Oct 142021
 

(Andy Synn would like to introduce you to the debut album from Hippotraktor, out tomorrow on Pelagic Records, and invites you to leave your prejudices and preconceptions at the door)

I know that the post-Meshuggah breed of Metal bands can provoke some pretty divisive reactions around these parts. And I understand why.

After all, what initially seemed to be fresh and fertile soil for creativity and experimentation quickly became over-saturated with copycats and soundalikes whose music only seemed to grow increasingly sanitised, simplified, and mass-produced for mass-appeal with each successive generation.

But, let’s be honest, that’s the case for most, if not all, styles of music, to one extent or another, and just because the veritable deluge of Djent, Post-Djent, Proto-Djent, and Pseudo-Djent bands reached its saturation point in practically record time doesn’t mean you should dismiss any and all groups who elect to take inspiration from the works of Thordendal, Haake, et al.

I mean, it’s entirely up to you if you want to do that, sure, but you’re potentially robbing yourself of the chance to discover and enjoy a whole plethora of bands whose love of polyrhythmic groove and atmospheric melody transcends the trite tricks and tropes of their more djeneric peers.

Which brings us nicely to Meridian, the debut album from Belgium’s Hippotraktor.

Continue reading »

Oct 132021
 

 

Before listening to a note, I loved the idea of Crystal Coffin‘s new album, The Starway Eternal. So let’s begin with that idea, which also helps explain the cover art and the adventurous sensations afforded by the music. As presented in the press materials:

“Cast against the historical realities of the Chernobyl power plant meltdown of 1986, the assumed protagonist – an operator at the power plant – discovers the portalway behind an inoperable console and soon finds that her longing for meaning in this chaotic world answers the opportunity to seek out the purported gods and angels that live among the cosmos in our known solar system.

“To find such entities would be to imbue a sense of importance in our collective existence beyond the daily disorder and existential despair that one accepts. Her trips into various corners of space reveal little to no such beings, and during one such fruitless endeavor, her portalway back to earth is shut permanently; reactor 4 at Chernobyl back on earth has suffered its meltdown during shutdown operation.

“Frantic, she makes the decision to return to earth by falling through the fiery atmosphere as a lonely, final and futile act of desperation. Of course, survival is impossible, and such an act becomes a metaphor for our time, wandering the earth with little connection to anything beyond the physical world”. Continue reading »

Oct 122021
 

 

Glimmering Veil is the second album by the Irish band Superstatic, and you’ll have difficulty finding a 2021 record that’s as simultaneously unnerving and fascinating. It’s a work of extravagant and unpredictable imagination, labyrinthine in its movements, fantastically textured in its sounds, and both deleterious and awe-inspiring in its moods.

It extends through seven long tracks across one hour and 12 minutes, but never allows the listener’s attention to wander. To borrow from the following review, we can recognize downcast and distraught human emotions in the music, but really, nothing sounds truly eartb-bound.

“Death/doom” is the simplest label one might affix to the music, but it would be an absurdly simplistic label, unless perhaps you add “avant-garde” or “experimental” as another descriptor, as a way of hinting at how wide-ranging the experience becomes.

We have a lot more to say about the album below, but beyond the torrent of linguistic impressions we also have a full stream of the album in advance of its imminent October 15 release by Solitude Productions. Continue reading »

Oct 112021
 

 

The Absence of Light is the kind of recording that first sells itself by the names of the people who participated in making it.

It’s the work of the Brazilian death metal band The Troops of Doom, whose line-up includes guitarist Jairo “Tormentor” Guedz, a former member of Sepultura’s original lineup playing author and co-author to classic Sepultura albums Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions, alongside bassist/vocalist Alex Kafer (Enterro, Explicit Hate, ex-Necromancer), drummer Alexandre Oliveira (Southern Blacklist, Raising Conviction), and guitarist Marcelo Vasco (Patria, Mysteriis, and an acclaimed graphic artist for the likes of Slayer, Kreator, Machine Head, Soulfly, and Hatebreed).

Moreover, Jeff Becerra of Possessed shared vocals on the track “The Monarch”; Lars Nedland of Borknagar, Solefald, and White Void performed bass on the first three tracks; and Dave Deville conducted the orchestral introduction. As additional icing on the cake, the songs were mixed and mastered by Øystein G. Brun (Borknagar) at Crosound Studio in Norway.

All these names draw attention by themselves, but of course the music must ultimately win people over. The music here is guaranteed to do that, because it’s absolutely electrifying, written and performed with the kind of veteran skill and spirit  you would expect. And you’ll have the chance to experience it through our premiere stream of the EP’s three original tracks today, presented through a video (made by Wanderley Perna) as a single work. Continue reading »

Oct 092021
 

 

I hope you’re having a good weekend already, and I hope what I’ve chosen for this round-up of new songs and videos will make it even better. As usual, I had a lot to choose from based on discoveries from the past week. I thought about resorting to another “Overflowing Streams” deluge to get more of them in front of you, but decided instead to exercise a rare bit of discipline.

In making these choices I was influenced by previous knowledge about the music of five of these bands (all of whom are personal favorites) and knowledge about the past work of one of the creators, even though he’s creating under a new guise.

GLOSON (Sweden)

The first track here, “Impetus“, is a massive and unearthly song, one that takes a sledgehammer to your spine and claws at your mind. The central riff abrasively roils and darts; the ritualized drum rhythms go off like bunker-busting bombs; the yells and roars are harrowing. The song twists the tension dial, becomes sweeping, and then boils and pounds, the intensity unrelenting. You best get ready to flex your neck too.

The accompanying video made by Ulf Blomberg is as dark and unnerving as the music, but you can’t take your eyes off it. Continue reading »

Oct 072021
 

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Time is always fleeting, but I kidnapped enough of it to write some brief reviews and heart-felt recommendations for three very recent short releases that have captivated me (maybe especially because more often than not I’m angry and depressed these days). The SHADES OF BLACK reference in the post title is intended to provide the clue that this is all black metal, but no two of these releases sound alike.

SØRGELIG (Greece)

One of the commenters on the Bandcamp page for Sørgelig‘s new EP Slaves of Tomorrow did a very nice job in capturing part of what makes the band, and this EP, so special:

“I love Sorgelig’s utterly ruthless and nihilistic, yet also surprisingly humane and hopeful, take on primal black metal. Yes, we all live ‘in the prison of dead dreams,’ but we *can* dream, we can rage, we can spit in the eyes of our masters and call *them* the slaves. We can burn this blighted hell of a failing so-called civilization to the ground and build something better”. Continue reading »

Oct 052021
 

(Apexapienthe highly anticipated debut album from Canada’s Atræ Bilis is out this Friday via 20 Buck Spin, and Andy Synn would like to tell you exactly why that should be so exciting)

It really is a pleasure to see/hear a band living up to their potential, isn’t it? Especially a young band who seemingly have the world at their feet and a bright future laid out before them.

Case in point, when I wrote about Divinihility, the debut EP from up-and-coming Canadian death-dealers Atræ Bilis, last year I noted that while the band clearly owed a great debt to some of the biggest and best names in the genre – describing their sound, at one point, as “a combination of beefy, Blood Red Throne inspired riffs, chunky, Suffocation-style slam parts, and unexpectedly Ulcerate-esque moments of eerie dissonance” – they still, even at this early stage of their career, managed to pull it all together in a way that implied greater ambitions, and possibilities, for the group than just being one of the crowd.

As you might imagine, then, I predicted (and expected) big things for the band’s next release, and now, finally, we get to see/hear whether that prediction was in any way accurate.

Spoiler alert: it was.

Continue reading »

Oct 012021
 


Unto Others

(NCS contributor Gonzo returns with another end-of-month roundup of music that caught his ears.)

There are a few bittersweet observations I’ve come to realize in the past month, related both to music and to the endless hellscape that is the human condition:

As of this writing, 2022 is just three months away and I’m still processing whether 2020 was even real. This means that while I survived the endlessly overwhelming shitstorm of that year, it does beg the question of how much worse this planet could get for humans over the next decade.

While live music is back and I’ve been reveling in the joy of sweaty venues and the sleep deprivation that comes with festivals again, I was just notified that Judas Priest is postponing the rest of their tour due to Richie Faulkner’s heart condition.

The next date would’ve been where I would see them (for the first time, no less) here in Denver.

Fuck.

The good news? Sabaton, who opened for Priest on this tour, is still playing a show in Denver, and by the time this piece goes to print, I’ll have seen the show and will post a full review in the coming days.

In the meantime, I’m at least somewhat distracted by the troves of amazing heavy music that keep blasting out of the darkest corners of the netherverse as of late.

Join me as I take you through some unfettered heaviness and savagery that’s emerged in the past month and kept me sane as we descend into 2021’s final few months. This month, I’ve got two albums and three singles for you to delve into. Continue reading »

Oct 012021
 

 

Fans of Chicago’s Vukari will want to pay special attention to the following album premiere on the day of its release. Entitled Próżnia, it’s the debut full-length by the atmospheric black metal band Bialywilk, which is the solo side project of leading Vukari member Marek Cimochowicz. For this album, he’s also aided by an impressive group of session musicians — drummer John Kerr (Marsh Dweller, Noltem, Seidr), bassist Spenser Morris (Vukari), and Adam Harris, who performs synths on “Próżnia I”.

The title of the album is a Polish word that refers to the void — to the vacuum of space. Although Próżnia is not a concept album, the songs do deal with space and celestial realms, as well as mysticism and philosophical subjects. As Marek has explained to us: “So, overall the inspiration is about space and the void, but how vast and humbling it could be to the human experience. We are all part of the universe in a way but our bodies and consciousness are just a blip in the grander scheme, and as bleak as that sounds I find it pretty relieving”.

As you will discover, the music fits the grand and momentous themes of the lyrics, creating panoramas of blazing splendor that channel moods of awe, fear, and loss, coupled with heart-pounding rhythmic propulsion and vocals of harrowing intensity — and a couple of gripping ambient excursions into the void of deep space. Continue reading »

Sep 302021
 

 

Of all the titles that Malgöth might have chosen for their debut album, the one they picked is a near-perfect representation of the music: Glory Through Savagery. The experience is indeed one of breathtaking ferocity and destructive impact, but both the band and the songs also revel in their psychotic excesses, creating a continuous atmosphere of no-holds-barred derangement that glories in the chaos they create.

While the album maintains connections to the vaunted traditions of malignant Canadian blackened death metal, it carves its own abominable path in unorthodox yet still terrifying ways. The music is not merely a titan of globe-spanning ruination but it’s also delirious — and deliriously inventive. The press materials for Iron Bonehead Productions, who will release the album tomorrow (October 1st), describe it as “a kaleidoscopic experience, a fever dream of war metal turned absolutely inside out”, and that’s absolutely true — as you’re about to find out through our premiere of a complete album stream. Continue reading »