Apr 122014

This has been one of those weeks where my blog time was severely constricted by both personal and job-related demands. You might have guessed that, based on the complete absence of any “seen and heard” posts since Monday. I didn’t have time to do much more than quickly scan through the interhole each day looking for new song and video premieres and make lists of what I’d like to hear and see when time would permit. This morning, I finally crawled through that list, and found a shitload of new things I really liked.

Because I’m behind, and because I don’t want to fall further behind, I’m taking the wimp’s way out in this post. I’m just going to stitch together a bunch of recommended song and video streams (11 of them) with almost no commentary. It’s a stream dump, and I will bet money you’ll find something to like, almost regardless of your tastes. It’s spring, and metal is in bloom.

Salted within this list are a couple of news items that perked my interest, even though there’s nothing available to hear… yet.

I present this box of chocolates in alphabetical order. There will be another similar collection either later today or tomorrow. Tell me what you like. Leave comments! Continue reading »

Apr 162012

Sweden’s Avatar are batting 1,000 in the video game. First, there was the video released last December for the title track to their current album, Black Waltz, which included all sorts of grisly tricks performed by circus sideshow freaks Hellzapoppin (check that here). Then there was the live performance video for “Let It Burn”, which we featured in March. And now we have another winner in the band’s new video for the song “Torn Apart”.

Let me see if I can describe this without spoiling it for you: It involves a bar fight, which involves Mexican wrestling masks, pro-wrestling body slams, the gimp from Pulp Fiction, and assorted other strange characters, and the whole thing runs in reverse!

Oh shit. I guess I should have said “Spoiler Alert!!” Well, anyway, if you’ve never seen headbanging and windmilling and loogie-hawking in reverse, now’s your chance. It’s pretty fuckin’ cool. Also, you get to see how Avatar’s face-painted frontman Johannes Eckerström prepares his vocal chords for a shrieking session on stage. Also, “Torn Apart” is a hot song.

Also, the highly anticipated new album by Norway’s The Wretched End started streaming in full today. Details about that after the jump. Continue reading »

Mar 312012

Nope, this post has nothing to do with Vietnam. I just crawled out of bed not long ago, somewhat worse for wear after a little end-of-the-work-week blowout last night, and for some reason the bellowed words of Robin Williams from that movie of the same name blared into my damaged head. Maybe it’s because I felt like I’d awakened in a war zone.

This post has nothing much to do with Carach Angren either. I just happened to see this cover for their new album, Where the Corpses Sink Forever (due on May 18 from Season of Mist), and was reminded how much I like it. So what the fuck. Also, the creative facepaint connects to the first video I watched while chugging my morning joe. You’ll see what I mean.

And that’s what this post is really about — new music videos. I watched four of them in a row on this slightly hungover Saturday morning and liked all four, and therefore . . . here they are! I could have sub-titled this post “Bang Ur Fuckin Head and Then Melt It Down”, because that pretty much sums up the sequence of the following music.


I’ve developed a real weakness for this Swedish band since watching their can’t-look-away video for “Black Waltz”, which is the title track from their current album on eOne Music (we featured that video here, right after the start of this year). Yesterday, they released another video for a song from Black Waltz, which was premiered by Loudwire. This one’s called “Let It Burn”.

The video is a live performance of the song. Stylistically, the music is quite different from “Black Waltz”. It’s a straight-ahead, massively infectious headbanger, and if you’re like me you’ll be fist-pumping and yelling “LET IT BURN!” by the time you get to the end. It comes right after the jump. Continue reading »

Jan 052012

I think the first time I listened to Sweden’s Avatar was after Andy Synn reviewed a show they played in Oslo as support for Dark Tranquillity (here). I only listened to a couple of songs, but based on what I heard, I thought Andy summed up the music pretty well in his show review:  “a strange mix between Judas Priest-esque trad metal, Sentenced-style melancholy, and the upbeat folkery (?) of latter day Amorphis.”

Today’s press releases in the NCS in-box brought the news that Avatar has been signed by eOne Music for the North American distribution of their next album, Black Waltz, which will be released on February 14 in the U.S. There’s also a brand new music video for the album’s title track. And yes indeed, it’s interesting to watch.

It was professionally filmed at night in what’s billed as Sweden’s largest amusement park, and although it’s sort of fun watching Avatar’s face-painted front man spinning gleefully in a brilliantly lit carnival ride, it’s Hellzapoppin who steal the show. They’re a long-running group of performers who model themselves as a circus side-show act, and they contribute a variety of eye-catching stunts to the video.

As for the song itself, the title is a big clue. It is indeed a kind of metal waltz, a blending of melodic death metal and the cadences of the classical dance and a bunch of other shit thrown in the mix, too. My first reaction was that it was a bit too weird, a bit too schizophrenic, a bit too cheesy for my tastes. But then I noticed that the damned melody had gotten stuck in my head and I found myself listening to the song again. I may have to give this album a chance when it arrives. Check out the video after the jump. Continue reading »

Nov 262010

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Our UK contributor Andy Synn made his way to Oslo, Norway, to catch Dark Tranquillity‘s live show on November 6. DT was supported at that club show by fellow Swedish metallers Avatar and Marionette. Andy provides this review of the night’s offering of metal in Oslo.]

John Dee’s in Oslo is a surprising venue in many ways. As the smaller of the rooms available in the building on Torgatta you immediately expect it to be of perhaps a lower quality than a larger venue, yet overall the entire place was presented with a higher degree of class and quality than most venues of a similar size which I have visited here in the UK. Wide-ranging and extremely clean, well-laid out with two separate bars and a raised area at the back of the room, the venue worked perfectly for a metal show this evening. Kudos to the owners and staff of John Dee.

Unfortunately, the supports were not exactly of the same level of quality.


First up was Marionette, a Swedish band of whom I’d heard good things with regard to their brand of modern melo-death, influenced performance-wise by Japanese visual Kei. Unfortunately, they were, and are, routinely terrible. Embodying much of what has gone wrong with the melo-death sound in recent years, the band appeared onstage garbed in black shirts and white ties, each with their own “interesting” hair-style and accompanied by a singer in a pseudo-Japanese mask that lasted all of 30 seconds on his face. They came across as a bad metalcore band using keyboards and “wacky” imagery to appear interesting in a desperate attempt to appeal visually to angsty teens who think that Green Day are punk as fuck and My Chemical Romance have something important to say about the youth of today. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 112010

I saw Avatar this weekend. Amazing movie that lives up to its hype. But that’s not what this post is about. Before the movie there was a trailer for a forthcoming movie called Clash of the Titans, which is a remake of a 1981 fantasy classic and happens to feature the same Sam Worthington who was the male lead in Avatar. The movie is based on the Greek myth of Perseus. Based on the trailer, the new movie looks like it will kick ass.

I’ve obviously got metal on the brain, because as I watched all the gods and weird creatures flashing across the screen in the trailer, I was thinking they’d fit right into different types of metal bands. I’m probably losing my mind, but see what you think. Here are some still photos from the trailer and what flew through my addled head when I saw them.

Brutal death metal (and I do mean broootal)

(more after the jump . . . .)

Continue reading »