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 »

Mar 082013

(Here we have the latest installment of Andy Synn’s lists of favorite things that come in fives.)

One thing that metal does very well (compared at least to pop, hip-hop, and even most rock music) is the long-form song. Heck, I imagine if I were to calculate the “average” run time of a song from amongst my vast collection, it would definitely come out somewhere between 5-6 minutes. A “short” metal song is often one that goes up to about 4 minutes after all (in contrast to the fact that this would be considered longer than average in the other genres I’ve mentioned).

One reason for this is that metal often needs room to breathe, to develop its melodic (or dissonant) themes properly. Metal revels in space, stretching itself, filling up the space with noise and sound, light and vision. It’s also a genre often synonymous with story-telling, and one which – largely free from the external constraints enforced upon the 3-minute pop song – contends to offer a deeper and more rewarding (and as such, longer lasting) emotional experience for the listener.

Then of course there’s Napalm Death… so, ok, metal isn’t ALL about length and depth (short, sharp impact is certainly a common trade-mark too) but it DOES tend to do long songs very well.

So I’ve chosen five of my absolute favourites, presented in order from shortest to longest. And there’s not a single Opeth song among them. 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 »

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 »