Apr 072015
 

Svartidauði

 (Andy Synn took in the sights and sounds of the Inferno Festival on April 1-4, 2015, in Oslo, Norway, and this is the first of a multi-part report about his experience. Andy took the photos as well.)

Once again last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend Inferno Festival in Oslo, which this year is celebrating its 15th Anniversary, with a frankly flabbergasting line-up of bands that could almost have been hand-picked for yours truly, including some of my absolute favourites as well as a number of bands I’ve been dying to see live.

For those of you who are unaware, the Wednesday night always serves as a pre-festival “Club Night” and kick-off party, with a variety of different bands playing at different locations scattered around in relatively close proximity to the main venue. With the right pass (which, thankfully, included my fancy pink “Press” wristband) you can wander freely between the different places, picking and choosing what artists you want to see.

I decided (for reasons which will become clear) to focus my activities around the new Vulkan arena, and particularly the smaller Pokalen bar down in the lower level… Continue reading »

Dec 062013
 

(In this guest post, Johan Paulin features an eye-popping list of metal bands, all of whom hail from the same relatively small town in northern Sweden. Tons of music in here, too.)

As most metalheads with more than a fleeting interest in extreme metal know, Sweden has been a forerunner ever since Quorthon struck his first minor chord back in the 80’s. The explanations for how a population the size of Sweden’s could spawn so many good metal bands have varied, and I won’t get into them now, but it’s safe to say that the great band / population ratio is over the top. Still, for  all the bands you do know, dozens more toil in more or less obscurity and deserve a better fate. Thus, when Islander called upon us readers to contribute while he took a well-earned vacation full of cloudgazing and Krokodil [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desomorphine], I decided to take the opportunity to champion some of the great bands that originate from my hometown of Umeå, Sweden.

Umeå is located in the northern part of Sweden and has a population of about 120,000 in the whole municipality, making it the 12th largest city in Sweden according to The Font of All Human Knowledge. If that may seem laughable to many of you, you’ll be rolling on the floor when I tell you that the population of London is equal to the population of my whole country! So, fuck demographics and let’s get on with the metal. Continue reading »

Sep 072012
 

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn made the trek to Germany for this year’s edition of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, and provided us with a review of the bands whose performances he witnessed.  We’ve divided the review into two parts. Part 1 was yesterday, covering performances on the first two days of the festival. In this post, Andy covers the festival’s third and final day, and at the end we’ve again collected videos of some of the performances discussed in the review.)

DAY 3

Day 3 saw a late start (which may have had something to do with the amount of alcohol consumed the night before) with Naglfar over on the main stage, kicking out some lethal melodic black metal despite the blazing sunshine and clear blue skies. It’s really only in the live setting you can fully appreciate both the anthemic quality of the group’s material, as well as the technical skill behind it.

Over on the second stage Unleashed wasted little time getting into the swing of things, their brutish, occasionally melodic, Viking-obsessed death metal garnering a surprisingly loud reaction (at least for this early in the day). The only niggling problem is that where Amon Amarth are more obviously self-aware, using these tales of Viking lore to inspire and uplift their fans, Unleashed seem to treat their subject matter as a manifesto, and their uncomfortable “we should all be Vikings!” schtick is both extremely geeky and embarrassingly ill-informed.

Over in the third-stage tent Incantation were unleashing their own brand of filthy, blood-spitting aural horror, dropping some gut-clenching death metal grooves and breakdowns into the whirlwind death metal stew, even throwing in a few Possessed covers for good measure. Slightly breaking the atmosphere though was John McEntee’s use of an uber-gravelly Batman voice for his between-song banter, unintentionally hilarious in its own special way. Continue reading »

Jul 172012
 

In one of yesterday’s posts I compared a song from Sweden’s King of Asgard to Naglfar and Immortal, and I got questioned about that comparison in one of the comments, suggesting that King of Asgard is a Viking metal band. That caused me to consider, certainly not for the first time, what “Viking metal” really means and whether there really is such a thing as a “Viking metal” genre.

These are questions that have been argued in many other places at many other times. For example, our brother Trollfiend devoted a post to the subject at ALSO, WOLVES last fall, insisting that, yes, it’s a genre and it’s defined by the band’s lyrical themes (though he also implied that, musically, it’s a subset of black metal). Other people contend it isn’t a genre at all, or that if it is, it begins and ends with Bathory and early Enslaved and everyone else can go fuck off. And still other people say it’s a pointless question — you either dig the music or you don’t, and who gives a rat’s ass what you call it.

The fact that there seems to be no consensus about how to define “Viking metal” weighs in favor of the argument that it isn’t a genre. That conclusion is bolstered by the significant diversity in the music of bands who different people classify as “Viking metal” (see, e.g., the bands included in the “Viking metal” tag at Last.fm or the Viking metal genre group at Metal Archives). Genre classifications are usually (though not always) defined by widely accepted hallmarks of the musical style, and if no such consensus exists, or if the sound of the music isn’t really the defining characteristic, can we really say that “Viking metal” is a genre?

Is the lyrical content really enough, especially when much of the time you can’t make out the words in the songs when you hear them? Continue reading »

Feb 242012
 

Drawing upon Norse mythology, Sweden’s Naglfar named themselves for the ship made from the nails of the dead that was foretold to carry the hordes of Hel across the waters, bringing them into battle with the gods of Asgard during the cataclysmic events of Ragnarök. The band released their first demo, Stellae Trajectio, in 1994 and their first album (Vittra) in 1995. On March 26, Century Media will release Naglfar’s sixth album, Téras, and today we’re privileged to stream the North American premiere of its fifth track, “An Extension of His Arm and Will”.

In addition to appearing on the album, the song will be released on Monday (Feb. 27) as a limited-edition 7″ single that will also include a non-album b-side song, “As Long As They Fear.” A white vinyl version will be limited to 100 copies exclusively for U.S. customers, and both black and transparent red vinyl versions will be shipped in the EU, also in limited quantities. They can be ordered through CM Distro via these links:  http://bit.ly/zk8eeq (EU) and http://bit.ly/yA7P3k (US).

Naglfar now features a line-up consisting of vocalist Kristoffer W. Olivius (the band’s original bass player, who become lead vocalist following the 2005 departure of Jens Rydén), guitarist Andreas Nilsson (who has been with the band since its inception), and guitarist Marcus E. Norman (who joined in 2000). The drums for Téras were recorded by Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Scarve).

Téras will be Naglfar’s first album in almost five years. One song from Téras — “Pale Horse” — has already debuted, and we featured it here on the day before Christmas. The new song that we’re premiering today confirms that Téras will be well worth the wait. Continue reading »

Feb 042012
 

I was a relatively late-coming fan of Sweden’s Naglfar, discovering them through their 2007 release, Harvest, but I’m now solidly in their camp. Their skillful intertwining of melodic black metal and death metal elements creates music that is both memorable and viciously scathing.

I’m happy to report that as of today, we now have more details about their next album on Century Media, Téras. First, we have the album’s killer cover art by Niklas Sundin (Dark Tranquillity), who has previously designed artwork for bands such as In Flames, Arch Enemy, and At the Gates.

Second, we have specific release dates: March 26th in Europe and March 27th in North America. Third, we have a track list:

1. Téras
2. Pale Horse
3. III: Death Dimension Phantasma
4. The Monolith
5. An Extension Of His Arm And Will
6. Bring Out Your Dead
7. Come Perdition
8. Invoc(H)ate
9. The Dying Flame Of Existence

Since Naglfar and this album cover are on my mind, I decided to collect all of their previous album covers, which are equally eye-catching. That’s after the jump, along with a replay of the first song from Téras. Continue reading »

Jan 062012
 

December and 2011 are both over, and with the end of the last month, it’s time to round up what we saw over the last 30 days about forthcoming albums.

We usually try to post these updates on the first of the month, but the first of this month was New year’s Day, and I was moving kinda slowly that day. Plus, I’ve been focusing on year-end lists from a variety of sources, and, well, I’m late with this. I have more excuses, if you’d like to hear them.  No?  Okay, I understand.  I’ll just shut up and get going with this list.

So, here’s the deal:  In these METAL IN THE FORGE posts, I collect news blurbs and press releases I’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like at NCS (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If we found out about a new forthcoming album before December, we wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier.

This month’s list begins right after the jump. It includes some real eye-openers. In fact, it’s not too soon to say that 2012 is already looking like yet another royally skull-fucking year for metal. But as usual, this list is half-assed rather than comprehensive. I confess that in December I was even more half-assed than usual in keeping my eyes open for news about new albums. So, feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what I missed when I put this list together. Let us know about albums on the way that  you’re stoked about, even if you don’t see them here! Continue reading »

Dec 242011
 

The Friday before Christmas is probably not an ideal day for releasing important news. In fact, as eagle-eyed as I am, I nearly missed this item. I’m so glad I didn’t. When I saw it last night, I became nearly giddy with excitement. Not actually giddy, because giddy is not metal, but nearly giddy. Here are the key elements of this story:

Sweden’s Naglfar has finished recording their new album — the first one since Harvest was released in 2007. It will be called Téras. It will be released by Century Media in March of next year. Sometime between now and then, the band will put out a limited-edition 7″ single that will include one track from Téras and a second song that will be exclusive to the single.

The band’s new line-up is down to vocalist Kristoffer W. Olivius (the band’s original bass player, who become Naglfar’s lead vocalist prior to the recording of Pariah (2005) after the departure of Jens Rydén), guitarist Andreas Nilsson (who has been with the band since its inception), and guitarist Marcus E. Norman (who joined in 2000). The drums for Téras were recorded by Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Scarve).

Last but certainly not least, yesterday Century Media made at song from the new album available for streaming. It’s called “Pale Horse”, and you can listen after the jump. If the quality of Naglfar’s previous albums weren’t enough to put Téras on your radar screen, this song should do it. Continue reading »

Dec 022011
 

November is done, and the countdown begins to the end of 2011 and he beginning of the New Year. We’ve been so focused this week on the year behind us, since 2011 Listmania is now in full swing, that we almost forgot that there is a future, and it will be filled with metal.

So, here’s the deal:  In these METAL IN THE FORGE posts, we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month (November) about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If we found out about a new forthcoming album before November, we wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier.

This month’s list begins right after the jump. As usual, this list is half-assed rather than comprehensive. So, feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what we missed when we put this list together. Let us know about albums on the way that  you’re stoked about! Continue reading »

Nov 042011
 

(The first two albums by Sweden’s Dissection are among my all-time favorite metal albums. So I was most interested in this guest post by a writer who goes by the name Kazz.  He identifies six bands who faithful Dissection fans should get to know.)

I remember hearing Dissection for the first time right after their debut LP, The Somberlain, dropped. This was back in the day before the internet was the primary tool for discovering metal, and for American fans of European metal the options were limited to blind purchases from import mail-order distros, or if you were lucky enough to live in a city with a good metal record store, you might have been able to get a recommendation from a knowledgeable clerk (remember those?).

The second wave of black metal was in full swing, but I was more tuned into the nascent Gothenburg melodic death metal scene. The NWOBHM-influenced twin lead-guitar harmonies over a death metal framework made these early melodic death releases fresh, rare, and worth import CD prices for anyone who loved both melody and brutality.

Some of those early In Flames and Dark Tranquillity records had a much more blackened vibe in the early days, particularly in their vocal delivery. But it wasn’t until I got my hands on The Somberlain that I really found anyone who very effectively merged melody with a black metal framework. Dissection made their name by infusing their black metal with a layer of melody which ensured that each song was memorable, together with strong musicianship and compelling lyrics and imagery. By keeping most of their NWOBHM-isms in the minor scale, they maintained a sense of darkness and foreboding over the blasting, thrashing framework of technically-proficient black metal. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »