(In this post Andy Synn reviews a live performance from September 3 in Derby, England.)
I kind of knew already this was going to be a good night, even before setting foot out the door. For one thing I have never, ever, seen a bad Unearth show — the Massachusetts maulers always bring it hard and hit that sweet spot between metal and core every time. Plus The Hairy Dog is a great venue, both sound and layout wise (and the fact that I wasn’t driving, so could enjoy a few beers, definitely helped too!).
But what would really make the evening special, and a tad bittersweet, was the fact that this would be potentially my last chance to see Shadows Fall live, as the band have announced they are going on an extended hiatus from touring. And, you see, Shadows Fall have been one of my favourite bands ever since I caught them supporting Kittie in Manchester back in February 2002, long before the release of The Art of Balance brought them to the attention of the metal-loving public at large, so this show really would mark, in many ways, the end of an era for me.
(Andy Synn is back with yet another of his five-item lists of favorite things.)
TheMadIsraeli’s review of the newest Killswitch album (which I still haven’t actually gotten around to listening to) got me thinking, mostly about missed chances and wasted potential. As a fan of KsE, even I have to acknowledge that, due to a variety of factors, some beyond their control, some due to their own decision-making, the band may have squandered some of their early potential.
That may sound rather harsh; it’s not meant to be but it may sound it. But I think it’s unfortunately an accurate assessment of things as they stand. Losing Jesse, the stalling of their initial momentum while they recruited Howard, the more simplistic, mainstream leanings that sanitised their most recent work… all these combined with the general state of the music industry and some unfortunate timing, have meant that the band never reached the “megastar” status which was, however fleetingly, hinted at by their early potential.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Killswitch Engage are pretty damn mainstream, at least by metal standards, right? Well that’s kind of my point… we often forget, we proud underground warriors, that for most bands, being part of the metal “mainstream” means fuck all to the “actual” mainstream. Bands with legitimate underground cred who get the merest sniff of wider exposure are immediately attacked for “selling-out” even when they’ve not changed a thing, they just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
But what I’m talking about here are five bands who had the possibility, however slight, of achieving real recognition (mainstream or otherwise), real status, without sacrificing their integrity or identity, but for whom it never quite “happened”.
The Boston Phoenix is one of many “alternative” weeklies around the country published by the Phoenix Media/Communications Group. The Boston weekly goes back a long way — all the way back to 1966, when it was started under the name Boston After Dark. Today, the parent company announced that it is going to combine The Boston Phoenix and another local publication into a glossy weekly mag simply called The Phoenix.
More or less to commemorate the event, The Phoenix did something pretty awesome: It released a 17-track compilation of music for free digital download. It’s called “Vol. 2″ because unbeknownst to me they released another comp last year. This new one looks killer.
It includes a track (“Weight of the World”) from Shadows Fall off their May 2012 album, Fire From the Sky, as well as Doomriders covering Devo (“Girl You Want”) and that awesome “Trucker Bombed” song from Sexcrement’s 2012 album Sloppy Seconds. It also includes a song from Abnormality (“Schismatic”), whose new album DGR reviewed for us just two days ago. It includes songs from Morne, Tenebrae, Wormwood, and a whole lot more.
I’m not familiar with more than half the bands on the comp, but the ones I do know I like — which tells me this whole comp is probably worth checking out. Besides, you can download it for free off Bandcamp right now, and that makes it pretty much a no-brainer.
Stream all the tracks after the jump if you’d like to get a taste before you leap over to The Phoenix Bandcamp page.
(After a bit of a hiatus, TheMadIsraeli returns to NCS with this review of the new album by Shadows Fall., which was released on May 15 by Razor and Tie.)
My articles have fucking sucked lately.
I don’t mean to write shitty articles, but when great metal albums are so few in number, and pre-canned bullshit with a side of genericore are all that surround me, I make do with what I can find. I try to write about shit I think you guys will like, and please don’t take this as me saying that I don’t believe in anything I’ve reviewed lately. I do.
But fuck, is finding good — no, great — metal a needle-in-the-haystack endeavor like anything else?
Shadows Fall decided it was time to end that shit and give me a swift kick in the balls. Fire From The Sky reminds me of exactly why I fell in love with metalcore when it first arose from the ashes of the nu-metal bullshit of the 90’s and kicked unsuspecting angsty teens with daddy issues in the fucking teeth. This odd melding of thrash, melodic death, and hardcore got my blood pumping so hard I pissed razors and shot acid from my eyes at any butt-rock or alt-metal fan who wanted to tell me any differently. Even while incorporating commercial elements sch as a few scant soft moments, clean vocals, and catchy choruses, Shadows Fall managed to bust jaws and crack skulls with the best. I sincerely think if Of One Blood or The Art Of Balance didn’t send you into head-banging convulsions, you were probably one of these embittered retro assholes who felt that metal died in the early 90’s and that bands like fucking Pantera were the last bastion of good music (protip: they weren’t).
Fire From The Sky has everything that established this band’s foothold in the realm of badassery, and more. Shadows Fall not only have the gift of the riff, the attitude, and the passion for playing what they play, but they’ve managed to keep it up over the course of seven full-lengths now. Retribution kicked me in the fucking ass, shoved a bomb up it, and detonated it, turning me into instagib salad sludge for the wolves to feed on. Fire From The Sky is more like being put through Spetznaz training where they teach you how to take a full-force punch to the stomach. How? By punching you in the fucking stomach. Over and over again, at the risk of internal bleeding.
(Here’s a round-up of recent news and music from DemiGodRaven about Katatonia, Æther Realm, Fear Factory, Shadows Fall, and The Browning.)
Katatonia’s new album: Dead End Kings (August 27th)
Over the past two weeks Katatonia have done a pretty interesting publicity bit on their Facebook page by putting up a picture of what looked like a dead tree branch in some snow and then slowly adding letters and more to the branch, eventually revealing that it was something more of a dead shrub and that the letters would spell an album title and release date for the group’s new upcoming disc.
Now they’ve completed the whole picture, and yes, it’s got branches on it alright, but it is something more than that. It’s looks like a dead bird wearing a crown, and the album title for their new disc will be Dead End Kings. It has an August release date, appearing a day later in the US than in Europe, but the difference of a day really isn’t that huge when you have the internet essentially spreading everything around at light speed. The moment anything from this album is out I’m sure it’ll be all over youtube, so if you have to wait a day you can find solace in at least streaming the songs that way. The image for you folks to check out is above, all Facebook banner-styled.
For a change, I actually remembered on the second day of the new month that that the preceding month had ended; usually takes longer than that. My creditors would be happy, except I think their bills need to age a while longer. But yes, February is history — and that means its time to post our usual monthly round-up of news about forthcoming albums. Today’s list is a little more comprehensive than the half-assed job I did at the end of January, which means it’s about three-quarters assed. One of these days it will be fully assed.
Here’s how this round-up usually works: In these METAL IN THE FORGE posts, I collect news blurbs and press releases I’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like at NCS (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, I cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.
Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If I found out about a new forthcoming album earlier than the last 30 days, I probably wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier.
Having said all that, please feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us (me and your fellow readers) what I missed when I put this list together, because I’m abso-fucking-lutely certain that I missed all sorts of shit. So let us know about albums on the way that you’re stoked about, even if you don’t see them here!
October is over, except for Halloween, which continues to go on and on here at the metallic island that NCS calls home. Your humble editor spent the end of the month and the beginning of this new one grinding away at his fucking day job, which explains why this installment of METAL IN THE FORGE is late. It also explains why it’s more than typically incomplete, but more on that later.
Here’s the deal: In these posts, we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.
Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If we found out about a new forthcoming album before September, we wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier.
This month’s list begins right after the jump. I fell down on the job of monitoring the interhole and press releases to catch news about new albums that looked potentially cool to me, so I know I missed announcements of new releases that should be included here. So, feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what I missed. Let us know about albums on the way that you’re stoked about!
September is behind us. Here in Seattle, it was such a beautiful month that it seemed like nature’s compensation for how late the summer started. Unfortunately, with September’s end, we’re on a short track to the onset of winter, which means about six months of short, cold, grey, ceaselessly wet days. Ain’t that just fuckin’ great?
Well, bitchin’ about the winter ahead won’t change one fucking thing. I prefer to think instead about the deluge of new metal that’s headed our way and try (momentarily) to forget about the deluge of rain on the horizon. Which brings us to the latest monthly edition of METAL IN THE FORGE.
You know the drill: In these posts, we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.
Remember — this isn’t a cumulative list. If we found out about a new album before August, we wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. As usual, also feel free to tell us about how we fucked up by omitting releases that you’re stoked about.
(I swear this was a coincidence. I wrote a post that went up earlier today on metal covers based on a single by Anachronaeon we received yesterday, and then our UK contributor Andy Synn delivered this special edition of THE SYNN REPORT about . . . covers. This is the kind of occurrence that sends me back to the dictionary once again to figure out the difference between synchronicity and serenditpity. Or maybe it’s both.)
Covers are a strange breed of song – they’re the equivalent of a parallel universe, an alternate history, a What If? Comic, an adaptation of your favourite book starring an unexpected actor, a Shakespeare play set in an average American high school…
Seriously though, they have a huge amount of potential, both to be intriguingly inventive and woefully horrendous. Their success (or lack thereof) depends on many factors, but mainly on the song-choice itself – is it a natural fit for the band? Do they have the intelligence to re-work it in a distinctive manner? Or is it simply enough to tear through it in their own inimitable style, making few changes, but relying on sheer power to see them through?
I have chosen 15 artists who have produced some of my own personal favourite covers, showcasing a variety of approaches, some fully traditional takes on the original, others totally reworked variations. If there’s one thing that these covers show however, it is the subtle threads that inter-link all different sub-genres of rock and metal, which allow bands to re-work them organically. (more after the jump . . .)
Another month has passed. The fall season is approaching — unless you live in Los Angeles, which is pretending that it’s Phoenix in August. Fuck is up with that? It’s like that town has been placed in a cosmic microwave and the user likes his burritos very well done.
On the other hand, we’ve had way too many grey, chilly days in Seattle this September, which is traditionally one of the best months of the year. The weather gods have clearly dropped acid over the last 30 days and forgotten which end is up. But eventually they will get themselves straight, remember which season is approaching, and get ready to just blast the fuck out of our whole country with a vicious winter. Won’t that be fun?
No, it won’t be fun. It will suck like a new-born piglet at dinner time. But one pleasant constant will remain true — there will be new metal, regardless of how foul the weather becomes. And that brings us to another monthly installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, a forge being the old name for a place where a blacksmith heats metal and works it into the shape of something useful.
And that’s what we’re interested in — new metal that will be useful in scrambling our brains, or uplifting us to a place where it really doesn’t matter what the fucking weather is doing.
What we do in this series of posts is update the list of forthcoming new albums we first posted on January 1. (All the other updates can be found via the “Forthcoming Albums” category link on the right side of our pages.) Below is a list of still more projected new releases we didn’t know about at the time of our previous updates, or updated info about some of the previously noted releases.
Once again, we’ve cobbled together news blurbs from other sites, or from press releases, about bands whose past work we’ve liked, or who look interesting for other reasons. Perhaps needless to say, these are bands that mostly fit the profile of music we cover on this site — the kind that would like to tear your head off.
So, after the jump, in alphabetical order, you’ll find our list of cut-and-pasted items from various sources since our last update about forthcoming new releases.