(Andy Synn delivers this review of the second day at the recently completed Summer Breeze festival in Germany, and again provides video of the performances. To see his review of the festival’s first day, go here. We’ll have Part 3 of his review tomorrow.)
Day 2 of the festival kicked off (for me at least) with some pure blackened misanthropy courtesy of France’s Merrimack who proceeded to shake the cobwebs out of everyone’s brains with an esoteric take on panzerfaust black metal blasting that recalls Deathspell Omega in places (though considerably more focussed and violent).
The band’s frontman Vestal was a particularly difficult figure to look away from, screeching his savage hymns of depravity whilst physically flagellating himself with both his mic and his bare fists. Combine this with the band’s relentless delivery – all jagged edges and harsh, ecliptic angles, and you get one singularly uncomfortable, yet incredibly compelling, live experience.
(Here’s another in Andy Synn’s irregular series of things that come in five’s.)
That’s right, with this edition of the column I’m going to try and convince you that your opinions are wrong, and break the Pavlovian conditioning that has led you all to unfairly loathe some genuinely fine albums.
But… this is the internet… so none of that’s probably going to happen.
A little context first off though. A couple of days back I was listening to the new Cryptopsy album (still stunning btw) and suddenly thought to myself, “You know what, I haven’t listened to The Unspoken King in forever… surely it’s not as bad as I remember?”.
And you know what… it is. Ok, so it has a couple of solid songs, and a few that would be pretty good if they weren’t Cryptopsy songs, but overall… wow… it really is bad.
But it did get me thinking about albums towards which the general public consensus is largely negative (often influenced strongly by prevailing media portrayals, and sometimes out and out misrepresentations) but which I think deserve a renaissance, now that the initial furore has died down.
So here I present five of my picks for albums which have been castigated and criticised by the metal community at large, sometimes seemingly without even listening to the actual music, but which I think are actually pretty brilliant, once you get past all the politics and preconceptions. In fact, having spoken to several people about some of these albums, it seems a lot of folks “remember” the albums as being bad, but can’t tell you much about when, or even if, they’ve actually listened to them. So here I intend to rectify that.
Welcome to Part 17 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.
I’ve been tramping through the forest of black metal the last couple of days and decided to stay there at least one more day. I’ve been pretty sure for a while that this list would include music from each of today’s three very different albums. The hard part came in picking just one song from each.
This NOLA band’s 2102 album Blood For the Master was reviewed for us here by Andy Synn. It was loaded with great metal, but I ultimately picked “When Steel and Bone Meet” for this list. To borrow Andy’s word, “When Steel… is a bar-room brawl set to music, chains and fists flying in a drunken, grooving orgy of violence that manages to cram in a swaggering groove, pummeling power-riffage, and some switchblade soloing in barely more than 3 minutes.”
In mid-November I wrote a feature about the decision by two landmark metal labels — Earache and Osmose — to establish Bandcamp sites and begin uploading albums from their landmark catalogues for digital distribution. At that point, I had gotten word that Earache was interested in receiving fan feedback on what they should add from the hundreds of albums under their control, so I put in my two cents’ worth with a list of 9 albums.
Since then, many of my wishes have been granted. As previously reported, Earache subsequently added groundbreaking albums from my short wish list by Entombed, Bolt Thrower, and Morbid Angel. And today I got an e-mail alert that they’ve now just added another album from my list — Reek of Putrefaction by Carcass. In addition to the fact that this album occupies a key place in metal history, it’s also timely, given that Carcass are apparently recording a new album.
But that’s not all! Though I missed the news, Earache also recently added yet another album from my list — Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses, the 1992 debut album by Brutal Truth! I feel like Aladdin with a magic lamp and a drunk genie who’s lost count of how many wishes have already been granted.
But that’s still not all . . .
Much earlier this month we reported the announcement of the VOICES FROM THE DARK tour of North America, co-headlined by Marduk (Sweden) and Moonspell (Portugal) and including the talents of Inquisition (U.S.), The Foreshadowing (Italy), and Death Wolf (Sweden) (which features members of Marduk). At the time of our earlier report, no dates had yet been announced. Now they have.
I’m gratified to see that it will be stopping in Seattle. I know this will make you happy, because I know you want me to be happy and I am indeed happy about this tour, especially because of the chance it will give me (finally) to see Marduk and Inquisition. Maybe you will be able to see this tour, too. But if not, I will still be happy, and therefore you will still be happy.
2/20 Springfield, VA @ Empire
2/21 Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
2/22 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
2/23 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
2/24 Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
2/25 Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room
2/26 Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small’s Theatre
2/27 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
2/28 Saint Paul, MN @ Station 4
(In this post, NCS writer Andy Synn provides another installment in his “Five of My Favourite” series, with five killer b-side tracks from Himsa, Satyricon, Setherial, Skeletonwitch, and Marduk.)
Ah, the humble b-side. The bonus track. The Japanese exclusive. How they toy with our emotions and loyalties. How many copies of an album are you willing to buy to get just the right track-list? How completest/obsessive are you? Is that itunes bonus track worth the extra dough? Have the band offered up these extra tracks for free download (some do, you just have to look for them)? Is there ANOTHER Roadrunner digipak re-release on the horizon, scraping the archives for all that they’re worth???
Anyway, recently I’ve started a slow but steady purge of my itunes library, removing the b-sides, bonus tracks and covers which I don’t consider worth the bit-space. This comes after several years of obsessive-compulsive trawling of the internet for downloadable versions of these extra special bonus tracks, or (even worse) buying up another, “better” copy of a cd I already own, just to have the completist’s wet-dream of an exhaustive track-list.
After several intense bouts of therapy I’ve made the first step in getting rid of these superfluous extra tracks that do nothing but clutter up my library and, at their worst, detract from or disrupt the intended track-listing of some of my favourite albums.
But it has also given me a chance to appreciate those b-sides which deserve their time in the spotlight – the very best of which I can’t help but wonder WHY they didn’t make the final cut, in many cases as they’re better than some of the actual album A-sides! So here we are, five of my favourite non-album b-sides. I’ve purposefully excluded covers and re-recordings, and just focussed on five original tracks that honestly deserved to be on an album!
This post is about two foreign invasions of North America that are scheduled to occur next year, but these invaders will be welcomed with open arms. I initially thought I’d wait to feature these tours until the schedules were released, but I’m so excited about them that I’m goin’ with it now.
Both tours are being produced by Rock the Nation America, which is the booking agency partnership created about a year ago between Kataklysm/Ex Deo frontman Maurizio Iacono, his agent and Canadian metal promoter Stephan Mellul, and Century Media Records.
PAGANFEST AMERICA IV
The first tour — Paganfest America Part IV — will be headlined by Finland’s Ensiferum and also features Tyr (Faroe Islands), Heidevolk (The Netherlands), Trollfest (Norway), and Helsott (Los Angeles). We’ve prominently featured all of those bands except Helsott, and it sounds like we need to find out more about them because the rest of the line-up kicks ass.
This tour was just announced on Friday and no dates or places have yet been revealed. All I know is that the tour is scheduled to kick off in late March 2013 and will cover both the United States and Canada. I guess I may finally have to break down and get a drinking horn. Maybe a battle ax. Possibly some animal skins. Because I don’t want to be the only person in the audience who doesn’t look awkward.
VOICES FROM THE DARK
News of this tour surfaced several weeks ago, and I’ve been waiting for release of the schedule . . . and am still waiting. The line-up is vicious. Marduk (Sweden) and Moonspell (Portugal) will be the co-headliners, and the tour will also include Inquisition (U.S.), The Foreshadowing (Italy), and Death Wolf (Sweden), which features members of Marduk.
(In this latest edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Devian, with musical accompaniment, of course.)
Recommended for fans of: Witchery, Belphegor, Hypocrisy
OK, so the last edition of The Synn Report clearly only touched a nerve with a minority of you, and that’s okay. These are all bands that I love that I want to give a shout-out to, I don’t expect everyone else to love them. But I can pretty confidently predict that more than a few of you will fall balls-deep in love with these guys…
Sadly no longer a unit, Devian were conceived in 2006 by ex-Marduk members Emil (drums) and Legion (vocals) along with several other members of the Swedish underground scene (including, at one point, ex-Edge of Sanity and current Scar Symmetry vocalist Roberth Karlsson). Between 2006 and their eventual dissolution in 2011 they produced two killer albums of blackened death metal with a distinctive thrash edge and a keen ear for razor-sharp melody.
Bring on the blasphemy!
I’ve been doing actual paying work all morning. I took a break not long ago and cast my baleful eye around the interhole and my NCS e-mail box to see what there was to see and hear. And these are things I thought worth passing on.
First, that cover you see above is for a tribute album to Emperor called In Honour of Icon E, which will be released on June 25 by Metal Swamp. It’s a very nice piece of art, created by Wolkogniv of Folkingrimm Art.
It also looks like it will be a very nice album, with Emperor covers by the likes of Demonical, Helheim, Horna, Taake, and Setherial. I’ll give you the full tracklist rundown after the jump, but the news for today is that the album has gone up on Amqzon for pre-order, which means you can hear snippets of each song here.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album from Sweden’s Marduk.)
This is set to be a big year for black metal, with both the new gods and the old primed for a resurgence. Both the Swedish progenitors of primal, black metal orthodoxy are set to return in glory, with the satanic discipline of Dark Funeral set to be unleashed sometime before the year’s end, and now, harbingers of the apocalypse Marduk returning to the fray with this, their 12th album of aural devastation.
Remember that 2012 will see the end of all things, and in Marduk we have been given standard bearers of our own destruction, a fitting soundtrack to the final storm that will wipe this world clean of humanity’s infectious influence.
There is a clear distinction between the sound and feel of this album and that of its predecessor. Where Wormwood was arguably a fouler, dirtier sounding record, with an uncomfortable, decaying warmth to it, Serpent Sermon is far colder and more brittle, with more starkly presented dynamics, ready to snap and scar at a moment’s notice.
The production of this record serves to further highlight and accentuate the differences between the two albums. Whereas its predecessor was a roiling cauldron of filth and malice, thick yet fluid, Serpent Sermon is all shards and shadows, bleached bones and hard edges. That’s not to say that it doesn’t flow. It’s more akin to comparing two paintings of the same object, done in entirely different styles – one, a horrid and flowing concoction of hand-painted miasmas, the other a vivid hand-drawn nightmare of figure and form.