May 062013
 

In every field of artistic endeavor, whether it be music, painting, writing, sculpture, acting, filmmaking — you name it — there are examples of people who have created great works of art but are deplorable as human beings. They make you question yourself: Is it right for me to admire, enjoy, and even praise this person’s artistic work if the creator is someone whose actions or expressions outside of their art clash with my own principles and beliefs?

Metal is no exception to this quandary. Perhaps the single most notorious example is Varg Vikernes. On the one hand, he played a leading role in the origination and development of Norwegian black metal under the name Burzum (and as a member of Mayhem), and he has continued to create notable music under the Burzum name nearly two decades later. On the other hand, in 1994 he was convicted of murdering Mayhem guitarist Euronymous and burning churches in Norway, and he spent 16 years in prison for those crimes.

He has also written extensively about his own beliefs in the racial purity of Northern Europeans and the superiority of its pagan traditions, filling volumes’ worth of words with racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic diatribes. In Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, director Sam Dunn described him as “the most notorious metal musician of all time”, and it’s hard to disagree.

Well, metal may have seen the last of Varg Vikernes. In an April 30 post on one of his blogs (Thulean Perspective), he summed up his own role in the history of black metal and the evolution of that movement into what he terms “nihilstic shit”, ending with the proclamation that “I no longer play metal music”.  Continue reading »

Aug 282012
 

(Our NCS comrade Andy Synn has recently been making me green with envy by attending summer metal festivals on the other side of the Atlantic, which for me might as well be on the other side of the solar system.  However, gentleman and scholar that he is, he didn’t just go and have a ridiculously good time. He also sent back this review of his jaunt to the UK’s BLOODSTOCK festival on August 10-12, 2012. We’re dividing it into two parts, with Part 2 coming up tomorrow [now posted here].)

Ah, Bloodstock. Always an interesting festival, caught between its early power/trad-metal roots and its steady expansion into a more rounded, extreme/non-mainstream metal festival. This year’s line-up was pretty enticing, but circumstances and finances looked set to prevent my attendance. But fate and serendipity stepped in (thank you Sahil!) and on Friday 10th of August I found myself once more pulling into the festival’s parking lot, with a song in my heart and a shiny guest wristband on my arm.

 

FRIDAY

Carefully timing my arrival to coincide with that of Moonsorrow, I wasn’t disappointed, the band utterly on fire, despite the occasionally washed out sound. It helps that the set-list comprised some of my favourite Moonsorrow tracks, I’ll admit that, but the performance itself was brilliant either way. The only downside is that, due to the length of their material, it always seems like too few songs

Sepultura put on a damn good show, their new drummer certainly doing his best to live up to Igor Cavalera’s enviable legacy, while the triptych of Derrick, Paulo, and Andreas showed again and again why they stuck with the name – they just do it all better. The new material sounded great live, while the quartet give the old stuff, including a brace of Beneath The Remains-era material, new life and vigour. Props as well for the welcome, but unexpected, guest slot from Tim “Ripper” Owens on “Territory”.

Dio Disciples were, in many ways, something of a curiosity for the festival. Essentially Dio’s band with a different singer (and a few guests), it’s hard to judge them on merit alone, as their appearance was due to far more than just an ability to play the songs well. This was a tribute to one of the genre’s legendary figures, and while it would be churlish to say it was simply a well-received cover set (the downright dedication to this band’s slot bordered on the fanatical), one can’t help but be moved by this show of respect, and by being reminded of the sheer quality of the material on display. Continue reading »

Jun 172012
 

Me gusta mucho Brujería, and I stumbled across a Brujería song this morning that I’d never heard before: “Don Quijote Marijuana”. It made me laugh. It also made me want to take my clothes off and dance on a bar. Fortunately, I was at home and therefore spared some collection of bar flies that life-changing experience. It also made me want to listen to a few more familiar Brujeria tracks. So I did. My life is your life, and so I’m sharing all that narcos satanicos con ustedes.

Also, I found out about a new video from a Norwegian band called SuchThaus, and the video and music feature a former and a current member of Mayhem: Maniac and Hellhammer. I don’t know if this song (“DownTown Train”) is about drugs, but it sure sounds like it was composed and recorded while under the influence.

And then finally I heard two new songs by a band called Slitwrist, which features a guest appearance by Sorceron of Abigail Williams (though he may be more than a guest). They’re mesmerizing and horrifying, and they made me want to take drugs, preferably something mood-elevating.  Here we go:

BRUJERIA

It’s hard to know who’s in Brujería from year to year. According to Metal Archives, this part-Mexican, part-Angelino band was created in 1989 by Dino Cazares (Fear Factory), who calls himself “El Asesino” in Brujeria, along with Billy Gould (Faith No More), Juan Lepe (“Juan Brujo”), and Pat Hoed (“Fantasma”, a/k/a “Adam Bomb” on the radio).

But the line-up seems to be fluid — including from time to time people like Jeff Walker (Carcass), Shane Embury (Napalm Death), Raymond Herrera (Arkaea, ex-Fear Factory), and Nicholas Barker (Lock Up, ex-Dimmu Borgir). Also, the members of Brujería wear masks and portray themselves as Mexican drug lords who use nicknames to keep their identities secret, so yeah, it’s hard to know. Continue reading »

Sep 172011
 

As a public service, I thought I’d let you know about two North American tours I just noticed yesterday, plus two others announced earlier but not previously mentioned at NCS. The first of the newer ones is advertised by the poster above. What caught my eye, in addition to the name Korpiklaani, was the fact that Russia’s Arkona is on this tour. Arkona is a recent discovery for us here at NCS, thanks to our friend Trollfiend, who provided a guest review of the band’s new album Slovo. Also included on the tour are Polkadot Cadaver and Forged in Flame. I don’t yet know anything about those two bands, but I’m very tempted to see this show simply because of Arkona (though I like Korpiklaani, too), especially because the Seattle stop will be at a relatively small club.

The second tour is the 2011 edition of Thrash and Burn. This has been a summer tour since its inception, but it was a no-show in the summer just past and now appears to have emerged as a re-branding of Winds of Plague’s fall headlining tour. Following in the footsteps of Summer Slaughter, Winds of Plague and the promoters of this tour nominated a group of bands to fill the last tour slot and let fans vote for a winner. A couple days ago, the winner was announced, and it’s Volumes. Interestingly, Volumes was also one of the nominated bands on the Summer Slaughter ballot, but didn’t make the cut that time and instead were included on the Slaughter Survivors Tour. Volumes has a new album called Via that’s getting some buzz, though I haven’t heard it yet.

The rest of the bands on this version of Thrash and Burn are Chelsea Grin, As Blood Runs Black, For the Fallen Dreams, Upon A Burning Body, In the Midst of Lions, and Like Moths to Flames. In other words, the tour should be renamed Deathcore and Burn. No tour schedule has yet been announced.

I must admit that among the fall tours we haven’t yet mentioned at this site, I’m personally more interested in the Mastodon/Dillinger Escape Plan/Red Fang tour and the Mayhem/Keep Of Kalessin/Hate/Abigail Williams tour (which will be joined by Woe on 13 dates not yet specified). The schedules for the Korpiklaani tour and those others I just mentioned are 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 »

Jan 072011
 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the debut of a new column which Islander has kindly allowed me to write and display here at NoCleanSinging.

Each week (ok, whenever I get round to it, they may not be weekly – or they may be more frequent, we’ll see) I’m going to be providing an introduction, a retrospective, or simply a re-consideration of  a band which I feel merits the treatment. Certain bands will be more well known than others, and primarily these bands will be part of THE SYNN REPORT simply because I feel that with all the bullshit media hype in the world, the band in question has been perhaps judged unfairly due to the influence of matters non-musical. Certain bands, however, you may not have heard of before at all, as although I do not consider myself a paragon of underground taste, there is only so much time each of us can devote to finding new music and really exploring it. Hopefully this column will help a little!

Each column will deal with a single musical entity, considering their works and progression in turn. Certain columns will be dedicated perhaps simply to eras in a band’s career and progression, considering and evaluating changes in style and direction with the benefit of hindsight and (hopefully) critical objectivity. Although that probably won’t last very long!

Anyway, for my first column I would like to introduce you to the Greek band ASTARTE (more after the jump, including sample songs from the band’s discography . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 132010
 

When we started this site, we committed to ourselves (and to you) that we would post something new here every day — rain or shine, weekdays and weekends, holidays and mornings-after-binging — no exceptions. Inevitably, something will happen and someday we’ll fail to live up to that commitment. But so far, so good.

Thinking of something new to add every day that meets even our minimalist standards hasn’t been easy. Sure, there’s always new music to hear and then write about, but that takes a fair amount of time, which we don’t always have. So, sometimes we let our minds wander around the interwebz, just to see what might make an impression.

Like yesterday. Two things caught our eye: (1) a recent interview by black metal legend, convicted murderer and arsonist, and recently reinvigorated Norwegian recording artist Varg Vikernes; and (2) more info than we wanted to know about the artificial insemination of an elephant that was perpetrated earlier this week in Seattle, as reported in grotesque detail by the city’s daily newspaper.

Are these two items related to each other? Well, not actually, though pairing them in the title to this post seemed like an eye-catchingly good idea. Do they both relate to extreme metal? Uh, not actually. What the fuck, we fudged a bit. So sue us. Actually, don’t sue us. Read these bits instead, which include our always-incisive commentary (after the jump . . .) Continue reading »