Jul 252010

Time for another installment of this Twitter-ish log in which I presume you’re interested in how I spent my morning, skipping over such vital details as what I ate for breakfast, what I’m wearing, and where my cat is licking himself right now.

Have no fear, this is just a log of the metal I listened to and watched in my latest internet browsing session — following up on press releases, MySpace add requests, and e-mail recommendations, and just some general fucking around. In all cases (with one exception), I had no previous exposure to the bands, and so no real clue whether what I found would be good, bad, or indifferent.

So, here’s what I did, in order of doing it, with no filtering and no guarantees that any of this will be worth your time — though I’m guessing most of what I found will be as new to you as it was to me. The bands I checked out are: Hellish Outcast (Norway); Citi (California); Episode 13 (Turkey); Darkness Dynamite (France); The Forrest Gump Mile High Marathon (Mars); and the one exception mentioned above, Bloodbath (Sweden).


I started off by exploring the music of Hellish Outcast, which is from that historical hot-bed of black metal, Bergen, Norway. We’d received a press release announcing the news that Thebon, frontman for the awesome Keep of Kalessin, would be joining Hellish Outcast as its new vocalist. (Have no fear KOK fans, Thebon hasn’t left that band, he’s just pulling double-duty). And then I found out that one of Hellish Outcast’s founders and its current drummer is Mads Lillevedt, who’s a member of the also-awesome Bergen band Byfrost. (We reviewed the latest albums by KOK and Byfrost here and here.)

That was more than enough incentive to visit the band’s MySpace page (here) and listen to some tunes from their 2008 EP, with the inviting title, Raping – Killing – Murder. And I’ll tell you what I thought — after the jump. Continue reading »

Jun 132010

Lift yourselves from your Sunday morning slumbers and feast your carnivorous ears on the wonders of Keep of Kalessin. We could run off at the mouth with genre labels and call this Norwegian band’s just-released fifth album blackened, paganized, anthemic, proggy, power melodic death metal. Or, we could keep it simple and just call Reptilian dragon metal. You know, simple things for simple people.

Thematically, Keep of Kalessin has always included elements of fantasy and folklore in their music. “Kalessin” itself is the name of the arch-dragon in the wonderful Earthsea trilogy written by Ursula K. Le Guin between 1968 and 1972. But in Reptilian, Keep of Kalessin  have given themselves over entirely to the worship of “claw and fang,” in homage to the imagined reawakening of the “reptilian king of kings.” And musically, the creative fires in the lair of these dragonlords have never burned hotter.

We were first drawn to this album back in April by the announcement of its amazing cover art by Brazilian graphic designer Marcelo Vasco, and we included it in the first installment of our “Eye-Catchers” series. At that point, we had one track from the forthcoming album (“The Awakening”) available to us on the band’s MySpace page, and were bowled over by it. Now, we’ve heard the entire album, and it’s filled to overflowing with draconic treasure.  (more after the jump, including a track for you to hear . . .) Continue reading »

Apr 282010

In our more sentimental, naive moments, we like to think that if you lead a good life, good things will come your way. That’s the first thing we thought last night when we saw the announcement of an incredible tour launching this fall. And then we realized that you could lead the most disgustingly vile life imaginable, and all it would take for you to see this tour would be to live within driving distance of 21 select cities. So, call it random chance if you want to be strictly logical. But since one of those select cities is Seattle, we like to think it’s our reward for being so fucking good.

Feast your glazed, hooded eyes on this international line-up:

EX DEO (Italy)

See what we mean? That’s as strong a line-up from top to bottom as we’ve seen in many moons. It’s metalhead luxury beyond the dreams of avarice. It’s got to be a reward for something, doesn’t it? So for all of you out there who’ve been good, congratulations.  And for all of you who have been disgustingly vile, check out the the list of tour dates after the jump to see if random chance has allowed you to live within driving distance of one of the anointed cities.

It’s really hard to say which of these bands we’re most stoked to see, because they’re all awesome, but Psycroptic is certainly in the running. Those devilish tech-death savants from Tasmania have put out one ass-kickingly brilliant album after another and recently released an awesome live CD/DVD combo called Initiation. So, in honor of this tour’s announcement, we’ll play you a song from that live album (also after the jump . . .)

Continue reading »

Apr 272010

We’re suckers for eye-catching album art.  We’ve found, more often than not, that when the album art is really cool, there’s something worth hearing in the music, too. That’s not based on a statistically valid survey, of course, and it doesn’t make any logical sense. But in our own personal case, it seems to be true.

To test out that hypothesis, we hunted through news items on a recent 48-hour period at Blabbermouth to find eye-catching album art, and then we listened to music from the albums in question.

For example, check out that one above.  Actually, if you’re already on this page, you don’t really have any alternative but to check it out. But it’s pretty fucking cool, isn’t it? It’s the cover to a new album called Reptilian by Norway’s Keep of Kalessin, which will be released n North America on June 8 via Nuclear Blast and in most of Europe on May 10 through Indie Recordings.

Based on the track listing (which you can see here), it appears that many of the songs will have something to do with, uh, dragons. So whaddaya know? In addition to being scary cool, the album cover actually has a thematic connection to the music.  The band’s guitarist Obsidian C. commented on the cover: “The music on Reptilian is more in your face and direct than before so we chose this cover and the title to emphasise that directness as well as focusing even more on the fantasy elemement in the band. This beast of an album is staring at you and it’s going straight for your throat!”

Well, if we had a dollar for every band that used the “straight for your throat” line to describe its music, we could quit our day jobs and flog away on this blog full-time. The question is whether Obsidian C. is spouting mere puffery or whether the music really is as cool as the album cover.  That’s the point of this little experiment. What’s the answer?  (we’ll give you our opinion, after the jump, plus another test case for our hypothesis about cool album art and cool music . . .) Continue reading »

Feb 162010

The dream has come to an end. Norwegian extreme metal veterans Keep of Kalessin took third place in the grand final of the national Eurovision Song Contest called “Melodi Grand Prix” which was held on February 6 at the Spektrum in Oslo. The winner of the final, Didrik Solli-Tangen, will be the one to represent Norway at the international Eurovision Song Contest 2010.

It’s pretty cool that an extreme metal band made it to the Norwegian national finals and actually placed in the top 3.  And all is not lost. By advancing to the finals, the band earned the right to be featured on a special set of stamps issued by the Norwegian Royal Mail — an honor that is normally reserved for the royal family or historic figures. Keep of Kalessin and the other “Melodi Grand Prix” finalists were presented with the stamps at a small gathering at the home of “Melodi Grand Prix” host Per Sundnes on February 5.

The set of stamps is pictured above.

Can you tell which one is for the metal band?  Can you?

By the way, the dude who won is in the stamp at the bottom right corner of the photo. Don’t know what he sounds like. Don’t want to know. Wouldn’t want to receive any mail with that stamp on it, that’s for damned sure. Particularly because if anyone in Norway mailed me anything, it would probably take about 12 of those stamps to get it here, and wouldn’t that be a grisly sight.

But I will say this: wouldn’t it be fucking cool if the U.S. Postal Service issued a series of stamps featuring metal bands? They’d probably lose their financial ass if they did that, but hey, I’d buy ’em. I bet you would, too. Write your fucking congressman and let’s start building pressure for metal stampage here in the U.S.!

You think extreme metal is too narrow an interest to merit some fucking stamps? Think again. For cryin’ out loud, go here if you want to see the kind of commemorative stamps planned so far for 2010. It includes stampage series on Mother Teresa, Cowboys of the Silver Screen, the Mackinac Bridge, Love, Kate Smith, the Sunday Funnies, and Scouting (among other things). Would you buy any of that shit? Nah, I wouldn’t either.  But what if they sold stamps that looked like this:  (after the jump . . .) Continue reading »