Dec 102010
 

Let’s pause for a moment and take stock of what we’ve done with this tribute series so far:  We’ve covered a pretty wide range of melodic death-metal bands, both globally known names and newcomers. We’ve featured some purveyors of funeral doom. We’ve written about some of the biggest names in Finnish black metal. What are we still missing?

HUMPPA METAL! Yes, in response to overwhelming popular demand, today we’re shining the spotlight on two bands who have incorporated traditional Finnish humppa into their metal in quite different ways. You could also think of this post as a dip into the waters of Finnish folk-metal, though in our opinion that isn’t really a fair characterization of one of these bands.

What, you may ask is humppa? Let’s see what The Font Of All Human Knowledge has to say on the subject:

Humppa is a type of music from Finland. It is related to jazz and very fast foxtrot, played two beats to a bar (2/4 or 2/2). Typical speed is about 220 to 260 beats per minute. Humppa is also the name of a few social dances danced to humppa music. All dances involve bounce that follows the strong bass of the music. . . . The name humppa was invented by Antero Alpola for a radio show in the 1950s. He picked it up from German Oktoberfest where the locals used the word to describe the playing of the band. The band probably used a tuba, as the sound of tuba on the first beat is like hump, the second beat coming as a pa. (The related German style is known as oompah.)

As far as we can tell from afar, humppa isn’t the sort of music that many people in Finland buy for their listening pleasure. Instead, it’s music that people dance to, and it’s played in dance halls in cities large and small. As we’ll see, it has also been incorporated into metal by two bands whose fame has spread well beyond their home country — Finntroll and Korpiklaani.  (more after the jump, including tracks to hear . . .) Continue reading »

Jul 042010
 

Fair warning: This will be one extended session of spittle-flecked frothing at the mouth, because we haven’t been this blown away since stumbling into a full-fledged Seattle windstorm last winter. So get the safety glasses on and strap on sanitary masks if you got ’em.

The subject of our enthusiasm is Nothnegal. They’re a band from The Republic of the Maldives that now includes two non-Maldivian heavyweights — drummer Kevin Talley from Dååth and keyboardist Marco Sneck from those Finnish swamplords Kalmah. They’ve got a four-song EP to their credit called Antidote of Realism and they’ve just signed with Season of Mist for the release of their debut album early next year.

Oh yeah, they’re also playing with Arch Enemy this month and touring Europe in the fall with the likes of Rotting Christ, Samael, and Finntroll.

And we’d wager that most of you have never heard of them. Until earlier this week, we hadn’t either. But this band shows all the seismic signs of an impending Vesuvius-sized eruption onto the scene — and based on the band’s output to date, it would be well-deserved.

If you like technically immaculate, headbangingly compulsive, Scandinavian-style melodic death metal played at autobahn speed, stay with us after the jump. Among other things, we’ll stream all four tracks from that EP and we’ll show you how to download a cut from Nothnegal’s forthcoming debut album. Continue reading »

May 272010
 

More than a month has passed since we posted our last update about the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, and we figured it was time to check in again.

Since our last update, Exodus, Forbidden, and Testament have signed on. That’s a heavyweight injection of Bay Area thrash into this floating festival (we’ll give you the complete current line-up of 18 bands after the jump). Plus, in related news, the Swedes have gotten in on the act by putting together their own metal cruise (more on that after the jump too).

If you don’t know what this cruise is, we’ll fill you in: The organizers have chartered a cruise ship (Royal Caribbean’s “Majesty of the Seas”) capable of carrying 40 metal bands (which means they’re still targeting 22 more bands to fill out the line-up) and 2,000 fans, departing Miami on January 24, 2011 for a 5-day, 4-night cruise in the Caribbean, including a stop at the Mexican island of Cozumel.

The 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise has got great potential — both good and bad. It could be a truly awesome experience. It could also be a clusterfuck of cosmic proportions. And there’s no way to know which it will be until that cruise ship limps back into port, probably on fire, at the end of the voyage.

We’ve got some thoughts about what could make it orgasmically good, and what could make it suck big-time. But we’d bet the farm that unless Royal Caribbean is run by metalheads (not likely), they have no fucking idea what they’re about to get themselves into, and that increases the risk of suckage.  (more thoughts, and other related stuff, after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Apr 232010
 

On the night of April 21, The Finnish Metal Tour 2010 played Seattle’s El Corazon, and two of your NCS Co-Authors were there to bear witness and file this report — along with a big batch of our amateurish photos.

With the likes of Finntroll, Moonsorrow, and Swallow the Sun on the bill, we expected nothing less than excellence on stage, and that’s what we got. Which brings to mind a question we’ve had before:

How does a country with only 5.4 million people produce so many awesome metal bands? We still don’t know the answer. But whatever the explanation, here’s hoping it doesn’t stop. Judging by the reaction of the full house at El Corazon, we’re not alone in feeling that way.

Before the procession of Finns took the stage, two local bands got the growing crowd nice and warmed up.

BLOOD AND THUNDER

This five-piece Seattle band plays Gothenburg-flavored, melodic death metal, driven at a galloping pace by some flashy keyboard and guitar work. They’ve got some good song-writing chops, too. The songs were memorable, and we’ve been drawn to the band’s MySpace page to listen again.

They’re one of those rare bands whose lead vocalist is the guy behind the drum kit, and his evil, death-metal vocals make a nice contrast with the memorable melodies. We were told that the band has finished tracking a debut album, to follow an EP released last year. We definitely want to hear it. A strong start to the night!  (our concert notes continue after the jump, plus lots of photos at the end . . .)

Continue reading »

Apr 222010
 

We got caught in a temporal vise. On one side was The Finnish Metal Tour 2010 at El Corazon in Seattle last night. Two of your NCS Co-Authors hit that up, and man, was it awesome! Finntroll (pictured above in one of our photos from last night), Moonsorrow, Swallow the Sun, and two very good local bands (7 Horns 7 Eyes and Blood and Thunder).

Those Finns don’t do half-measures. They all played long and late. We’re not complaining — but let’s just say it was the wee hours of the morning before we hit the rack. That’s one side of the temporal vise. And on the other side? The fucking day job. And the time in between the two just got squeezed down into a wafer-thin layer of almost nothingness. Certainly not enough time to finish messing with all the photos we took or to write our reactions to what we saw and heard.

So, to tide you over until tomorrow, when we can post our review and a batch of photos, we’re doing this: After the jump, we’ll post one photo from each of the Finnish band’s sets last night plus one album track to stream of a song from each of those sets. So, you’ll get songs from Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, and Finntroll to hear as you gaze at the photos — and imagine just how ridiculously good this concert was.  (all that, after the jump . . .) Continue reading »