiest metal around, that’s perfectly understandable.

Sinistrous Diabolus is a markedly underground entity from the far-flung reaches, and has been on hiatus a number of times since forming in the early ’90s. The band isn’t actually operating right now, even though there’s a new album out. But even if you’ve never heard of Sinistrous Diabolus before, you might well have heard the band’s influence echoing in Australiasian extreme metal.

Aug 312015

Cephalopod 2014

 

(We welcome back New Zealand-based metal writer and broadcaster Craig Hayes, who brings us this interview with Elise Gregg-Schofield of New Zealand’s Cephalopod, whose new EP was released this summer.)

Losing the primary songwriter from any band often means the demise of said band is sure to follow. However, although New Zealand metal band Cephalopod lost one of its key founding members a few years back, the group has ended up making a giant compositional leap on their new EP, A Bad Case of Unreality. The band’s last release, 2012’s Materialization, featured plenty of high-energy thrash mixed with vocalist Elise Gregg-Schofield’s howls. But when it came time to record A Bad Case of Unreality, Cephalopod clearly had a whole new set of goals.

Not only is A Bad Case of Unreality is more complex and adventurous release than Cephalopod’s previous EP, but Gregg-Schofield’s vocals are far more dynamic, too. Far from sounding like a band recovering from the exit of a key songwriter, A Bad Case of Unreality finds Cephalopod revelling in new energy and renewed enthusiasm. The EP sees Cephalopod inject intense layers of intricacy into ten-tonne pandemonium on “Ape Brain” and “Loose Teeth”.\, while “Blue and Righteous” and “A Bad Case of Unreality” dig into brutal technical mayhem like Cephalopod have never done before.

All up, A Bad Case of Unreality presents a band that’s free to experiment with a wider range of influences and creative inspirations. No Clean Singing recently caught up with Cephalopod vocalist Gregg-Schofield to discuss A Bad Case of Unreality, and those changes in the band’s sound and attitude.

May 132015

 

(New Zealand-based metal writer and broadcaster Craig Hayes brings us this interview with Rigel Walshe of New Zealand’s  Dawn of Azazel, whose phenomenal comeback album was released on April 28.)

A couple of weeks ago, long-running New Zealand death metal titan Dawn of Azazel released The Tides of Damocles, the band’s first album in six long years. Formed in 1999, Dawn of Azazel are a crucial band in the history of New Zealand extreme metal. Their 2003 full-length debut, The Law of the Strong, is a 100% blistering and battering classic. And, over the years, Dawn of Azazelhave toured the globe, reaped acclaim from all corners of the metal underground, and received high praise in the press at home and abroad.In 2009, after the release and touring for Dawn of Azazel’s third album, Relentless, the band went into hiatus. Frontman Rigel Walshe wanted to further explore career options outside of the music sphere at the time. And it’d be fair to say the return of Dawn of Azazelin 2015 has been greeted with rapturous applause both at home and offshore.The band headed back to Mana Recording Studios last year to record, mix and master The Tides of Damocles, and there’s no question that Dawn of Azazel have returned with a ferociously aggressive, dynamic, and wholly skull-cleaving album. No Clean Singing caught up with frontman Rigel recently to talk about the band resurfacing, his reflections on his time away from the metal underground, and what the future holds for one of death metal’s premier cult bands.

Nov 042014

 

(About one week ago we premiered a song from an album by New Zealand’s House of Capricorn that has rapidly become one of my favorite records of this year, even though it might seem like an odd fit for a site with our name. Today, we’re lucky to have New Zealand-based metal writer and broadcaster Craig Hayes’ interview with the band’s impressive vocalist Marko Pavlovic.)

Over ten-thousand miles separate New Zealand’s harbingers of apocalyptic devilry, The House of Capricorn, from their new label, Finland-based Svart Records. Still, evil knows no boundaries, and the meeting of minds between Svart, one of the most captivating labels around, and The House of Capricorn, one of the most riveting entities in the ritualistic rock ‘n’ roll underground, makes for the perfect Mephistophelian pact.

On November 9th, Svart is releasing The House of Capricorn’s third full-length, Morning Star Rise. The album is one of the year’s best examples of profoundly wicked music wrapped in a black-hearted aesthetic. Drawing from the cauldron of gothic rock, black metal, and deathrock, the stench of hellfire and eternal damnation pervades all of Morning Star Rise. But it hasn’t always been that way for The House of Capricorn.

Nov 022014

 

(New Zealand-based metal writer and broadcaster Craig Hayes brings us something very special — the premiere of an album-length video, preceded by the following introduction.)

New Zealand instrumental duo Into Orbit released their debut album, Caverns, to rave reviews at home earlier this year. The band’s guitarist Paul Stewart, and drummer Ian Moir, craft vast and dynamic soundscapes that combine post-metal and post-rock with elements of progressive, drone, and ambient-rock. Caverns featured both tranquil and thundering passages, and plenty of soaring six-string detonations and crashing percussion too, but what the album brought most of all was a sense of epic journeying.

Caverns conjured up imposing landscapes, took deep dives into microscopic worlds, and befitting Into Orbit’s moniker, launched into the wonders and mystery of galaxies overhead. Of course, it’s one thing to summon all of those visions via the mental imagery of the mind’s eye, but Into Orbit have gone one better and released a full-length video, covering the entirely of Caverns tracks. That’s 40-plus minutes of mesmerising optical and audio journeying, and No Clean Singing is proud to be streaming the debut of Caverns right here.

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