Jan 032012

This is Part 9 of our list of the most infectious extreme metal songs released this year. Each day until the list is finished, I’m posting two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the Introduction via this link. To see the selections that preceded this one, click the Category link on the right side of the page called MOST INFECTIOUS SONGS-2011.

Today’s pairing of songs will seem like an odd decision to some people. Oh fuck, who am I kidding — it will seem like an odd pairing to almost everyone. But have a little faith. Yes, the songs contrast greatly with each other, but I think they sound great together, too, when played back to back. Obviously, I also think they’re both really infectious. Also, the names of both bands begin with the same three letters, so that counts, too. Doesn’t it?


German’s Infestus began life as a three-man band, but by the time Debemur Morti released the band’s latest album E x | I s t, Infestus had become the solo project of one very talented multi-instrumentalist named Andras. In addition to writing and performing everything on the album, Andras also recorded and mixed the music as well. The sound is clear and sharp; you can hear the contribution of every instrument, though the instruments (particularly the guitars) are often so layered that it takes multiple listens to appreciate how much thought went into the mix in order to produce the overall effect.

To steal from my own review of the album, it’s “complex, sophisticated, brilliantly composed and performed, often beautiful but always powerful, a totally engrossing and immersive listening experience” — one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard this year.  Yes, I said it — it’s black metal, but for those of you who’ve already started wrinkling your noses and rolling your eyes at the thought of another one-man BM project, bear with me. 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 »

Dec 162011

(This is the last installment in Andy Synn’s week-long series of posts looking back at albums released this year. Andy previously provided his lists of the year’s Great albumsthe Good ones, and the most Disappointing ones, as well as his list of “The Critical Top 10″. For more explanation of what all this means, plus Andy’s picks for the year’s best EPs, visit this location.)

So here we are, the last list of Andy Synn Week (maybe not the official title, but give me something here guys). Here you will find the ten albums that have made the biggest impact on me personally, the ones which make the most frequent appearance on my playlist. Rarely a day goes by without me listening to at least one of these albums, often several times.

You will note that, in contrast to last year, all my favourite albums this year are drawn from my “Great” list. For once, this is definitely coincidental; it just so happens that as I was paring down my overall list of favourite albums to a mere ten entries, I was left solely with albums that I believe are personally, as well as critically, my absolute favourites. It also covers a whole spectrum of albums, some released right back at the very beginning of the year, reaching all the way up to extremely recent releases, so it also serves as a reasonably comprehensive list in terms of the time-frame it covers!

There’s some minor cross-over with yesterday’s list, as some albums were always bound to be both critically and personally fulfilling, but largely you’ll find here a cross-section of my musical preferences from the year. Each album comes with a short explanation of why I love it; not necessarily why it’s the “Best” album of the year, but just why it clicks with me personally. Continue reading »

Nov 152011

My blogging time still being restricted, I’m just gonna hit you quickly with the following three items and then run away back to cloudland. What I have are new songs from Coldworker (Sweden), Mordbrand (Sweden again), and Zillah (Scotland).


I’ve been a fan of Coldworker since their early days. Both albums they’ve released to date — The Contaminated Void (2006) and Rotting Paradise (2008) — are worth your time if you like extreme trauma in your music. Featuring former members of Nasum, Relentless, Ruin, and Phobos, they play a violent amalgamation of grind and death metal.

In August, they signed with Listenable Records, which will be releasing their third album, The Doomsayer’s Call, on February 13, 2012. The cover art, which you can see above, is by the masterful Pär Olofsson (not his usual style, but still quite cool). Yesterday, they released the first song from the album. It’s called “Violent Society”. It will tear you a new one but leave you smiling as you bleed out. Give it a listen after the jump. Continue reading »

Nov 072011

(Andy Synn ventures outside his usual meat and potatoes with this one. I’m not objective, of course, but this post includes many observations that ring true to me, and maybe will to you as well. Also, this post includes a heavy cargo of highly-worth-watching videos.)

I’ve been looking at doing some shorter pieces on various topics for a while now, spreading myself a little more widely and letting the material do most of the talking for me, and Islander’s sabbatical seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.

So I wanted to bring your attention to a couple of music videos which you may have overlooked, and highlight why I like them and what I think makes them a good example of the video “art-form”. Equally, however, the success (relative or otherwise) of these videos highlights some of the regrettably common failures of most metal videos!

Now bear in mind that most metal videos are a missed opportunity. I’m a fan of a good solid performance video, this is true, be it live footage (purpose-shot or amalgamated) or the traditional warehouse/barren-field performance, as long as it gives you a sense of the intensity and power of a band really getting into their music and their instruments. However, this is where most of them fall down, simply giving us a general shot of “hey look, this is what we look like when we’re playing” rather than any sort of “feel” for the intensity of the experience. And I’m not saying this is easy, far from it.

I do, however, want to highlight the issue that for so many bands (and most recently I’m looking at the plethora of metalcore/deathcore/djent bands) videos become merely a case of being SEEN without actually SAYING anything with the opportunity they’ve been given. Just because you’re moving/jumping/posing does not mean you’re coming across as doing anything more than singing into a hair-brush in front of the mirror.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jun 202011

Surely, I’ve done stupider things here at NCS than I’m about to do, though I can’t remember when.

So, in catching up with metal news this morning, I found a whole bunch of shit that peaked my interest. To decide whether it was all worth sharing with you, I needed to listen to some music. I reached for my trusty iPod to get the earbuds and plug them into my laptop, and . . . no fucking iPod. No fucking earbuds.

I’m in Texas visiting my mother and brother, and I think I left my iPod at my mom’s place yesterday, but at the moment I’m earless (and my hearing is too shot to make out very much from the tinny, crappy little speakers on my laptop). But I decided, fuckit, I’m going to share the items I’ve found with you even though I haven’t heard most of them. Maybe you’ll tell me whether it was worthwhile.

Here’s the line-up: Chimaira has debuted two new songs from The Age of Hell album, which is due for release in late August by Long Branch Records in Europe and eOne Music in NorthAm. One is streaming exclusively at MetalSucks (here) and one at Revolver (here). You can buy both of them at iTunes right now. As I said, I haven’t heard them, though I’m a Chimaira fan. I hope they’re good. I bet they will be. If you haven’t already heard, the new Chimaira line-up includes two of the dudes from DaathEmil Werstler (on bass!) and Sean Z. (on keyboards!).

After the jump . . . performance videos from Mayhem and At the Gates at festivals this past weekend, plus news about full-album streams from In Flames and The Devin Townsend Project. Continue reading »

Jun 062011

(NCS writer Andy Synn reviews the forthcoming album by In Flames in detail.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I began listening to Sounds Of A Playground Fading with a sense of cautious optimism, tempered by the reluctant pessimism one might expect after the woeful quality of In Flames’ last album. Optimistic I was, as the songs I’d previewed (in full or in part) already had demonstrated clearly that the vocals and guitars at least sounded better, fuller, more nuanced, than on their previous record, but pessimistic I remained, as the last record also demonstrated how easily and quickly the band can squander any promise they may have shown.

I’ve been a huge fan of In Flames for almost as long as I’ve loved metal; although I’m perhaps not elitist enough to claim that their early material is always their best (both Lunar Strain and Subterranean are good records yes, but don’t click with me as much due to their more primitive origins), I do acknowledge the (mostly) undisputed classic status of their pre-millennial works. I love The Jester Race, Whoracle, Colony and Clayman. I love Reroute To Remain due to its great songs and despite (and perhaps because of) its flawed nature.

Soundtrack To Your Escape is a good album, with some good songs, but it’s not necessarily an In Flames album in many ways. Its identity is confused and conflicted. Come Clarity is a brilliant record with particularly great highs but an occasionally frustrating sense of treading water. A Sense Of Purpose is an awful, unfocussed mess that puts the lie to its own title. Lacking any breadth or depth, the songs rarely develop naturally, with little or no room to breathe. So as of yet, it seemed that the new, post-millennial identity of In Flames, their modern sense of purpose, remained nebulous and undefined.

With Sounds Of A Playground Fading, In Flames have arguably (and finally) entered a post-modern phase of existence, something that has been coming for a long time. They are no longer the same entity they once were, that’s for certain, but they have made confident steps to define their new identity with this release. Some key elements remain/have returned, in particular the liquid, soaring solo sections which have regained welcome prominence, but more than anything the band have finally fully committed to making their new sound just as good as their old sound, instead of dwelling on simply being adequate. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

May 192011

We’ve already featured the first song — “Deliver Us” — from the new album by In Flames, Sounds of A Playground Fading, and pronounced it a noticeable step up from the disappointments on A Sense of Purpose (that post is here).  It’s a damned catchy song with better vocals by Anders than he delivered on AOP. No, it’s not a return to the glory days of Clayman, but this band has been there, done that, and have moved on, whether diehard fans like us approve or not. At least “Deliver Us” provides some hope for a better version of the current In Flames than ASOP.

This morning we saw the official video for “Deliver Us” and it’s a very tasty piece of eye candy — beautifully filmed, with striking images of a shining ferris wheel at night and fireworks blazing in the sky — and the band members blazing away on their instruments inside the ferris wheel cars. I’ll leave the connection between the imagery and the song’s lyrics to other cinematics. I’ll just say it’s fun to watch (and that song continues to grow on us).  See it after the jump (you might want to take this one to full-screen if you can) . . . Continue reading »

May 072011

Okay, that could be interpreted as kind of a sarcastic post title. But I didn’t really mean it the way you think. You’ll see — it’s a play on words.

I actually am faithful to In Flames. They were my gateway to extreme metal, years ago. Here at NCS, we weren’t terribly thrilled with their last album, but that hasn’t stopped us from getting up for the new one, Sounds of A Playground Fading, which will be released between June 17 and June 24, depending on where you live.

Yesterday, Century Media released the first single from the album in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, and it will be available for purchase on iTunes and elsewhere in North America on May 10. It’s called “Deliver Us”, and of course the thing is already up on YouTube — which means it’s now on our site (after the jump).

The days of Whoracle and Clayman are of course long gone — “Deliver Us” doesn’t constitute a revival of that style. But I do like the track. Quite melodic, of course, with pulsing keyboards in the mix and a catchy main riff. Clean singing in the chorus, of course, but the chorus is staying in our heads. I’m finding this a step up from the last album. What do you think? (Hear the song after the jump.) Continue reading »

Apr 022011

Technically, we should have posted this yesterday, but yesterday was April Fool’s Day, and people might have thought we were making up some of this shit. But it’s all true, and nothing happens on April 2 to plant doubt about truth. Except for what causes doubt to be planted about truth on any other day of the year.

Here we are at the beginning of the second quarter of 2011 — the time when for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is supposed to spring.  Where I live, spring has apparently been victimized by a brutal street mugging and is hospitalized at the moment.  A few plants have been deluded into thinking it’s spring, but for the rest of our local world, it’s still fucking winter.

Fortunately, the change of the seasons have fuck all to do with the release of metal. What we do with these installments of METAL IN THE FORGE is collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last 30 days (or in this case, the last 31 days) about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know them yet. And in this post, we cut and paste the announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

This isn’t a cumulative list, so be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming New Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported in previous installments. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. There’s some awesome shit on the way. Dive in after the jump. Continue reading »