Dec 292013

Here’s a status update that appeared on the Facebook page of Finland’s Insomnium today (emphasis added):

We’ve now recorded rhythm guitars for 5 songs. In addition to Marshall+EVH combo we’re also using Mesa Single Rectifier and my seven stringed Mayones to add some more depth and fatness to the sound. The new material is definitely more varied than before. For example, we’re flirting a bit with death/black metal vibe with some of the songs. Nevertheless, everything sounds very much like Insomnium and I guess that’s mainly due to our “trademark” melodies. We’re splitting rhythm parts pretty much equally with Markus and also try out different guitar arrangements as we go. All in all, the mood is very relaxed and we’re making good progress without too much pressure and stress.


Aw hell yes.   Continue reading »

Dec 092013

(Guest writer Alain Mower is back with recommended releases appropriate for the season.)

As prophesied in ice and fire, winter has come and – as pointed out in Ben’s guest article ”At the Heart of Winter” – with the change of seasons into the most dark and frostbitten of them all, in conjunction with the beginning of hunting list season, we need a little extra something to help offset the fact that we can’t just hibernate this season of stillness and death behind us.

Also, while undeniably a necessary part of any tried and trve vinter, I’m going to try and leave off the classics in favor of featuring some (relatively) modern releases that are more recently bidding for the throne of winter. It’s not that Immortal, Windir, and Ulver haven’t put out the most quintessential albums of the season, it’s just that some young wolves are just getting their first real taste of fresh blood, and they deserve some mentions too.

Also, not all the releases listed here are metal, but I will argue to the death that all of them are Winter. So, without further longwinded gusto, here are ten albums guaranteed to help you meet the heart of winter head on. Continue reading »

Jun 222013

I’m going to be scarce around here the rest of the day and a big part of tomorrow. Two friends of mine are getting married tomorrow, and I intend to help them celebrate the joyous occasion to the utmost of my abilities. If the NCS site becomes comatose, please look for me at hospitals in the vicinity of Ithaca, NY.

Until we meet again, I’d like to leave you with something that really made my morning, and I hope it will make yours brighter, too. It’s a video of about half of Agalloch’s live set in Aalter, Belgium, on April 22, 2013, as part of the LUCIFER OVER EUROPE tour. The video and the audio quality are both very good. In fact, if you decide not to stare at a computer screen for 44 minutes, the audio is good enough that you could just blast it in the background.

So fucking heavy, so fucking sublime. Four excellent musicians really locked in, casting spells. Thank you John HaughmDon AndersonJason Walton, and Aesop Dekker for getting my weekend off to a fine start. Continue reading »

Aug 302012

You know, if I owned a kvlt metal record label (and therefore, by definition, did not care about food or running water), I would do something like this.

The phone would ring one day, and someone would say, “Would you be interested in signing a band composed of these folks?”

Mike Scheidt (YOB)-Vocals

John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune, ex-Ludicra)-Guitars

Sigrid Sheie (Hammers of Misfortune)-Bass

Aesop (Fucking) Dekker (Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros, ex-Ludicra)-Drums

I’d think on it for about two seconds, while wiping the drool off my mouth, and while the inner me would be squealing like a little girl, I’d try to play it cool and ask if there was any music to hear. And upon being told Not Yet, I’d just go ahead and give up and ask where to send the contract, and then excuse myself to go change my shorts.

I’m not exactly sure it went down like that in the offices of Profound Lore. All I know for sure is that this band is a real thing, it’s called VHÖL, they’re recording an album, and Profound Lore plans to release it. Continue reading »

Aug 142012

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the release by Agalloch of their second full-length, The Mantle. Also yesterday, our brother in blog, Full Metal Attorney, devoted another one of his album-anniversary retrospectives to The Mantle, and as I’ve done before, I’m using his piece as what I hope will be a jumping-off point for discussion here at NCS.

This particular anniversary recognition means more to me than others we’ve featured here. The Mantle was my introduction to Agalloch, who have become one of my favorite bands, and the album itself was a revelation to me. FMA contends that it represented “two radical changes in metal”, which slowly gained in prominence after the album’s release. First, he states that it represented a form of “[m]etal that’s barely even metal” – “neo-folk music with some black metal elements, rather than the other way around.”

Second, he argues that it represented a shift “away from individual songs and toward complete albums”, a kind of cinematic music in which mood is paramount: “The songwriting is brilliant not because of monster riffs, but because it creates atmosphere and holds it together with memorable melodies and musical themes. In that sense, it resembles classical music more than any kind of rock music.”

While acknowledging that other bands such as Ulver had previously been creating music with a “neo-folk-infused musical style and cinematic/classical songwriting”, FMA asserts that “no one plying this trade had made such a strong statement as The Mantle” and that “[p]agan metal and post-black metal would be unrecognizable (or non-existent) today were it not for this record.” And to push the point even further, he states, “By extension, the nation of Ireland would have zero presence on the international metal stage.” Continue reading »

Jul 252012

(NCS guest contributor Mike Yost attended the Denver stop of Agalloch’s current tour with Taurus on July 17, 2012, and graciously shared this review with us.  It also appears on Mike’s own blog, Remnants of Words.)

It was just after 5pm, and I was pacing back and forth in my apartment, trying to watch a movie.  The concert didn’t start until 8pm, and I was attempting to exercise some patience.  Then I thought to myself:  “Fuck patience.  And fuck exercise, too!”  I grabbed my ticket, some cash for swag, and my ID.  I ran out the door, jogging (not walking) toward the theater where Agalloch was going to play.

Normally I wouldn’t stand in line for two-and-a-half hours to see a concert.  Nowadays I’m more content to hang back and enjoy the music with a cold beer in my hand.  But Agalloch isn’t just some nominal band rolling through town, and this wasn’t going to be just another show.

The concert was at Denver’s Bluebird Theater.  An official historical landmark, the brick building is one year shy of being a century old.  It was once a movie house, and its maximum capacity is only 500.  This creates an intimate atmosphere between the crowd and the band.  Best of all, it’s only a fifteen-minute walk from my apartment. Continue reading »

Jul 142012

Agalloch’s current North American tour kicked off on July 11 in Portland and I saw the show when they moved up to Seattle the next night. That pic up above is the awesome poster created by Stevie Floyd for the tour. I intended to buy it at the show, but lost my mind at some point during Agalloch’s set and forgot.

They played at The Crocodile, a venue that was a fixture of the Seattle music scene (Nirvana played their first live show there, for example) for 16 years before it closed in 2007. It reopened under new ownership in 2009 after extensive remodeling, but this was the first time I’d been there (they don’t book many metal shows). Nice place — a big open floor with a full bar in the back and a small balcony area to the right. By the time Agalloch started (well after 11 p.m., unfortunately), the floor was jammed with people all the way from the front of the stage back to the bar.

Preceding Agalloch was another Portland band named Eight Bells (who aren’t part of the full NorthAm tour) and then Taurus (a two-woman band, also from Portland, that includes the afore-mentioned Stevie Floyd from Dark Castle). I enjoyed Eight Bells’ post-rock instrumentals, but the tag-team vocals of Melynda Jackson and Haley Weiner were too often off-key, and I confess that I gave up after the first three songs and went outside and spent the rest of their set catching up with Ryan Yancey and James Furrow from Blood and Thunder, a hard-working, hard-playing band we’re big fans of, who are forging ahead despite a couple of recent line-up changes. They’ll be opening for Korpiklaani, Moonsorrow, Tyr, and Metsatoll in Seattle on September 8, and I’m tremendously stoked for that show. Continue reading »

Jul 022012

Concerning Agalloch’s new EP, Faustian Echoes, which BadWolf reviewed for us here, the following announcement appeared on Agalloch’s Facebook page yesterday:

Due to the overwhelming demand for “Faustian Echoes,” we have decided to make the digital download available now. We have also made both the “Grey” and “White” EPs available for digital download. Please visit our bandcamp page for these releases and other B-side and rare material. “Faustian Echoes” will be available on LP and CD at our record release show in Portland, Oregon on July 11th where we will also begin the “Faustian Spirits” month-long tour of North America. The LP and CD will continue to be sold on tour and made available to the world after the tour. Thank you for your support and please spread!

That is fine news. The Faustian Echoes download will cost you $6. You can get it, along with The Grey, The White, and a lot more Agalloch music at their Bandcamp page (HERE).

Jun 262012

“I, Earnest Faust, do call on thee, Mephistopheles!”

(BadWolf brings us news and thoughts about the brand new EP by Agalloch.)

American black metal powerhouse Agalloch have been quietly recording a new EP through improvisational sessions for the past few months. Well, I use “quietly” in the loosest term, since their super-drummer, Aesop “Fucking” Dekker (Ex-Ludicra, Worm Oroboros) has been teasing the hell out of it for months, along with a side project of his. The wait is over, and Faustian Echoes is now streaming via Bandcamp, though you can listen to our embed below.

A history lesson: Agalloch have quietly gathered a collection of dedicated fans (staff members here included) for some time. The quintessential thinking man’s metal band—and I loathe that term—Agalloch led a career full of short-print albums with critical acclaim, sparse tours, and a discography loaded with obscure, poorly-promoted special edition odds and ends which always sold out seemingly before their actual existence and now sell for astronomical prices on eBay.

But in the past two years, Agalloch have really built up a heavy head of steam. In 2010 they signed to Profound Lore (still arguably the best metal label on this continent, despite some spotty releases this year), picked up Aes, and released an amazing album, Marrow of the Spirit. After that came a national tour where Agalloch proved—much to my surprise—to be a fucking amazing live band. As in one of the 5 best bands I have ever seen in any genre. They proved that again this past May in a coveted prime-time set during Maryland Deathfest. Continue reading »

May 222012

The last time I posted about Agalloch’s summer North American tour with Taurus, I only had 10 dates.  Now the band have made an official announcement, and virtually the entire schedule has become available. In the comments to the last post, a few of you were bemoaning the lack of Denver and Phillie dates, among others. Well, fret no more. Those cities are included, along with a bunch more.

Here’s the official announcement, and the schedule is after the jump.

AGALLOCH have announced a massive North American tour this summer that they will be embarking on. Support on all dates will come from Taurus which features Stevie Floyd of DARK CASTLE.  The band have also been confirmed to play this year’s Noctis Fest which will be taking place on Sept 28th/29th in Calgary, Alberta. A statement from the band reads as follows:

“This tour will mark the release of our recently recorded EP “Faustian Echoes” on both LP and CD.  We have taken great care in the design of this release.  Sometime before the tour we will have both a streaming and digital download option available.  However, the LP and CD versions will only be available at the shows during the dates on the tour and will be available via mail order after the tour.  We will be adding material (both new and old) to our set list and depending on stage time we anticipate playing between 90-120 minutes.  The set will rotate each night.  We have carefully selected local openers whose music fits the environment of an Agalloch show.  Where there are no openers selected, we will play nearly 120 minutes.  We are all personal fans of the openers and encourage everyone to show up early to see them.  We will have a variety of merchandise for sale including: 2 new shirt designs, our back catalog, “The Demonstration Archive,” “Marrow of the Spirit” vinyl, a tour poster by Stevie Floyd, original photographic prints by Veleda Thorsson, and various other odds and ends.”

“The dates go as follows and the TBA’s will be updated once things are finalized: Continue reading »