Jul 022018
 

 

We have a couple of fine premieres coming later today, and because I devoted some time to writing about those, I didn’t have time to prepare a full SEEN AND HEARD round-up for this Monday — but with a few spare minutes and a bit of a lag in our publication schedule before the first of those premieres is due to arrive, I thought I’d give you a quick hit — two recent songs that made very positive impressions when I heard them this weekend. I might have time for another one of these posts in between those two premieres as well.

MANTAR

I may have mentioned before that Mantar are one of my favorite bands on the planet. And without meaning to detract from the impact of their recordings, they have become one of my favorites because of their live performances, which I’ve been lucky to witness on three occasions. The power and electrifying impact of what these two do on stage can’t really be captured in a studio, in part because they’re so riveting to watch.

Having said that, I’m still eager to hear their new album, The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze, which will be released by Nuclear Blast on August 24th. Continue reading »

Apr 272017
 

 

(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new EPs by Mantar, Maré, and Mesarthim.)

So I’ve officially now reached a point where I am so far behind in my writing that the balance has fully shifted into the negative, with more new albums and EPs being added to my review queue – almost on a daily basis – than are being scratched off of it.

What to do, what to do…?

Well, the only answer, it seems, is to hammer out a bunch of quick reviews, and try to make some sort of dent in the ever-growing pile of streams and promos currently clogging up my inbox/mp3 player.

So, without further ado, here’s three great EPs, two from bands we’ve covered before, and one from an entirely new discovery of mine. Continue reading »

Feb 112017
 

 

Happy Saturday to one and all, and if you’re not feeling particularly happy, maybe the recommended new music collected herein will improve your mood.

This is another Seen and Heard post, but with a title that’s more specific to the music I chose for this collection. Most of it could be considered shades and phases of death metal or, in the case of the first item, death-themed.

MANTAR

The Spell snuck up on me. I learned about it yesterday through an e-mail from Nuclear Blast Records that included a link to the lyric video you’re about to see. Like virtually everything else I’ve heard from Mantar, it exploded my brain. Continue reading »

Jan 042017
 

 

This is Part 3 of our continuing list of 2016’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. To see the first two installments and an explanation of the criteria for making the selections, go here.

MARTYRDÖD

Anyone who saw my review of List won’t be surprised to find a song from the album on this list. I came close to embarrassing myself with how effusively I praised it. Hands down, it’s one of my favorite releases in an incredibly strong year for metal. Continue reading »

Dec 152016
 

listmania-2016

 

(Andy Synn’s week-long series of year-end lists continues with his personal list of The Critical Top Ten for 2016. Click these links to see his lists of the year’s Great Albums, the Good Albums, and the Disappointments.)

For those of you unfamiliar with how this works, I always wind-up my week-long retrospective with two lists, the “Critical Top Ten” and the “Personal Top Ten”.

Now the second one is probably pretty self-explanatory, in that it’s just a list of the ten albums I’ve loved, lived with, and listened to the most this year. It’s really just a snapshot of my personal listening habits/tastes over the last twelve months.

The idea behind this one possible needs some explaining though.

You see the “Critical Top Ten” is where I try (as best I can) to remove my own personal biases and downplay any favouritism and instead attempt to name the ten albums (unranked) which I feel honestly represent the best of the best from the last year in Metal. Continue reading »

Oct 152016
 

oakland-morning-clouds6

 

I’m in Oakland, California, this weekend for the second edition of California Deathfest, which began yesterday afternoon (Friday, October 14, 2016) and continues through Sunday. The photo above captures one of the sights that greeted me this morning a few steps from our waterfront hotel. I’m here with my NCS comrades DGR and BadWolf and some other good Seattle friends, enjoying some mild and occasionally drizzly weather while Seattle is getting beat to hell by a weekend windstorm. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Usually when I go to metal festivals I take lots of photos (and more recently videos) and try to write up reports on the performances for the site. This time, before leaving for Oakland, I decided not to do that. I decided I would just devote myself to watching the sets and talking with people and not worry about “work” for NCS. So far I’ve mostly kept to that resolution — but not entirely. Continue reading »

Mar 252016
 

Mantar-Ode To the Flame

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Germany’s Mantar, coming next month from Nuclear Blast.)

When I say that Ode to the Flame, the second album by German blackened sludgemeisters Mantar, is one badass motherfucker, you’d best believe that I mean it.

Fuelled by rage and empowered by the divine spirit of “the riff”, practically every aspect of it – from its punishing, stone-cold grooves, snarling, punked-up hooks, and monstrously heavy guitar sound – is a huge step up from the band’s debut, with Messrs. Hanno (vocals/guitars) and Erinc (drums/vocals) upping their game on pretty much every level.

Bristling with barely restrained aggression, and gifted with a brash, belligerent swagger and a malicious streak a mile wide, it’s also the first album in a long, long time, to fill that twisted, Nachtmystium-shaped hole in my heart, though its tar-soaked and sludge-encrusted underbelly and downright surly demeanour mean that the final product offers up a much different experience than Judd and co’s self-loathing anthems. Continue reading »

Mar 192016
 

Ashcloud-Children of the Chainsaw

 

Last week was another one in which I noticed lots of new songs and videos but didn’t have time to round them up, in part because I was writing about a flood of new songs that we were premiering ourselves. So now I’m doing what I failed to do earlier — but because I waited, the round-up has become jumbo-sized. Consequently, I’ve kept my introductions to the music brief and haven’t taken the time to consistently add album art or links as I usually do. When I did something like this last weekend (except with even fewer words), I said I didn’t intend to make a habit of it. I still don’t.

For those who pay attention to such things, I also failed to post Part 3 of the Shades of Black series I began at the start of the week. But I will do that tomorrow. Now, presented in alphabetical order, here are new songs and videos from 17 bands.

ASHCLOUD

On May 1, Xtreem Music will release the new album by Sweden’s Ashcloud. The album’s title tells you a lot of what you need to know about the music: Children of the Chainsaw. Here’s the title track — smoking, tree-felling, crusty Swedish death metal that’s awfully damned sweet. Continue reading »

Feb 152016
 

Mantar-Ode To the Flame

 

I had originally planned to post this yesterday, to make the Sabbath blacker, but didn’t quite get it finished. I’ve collected five new songs from forthcoming albums and a brief review of an EP released last month. The songs are stylistically diverse — in fact, this is one of those installments of this column where not all of the music is even going to fit the broadest definitions of black metal — yet there is a shared “depressive” quality among many of the songs (and I use the term in a genre sense). And of course I found everything very good and very memorable and hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

MANTAR

As I’ve previously written, Mantar’s new album Ode To the Flame is one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of 2016, both because I thoroughly enjoyed their debut album Death By Burning and because I was so blown away by their live performance at last year’s Maryland Deathfest. A few days ago we got our first full glimpse of the new album via the premiere of a song called “Era Borealis“. Continue reading »

Feb 042016
 

Mantar-Ode To the Flame

 

Those who set their clocks by the appearance of our first morning posts are going to be late all day today, because we’re getting a late start on this Thursday. In fact, I’m still not finished with what I had planned for our first post. But to tide us over until I’m finished, I have something else of great interest to share:

The German band Mantar have completed a new album named Ode To the Flame that will be released by their new label Nuclear Blast on April 15. As you can see, they decided to go in a very simple direction with the cover art, especially by comparison with the eye-catching and indelibly memorable cover art for their debut album Death By Burning. They do have an explanation for that: Continue reading »