Jan 232018

Oslo 05072017. Photo: Marius Viken

 

I guess it’s not a bad time to take stock of where we are in the rollout of this 2017 edition of our Most Infectious Song list, since this is the 10th Part. With the three songs I’m adding today, we’re up to a total of 32 tracks. I had planned to finish the list by the end of this month, so we can finally close the book on last year (or mostly close it) and focus our time more exclusively on the flood of new metal that’s been coming our way in 2018. If I follow through on that plan, it really just means I’ll be calling an arbitrary halt… because I’m still just figuring this out as I go along.

I suppose if I really feel that calling a dead halt on January 31 would leave too many gems behind, I might edge into February, but on the other hand, that could become a very slippery slope. I do have 8 days left in the month, and if I knock out an average of three tracks per day, I can make it to 56 songs… which would be about 20 fewer than usual for this series. We’ll see.

Jun 012017

 

(KevinP returns to NCS with another edition in his series of brief interviews, this time talking with guitarist Mikka Lammassaari from the Finnish band Wolfheart, a perennial NCS favorite whose latest album Tyhjyys was released earlier this year and reviewed here.)

 

K: This is now the 2nd album you’ve been a part of after Tuomas [Saukkonen] handled all the duties himself in the debut, Winterborn. So has your role changed since Shadow World?

M: This is a pretty common misconception, since I was already contributing the guitar solos on Winterborn. On Shadow World my role expanded a bit as I wrote a couple songs and was more involved in the guitar recordings.

On the new album Tyhjyys, I had to step back a little bit because my little baby boy was born and I wanted to shift focus more towards life at home. I still managed to squeeze in the founding of one song and got to write the guitar solos, so I´m very pleased with that.

So my role actually got a bit smaller on the new album, but Tuomas did amazing work writing the songs and recording guitars, so all went well.

Mar 272017

 

(DGR reviews the new album by Finland’s Wolfheart.)

Tyhjyys, the new album by Finland’s Wolfheart, is a moody album, shrouded in fog, happy to stew in cold and detached misery. It has actually shown itself to be an excellent soundtrack for the rain-drenched and fog-shrouded drives home from work in the month since its release, the perfect encapsulation for grey skies and dense mist rolling in off the water.

Tyhjyys also marks the third album for founder Tuomas Saukkonen’s Wolfheart project — his name should be at least somewhat familiar as the founder of many an NCS-covered band: Before The Dawn and Black Sun Aeon, to name two — itself having since evolved into a full group as of 2015’s Shadow World album.

It is also a disc of transformation — one that sees Wolfheart traversing from one genre to another, finally giving into their gloomier leanings and going for the melodeath/doom hybrid that the region traffics in so well. And it does so organically across eight songs, starting out with music that feels like it is picking up right where Shadow World left off and slowly getting colder and colder from there before finally landing on its title song and overall theme of the album. Fitting for a release whose title translates to the word ‘Emptiness’.

Feb 042017

 

It’s been a crazy week for this half-witted editor. Interferences by my fucking day job coupled with interferences by my non-blogging personal life prevented me from posting any news and new-music round-ups all week. That means I’ve accumulated an enormous list of things since last weekend. Unfortunately, I still won’t have time to catch up this weekend.

I’ve got work I need to do today for an annual event I’m attending tonight with my spouse, and based on past experience, I’ll be in no condition to write anything on Sunday morning. I’ve agreed to post one premiere tomorrow, which I’ll get ready today, but there probably won’t be anything else on the site tomorrow. Maybe the coming week will be less crazy and I can do a delayed Shades of Black thing and/or a “That’s Metal!” post after the new week begins.

Okay, enough with the excuses. On to a regrettably small but diverse collection of new things I noticed last week.

HIDEOUS DIVINITY

When I first started using the title “Seen and Heard“, it was because I intended to include both news about, and artwork from, new albums, even when there was nothing yet to hear, as well as streams of new songs. And I have items in both categories to recommend today in this large collection, beginning with the artwork at the top of this post.

Jan 232017

 

(As part of his continuing effort to make his NCS colleagues jealous, Andy Synn attended the performances of Insomnium, Barren Earth, and Wolfheart in Birmingham, England, on January 16, 2017, and files this tardy report.)

Last week I managed to snag myself a guestlist slot on the Birmingham date of the Insomnium/Barren Earth/Wolfheart tour. And a good time it was indeed.

But why has it taken so long for me to get this write-up together?

Laziness. Pure laziness. Or, you know, some other reason. Take your pick.

Either way, better late than never, right?

Dec 052016

wolfheart-boneyard

 

Happy Monday. Through the miracles of modern technology, I’m writing this at roughly 38,000 feet above the earth, somewhere across the deserts of northern Utah, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the barren panhandle of Texas. Under duress from my fucking day job, I’m bound for Houston for the next couple of days.

Actually, it’s not exactly a miracle, not something like turning water into wine, more like turning water into weak tea — because although I can get online, the service isn’t good enough to stream music or videos. So some of the items I’m including in this round-up are things I can see but can’t hear.

WOLFHEART

I’m beginning with an item that I could have heard over the weekend if I had known it was out there. Unfortunately, I discovered it only today after boarding this jet I’m on. It’s a video for a new song by Finland’s Wolfheart named “Boneyard“.

Jul 312016

Rearview Mirror

 

(DGR takes over The Rearview Mirror again, with a look back at the Finnish band Wolfheart — and it’s not the one you’re probably thinking of.)

When prolific Finnish musician Tuomas Saukkonen launched a new solo project entitled Wolfheart in 2013, there was a small part of my brain that fired and said there had been a Wolfheart before — which was true; there have actually been a couple of them. But I quickly wrote off the hunch as a misfiring neuron, which has pretty much been shown to be the basis of this site.

Why it mattered to me that there had been a Wolfheart prior to the formation of the current excellent Wolfheart is a question that would go unanswered for some time, until I remembered that the other Wolfheart had been a project launched by a couple of the members in Charon — and then it all made sense, as I am a fan of Charon, albeit in an ass-backwards sense because I didn’t really check them out until an eternity after Poisonblack had launched in the mid 2000s, it being the project of one of the main guys behind Sentenced, who hung it up in 2005.

Dec 242015

Wolfheart video clip-2

 

And so it begins, the last piece of our year-end LISTMANIA extravaganza: For the seventh year in a row, I present my list of the year’s “most infectious extreme metal songs”. As I’ve done in the past, my goal is to roll out this list gradually, with one installment per day (including weekends and holidays) until I’m finished, and usually with two songs in each installment. This is a goal, not a promise, because life is too damned unpredictable.

I will add that, as in most other years, I’m starting the rollout before actually finishing the list. Because it’s a work in progress, I don’t know how long it will be. My goal (not a promise) is to finish it before the end of January. To be clear, this is an unranked list; there’s no rhyme or reason to the order in which I’m announcing the songs.

To get a running start, I’m including three songs instead of two in each of the first five installments of the series, and these groupings aren’t random; they may not make sense to anyone but me, but I have my reasons for putting them together as I have.

Okay, let’s get started — and if you don’t know what I mean by “most infectious songs”, go HERE for an explanation.

Sep 282015

My Dying Bride-Feel the Misery

 

(Here’s the latest installment of KevinP’s series in which he runs down his list of the best releases from the preceding month.)

I screwed up last month.  And not just a minor oversight, but in a fairly big way.  It wasn’t until after August’s column was posted that fellow contributor/friend Dan Barkasi messaged me that he was surprised I didn’t have Wolfheart on my list.  My response was, “the album comes out in September”.  Then I checked and realized I was wrong.  URGH.  I’m gonna assign partial blame to Mr. Saukkonen though, since he sent me a copy of the album many months in advance and mentioned September as the release date.  Assuming his infallibility (based on his musical pedigree), I never bothered to double-check and learn that the label would change it.

So how do I address this grave misdeed?  I was going to include it as part of this month’s Top 5, but that really wouldn’t make sense or be fair to the other releases.  I’ll simply say this:  Shadow World eclipses the debut.  It’s another masterstroke in the arsenal of Tuomas the Finnish Freeballer who simply seems to be able to mine the same well and keep extracting new and exciting sounds from it.  Would it have been the Number 1 album last month?  It certainly would have been a toss-up between that and Majestic Downfall.

Sep 022015

Wolfheart-Shadow World

 

(DGR reviews the superb second album by Finland’s Wolfheart.)

There exists a temptation when writing reviews to try and come up with a narrative and attach it to each album. It’s been a way of doing things for a long time, and to be honest, I’ve struggled with trying to come up with one for Wolfheart’s newly released album Shadow World and the two-year gap between it and its predecessor.

The temptation lay in trying to paint the two albums as fraternal twins, discs that share a lot of DNA but actually are opposing and contrasting with each other in a lot of their elements. If you were to glance at the cover art for Shadow World and the cover art for Wolfheart’s 2013 debut Winterborn, you’d almost immediately notice the red-and-orange, warmer aesthetic of Shadow World pulling a first-lesson-of-art-class contrast with the prominent blue and cold themes of Winterborn. However, the music within doesn’t bear out the difference, and actually shares some similarities in terms of number of songs and track times with its older sibling.

So, I suggest we try to take a different tack and explain what Shadow World is.

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