Oct 192016
 

Reviews in Haikus

 

(We present another edition of Andy Synn’s three-line reviews.)

Well, it appears that “Reviews in Haikus” has become a regular monthly affair somehow, so I thought to myself… why not use it to quickly touch base with a triptych of albums I probably won’t get chance to review properly any time soon? Continue reading »

Aug 072016
 

Alcest-Kodama

 

Just as yesterday’s Seen and Heard round-up was much shorter than usual, so too is this Sunday’s edition of Shades of Black. I got back to Seattle last night from that four-day wedding festivity in Vegas I’ve mentioned before, but between the two premieres I’ve posted since then and a backlog of personal stuff to deal with, I haven’t had time to write about everything I wanted to include in this post. I’m hoping to supplement it during the coming week before going off to Migration Fest on Thursday, when our site’s content will probably diminish again.

With so many songs and full releases on my list of Shades to choose from, I picked the following four items to recommend, without much rhyme or reason. The bands are less obscure than usual for these posts, until you get to the end.

ALCEST

I suspect I will always consider Alcest to be a shade of black even if Neige and Winterhalter decide to start playing bluegrass — though that hasn’t happened yet. The fifth Alcest album is named Kodama, which we’re told is the Japanese word for “tree spirit” and also refers to the process of sounds reverberating across mountains, valleys, and forests that’s often attributed to these spirits. Continue reading »

Jul 262016
 

40 Watt Sun-Wider than the Sky

 

Yesterday I loaded up a Seen and Heard round-up with music from 9 bands I had discovered in a single morning, most of them of the more obscure variety. Today I’ve again decided to focus exclusively on things I discovered through a whirlwind tour of our in-box and Facebook this morning, but this time the bands have a higher profile than yesterday’s group. Of course, these things are relative; the odds are that none of the people you encounter today who aren’t already your friends will have heard of any of these bands. And of course that is their loss.

40 WATT SUN

This first item him me like a bolt from the blue. Although I haven’t been regularly searching for news about 40 Watt Sun, I think in the recesses of my mind I just assumed we would never have another album by this particular project of Patrick Walker (ex-Warning) — but indeed we will, in less than three months’ time. Continue reading »

May 162015
 

 

(Our man Andy Synn was lucky enough to attend the second annual Incineration Festival in the UK and turns in this report, with videos.)

Let me preface this review with a quick round of thanks to the people who made the festival, and my presence there, possible.

My main thanks go out to Daniel of London Metal Monthly (for whom I also write on a semi-regular basis these days) for arranging my press pass and feeding my ever-expanding ego (though at no point did I have to utter the immortal words “do you know who I am?”… which was a shame).

I also want to thank Steve and Stephen for dealing with the masses of people queuing for wristbands and for sorting my access on the day itself, as well as for all their work behind the scenes in booking the bands, venues, crew, and everything else that must have gone into a mammoth undertaking.

However, they, along with Nimai, are only the names I know of the people who were involved. For an undertaking this big – one that’s only in its second year no less – there must have been a host of other helpers and organisers working alongside them. And although I don’t know their names, I thank them as well. Continue reading »

Nov 292013
 

I may have mentioned that I’m on vacation through December 8. In addition to not writing much for NCS, I’ve also largely abandoned my daily routine of reading press releases and roaming the web looking for metal news and video or song premieres to feature on the site. However, today some of my NCS comrades gave me a slew of links that together make a tidy package of extremely diverse new things worth writing about.

KAMPFAR

First, Andy Synn wrote me as follows: “New Kampfar. Put that in your pipe and smoke it”. I tried to smoke it, but the song smoked me instead. It’s name is “Mylder”, and it will appear on this excellent Norwegian band’s new album Djevelmakt, due for release on January 21 via Indie Recordings.

If I could shriek “Helvete!” like Kampfar’s vocalist, I would, because that’s what I want to do when I listen to “Mylder”. It’s an electrifying, dynamic song — with plenty of reaping, roaring, stomping, and jabbing, but also infiltrated with an ethereal flute melody (among other unexpected elements). It’s a great combination of black metal savagery and memorable songwriting. Djevelmakt can’t come soon enough. Continue reading »

Oct 072013
 

(BadWolf reviews the live performances by Anathema, Alcest, and Mamiffer in Flint, Michigan, on September 19.  Photos from the show, which follow the review, were taken by Kyle Lee Tate.)

Metal is rarely beautiful music. Many people, myself included, come to it looking for something harder, ugly—a mirror to hold up to those feelings not accepted by the mainstream society day-to-day. But some bands do take metal and make something beautiful out of it. Gorgeousness is likewise shunned by the worker bees of the modern day (have you ever seen a modern apartment complex? Or a piece of IKEA furniture?).

Doom-turned-progressive pop heavyweights Anathema, who traffic in bittersweet lyrics and soaring melody, trekked through the United States for the first time in twenty years, with French shoegaze-meets-black-metal wunderkinds Alcest in tow. The tour also sported brief opening slots by Seattle-based avant-garde metal-as-soundscape artists Mammifer.

I rolled into Flint Michigan’s legendary metal venue The Machine Shop with photographer Kyle Lee Tate, to find Mamiffer already playing, bathed in stage-smoke and dim, red light. Mamiffer is a collaborate effort between Aaron Turner, the one-time creative force behind legendary post-metal act Isis, and wife Faith Coloccia. Together they make ambient metal with Turner on guitar-and-pedal-board, and Faith on vocals and keyboard. Their music is akin to the sound propagated by the Handmade Birds record label, and popularized by Horseback and Locrian (with whom Mamiffer have collaborated). Continue reading »

Apr 222013
 

The 2013 edition of the Roadburn Festival took place over the last four days, from Thursday, April 18, to Sunday, April 21, 2013, in Tilburg, The Netherlands. There’s a dude whose web moniker is kkpgijsbers who lives in Tilburg and attends a lot of live shows and films them. He attended the 2013 edition of Roadburn and has been uploading a bunch of videos he shot of performances at the festival.

The audio and visual quality of these clips is generally excellent — kkpgijsbers obviously has good gear and he sets up at balcony-level, front-row vantage points that provide unobstructed views of the stages. So far this morning I’ve watched the film of Lantlôs performing “Intrauterine”, High On Fire performing “Snakes For the Divine”, Primordial delivering “The Gathering Wilderness”, Electric Wizard with “Witchcult Today” and “The Nightchild”, and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats doing “Valley of the Dolls” with a excerpts of Sharon Tate’s appearance in the movie of the same name on the screen behind them.

I’ve embedded those videos after the jump, plus a random selection of other performances by Alcest, Godflesh, and Cult of Luna. You can find more Roadburn clips by visiting kkpgijsbers’ YouTube channel, and it appears that still more will be uploaded today and in the days to come. Continue reading »

Sep 062012
 

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn made the trek to Germany for this year’s edition of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, and provided us with a review of the bands whose performances he witnessed.  We’ve divided the review into two parts. In this post, Andy covers the festival’s first two days, and tomorrow we’ll have his impressions of Day 3. We’ve also collected videos of many of the performances at the end of the post.)

So… German festivals go Thursday – Saturday, not Friday – Sunday… who knew? Well apparently everyone else in the world except for us, when we booked an overnight stay in Cologne on the Wednesday night! Still, Cologne was awesome, and only a mere four hours drive away…

Anyway, on reaching the site (after a desperate last minute rush to the petrol station – seriously, make sure you fill up before you reach the Dinkelsbuhl exit guys and gals!) we joined a surprising, infuriating, queue of cars, followed by an interminable security check… time was ticking away and Be’lakor (one of my primary reasons for going to the festival) would soon be taking the stage! So with some slightly rushed stunt driving (I’m pretty certain I went down that grass verge as much sideways as I did forwards) and a breathless scramble… we made it. Just.

DAY 1

Justifying our desperate, occasionally slightly risky, efforts to get to the festival on time, Be’lakor were undeniably awesome. Live, the Agallochian overtones of the music come through a lot more, a melding of misty melancholy with swells of oceanic heaviness giving the band a more distinctive and individual live presence. The group’s image is a little difficult to reconcile with the music though, encompassing a host of short haircuts, laid-back Australian accents, and inappropriate t-shirts! Shame on you guys!

The next band I was dying to see also happened to be one of my favourites, my loyalty to Darkest Hour forcing me to choose them in an unfortunate clash with Glorior Belli. And though it pained me to do so, I’m glad I did. Darkest Hour never disappoint, their punky, hyper-energetic take on melodic death metal fitting perfectly with the blazing sunshine and free-wheeling atmosphere of the festival. Plus, I was still yet to see them live with either the new material or the new line-up, and both absolutely killed it live. Continue reading »

Jan 042012
 

Alcest are from France. Many people I know like their music. In two days, their third album will be officially released by Prophecy Productions. Its title is Les Voyages de L’Âme. It’s now streaming in full on Prophecy Productions’ YouTube channel — which you can find via this link.

I’ve been listening to the album this morning for the first time. It’s beautiful, often hypnotic, one of those albums that pulls you in. You swim in it, it swims in you. Almost all the singing is clean, but Neige has a beautiful voice. Occasionally, he lets rip with black metal shrieking. When that happens, the intensity of the music also increases and the effect is galvanizing.

But mainly, this is just beautiful stuff. Not our usual fare around here, but I’d like to stream one of the new songs for you after the jump anyway. You can get lost . . . Continue reading »

Sep 132011
 

We previously reported that because of difficulties obtaining visas, Ghost would be forced to drop off the fall North American tour headlined by Norway’s Enslaved, which begins September 23. We mused that such a cloud might have a silver lining, ie, that another awesome band might be recruited to take the place of the missing phantoms.

Well, a replacement has indeed been found. Their name is Junius. I knew fuck-all about them when I saw the press release announcing their appearance on the tour. I have done some very quick research, and I now know (a) that they are from Boston; (b) that they describe their music as “art rock” and have been described by others as “a perfect hybrid of Neurosis and The Smiths”; (c) that they premiered a new song this morning on Brooklyn Vegan (here), which will appear on a new album to be released by Prosthetic Records called Reports From the Threshold of Death; and (d) the cover art for that new album is cool.

In case you were wondering, I did listen to that new song, “All Shall Float”. It’s not metal, at least not by my definition. It’s what I think of as emotional indie rock, and therefore (given my own tastes) it’s not something I would listen to on my own in a million years. So, it doesn’t enhance my anticipation for this tour, although I don’t really need any enhancement with Enslaved and Alcest already on the bill. Have a look at the cover art after the jump, and if you’re going to this tour and want to see what you’re in for from Junius, you can listen to “All Shall Float” after the jump, too. Continue reading »