Oct 162012

Let’s start this day at NCS with a contrast — two new songs from forthcoming albums that are on opposite ends of the speed spectrum. The first comes from a new Finnish band — Kuolemanlaakso — whose members include some names I’m pretty sure most of you will recognize. The second is from a new release by a French band — Destinity — whose last album I really liked and whose new one is also sounding excellent.

KUOLEMANLAAKSO

This band’s Finnish name means “Death Valley”. It began as a one-man project of guitarist Markus Laakso (Chaosweaver). After recording a handful of demo tracks, he recruited a group of additional musicians to flesh out the band:  vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun, Barren Earth), guitarist Savon Surma (“Kouta”) (Chaosweaver, ex-Verjnuarmu), bassist Tuomo Räisänen (“Usva”) (Elenium, The Nibiruan), and drummer Toni Ronkainen (“Tiera”) (Discard, Cult of Endtime).

Together they recorded an album at Woodshed Studio in Germany with V. Santura of Triptykon and Dark Fortress fame, who also mixed and mastered the music. The album is named Uljas uusi maailma (“Brave New World”) and it’s now scheduled for release by Svart Records on November 23. The cover art by Maahy Abdul Muhsin is a real eye-catcher — it’s right after the jump.

Sep 262012

(In this post DGR reviews the performances by Kreator, Swallow the Sun, Solanum, Blessed Curse, and Black Mackerel at Sacramento’s Ace of Spades on Sept. 24, 2012.)

I understand that there are people out there who don’t have weekends off and likewise work crazy schedules where their two days off aren’t in succession, but Monday shows always seem a little crazy to me. Few people are brave enough to venture out of their homes, knowing full well they either have Tuesday off or have work the next day, to attend a show on a Monday.

I also know that being in a band is a 7-day per week job, so Monday on their end is just another day. But I’m musing about Monday shows in part to explain what seemed like a somewhat small turnout for this one.

Ace Of Spades was about 1/3rd full, which is around 200-300 people, which is a lot, but Ace Of Spades is a pretty big place and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a show where people had space to pit, rock out, and in general have their own personal space without having to worry about crashing into other folk. Parking was also easier than hell to find this time, too.

I’d like to extend a fuck yeah to those of us who did go to a show on a MONDAY, because damn, it seemed like we had a hell of a time, didn’t it?

Jul 262012

(In this post, DGR reviews the latest album from Finland’s Swallow the Sun.)

Considering the amount of hype that we at NCS generated for Emerald Forest And The Blackbird in advance of its release, it’s difficult to fathom why it’s taken as long as it has to finally get some proper thoughts up about the full disc. That was, until I read Islander’s post earlier this month about the best albums of 2012 so far and noticed that my list was one of the few that included Swallow The Sun’s new album.

I’ve also been in a pretty goth/death/doom-heavy mode as of late. I think I currently have eight different reviews going at the moment, and three of them belong to bands whose music includes dirge elements (the other two being the great Inborn Suffering and Barren Earth releases), so that’s probably another factor.

And finally, Swallow The Sun seem to be one of those bands who are constantly overlooked, especially for a group whose past four releases (counting Plague Of Butterflies, since I started with Hope) have been consistently great if you’re in the mood for trying to find some beauty in utter misery and desolation.

Swallow the Sun have slowly been morphing their sound, so it isn’t as overtly oppressive and miserable, instead becoming something more cold and hopeless. The group’s previous disc, New Moon, was one of my favorites when it came out, and I still think people owe it to themselves at least to give the track Lights On The Lake (Horror Part III) a listen, because it is one of the best examples of an excellent song just lifting a whole album far beyond its initial first impression of, “This is pretty good”.

Emerald Forest And The Blackbird feels like a continuation of what the band were doing on New Moon. They’ve slowly shifted away from their initial style of slow, crawling, funeral-esque doom and started working in elements that are more melancholic and more melodic in nature. Emerald Forest includes a hefty amount of clean vocals, as well as significant usage of acoustic guitar. There’s even one song in this disc’s expanse of music that is a somewhat straightforward acoustic ballad, no matter how depressing the subject matter is.

Jan 262012

Our Finnish friend fireangel — one of the two creators of the very informative and entertaining Finland-based blog called Night Elves – alerted me to this juicy bit of news: the new album by Swallow the Sun, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, is now streaming in full at the Finland-based INFERNO site.

And, in an interesting twist, guitarist Juha Raivio provided quotes from Twin Peaks to accompany each song. Do you remember Twin Peaks?

The album is scheduled for release in Finland on February 1, and it’s being offered for pre-order here.  I haven’t had a chance to listen to this album stream yet since I’ve got to do some actual paying work at the moment, but I’m going to listen as soon as I can — as you should, too.

Jan 062012

December and 2011 are both over, and with the end of the last month, it’s time to round up what we saw over the last 30 days about forthcoming albums.

We usually try to post these updates on the first of the month, but the first of this month was New year’s Day, and I was moving kinda slowly that day. Plus, I’ve been focusing on year-end lists from a variety of sources, and, well, I’m late with this. I have more excuses, if you’d like to hear them.  No?  Okay, I understand.  I’ll just shut up and get going with this list.

So, here’s the deal:  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, 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 December, 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. It includes some real eye-openers. In fact, it’s not too soon to say that 2012 is already looking like yet another royally skull-fucking year for metal. But as usual, this list is half-assed rather than comprehensive. I confess that in December I was even more half-assed than usual in keeping my eyes open for news about new albums. So, feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what I missed when I put this list together. Let us know about albums on the way that  you’re stoked about, even if you don’t see them here!

Jan 052012

Swallow the Sun blend melodic doom and death about as well as it can be done. We’ve been eagerly awaiting their new album, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, which is due for release on February 13 by Spinefarm. We already posted a preview of what the album holds in store at this location. And now, we have a first taste of the music.

Today, Terrorizer premiered an official video for the song “Cathedral Walls”, which features the vocals of Anette Olzon (Nightwish) in the chorus.

The first half of this nearly 7-minute song is all melancholy, the sorrow of bereavement, all clean vocals from Mikko Kotamäki and Olzon. Pretty and atmospheric. And then as the ashes fall to the ocean, the shit gets heavy, and it’s the heavy side of StS that I wait for in their songs. It’s usually worth the wait, and I’ve even come to enjoy the build-ups and the denouements.

No big surprises here — it’s Swallow the Sun doing what they do — but it’s a satisfying introduction to the new album. Watch and listen after the jump.

Nov 292011

We are pleased to re-post some early remarks by Matti Riekki from the Inferno (Finland) web site about Swallow the Sun’s fifth album, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, which will be released on Feb. 1, 2012, by Spinefarm Records. Thank dog for Google Translate:

“Swallow the Sun’s boss Juha Raivio said recently Inferno haastiksessa band from the forthcoming album to tell stories.

“If you mirror this against the Emerald Forest and the Blackbird is the atmosphere like a colorful blend of narrative, but the brutal teachings Grimm production, and even M. Night Shyamalanin life and fantasy adventures of the world movies.

“Musical waves are familiar in a large scale, tunnelmamelodisen matelumetallin marks go, but the trip can be found quite surprising ports, which should be enough to explore in the corners for a long time. Let’s just say this, that if one of the O-beginning with the band moving away from the metal market, annoying, this disc may be found in moments of comfort. (And do not now, pliis, take this, so that StS sounds like it is now beginning with the O-band. The question is more about building a political parable of the song.)

“Speech Shares, clean and rough vocals korinat alternate style, and the plate is sovitusten behalf of a good and balanced reverb. As far as the quality of the compositions, so deuce take, for the most part the songs do not leave a huge mind squeezing all correct any invalid. Right now, huimin kipale typeonegatiivisen atmosphere of the north end of the rotation period of a hymn on April 14th, which gets all the body hair sojottamaan smalliron bar. So is the man as the porcupine.

“Listening to the sum of the three in one sentence: I think this is definitely the most interesting Swallow’ta bushes, then come as a surprise debut. Invalid kaamosmasennella here.”

Oct 012011

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.

Jul 012011


June is behind us, July lies ahead. Here in the U.S., we’re about to start the long weekend leading up to Independence Day, when Americans celebrate the birth of the nation by buying explosive ordinance wherever fine explosive ordinance is sold and lighting up the night sky (in addition to blowing the shit out of objects and sometimes themselves). People will also be exposing unsightly parts of their bodies wherever sun can be found and eating large quantities of health food prepared on outdoor grills. Our Founding Fathers would be proud of what they wrought!

Because the last month has ended, that means it’s time for another installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, in which 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 during May or preceding months, we wrote about them 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. And feel free to tell us about how we fucked up by omitting releases that we overlooked.

Feb 032011

I can justly be accused of being enthusiastic about almost everything. That may not be the most metal of outlooks, especially when my enthusiasm turns out to be misplaced, or cools after a little calm reflection; I do lose my bearings sometimes.

But, with all those caveats out of the way, I have to tell you, right now, about a song I just heard.

On the way to my fucking day job this morning, I started listening to the brand new album from Finland’s Alghazanth, which is called Vinum Intus. I wasn’t familiar with this band until we started that Finland Tribute Week thing, and one of our readers (CarlSK) recommended them in a comment, noting that the band’s vocalist is Mikko Kotamäki, who also fronts Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth.

I only got two songs into this new album and then stopped and started replaying that second song. The way I feel right now, this beautiful song is blowing out of the water almost all the other new black metal releases I’ve yet heard in 2011.  (more after the jump . . . including the song)

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