Jan 302013

Welcome to Part 21 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. In each installment, I’ve been posting at least two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the three I’m announcing today, click here.

All good things must come to an end, and this seemingly endless list will end tomorrow with Part 22, going out in a blaze of death metal glory. Today’s three songs, however, are another set that don’t come from the same genre of metal. If they have anything in common besides my belief in them, it’s that all three are heavy as hell.


Our friend and fellow blogger Professor D. Grover the XIIIth reviewed High On Fire’s 2012 album for us (here), and I think it’s fair to say that he had mixed feelings about De Vermis Mysteriis, which he viewed as a bit of a step backward compared to the step forward represented by 2010’s Snakes For the Divine. I had the opposite reaction. Where the Professor viewed Snakes as HoF’s crowning achievement, I enjoyed De Vermis Mysteriis more than anything I’ve yet heard from the band.

I preferred the grimier, grittier tone that Kurt Ballou’s production brought to the sound and the utter darkness that suffused so much of the music. The standout track for me — a song that has gotten a shitload of play since I first heard  it — is “King of Days”. Continue reading »

Nov 202012

I stayed home from work yesterday. I picked a bad day to do that. Yesterday afternoon we lost power on our island due to a really nasty day-long storm that raged through the Puget Sound area. We got the generator going, but the DSL service in our area went down at the same time the power did, and it didn’t come back before I went to bed. This morning, the power and the DSL were both back.

The experience vividly demonstrated how obsessive I’ve become about this fucking blog. Being disconnected from the internet for about 12 hours prevented me from keeping up with what was happening in the world of metal. I experienced feelings of anxiety and intense frustration. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

It got so bad that I drove in the darkness  through the driving wind and rain to the ferry terminal, where the power was on and an internet connection was available. I sat there for about 30 minutes, getting this morning’s first post ready to appear automatically and doing a bit of web surfing, and then decided I shouldn’t leave my wife alone in our powerless house any longer and went home. Fucking sick, that’s what I am. I need help of some kind.

This morning I spent hours catching up on what I missed while the net connection was down. I found dozens of interesting-looking things. Even after winnowing out the ones that turned out to be less interesting than they first appeared to be, I still have more shit to share than would manageably fit in one post, so I’m dividing them into three posts, of which this is the first. I’m going to cover the new music and videos in alphabetical order.

But before diving in, here’s one piece of breaking news: Year-end listmania is almost upon us, and it begins with DECIBEL magazine selecting All We Love We Leave Behind by Converge as its Album of the Year. Here’s the proof, as it appeared on the Converge Facebook page: Continue reading »

Oct 042012

Late yesterday I discovered that Converge had launched a full-album stream for All We Love We Leave Behind on YouTube. Originally, I intended only to include that piece of news in a post I was putting together with other new music streams that surfaced yesterday. But as I listened to the album and began attempting to describe briefly what I was hearing, the post began to take the shape of a review.

It’s not the kind of review I would normally write — I haven’t listened to the album multiple times, or made notes about what I was hearing, or sat back and attempted to collect my thoughts after putting some space between me and the music. Hell, I’m not even 100% sure that I’m matching up the songs with their correct titles, because there’s no index to the album stream that tells you for sure when one song stops and the next one starts — and given the dynamics within the songs and the nearly seamless flow from one to the next, it’s not always patently obvious (though the changing artwork is a signal).

But fuck it, I’m so caught up in what I’ve heard that I’m going with my near-stream-of-consciousness first impressions, and that’s that.


All We Love We Leave Behind will be released by Epitaph Records on October 9. In its “deluxe” limited-edition CD format, there are 17 songs (14 songs on the regular release), and that deluxe edition also includes a hardcover, clothbound book with 48 pages of full-color original art by vocalist Jacob Bannon. Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this release almost as much for the artwork as for the music. In fact, I pre-ordered that expensive limited edition copy because of anticipation over the artwork, having heard nothing of the music. (You can see the variety of bundles and formats for the album at this location, where they can also be pre-ordered.)

But because of this full-album stream, the music is now available for all of us to hear in advance of the official release, and I unwittingly made a wise call in pre-ordering this baby. The stream not only includes the music, it also includes much of the individualized artwork that Jacob Bannon created for each song, and the art is amazing, as I suspected it would be. And the music? It’s equally amazing. Continue reading »

Sep 132012

Yeah, I decided to go back to the “Seen and Heard” title for these morning round-ups. I know Phro will be disappointed that I didn’t go with his latest suggestion — “A Nice, Hot Cup of Morning Cum” — but I worried that not everyone would find that as appetizing as he does. Though maybe a dash of nutmeg on top would help. Regardless of the title, the idea is the same: things I saw and heard yesterday that I thought were worth passing on.


Valdur are a three-man band from Mammoth Lakes, California, who I first came across (and wrote about) more than two years ago following release of their excellent second album, Raven God Amongst Us. Yesterday I learned that Valdur have finished writing their new album and will begin recording it on November 12. I also learned that earlier this summer they self-released a limited two-song EP entitled The Hammer Pit, which consists of “rough version” of two new songs.

I was curious to hear The Hammer Pit, since I know that this past spring a new vocalist/guitarist (“Samuel”) joined the band, and his work is reflected on the new EP. I was able to find a Bandcamp page where Valdur are streaming one of the EP’s tracks — “Conjuring the Fire Plagues” — and it’s available for a “name your price” download. It’s a damned killer of a song. Continue reading »

Aug 202012

Here are two new tours that metallic denizens of the U.S. and Canada should know about, both of which were announced today. One is co-headlined by Napalm Death and one by Converge. And what a nice coincidence that is, since not long ago we got a Napalm Death / Converge split release, from which we’ll play some music after coughing up the tour details . . . Also, both tours are stopping in Seattle, which makes me all smiley.


This tour is actually billed as a co-headline gig by Municipal Waste along with Napalm Death. I decided to put only Napalm Death in the headline mainly because it fit better with the recent release of that split. Exhumed is also along for the ride as direct support, which makes this tour even more awesome. But that’s not all! Depending on the dates, one of the following four bands will also be performing:

Sci-fi Arizona thrashers Vektor, Canadian punk band Dayglo Abortions, Bay Area crossover band Attitude Adjustment, and Colorado speed thrashers Speedwolf.

But wait, there’s still more!

Again depending on the locations, fans will also get to see guest sets from U.S. grindcore bastards Repulsion, Chicago punks Dwarves, and Seattle’s Martha Splatterhead’s Revenge. Continue reading »

Jul 122012

(London-based guest contributor Alex Franquelli returns to NCS with a review of the new album by Old Man Gloom.)

Forget for a minute that Old Man Gloom is made up of members of some of the greatest and most innovative bands hardcore and metal have seen in the last 15 years. Try to ignore the fact that the predecessor to NoChristmas – is one of the most underrated works in the realm of extreme music. What you are left with is an album whose songwriting and arrangements are the closest extreme metal can be to perfection.

The shifts between post-metal tantrums and the violent beauty of ambient and electronica are in fact less vivid than in the previous release but, after all, in eight years a lot has happened and a different world welcomes a renewed band, while the sheer contrast between the two facets of the spectre is a contrast determined by a sound, which is still in search of a balance but is daring at the same time.

Let’s face it, when Aaron Turner (Isis, Split Cranium, Mamiffer), Caleb Scofield (Cave In, Zozobra), Nate Newton (Converge, Doomriders) and Santos Montano (founding member of OMG) met in the studio the first time, not many people would have thought the outcome could be anything less than excellent. And excellent it is.  The sound gracing the speakers when No is spinning is nothing short of an intriguing experience. Enough drones to make Khanate proud embellish the already obsessive thrusts driven by riffs indulging in loops (“Regain/Rejoin”) and feedback (“Rats”) in ways that can be defined as “structural” rather than cosmetic. Continue reading »

Jul 102012

So much happens so fast in the world of metal that even being out of touch for two days means that you miss a lot, and some of what you miss is actually worth knowing about. I was in a remote location over the last two days with no internet connection, and since returning last night I’ve made an admittedly incomplete effort to find out what I missed that was important/entertaining to me. Turns out, there was a lot — so much that I’m dividing what I found into two posts, of which this is the first. The second one will start off our postings tomorrow.

In no particular order, this post includes news, new music, or new videos from Enslaved, Dan Dankmeyer, Napalm Death, and Converge.


Enslaved made a few announcements about their twelfth studio album RIITIIRincluding the name of the album, the disclosure of the cover art (above) by long-time collaborator Truls Espedal, and the release dates (via Nuclear Blast): September 28 in Europe and October 2 in North America.

“Riitiir” doesn’t appear to be a real word, even in Norwegian or ancient Norse. As the band explained today, it’s a version of the words for “rites” and “rituals” and is intended to mean “The Rites of Man”. How that concept or the artwork connects to the lyrics or the music hasn’t yet been revealed, but the band say they intend to “discuss some key concepts and potential interpretations in deeper song-by-song analysis” in the weeks and months ahead. Enslaved are so talented and so creative that I’m actually interested — though of course I’m most interested in hearing the music. 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 »

Jun 272011

Our brutha BadWolf e-mailed me yesterday recommending a video he’d just seen. It’s the legendary Converge performing live at Hellfest in Clisson, France, on June 18.

There are love songs and there are songs about love. What you’re about to see wouldn’t be anyone’s definition of a love song, but as Jacob Bannon explains on stage, it is a song about love. The song is called “On My Shield”, and it was self-released by Converge last July as a 7″ vinyl single (with Bannon’s stunning cover art, which you can see above). The song is full of roof-collapsing heaviness, and possibly it sounds even more brutally cathartic in this video. The imperfect, fuzz-distorted quality of the sound suits this song.

If you’ve ever seen Converge perform live, then you know these fuckers leave nothing in reserve — all they’ve got spills out on stage. They drain themselves, and they drain the audience, too. The imagery in this video captures that feeling and includes lots of clear close-ups. I also like the way it captures the glow of the stage lighting at night. But as BadWolf pointed out when he wrote me, maybe the best thing about it is when the fan shooting the video headbangs in sync with bassist Nate Newton, the camera moving smoothly up and down along with Newton. Very nice touch.

Check out the video after the jump, along with the lyrics. The song is a good reminder that in the battleground of life and love, don’t withdraw: It’s better to be carried out on your shield. One more thing: Also after the jump, we’ve added a stream of a brand new Converge song called “Runaway”, which was released on June 21. Continue reading »

Nov 172010

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Our temporarily Australian correspondent The Artist Formerly Known As Dan has another list for you today. He left out a few activities. We sure hope the comments fill in the holes . . .]

If you are like me (read: a nerd) then you tend to categorize everything, especially music.  Whenever I hear something new, I’m very quick to make a judgement about the overall sound and what type of music it is. Only, I’m not filtering it into one of those sub-genres that are constantly argued about on the internet. I’m thinking about if I like the music enough to listen to it again. If the answer is yes, then I think about when I would listen to the music again, and what the associated activity might be (don’t ask me how or why I do this – I probably have a problem).

Anyway, the point is, I think about music as something to augment my life and its associated activities, like some kind of bizarre “soundtrack to life.” For example, I really really enjoy gaming to Dagoba. I’m not positive how it started, but I think I was playing Guild Wars and I played the entirety of Face the Colossus and it was just fucking awesome.

This post is mostly meant to stimulate discussion, so what is your favorite music to xxxxx to?  I’ll list some examples below of some activities and what I like to hear while doing them.  (after the jump . . . including music to hear) Continue reading »