Jan 302017
 

 

We’re down to the penultimate day for the rollout of our 2016 Most Infectious Song list. I’m in a bit of a panic, because I’m having so much trouble deciding how to end it. There are still so many songs that I feel are deserving of a place on the list, but it also seems awkward to continue a 2016 list of any kind past the first month of the new year.

And I suppose I should remind you that because I have so much difficulty as a list-maker, I didn’t have the list completed when I began the rollout, and to an extent, I’ve been making it up as I go along. That’s why tomorrow’s ending is arbitrary, and why there is a degree of randomness in what’s on the list and what isn’t. What’s not random is my conviction that all the songs I’ve picked are worthy of the awards.

BORKNAGAR

I ask you, if you can’t make an exception to our Rule about singing for the likes of Andreas “Vintersorg” Hedlund, Simen “ICS Vortex” Hestnaes, and Kristoffer Rygg, then who could justify an exception? Continue reading »

Jan 062016
 

Borknagar-Winter Thrice

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new tenth studio album by Borknagar.)

Show of hands, how many of you have heard of Theseus’ paradox? A few of you? Good to know.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it refers to questions of identity and continuity, and whether an object can be considered to be the same entity even after all its component parts have been steadily replaced over time, piece by piece.

Now, obviously, there are some parallels here with how bands work. I can tick off a number of names in my head of some of my favourite bands who no longer have any original members left and yet are still, in some ephemeral fashion, the same band.

Prog-Metal overlords Borknagar, of course, have something of an advantage in this area in that their existence has always been anchored (to stretch the nautical metaphor a little further) by the presence of mastermind Øystein G. Brun, but it only takes a quick glance at the Membership Timeline on the band’s Wikipedia page to see how many different members and line-ups the group have gone through over the years, while somehow still retaining the same creative drive and overarching musical identity that first brought the band together.

So perhaps it’s fitting that the line-up featured on Winter Thrice represents perhaps more distinct incarnations of the band at one time than ever before… reaching right back to their earliest days, while still forging boldly, progressively forward. Continue reading »

Nov 252015
 

Witchcraft - Nucleus

 

(Grant Skelton wrote this round-up of recommended new music.)

WITCHCRAFT

On top of what’s been an already amazing year for doom releases, 2016 brings with it the release of Witchcraft’s new album Nucleus, which will be available January 15 on Nuclear Blast Records. In advance of the album’s release, the first single “The Outcast” is available for streaming below. Continue reading »

Apr 042013
 

(NCS writer Andy Synn has returned from Oslo’s Inferno Festival, held on March 27-30, 2013, and brings us a multi-part report of what he saw and heard, along with photos. Check out the previous installments here and here.)

Day 2 of the festival had fewer bands I was particularly dying to see, so I decided to check out some different acts I’d never seen before, so as to make better use of my time and to fulfil my journalistic pretensions a bit more.

We decided to have a later start to the day, arriving in time to see Aeternus hit the stage and introduce the crowd (if any introduction was needed) to their twisted take on the darker side of the black/death metal aesthetic. Drawing liberally from all the various spheres of the metallic spectrum, the group performed like a well-drilled musical machine, though their focus on slippery shifts between styles meant that their live stage presence was a little more unassuming than most.

Though the band last played here 11 years ago, there was very little rust to be found on them, as they bled their instruments dry of every hypnotic riff and spiralling, dissonant lead they could wring out of them. Continue reading »

Jun 222012
 

(In the following review, Andy Synn assesses the new album by Sweden’s Vintersorg, which is set for North American release on July 10 by Napalm Records.)

A new Vintersorg album? Already? Well that’s always good news. And what’s even better is that Orkan continues the blackened folk vibe re-established first on Solens Rotter and then carried over to Jordpuls.

To be brutally honest with you, back when Vintersorg announced his participation in Borknagar (for 2001’s Empiricism) I was becoming concerned that the line between the two bands was starting to blur – the shinier, proggier stylings of Cosmic Genesis (still one of my all-time favourite albums) and its two successors weren’t all that far removed from the sounds of Empiricism and Epic. It didn’t help that Mr V’s vocals are amongst the most instantly recognisable in metal, often dominating proceedings and serving to tie the two groups a little too tightly to one another, giving neither the necessary room to breathe.

But all that changed with the release of Solens Rotter. A three-year break between albums saw the duo of Vintersorg and Marklund redefine their priorities to produce the first in what has turned out to be a return to the more rustic, folk-ish melodies and earthen black metal atmosphere of their earlier works,  musical miles away from the soaring, Pink Floydian blackened prog of Borknagar. Last year’s phenomenal Jordpuls continued the trend, actively improving on Solens Rotter in nearly every way, and now we are once more gifted with a new piece of blackened folk art in the form of Orkan. Continue reading »

Apr 112012
 

(Our man Andy Synn attended the INFERNO FESTIVAL in Oslo, Norway, on April 4-7, 2012, and here’s his review of the first day’s inferno.)

Running a little late, the first band of Inferno Festival 2012 for me was, somewhat ironically, a band from just down the road from my own home. Anaal Nathrakh were, as always, a nasty proposition in the flesh, delivering some seriously abusive blasting accented by Dave Hunt’s tormented screams and regal singing voice. Definite highlights were the annihilating (and deceptively melodic) “Satanarchist” and the unforgiving mindfuck of “Pandemonic Hyperblast”, the band seemingly focusing on their more unrelenting material this time out.

Tonight’s show was noticeably (and unusually) sloppier than I’m used to, with a few obvious errors in timing and tightness evident to the familiar listener. This was all explained though, with Dave Hunt educating the crowd on the shittiness of US border control who had failed to allow his cohort Mick Kenney over to Oslo for the show, leaving them to conscript a last minute stand-in guitarist, whom the extreme pressure understandably left ill at ease.

Even more pissed off than usual, at one point the band’s ever-volatile frontman, responding to an ill-advised heckle from the crowd, verbally confronted his abuser, saying that although he didn’t “want to sound like Phil Anselmo”, he was in no mood to take shit from anyone after the band put all the effort into pulling together and making it over to Inferno despite these last minute setbacks. Despite its problems, this set proved that nothing short of total global extinction can stop the march of Anaal Nathrakh. Continue reading »

Feb 102012
 

Yesterday, I devoted three separate posts to three new songs by three different bands (not counting that track by some djent band named Meshuggah). Though I don’t plan to make a habit of this, I’m doing it again today, because yesterday and today I spotted three more songs worth sharing around. But unlike yesterday, today’s songs come from bands whose music I already know.

First up is Borknagar. We already splashed the eye-catching Marcelo Vasco cover art for their new album Urd (here), and now we have the first song from the album — “Roots”. Here’s what Borknagar mastermind Øystein G. Brun had to say about the song on the band’s official site:

“In regards to the depth, diversity and magnitude of our new album, “Urd”, it almost feels painful to slice off just a tiny bit of the bloody roast for the very first official “starter”. I would argue that each and every song on the new album stands on solid ground, but as usual with our music, the songs empower each other in the context of a full album.

That said, “Roots” is probably the song on the album that gives you the most representative impression of “Urd”. Musically it contains most of the elements that framework the musical universe of BORKNAGAR, and lyrically this song is gnawing on the very spine of our lyrical tradition. Hope you enjoy this song, the first tiny glimpse into our new opus. The beast is about to be unleashed…”

The song debuted yesterday exclusively on DECIBEL magazine’s on-line site and on Metal Hammer’s site. I’d recommend a visit to either place, because the song is worth hearing. Continue reading »

Feb 042012
 

January ended four days ago, so it’s past time for our usual monthly round-up of news about forthcoming albums. I have to confess that this list is even more spotty and sporadically assembled than usual — which is saying something. Various distractions prevented me from keeping a sharp eye out for news about new releases, so I have no doubt this list is incomplete.

Here’s how this round-up usually works: In these METAL IN THE FORGE posts, I collect news blurbs and press releases I’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like at NCS (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, I cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If we found out about a new forthcoming album earlier than the last 30 days, we probably wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier. For example, on this list you won’t see such notable releases as the forthcoming albums from Meshuggah, Enthroned, Unleashed, Psycroptic, Goatwhore, Asphyx, Naglfar, or Autopsy, because we’ve mentioned them elsewhere. Or at least I think we did.

Having said all that, please feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what I missed when I put this list together. Let us know about albums on the way that  you’re stoked about, even if you don’t see them here! Continue reading »

Jan 202012
 

We hardly ever actually “plan” anything around here.  Impulse is in the driver’s seat most of the time.  But sometimes a pattern develops despite the absence of design, and this week our content has been heavier than usual with videos and album art. Yesterday I saw even more eye-catching artwork for forthcoming albums, so I’m collecting them here (along with some music, of course).

BORKNAGAR

This long-running avant-garde Norwegian band is one I learned about through readers on this site back in the early days of NCS. What with all the clean singing, I didn’t immediately love the music, but I’ve developed an appreciation for what they do, and so I’m interested in the new studio album they recorded with Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios (OpethParadise LostKatatonia) in Örebro, Sweden. The album is titled Urd and will be released on March 26 in Europe and March 27 in North America via Century Media Records.

The eye-catching album art was designed by Brazilian artist Marcelo Vasco, who did the cover for this band’s previous Universal album. He has also created album art for many other bands, some of which we’ve featured here, including BelphegorEinherjer, Dimmu Borgir, The Faceless, Noctem, and Keep of Kalessin.

The cover for Urd captures the look and feel of a Nordic wood carving. More info about the design and the album can be found on a post at Borknagar’s official site, here. As for the clean singing, the new album will feature three pretty talented vocalists working together – Vintersorg, Lars Nedland, and ICS Vortex. One of the heavier tracks from the band’s last album comes right after the jump. Continue reading »

Jan 062012
 

December and 2011 are both over, and with the end of the last month, it’s time to round up what we saw over the last 30 days about forthcoming albums.

We usually try to post these updates on the first of the month, but the first of this month was New year’s Day, and I was moving kinda slowly that day. Plus, I’ve been focusing on year-end lists from a variety of sources, and, well, I’m late with this. I have more excuses, if you’d like to hear them.  No?  Okay, I understand.  I’ll just shut up and get going with this list.

So, here’s the deal:  In these METAL IN THE FORGE posts, I collect news blurbs and press releases I’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like at NCS (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If we found out about a new forthcoming album before December, we wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier.

This month’s list begins right after the jump. It includes some real eye-openers. In fact, it’s not too soon to say that 2012 is already looking like yet another royally skull-fucking year for metal. But as usual, this list is half-assed rather than comprehensive. I confess that in December I was even more half-assed than usual in keeping my eyes open for news about new albums. So, feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what I missed when I put this list together. Let us know about albums on the way that  you’re stoked about, even if you don’t see them here! Continue reading »