Aug 272014

(Andy Synn wrote this piece. Your comments are welcome, as always.)

Isn’t it funny how when bands sell-out, they also seem to feel the need to denigrate and insult their former fans at the same time? It’s a woefully common phenomenon – a band changes its sound in order to target mainstream success, and then goes to great lengths in interviews to talk about how they’ve “gone beyond” metal, or “grown out of it”, simultaneously insulting the genre wholesale whilst confirming all the worst clichés about it being “childish” or “immature”.

The latest offender to play this game of PR politicking is All That Remains frontman Phil Labonte, who posted the following recently, after announcing that all the tracking for their new album had been completed:

So in the past six months bleeding through called it quits, god forbid called it quits, and just today shadows fall has announced that for all intents and purposes they’re calling it quits. I’m so glad ATR have transcended “metal” and have become “musicians.”

And it inspired me to address the topic, and maybe call Phil out on his bullshit a little. Continue reading »

Sep 102012

Last week, numerous metal blogs reported the rumor that Dethklok, Machine Head, All That Remains, and The Black Dahlia Murder would be touring North America together this fall. Preferring to wait for something more concrete, we didn’t post about that. But this morning we saw confirmation via Lambgoat that the tour really is happening, along with a schedule of the dates and places.

The tour will hit 31 cities, beginning on October 30 in Norfolk, Virginia, and ending on December 8 in Atlanta. It’s almost entirely a U.S. tour, but there will be shows in Montreal and Toronto.

My feelings about the tour were pretty well summed up by Axl at Metal Sucks when he reported the rumor: “[T]his tour . . . does have one weak spot, in the form of a certain auto-tuned metalcore band whose frontman loves guns. That being said, I still wouldn’t skip this tour — thirty or forty minutes to take a breather at a show with three other awesome bands on the bill isn’t a bad thing.”

I still have great memories of Dethklok’s performance when they toured with Mastodon a few years ago and would think hard about paying to see them regardless of who else was along for the ride. But The Black Dahlia Murder will put on a helluva show, and I’ve never seen Machine Head and want to.

And as for All That Remains, their early albums were among my favorites for years when metalcore first exploded, but I’ve gradually lost interest. Still, maybe ATR will play some songs from This Darkened Heart and The Fall of Ideals, which could be a cool nostalgia trip. But I’m not counting on that. What are your thoughts about this tour?

Check out the schedule after the jump, and stream a song (“I Ejaculate Fire”) from Dethklok’s new album while you’re at it. Continue reading »

Oct 062010

My comrades and I started this site in part as a protest against the watering down of metal, and metalcore in particular, by the infusion of  indie/pop-style clean singing. We wanted to focus on extreme metal. As we said in our description of the music we’d be covering here: “Mostly, we like it fast, punishing, cathartic.  Purely instrumental metal, if done right, fits the NCS bill.  But if someone opens his or her mouth in a song, what comes out better be growling, screaming, or squealing.”

But we also conceded that there would be Exceptions to the Rule — bands we liked despite, and even sometimes because, they punctuate their music with occasional clean singing. We listed Opeth and Mastodon as examples, but we could have included others, like Katatonia, Amorphis, and Soilwork.

Once upon a time, we would have included All That Remains. But the release of 2008’s Overcome was a disappointment to us. From Behind Silence and Solitude to This Darkened Heart to The Fall of Ideals, the band moved from a predominantly melodeath sound into metalcore, with increasing use of clean singing. Still, despite that progression, we were still big fans of The Fall of Ideals. On the other hand, Overcome crossed the line.

The aggressive instrumental backdrop was still there, and Phil Labonte still made use of growly howls and piercing shrieks, but the overall tone of the album was more radio-friendly than the band’s preceding releases, and the single “Two Weeks” seemed overtly calculated to achieve crossover success. With nothing but clean singing in that song, it actually broke into stratospheric territory on the mainstream rock charts and helped land Overcome at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 list with sales ultimately topping 240,000 copies. Given our peculiar tastes, however, for us the band’s trajectory was headed in the wrong direction.

And yet, when Razor & Tie offered us the chance for an advance listen to the band’s forthcoming fifth album, For We Are Many (scheduled for release on October 12), we couldn’t resist. Old loyalties die hard, and besides, Phil Labonte had been quoted as saying that the album would include “new twists and turns,” and we were curious. Would the strong taste of success lead the band further along its progression toward the forbidden lands of hard rock, or would we see a course change?   (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Aug 312010

Another month has passed. Summer is waning. It’s still as hot as the ninth circle of Hell in most parts of our country, but here in the Pacific Northwest, the air is already beginning to feel like fall. And because fall in Seattle lasts about one week, winter is already what we’re thinking about, because winter means getting soaked with rain. In the dark.

Where were we? Oh yeah, another month is over. And here at NCS, that means it’s time for another installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, a forge being the old name for a place where a blacksmith heats metal and works it into the shape of something useful. We thought it sounded literary.

Another name for “forge” is “smithy.” As in, “the blacksmith works in a smithy.” But “smithy” doesn’t sound literary, and METAL IN THE SMITHY just sounds fucked up. METAL IN THE FORGE is a little fucked up, too, the more we think about it, but not as fucked up as METAL IN THE SMITHY.

Where were we? Oh yeah, at the end of every month, we update the list of forthcoming new albums we first posted on January 1. (All the other updates can be found via the “Forthcoming Albums” category link on the right side of our pages.) Below is a list of still more projected new releases we didn’t know about at the time of our previous updates, or updated info about some of the previously noted releases.

Once again, we’ve cobbled together news blurbs about bands whose past work we’ve liked, or who look interesting for other reasons. Perhaps needless to say, these are bands that mostly fit the profile of music we cover on this site — the kind that would like to tear your head off.

So, after the jump, in alphabetical order, you’ll find our list of cut-and-pasted items from various sources since our last update about forthcoming new releases. Look for the bands you like and, if you’re really obsessive like we are, put reminders on your calendar. Continue reading »

Aug 062010

Man, have we got some breaking news for those of you who occasionally enjoy the sensation of leaving the caves where you live and spending a night in a different kind of cave — one that’s filled with really loud, skull-splattering metal and other cave-dwellers like yourselves.

We’ve just gotten confirmed dates for two new tours that make us gleeful with anticipation. Bet you can’t guess which ones.

Oh, wait. I guess you can guess which ones.

Well, bet you can’t guess the dates and places where these two tours will descend in order to lay waste to paying cave-dwellers. S’okay, you don’t have to guess, because both tour schedules are laid out in all their glory after the jump.

In our humble opinion, these will be two of the fall’s best tours. Not that it matters to you, but we’re particularly stoked because they’re both coming to a cave near us — way the fuck up here in the Northwest corner of the U.S. And there are Canadian dates on one of them, too.

(check it out after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

May 012010

We’re now a full four months into 2010, and it’s time for our fourth update to the list of forthcoming new albums we posted on January 1. (See the original list here, the first update here, the second update here, and the third update here.) Below is a list of still more projected new releases that we didn’t know about on January 1 or at the time of our last three updates (or that we’ve found updated information about) — and the new sickness is still spreading in epidemic proportions.

Once again, we’ve cobbled together news blurbs about bands whose past work we’ve liked, or who look interesting for other reasons. Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway), these are bands that mostly fit the profile of music we cover on this site.

So, in alphabetical order, here’s our list of cut-and-pasted blurbs from various sources since our last update about forthcoming new releases. Look for the bands you like and put reminders on your calendar. Or if you’re old school like us, just get em tattooed someplace you can see without a mirror (because reading stuff backwards is hard).

ABIGAIL WILLIAMS: “Abigail Williams have completed recording of individual performances for their still untitled second full-length. Captured at Conquistador Studios in Cleveland, Ohio, eight new songs were laid down with vocalist/guitarist Ken Sorceron and engineer Cole Martinez controlling the audio takes. The songs are currently being mixed by Peter Tagtgren (Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, Celtic Frost) and are expected to be completed later this month.”

ABYSMAL DAWN: “Los Angeles-based metallers ABYSMAL DAWN will enter Trench Studio in Corona, California in May with producer John Haddad (PHOBIA, INTRONAUT, HIRAX) to begin recording their new album for a tentative fall release via Relapse Records. The follow-up to Programmed To Consume will be mixed by Erik Rutan (HATE ETERNAL, VITAL REMAINS, CANNIBAL CORPSE) at his Mana Recording Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida.”  (the list continues after the jump .  .) Continue reading »