Jun 152016

Opeth 2016-photo by Stuart Wood
Photo by Stuart Wood

This is Part 2 of a round-up of newly discovered things that I began earlier today (here). As expected, between posting Part 1 and getting ready to post Part 2, I spied more developments that happened this morning and have added them (the first two items are in that category, as is the last).

I nearly didn’t add the first two news items because I thought that, by now, everyone who had any interest in the bands — Opeth and Insomnium — would have learned about the news already. Those names are so big that there was probably even a news flash in The Wall Street Journal. And then I thought that adding the announcements might help ease the day for those people who are afraid that metal will run out of things to argue about before the year ends. To them I say, don’t worry, Opeth and Insomnium are releasing new albums.


Yes, Opeth will be releasing a new album late this year (named Sorceress) on a new label, Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Actually, it seems to be a partnership between Nuclear Blast and Opeth’s own imprint, Moderbolaget Records, which I believe is Swedish for “your arguing sounds like a motorboat”.

The press release we received characterized Opeth as “always an unstoppable force for uniqueness amid a sea of generic swill”. Beyond that, it provided no real clues about the musical direction of the new album or how it will distinguish itself from all the generic swill with which the rest of us are forced to feed ourselves in between Opeth releases.

I’m eagerly anticipating a new round of arguments about Opeth after the first songs from Sorceress begin to surface. Mind you, they will undoubtedly be the same old arguments, fanned from slowly cooling embers into new flames.






Insomnium-Winter's Gate


We previously reported, when the news was fresh in May, that on September 23, Century Media will be releasing a new Insomnium album named Winter’s Gate. For those who missed the earlier announcement, it’s a concept album made up of a single 40-minute song, described as follows by Insomnium’s label:

“The album is built around a short story, Winter’s Gate (Talven portti in Finnish), written by vocalist & bassist Niilo Sevänen, recipient of numerous Finnish awards and nominations. The compelling short story is about a group of Vikings who set out to find a fabled island west of Ireland, despite the treacherous winter drawing near. The full story will be released together with the album as a book with translations in English, Finnish and German, and illustrated by the artist Teemu Tähkänen.”

All that really happened today was the circulation of the album’s artwork, installed above. Like Opeth, Insomnium has diverged from the sound of their widely beloved earliest albums. I remain very curious to find out the direction of this new one, and again eagerly anticipating the renewal of old arguments (though not as eagerly as I’m anticipating the music).


Okay, now that I’ve gotten the news items out of the way, I can turn to some actual music.







Excuse-Goddess Injustice


The first piece of music I want to recommend is the first advance track from a four-song EP entitled Goddess Injustice by some Finnish newcomers named Excuse. This is the band’s second release overall, following a 2013 demo.

The name of the game here is speed metal and thrash, and this first song is called “Obsessed… With the Collapse of Civilization”. As the song proves, Excuse do know how to rip — and the two-part intro to the song is both quite unexpected and very cool. When the band finally ramped all the way up into ripping mode, my brain started moshing with my skull.

I also heartily approve of the vocals, which are putting me in mind of Lemmy today, as well as the song’s fire-breathing, head-spinning solo work and its dynamic digression into slower, melodic territory.

Goddess Injustice will be released by Hells Headbangers on September 12, 2016. You can pre-order here:









Slagmaur-Thill Smitts Terror


I hadn’t thought about Norway’s Slagmaur in a couple of years until one of our long-time supporters (RagE) mentioned their name yesterday in a comment on our premiere of the new Blut Aus Nord / Ævangelist split. I thought to myself that, by now, they must have released the new album that I was writing about two years ago. Nope. But in those intervening years they have released a couple more songs that I missed.

The name of this very long-awaited album (which is Slagmaur’s third) is Thill Smitts Terror. As originally described so long ago, it combines “modern and classical instruments with children’s nursery rhymes and fairy tales”. “It is a world where classically constructed melodies blend seamlessly with aggressive black metal to create a nightmare scenario straight from the pit of hell.”

I haven’t attempted to find out why the album has been so long in coming, but I continue to want it. In addition to the two songs that had been released for listening when I first wrote about the album, the two newer ones — “Kom Igjen Norge” and “Bestemor Sang Djevelord” — are also very engrossing, very different, and very good. I’m embedding streams of all four below, with the newer ones at the top.

It seems that the album will include three more tracks besides these four. I still have no idea when it will be released.












Skandal-Year of the Cicada


Skandal are ensconced in Leeds, in the UK. Their debut EP (mixed and mastered by George Bokos (Rotting Christ/Stone Cold Dead)) is named Year of the Cicada, and it will be released via Bandcamp on July 16.

When I first learned of the EP, earlier this month, it came with a description of the band’s music as “doom & roll, a mixture of classic raw aggression and elegant obscure themes influenced by Motörhead, Opeth, Black Sabbath, High on Fire and Rotting Christ“. Of course, I couldn’t resist sampling the music.

What’s publicly available now are two songs, both of which you can hear below — the title track and “Stillwater Servant”. Both songs demonstrate Skandal’s skill at cooking up some very tasty riffs, the heft of their rhythm section, and the excellence of Giorgos’ remarkable voice (which makes the music a well-earned exception to our rule). And in addition to those positives, the songs include attention-grabbing guitar solos and dark, atmospheric instrumental digressions that give the music added depth and interest.

You can order the EP via Bandcamp:










Revenge-Behold Total Rejection


I’m breaking the rules of these Seen and Heard posts, because this next song is neither new nor newly discovered. But since I make the rules, I think I’m allowed to break them every now and then.

Behold.Total.Rejection came out last fall. It seems to be a divisive album. Some people seem to love it; it seems to send others running into the streets to get away from it. I’m in the “love it” category, and the song I think I love the most, in part because of its title, is “Wolf Slave Protocol (Choose Your Side)”.

I need to listen to this song about every other week, sometimes more often. I was listening to it yesterday and decided to just toss it into this collection. Yes, it’s chaotic and violent. Yes, it’s ugly. But man, it’s also electrifying — and the sound of those drums is goddamned stupendous.








Hail of Bullets 2016


I’ve already raved about the performance of Hail of Bullets and their new vocalist Dave Ingram at this year’s Maryland Deathfest. They ended a wonderful set by performing “Ordered Eastward” from 2008’s Of Frost and War, which was a great way to close their performance.

In a terrific instance of synchronicity, I reviewed the new EP by Just Before Dawn a couple of days ago, which happens to include a cover of that same song, and then this morning I saw a fan-filmed video of HoB’s performance of it at MDF 2016. How could I resist including that video before signing off?

Obviously, I couldn’t. Enjoy…




  1. Damn, now I’m even more excited for the new Hail of Bullets album! Excuse sounds pretty sick, too 🙂

  2. I love Opeth. I will probably always love Opeth. I cringed HARD reading that press release.

    • It did bring to mind the rhetoric of another “visionary member”.

      • I reviewed “The Book of Opeth” for Terrorizer recently (which, pleasantly enough, meant I got a physical copy of the book itself, which is a very nice package indeed) and one thing I noticed, and noted in my write-up, is that Mikael has a VERY high level of self-regard.

        On the one hand it’s probably necessary to push himself and his band forwards, but it does come across (particularly when he’s looking back at the band’s early years or at the members who have come and gone) as if he’s convinced of the manifest destiny of his own superiority – sort of “I was always going to make it, because I’m clearly great, which is proven because I made it”.

        It’s a bit of a circular argument, and one he also uses to say that the others were never going to make it, because they simply weren’t as good/driven as him.

        • First off, that’s awesome they sent you a copy of that book. I’m not terribly surprised to hear about his level of self-regard, and I think you nailed the rationale. I can’t help but think about David Gilmour and Roger Waters, and how each of them have spent the past thirty years insisting THEY were the reason Pink Floyd was great, as though there’s absolutely no chance it was because of their collaboration, and certainly not because of Wright or Mason.

          …that said, if I wrote Still Life, Blackwater Park, Deliverance, Damnation, and Ghost Reveries in a six year span, I’d probably think my shit don’t stink too.

          • Which is why we merely shake our heads instead of busting out with laughter.

          • It was very cool, and I really enjoyed reading it. And learning some cool stuff. Such as the fact that long before they signed to Roadrunner they basically lost out on a big US tour with Slipknot because the “Lamentations” dvd was too soft.

            Oh, and how Steven Wilson refers to Mikael Akerfeldt as “a podgy metal fan with aspirations”.

            • I’m going to have to find a way to read this. I love everything SW has done in his career, but “a podgy metal fan with aspirations” may just be his finest work ever.

  3. I love the new Opeth news as well as they are one of my ALL time favorites. I’ve experienced all a fanboy could with Opeth Including sitting on 2 of their tour buses and awesome conversations.drinking and smoking,yet with all of that being said…I too cringed a little bit myself. My dreams of another still life of blackwater part 2 will most certainly never be realized.

  4. That post about Just Before Dawn got me listening to them and Hail of Bullets at work all day. It was a glorious day.

  5. All I need to know about that Opeth album is that I saw a Vienna tour date buried in the announcements somewhere.

  6. Really diggin’ Skandal.

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