May 212018
 

 

The 2018 edition of Roadburn Festival is in the history books. From April 19th through April 22nd at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands, metal fans got the chance to choose from among performances by more than 100 bands across four stages and a fascinating array of musical genres. NCS was fortunate to be represented by the fantastic photographer Teddie Taylor, who made a visual record of the event for us.

We left it to Teddie to decide which bands to see; no doubt she had a lot of difficult decisions to make — and we had difficult decisions of our own in determining which of her images to share with you (they’re all really damned good!). We’re dividing this collection of pics into four parts, one for each day of Roadburn 2018. We asked Teddie to introduce herself first, to those of you who may not be familiar with her work:

“I am an Alabama transplant currently residing in the glorious swamp that is New Orleans. Growing up, I regularly went on adventures to photograph the flora and fauna of the Gulf Coast and thought I’d eventually pursue nature photography. I’ve always been involved with the arts, whether it be attempting to dance or taking vocal lessons, and fell hard and fast into music photography during a college internship at the local rock radio station. A few years and seemingly hundreds of deafening nights in small bars later and I am an intern at Relapse Records and Earsplit PR and travel regularly to interview and take photos of musicians I adore. I apologize in advance if my tall, camera-hauling self blocks your view or whacks you with a camera during a show.”

And with that preamble, here are some of Teddie’s photos from the first day at Roadburn 2018: Continue reading »

Jan 092017
 

 

I took a break yesterday from my rollout of this year’s Most Infectious Song list but am back at it again today, and every day this week, barring a meteor strike. For those who have just blundered into this evolving list for the first time, you can check out the previous picks and an explanation for what the list is about by clicking this link.

Some days I include two songs in the installments of this list, and sometimes three, which is what I have today. This is another instance when this particular grouping made sense to me, but I don’t pretend that I have good sense so you be the judge. And if the inclusion of clean vocals in this collection rubs you the wrong way, be patient. Tomorrow I’m returning to much nastier fare.

IHSAHN

I’m going to start with some “Mass Darkness“, which will be found on Arktis, the latest solo album by Vegard Sverre Tveitan, aka Ihsahn. My colleague Andy Synn wrote our review of the album, characterizing it as “easily the most gleamingly melodic, intimately accessible… and, yes, poppy, album that the ever-adversarial artiste has put his name to thus far”, while “still very much a Progressive album underneath the glitz and glamour”. Continue reading »

Nov 082016
 

julie-christmas-cult-of-luna

 

(Our man in the UK, Andy Synn, attended Damnation Festival 2016 in Leeds on November 5, and provides this report along with videos he made.)

Oh Damnation Festival how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Whereas too many other events seem content to book the same big-name crowd-pleasers, year in and year out, buttressed by an interchangeable selection of generic sound-alikes and contrived gimmicks – all carefully selected purely for their mundane mass-appeal – the Damnation team seem to operate on an unwavering ethos of only booking the bands they truly like, bands (big and small) that they truly believe in, who have something unique or special to offer.

This is how every edition of the festival features an array of bands from multiple different styles, from Death to Prog to Doom to Hardcore to Sludge (and beyond), from across the length and breadth of the underground Metal scene coexisting under one roof and why, over the years, Damnation has seen everyone from Ahab to Asphyx, Carcass to Katatonia, Mono to My Dying Bride, playing to the sort of packed crowds that are a regular occurrence in Europe, but which only rarely seem to be achievable here in the UK.

This helps make Damnation Festival’s line-up a much more interesting affair than many of their peers, as the organisers seem to operate on the principal of “if you build it, they will come”, putting their faith in the belief that the UK scene doesn’t just want to be fed the same old bands and the same old performances, time and time again. And this year was no different, with a wide variety of different acts, of different styles, on display, coupled with a bunch of exclusive performances which practically justified the ticket price on their own! Continue reading »

May 022016
 

Roadburn-2016-OfficalArtwork1

 

The 2016 edition of the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands, is now in the history books. It was the first edition of the festival to be presented at the newly renovated 013 venue, and it boasted a typically impressive and diverse line-up of bands. While none of the NCS scribes was on hand for this year’s event, we do have photos of many of the performances, thanks to Kris T. Therrian of 17 seconds photography, and beginning today we’ll be providing them for your viewing pleasure.

We’ve divided these photo collections into four parts, one for each day of the festival, and we’ll roll out the remaining three installments over the next three days. Many thanks to Kris for letting us share these memories with you. For more info about her work, visit these links: Continue reading »

Apr 132016
 

Cult of Luna-Mariner

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new collaborative album between Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas, which was released on April 8. Accompanying photos are by Pär Olofsson.)

The name Cult of Luna should need no introduction or explanation to long-time readers of this site. After all, the stupendous Swedes have dwelled amongst the ranks of Metal’s mightiest heroes for a solid fifteen years now, and yours truly even selected their phenomenal Vertikal as the best album of 2013 (beating out stiff competition from the mighty Gorguts in the process).

The name Julie Christmas, however, might not be quite as familiar, though she certainly has considerable prestige and pedigree of her own, having acted as vocalist for both much-loved Doom/Post Metal troupe Battle of Mice and sludgy noisemongers Made Out of Babies, as well as forging her own career as a solo artist and frequent collaborator with other members of the Rock and Metal community.

Now, hopefully, this whistle-stop introduction should help give you at least a tentative grasp of why the idea of the two artists collaborating was met with such awe in certain quarters, and why Mariner has been one of 2016’s most highly anticipated albums ever since it was first announced. Continue reading »

Dec 172013
 

After Sweden’s Cult of Luna released Eternal Kingdom in 2008, five years passed before they produced another album, but this year’s Vertikal has commanded a spot on a growing list of year-end lists. Now it appears that fans will be in for another extended hiatus before the band bring more new music… if they ever do again. This announcement appeared about an hour ago on the band’s Facebook page:

“The Beyond the redshift festival in London on may the 10th will be a very special show for Cult of Luna. It will mark the end of an era and after that we will slowly disappear before we reappear again in some form in some indefinite future.

Because of that Klas will join us on stage for the last time and we will play a whole lot of old songs which we haven’t played for years or ever.
We might ask for your help to choose songs. More on that later.”

Continue reading »

Oct 282013
 

Oh joy! Rapture! Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in ’t!

Okay, I’m just trying to put a good face on another goddamn Monday that blows, like a noxious wind coming off a tire fire. At least we still have beauteous metal, flights of fallen angels to sing us to our rest at nightfall. Here’s a collection of things, in no particular order, seen and heard over the last 24 hours.

MASTODON

I saw that on December 10 Warner Bros. Records will be releasing Mastodon Live At Brixton, a digital-only recording of the band’s live performance at London’s O2 Academy in Brixton on February 11, 2012. That show was part of the band’s world tour in support of their last album The Hunter. I caught another stop on that tour in Seattle, and it was a powerhouse performance.

Interestingly, the digital-only release (which will be sold through Amazon and iTunes) will come in two versions, one that’s audio-only and one that’s a live video version of the 97-minute show. Here’s the set list: Continue reading »

Sep 192013
 

(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Cult of Luna.)

One thing that I think a lot of people fail to acknowledge is that this massive genre we call “Metal” is far from a homogenous entity. Bands don’t all have the same goals and ambitions with their music, and you can’t judge all metal bands by the same criteria.

Though there’s an unhealthy fascination with the lurid early years of Black Metal, you can’t deny their youthful passion and (somewhat misplaced) conviction. But not all Black Metal shares a common bond with the genre’s progenitors. Similarly, there’s a vast gulf of ideological difference between the early Death Metal scenes that flourished in Florida and Stockholm, even though to a layman such differences might appear purely superficial.

Then there are those bands who – beyond even the confusing tangle of genres and styles – are unique and iconic enough that they can only ever be truly judged on their own merits.

Cult of Luna are one such band. Continue reading »

Sep 022013
 

(Our roving reporter Andy Synn was fortunate enough to take in the 2013 edition of the Summer Breeze open air festival in Germany last month and has prepared a multi-part review accompanied by videos that he shot during the festival. Today we bring you Part 1 of his write-up.)

Apologies to anyone who might have been waiting for my SB review this year. The trip to Seattle took up 99% of my time since, so I didn’t really have much chance to write things up before now!

Let me tell you though, leaving your house at 1am and driving to Dinkelsbuhl (where the festival is located), arriving at around half 7 in the evening, is a LONG drive. I did the first stretch in one relatively unbroken 10 hour stint, but after that it was a case of frequent stops to rest every time I started feeling my eyes getting heavy. Urgh.

DAY 0

As it was, though, I made it to the festival in time to see Vader… well, some of Vader. Because one minor issue with having the opening night festivities situated in the 3rd stage tent is that you end up trying to pack an entire festival’s worth of people into a venue that, while large in itself, was definitely not designed for that purpose! Thus my Vader viewing experience became a curious mix of long-range appreciation and video-screen voyeurism. Continue reading »

Aug 012013
 

Collected here is news about three new tours that surfaced yesterday.

MADNESS AT THE CORE OF TIME TOUR

GWAR is the headliner of this tour, and the rest of the line-up consists of Whitechapel, Iron Reagan, and A Band of Orcs. It’s tough to find a unifying theme for the selection of these bands, other than the fact that the line-up is book-ended by inhuman creatures. But I’ve found that some of the best shows are those in which the combination of bands makes you scratch your head. One band might pull you in, and you might then discover another band you like.

In this case, Whitechapel have kicked my ass every time I’ve seen them and I’m also interested in seeing Iron Reagan and A Band of Orcs (HAIL GZOROTH!). I’ve never gotten into GWAR, though I can’t say I’ve ever given them much of a chance. Maybe that will be my new discovery on this tour. Here’s the schedule: Continue reading »