Mar 052014
 

I would guess that established metal bands face a quandary every time they begin work on a new album. By “established metal bands” I mean those who have put out enough records over a long enough period of time that they have a well-defined sound and, by metal standards, a large and relatively devoted fan base. I’m guessing, because I’m not in an established metal band and don’t know anyone who is. Fortunately, lack of first-hand knowledge has never held me back from expressing opinions.

Here’s the quandary: You can continue to do the same kind of thing you’ve done before. This is the safe route. You know you will probably please the die-hard fans, because you’re giving them what they’ve liked in the past. You’ll please your record label, because whatever pleases your established fan base most likely means predictable sales. And because it’s the same kind of music you’ve done in the past with success, you can be reasonably confident that you won’t fuck it up.

But maybe it’s not so safe. Because there’s a difference between writing good new songs that are recognizably YOU and… coasting. Coasting is risky, and I would guess (see above re my complete lack of personal knowledge) that it’s also boring for the people in the band. And when people in a band start to get bored, they’re on the brink of a death spiral. Continue reading »

Sep 192012
 


 

Here’s a grab bag of things I saw and heard over the last 24 hours that I thought were good enough to pass your way. I saw and heard other things that I’m keeping to myself, for your own protection.

ARCH ENEMY

Laboratory testing of animals is a hot-button issue for lots of people. On one side are those who view it as utterly unethical, as a vestige of humanity’s barbarism that should be abandoned as quickly as possible. On the other side are those who argue that animal testing is essential for the development of things like new medicines that will save lives (of course, animals are also used to test products that have nothing to do with human health).

But I suppose there are lots of people who give the issues no serious thought at all, which is unfortunate. Sweden’s Arch Enemy are trying to get more people to think about the treatment of animals in laboratory testing through a video they released today. The video is for “Cruelty Without Beauty”, a song from their latest album, 2011’s Khaos Legions. It effectively mixes disturbing film clips of animal testing with animation — and of course shots of Angela Gossow venting her rage.

I had mixed feelings about the album, because I thought the quality of the songs was a mixed bag. For me, “Cruelty Without Beauty” is one of the stronger tracks, though I should confess that I lean toward the side of the debate that the song represents. Check out the video, which gives a voice to the voiceless, after the jump. Continue reading »

May 142012
 

I have never seen my abs.  I will never see my abs.  It’s just not in the cards, despite the fact that I’m pretty close to the weight I’m supposed to have for my height.  Even when I was at my trimmest, most athletically fit, I couldn’t see them . . . and those days are far back in the rear-view mirror.

Angela Gossow, on the other hand, has abs. Having seen this photo taken at Arch Enemy’s Wages Of Sin Anniversary show in Tokyo on April 14, 2012, I don’t know why she ever wears shirts and tops that drop below her upper ribcage. Man, when you got it, flaunt it.

Look at her fucking arms, too! I know that with Arch Enemy as big as they are, she travels in better style than 99% of all metal bands, but still: Where does she find the time to work out this intensely, and how does she avoid all the alcohol and shit food that comes with touring?  Oh, wait.  I know.  You don’t have to fucking tell me.  It’s called self-discipline.  A concept I’ve read about, but one that’s totally academic to me.

I’m sorry, but as awe-inspiring as Angela looks in this photo, it fucking depresses me on another level. By coincidence, about 5 minutes after I saw this photo, I heard a song that kind of sums things up. It’s called “Visions Of A Shit Life”, which is kinda what I see when I catch myself naked in a mirror. It’s by a Denver grindcore band called Death of Self (yeah, that’s a fucken appropriate name, too), which features the vocalist/guitarist (Ethan) from Clinging To the Trees Of A Forest Fire. It has the benefit of being a goddamned kickass song, too. Continue reading »

Apr 262012
 

That, my friends, is Happy Metal Guy wearing the NCS Fucking Good Pancake Tour shirt with none other than Frank Motherfucking Mullen and Terrance Motherfucking Hobbs of the almighty Suffocation, and the photo was taken in motherfucking Singapore, no less. And that’s not all — not by a long shot.

After the jump, you’ll see photos of Happy Metal Guy, once again looking just smashing in the old massive wall of penis, with members of Nile and Psycroptic. Yes, HMG collared all of these bands yesterday in advance of  the Diablo Open Air Festival in Singapore, which took place on April 26 (Singapore time). He is covering that festival for Teeth of the Divine, and I understand he’ll be meeting up with Arch Enemy by the time you read this. Of course, I expect he will have the same exemplary culinary taste when he dresses for that meeting. UPDATE: HMG did get a quick meet with a few Arch Enemy members, and there’s a pic of him with awesome drummer Daniel Erlandsson and new guitarist Nick Cordle after the jump.

If you don’t immediately recognize the name “Happy Metal Guy”, that’s the pseudonym he uses when he writes for Angry Metal Guy, but he has other names, including a couple he has used when he contributes posts here at NCS (including the “Keyboard Warrior” interview series). He also writes for a bunch of other sites, too — the dude just plain gets around, y’know? But he made me proud wearing the NCS shirt for his meetings with all those big-name metal bands half a world away from where we run this site. So fucking cool.

Also, very fucking cool that none of these bands had HMG ejected from the premises after they saw that shirt.

More fucking cool pics after the jump . . . Continue reading »

Apr 252012
 

If you’re really perceptive (or you’re one of those people who have no real life outside the confines of the internet), you may have noticed that over the last 10 days or so, I haven’t contributed as much to NCS as I usually do. There are reasons for that, but describing them in detail would be boring. Let’s just say it involved unsuccessful transplant surgery, an inter-species paternity suit, and a rigged auction of antique trepanning implements, and leave it at that.

Anyway, I’m behind on all sorts of things, including current events in the world of metal. I was able to spend a little time today catching up, and I found lots of interesting stuff — a combination of news items and new music. Even after I filtered out items that every attentive metalhead already knows (because those items have already been covered on a dozen other metal sites), what’s left is still too much to cram into one post. So, I’m dividing them between at least two posts, and maybe a third. Here’s the first installment:

LANDMINE MARATHON

The first item is a news item. The news is that Arizona’s Landmine Marathon have recorded a new, self-titled 7″ EP. I like this news (a) because it involves Landmine Marathon, who are awesome, (b) because the cover art (above) is cool, and (c) because I’ve finally made the decision to buy a turntable, so I’ll actually be able to listen to this thing when it comes out. The EP will be released on May 14 and will consist of two songs that were recorded at the same time as the band’s last full-length (Gallows); reportedly, the songs won’t be available anywhere else. You can pre-order the EP at Deep Six Records. I am highly confident that it will be good.

Also, because I haven’t owned a turntable since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I have no idea what to buy, so please leave a comment if you have any recommendations, because that would make it easier on me than doing actual research. Continue reading »

Aug 262011
 

This post will be atypically short on words and long on audio-visual content. I saw three brand new videos this morning that I thought were worth sharing. I’m going to arrange these in ascending order of length, from shortest to longest.

On the short end of this stick, we’ve got the new video from Toxic Holocaust for a song called “Judgment Awaits You”. It’s from their new Relapse records release, Conjure and Command. Short, brutish, punk-thrash from a PNW band who have grown on me more and more as time passes.  Thanks to BlankTV for premiering this baby.

In the middle of this line-up is a new live video from Arch Enemy for the song “Bloodstained Cross”. The song is from their 2011 Century Media release, Khaos Legions. Yes, I confess: I have always had a crush on Angela Gossow. Does that make me weak? The video intersperses cuts of live shows from all over, with the audio from the album track. It was premiered by Revolver earlier today at this location.

The last and longest piece of vid is an August 24 live performance by Krallice of the song “Telluric Rings” from the band’s 2011 Profound Lore album Diotima, which our bro BadWolf eloquently reviewed for us here. If after all of our harping about Krallice here at NCS you still haven’t taken the plunge, now’s a good time to get wet. One of the best American black metal albums of the year, in my halfwitted opinion. The vocals are sort of drowned out on this vid, but otherwise the audio quality is decent, and the video is pro-shot.

So, that’s it for the words. All three videos are lined up for you after the jump. Enjoy the rest of your fucking day. Continue reading »

Aug 042011
 

Adrian and Daniel Erlandsson are brothers, both of whom started playing drums at an early age in their home in Malmö, Sweden. Adrian went on to become the drummer for bands such as At the Gates, The Haunted, and Cradle of Filth, and currently plays for Brujeria and Paradise Lost. Daniel has been almost as prolific. His work includes drum duties on In FlamesSubterranean album, and he’s been the drummer for Arch Enemy since 1998.

By all accounts, both are considered very good at what they do. I’ve admitted before that I’m not a good judge of technical ability; I tend to fall into a state of slack-jawed wonder when I watch almost any capable extreme-metal drummer performing live. I can’t wrap my mind around the stamina, the physical coordination, and the memory skills required to play such intricate rhythms at such high speed for such a long time. But I do know what I like to hear, and I like to hear the Erlandsson brothers at work.

Not long ago, we featured drum-cam footage of Fredrik Andersson of Amon Amarth playing at the recent Tuska music festival in Finland. Now we’ve got drum-cam video of the Erlandsson brothers at the same festival — Adrian performing with the legendary At the Gates, and Daniel with Arch Enemy. I had fun watching these clips, and only a couple of flies entered my open mouth while I watched. I thought you might like this shit, too, so after the jump you can check out the brothers Erlandsson doing what they do best. Continue reading »

Jun 102011
 

Shining‘s new album, VII / Född Förlorare (“born loser” in English) is one of the most musically varied, beautifully written, and superbly executed albums I’ve heard this year. It also may be the most surprising.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been so surprised if I’d been more familiar with the band’s previous releases, but I came to the album as a Shining newbie, never having heard any of the earlier music. What I had in my head before listening were bits and pieces of things I’d heard or read over the years — that the band played a mix of black metal and doom, that the lyrics promoted suicide and other forms of self-injury (including drug abuse), that the band’s concerts have turned violent on occasion, and that frontman Niklas Kvarforth mutilates himself on stage. There was also this quote from Kvarforth that I read someplace (the original source is here):

“Of course we support suicide, SHINING support all that is negative in this bastard world of ours. We have had a couple of cases in the past with people whom have ended their lives under the influence or partially under the influence of our work and of course this is a true blessing indeed, yet we pray for increased numbers of fatalities.”

With all that, and a general sense I had that Shining really doesn’t care what anyone thinks of them or their music, I’m not completely sure what I was expecting from the new album, but it wasn’t what I got. What I got was something that defies easy characterization, a mixture of folk music, progressive metal, acoustic ballads, chug-heavy aggression, wonderfully varied vocals, and absolutely blistering guitar solos. The music is rich and often has the feel of something intensely personal. Yes, it’s mostly dark and melancholy, but it didn’t make me feel suicidal at all.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jun 042011
 

This is a very quick note because I’m about to be non-computerized for the rest of this gloriously beautiful Seattle day, but I thought this news was worth sharing.

Sweden’s Arch Enemy is streaming their forthcoming Khaos Legions album in its entirety this weekend on the band’s official MySpace page (here). The stream is live now through June 6th, so you can give the album a test drive before it hits the stores via Century Media Records on June 7.

Because I just saw this news and I’m about to be non-computerized, I haven’t listened to this stream. If you do, let us know what you think. I’m out.

May 092011
 

It’s safe (and easy) to say that everyone who has listened to Arch Enemy falls into one of three camps: (1) you like everything the band does; (2) you like nothing the band does; (3) you liked the earlier albums, but have been meh about the more recent ones. We will soon have a new Arch Enemy release from Century Media. Khaos Legions will debut on May 30 in Europe and June 7 in North America. So far, two songs have been made publicly available.

The first — “Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” — was released as a video and premiered by Guitar World.  We wrote about that one here. The second, “Blood-Stained Cross”, has been exclusively streaming at MetalSucks since last Friday. I finally listened to that track and felt it was worth a post, because although many of you are also MetalSucks readers, I know some of you aren’t.

MetalSucks introduced the song by proclaiming that Khaos Legions “may very well be the legendary melodeath outfit’s finest hour since 2001′s Wages of Sin.” I certainly can’t agree or disagree with that comment yet since I’ve only heard two songs, but I will say this: Although I thought “Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” was okay (and only okay), “Blood-Stained Cross” is wonderful, and if the rest of the album is in league with it, I’l be agreeing with that MetalSucks assessment.

The song has a dark, vicious edge that does indeed recall Wages of Sin, with a great melodic guitar lead — and Angela Gossow’s vocals on this song may be the best effort from her I think I’ve yet heard. Yes, it’s still a very melodic song, but it’s also morose and seething and musically varied. I’m liking it a lot. If you’re in Category (1) or (3), as described above, you should definitely go to MetalSucks today (using this link) and listen to “Blood-Stained Cross.”