May 072013

This morning, Taiwan’s Chthonic premiered their official video for “Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace”, the first single from their forthcoming album Bú-Tik. Man, is it a feast for the eyes. With very high-production values, it’s like some kind of cyber-legend, bursting with acrobatic martial artistry and fantastic settings, blending the past and the future.

Although the video is a high-budget fantasy, the Bú-Tik Palace is also intended to draw together historical connections important to Cthonic. According to the band, “The BuTik Palace in Puli was used as command headquarters by Japanese colonial government to repress a Seediq Aboriginal Uprising in Wushe in 1930. During the initial phase of the 228 Massacre in 1947, militiamen in Taiwan also used it as its command headquarters. The chants in the second half of the song are the names of all martyrs who sacrificed themselves in resistance against dictators and fought for independence.”

According to this interview with Doris Yeh, the song was also intended to draw together connections between the band’s three previous albums. Musically, it’s an electric piece of Scandinavian-style melodic death metal, but one in which traditional music and a traditional vertical fiddle eventually make their appearance. The song also features guest vocals by Mei-yun Tang, a famed Taiwanese opera singer. Continue reading »

Apr 022013

I didn’t have time to compile a daily round-up yesterday, so there’s a lot of shit to cram into this one. I’ll try to keep words to a minimum and let the music, the videos, and the imagery speak for themselves.


2011’s Takasago Army marked the time when I finally got into Taiwan’s Chthonic. It was interesting and multi-textured, in addition to kicking large amounts of ass. So I’m now quite interested in their next album, Bú-Tik, which will be released by Spinefarm this summer. Today, the sexy cover art was revealed. Apparently, nearly 100 people volunteered to be the model for it.

The album cover is eye-catching for sure, though it doesn’t exactly suggest that the new album will be devoted to history and tradition. Yet in this new interview the band’s eye-catching bassist Doris Yeh suggests that it will. I’m up for it. Continue reading »

Aug 282012

(Our NCS comrade Andy Synn has recently been making me green with envy by attending summer metal festivals on the other side of the Atlantic, which for me might as well be on the other side of the solar system.  However, gentleman and scholar that he is, he didn’t just go and have a ridiculously good time. He also sent back this review of his jaunt to the UK’s BLOODSTOCK festival on August 10-12, 2012. We’re dividing it into two parts, with Part 2 coming up tomorrow [now posted here].)

Ah, Bloodstock. Always an interesting festival, caught between its early power/trad-metal roots and its steady expansion into a more rounded, extreme/non-mainstream metal festival. This year’s line-up was pretty enticing, but circumstances and finances looked set to prevent my attendance. But fate and serendipity stepped in (thank you Sahil!) and on Friday 10th of August I found myself once more pulling into the festival’s parking lot, with a song in my heart and a shiny guest wristband on my arm.



Carefully timing my arrival to coincide with that of Moonsorrow, I wasn’t disappointed, the band utterly on fire, despite the occasionally washed out sound. It helps that the set-list comprised some of my favourite Moonsorrow tracks, I’ll admit that, but the performance itself was brilliant either way. The only downside is that, due to the length of their material, it always seems like too few songs

Sepultura put on a damn good show, their new drummer certainly doing his best to live up to Igor Cavalera’s enviable legacy, while the triptych of Derrick, Paulo, and Andreas showed again and again why they stuck with the name – they just do it all better. The new material sounded great live, while the quartet give the old stuff, including a brace of Beneath The Remains-era material, new life and vigour. Props as well for the welcome, but unexpected, guest slot from Tim “Ripper” Owens on “Territory”.

Dio Disciples were, in many ways, something of a curiosity for the festival. Essentially Dio’s band with a different singer (and a few guests), it’s hard to judge them on merit alone, as their appearance was due to far more than just an ability to play the songs well. This was a tribute to one of the genre’s legendary figures, and while it would be churlish to say it was simply a well-received cover set (the downright dedication to this band’s slot bordered on the fanatical), one can’t help but be moved by this show of respect, and by being reminded of the sheer quality of the material on display. Continue reading »

May 312012

I saw this album cover. It’s for the next album by DysrhythmiaTest of Submission, which Profound Lore says they will be releasing on August 28. No test is needed . . . I am ready to submit.

I also saw that Be’lakor has just put HD versions of all the songs from their terrific new album Of Breath and Bone up on YouTube. Find those tracks here. Read Andy Synn’s review of the album here. (And thanks to NCS reader Daniel for the tip on this news.)

I also saw that Doris Yeh from Chthonic is on the cover of a fashion magazine called FHM.  I no longer have to wonder what she looks like naked. Continue reading »

Dec 292011

(Andy Synn provides an unexpected SYNN REPORT, seizing upon the imminent calendar change to discuss the re-recording of 12 songs by 12 tremendous bands — and of course we’re including the music, which means 24 tracks. Fuck, this would be a mixtape that KILLS.)

So here it is, a surprise Synn Report to finish off the year. Arbitrary though the distinction may well be, the end of the year provides a perfect excuse to attend to a similar theme, the transition from the old to the new – re-workings and re-recordings.

Are they better? That’s an argument for the ages? Are they necessary? Hell, that’s probably an even worse argument to start up…

Primarily, re-recordings serve a twofold purpose – 1. to reinvigorate songs that might otherwise not be getting the set-time they deserve, and 2. – to royally piss off a band’s fan-base. Although there’s a chance that the second isn’t entirely intentional. Still, the re-recorded album courts controversy like almost no other, whether it’s a varied collection of songs that are chosen to receive the treatment, or a full re-recording of an entire album.

The full re-recording of an entire album is clearly the most contentious option, while single track re-recordings are often a much more successful and welcome proposition, most often appearing as b-sides and bonus tracks for the avid collector. The full-album re-recording, however, remains exceptionally and unequivocally divisive, alienating as many old fans as it attracts new ones.

So here’s a list of some of those renewed tracks that I think definitely have something to offer the listener, both old and new. I’m sure I’ll have to turn in my kvlt card after this, for promoting something so new and shiny, but ah well… Continue reading »

Dec 162011

(This is the last installment in Andy Synn’s week-long series of posts looking back at albums released this year. Andy previously provided his lists of the year’s Great albumsthe Good ones, and the most Disappointing ones, as well as his list of “The Critical Top 10″. For more explanation of what all this means, plus Andy’s picks for the year’s best EPs, visit this location.)

So here we are, the last list of Andy Synn Week (maybe not the official title, but give me something here guys). Here you will find the ten albums that have made the biggest impact on me personally, the ones which make the most frequent appearance on my playlist. Rarely a day goes by without me listening to at least one of these albums, often several times.

You will note that, in contrast to last year, all my favourite albums this year are drawn from my “Great” list. For once, this is definitely coincidental; it just so happens that as I was paring down my overall list of favourite albums to a mere ten entries, I was left solely with albums that I believe are personally, as well as critically, my absolute favourites. It also covers a whole spectrum of albums, some released right back at the very beginning of the year, reaching all the way up to extremely recent releases, so it also serves as a reasonably comprehensive list in terms of the time-frame it covers!

There’s some minor cross-over with yesterday’s list, as some albums were always bound to be both critically and personally fulfilling, but largely you’ll find here a cross-section of my musical preferences from the year. Each album comes with a short explanation of why I love it; not necessarily why it’s the “Best” album of the year, but just why it clicks with me personally. Continue reading »

Nov 202011

Nah, just kidding. I didn’t really see you naked this weekend. I just wanted to get your attention. And by the way, those of you who felt a little thrill at the idea of me seeing you naked, please don’t send me photos of you in the nude; I’m pretty sure you’re the ones I do NOT want to see naked.

What I did see were new videos that I thought were worth sharing. Still catching up on what I missed while on vacation, I found:

  • A new official video from Chthonic for the song “Quell the Souls in Sing Ling Temple” from the band’s latest album, the excellent Takasago Army (reviewed at NCS here); it was posted to YouTube on November 17 (thanks to TNOTB for this one)
  • A video of Textures performing “Consonant Hemispheres” on Dutch television on November 18; the song is from the band’s 2011 album Dualism (reviewed at NCS here)
  • A video of Vader performing “I Am Who Feasts Upon Your Soul” at a club in Liverpool, England, on November 10; the song is from Vader’s latest album Welcome To the Morbid Reich (reviewed at NCS here)
  • “A new fan-filmed video of Italy’s Hour of Penance performing a scorching new song called “Sedition Through Scorn” (posted on November 15)
  • “A new video for the song “Dagger” from Vildhjarta’s new album Masstaden, which hasn’t yet been reviewed at NCS — but will be soon; I’m putting this one last because the site that’s streaming it hasn’t devoted enough bandwidth to make this thing play reliably

All these videos are available after the jump. Get naked and watch them. Continue reading »

Aug 302011

Taiwan’s Chthonic is the source of not one, but two of the best metal videos of 2011. We featured one of them here and the second one here. Chthonic is also the source of one of the year’s most interesting albums. Oh hell, why pussyfoot around? In my opinion, it’s also one of the year’s best metal albums.  Our own Andy Synn was pretty high on it, too, as you can tell from his review.

The album was released in certain parts of the world weeks and weeks ago, but it’s not scheduled for official release by Spinefarm Records in NorthAm until September 6. The band will be following that up with a three-week North American tour in support of Arch Enemy, accompanied by DevilDriver and Skeletonwitch. Fucking tasty line-up, that one.  The tour dates, which thankfully include The Emerald City, are after the jump.

But the main reason for this post is to alert you that the entire album is now available for streaming at AOL.  It’s worth hearing, and HERE is the link. Continue reading »

Jul 082011

(The prolific Andy Synn is back with his third post this week. This time he’s reviewing the new album by Chthonic — Takasago Army.)

I love Chthonic. This is not something I am ashamed to admit. I have everything they have ever released with the exception of Where The Ancestor’s Souls Are Gathered. I did, however, find their last record, Mirror Of Retribution, a somewhat lacklustre affair – at least when compared with the two records that preceded it, 2002’s Relentless Recurrence and 2005’s Seediq Bale. The crisp, somewhat dry production robbed their sound of some of its individuality and subtlety, so that although the band performed with a new level of aggression and revitalised extremity, the songs overall were delivered with arguably less flair than on previous albums. That’s not to say there weren’t some great songs on the record. It’s still one I enjoy listening to, but I felt that the focus on more extreme, typically “metal” sounds was a mis-step (albeit a minor one) in the development of their unique sound.

So what does Takasago Army bring to the Chthonic sound? Does it successfully redress the balance of their culturally diverse, ethnic influences and vibrant extreme metallic fervour? Can it rejuvenate their passion for the embrace of their cultural heritage without limiting the totemic metal power they have spent so long building? Read on for the answer… Continue reading »

Jun 082011

I randomly watched three brand new videos this morning for three very different kinds of songs. If I were a baseball player, I’d say I went three for three at the plate — three chances, three hits. Three good songs, and as for the videos, I’d call them a triple, a double, and a single.

The triple comes from a UK underground band called Amebix, who haven’t released any new material in almost 24 years — until June 3, when they released a new single called “Knights of the Black Sun” on their own label, Amebix Records. The song includes much more clean singing than we usually tolerate around here, but I’ve fallen for it pretty hard. It soars like an anthem, with ringing guitars and passionate vocals and a memorable melody. The video is a dark, mesmerizing animation created by Andy Lefton and Fin McAteer. It’s beautiful to watch.

The double is the video for a new song by Taiwan’s Chthonic called “Takao”. It has been digitally released today (in Finland) as a single and will appear on the band’s next album, Takasago Army, to be released by Spinefarm Records. Stylistically, the song is very much in the vein of Finnish-brand melodic death metal, and naturally, I’m liking it a lot. Not surprisingly, there’s a “B-side” version of this same song on the single, with the choruses sung by members of Finland’s Ensiferum. To fully appreciate the beautifully made video, it helps to understand that the song is about a group of Taiwanese men recruited by the Japanese army from the Takao harbor to fight in the Pacific during World War II. According to Chthonic’s Doris Yeh, “they became the most revered and most feared combat unit in the Japanese Imperial Army.”

The single is a video for the title track to the new album from Florida’s Catalepsy — Bleed. The song is just a fucking crusher. The subject matter of the video isn’t nearly as interesting as the first two featured in this post, but it’s well made. As for the subject matter, let’s just say that you should remind me not to piss off Catalepsy, should I forget. Watch the videos after the jump. I think you’ll be glad you did. Continue reading »