Apr 012014

Yesterday Nuclear Blast announced that Sweden’s hugely popular and hugely influential Meshuggah would be returning to North America this summer for a tour celebrating their “25 Years of Musical Deviance”, with support from Between the Buried and Me. As originally announced, the tour consisted of only 12 dates, two of which were festival appearances. But today the band announced a significantly expanded schedule of tour dates, going well beyond the original 12 cities.

Inconsistent explanations have been offered for the change. In today’s official announcement frontman Jens Kidman is quoted as follows:

“This is our 25th anniversary tour of the North American market, which has been an enormous factor in the success of our band — probably the single biggest factor. Of course, we always planned to make this the biggest tour we’ve ever mounted. To do anything else would have been churlish.

“That miserably tiny run of dates our label announced yesterday was supposed to have been an April Fool’s joke, but as we like to say in Umeå, someone at Nuclear Blast “screwed the pooch” by releasing it a day early. We sincerely apologize to our North American fans for the confusion. The expanded schedule we’re rolling out today will make all the butthurt go away like a big tube of Preparation H.”

Mar 312014

I’ve been unable to check the NCS in-box for a few hours. In more plain-spoken English, what this means is that the intrepid NCS pigeon aeronauts who deliver our metal-oriented mail were distracted by some old dude with popcorn on a park bench. I’ve tried to reason with them about the importance of prompt deliveries, but if you’ve ever tried to reason with a pigeon, you know it’s a daunting task.

Anyway, they finally made it to the NCS HQ, and one of the missives caught my eye immediately: The mighty Meshuggah have announced that they will be returning to NorthAm this summer “to celebrate their 25th year of musical deviance with festival appearances, Canadian dates, and clubs that will fill to capacity.”  Opening for them (on all but the two festival dates) will be North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me.

For people lucking enough to reside within striking distance of any of the following 12 cities, this is strikingly good news:

Feb 182014

I’m working on a couple of posts for today but didn’t finish either of them last night and I’m getting a slow start this morning. But I wanted to get something up here on the site for your entertainment while I continue to dither around on those other posts. So here are three entertaining somethings.

ENTHRONED

The first thing I saw in my e-mail inbox this morning was a press release announcing the news that Agonia Records will be releasing the 10th studio album by Belgium’s Enthroned on April 15. The title is Sovereigns, and the eye-catching artwork can be viewed above. It’s now available for pre-order at this location. Enthroned’s Facebook page can be accessed through this link.

And other than expressing my figurative tumescence over this news, that’s about all I have to say on this subject. I will let this stream of music from Enthroned’s fantastic last album, 2012′s Obsidium, say the rest.

Dec 142013

Bear with me — there’s some metal at the end of this.

This post is about two things that happened to me yesterday as a result of my day job.  The first thing happened during a work-related lunch I had with someone we do business with. I was meeting with him for only the second time. At some point, making small talk, I told him that the place where I work was having its annual office holiday party last night at a restaurant and bar named Radiator Whiskey. It features one whole wall of nothing but the brown stuff — bourbon, rye, and scotch — all of which I like. After I told him that, he said, “I hope you don’t have major katzenjammer on Saturday morning”.

He pronounced “katzenjammer” in the German way (something like “kah-tsahn-yah-ma”), instead of the way a monolingual American like me would say it. After I asked him to spell the word, I realized I’d heard it before, oddly enough because somewhere I came across a stray bit of trivia that stuck in my head, about an old comic strip called The Katzenjammer Kids (I’ll come back to that). But I didn’t know what the word meant, so I asked him. Here’s what The Font of All Human Knowledge says about the word, which is pretty close to what the guy told me at lunch:

Dec 062013

(In this guest post, Johan Paulin features an eye-popping list of metal bands, all of whom hail from the same relatively small town in northern Sweden. Tons of music in here, too.)

As most metalheads with more than a fleeting interest in extreme metal know, Sweden has been a forerunner ever since Quorthon struck his first minor chord back in the 80’s. The explanations for how a population the size of Sweden’s could spawn so many good metal bands have varied, and I won’t get into them now, but it’s safe to say that the great band / population ratio is over the top. Still, for  all the bands you do know, dozens more toil in more or less obscurity and deserve a better fate. Thus, when Islander called upon us readers to contribute while he took a well-earned vacation full of cloudgazing and Krokodil [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desomorphine], I decided to take the opportunity to champion some of the great bands that originate from my hometown of Umeå, Sweden.

Umeå is located in the northern part of Sweden and has a population of about 120,000 in the whole municipality, making it the 12th largest city in Sweden according to The Font of All Human Knowledge. If that may seem laughable to many of you, you’ll be rolling on the floor when I tell you that the population of London is equal to the population of my whole country! So, fuck demographics and let’s get on with the metal.

Oct 312013

Maybe you don’t realize that you need a Meshuggah fix, but you do. In fact, needing it and not knowing you need it could be the source of many of your mental and emotional instabilities. If you watch these two videos, you could become a happier and more well-adjusted person. And by “happier and more well-adjusted”, I mean vacant-eyed, slack-jawed, and slobbery.

I almost didn’t post the first video. I almost didn’t even watch it. I don’t like being the last metal blogger in creation to post about things, so when I see a video that has already made the rounds, I kind of assume that everyone who cares has seen it and I should spend my time on something else. But I got an e-mail today from Johan, an NCS reader who was actually at the club in Sweden where the video was filmed, watching the performance as it happened, and he changed my mind.

As he explained in his message, “Last year Toontrack (creators of drum-software and sample-libraries) decided to throw a staff party/PR stunt by having Periphery and Meshuggah play gigs at Scharinska villan in Meshuggah’s hometown of Umeå. Nothing special right? Except for the fact that Scharinska is a tiny club fitting 300 people in total, maybe 200 in the actual concert room, and that only 100 tickets were released to the public. The rest were given away to employees and partners. Needless to say, the gig was tremendous and the crowd was boiling (literally, it was insanely hot)….  The camera that is shooting straight towards the stage is pretty much where the back of the room is, it’s that tiny.”

May 132013

In late April you may have seen a video that showed Edvard Hansson — the light technician for Sweden’s Meshuggah — operating the control board for the band’s show in Paris last December (I saw it via The Monolith). By all accounts, the lighting on the band’s current tour is a true extravaganza, and what made the Hansson video such a jaw-dropper was the realization (in The Monolith’s words) that, “Rather than having programmed a static lighting show, he actually ‘plays’ along with with them, triggering parts of the setup in time with the complex rhythms of the music.

Unfortunately, the Hansson video didn’t show the light show itself, other than through the strobing flashes in the corner of the screen. But I just saw a video of the band performing at the Cirkus venue in Stockholm on May 9 that provides a good view of what happens as Hansson pushes all those buttons. It’s really amazing.

WARNING: For those prone to strobe-induced seizures, don’t watch this. It comes next . . . .

Apr 042013

Meshuggah now have an official video for the song “I Am Colossus” from Koloss that adds layers of the alien and the grotesque to the song’s atmospherics. Or perhaps the video merely brings out elements of the alien and the grotesque that were present in the song all along.

The video is an animation created by Magnus Jonsson, who is to be congratulated for a really amazing job.

That’s really all I have to say . . . now be good to yourselves and watch “I Am Colossus” after the jump.

Mar 132013

(DGR turns in this review of the live show by Meshuggah, Animals As Leaders, and Intronaut in Sacramento on March 1.)

This may be the third sold-out show that I have gotten the chance to attend at Ace Of Spades. That seems nuts considering that I have gone to a ton of concerts there since the venue opened up in downtown Sacramento – but that venue is huge. I admit that when I checked the site on the day of the show to make sure none of the bands had cancelled (a lesson that I learned after The Ocean had to flake out on the Job For A Cowboy/Between The Buried And Me show that hit there), seeing the SOLD OUT tab next to the show was exciting.

Seeing a band that you’ve never gotten the chance to see before is great, but seeing it with the hum and excitement of a ton of other people has such an effect on shows that it’s hard to describe. You often hear performers talk about how they will feed off of an excited crowd in front of them, but it seems there’s something about being in a packed venue that has that effect on the people watching as well.

I also still get a laugh out of seeing that giant swath of people standing in line across the street when the other side has a pool bar, then the venue, a burger restaurant, and then another bar – basically the type of place where a bunch of metalheads outside across the street seems weird.

Mar 082013

(Here we have the latest installment of Andy Synn’s lists of favorite things that come in fives.)

One thing that metal does very well (compared at least to pop, hip-hop, and even most rock music) is the long-form song. Heck, I imagine if I were to calculate the “average” run time of a song from amongst my vast collection, it would definitely come out somewhere between 5-6 minutes. A “short” metal song is often one that goes up to about 4 minutes after all (in contrast to the fact that this would be considered longer than average in the other genres I’ve mentioned).

One reason for this is that metal often needs room to breathe, to develop its melodic (or dissonant) themes properly. Metal revels in space, stretching itself, filling up the space with noise and sound, light and vision. It’s also a genre often synonymous with story-telling, and one which – largely free from the external constraints enforced upon the 3-minute pop song – contends to offer a deeper and more rewarding (and as such, longer lasting) emotional experience for the listener.

Then of course there’s Napalm Death… so, ok, metal isn’t ALL about length and depth (short, sharp impact is certainly a common trade-mark too) but it DOES tend to do long songs very well.

So I’ve chosen five of my absolute favourites, presented in order from shortest to longest. And there’s not a single Opeth song among them.

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