Feb 042010

Yesterday, in the first of a two-part feature, we posted our review of the new album by Living Sacrifice. Today, we’re posting (for want of a better word) a meditation on these questions: When there’s no clean singing in extreme metal, do the lyrics really matter? And if they do, how do they matter?

THE MEDITATION: Think about songs in which you can hear the words. Sometimes the lyrics can be important. Beautifully crafted lyrics can tell a story that sticks with you, or they can express ideas or emotions in a way that resonates like poetry.

That kind of lyricism can combine with the music in a way that produces something more powerful than the sum of the parts — the words enhance the music and vice-versa, and each makes the other more memorable.

Of course, those things are possible only if you can hear the words. In extreme metal songs with no clean singing, you can’t hear all the words or sometimes any of them.  It’s rarely the content of the lyrics that contributes to the emotional appeal of those songs. Instead, what matters is the sound of the singer’s voice, which functions mainly as another instrument.

As a consequence, the songwriter’s ability to create memorable lyrics is often pretty unimportant in this subgenre. On those rare occasions when I look up the lyrics to a metal song I like, I’m not surprised to find that usually the lyrics suck – and I don’t really care that they suck because they don’t matter much to what I hear or how I feel about the music.

I suspect that lyrics rarely play an important part in the creation of extreme music either. Most bands seem to work out the riffs, the rhythms, and the melodies first (if melody happens to be a part of the band’s sound), and the lyrics are added later.  By definition, the words aren’t inspiring the sound; if anything, the reverse is true. Sometimes, the words seem to have nothing at all to do with the feeling that the music conveys. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Feb 032010

We’ve been fucking around with cruise ship jokes the last few days, but it’s time to get back to what this site is really about – the music we live by. And we’re getting back to it in a serious way.

This is an album review, but it will be followed by a meditation on the lyrical content (or lack thereof) of extreme metal and the connection (or lack thereof) between the lyrical content and the music. And what prompted that meditation is the album we’re reviewing — the new full-length release from Living Sacrifice. So, today, the album, and tomorrow, the meditation.

THE ALBUM: Last week we traveled to distant lands and wrote about some ear-catching performers from Greece (Gux Drax), Costa Rica (Sight of Emptiness), Italy (Vomit the Soul), France (Eryn Non Dae, DOPPLeR, Zubrowska), and Sweden (Valkyrja). But today we’re back in America — really back — discussing the best release yet by a powerfully influential band from Arkansas.

Living Sacrifice originally came into being in 1988, broke up in 2002, and reunited in 2008 with a six-week US tour (“Stronger Than Hell”) headlined by Seattle metalcore band Demon Hunter. That’s when I became a Living Sacrifice convert. I caught the “Stronger Than Hell” tour when it passed through Seattle, and in my opinion, LS stole the show. Not even a close call.

Of course, I had to go get oriented with their whole catalogue, and that only made me a more devoted fan. So I’ve been waiting impatiently for The Infinite Order. And it’s finally here — the band’s seventh release, and the first full-length of all-new music since 2002’s Conceived in Fire.

Years of working can produce staleness or lazy repetition of comfortable formulas. But this album is powerful and vibrantly alive. In the case of Living Sacrifice, the fire within has not gone out and the years of experience reveal themselves in superior song-writing and impeccable musicianship.  (more after the jump, including a track to stream  . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 142009


Tonight: Long miserable day at work ends. I trudge homeward in the dark under a leaking sky. I fire up the computer and check the news headlines, just to see if something really earthshaking has happened while I was being miserable at work — you know, like if the U.S. got into another war, or swine flu has really turned out to be the no-shit, unstoppable killer we were told it would be, or my utility rates are going up again. Fortunately, none of these things has happened. All I see on a quick look is this:

Twenty-two million missing Bush White House e-mails found (what a shock), Obama begs top banks to start lending money again (that’s probably not going to work), new computer modeling shows that Arctic ice cap may completely vanish by 2014 (we’ve got plenty of polar bears in zoos anyway, right?), Italian prime minister Berlusconi hospitalized in Milan after man hits him in the face with a souvenir statue (I was wondering when someone was going to hit that disgusting fucker in the face with a souvenir statue).

I finish reading the headlines and I breathe a big sigh of relief:  as they say in the Army, Situation Normal (All Fucked Up).

I turn to the real news of the day:  metal news! And what do I see almost immediately?  Living Sacrifice has put up yet another new song on their MySpace page.  We here at NCS had barely finished drooling over the band’s new single “Rules of Engagement” and now we’ve got yet another teaser for their forthcoming full-length, The Infinite Order (scheduled for a Jan 26 release). I check out the new song — and damn! It’s even more hot shit than “Rules”! Continue reading »