May 212013

Deafheaven’s new album Sunbather will be released by Deathwish on June 11. Today the band premiered the 10-minute title track on a site called Fader. I like it very much. A transporting astral symphony with vocals by a man being turned inside out. This is it:

Previously, the band debuted another track from the album named “Dream House”. I already wrote about it here; I like it, too. It’s now available on YouTube. And this is it: Continue reading »

May 022013

Here are some things I heard yesterday that grabbed me. I’m starting with two bands who were new to me and finishing with two of whom I was already a fan.


Yesterday we posted Andy Synn’s engaging and informative interview with Alan Cassidy, The Black Dahlia Murder’s talented new drummer and formerly the hitter for Abigail Williams. If you haven’t read that yet, you should. At the end of the interview, Andy asked him for musical recommendations, and Alan made a pitch for an Italian band named Synapses. The name was new to me so I investigated.

It turns out that Synapses are a relatively new band whose debut album Expiation was released by Deepsend Records in February 2012, and they’re currently at work on a follow-up. Some tracks from the album are on YouTube and I listened to one called “Assault of the Weak”.

I can understand why Alan Cassidy thinks these dudes are awesome. It’s because they are indeed awesome, and a big reason why is drummer Riccardo “Cannibale” Fanara. “Assault of the Weak” is a fairly brutal form of highly percussive, fleet-fingered death metal with rapid-fire guitar and bass riffing and roaring vox. But as balls-out blazing as the hi-tech music is, it incorporates some mighty grooves and some inventive (and acrobatic) drumming. I’m particularly digging the snare hits, which come in unexpected places and punctuate the blasting in creative ways. Continue reading »

Apr 162013

I don’t know if it’s ever been right to call deafheaven a black metal band. They’ve always worn their hearts on their sleeves, and although their music can be searing, it may not be quite vicious enough to warrant the label. But I don’t spend a lot of time wrangling over the right label to apply — I’ve just always really liked the music. And I’m really looking forward to their next album, Sunbather, which is coming on June 11, 2013 from Deathwish Inc.

Today brings us a taste of the music via a studio video that includes samples of different songs while guitarist Kerry McCoy, vocalist George Clarke, and new drummer Daniel Tracy track their stuff. I do like what I hear.

Check out the video below, and if you’re moved to explore further, you can find George Clarke’s detailed thoughts about the meaning behind each of the album’s songs at this location. Continue reading »

Feb 272013

As previously reported, your humble editor’s blog time is being squeezed mercilessly by the old fuckin’ day job. There is no relief in sight yet. The consequence is that I can’t spend as much time as usual checking out new music and news. But I did make a quick survey of my typical sources last night and saw and heard many things of interest. Details about 3 new tours and 2 cool live videos are in this post, and I’ll have more goodies in a second one later today.


In Tourism news I saw the following report on Metal Injection: The Death To All tour, which pays tribute to the late Chuck Shuldiner is returning for another run in 2013. The tour had its first run last year and featured an all-star lineup of former members of Death, “but was later plagued with drama surrounding the financials of the event, with some musicians not getting paid by one of the promoters.”

Unlike last year, the 2013 tour will feature one line-up, the Humanera lineup consisting of guitarist Paul Masvidal, bassist Steve DiGiorgio, and drummer Sean Reinert. In addition, Metal Sucks is reporting that Max Phelps, Masvidal and Reinert’s bandmate in the most recent line-up of Cynic, will be providing the vocals. The tour will focus on Human, and the three Death albums that came before it, Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy, and Spiritual Healing. Hell yes. Continue reading »

Dec 112012

Here’s a round-up of things that caught my eyes and ears today. Eventually, they will let go and I will be able to see and hear again. The first thing is a news item about a band I like a lot. The other three items involve deviant musical filth of the supremely headbangable variety, which of course I also like a lot.


I admit it: I’m intensely devoted to the music of San Francisco’s Deafheaven. The last time I wrote about them was in this review of their superb recent split with Bosse-de-Nage.  Today I received a press release stating that they have reserved studio time in January for the recording of their second full-length album, which will be entitled Sunbather and is projected for a Spring 2013 release by Deathwish Inc. They’re sticking with the same engineer (Jack Shirley) who worked with them on the debut album, Roads To Judah.

I was intrigued, though made nervous, by the included quote from Deafheaven vocalist George Clarke: “While the new material is more developed, we’ve strayed from what was previously a more melancholic approach. The black metal aspect to our music is prevalent in the new material, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the focus this time around.”  Lead guitarist Kerry McCoy continued, “There are a lot of harsh, dark vibes on Sunbather, but don’t be surprised at how lush and rock-driven, even pop-driven certain aspects will be.”

It’s pointless to begin forming impressions about music you haven’t heard, but I repeat: The term “pop-driven” makes me nervous. To calm my nerves, I decided to get filthy. Continue reading »

Oct 212012

deafheaven are one of my favorite genre-bending black metal bands. Their debut album Roads To Judah made many of the Best of 2011 lists we published at this site, and I also included the song “Violet” in our list of 2011’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. Though I was sold on the band based on that album and their previous EP, Libertine Dissolves, I became an even more devoted fan after seeing them perform live at Neumo’s in Seattle about a year ago and talking with their charismatic frontman George Clarke both before and after that set.

When I saw the news that they had recorded a song for a forthcoming split release with another Bay Area black metal band, Bosse-de-Nage, I begged for the chance to hear the split, and my wish was granted.

deafheaven’s song is a cover of “Punk Rock” and “Cody”, the opening songs from the 1999 album Come On Die Young, by Scotland’s Mogwai. By coincidence, Andy Synn included this deafheaven track in a list of his favorite “unexpected” covers that we published only a few days ago.

Before diving into deafheaven’s take on the songs, I first listened to the Mogwai originals, with which I wasn’t familiar. “Punk Rock” is a drifting, dreamy, isolated guitar arpeggio that plays out over a sample from a speech that Iggy Pop made during a 1977 CBC interview. “Cody” is similarly slow and restrained, a beautiful, hypnotic, near-pop song with layered guitars, almost-hidden vocals, and a decidedly melancholy ambience. Continue reading »

Oct 172012

(UK-based NCS scribe Andy Synn makes an appearance with another five-fold list of “favourite” things.  Such wasteful use of vowels.)

I realise I’ve been off the grid for a bit now (though I am working on some reviews, a 30th edition of The Synn Report, and an awesome interview) so in between balancing all that, work pressures, and 2 bands, I thought I’d drop you another irreverent column on five of my favourite things.



Such an odd choice, but one which works perfectly, taking the darkly gothic atmosphere of the original and replacing its more pop orientation with some heavy metal riffage and a meaty drumming backbone. The vocal interplay is also sublime, the predominant clean croons matched with a bullish, anguished growl from Tuomas Saukkonen. Continue reading »

Jan 082012

This is Part 14 of our list of the most infectious extreme metal songs released this year. Each day until the list is finished, I’m posting two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the Introduction via this link. To see the selections that preceded this one, click the Category link on the right side of the page called MOST INFECTIOUS SONGS-2011.

Okay, it’s time for a quick status report on this series. You know how at the beginning I said I didn’t know how many songs would be on the final list because I still hadn’t finished making my picks, but that my goal was to stop at 30 songs, like I did last year? Uh huh, will that ain’t gonna happen. With today’s two additions, we’re up to 28, and there’s no way I can pick only two more songs from what I’ve got left on my list of candidates.

So, how many more songs are coming? Fuck if I know. All I know for sure is that today’s two additions are long-form black metal songs that had a powerful effect on me this year, and I couldn’t omit them from this list.


Alghazanth is a Finnish black metal band who I discovered through reader comments way back when we were doing that Finland Tribute Week series. Their sixth full-length album, titled Vinum Intus, barely qualified for consideration on this list — it was released on January 1, 2011. It’s the album I came across when I started trying to find out more about the band’s music. Continue reading »