Oct 182015

Rearview Mirror


I didn’t get into metal until much later in life than most of the people who are reading these words. My education came as a result of my own exploration, but equally as a result of getting schooled by commenters at this site. And I hate to tell you this, but comments never go away — my web host has a searchable database of all of them for the last 6 years. And so I can tell you precisely the date when I first saw the name Edge of Sanity: It was July 30, 2010, and it came via a comment from one of our earliest and most frequent commenters, an old friend who called himself ElvisShotJFK.

I had posted a review of Wolvhammer’s debut album Black Marketeers of World War III in which I named a few bands as reference points for the music on the album, including Entombed. After ElvisShotJFK commented that Entombed had been a gateway band into heavier music when he was younger, I replied that Entombed “must have been particularly stunning to hear when they were fresh and so different from most metal that surrounded them.” And he then wrote: Continue reading »

Aug 062013

(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by Witherscape, the highly anticipated joint effort of Dan Swanö and Ragnar Widerberg, which hits the streets today via Century Media.)

Without a doubt, the Swedish have an innate ear for metal of the melodic sort.  The Gothenburg scene, the forming of formidable death metal titans such as Bloodbath, Hypocrisy, and Grave, who retained a distinctly more melodic bent than many of their contemporaries, the proggy labyrinth-crafters like Opeth and In Mourning — all are testament upon testament to what can truly be called Swedish excellence.  When you tell people in a metal context that the music is Swedish, people tend to know exactly what you mean.  It’s melodic, yet retains a darkness and ferocity in a combination that’s distinctive.

If there were ever a single figure who sits on the throne of the Swedish pantheon, as the prime example of what I’m trying to describe, Dan Swanö is the man.  His musical endeavors, whether it be the groundbreaking Edge Of Sanity, his work in Bloodbath and Nightingale, his Moontower solo album, his influence has been staggeringly overpowering.  He has consistently produced music that is stellar, always at the top of its respective field.

Swanö has been on a hiatus for a while now, the last anyone heard from him being his collection of cover songs as Odyssey.  Now he has returned with a new album, with a new project named Witherscape, the album called The Inheritance.  It’s a concept album and one that will divide the Swanö fan base, to be sure, because this is a risky, unorthodox album for a figure best-known for his brutal yet melodic offerings. Continue reading »

Jul 032013

Back in May we helped spread the word that one of metal’s Renaissance men, Dan Swanö, had created a new project with multi-instrumentalist Ragnar Widerberg named Witherscape and had released a debut single named “Astrid Falls”. Since then we’ve seen the cover art for Witherscape’s first album, The Inheritance, created by the talented Travis Smith, and we’ve learned that the release will be a concept album, telling a story that takes place in a remote village in northern Sweden in the late 1800’s. According to Swanö, “The central character lives in Stockholm and comes from wealth, and upon the death of his family he’s informed by the family lawyer that he has inherited a large estate up north. Having been oblivious to the estate’s existence, he decides to investigate, and once he’s there ‘all kinds of weird shit happens.'”

And now today, via a DECIBEL premiere, Witherscape has brought us a new lyric video for a second track from the album, “Dead For A Day”. Rather than make my usual effort to describe the music, I’ll just let Mr. Swanö do it himself:

“‘Dead For A Day’ is one of those songs that just wrote itself. I was strumming on the acoustic guitar one morning and it just poured out of my fingers. At first, I had no idea what to do with the song since I felt it was perhaps a bit too commercial for Witherscape, but after I played the demo to Ragnar he insisted that it must be on the album! I love how the song moves between the mellow verses à la Crimson I and II to the more brutal, yet melodic chorus, in the tradition of ‘Uncreation’ and ‘Twilight’ through the groovy but ‘undanceable’ 9/8 section that leads to one of Ragnar’s best guitar leads of the album.”

Yes, it has clean singing, but it also includes Swanö’s awesome growls, as well as some wonderful lead and solo guitar work and a hooky melody. Holy hell, I’m really digging this. Listen to it next. The Inheritance will be released by Century Media on August 6 and can be ordered HERE with a t-shirt or HERE without one.

Continue reading »

May 292013

This post involves breaking news about two iconic figures in the world of heavy music — Trent Reznor and Dan Swanö. The news is that both will have new music coming, and we already have a taste of what Dan Swanö’s new project has been creating, with a song that premiered yesterday.


This appeared late yesterday on the Nine Inch Nails Tumblr:

“I’ve been less than honest about what I’ve really been up to lately. For the last year I’ve been secretly working non-stop with Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder on a new, full-length Nine Inch Nails record, which I am happy to say is finished and frankly fucking great. This is the real impetus and motivation behind the decision to assemble a new band and tour again. My forays into film, HTDA and other projects really stimulated me creatively and I decided to focus that energy on taking Nine Inch Nails to a new place. Here we go!”

As we reported back in February, Reznor reformed NIN early this year, bringing King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, Telefon Tel Aviv’s Josh Eustis, and former NIN touring members Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, and Ilan Rubin into the fold for touring purposes. Now it appears they will be making a new album. Hallelujah.  Continue reading »

Sep 242012

Come forward and bow down, for the Grand Supreme Blood Court is in session . . . and their judgment is Death, always Death. The only question is how will the sentence be carried out? The Court is about to answer that question, and based on the song we’re premiering for you today, there will be blood, and pain.

GSBC may be a new band, but it’s packed with Dutch death metal veterans. In addition to three current members of AsphyxMartin van Drunen (vocals), Bob Bagchus (drums), and Alwin Zuur (guitars) — the band also includes lead guitarist Eric Daniels (a member of Asphyx for the recording of five of the band’s first six albums and now returning to metal after a decade-long hiatus) and bass-player Theo van Eekelen (Hail of Bullets).

The Grand Supreme Death Court’s debut album — Bow Down Before the Blood Court — was mixed by the legendary Dan Swanö (Edge Of SanityBloodbath) and it’s scheduled for release by Century Media on November 12 in Europe and November 20 in the U.S. The gruesome album cover was created by Axel Hermann (AsphyxGraveUnleashed, etc.).

Lyrically, the debut will be a concept album based on an historical Blood Court that actually existed, though the details have yet to be revealed. Today we have the first taste of the music — “Piled Up For the Scavengers”. Continue reading »

Sep 142012

(NCS guest contributor Mike Yost provides this look back at an album that defeats all resistance to use of a dreaded e-word.  These musings also appear on Mike’s own blog, Remnants of Words.)

As many of you already know, the word epic is used far too often. And not just in metal reviews. Some examples you might hear are as follows:

TV Commercial: “If you’re thirsty, try (insert shitty sugary sports drink here) to quench that epic thirst!”

Movie Review: “Bruce Willis stood in front of the White House in a torn, bloody t-shirt while firing machine guns and bazookas in slow motion with explosions raining down all around him as terrorists were being blown away by the dozens. It was fucking epic!”

A Friend: “So then, we go to (his or her) place and start having sex on the kitchen counter, and (he or she) pulls out this epic glass dildo from the cupboard!”

As Islander has lamented in previous posts, the word epic has proliferated in metal blogs to the point that its overuse has the opposite effect. Epic now equals insipid. Superficial. Commonplace. I become very skeptical about an album when I see it in a review. I can’t help but think it’s being used to compensate for music that’s just plain bad. Or maybe the author of the review was just too tired after a long day at work and passed out at the desk looking for a thesaurus. (I’ve been there.)

This is unfortunate. Because there are a few bands out there who are epic. There are a few albums that are epic. Even a few songs. Continue reading »

Apr 142011

As expected, I haven’t had the time lately to do anything in-depth for NCS (and thanks again to all our guest post-ers for bailing me out) but I still do have time to put together quick items every now and then, just to keep the new metal flowing along its molten path from our ears to yours.

My original title for this post was “A Trio For Thursday”, because I’d heard new songs from three bands over the last 24 hours that got me excited. But then, as I was finishing this up, I came across a brand new fourth one that I just had to include. Not wanting to abandon my affinity for alliteration, I tried to think of a word beginning with “T” that means four of something.Voilà! In geometry, a tetrahedron is a shape composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each vertex — like a pyramid.

So, here we go — four songs, and I can guarantee you’ll like at least one of them, or your money back. The first is yet another new track from the UK’s Xerath from their forthcoming album II. The second is another track from Malfeitor, a Swedish death metal band whose new music we’ve already featured more than once recently. The third is a song by a group of Norwegian death-thrashers called Exeloume. And last, but not least, we’ve got a new song from a UK band called Detrimentum who we’ve been pumped about for a while.

Feast your ears on the tunes after the jump. Or, more accurately, allow the music to feast on your ears. Continue reading »

Jan 032011


Look what we just found! It’s a brand new video for a brand new song from a forthcoming brand new album! It’s all just brand new, just like 2011! And it’s from Finland’s Omnium Gatherum. They’re not brand new, but they are fucking good.

And this song? It’s the best new song we’ve heard in the New Year. Granted, the New Year isn’t even 3 days old yet, but we’ve got a feeling that 362 days from now, this song will still be one of our 2011 favorites — it’s that strong.

This is melodic death metal done right. It hits hard, it makes you wanna headbang, but it’s catchy, and it has a surprising — and surprisingly dreamy — interlude in the middle with clean singing, of all things.

The album will be called New World Shadows, and as we explained when we featured Omnium Gatherum in our Finland Tribute Week series (here), it was produced by Dan Swanö and it includes guest vocals from Mr. Swanö. In fact, that’s probably his voice during the middle interlude of this song. What a fucking coincidence, seeing as how we wrote about Mr. Swanö just yesterday (here).

Enough of our blather. Watch the video. You won’t regret doing it. Fucking awesome song.

Jan 022011

Dan Swanö is one of those names I associate with excellence in metal. He fronted the influential Swedish band Edge of Sanity (as well as others, including Nightingale), he’s been a member of other excellent metal bands, including Katatonia, Ribspreader, and Bloodbath, and he’s appeared as a guest vocalist or instrumentalist on albums by many others.

In addition to his creative work as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, he has for many years run a recording studio in his hometown of Örebro called Unisound, and has been responsible for recording (and/or mixing/mastering) an eye-popping number of albums by the likes of Opeth, Dissection, Marduk, Dark Funeral, Katatonia, and The Project Hate MCMXCIX. Search Blabbermouth using his name for recent news, and you’ll see that he’s scheduled to work on the production of new albums from Asphyx, Coldworker, and November’s Doom, among many others.

Swanö ran Unisound for most of the 1990s, then closed it for several years, and reopened it again in 2005. In 1994, he started a guestbook, where bands with whom he worked would add remarks and Polaroid photos of themselves in the studio. As one guestbook would become filled, he would start another.

Earlier this afternoon we learned that Swanö has arranged for the digitizing of the guestbook for 1996-1997, and he’s made it available on-line, along with his own “liner notes”. It’s fascinating, and after the jump we’ll tell you more about it and give you a link where you can see it for yourselves. Continue reading »

Aug 262010

Because of our trip to Portland last weekend to take in the awesomeness of the SUMMER SLAUGHTER tour (for the second time), I didn’t have time for my usual weekly foray into the interwebs looking for new metal.  I’ve been catching up since then and I’ve made enough headway to warrant another installment of this MISCELLANY series.

For new readers, here’s how this thing works: I randomly follow up on e-mails we get here at NCS, or MySpace “friend” requests, or demos that come in the mail, or tips we get from readers, or blurbs that catch my eye on metal sites like Blabbermouth — and I listen to the music or watch a video. Most of the time, I don’t know in advance what the music will be like, or whether it will be good, bad, or just meh.

And then, in this post, I dutifully write up what I found, without filtering out anything. I’m usually pretty lucky in finding new music that’s worthwhile, but there are no guarantees, for me or for you if you choose to read along.

Today’s grab-bag of listening and watching included offerings from Enos (UK), Nightfall (Greece), Anachronaeon (Sweden), Against the Plagues (multinational), and Shades of Dusk (Canada). It’s kind of a long post, but here’s a top-level hint — the music is divergent in style, but everything I heard was very sweet. No filler, all killer. So stay with me.  (explanations, music to hear, and videos to watch, after the jump . . .) Continue reading »