Jan 302018
 

 

We’re coming down to the wire, and I’m in a frantic state of mind. I’ve now firmly decided to end this list on January 31, but I realized this morning that January 31 IS TOMORROW!!!

I spent hours yesterday afternoon and last night listening to many of the remaining candidates for the list, and reached the conclusion that I have to double-down on these posts. In other words, there will be two installments of this list today and two more tomorrow, and each one is going to include a lot of songs.

This one, as forecast by the title of the post, is devoted to Exceptions to Our Rule (the one in the site’s title). I’ve done this before in previous years, and have already named a few songs to the list this year that include clean vocals. There are some beautiful voices in this post, and a lot of highly addictive music as well (of course). Continue reading »

Nov 232017
 

 

If the analytical stats about the composition of our visitors are correct, about half of you will be observing Thanksgiving Day while for everyone else it will be just another day. It’s sort of just another day here at NCS — as you can tell, we’re still posting about metal — but it’s also Thanksgiving Day here in Seattle. And inevitably, I’m feeling thankful.

To give thanks, you need someone or something to thank, don’t you? In the tradition of this holiday, the idea is to express gratitude to some higher power, but if that seems like a fantasy (as it does to me), you become mindful of the thanks you owe to other people instead. Since our eighth birthday was only a few days ago, I’ve already thanked all the people (including you) who have contributed to the perplexing longevity of NCS. Today, I’m feeling especially thankful to the bands who help make life pleasurable, even during the dark days when it’s a struggle to find anything else that makes you feel thankful.

And so, voila, here’s a random selection of recent news and new music for which I’m grateful, with few words (because I’m headed off soon for a Thanksgiving get-together with family and friends).

AMENRA

I was late in getting around to checking out Amenra’s new video for the song “A Solitary Reign” off their new album Mass VI, which is out now via Neurot Recordings (and was reviewed here by Wil Cifer). It is a captivating video, made by Tine Guns, the mother of Amenra guitar player Mathieu Vandekerckhove’s son, Wolf. The song is completely captivating as well, perhaps the high point of Mass VI. The music was described in this way by the band’s Colin H. Van Eeckhout: Continue reading »

Oct 022017
 

 

(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by the Belgian band Amenra, which will be released on October 20 by Neurot Recordings.)

Here is an album that reminds us distortion alone is only as heavy as the emotion being poured into the songs. This Belgium sludge band returns with another piece of despair. Gone is the Neurosis worship, which has been washed away from a more lush sound with thicker atmosphere. The emotional depth can be heard in anguished howls of the vocals. The layers of accompanying guitar have a droning sense of melody and carry an inner darkness.

The album opens with the brand of aggressive sludge you expect, with an almost hardcore-tinged anger. When this dies down the band float out into something more fragile and intimate with vocals sung in an almost androgynous Sigur Rós-like whisper, but then throw themselves back into the tormented screaming. One thing this album has going for it is the fact that the sung vocals are not used to create a MySpace Metal good cop/bad cop routine. Instead they build a dynamic in a less contrived fashion. Continue reading »

Jul 092017
 


Amenra photo by Stephan Vanfleteren

 

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Overflowing Streams round-up, my plan was to pull together another compilation of recent recommended music under the SEEN AND HEARD header. By the time I finished, I realized that almost everything I had picked came in the form of a video, and the one exception was close enough that I decided to change the heading for this post.

I arranged these videos to achieve a kind of flow, or an arc — not seamless, to be sure, but in a way that made sense to me. Things begin in very dark fashion with the first three videos, then we have some death metal necrophilia as a transition (necrophilia is always a good transition, right?), and then a trio of high-energy tracks that have ethnic musical elements mixed in with otherwise diverse sounds, and then we go out in an explosive bonfire. And with that, let’s begin…

(P.S. My usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK feature will be posted on Monday.)

AMENRA

The Belgian band Amenra are returning with a new mass, five years after the last one. Mass VI will be released on October 20 by Neurot Recordings, a date that seems very far away, but at least it’s on the calendar now. The video below isn’t a full song (sadly), but it’s a very effective teaser for the new album nonetheless. Continue reading »

May 052016
 

Roadburn-2016-OfficalArtwork1

 

The 2016 edition of the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands, is now in the history books. It was the first edition of the festival to be presented at the newly renovated 013 venue, and it boasted a typically impressive and diverse line-up of bands. While none of the NCS scribes was on hand for this year’s event, we do have beautiful photos of many of the performances, thanks to Kris T. Therrian of 17 seconds photography.

We’ve divided these photo collections into four parts, one for each day of the festival, and we’re been rolling them out on successive days here at our site. You can see photos from Day One here, Day Two here, and Day Three here. Once again, many thanks to Kris for letting us share these memories with you. For more info about her artistically impressive work, visit these links: Continue reading »

May 042016
 

Roadburn-2016-OfficalArtwork1

 

The 2016 edition of the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands, is now in the history books. It was the first edition of the festival to be presented at the newly renovated 013 venue, and it boasted a typically impressive and diverse line-up of bands. While none of the NCS scribes was on hand for this year’s event, we do have beautiful photos of many of the performances, thanks to Kris T. Therrian of 17 seconds photography.

We’ve divided these photo collections into four parts, one for each day of the festival, and we’re rolling them out on successive days here at our site. You can see photos from Day One here and Day Two here. The remaining installment will appear tomorrow. Many thanks to Kris for letting us share these memories with you. For more info about her work, visit these links: Continue reading »

Mar 242014
 

In this post I’ve paired a new video by an interesting director for “A Mon Âme” by the French band Amenra, and a brand new song named “Dog Eat God” by Russian multi-instrumentalist Arsafes. They’re a study in contrasts.

AMENRA

What happens when a fashion photographer whose work has adorned ad campaigns by the likes of Christian Dior, Jil Sander, and Raf Simons turns his hand to a metal video? You’re about to find out.

Belgian photographer Willy Vanderperre says he was inspired to approach the sludge/doom band Amenra (who are also Belgian) after seeing them play live in Paris. Vanderperre explains: “Growing up in the same area of Belgium as the band members—no one captures the vibe and the spirit of South West Flanders in music as they do. The sound transports me back there instantly…. For the video, I wanted to be almost on their skin, very close in a hypnotic way.” Continue reading »