Apr 302013

When I intend to listen to an album with the thought of reviewing it, I usually avoid reading other reviews. I want to form my own impressions based solely on the music and pick my own words to describe it; this may explain why my reviews leave so much to be desired. However, I read several reviews of Ghost’s new album Infestissumam before hearing it, because I wasn’t thinking about reviewing it for this site. After all, the music is barely metal, if it’s metal at all. Also, it has actual singing in it.

The reviews I read weren’t in mainstream publications or on mainstream sites, though Infestissimum has been reviewed in plenty of those places. I was reading reviews on metal blogs. I couldn’t help but notice that even most of the positive reviews had a defensive or apologetic tone, a kind of “they’re good for what they do, as long as you’re not expecting X, Y, or Z”. And the negative reviews panned the album for not having enough X, Y, or Z — whatever the reviewer was demanding but couldn’t find in the music, such as heaviness or gripping riffs.

Some of the negative reviews came from people who seemed to really like Ghost’s first album, Opus Eponymous. This later puzzled me after I listened to Infestissimum, because it’s not like the band made some kind of radical course change without putting on the turn signal.  I don’t think it’s different enough from the first album to turn praise into a pan.

I began to have a sneaking suspicion that Ghost had become the victim of a combination of two things that don’t go over very well here in the underground: success and gimmickry. Continue reading »

Mar 302013

On this lazy Saturday morning, I found these items of interest while surfing the waves of our metallic ocean.


I’m still having trouble typing “Ghost B.C.” instead of “Ghost”. And as if legal problems with their original name weren’t enough bullshit to endure, this Swedish band seem to have encountered fresh new bullshit in getting the CDs produced for their new album, Infestissumam.

According to Spin.com, release of the album has been delayed from April 9 to April 16 because four different U.S. compact disc manufacturers have refused to print a piece of artwork (shown above) that was destined for the deluxe version of the album. More from Spin.com:

“We kept on getting turned down because of the CD art, which is basically a 16th century illustration of an orgy,” a source close to the band told SPIN. The NSFW illustration, inspired by the work of Gustave Dore, showcases what looks like a forest nymph orgy, but it’s the religious iconography at the top that convinced manufacturers to turn off the printing press. Continue reading »

Mar 252013

The Nameless Ghouls in Sweden’s Ghost B.C. have jealously guarded their true identities, which makes it so surprising that without much fanfare they’ve now revealed them for all the world to see.

Earlier this month the band released a track named “Year Zero” from their forthcoming second album Infestissumam (Latin for “hostile”), which is due for release on April 9. Today they premiered an official video for the same song. Apart from cryptic images of children, the main action consists of a group of women of different ages assembling for a visit by their lord and master and a light repast of raw steak, grapes, and goblets of wine.

All of this proves to be simply spiritual and material nourishment in preparation for donning the costumery of Ghost B.C. and finishing off the track in the garb to which we Ghost fans have become accustomed.

So there you have it. Secrets revealed. And that’s not all that’s revealed: we get to see the band members buck nekkid when they change clothes. Which means this video is NSFW. Continue reading »

Feb 042013

The purpose of this post is to provide info about two tours announced today. The first is Haze Over North America, headlined by the mysterious Swedes in Ghost, with support from a west coast trio known as Ides of Gemini. The month-long run will commence on April 18 in Denver and continue through May 18 in Pittsburgh.

I know all I need to know about Ghost. Though not an immediate fan, I grew to become one on the strength of two live shows I saw in Seattle. Yessir, I will definitely line up to see these guys again. I’m less sure about Ides of Gemini. They released a well-reviewed album of “ethereal doom” last year named Constantinople. I’m going to stream a Scion A/V-sponsored video after the jump and come back and watch it a bit later.

The second tour is certainly more clearly in my own personal wheelhouse. It’s a spring U.S. tour by Virginia’s Inter Arma (whose new album was the subject of an NCS feature just this past weekend) and NY-based Mutilation Rites — and I dig them, too..

I’m very happy to report that both tours will stop in Seattle. I know you were extremely curious about that since it’s an issue that directly affects my own happiness. Both schedules are after the jump . . . along with that video from the Constantinople album. Continue reading »

Dec 162012

From me to you, new things discovered today . . .


I became an acolyte of Ghost after witnessing their live ritual twice in the last year. The music was already growing on me before those shows, but they sealed the deal.

Now we have a new Ghost song and a new live video performance of the song to go with it. Ghost began rolling out the song on-line, one recording track after another, and now the entire song is available for listening — and it’s also a free download.

“Secular Haze” has the rhythm of a waltz and fancifully begins and ends with the sound of a calliope. Like so many of the band’s songs, it’s poppy and catchy, and yet moments of ominous tension find their way into the melody. The song didn’t grab me as fast as some of the tracks on Opus Eponymous, but by the third listen I was hooked.

To hear the song and get it for free, go to this location and enter your e-mail address. You’ll then receive a download link by e-mail. To watch the new video, continue on past the jump. Continue reading »

Jun 012012

I’ve been doing actual paying work all morning. I took a break not long ago and cast my baleful eye around the interhole and my NCS e-mail box to see what there was to see and hear. And these are things I thought worth passing on.

First, that cover you see above is for a tribute album to Emperor called In Honour of Icon E, which will be released on June 25 by Metal Swamp. It’s a very nice piece of art, created by Wolkogniv of Folkingrimm Art.

It also looks like it will be a very nice album, with Emperor covers by the likes of Demonical, Helheim, Horna, Taake, and Setherial. I’ll give you the full tracklist rundown after the jump, but the news for today is that the album has gone up on Amqzon for pre-order, which means you can hear snippets of each song here. Continue reading »

May 022012

On Monday night, April 30, 2012, a group of friends and I eagerly made our way into Showbox SoDo in Seattle to watch and hear Opeth, Mastodon, and Ghost. By the end of the night, we all agreed that it had been an excellent show from start to finish. The acoustics and sound quality in this venue were superb, and each band was firing on all cylinders.

I brought my Samsung TL500 camera with me, which in my clumsy, untrained hands is still more of a mystery than a comfortable tool. Nevertheless, I took pictures of each band — though not for long, because I wanted to immerse myself in the sights and sounds rather than fuck around with the camera. But the damned thing is nearly idiot-proof, and I got some decent pics, considering who took them. The best ones decorate this post.  You can imagine how bad the others look.  But first, a few notes about the performances.


I saw this Swedish band a few months ago in a smaller venue, and this performance was virtually a carbon copy of the previous one — except this time I didn’t get to hear them play their cover of “Here Comes the Sun”. After that earlier show, half-drunk and fully delirious, I posted a status on our FB page that to this day has received more “likes” than any of our notices about NCS content: “Any band who can make ‘Here Comes the Sun’ sound evil deserves a blowjob.”

That’s really Ghost’s trick in a nutshell: They write and perform these really catchy, quasi-psychedelic pop-rock songs that would have been right at home when Flower Power was king (except with a heavier low end), yet make them sound infernal. Their costumes and stage presence and the lighting really underscore that satanic aura in a live setting. The visual display is just a kick in the ass to watch. But make no mistake — whoever these dudes are, they are talented musicians, and the Pope has a killer set of pipes.

I don’t know how many people in this packed audience knew what Ghost was about before this show, but I heard lots of grinning metalheads talking about them throughout the night. Continue reading »

Jan 222012

I’ve been catching up on metal news today and came across news of three upcoming U.S. tours that are . . . newsworthy, to say the least.

I’m guessing this first one will be old news to many of you, since it surfaced on Friday, but it has sure produced some tumescence in your humble editor’s loins today. BehemothWatainThe Devil’s Blood, and In Solitude will be hitting the road for The Decibel Magazine Tour, a 26-date trail of wreckage across the U.S. starting in April. It will be the first Behemoth tour for Nergal since being diagnosed with and beating leukemia. That’s a cool tour flyer by Justin Bartlett up there, too.

More details, including tour dates, venues and ticket info, will be announced at www.decibelmagazinetour.com on January 24th.

But that’s just for starters. Mastodon’s Troy Sanders recently confirmed that his band plus Opeth and Ghost will be embarking on a North American tour of their own. During a recent interview at a Belgian radio station, Sanders stated: “We go to Australia to take part in the Soundwave Festival, which is going to be lovely, take a short break. Do a North American tour with Opeth and Ghost. And then take another break and come back over here for the European festival season.”

I have a feeling a few people will buy tickets for that tour. No further details are available at this time. (found this news via Loudwire)

And that’s not all. Would you believe a 30-date tour of the U.S. this summer by Agalloch?!? Continue reading »

Nov 062011

Record Label: Rise Above/Metal Blade | Year: 2010/2011 | Genre: Hard Rock

By Willard Shrapnelspear

Death Cab For Cutie is one band you will never dream of mentioning in an album review about a band under a record label like Metal Blade, and one that was even featured on the June cover of extreme metal magazine, Decibel, earlier this year. However, I am about to accomplish the unthinkable: When this album’s opening instrumental track, “Deus Culpa”, started off with tranquil synths, I had to double-check that I was not playing Death Cab For Cutie’s Plans album by mistake. It simply sounds so similar to the introduction of “Marching Bands Of Manhattan”!

Continue reading »