Jul 312012

(In this post, DGR reviews the absolutely blistering, chaotic new offering of death metal insanity from Sweden’s Miseration.)

For those of you not familiar with Miseration, this is one of Christian Älvestam’s many projects. For such a prominent vocalist, his list of endeavors is unsurprisingly lengthy, but Miseration have been going for a while as a death-metal-focused pet project between Älvestam and musician Jani Stefanović, who is responsible for the guitar work on this new album but previously also recorded the drums, bass, rhythm, and lead.

The band made a solid debut in the densely packed release Your Demons, Their Angels, but truly got people talking with the absolutely relentless slaughter of their 2009 album, The Mirroring Shadow. After that, the band seemed to have drifted in limbo for a time, but have now returned with a rebuilt lineup and their third release, Tragedy Has Spoken.

Stylistically, it serves to combine the two previous records, creating a longer and even more pressure-packed version of their music. It has the speed and almost ridiculous drumming of The Mirroring Shadow, while lengthening the songs to the more epic timestamps that filled out Your Demons, Their Angels. The songs are now more fully fleshed-out, whereas on The Mirroring Shadow they were a massive wall of blasts and guitars. It’s a different album than what has come before, but goddamn if it isn’t interesting — to say the least.

It’s more than interesting: When you fervently hope, as I have, that a band like this will capture people’s attentions, it’s great to hear Tragedy Has Spoken. You hear the music, and you hope that this will help inspire a newer generation, who (I hope) will take what they can from this insanity and eventually make kick-ass music of their own. All I can say is, man, it is nice to see Miseration putting out music again. Well, I can say more . . .

Jun 262012

As an interlude between our second and third Gojira reviews today, I have for you a big old death metal dessert: three big scoops of Swedish sweetness. You’ll have to find your own whipped cream and nuts (yeah, have fun with that line in the Comments), but I got you covered on the core of this three-flavored sundae.

NECROVATION

Of the three Swedish bands featured in this post, Necrovation is the least well known, and certainly a new find for me. I spied them because they have a new self-titled album that Agonia Records released today in Europe (it will be out in North America on August 14). This follows their album debut way back in 2008, which I haven’t heard, though it has the mouth-watering title of Breed Deadness Blood.

I’ve started listening to the new album, and so far it’s very impressive. Today, Agonia put up one of the new tracks for streaming on SoundCloud, and that’s the first big scoop of rich death metal in this dessert. The song is called “Sepulchreal”, and man, is it a trip. It begins with a deceiving instrumental, just a dreamy bit of ambience to get your guard down — and then it begins to rip hell with a blackened torrent of double bass and eviscerating guitar.

But there’s a lot more to come in the song, as it switches both tempo and style and lays out an attention-grabbing guitar solo before ramping up again for a blasting finish. Hope you like “Sepulchreal” as much as I did. It’s right after the jump.

Jun 072012

We’ve already posted twice about the forthcoming album by Sweden’s Miseration, so this makes three. Late yesterday, the band released a second track from the album for YouTube streaming. This one’s called “On Wings of Brimstone”

The album is Tragedy Has Spoken and it will be released by Lifeforce Records on July 2 in Europe and a day later in North America. As previously noted, the artwork is by the ubiquitous and dependably awesome Pär Olofsson. I thoroughly enjoyed this band’s ass-blasting last album, The Mirroring Shadow (2009), and had high hopes for the new one. I’ve only found time for one spin through it so far, and it’s certainly not a clone of The Mirroring Shadow, but it’s quite cool.

Among other things, it incorporates the use of 8-string guitars and folk instruments such as the Indian Esraj harp, the Persian hammered dulcimer called a Santur, sawblade, organ, mandolin, and piano, as well as Mongolian throatsinging. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you much of that just from listening. Although I’m familiar with a vast array of instruments, most of them are the kind you buy online and have them shipped to a one-use only P.O. box, though possibly a Santur was included as a bonus in my last shipment. I know there was something in there that involved strings and a hammer.

Anyway, there’s a lot going on in “On Wings of Brimstone”. There is definitely some up-tempo ass-blasting brutality, a la The Mirroring Shadow, but the song also includes dark stomping chords with an old-school Swedeath tone, a white-hot guitar solo, and a dramatic melody. And Christian Älvestam provides an impressive array of vocals style, from flesh-flaying howls to abyss-deep growls to soaring cleans. There might be an Esraj in the mix, too, though since I’ve never heard an Esraj it’s difficult to be sure. Very nice song — listen after the jump.

May 102012

I feel compelled to explain myself, because I have some kind of obsessive-compulsive disease, albeit in a mild form.  I had to work until 2 a.m. this morning, Pacific Time, and the day started really early on top of that.  And I don’t mean working on this blog.  I mean working on my fucking day job, which periodically fucks up NCS but at the same time makes NCS possible.

So, I haven’t finished any posts for early this morning, even though I have an album review from TheMadIsraeli sitting in my in-box.  I don’t have to do very much to get such reviews posted, but at this point, I  can’t even do the miniscule things I do as an editor, which include reading the posts before posting them.

So I will leave you with this — and then whenever I can wake myself up tomorrow, I will do more. I am leaving you with the new full-track teaser from Miseration, which TheMadIsraeli coincidentally recommended, and which is worth a post all by itself.

Unless I die in my sleep, I will see you soon . . . an  until then, the video is after the jump.

Apr 262012

As explained yesterday, I’ve been kind of off my game here at NCS recently and I’m now trying (hurriedly) to make up for lost time. While investigating the many things I’ve missed in the world of metal over the last week or two, I’ve found a shitload of things I think are worth sharing — both news items and new music. I’m collecting some (but not all) of them in this “Catching Up” mini-series. Here’s Part 2, and there will be one more installment coming.

MISERATION

This is a news item, which is the most recent part of this post.  This morning, Sweden’s Miseration revealed the cover art (above) for their next album (on Lifeforce Records), Tragedy Has Spoken. The artwork is by the ubiquitous and dependably awesome Pär Olofsson. I thoroughly enjoyed this band’s ass-blasting last album, The Mirroring Shadow (2009), and have high hopes for the new one. Conceptually, it’s described as an exploration of the nature of tragedy, both man-made and the result of natural disasters.

The new album was also recorded with 8-string guitars and get this: According to Lifeforce, it also incorporates “folk instruments such as the Indian harp Esraj, the Persian hammered dulcimer Santur, sawblade, organ, mandolin and piano, as well as Mongolian throatsinging”!!! I think we have many “what the fuck?” moments in store for us.

Feb 192012

Since leaving Scar Symmetry in 2008, Christian Älvestam has become a one-man cottage industry. Actually, it may be more accurate to say that he and Finnish multi-instrumentalist Jani Stefanović have operated as a two-man cottage industry. Their results have ranged from okay to superior.

Both of them have joined forces in three bands: Solution .45 (okay), Miseration (very good), and The Few Against Many (superior). It won’t surprise anyone to know that my highly subjective one-word quality rankings increase in exuberance in direct relationship to the changing extremity of the music.

Solution .45’s last album, For Aeons Past (2010), is the closest of the three to the soundscape of Scar Symmetry — lyrical, melodic, slower-paced than the works of the other two bands, and featuring a roughly even mix of clean and harsh vocals. I gave it an “okay” rating simply because those aren’t the qualities I’m usually after.

Miseration, on the other hand, is almost dead center in my sweet spot. I reviewed the last album, The Mirroring Shadow (2010), here. I didn’t think it was ground-breaking, mold-shattering work, but I sure as hell enjoyed its marriage of big, fast, vicious, technical death metal, clawing tremolo-picked guitars, heavy groove, and razor-sharp production. Foregoing any semblance of clean singing, Älvestam instead gave his magnificent harsh vocals an album-length workout.

What I didn’t know about until yesterday (thanks to an e-mail from TheMadIsraeli) was the third post-Scar Symmetry project that Älvestam, Stefanović, and their bandmates have cooked up — The Few Against Many. For reasons I’ll explain after the jump, it’s the cream of the crop.

Now here’s what gives this recap some currency: As I learned from poking around Facebook yesterday, Älvestam and Stefanović are either writing or beginning to record new albums for all three bands, more or less at the same time!

Feb 242010

Miseration‘s new album, The Mirroring Shadow, is not at all what we were expecting — but it’s a most welcome surprise.

Our expectations were based on the band’s first album, 2007’s Your Demons – Their Angels. That album was a particularly melodic rendering of melodic death metal, marked by the same mixture of clean singing and harsh growling that vocalist Christian Älvestam brought to his former band, Scar Symmetry. In fact, the similarities to Scar Symmetry were far more dominant than the differences.

That wasn’t a bad thing (cuz we liked the old Scar Symmetry just fine), but it seemed to us that Älvestam’s partnership in Miseration with guitarist/drummer Jani Stefanovic had become less a catalyst for change than a vehicle for continuing on with the songwriting style and musical sound of the band Älvestam had just left.

But on The Mirroring Shadow, Miseration has become a different breed of cat altogether. And we mean something like a prehistoric sabretooth — big, fast, powerful, vicious, and with teeth the size of carving knives. (more after the jump, including songs to hear and a digression about album artwork. . .)

Feb 212010

The day before yesterday I flew from Seattle to my hometown of Austin, Texas, to visit family and friends. Yet another reminder that air travel basically sucks ass. One of the few upsides for me when I do it is the opportunity to catch up on new metal releases – and man, they’ve been piling up like snow drifts since the first of the year.

But all good things come at a cost, and the price I paid on this plane trip was being subjected to an almost non-stop attack of farting. Seriously, my section of the plane was Fart Central for more than three hours. I don’t know who the perpetrators were, though I have my guesses. All I know is that I was enveloped in a noxious miasma, one wave after another, for most of the fucking trip.

If you travel by car with friends, or you’re in a metal band touring by van, and a fellow passenger cuts one, you can roll down the windows, or in case of a particularly vicious attack, you can get out of the car — preferably after it’s come to a full stop.

Those options aren’t available at 30,000 feet. You’re trapped like an animal with its leg in a bear trap. You’ve heard how wolves caught in a trap have been known to chew through their own leg to escape? That’s how I felt. Probably not as bad as being water-boarded, but if given the choice, I probably would have swapped tortures.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Immolation, Miseration, Meshuggah, and Carnifex didn’t intend their new releases to be heard under these conditions. Let me tell you, it’s a big fucking distraction. You start getting into the music – and that’s some mighty fine music I was cranking out – and then your nose hairs start to burn, and you might as well be listening to Lady Fucking Gaga.

Anyway, forgive me. I had intended to have a review of one of these awesome albums prepped and ready to roll out today, but I really gotta have a do-over on the listening experience. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that whatever they pay flight attendants, it ain’t enough. And I’m thinking of wearing a ski mask for the return flight to Seattle. It might actually be worth the body cavity search I’d get from TSA at the security checkpoint.

Have a very metal day. We’ll get back to music tomorrow.

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