Feb 062017
 

 

(Chicago’s Mechina released a new album on January 1 and, continuing a long tradition, DGR reviews it.)

The idea of a band creating their own lore occupies a special place in my heart, a place where admiration and hilarity co-exist in the case of Mechina. The ambitiousness of trying to set up a universe and tell a multiple-release-spanning story is incredible, in an age of music that is quickly devoured and disposed of, reserved exclusively for streaming and set up to run in the background. Going beyond the usual goal of “let’s make a really good disc” and into one that seeks to create a musical space opera that pulls from equal parts miltiary sci-fi and exploration segments, that is where my admiration comes to fruition.

That the Mechina crew have doggedly sought to create this saga on a yearly release schedule, with the occasional single release ahead of time, has felt like an exercise in insanity. The hilarity, for me at least, has been in the part where year afer year I have to describe this to what may be a new audience not feel like I’ve fallen into a feedback loop of repeating myself. Continue reading »

Feb 142016
 

Death Karma cover

 

Today will be the end for my list of 2015’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. I really do need to bring the series to an end, but I’ve found it so difficult to let go of the thing that I’ve prepared two installments for today. There are three new songs for the list in this post, and the next and final one includes four tracks.

The three songs collected here are oddities, none of them appealing to standardized tastes and none of them wedded to linear or predictable structures or even single recognizable genre styles. To varying degrees, you could even say they’re disorienting, but they’re highly creative and to my fractured mind they’re also awfully damned infectious.

DEATH KARMA

I discovered the existence of the Czech band Death Karma on a May day in 2013 at the same time as I learned about Cult of Fire (and described the experience in this post). The two are linked because Death Karma is composed of Infernal Vlad and Tom Coroner, who are also two of Cult of Fire’s three members. Continue reading »

Feb 022016
 

Mechina-Progenitor

 

(DGR weighs in on the new album by Chicago’s Mechina, as you knew he would.)

The January 1st album release has become a comedic undertone to my writing as of late. It’s never one that I have advanced warning for, nor is it one that I am ever truly adequately prepared for. Instead, it just serves as a reminder of the relentless march of time and the constant – and reassuring – pressures of being a writer for this site. It’s strange, but I have found comfort in this sense, the idea that I am already late and that I have fucked up.

Without that pressure, life seems aimless, and so, as it has been for the past handful of years, I have Mechina to thank for the fact that I am once again dragging ass on a review. The sun has risen in the east and set in the west, the sky is still blue, and all is right with the world – because as I take longer and longer to write out this review out, each moment means that I am later than I was before. Always the hare in Alice In Wonderland, and in that way continuing exactly how I felt last year and the year before.

It’s that consistency that one needs as a reminder that while the year has ticked up one notch, things haven’t really changed and the world is a mess. God forbid any actual events happen. This ladies and gentlemen, is how I start my year. Continue reading »

Aug 222015
 

MEchina-The World We Lost

 

(In this post DGR reviews the new release by Chicago’s Mechina.)

Mechina are a band whom I’ve learned to stop trying to figure out. They’ve somehow evolved into superhuman musicians who can seemingy do no wrong when it comes to putting out quality music. They’ve consistently kept to a yearly release schedule, and recently have even added a single release mid-way through the year — and those have become huge efforts in their own right. I keep waiting for them to slip, but it seems that somehow the people behind Mechina are absolutely tireless as well as immensely talented.

The Mechina singles are some of the longest songs the band have written and are the musican’s equivelent of a short story — which is odd to say when it comes to music, but given that the band have created their own universe and continually add to it, it isn’t hard to see the band’s brand of symphonic/industrial/groove/death metal starting to become like sitting down with a storyteller and letting them entrance you with another tale. Continue reading »

Jan 202015
 

 

(I think DGR has reviewed every release by Chicago’s Mechina. They released a new album this month, and like the sun rising in the East and setting in the West, DGR now reviews it.)

Mechina are a band whose growth has been one of the most interesting to watch over the past few years. Few bands have been quite as ambitious as they have been with their music. Few have completely ignored whether or not they were going to be successful, and just went big anyway, but that is exactly what Mechina have done during their time as artists.

Starting out as a full band before eventually becoming the studio project of a couple of producers in the Chicago area, Mechina have already banged out a whole arc of albums — a conceptual trilogy told over three full discs and a smattering of singles — that have archived a whole universe constantly at war, ending with planets left barren and whole populations destroyed, played out over the soundtrack of an industrial/symphonic death band with a taste for eight-and-up-string poly-rhythmic guitar playing.

Over time, the band’s production has grown leaps and bounds, and as they’ve adopted characters into their story and adapted a new vocalist into the fold, they’ve created enough lore in their universe that someone actually took the time out of their day to try and establish a wiki site to keep track of all of it, one that I’ve already used liberally. While we haven’t quite hit Bal-Sagoth levels of craziness, I imagine Mechina could be reaching that point soon enough with their sci-fi, planet-destroying antics. Continue reading »

Jun 052014
 

(In this post DGR reviews the new single by Chicago’s Mechina.)

I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time musically in Illinois lately, between (hopefully) getting a review done for Cimmerian’s January release Hollowing at some point (short version; listen to it, great album that plays in the same realm as Insomnium, Be’lakor, and Omnium Gatherum), and then Chicago in particular with the Watch_Dogs videogame, which has the city down in spirit but not so much in actual layout (a problem I’ve also run into with Infamous and Seattle, and Driver in San Francisco), and Warforged’s EP Essence Of The Land (which hit earlier this year and is still on pretty constant rotation as well). And now Mechina call me back again with another new song, a twelve and a half minute precursor — after the group’s already stellar January release Xenon.

The group’s new song “To Coexist Is To Surrender” is apparently the whole ignition point for the series of albums that have previously been released, all tied into one grand and overarching story — though I will fully own up to having no idea where it is at now, as I was initially operating off of old information when I penned my Xenon review.

However, “To Coexist Is To Surrender” continues the Mechina trend of making their long songs absolutely awesome, and this one in particular provides them with an epic. Not only does the song include narration, radio broadcasts, and extended instrumental sections, it also includes multiple vocalists and an intense and passionate closing section provided by longtime co-conspirator and solo singing artist Mel Rose. Continue reading »

Mar 052014
 

I’m headed for the airport again this morning, and then winging my way back to sunny Southern California for my day job, returning to sodden Seattle on Sunday. This will again restrict my blog time. Before leaving, I wanted to share a few recent discoveries.

THANTIFAXATH

This Toronto band, whose three members prefer to remain anonymous, released a self-titled EP in 2011, and now they have a debut full-length on the way. Entitled Sacred White Noise, it’s coming out on April 15th via Dark Descent. Not long ago the band premiered an advance track named “The Bright White Nothing At the End of the Tunnel”.  I’ve been meaning to check it out, and finally did so last night — and I’m in love.

There’s a writhing, dissonant guitar lead that begins almost immediately and then intermittently continues to whip and squirm its way throughout the rest of the song, and once heard it’s hard to forget. But that’s only part of the music’s attraction. The song also includes hammering percussion, scalding riffs, bestial black metal vocals, and a load of other strange but magnetic repeating motifs. Continue reading »

Jan 152014
 

(DGR reviews the latest album by Chicago’s Mechina.)

My story with Mechina is one that is somewhat strange. If you’re in a band and people tell you that services like Last.fm are fucking useless, they’re lying to you. I am an old technology grognard and believe me, I have found tons of bands through Last.fm, and Mechina was one of the best surprises to ever come out of that service.

My discovery dates all the way back to when Andromeda came out at the end of 2011, and my review would prove to be one of the last things I wrote for my former site, an article that I titled, “I keep getting lost in Mechina’s Andromeda”. The song was a revelation. I am a complete sucker for symphonic elements in metal bands. Fleshgod Apocalypse, Dimmu Borgir, and Septic Flesh, for example, have been frequent go-to’s, yet they’ve all been in the black metal and more intense side of death metal realm. Mechina were different because they were more groove-oriented, with the industrial flair that made the band seem futuristic, not to mention that the concept behind each of the albums was slowly morphing into a science fiction epic. Continue reading »

Aug 042013
 

(DGR shares some thoughts about the new single from Chicago’s Mechina.)

Let me just take a quick breath and describe this song for you, as my reaction upon listening to it for the first time.

Holy shit.

It’s not often that you’re justified in describing a song this way, but my first run through the new Mechina song after having Empyrean in my hands for the better part of eight months was a great feeling. There’s something to Mechina’s hybrid of symphonic elements with industrial death that provides constant moments of absolute excitement. When I first heard the band with Andromeda I felt the need to post about that song almost immediately, and since then I’ve found one or two songs that I can’t help but be incredibly excited by on each release.

I thought they had almost peaked with “Anathema” and “Elephtheria” off of this year’s Empyrean, but then the violence of “Cepheus” hit, and my excitement for anything new by these guys reached a fever peach once again. Continue reading »

Jun 162013
 

(DGR provides this round-up of artwork, new music, and new videos.)

Apparently nobody else got the memo that last week was E3 week and, goddamnit, that I was going to be away from the computer, because holy crap did the news updates come fast and furious throughout the week of June 10th. A lot of these bands are going to look very familiar to readers of the site because a lot of them are in fact the same groups featured in my last round-up. However, here at NCS we try to stick with really substantial stuff since a tracklisting usually means dick to the reader unless it has something attached to it.

This week, these bands delivered in spades – some with cover art, most with new songs or videos, one with a whole new release. Regardless, it was a smattering all across the board if you love music and love shit just being heavy as hell. I’ll attach my thoughts along the way, of course…otherwise this article is going to look all sorts of wacky.

MECHINA

That picture you see above is artwork for Mechina’s upcoming Xenon release, which the group stated in this here post would be hitting on 1/1/14. Continue reading »