Mar 282011

For me, In Flames is a special band. They were one of my “gateways” to extreme metal. My NCS co-founders and I have seen them many times live, and we’ve always gotten a charge out of their shows. We’ve also met and talked with the band, and they are kind-hearted people who don’t come across as egotists, despite their global success. And on top of all that, I’m still a big fan of the music.

But to be brutally honest, I’ve become less of a fan as time has passed. I know some of you, maybe many of you, feel the same way. There is a vast distance between Clayman and A Sense of Purpose. Hell, there’s some real distance between Come Clarity and A Sense of Purpose.

Based on a news item from earlier today, I’m getting an uneasy feeling that the distance is going to increase even more when the next In Flames album, Sounds Of A Playground Fading, hits the streets in June. Yes, we now have specific worldwide release dates. We also have the news that In Flames is now signed to Century Media. 

And we have comments like this from Anders Fridén in a recent interview: “[One] song begins with a spoken-word part that evolves into a kind of hard DEPECHE MODE-type thing.”  Gulp.  (more after the jump . . .)
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Dec 012010

November is now in our rear-view mirror. December lies ahead of us: A perfectly good stretch of road marred by the speed bumps of the cataclysm that is Christmas. And on the other side of those speed bumps is the end of the year – the roadkill that is New Year’s Eve. And you know what the run-up to year-end brings — year-end lists. It’s already started, but the coming weeks will bring us a slew of Best of 2010 album lists. We’ll probably do our own Best of 2010 list — not the best albums of the year, but, as we did last year, the most infectious extreme metal songs of the year.

But we’re not quite ready to launch that list. Instead, we’re looking off into the future, not backward at the music that’s rattled our skulls over the past year. Yes, it’s time for another monthly installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, in which we cobble together a list of forthcoming new albums, cribbing like rag-gatherers and lint-pickers from PR releases and metal news sites like Blabbermouth in order to construct a line-up of new music that we’re interested in hearing.

All of our previous monthly updates can be found via the “Forthcoming Albums” category link on the right side of our pages, and because we’re not keeping a cumulative list, you might want to check the last couple months of these posts if you want to get a full picture of what’s coming. The list that follows, in alphabetical order, are albums we didn’t know about at the time of our last installment, or updated info about albums we’d previously heard were on the way. After the jump, of course . . .

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Nov 172010

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Our temporarily Australian correspondent The Artist Formerly Known As Dan has another list for you today. He left out a few activities. We sure hope the comments fill in the holes . . .]

If you are like me (read: a nerd) then you tend to categorize everything, especially music.  Whenever I hear something new, I’m very quick to make a judgement about the overall sound and what type of music it is. Only, I’m not filtering it into one of those sub-genres that are constantly argued about on the internet. I’m thinking about if I like the music enough to listen to it again. If the answer is yes, then I think about when I would listen to the music again, and what the associated activity might be (don’t ask me how or why I do this – I probably have a problem).

Anyway, the point is, I think about music as something to augment my life and its associated activities, like some kind of bizarre “soundtrack to life.” For example, I really really enjoy gaming to Dagoba. I’m not positive how it started, but I think I was playing Guild Wars and I played the entirety of Face the Colossus and it was just fucking awesome.

This post is mostly meant to stimulate discussion, so what is your favorite music to xxxxx to?  I’ll list some examples below of some activities and what I like to hear while doing them.  (after the jump . . . including music to hear) Continue reading »

Sep 092010

Do you remember the first time you listened to extreme metal — of any genre? Do you remember which band it was? I bet you do. I know I do.

For me, in terms of my musical tastes, it was like I was traveling on a train and someone flipped a switch without warning and shunted the car onto a side track that headed off at a sharp angle into an entirely different landscape. The band that flipped the switch for me was In Flames. It could have been some other band, because it was a pretty random experience, but that’s who it was.

The music was so different from anything else I’d heard. It was like I’d unwittingly reached out and grabbed a live power line — it sent a current bolting through and just torched my head. I wouldn’t have been surprised if my hair had started smoking. That combination of fast, powerful aggression with harsh vocals and catchy, melodic hooks was completely arresting. I went off down that side track and never came back to the main line.

Since then, I’ve gotten into other kinds of music that’s more extreme than In Flames — certainly more extreme than what In Flames has become in recent years — but probably because of that first experience, melodic death metal is still what grabs me the hardest, and when I hear it done right, it still gets me charged up like nothing else.

Last week I listened to the latest album from a Parisian band called Fractal Gates, and it reminded me of what I felt the first time I listen to In Flames — not because Fractal Gates is an In Flames knock-off, but because they’ve succeeded so well in combining dark, threatening power with soaring melodies to produce a galvanizing result.  (more after the jump, including a song to hear, and some very interesting album art . . .) Continue reading »

Aug 112010

The human brain, if left to its own devices without a lot of external distractions or things to focus on, and if not previously saturated with intoxicants, will jump around from place to place in all sorts of unpredictable ways. That’s kind of what happened to me and my tiny brain last night. Except I was mildly intoxicated. By the end of this post, you may think I’m still intoxicated.

It all started with a fan-filmed video of a U.K./Australian band called Pendulum playing a song called “Self Versus Self” on stage at the U.K. edition of the Sonisphere festival, which took place on July 30 – August 1. I’d never heard of Pendulum. They’re not a metal band. According to the Blabbermouth blurb that featured this video, they’re a drum-and-bass band.

What caught my eye was that, according to the blurb, Anders Fridén of In Flames joined Pendulum on stage for the  performance of that song.

As it happens, all of us here at NCS are big In Flames fans.  We’re still fans despite the slagging the band has suffered from some In Flames purists over the musical direction of their last few albums. So, I decided to watch the video, while at the same time wondering, “What the fuck is Anders Fridén doing on stage with this Pendulum band?”

The quality of the video isn’t that great, but I liked the song. So, after a little research, I found out that the song is on a Pendulum album released earlier this year called Immersion — and it turns out that In Flames recorded the song with Pendulum. Which led to another “what the fuck?” moment.

We’re clearly late to this party, because we discovered that lots of other metal blogs tumbled to this strange collaboration months ago. So we’re not just a little late to the party, we’re the kind of late where you show up and all that’s left is a bunch of people passed out in their own piss. But hey, better late than never, right?  (more unpredictable jumping around, including video and music, after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Feb 132010

Your NCS Authors have been devoted fans of In Flames for a very long  time. We’ve seen their live shows in the Northwest every chance we get, we’ve met the band, we dig the music. So we were kinda stunned to see the news that guitarist Jesper Strömblad, who founded the group in 1993, has announced his departure:

“I have decided it is best for me to leave In Flames and to quit the band permanently. The last 17 years have been a blast, and I am proud to have been part of this great journey, with the most talented and amazing people anyone can wish to have the privilege to work with. I’m also the luckiest guy in the world, to have the BEST fans in the world, who have been supporting me during my difficult times. It means the world to me, and I’m determined to fight and defeat my demons once and for all…. and by the help from you guys, I’m on my way. I’m far from done with music, metal, or whatever my direction is taking me, so be sure to hear from me in the future.”

The remaining members of the group had the following to say:

“We are losing a great guitar player and musician, but in order to keep a very dear friend this is probably for the best. If this feels right for Jesper we are behind him 100% on his decision. It is way too early to speculate about the future and possible replacements and things like that. However, we can assure you that In Flames will continue as a band, release albums and tour the World. The door to In Flames is always open to Jesper. We are, and will always be behind Jesper 100% on his way to recovery.”

Jesper has been in rehab for alcohol abuse for the last year, though his appearance playing live with the band in December (see the video we posted here) lifted our hopes that he was headed for a comeback. All we can say now is, SHIT! This is a major league bummer.

Dec 132009

in flames

Swedish melodic death metal pioneers In Flames will always hold a special place in my heart.  They were my introduction to extreme metal, and though their music has become poppier over the years, I still love what they do.  I’ve been lucky enough to see them play in the Northwest on three occasions and to meet the guys in person on one of those tours (and they’re about as nice and unpretentious a group of dudes as you could hope to meet).

Guitarist Jesper Strömblad is one of the founders and the only remaining original member of the band. So it was with some trepidation that I read in February of this year that he’d checked himself into a rehab clinic to get treatment for alcohol abuse and would therefore miss the band’s Australia/SouthAmerica/Japan tour. A significant and positive step for Jesper, but one that raised some questions about how it would affect the future of In Flames.  In March, drummer Björn Gelotte gave an interview in which he had this to say about the situation:

“Well, as with every problem of this kind, it’s not something that you want to tell everybody. It is something that you are sort of embarrassed about, but we’ve been living around this problem now for many many years. The thing is that with something like this you can’t really force anybody to go to the doctor or to feel better. You have to wait until this person realizes that himself. And what happened is that it got to be too much and he had a breakdown and he realized when his body said, “This is it.” He had to go and get medication, get some treatment and lock himself in for a couple of weeks and take it easy and take care of himself. And this is the only way of waking up, I think. I don’t know how it is with other abuses, but with this one — it’s kind of embarrassing. It’s tough for him to realize it, but when he finally did it, now he’s doing something about it. But it takes time to get back.”

I hadn’t heard much more about this situation until today, when I saw a story that really brightened up my Sunday morning.   Continue reading »

Nov 232009

So you all have probably read some things by the author islander, but there’s a new girl in town! I’ll be writing about the music I love and things I’m passionate about. Here is the music I love Continue reading »