May 232018
 


airplane window view (it don’t look flat to me)

 

The little tracking map on my laptop says the airplane is somewhere over Wisconsin as I start writing this post. Supposedly, said airplane will land in Baltimore 2 house and 17 minutes from now. A few hours after that, I’ll start my Maryland Deathfest 2018 experience with a visit to the pre-fest show. And there will be a steady diet of metal from then through Sunday.

I’m not the only NCS slave who will be at MDF. Andy Synn and DGR will be there, too, along with assorted other miscreants (and a few saints) whom we are proud to call our friends. The likely outcome of this revelry is that the usual volume of NCS posts will dwindle to a trickle until next week… but it won’t disappear. Continue reading »

Apr 302018
 

 

Like everything your bleary eyes perceive on a desktop computer or a portable device, No Clean Singing resides on a machine. We rent space on said machine from a web host, initially on a server we shared with strangers and eventually on one dedicated exclusively to our own putrid creations. Over time, the database that stored those creations became clogged with digital gunk, the kind of gunk that caused the machine to lose its mind from time to time, resulting in outages until the mind could (temporarily) regain some clarity.

In addition, the theme we’ve used since Day One, i.e., the software residing in our machine home that provides for the “look and feel” of the site, was abandoned by its developer. Even before that, I resisted updates to the theme software due to anxiety over the possibility that the updates would result in unwanted changes to the appearance and functionality of the site, which I had so painstakingly customized. This created a ticking time bomb, destined to go off on an unknown future day when some update to the WordPress software that’s fundamental to the existence of this blog would break the theme into tiny non-functioning pieces. And there were other problems.

Unfortunately, although I’m the guy who created the site and is responsible for its day-to-day care and feeding, I’m self-taught when it comes to its “back end” operation. I know just enough to be a danger to myself and others, and don’t know nearly enough computer science to solve any of the problems identified or alluded to above. So, after eventually getting tired of living anxiously with my fingers crossed, I finally did something smart. I hired an expert. Continue reading »

Jan 032018
 

 

(In what has become an annual tradition, former NCS writer, ex-Invisible Oranges editor, and current contributor to Decibel and Noisey, Joseph Schafer (whose NCS moniker was BadWolf) brings us a year-end list of favorite Not-Metal albums.)

 

As in previous years, this is my favorite article to write. There remains something delicious and transgressive about extolling the virtues of mainstream pop music to metal fans on a metal-centric platform. The reason why is no mystery: metal is intended itself to be delicious and transgressive, but too often becomes a stale and staunch conservative vomitorium. Eat the same diet of blast beats, high-gain distortion, and Lucifer sigils, vomit them back up, ingest a new round of the same, repeat.

I like a Roman feast as much as the next guy, but I also know to take myself out to sushi every so often, remaining Fukushima background radiation be damned. And yes I know that’s not what a vomitorum was actually used for but you all gleaned my meaning regardless, and if not what’s wrong with you?

Besides, as any social media window left open too long will tell you: even staunch metal fans love plenty of extra-metallic material. Tom G. Warrior loves David Slyvian. This is no great act of rebellion, this is the simple acknowledgement that metal is pop music, as in art meant for popular consumption. That is no damning admonishment. It describes Mozart, too. Continue reading »

Nov 212017
 

 

We have survived another year, and yes, I still count mere survival as a kind of triumph in the precarious realms of metal blogdom. We are a whopping eight years old today — we made our first post on November 21, 2009.

Measured according to other time scales, eight years seems like the blink of an eye. But measured by the lifespan of your average metal blog (or even by some large commercial metal sites), we’re… kind of mature. Not in our behavior, of course.

I continue to be amazed and thankful that we’re still here, that so many good friends are still devoting themselves to writing for NCS on a purely volunteer basis, and that so many readers haven’t yet gotten fed up and purged us from their lives. Continue reading »

Jul 072017
 

 

(We have a little-used category of posts that, for want of a better term, we call “Off Topic”. This is one of those “not metal” posts. But it also fits in another category of posts — “That’s Music — But It’s Not Metal” — which is too complicated to explain in detail, but basically refers to music that isn’t metal, but also kind of is “metal”. I’ll shut up now and let Grant Skelton take it from here.)

I used to loathe country music. Going to college near Nashville, the Mecca of country music, probably didn’t help. Metal was all I wanted to hear. That is, until I discovered late greats like Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt.

Whole libraries have been written on each of those two. And even among metal fans, Cash and Van Zandt seem to occupy something of a sacred place. Late last year, Islander gushed over Panzerfaust’s cover of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” referring to Cash as, “the most black metal country singer you can find.” Neurot Recordings has released two compilations (Volume I and Volume II) of Townes Van Zandt covers by Scott Kelly, Wino, Mike Scheidt, and Steve Von Till. Dorthia Cottrell of Windhand recorded her creepy rendition of Van Zandt’s song “Rake” for her self-titled 2015 solo album The much-hyped upcoming outlaw country cover album from DevilDriver (whether you hate that idea or love it) further underscores my point.

Don’t get me wrong, the country music you’ll hear on the radio is nothing more than the foul ordure of red-state identity politics. The songs aren’t songs, they’re lists of ideals and symbols that perpetuate a mythical, illusory way of life. But this article isn’t about that. It’s about artists whose music, while not metal in the slightest, I believe will still be meaningful and enjoyable to readers of our site. On my honor, here you will find no songs about girls in trucks. Continue reading »

Dec 112016
 

azelisassath-total-desecration-of-existence

 

The last two days have been crazier than usual in the not-blog part of my life, the part that I usually succeed in squelching down into a tiny thing that whines for attention but doesn’t get it. Beginning two days ago, it became the mouse that roared.

The nastiness started when the web hosting service we use for NCS (Bluehost) somehow crashed their entire system around mid-day on Friday just as I had posted one premiere, with one more that I had still planned to post. I’m calm about it now, but I was punching walls for a few hours after that happened. Once it became clear that this debacle wasn’t going to be fixed any time soon I just said, Fuck It, and started drinking.

Ten hours later, Bluehost still hadn’t fixed the problem, NCS was still inaccessible, and I was pretty well hammered. Continue reading »

Nov 212016
 

seven-candles

 

We have survived another year. And when you get right down to it, sheer survival is the reason any of us celebrate birthdays. We are seven years old today — we made our first post on November 21, 2009.

As I wrote at the time of our last birthday (and it remains true), seven years isn’t very long when compared to the lifespan of your average Galápagos tortoise, but measured by the lifespan of your average metal blog, we’re almost ready for a nursing home.

I continue to be amazed and thankful that we’re still here, that so many good friends are still devoting themselves to writing for NCS on a purely volunteer basis, and that so many readers haven’t yet gotten fed up and purged us from their lives.
Continue reading »

Nov 092016
 

half-staff

 

“Anger trumped hope. Donald Trump’s astonishing victory over a heavily-favored Hillary Clinton on Tuesday is the greatest upset in the modern history of American elections – convulsing the nation’s political order in ways so profound and disruptive its impact can’t even be guessed at.”

And that’s how one article I read this morning began. There are tens of thousands of articles from around the world that in substance began the same way. We did not see this coming, and now many of us can’t see where we are going — or we think we can see it, and it’s a very dystopian vision of the future.

On days like this, it’s hard to go forward with a “business as usual” approach. As much as we love what we do here at NCS, it’s obviously dwarfed in importance by what happened at the polls in the early morning hours of this day, and what that outcome portends for the next four years and longer. Continue reading »

Sep 012016
 

Neill Jameson

 

EDITOR’S FOREWORD: We’ve had a few posts over the nearly 7 years of our existence that have focused on works of literature, but very damned few. That’s not shocking, because this is first and foremost a blog about music. But for some musicians who dare to talk about it, and for many ardent fans, there are connections between these two forms of art.

Beyond those connections, some of you (maybe even the majority of those who visit this putrid site) spend as much time reading for pleasure as you do battering yourselves with violent sounds. For those in that group, and for those who are open to finding new inspiration, we bring you a very different kind of list from Neill Jameson of Krieg. I selfishly hope this will spawn both comments on this post and more features on our site about written works of art that dovetail with our interests in metal.

Our thanks to Neill for the following words: Continue reading »

Jul 152016
 

The Comancheros-Four Horsemen

 

(Andy Synn reviews the debut EP by The Comancheros, headquartered in Columbia, Missouri.)

As my third and final entry this week on the theme of bands beginning with “The” I’m venturing a little bit outside of our usual wheelhouse with the smooth and smoky brand of musical misery served up by The Comancheros.

But Andy, how are these guys in any way relevant to the NCS audience, I hear you ask?

Well, for one thing, one of their members just so happens to be a certain R. Michael Cook of the inimitable A Hill To Die Upon (who, I have it on good authority, are back in the saddle and working on new music themselves), and for another The Comancheros list their main influences as “Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, Judas Priest, and Dwight Yoakam”, which suggests to me that one or two of you might just find something to like on their new EP, Four Horsemen. Continue reading »