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.

 

BEFORE THE DAWNBITTER END (PLACEBO COVER)

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 »

Dec 292011
 

(Andy Synn provides an unexpected SYNN REPORT, seizing upon the imminent calendar change to discuss the re-recording of 12 songs by 12 tremendous bands — and of course we’re including the music, which means 24 tracks. Fuck, this would be a mixtape that KILLS.)

So here it is, a surprise Synn Report to finish off the year. Arbitrary though the distinction may well be, the end of the year provides a perfect excuse to attend to a similar theme, the transition from the old to the new – re-workings and re-recordings.

Are they better? That’s an argument for the ages? Are they necessary? Hell, that’s probably an even worse argument to start up…

Primarily, re-recordings serve a twofold purpose – 1. to reinvigorate songs that might otherwise not be getting the set-time they deserve, and 2. – to royally piss off a band’s fan-base. Although there’s a chance that the second isn’t entirely intentional. Still, the re-recorded album courts controversy like almost no other, whether it’s a varied collection of songs that are chosen to receive the treatment, or a full re-recording of an entire album.

The full re-recording of an entire album is clearly the most contentious option, while single track re-recordings are often a much more successful and welcome proposition, most often appearing as b-sides and bonus tracks for the avid collector. The full-album re-recording, however, remains exceptionally and unequivocally divisive, alienating as many old fans as it attracts new ones.

So here’s a list of some of those renewed tracks that I think definitely have something to offer the listener, both old and new. I’m sure I’ll have to turn in my kvlt card after this, for promoting something so new and shiny, but ah well… Continue reading »

Oct 072011
 

Free song downloads are good. They are better than simply getting the chance to stream a new song, which requires you to be hooked up to your computer or some other device with a solid net connection. They sound better when you play them back, and you can carry them around with you so you can listen while you’re out and about doing whatever scintillating things you do while out and about, or even when you’re parked on the throne in the midst of an eye-watering bowel evacuation.

Yesterday I discovered three free song downloads from bands we like around here: Hypocrisy (Sweden), Graveworm (Italy), and Immolation (U.S.). The songs? We like them, too. Quite a lot, in fact. And the Immolation offering was a very pleasant surprise — while only one song was promised, the download link provides an entire EP of music, and it happens to be one of the best death metal releases of the year.

HYPOCRISY

On October 21, Nuclear Blast will release a new DVD/CD combo from Hypocrisy called Hell Over Sofia – 20 Years of Chaos and Confusion. The disc will contain film of the band’s February 27, 2010 concert at the Blue Box club in Sofia, Bulgaria — which Hypocrisy called “one of our best shows ever in our history” — as well as a 90-minite documentary about the band’s 20-year history. Yesterday, Nuclear Blast made available for free download (at this location) one of the live performance tracks — “Roswell 47”, from the band’s 1996 album, Abducted. Continue reading »

Sep 072011
 

Here’s another daily round-up of news and new music that I noticed today. All of these items perked me right up, so I thought I’d share them.

THY CATAFALQUE

Compared to other metal blogs, we’re late to the Thy Catafalque party, but we’re making up for lost time because the unique music of this Hungarian band has been a cool discovery (you can see our first post about them here).  We knew that the band had recently signed with the dependable Season of Mist label, but this morning we got a message from Tamás Kátai with further details.

Specifically, the band seems to have finished 60 minutes worth of new music (10 songs) that will be released on November 11 in Europe and on January 10, 2012 in North America. It will be entitled Rengeteg, and you can see the cover art up above, which is the result of a collaboration between Tamás and Portuguese photographer Ruy Luz. The art seems connected to the meaning of the album’s title, which is an obsolete Hungarian word referring to a vast, trackless forest. We’ll be all ears when this album becomes available for listening.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 192009
 

wacken10smallVans WarpedYesterday, NCS Co-Author IntoTheDarkness posted a piece on the brutality of German extreme metal bands. In an episode of synchronicity, this morning I saw three news updates about festivals scheduled for 2010 — one in the U.S. and two in Germany. And the comparison speaks volumes. On the one hand, we have the 2010 Vans Warped Tour spreading across the US next summer like a brain-sucking plague. On that tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see such stupifyingly awful bands as Attack! Attack!, Breathe Carolina, and Eyes Set to Kill. There are a few saving graces on the tour — Parkway Drive, Suicide Silence, and Whitechapel. But suffering through the rest of the 67-band lineup for the opportunity to see those dudes would be worse than a garden-hose colonoscopy without anesthesia.

SUMMER_BREEZE_2010On the other hand, next year in Germany we’ll have the latest installments of (a) the Summer Breeze festival scheduled for August 19-21 in Dinkelsbühl; and (b) the Wacken Open Air festival scheduled for August 5-7 in (where else) Wacken, Germany. At Summer Breeze, you could see the likes of Asphyx, Barren Earth, Behemoth, Dark Tranquillity, Despised Icon, Dying Fetus, Hypocrisy, Necrophagist, Obituary, Sepultura, Swallow the Sun, The Crown, and Maroon. And Wacken Open Air will feature bands such as Amorphis, Arch Enemy, Caliban, Immortal, Iron Maiden, and Slayer.

What’s really mind-blowing about the contrast is that those German festivals, each spread over just a few days in a single location, will draw tens of thousands (e.g., 70,000 tickets were sold for the 2009 edition of Wacken Open Air more than 200 days in advance). To get that kind of attendance in the U.S. for metal, you apparently need to have a line-up of largely craptastic bands and a schedule of about 40 dates in 40 cities.

To be fair, the German festivals draw crowds from all over Europe, and the U.S. does have some legitimately extreme festivals that are drawing headbangers in increasing numbers (the Maryland Deathfest, now in its 8th year, comes to mind most prominently). But still, so far, it’s no contest.

For full lists of the bands scheduled to date for these 3 tours, continue reading after the jump.

Continue reading »

Nov 232009
 

Top 40 Hits

A couple days ago, we reported on Decibel magazine’s (premature) publication of its “Top 40 Extreme Albums of 2009” and gave you the list of 40.  Many more “Best of 2009” metal lists will soon be appearing on the netz and the newsstands.  Why do people create these kinds of lists and why do we read them?  Music is a matter of personal taste.  These lists represent the personal tastes of particular critics and fans, no more or less valid than my favorites or yours.  So what’s the fucking point?  I’m not sure there is a fucking point, but I’ll make a stab at it. Continue reading »