Aug 102013

I know you didn’t ask what I’ve been watching and listening to on this gray Pacific Northwest morning, but I’m telling you anyway, because that’s how blogging works.


A new Arsis video premiered yesterday. The song is “Scornstar” from their 2013 album Unwelcome. It was directed by Scott Hansen. It’s footage of the usual kind of thing that happens at an Arsis show. You know, people foaming at the mouth, chicks showing their tits, dudes ripping their hearts out of their chests, people’s guts exploding, bodily fluids and intestines spraying every which way. For people who’ve seen them play live before, it’s kind of old hat. But if you’re new to the band I guess it might be interesting.

I don’t really understand why this kind of regular occurrence was newsworthy. Must have been a slow news night at the TV station that broadcast the report. You can watch it next if you want. Continue reading »

Jul 162013

The day will come when crowdfunding campaigns reach the saturation point, but we’re not there yet, and we may not ever get there if more bands become as creative as Arsis.

You may remember that earlier this year Arsis was to be part of the End of Disclosure North American Tour along with Hypocrisy, Aborted, and Krisiun. And then, as we sadly reported here, Hypocrisy was forced to drop off the tour due to delays in obtaining visas, and that led to Aborted’s cancellation as well. But instead of just writing off the whole enterprise, Arsis and Krisiun soldiered on, despite the negative impact of those last-minute cancellations. That bought them a lot of respect from a lot of people, including me; I saw the Seattle show on that tour, and those bands killed it, despite playing to an embarrassingly small audience.

But what goes around comes around, and we gleefully reported that Arsis had become part of another North American tour beginning in August with Wintersun, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Starkill. But this is going to cost Arsis a pretty penny, as it turns out, and they’re making an appeal to fans to help them underwrite the expense. Before you blow this off, check out some of the perks they’re offering. Continue reading »

Jun 042013

Well, North American Wintersun fans may have to wait until early 2014 for Time II, but we won’t have to wait that long to see the band in the flesh. Following up on a short run of 2012 dates in support of Time I, MetalSucks have just announced their sponsorship of a much more extensive Wintersun tour beginning this August. That alone would be hot news, but look who else will be along for that ride:

Fleshgod Apocalypse

Damn, this is going to be sweet. And maybe extra-sweet, because Wintersun are already hinting at surprises in their set list. Music from Time II maybe?

Check out the tour schedule next . . . . Continue reading »

May 102013

That flyer up above is the latest one I could find for the 9th edition of the Euroblast Festival, scheduled to occur on October 11-13, 2013, in Cologne, Germany. However, it doesn’t show the most current listing of bands. For example, yesterday the Euroblast organizers announced that Arsis will also be appearing (hell yes), and Threat SignalAliases, and Der Weg einer Freiheit are also recent additions to the line-up.

And today brought the exciting announcement that Sweden’s Deathember and Russia’s Kartikeya have been selected to appear. We reviewed Deathember’s new album earlier this week (here), and of course Kartikeya has been a frequently mentioned NCS favorite for years.  Congrats to both of those bands.

And after the jump you can see the complete line-up as it now stands. Many more bands will be announced in the coming months, but the line-up already includes a large number of bands we really like around here. For more info, visit Euroblast’s web site or their Facebook page. Continue reading »

May 052013

(DGR took it upon himself to create a “greatest hits” album for Arsis, with explanations for his picks. Too bad the album is only in his mind.)

Some people are good with lists, amazingly good. The fact that they can cut something down to five or ten seems incredible, especially given my wishy washy bullshit where if you have an album I enjoy, I’ll probably talk about it to some extent. Andy is one of those guys, and it was while reading his top 5 underrated discs post that I found myself listing something of my own, although to a slightly bigger extent. It was when he mentioned Arsis’ Starve For The Devil as an underrated album that I found about all six of my available neurons firing off at once, for a couple of reasons.

One was that it never really seemed like the folks who hated on Starve had much of a legitimate reason, other than it leaned heavier toward the melodic side of things; if I were to nominate any disc as underrated, it would probably be We Are The Nightmare. Not that I’m claiming that disc was amazing, because I actually think it’s the weakest of the Arsis albums, but I’d really love to see an impassioned defense of it.

The other was that, man, I have followed Arsis for a seemingly long time. Like, since late 2004 long time, when I received a message in an IRC chat from a friend who used to turn me on to all sorts of good music, notifying me that he was emailing me the song “Seven Whispers Fell Silent” and that I needed to hear it. My tastes in metal were not that spectacular at the time, but that song kicked my ass and I needed to have more.

Unfortunately, the local Sam Goody didn’t exactly carry the latest Willowtip releases, so I basically found myself shit out of luck since I hadn’t quite acclimated to my new town and had no idea that places like Dimple or Tower existed – which had sprawling metal sections in comparison. I wound up waiting half a year to make a trip to the Bay Area and hit up a Rasputin’s where I bought A Celebration of Guilt and Evergrey’s Recreation Day, because opposites get you really weird looks at the checkout counter – also paying the last three dollars in rolled-up pennies because you’re poor. Continue reading »

May 022013

(Here’s another in Andy Synn’s irregular series of things that come in five’s.)

That’s right, with this edition of the column I’m going to try and convince you that your opinions are wrong, and break the Pavlovian conditioning that has led you all to unfairly loathe some genuinely fine albums.

But… this is the internet… so none of that’s probably going to happen.

A little context first off though. A couple of days back I was listening to the new Cryptopsy album (still stunning btw) and suddenly thought to myself, “You know what, I haven’t listened to The Unspoken King in forever… surely it’s not as bad as I remember?”.

And you know what… it is. Ok, so it has a couple of solid songs, and a few that would be pretty good if they weren’t Cryptopsy songs, but overall… wow… it really is bad.

But it did get me thinking about albums towards which the general public consensus is largely negative (often influenced strongly by prevailing media portrayals, and sometimes out and out misrepresentations) but which I think deserve a renaissance, now that the initial furore has died down.

So here I present five of my picks for albums which have been castigated and criticised by the metal community at large, sometimes seemingly without even listening to the actual music, but which I think are actually pretty brilliant, once you get past all the politics and preconceptions. In fact, having spoken to several people about some of these albums, it seems a lot of folks “remember” the albums as being bad, but can’t tell you much about when, or even if, they’ve actually listened to them. So here I intend to rectify that. Continue reading »

Apr 302013

(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Arsis, which is being released today.)

Arsis are one of those cult bands who really should be getting more acclaim in the metal world than they do.  Time and time again, James Malone has proven himself to be not only an iconic metal front man, with his raptor-like, wrist-slitting screeches and his capacity to execute virtuoso-level technical riffs, but also an ingenious musician.  The band have always been a fine example of melodic death metal that truly is classical in its nature, especially with the absolutely insane counterpoint for which James Malone has become known in dual-guitar displays.  He’s been through a revolving lineup, but this band is his, and because it’s his, it’s always been truly Arsis at its core — a band with an identity — though his experimentation with differing bandmates has been considered a mixed-results affair by many, most of whom were enamored by the band’s arresting debut A Celebration of Guilt.

To a lot of the Arsis fan base, Unwelcome was an album that had to shoulder the burden of making up for Starve for the Devil, a release that many saw as one of the band’s weakest efforts.  I liked that album, but I could see where it might’ve turned some people off with its thrashier direction and a production quality that didn’t exactly help convey the music’s force.  We got a taste of what was in store with the band’s excellent Scion A/V EP Lepers Caress (still freely downloadable here), a delightful sampler that saw Arsis playing faster, hitting harder, and pushing technical limits in a way that hadn’t been heard in a while.  Unwelcome not only cements the impression at which Lepers Caress hinted, it also proves James Malone’s definitive place in the American metal fabric as a musician and composer who should be put up there with the likes of even Chuck Schuldiner.  This is Arsis’ most brutal, yet most sophisticated album to date and is definitely one of the shining stars of 2013. Continue reading »

Apr 262013

May 14 was a day I was really looking forward to. That was the day that the “End of Disclosure” North American Tour featuring Hypocrisy, Krisiun, Aborted,  and Arsis was supposed to roll into Seattle and flatten it like a pancake. That line-up was so damned fine it was almost too good to be true. Turns out it was too good to be true. I received this press release from Nuclear Blast about half an hour ago:

Swedish death metal legends HYPOCRISY, have been forced to sit out their upcoming North American tour this May due to reasons beyond their control. The band members had received their visa approvals and everything was going as scheduled, until the embassy let them know that the earliest they could pick up their visas, get them stamped and so on, wasn’t until late June at the earliest. A regular procedure that would normally take just a few days to sort, takes much longer at the moment due to that current workload Homeland Security is experiencing.

“As we were getting ready to go get our visas stamped and ready for the tour we were informed that the earliest we could go initially was sometime in July,” explains guitarist/vocalist Peter Tägtgren. “We then immediately continued to call them, got the label to help with some letters, and put our lawyer to work etc. The best that got us was an appointment in late June. This is a HUGE blow to us, to our fans and everyone who has supported HYPOCRISY in North America. Sometimes there are battles you can’t win, and this is one of them. We will be back, I can promise that!”

Continue reading »

Mar 142013

I thought I’d let you know that despite my inability to contribute much to the site the last few days, I’m still alive. I’m beginning Day 18 away from Seattle, mired in a seemingly endless project for my fucking day job, and largely unable to listen to music, pay much attention to metal news, or write much. However, the end is in sight: it appears I’ll be able to go home next Tuesday or Wednesday.

While my blog life has been fucked up, other folks have been stepping up to fill the hole (if only they could fill the holes in my head), and one of them is DGR. In this post are some items he discovered recently, along with a few I came across this morning that we’d like to share with you — Islander

ARSIS (written by DGR)

The glorious Arsis info dump of 2013 happened yesterday, with the guys announcing pretty much everything you’ve ever wanted to know about their upcoming album Unwelcome, which will see release April 30th of this year. Continue reading »

Mar 082013

(Here we have the latest installment of Andy Synn’s lists of favorite things that come in fives.)

One thing that metal does very well (compared at least to pop, hip-hop, and even most rock music) is the long-form song. Heck, I imagine if I were to calculate the “average” run time of a song from amongst my vast collection, it would definitely come out somewhere between 5-6 minutes. A “short” metal song is often one that goes up to about 4 minutes after all (in contrast to the fact that this would be considered longer than average in the other genres I’ve mentioned).

One reason for this is that metal often needs room to breathe, to develop its melodic (or dissonant) themes properly. Metal revels in space, stretching itself, filling up the space with noise and sound, light and vision. It’s also a genre often synonymous with story-telling, and one which – largely free from the external constraints enforced upon the 3-minute pop song – contends to offer a deeper and more rewarding (and as such, longer lasting) emotional experience for the listener.

Then of course there’s Napalm Death… so, ok, metal isn’t ALL about length and depth (short, sharp impact is certainly a common trade-mark too) but it DOES tend to do long songs very well.

So I’ve chosen five of my absolute favourites, presented in order from shortest to longest. And there’s not a single Opeth song among them. Continue reading »