Dec 122013

(In this post Andy Synn expresses some opinions that I suspect will not be universally shared. Sound off in the comments… )

Metal and the concept of maturity, if you believe all that you’re told, don’t exactly make for the most common of bedfellows.

Even the kindest of mainstream media outlets still have a tendency to treat the genre as one solely of interest to angsty teens, disaffected Gen-X types, and adults stuck in a perpetual state of arrested development.

I can’t entirely blame them. After all, the majority of metal that hits the mainstream does dwell on the same sort of vapid and generic themes that most narcissistic pop/rap music features as well (raising the question, of course, as to why these genres aren’t also singled out as “just for kids”… liking something “ironically” is no excuse, nor is it believable to be honest).

Still, it’s even more galling when the same sort of questions and vague insults come from inside the scene. Continue reading »

Sep 022013

Today one of the online imprints of Sweden’s Espressen newspaper published an interview that writer Martin Carlsson conducted with Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth. It included some questions and answers about Opeth’s next album, which you will see in a moment.

Coincidentally, I and a few of my current or former NCS comrades engaged in a lengthy debate about Opeth during our Seattle get-together last week. The debate was spawned, of course, by the band’s last album, Heritage. It went on for quite a while, and beer was involved, but I think it can be summed up, in part, as follows:

Point:  Heritage was a huge ripoff. It wasn’t Opeth. If Åkerfeldt wanted to do what he did on that album, he should have done it through a side project, something like “The Mikael Åkerfeldt Project”.

Counterpoint:  Mikael Åkerfeldt can do what he wants. He’s earned the right. Besides, his voice probably can’t handle live death growls for more than a song or two any more — you can’t tour in support of an album that you can’t perform live, night after night. And the other guys in Opeth need to eat, so he did right by them in making Heritage an Opeth album. Also, it’s possible he was under some label pressure to make this kind of album — don’t forget that Heritage was a Roadrunner release. Continue reading »

Sep 142012

(NCS guest contributor Mike Yost provides this look back at an album that defeats all resistance to use of a dreaded e-word.  These musings also appear on Mike’s own blog, Remnants of Words.)

As many of you already know, the word epic is used far too often. And not just in metal reviews. Some examples you might hear are as follows:

TV Commercial: “If you’re thirsty, try (insert shitty sugary sports drink here) to quench that epic thirst!”

Movie Review: “Bruce Willis stood in front of the White House in a torn, bloody t-shirt while firing machine guns and bazookas in slow motion with explosions raining down all around him as terrorists were being blown away by the dozens. It was fucking epic!”

A Friend: “So then, we go to (his or her) place and start having sex on the kitchen counter, and (he or she) pulls out this epic glass dildo from the cupboard!”

As Islander has lamented in previous posts, the word epic has proliferated in metal blogs to the point that its overuse has the opposite effect. Epic now equals insipid. Superficial. Commonplace. I become very skeptical about an album when I see it in a review. I can’t help but think it’s being used to compensate for music that’s just plain bad. Or maybe the author of the review was just too tired after a long day at work and passed out at the desk looking for a thesaurus. (I’ve been there.)

This is unfortunate. Because there are a few bands out there who are epic. There are a few albums that are epic. Even a few songs. Continue reading »

Sep 052010

Here in the U.S., we’re in the middle of Labor Day weekend, a 3-day break that culminates in Labor Day tomorrow. Most Americans probably don’t know the history of the holiday, or maybe even the fact that it’s intended to celebrate the labor movement (only about 12% of salaried workers in the U.S. still belong to a labor union). It’s simply viewed as a sign that summer has ended, football season is about to start, and school is resuming.

Most people spend the holiday taking it easy, goofing off, partying, enjoying the break. Here at NCS, we’re still working away like demented bees, or ants, or some kind of mindless insectile creatures that just mindlessly work until they mindlessly die. That’s how much we care about you. So we sure hope you get something out of the posts this weekend, because if you don’t, we’ll feel even stupider than we really are. Yeah, we know that’s tough to imagine, but still.

So today we have part two of the MISCELLANY post we began yesterday, finishing off the log of new music or videos we randomly checked out in a recent exploratory session. Yesterday, we left off with Synapse Defect. Today, we resume with Gloria Morti (Finland), and finish up with Steven Wilson (Kingston-Upon-Thames, Hemel Hempstead, Tel Aviv, London), and Resistant Culture (U.S.).  (music and video after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

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 »