Dec 142012

(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!

Jun 012012

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.

Oct 032011

(Andy Synn reviews a trio of new EP releases by three NCS favorites – Mithras, Setherial, and Enslaved.)

For today you’re getting a combined review of three new EPs from three brilliant – if extremely different – bands, in one post. With each only being a 2-track release (barring the live cuts which bolster the Mithras release), it seemed only fitting to group the three releases into one column.

MITHRASTIME NEVER LASTS

If you don’t know Mithras, then you have two options: 1) immediately after you finish reading, go forth and buy all their albums, or 2) wait a little while until the inevitable SYNN REPORT on them appears… THEN go forth and buy all their albums. The choice is yours.

Their complex, cosmic take on the death-metal template is wholly individualistic and utterly compelling, and this EP is no different, building from the focussed intensity and progged-out melody of their last album to give birth to two songs which, although quite different in style, express the multiple facets of the Mithras sound powerfully and eloquently.

Jul 072011

OK, time to court some (albeit minor) controversy. To compare and contrast with the “Wintermoon Wednesday” piece on post-millennial black metal by Tr00 Nate (unseen at the time of this writing) over at TheNumberOfTheBlog, I’ve decided to list my own picks for the prize.

I’ve left out the obvious choices, so no Satyricon or 1349 – even though the former have transformed themselves post-2000 very successfully, courting both success and controversy in equal measure, while the latter have pushed their hyper-blast style beyond the breaking point, only to discover a new lease on life through their exploration of gnarled, twisted atmospherics.

No Rotting Christ? Or Samael? Nope. I love both of them, but they both had long pre-millennial careers and spent much of the post-2000 stage of their careers exploring less focussed, less black metal sounds — although both have recently released masterful examples of their own focussed and distinctive brands of black metal.

I have left out records which are perhaps less “purely” black metal — records for which a strong case can be put forward that they belong more as “blackened” examples of another genre — so there’s no place for Altar Of Plagues or Withered, both great bands in their own right. No Akercocke either, the sheer weight of their crushing death metal heft disqualifying them for this list.

I have also by choice left out artists/albums I have covered recently. Therefore, no Iskald (though The Sun I Carried Alone IS one of the best black metal albums of the last ten years), or Elite (see HERE for my thoughts) or The Axis Of Perdition (HERE), even though I’d argue that each of them has at least one example under their belt of near perfect post-millennial black metal.

So who have I chosen? Well look upon my choices dear reader, and despair…

Feb 072011

I just took a break from what I usually do during daylight hours to check happenings in the world of metal, and that proved to be quite a long and interesting diversion. It may not be mid-day where you are, but maybe you still need a diversion or two, or three. That’s what we’re here for — to divert you, for better or worse, depending on your alternatives.

DIVERSION ONE

Regular NCS visitors know we’ve got a pathological weakness for anything Finnish, so when I saw a come-on for a new video by a Finnish band called Mygrain, of course I had to watch it. Besides, I’ve been meaning to check out this band ever since I read about the release of their self-titled third album on January 12 (via Spineform Records) — especially because it was mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Nightingale).

The video is for a song called “Trapped In An Hourglass”. Very cool music — fast-paced, Finnish-style melodic death that’s both catchy and cathartic, with two admirable guitar solo’s (one of which is a jazzy bit of picking at about the 3:00 mark), some clean vocals that even I like, and evidence that Finnish howlers can even shriek underwater.  (more after the jump . . .)

May 152010

Iran is a culturally rich country and heir to one of the most ancient civilizations on earth. Unfortunately, it’s currently being run by lunatics.

A few weeks back we were so gobsmacked by the pronouncement of a senior Iranian cleric (a mullah) that we put up a post about it (here), even though we had to strain to connect it up with metal. The pronouncement in question, by Kazem Sedighi, was that women in Iran who dressed immodestly were causing earthquakes. Turns out that Sedighi was just getting warmed up. Here’s the latest bit of lunacy, as reported in this morning’s Seattle Times:

“A prominent hard-line Iranian cleric elaborated on his claim that promiscuity and immodest dress cause earthquakes, saying Friday that God may be holding off on natural disasters in the West in order to let people sin more and doom themselves to hell.

The cleric, Kazem Sedighi, sparked widespread derision with his pronouncements in a prayer sermon last month that women who don’t dress modesty spread adultery in society, in turn increasing earthquakes.

In Tehran’s main weekly prayer sermon on Friday, he defended the claim but added some further explanation on why some places are hit more than others.

(the article continues after the jump, if you’ve got the stomach for it . . .)

Apr 302010

Today we’re continuing the experiment we began two days ago, to test our hypothesis that at least in the world of extreme metal, cool album cover art usually means there’s something worth hearing in the music. Yeah, we know it’s a ridiculous, illogical hypothesis, but at least in our random experience we think there’s some truth to it. Besides, it’s proven to be an interesting vehicle for checking out some new music.

The test methodology we used is this: We looked at news blurbs on Blabbermouth over a recent 48-hour period about new or forthcoming albums, and every time we saw a cool album cover, we visited the band’s MySpace site and listened to what was available from the album.

In Part 1 of this experiment, we reported on our first two test samples — a forthcoming album from Keep of Kalessin and a recently released album from Trident. So far, our samples confirm the hypothesis. Today, we’re reporting on the results of three more samples, courtesy of Setherial, Trigger the Bloodshed, and Witchery.

The first sample is an album called Ekpyrosis scheduled for release in May on Regain Records by that Swedish band, Setherial. The cover art, by an artist named Bartosz Nalezinski, is pictured at the top of this post. We thought it was kinda cool — a ghoulish metamorphosis of some traditional Christian iconography. But is the music cool?  We have our own opinion … after the jump. (plus the other test results)

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