Jun 172019
 

 

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of three posts we will publish in as many days about the recently completed Ascension Festival MMXIX, which took place in Mosfellsbær, Iceland, on June 13-15, 2019. These are Andy Synn‘s impressions of the event, and the next two are being written by Islander., who took the photos included here, unless otherwise noted)

As the title above indicates, I recently celebrated my birthday (all presents and donations will be graciously accepted), and this year decided to celebrate it in style by attending Ascension Festival in Iceland, where the brooding darkness and overall brilliance of the music was matched only by the brightness of the ever-present sunshine and the brilliance of the company.

So what you’re about to read is a few random thoughts about the experience which, while not totally comprehensive (although I made sure to see something of every band, I’ve decided only to write about the ones which really stood out), should hopefully convince one or two of you to join us at next year’s edition! Continue reading »

Jan 022019
 

 

(On the 21st of December, the Andkristni 2018 festival took place at the Gaukurinn venue in Reykjavik, Iceland, and our Norwegian friend eiterorm made the trip west for it. He was kind enough to share with us the following report, photos, and music streams.)

A few weeks back I saw an online poster for Andkristni 2018, and took notice of the eminent lineup for this one-day festival, with several bands I had never seen live before. A little later, the event came up in a conversation with a friend, and we were both curious about what it would be like to see these bands live. It was then that I thought: “Hey, I have a day of vacation left. I should go to Reykjavík.” And just like that, the decision was made.

Now, I’ve never written a show report before, and I rarely ever read them myself, because they simply don’t interest me. When I mentioned to Islander that I was going to attend Andkristni 2018, however, he asked me if I wanted to write a report for the blog, preferably with some photos from the night. I declined the idea of doing a publishable report, but offered to make a personal summary for him instead. Then several other friends made similar requests, and now look what happened – I ended up writing a full report anyway. (Unfortunately, the photos in the report are mediocre at best, but I didn’t want to experience the concerts through my phone screen and therefore spent little time taking photos.) Continue reading »

Dec 132018
 

 

(Andy Synn‘s week-long round-up of metal in 2018 continues with this list of his picks for the year’s ten best albums across a range of metal genres — one of which hasn’t been released yet and is reviewed here.)

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that any attempt to craft a “Top Ten” list that represents the wide variety and near-infinite density of the modern Extreme Metal scene is doomed to failure. There’s simply too much of it, too many different competing styles and sub-genres, for a mere ten albums to cover.

That doesn’t stop me trying every year though, so what you’re about to read is my latest effort to capture a clean snapshot of the very best of the best from the past twelve months.

Interestingly this list seems to differ significantly from the various other sites and zines I’ve been keeping an eye on, though that’s not by conscious design. It also skews in a surprisingly “progressive” direction overall, which is not something I anticipated when I first began trying to piece it together, with a massive 70% of the albums featured here making use of clean vocals in some form or another.

In demographic terms, this year’s list features two entries from the USA, two entries from Germany, one from Portugal, one from Iceland, and three from the UK – which, again, wasn’t by design – as well as one international collective whose members come from all across Europe.

It also runs the gamut of practically the entire twelve-month period, with the “oldest” album on here having been released all the way back in the first week of January, while the “youngest” entry won’t even be out until the 21st of December! Continue reading »

Oct 302018
 

 

(Despite what the title of this post says, Andy Synn hasn’t managed to review every fine 2018 album and EP we’ve heretofore failed to write about, but he does catch up with more than two dozen of them.)

While lots of blogs/zines are already (or soon will be) switching their focus away from covering new releases and towards consolidating their annual “Best Of…” lists, here on NCS island we’re still doing our very best to bring as many new (and some not so new) albums/artists to your attention as possible.

Of course the truism that “there’s simply too much music out there” remains as painfully accurate as ever, and it pains me to admit that I/we simply can’t cover all the releases we want to, in the depth we want to, no matter how hard we try.

So consider this article a voluntary mea culpa acknowledging our limitations and a (probably futile) attempt to make amends a little bit to all the bands and artists who we may have missed or ignored over the last several months, as well as to shine a light on a couple of upcoming releases you’ll probably want to keep your eyes/ears open for. Continue reading »

Sep 162018
 

 

As you can see, I had enough time yesterday and this morning to pick twice the usual number of selections for this Sunday’s column. Maybe this will make up for the likelihood that there will be no S.O.B. column next week because this SOB will be going on a short vacation next weekend with Ms. Islander and some friends.

Although I had time to assemble a two-part collection this week, that only somewhat eased the agony of picking from among such a massive number of deserving advance tracks and new releases. I wish I could have done more.

CARPE NOCTEM

I christened May 2012 “Iceland Metal Month“, calling attention to a series of posts I wrote which exclusively focused on metal bands from Iceland, a country that I wrote was “starting to seem close to Finland in the ratio of killer metal bands per capita of population”. Now, almost five and a half years later, it no longer seems like a close call, particularly in the genre of black metal. Continue reading »

Aug 252014
 


Azoic at Eistnaflug

(Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based writer and NCS fan who visited Iceland in the fall of 2012 during the Iceland Airwaves festival and was generous enough to send us interviews with such bands as AngistBeneathKontinuumSólstafirGone Postal, and Skálmöld. In July of this year she returned to Iceland for the Eistnaflug metal and rock festival (“Eistnaflug” being Icelandic for “flying testicles”), and we are once again the beneficiary of her writing. Today we present Part 1 of a three-part report on the festival, illustrated with Gemma’s own photos. Visit her own excellent blog here and check out more of her reporting on the festival at KEXP’s web site.)

 

When I arrived in the remote fjord town of Neskaupstadur, I was determined to catch as many of the nearly 50 bands as possible. But a late night drinking with new friends and a breakfast that may have included beer interfered with my good intentions. Although the first band on Thursday didn’t take the stage until almost 3 p.m., I missed them.

The first band I did see was Azoic. With Ragnar (Raggi) Sverisson on the drums, I expected great things, and got them. What I didn’t get was vocals – it was an entirely instrumental set.

I ran into Raggi later and he explained that the set was all new music, and they hadn’t finished the lyrics yet. Okay, that’s one choice. Azoic’s 2012 Gateways can be found here: Continue reading »

Sep 032013
 

This is a round-up of new songs and videos that debuted over the last 24 hours. There is a unifying theme to what I’ve selected: Although the styles of metal range from rampaging black metal to the sublime weight of doom, darkness pervades the sounds.

NECROPHOBIC

Only yesterday we posted Part 1 of Andy Synn’s review of the recently completed SUMMER BREEZE festival in Germany. It included words of praise for the live performance by Sweden’s Necrophobic. And today brought us the North American premiere of the first single from this influential band’s new album Womb of Lilithu, their seventh studio album and the first one in four years.

The new track is “Splendour Nigri Solis” and it’s now streaming at Spotify (here), though because it debuted in Europe earlier, it has also made its way to YouTube. It’s a thumping, thrashing, swirling whirlwind of black metal vehemence (with imperious, cleanly-sung, off-tempo sections that are as cool as the speedy parts). Continue reading »

May 312012
 

Here on the last day of May, I decided to christen the month Iceland Metal Month at NCS (see today’s first post).  Since we’ve wrtten about 8 Icelandic metal bands so far, it seemed like the logical thing to do. And having gone that far, I decided we ought to go further and bring the total to an even dozen. So, here we go . . . four more bands worth getting to know from a country that’s starting to seem close to Finland in the ratio of killer metal bands per capita of population.

BENEATH

I found out about this Reykjavík band while doing a little research on Ophidian I, who I included in that earlier post about Icelandic metal today: It seems that guitarist Unnar Sigurðsson is a member of both bands. It further appears that drummer Ragnar Sverrisson is also a member of another awesome Icelandic band, Atrum (who we’ve written about more than once in the past).

Beneath’s line-up solidified in late 2008, and in 2009 they won the Wacken Metal Battle contest in Iceland, thereby becoming the first Icelandic band to perform at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2009. They released a debut EP titled Hollow Empty Void on Mordbrann Musikk in 2010 (it’s available on iTunes), and they’ve finished recording a debut full-length, Enslaved By Fear. That album will be released on July 17 by the dependable Unique Leader label. The eye-catching album cover was done by Raymond Swanland.

Now, about their music . . . Continue reading »