Nov 232020
 

 

(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity, which was released on November 20th by Century Media.)

You may have noticed, over the days/weeks/months/years you’ve spent perusing our humble site, that we don’t often cover releases by the so-called “big” names (“big” by Metal standards anyway).

There’s a bunch of different reasons for this – mostly we just don’t think they need the coverage we can provide, so our time would be better spent throwing our weight behind artists who might directly benefit from it more – but that doesn’t mean there’s a blanket ban on covering “big” bands.

However, if/when we do decide to write something about a particularly notable new “big name” release, we tend to wait until after the release date to do so.

Why? Well, let’s face it, any time there’s a notable new record (like this one) on the way, there’s always such a rush to praise or condemn, to be the first to market, the first with the hottest and/or most sycophantic take, that any attempt at a more measured analysis usually gets lost in all the sound and fury.

But by waiting until the dust has settled a bit we’re able to give ourselves more time to sit with the music, to let our thoughts simmer and percolate a little longer, which will hopefully result in a fairer and more well-rounded review.

And, let’s face it, with a career spanning almost 30(!) years, and twelve albums, if any band deserves a fair and honest assessment of their work, it’s Dark Tranquillity. Continue reading »

Oct 162020
 


Benediction (photo by Karen Rew)

 

(Another Friday has arrived, and that means another selection of new songs and videos chosen and introduced by our contributor Gonzo.)

It’s always fun when I wake up on Friday mornings and discover new music I never saw coming, especially when it’s from bands I’ve loved for 20+ years. It reminds me of simpler times. For me, though, nothing beats the old feeling of walking into a record store and browsing through new releases for hours at a time.

Alas, the modern conveniences of having gigabytes of new shit funneled into your ears simply by opening your phone these days is nice, but this week’s new music is a trip into a universe of nostalgia for me. Why? I’ve bought CDs from all four of the bands I’ve included this week – some of which I still have in a giant binder that I don’t open very much anymore. Maybe I’ll go revisit that now.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these tracks as much as I do. Continue reading »

Sep 112020
 


Katla

 

(Our friend Gonzo returns with anoher Friday selection of new music, this time actually posted by our editor on Friday!)

 Doing these columns over the past few weeks has made me intensely aware of my perception of time. Some weeks feel like days, some days feel like weeks. Nothing makes sense anymore. We’re all living in a Black Mirror episode that’s been left on repeat after being force-fed enough LSD to turn ourselves into spiritual mediums for an alternate dimension where capitalist houseplants have enslaved humanity.

Fortunately, there’s new music to distract us from our inevitable fate at the hands of some power-worshipping azalea. And where would we be without it? I don’t want to imagine that dark alternate reality.

Sticking to the darkness of the current reality seems sinister enough.

The good news? If dark and sinister is your musical preference, I can’t recommend this week’s new releases enthusiastically enough. Continue reading »

Sep 112020
 

 

Earlier today one of our writers, purporting to speak for all of us, asserted that we at NCS are not perfect. I disagree. I, for one, am perfectly aware of my inability to keep up with the release of new music.

Last night I did manage to plow through the last two days of e-mails in our bulging in-box and checked a few other valued sources. From that effort I added roughly two-dozen new songs to check out, on top of a similar number I had identified the last time I went exploring just a couple of days ago.

A laughable thing to do, of course, given there’s no way I could make my way through all of that in time to write anything for today. So I threw mental darts at the list, with some hits and some misses. The following eight new songs were among the hits. I’ll pick some more for your listening pleasure on Saturday.

DARK TRANQUILLITY (Sweden)

In “Phantom DaysDark Tranquillity launched the run-up to their new album Moment with a sure-fire crowd-pleaser — nothing terribly different, but capable of stimulating the pleasure centers of fans. I confess that I felt stimulated, though not to the point of tumescence. Will I remember it? That’s a different question. Continue reading »

Oct 142016
 

dark-tranquillity-atoma

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity.)

Broadly speaking, Dark Tranquillity’s career has been one characterised by successive sequences of sudden reinvention and steady refinement, with every major breakthrough followed in turn by a corresponding period of careful, if somewhat less impressive, polishing and fine-tuning.

It’s a pretty obvious pattern in hindsight. The early success of The Gallery was followed by The Mind’s I… the melodic, proggy proclivities of Projector were the jumping-off point for Haven… and then Damage Done, probably the biggest metamorphosis in the band’s career, in turn gave us both the oft-underrated Character and the (arguably) somewhat overrated Fiction.

Unfortunately it’s around this time that things get a little tricky, and we enter what has become a bit of a sensitive area for some fans, as there’s an argument – and not an unreasonable one – that the band have been stuck in something of a rut ever since, repeating the same old formula, to ever-diminishing creative (if not commercial) returns.

For although Character was, in my opinion at least, a worthy enough follow-up to Damage Done, Fiction was effectively just a brace of crowd-pleasing singles surrounded by a wealth of generally solid, but not necessarily stunning, material. And while We Are The Void hinted in places (such as the icy, blackened “Arkhangelsk” and the darkly atmospheric “Iridium”) at burgeoning changes to come, neither it, nor the disappointingly average Construct, managed to capitalise on this potential in order to fully reignite the band’s creative fires.

So the question now is, does Atoma signal another long-awaited, and long-overdue, renaissance from the Gothenburg alchemists? Continue reading »

Sep 292016
 

dark-tranquillity-2016-photo-by-dirk-behlau
Photo by Dirk Behlau

 

I intended to prepare a round-up much earlier this week than I have, but commitments to write premieres plus interferences from my fucking day job screwed those plans. So, I’m behind once again. Catching up isn’t realistic, but I’m going to make a stab at it anyway by doing a two-part Seen and Heard.

In this first installment I’m giving a tip of the hat to two widely popular bands — and no, Metallica isn’t one of them, though if you want to talk about the new Metallica track in the Comments, feel free. Then we’ll dive deeper into the underground with the final two bands in this group (with help from our contributor Grant Skelton).

The second installment, at least as I’ve planned it (because it’s not written yet), will be devoted to perhaps even more obscure and ferocious new music. But I do also have a couple of premieres to prepare for today, plus my day job isn’t leaving me alone… so there’s a chance Part 2 will slip.

DARK TRANQUILLITY

Earlier this week Century Media announced a new Dark Tranquillity album, their 11th. Named Atoma, and again featuring cover art by the band’s guitarist Niklas Sundin, it will be released on November 4, 2016. Coincident with that announcement, DT released the video that’s the first item in this round-up, for an Atoma track called “The Pitiless”. The video was filmed during the band’s appearance at the Turock Open Air Festival 2016 in Essen, Germany, by director Dirk Behlau. Continue reading »

Jan 082016
 

Joseph Mallord William Turner-Death On A Pale Horse-c1825-30

 

(TheMadIsraeli prepared this round-up of music from yesteryear that’s been keeping him company lately.)

The scarcity of my writing last year stemmed partially from a desire to go back and listen to shit I liked or loved from past years, whatever it was, and fuck being musically relevant. This is something I hadn’t done in a long time, and I have to admit that doing this just about saved me from burning out on music altogether. This music blogging thing, it can become genuinely tiresome in the race to try and keep up with what’s worth noting. Listening to albums that may or may not be worth the time you just spent listening to them, to find out whether they are or not, can take a lot out of you sometimes.

I decided it’d be cool to write a piece here and there where I give some commentary on those older albums I’ve listening to, hence the title “Irrelevant Listening”. Maybe this could be a monthly thing, but as much as I intend to get back on the horse in regards to everything else, I’d hate to try and schedule this in any way. However, I have been noticing a pattern where I tend to change my “irrelevant listening” playlist every month or so.

So here are the records that had my attention this past December. Continue reading »

Oct 312014
 

The Font of All Human Knowledge tells us that Samhain “is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year” and is celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on 1 November, about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is a liminal time when spirits more easily enter our world, a time of divination rituals and the revisiting of souls of the dead.

In celebration of blessed Samhain I’ve harvested a collection of news and new music, a bounty large enough to warrant two posts, this being the first.

NAPALM DEATH

Yesterday  brought the announcement that Napalm Death will release their 15th studio album entitled Apex Predator – Easy Meat on January 26th in Europe and January 27th in North America. Frontman Barney Greenway provided this explanation of the album’s title and concept: Continue reading »

Jun 062014
 

NCS reader Joseph D just e-mailed me some breaking news, for which I’m most thankful. You can see the news above: Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity and Finland’s Insomnium will be touring North America in January 2015.

January 2015 is a long way off, but man, I’m already very excited about this announcement, especially because the tour will be stopping in Seattle. I’m sure you get sick of me focusing on myself first and everyone else secondarily, but you wouldn’t want me to be dishonest would you?

All the dates are after the jump. Continue reading »

Feb 142014
 

At last we’ve arrived at the final installment of our list of 2013’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. I could have gone on, but since we’re half-way through February it seemed time to stop and spend more time on what 2014 is bringing us.

I want to thank my fellow NCS writers and our readers for suggesting songs from albums that I missed last year; this list has included a lot of those recommendations. I also beg your forgiveness for not including other recommendations, and for otherwise omitting or simply overlooking other great songs from last year.

On Monday I’ll have a a post with a few more concluding thoughts and a complete list of every song in this series, collected in one place. (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 songs I’m announcing today, click here.)

DARK TRANQUILLITY

I suppose there’s some irony in my choice of this next song (and the one that follows it) for our concluding installment — it includes a lot of clean singing. Beyond that, it is one of the more mellow, more pop-oriented songs DT have ever done (of the gothic/doom variety), one of the songs on 2013’s Construct that links arms with the style that DT explored in Projector. But Mikael Stanne’s clean singing is emotionally resonant, and the song also delivers his equally emotive harsh growls, along with some hammering Gothenburg riffs. Continue reading »