Time again to brachiate out into the arboreal ether of metalness, swinging randomly from limb to limb in search of new music we’ve not heard before, and hoping we don’t face-plant into the edged bark of an ugly tree.
Yes, it’s another edition of MISCELLANY, in which we randomly check out music from bands we’ve not heard before. We go, we listen, we record our thoughts, we lay it out for you as we heard it, regardless of the outcome. It’s a tour into the unknown, a somewhat reckless exploration, swinging from vine to vine, venturing deeper into the metallic jungle, sometimes throwing our feces at unsuspecting ground-dwellers below.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, MISCELLANY. So, we keep our running list of bands that look interesting, and then we see if the music pans out. Yesterday, I checked out three diverse bands from distant shores: Evocation (Sweden), Amberian Dawn (Finland), and Metal Safari (Japan). And here’s what I found:
We recorded the name of this Gothenburg band (pictured above) on our list based on a Blabbermouth report about the impending release of their third album, Apocalyptic, on Cyclone Empire Records (it will issue in Europe on October 29 and in North America on November 9).
To be brutally honest, we put them on our MISCELLANY list mainly because of the album cover, by an artist named Xaay, who has created covers for Behemoth, Nile, and Vader. If you know those bands, you’ll recognize the style of the art . . . which you can see after the jump.
Well, it turns out this band has been around, off and on, for a good long time, but managed to elude our near-sighted vision. Evocation formed in 1991 and recorded two demos the following year, one of them at Sweden’s famed Sunlight Studios. They put themselves on ice in 1993 due to musical differences, but resurfaced in 2004 and released those two demos as a self-titled debut album. Two more albums followed in 2007 (Tales From the Tomb) and 2008 (Dead Calm Chaos).
And now, almost 20 years after the band’s genesis, the third album is about to be born. And so I checked out Evocation’s music first on this MISCELLANY tour. I heard a song called “Sweet Obsession” on Evocation’s MySpace page. It will be included on the new album — and I’ll be damned if it don’t push just about every button I’ve got on my aural pleasure console.
It’s fast, with a vibrating wash of melody-tinged, ass-grinding riffage; scarred, banshee-style vocals; and a flickering, weaving guitar solo that put a big fucking smile on my face. The song immediately triggered the headbang reflex and rattled my skull all the way through to the end. Really awesome shit! Hear what I heard:
More info about Evocation (and more songs to stream) can be found on the band’s MySpace page or their official web site.
I saw a lengthy Blabbermouth report about this next band, Amberian Dawn, which it described as “Finnish female-fronted symphonic metallers”. The focus of the blurb was two-fold — the band’s October 20 release of its third album, End of Eden, on Spineform Records, and the debut of a video for one of the new songs, called “Arctica”.
Symphonic metal isn’t one of my favorite subgenres, and it’s not the kind of music we usually cover on this site. On the other hand, the band is from Finland, it’s got a female vocalist, and that Blabbermouth piece also reported that as a result of recent line-up changes, Amberian Dawn now includes two members from Norther, a band I like — bassist Jukka Koskinen and drummer Heikki Saari. So, I bit and watched the video after rocking out to Evocation.
This dramatic, keyboard-heavy song is definitely not the kind of music you’re used to hearing, or hearing about, at NCS. It sounds like it could have come from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, except with headbanging riffs. And, as I discovered, the vocals are entirely clean singing. But there’s no question about it — Heidi Parviainen (a classically trained soprano) has got a stunning, pure, crystal-clear voice, and man can she hit the high notes. The song isn’t going to wean me from the more serrated shit I prefer, but I still liked it.
Here’s the video of Amberian Dawn performing “Arctica”:
For more info, the band’s official site is at this location.
My last random stab on this MISCELLANY tour also made our list based on a Blabbermouth blurb about a video. In this case, the video is for a song called “How To Die” by a Japanese band called Metal Safari. The song appears on their second album, Prisoner, which was released September 22 on Spiritual Beast Records.
I had a fucking blast listening to the song and watching the video! The music is a thrashy piece of infectious metalcore (thankfully, with no clean singing) that includes an extended shred-fest near the end by guitarist Hiro that just blew me away. All these dudes can really play, but it was that long romp of a solo that set this song apart and made me want to go hear the rest of the album.
And then there’s the video itself. It’s a rapid-fire montage of clips from the band playing live shows, touring, goofing off, whizzing (but not throwing feces), and engaging in other forms of general craziness. It’s professionally filmed and edited, and I had as much fun watching it as I did listening to the song. Looks like these dudes know how to put on a high-energy, balls-to-the-wall, live set.
Here’s the completely rocking video of “How To Die”. If this thing don’t make you wanna get drunk and disorderly, I’ll eat my non-existent hat.
More info about Metal Safari is available on the band’s official web site or on MySpace. If you like that song and want more, the Prisoner album is available on iTunes, along with the band’s debut release, Return To My Blood.
That brings me to the end of this MISCELLANY installment. It was a successful adventure. No face-plants into big trees. Better than that — three songs that in very different ways put a big goofy grin on my simian face. Hope you liked this metal as much as I did. Leave a comment and let us know your reactions, and of course, enjoy the rest of your fucking day.
P.S. Whatever else happens today, I will enjoy my fucking day because the fucking Texas Rangers have eliminated the fucking New York Yankees from the ALCS, after never having previously won a playoff series or even a home playoff game. After 50 years, the Rangers will be in the World Series. Not that I really care about the Rangers, but any team that eliminates the Yankees from the playoffs deserves some horns. Yippee-ki-yay motherfuckers!
UPDATE: Thanks to a comment from “Bob McBobbob” we checked out this video of Evocation playing a driving slice of blackened death metal called “Tomorrow Has No Sunrise” from the Dead Calm Chaos album. Damn, this band is good.
Holy shit dude, Metal Safari is fun. Haven’t decided if I’m adding it to the buy-list yet, because it’s already getting out of hand (Daath, The Ocean, and After the Burial are probably my top three need-to-get at the moment and are all coming up realllly soon – stoked).
I’m definitely with you on Daath and After the Burial. Have you heard the new ATB song, which has been streaming on MetalSucks? It’s absolutely killer:
Yeah I actually heard it earlier today, which finally clued me in to the new release date. I was really surprised to see that they planned to put it out this year since they haven’t really given any studio updates at all, plus that whole incident that made them drop off that tour. Anyway, it definitely sounds promising and I’m excited for it.
evocation is some great shit ive had that album for awile now and really enjoy it also ,!..! ,!..!
Yeah, I definitely have to listen to the whole thing. “Sweet Obsession” is a great teaser for the rest of the songs.
Yay I’m back to reading NCS! Not having a computer SUCKED! Anyways, I’m going to have to find alot of new music, I hit a guard rail downhill skateboarding ( See me and my friends skate here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ezpBiI8Jfg ) The parts where we are in leathers, we are close to 100km. Usually sitting in the high 80’s / mid 90’s km mark. Anyways, long story short I hit a guard rail thursday night.. So I’m on crutches for a bit.
What I’m saying? I have no fucking clue. Thanks to NCS for keeping me entertained when I can’t listen to metal and bomb big hills. You guys are fucking rad <3.
Welcome back man! Awesome video — makes me pucker up just thinking about going 100kph with nothing between you and the hard earth but those little boards. Sorry about your getting banged up and I hope you heal fast. \m/
Hey man, it’s not scary. Going close to 100km/r 20 some odd hours a week and you get used to it. The first time, I must admit I poo’d in my leathers a bit. Especially passing at those speeds, on an open road with cars, trees, guard rails, embankments, ect. Shit can get hairy fast.
Looking forwards to more lots of reading.
-Aaron The Speed Demon (Heh-heh…)
I guess with practice and repetition, people can get chill about all sorts of crazy stuff, but I still thing this is right up there with that winter Olympic sport called skeleton in terms of small margins for error and big consequences if you fuck up.
It’s nice that there’s more metal coming out of the land of the rising sun to combat the waves of J-Pop. Okay, so it’s not all bad, but there’s very little of it that I find tolerable. Thousands of miles away, Evocation sounds like a keeper and it’s a shame I haven’t heard of them until now.
To be honest, I’m surprised you liked the Amberian Dawn song. They’re not bad, but given that I listen to this kind of stuff more often that you do, I found it lacking something to make it stand out. Yes, Heidi’s a great singer with some talented players behind her, but the operatic thing doesn’t always work with metal. There are other classically trained sopranos in metal bands that don’t stay in the upper ranges and that warbly effect that comes with the territory doesn’t help.
Overall, as good a singer as she is, I think it’s a miss. Maybe it’s just this song. To date, I haven’t heard a lot from these guys, so I don’t know if this is the norm for them. I thought the parts where she was in sync with the keyboards and guitars in the chorus was quite effective though.
I was hoping you would have something to say about Amberian Dawn, because I’m really ignorant about this kind of music and therefore don’t have any good standards. I think the more someone listens to a particular style of music, the more discriminating they get — and by definition, I’m almost completely undiscriminating about this.
Well, they are good. I don’t want it to sound like I feel otherwise. But when there are so many other bands playing the same kind of music with a female singer who is a “classically trained soprano”, there are only so many that you can hear before you go beyond the saturation point. Without hearing a lot more from them, I can’t really say for sure whether they have anything else going on. I would hope that they are smart enough to not be yet another Nightwish clone, especially hailing from the same country.
As I said, there are others with formal training in some form or another that actually sing instead of soaring above the music. Tarja Turunen started off her time in Nightwish more on the operatic side, but she and the band moved away from that, for the better. I think Epica’s Simone Simons is one of the better female singers in metal today, with a nice balance between the two. Of course, the band’s sound has evolved over the years, along with Simone’s approach. Floor Jansen [After Forever, ReVamp, Ayreon] and Ana Mladinovici [Magica] also come to mind (I’m not entirely sure if Ana ever had training though) as women who can hit those levels, but don’t stay there. Ailyn from Sirenia could probably be added to the list, but so far she’s only been on one album with them and I haven’t heard her stuff from X Factor, her material from Charm or her later solo material (all of which probably wasn’t metal-oriented either). There are many, many more, but these are among my favorites, so for me, they’re the best examples I can come up with at the moment.
I hear you about the fact that the more exposure one has to a certain type of music, the more discriminating one can get. It’s like being on the other side of the hurdle once you clear it by hearing enough in a certain genre/sub-genre/style or from a specific band. This also tends to lead to the perception that the early output of a band is superior to later stuff. For some, this is actually true, but generally speaking, it’s a false sense of forward regression (for lack of a better term).
I recognize many of those names, just from reading. But I confess the only music I’ve listened to from any of those bands was something Simone Simons did for one of the animal-protetcion organizations (WWF?), and I thought it was so sugary I was going to get diabetes immediately. But that’s hardly a fair test. I do plan to see Epica on Dec 2 in Seattle, but only because they’re headlining a show that includes Scar Symmetry and one of my favorite Seattle bands, Blood and Thunder. I will do my best to keep an open mind. 🙂
“a false sense of forward regression”: beautiful
Well, there is still a risk of aural diabetes, along with a side order of cheese. Try to stick around for at least a couple songs or so.
I will do my best. I know my two collaborators will probably stay for Epica only at gunpoint, and I don’t own a gun.
No, you’re wrong. There is no tolerable J-Pop. It’s all just shit and piss mixed in a blender and then run through a sound system.
Especially the fucking boy bands. With creepy 40 year old fans.
I have seen the dark side, and it is unmarried, middle aged Japanese women.
I was waiting for you to chime in on this topic bro, as a first-hand observer of the Japanese scene. I think if I lived someplace where I could not avoid awful pop music by awful boy bands, I might become suicidal.
I work in a shitty English school in shitty department store in rural Japan.
They like to blast the same 60 minute loop of music all day over and over and over…
It makes my ears and rectum bleed…and the worst part is when I realize it’s become so ingrained in my subconscious that I find myself tapping my feet.
But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that the two big boy bands (Arashi and SMAP) both have TV shows and are celebrities (and thus ubiquitous) in a way that no American boy band has ever been.
It’s downright fucking terrifying. It kind of helps explain the insanity that pervades the Japanese counterculture
And the tentacle porn. There’s gotta be a direct link there.
I warn you, do not click this link unless you are at home, you have private browsing on, all the lights are out and the windows are covered and you have a bucket for vomit right next to you…
It will scar your mind and you will never get an erection again.
Thank you for the warnings about the link. I think I will preserve the sanctity of my mental temple and pass.
I also have a theory that 95% of all jobs suck, if not at first, then eventually. Those who are in the 5%, who have found jobs that truly fulfill them, not just in the short term but over a period of years, are the beneficiaries of great cosmic luck.
But the cosmos tends to provide compensations for the suckitude of working life, if you only look for them. And one of them is metal. One of them my also be tentacle porn. Or not.
Finally a post about the mighty Evocation, these boys have dominated my iPod all year.
If your liking it I cannot recommend their albums enough, nothing short of absolutely outstanding!
Yeah — I’m clearly way behind the times in discovering this band and have got lot’s of catching up to do. Better late than never, because this is exactly my kind of music.
Better late than never indeed, however I can go one better with this band.
I got into Evocation last year with the release of the “Tomorrow Has No Sunrise” video.
I later discovered that Evocation performed at Wacken 2007, I was at that festival and missed the chance to see them live!
Needless to say I’m devastated!!
Hey, we just updated our post to include that video at the end. Thanks for the tip! Awesome stuff.