Dec 072010

Thanks again to all the commenters who’ve sent us band suggestions for our ongoing tribute to Finnish metal — and by all means, keep those suggestions coming. We’re still calling this thing a “Tribute Week”, but we’re being really flexible in how we define “week”.

For today’s installment, we decided to focus on relative newcomers. We picked one band off the suggestion list in fairly random fashion — Medicated. And for our lead item, we’re focusing on a band with the attention-grabbing name of Bill Skins Fifth, who contacted us about their first EP in September. We listened to the EP’s opening song back then and got immediately addicted. But we still put the EP aside because of something else we were in the middle of, and our attention wandered, as it often does.

We’ve kept that EP on our list of music to check out more thoroughly, and now maybe it’s just as well we didn’t write about it earlier, because it’s a natural fit in this Tribute Week series.

If you like music that sticks in your brain and rattles the fuck out of it at the same time, we think you’re going to dig both of these outfits. So stay with us after the post to learn more and hear some tracks.

Continue reading »

Dec 062010

In this ongoing Finland metal tribute, we’ve been trying to focus on bands that are new to us, because we’re selfish like that. But really, how could we run a series on Finnish metal and not talk, at least briefly, about what is arguably the country’s most visible extreme metal export — Children of Bodom?

The three of us who started NCS have been diehard COB fans for many years. Whenever we get wind that they’re coming anywhere near Seattle on tour, we react like Pavlov’s dog at the dinner bell. For us, it’s hard to get enough of that speedy, hooky, identifiably COB brand of thrashy, flashy melodeath or Alexi Laiho’s shredtastic solos, and in just about every way you want, they put on a kickass live show.

These dudes have come a long way from their underground days. They’ve perfected a signature sound — you hear the first few bars of a COB song, and you know it’s them — and it’s a sound that causes shitloads of people all over the world to salivate.

Next year will bring more worldwide salivating, with the scheduled March 8 release of the band’s seventh studio album, Relentless Reckless Forever. The recording is done, and the band has even finished a music video for the first single, “Was It Worth It?”, which was filmed in Pennsylvania (?!?) and will feature two-time X Games gold medalist and two-time Thrasher Magazine “Skater of the Year” Chris Cole as well as pro skaters Jamie Thomas and Tom Asta. So it’s gonna be some kind of skate-thrash party song apparently.

With significant fan popularity and commercial success have come some questions: Has COB become so reliant on that signature sound that they’re starting to become formulaic in their song construction? Is their musical growth slowing? Are they losing that underground edge they used to have? Was 2008’s Blooddrunk album something of a let-down, despite the fact that it was the band’s biggest seller of all time?  (more after the jump . . ., including a bunch of COB music) Continue reading »

Dec 052010

In today’s installment of our make-it-up-as-we-go tribute to Finnish metal, I’m doing something I probably shouldn’t do. I’m writing about a genre of metal about which I’m almost completely ignorant.

Wait a minute. Why did I just say I shouldn’t do that?  If I were to limit myself to subjects I know something about, this site would have folded long ago. Either that or I would have been forced to change the focus to NO CLEAN UNDERWEAR. I wonder what groverXIII would have come up with as a banner for that?

Anyway, since I’ve never let abject ignorance stand in the way of expressing my opinions, I’m forging ahead. And you can’t stop me! Today, the focus is on funeral doom, Finnish style. Since I know next to nothing about this genre, I’m being guided 100% by the suggestions we received when I solicited ideas for this ongoing tribute.

And speaking of ongoing, in an e-mail Andy Synn helpfully pointed us to the following passage in the quite hysterical Uncyclopedia:  “Earth’s orbit around the sun also contributes to it’s aging process. Each new orbit is considered one local year, which in universal terms of time is simply a standard galactic week. As you can imagine, the Earthlings don’t get much done within this massive waste of time.” And yes, this does put Finland Tribute Week in an whole new perspective.

The suggestions on which I relied came from what appear to be some very reliable sources. Misha Nuis, the vocalist/guitarist for Akelei (a Dutch band whose very impressive 2010 debut album we reviewed here) and self-professed doomster, pointed us in the direction of Tyranny, with these words: “This is crushing funeral doom at its best. If you put this album on and sit down while it plays, you’ll find it hard to get up again after it’s finished. That’s how heavy it is.”

Our second source, CarlSk, named two more Finnish funeral doom bands, one of which was Colosseum. And finally, Canopy‘s Fredrik Hultgren brought Skepticism to our attention, calling them “nothing short of amazing” and “mesmerizing” on stage. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 042010

Fuck, but I do love the comments on this site. For a good long while after we started NCS, we didn’t get any, but eventually they grew like magic mushrooms. A big part of the magic, at least for me, is the introductions we’ve gotten to bands we didn’t know about. That’s one of the objectives we had when we started NCS — one we’ve tried to follow through on consistently: Introduce people to new music, usually from bands that aren’t household names, at least here in the U.S. And in the process of trying to do that, we’ve learned about lots of new bands ourselves.

Case in point: this Finland Tribute Week thing we spontaneously started a few days ago. (We could have done this with other countries — and we will — but Finland just kinda emerged as the focal point of its own accord.) We invited suggestions for Finnish metal, and man, did we get them. They’re still coming in — and by all means, don’t stop! (The best place to continue adding suggestions is on this post — it’s a good collection point not only for me but also for readers who are as interested as I am in exploring new sounds.) We’ll still work into the daily posts some of our regular features, and maybe a new album review here and there, but I really don’t see any reason to put an artificial stop to the Finland tribute. The music is so richly varied and so good that it just makes sense to continue rolling with it.

Plus, it’s proving to be such a good antidote to Christmas season fuckery that rolling it right through the holiday is just what a good (witch)doctor would prescribe. Plus, who says we have to define a week by reference to the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis? We’ve discovered that it takes Mercury about 58 Earth-days to rotate once around its axis, which would make a week on Mercury the equivalent of 406 Earth-days. 406 days in a row of Finnish metal might be pushing the envelope past the rupture point, but it sure gives us a lot of leeway while continuing to call this series Finland Tribute Week. We like leeway.

So far, we’ve had three days in a row of Exceptions to the Rule. Don’t get me wrong — the music has been strong despite the presence, in varying degrees, of clean vocals and sweeping melodies. But to be brutally honest, I’ve had this gnawing hunger for something that’s harsh and nasty, like the feeling I get when I’m stuck in a place where I can’t smoke for hours on end. So today, we’re veering back in the more typical NCS direction with Demilich.  (And given how many intriguing recommendations we’ve received, we’ll probably start to double-up on these posts in the coming days, or this thing really will go on for 406 days.)  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 032010

Contrary to widely held belief, it is not true that 100% of metal emanating from Finland is awesome. The actual statistic is 95%. We’ve speculated before that this is because of something in the water supply over there that mutates 3 out of every 4 fetuses in the womb into riff-meisters. Or maybe it’s Finland’s proximity to Estonia.

Seriously, the whole damned country has only got a population of 5.4 million souls — a little smaller than the population of Wisconsin. How many awesome metal bands are from Wisconsin? No offense to Wisconsin, but we’re having trouble thinking of even one. Now, how many awesome metal bands are from Finland? The actual count is 2 gazillion. It’s true.

No, seriously — it’s statistically demonstrable (as shown here) that Finland has more metal bands per capita than any other country on Earth — and a high percentage of them are good.

So, it should be no surprise that we write about Finnish metal bands a lot here at NCS. This year, we’ve written long or short reviews of music by Kalmah, Kivimetsän Druidi, The Jasser Arafats, Cyphosis, Cavus, Apocalyptica, Blastanus, Sole Remedy, Sotajumala, Survivors Zero, Man-Eating Tree, Gloria Morti, Amberian Dawn, Radiance, Amorphis, and Before the Dawn, and probably some others we missed in our searches.

But we’re not finn-ished writing about Finns. We’re doing a little impromptu series on Finnish metal. We’re calling it Finland Tribute Week, though we’ve gotten so many intriguing suggestions about Finnish metal bands from our commentators since we announced this series that we may have to re-name it Finland Tribute Month. It started two days ago with a post about Amorphis, and that a-morphed into a post yesterday about Before the Dawn. And today, we’ve got Ghost Brigade.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 022010

One good turn deserves another, right?

Yesterday, we ran a post about Amorphis — a strong example of why we have a place for exceptions to the “no clean singing” rule. And based on the comments, it’s clear that even regular readers of this cacophonous site also like some clean singing in their metal, if done right, and in the right doses. One of those comments — by our comrade in arms, Niek, from Death Metal Baboon — pointed us to a band called Before the Dawn. Here’s what he said:

Coincidentally I was just considering tipping you on another Finnish, clean-vocalled exception to your rule. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to this band’s (and its sister-bands’) material on YouTube. It’s Before the Dawn, of which mastermind Tuomas Saukkonen also fronts Dawn of Solace and Black Sun Aeon. I’ve ordered albums of the first two this morning. I urge you to check these bands out!

“Impulsiveness” is my middle name (I have many middle names), and so, despite the fact that I was trying to finish reviews of two new albums while continuing to listen to other brand new releases, I dropped everything, downloaded Before the Dawn’s latest release from iTunes, convoyed the tunes over to my iPod, jammed the earbuds in my aural canals, jumped in the car for an hour-long drive I had to make yesterday morning, and started in on that album at the volume I like best — the volume level that makes my eyes weep blood.

By the time I got back home last night following the return trip, I’d listened to that album three times through (and had eye blood all down the front of my shirt). Maybe it was because I’d already had my senses adjusted by Amorphis, maybe it was because I was tearing down the highway while listening, but that album really hit home — so much so that it would just be criminally ungrateful not to say something about it without delay. So, that’s what we’re doing today — another Exception to the Rule. Don’t worry your horned little heads — we’ll be back to no clean singing very soon. But today, we need to tell you about Before the Dawn.  (more after the jump, including some music to hear . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 012010

We have a low tolerance for clean singing in metal — hence, the name of this site. With the absence of clean singing tends to come all sorts of other extremity in the music, which is what we like, and which is why we thought “NO CLEAN SINGING” would be a good short-hand way to define the kind of music on which we intended to focus when we started this blog. But from day one, we acknowledged that there would be Exceptions to the Rule, i.e., metal we think is hot shit despite the clean singing, or even sometimes because of it.

In fact, last year, when we compiled our inaugural list of the Ten Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs of the year, that list included a song with almost exclusively clean vocals. We’ve been thinking about that list recently, because if we’re going to do a 2010 list, we’ve got to get our lazy asses in gear pretty fucking soon.

And then, in an episode of synchronicity or serendipity (we can never remember the difference between those words and we’re too fucking lazy to look it up in an actual dictionary), yesterday we saw a fan-filmed video of that same band playing that same song live on November 23 in Munich, Germany. Problem was, the video quality sucked. But it still reminded us how fucking great the song is. So, we hunted for a better-quality live performance of the song, and we found one.

It’s from a televised Finnish music award show called Emma-gala, which is an annual event (comparable to the U.S. Grammy awards) produced by the Finland chapter of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). This particular installment of the awards show took place on February 4, 2010, and the band in question won the award for the year’s Best Metal Album. The band performed live at the event and played the song that made our Most Infectious list last year, and that’s the video we found. Stunningly, it only has 9,580 views on YouTube.  Maybe it’s because the tail-end of the video shows the band accepting the award, and if you don’t speak Finnish, it ain’t that interesting.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »