Jul 092018
 

 

(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the celebrated German band Obscura, which will be released on July 13th by Relapse Records.)

Where to start with this one?

Obviously the name Obscura should be familiar to the majority (if not all) of our readers, as the band – these days comprising creative (and somewhat controversial) linchpin Steffen Kummerer alongside guitarist Rafael Trujillo, drummer Sebastian Lanser, and resident uber-bassist Linus Klausenitzer – have long since established themselves as one of the big names of Progressive/Technical Death Metal.

What they, and you, may not be aware of, however, is that, despite all the line-up changes, intra-band friction, and media-managed drama of the last few years, Obscura have been actively engaged in crafting a ten-year long, four-album deep, conceptual cycle – beginning with 2009’s Cosmogenesis (origin), and then moving through further phases with 2011’s Omnivium (evolution), and 2016’s Akróasis (consciousness) – which is finally about to conclude with the release of Diluvium, representing not only the end of the cycle, but also the end of an era for Kummerer and co.

So, with that in mind, perhaps the real question you should be asking yourself right now is… can this record possibly live up to those lofty expectations, and truly deliver the ending which this saga deserves? 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 272016
 

obscura-flyer-sheffield

 

(Andy Synn turns in this review of the live performances by Obscura, Revocation, Beyond Creation, and Rivers of Nihil in Sheffield, England, on October 24, 2016 — along with videos of the performances.)

Our readers in the UK who play guitar or bass will probably have noticed something rather peculiar over the last couple of days. Riffs that they used to be able to play turning into a mangled, lumpen soup of glitches and errors… Fluid solos that they used to rip out with ease skittering away from stumbling fingers… even, in the most extreme cases, a complete inability to even lift their instrument anymore, as if they were no longer “worthy” to wield its power.

And I know why.

You see on Monday night I was there when Obscura, Revocation, Beyond Creation, and Rivers of Nihil selfishly used-up the entire country’s supply of notes and riffs, leading to a crisis of near biblical proportions amongst the string-slinging section of the UK metal community.

Thankfully, however, I’ve been informed that a fresh shipment is being piped in from the mainland, and so normal proceedings should be resumed by the weekend or thereabouts. Continue reading »

Jul 052016
 

Belakor-Vessels

 

(DGR presents this round-up of new music, which completes a two-part post that he began here.)

I joked in the previous collection that I wrote that the flood of music which hit in June was a little hilarious. There’s been so much that it feels like I’ve become a giant net in which news lands and then I dump the whole thing upon this site for users to romp around in, and guess what? The comedic flood of music continues unabated with Round Two of our roundup.

We posted Round One last week, and the dredging of the internet continues as we dig for more music videos/song streams/full album streams to talk about. This time around the collection is actually pretty Europe-heavy, with our one huge divergence being a trip out to Australia — which happens to be our lead-off as well. The collection of bands this time around also features one newer discovery and also a check-in with a band who haven’t had some stuff out in some time.

Be’lakor – Smoke Of Many Fires and Vessels Album Stream

We’ve reviewed Be’lakor’s Vessels already, and I share Andy’s opinion that Vessels is a really good album, but recent weeks have brought even more news — though I can now keep this a little more truncated. One is that the band premiered a lyric video for the song “Smoke Of Many Fires” over at Horror Society, and two, if you prefer your music streams less lyric-video-heavy, Bloody-Disgusting grabbed a whole album stream here. Continue reading »

Feb 082016
 

Obscura-Akroasis

 

(Andy Synn reviews the eagerly awaited new album by Obscura.)

Let me ask you something… when you see an album being universally praised across the board, especially if it’s an album by a band who it seems were “predestined” in some way to be a big deal, do you ever find yourself a wee bit suspicious of this outpouring of goodwill and fawning praise? Do you ever find yourself questioning the motives and intentions of the writers/reviewers in question? Do you ever find yourself thinking “well, duh, of course you were going to say that… but what’s it really like”?

Because I do.

I think it’s normal to be a little suspicious of any artist or album that’s receiving nothing but positive (often overly so) reactions from the Metal press. Heck, I think I know enough about the “scene” these days to have a good idea of which publications still retain their integrity and impartiality (such as it is)… and which ones don’t… and think I have a pretty good sense of when a review was clearly pre-planned and effectively written out even before the writer heard the album. Such things come with the territory.

But I’m here to tell you now that the praise being flung Obscura’s way for their new album Akróasis? It’s all very much deserved. Continue reading »

Nov 192015
 

At the Gates-photo by Ester Segarra
photo by Ester Segarra

Today we have a two-part round-up of (mostly) new music for you. I put together this selection of new things I spotted over the last 24 hours. A bit later today we’ll bring you another compilation, assembled by Grant Skelton. Here we go:

AT THE GATES

“The Night Eternal” is one of my favorite tracks on At the Gates’ latest album At War With Reality. Honestly, it’s probably my favorite track on the album. So I was excited that the band released an official video for the song a couple of days ago, and even more excited when I realized that the video consisted of an animation by Romanian graphic artist and musician Costin Chioreanu. And it truly is a wonderful creation. Costin wrote this about the video: Continue reading »

Nov 112015
 

Abbath-ST cover

 

Greetings again from Anchorage, Alaska, where it’s colder than a well-digger’s ass in the Klondike and where I’ve come down with a raging cold myself. On the plus side, I’ve once again had a few hours to myself this morning before having to dive back into my day-job labors. On the minus side, it’s looking like I may not be able to get back home until Monday, which blows.

In my free time this morning I made a quick scan through the NCS e-mail. Despite the fact that it’s overflowing with stuff that I don’t have time to read, a few things did leap out at me, and I’ve collected those here — presented in alphabetical order by band name.

ABBATH

We’ve previously featured a trio of live videos by Abbath that the band released in the ramp-up to their self-titled debut album (coming from Season of Mist on January 22) and a 7″ single that’s due for release on December 11. Yesterday Abbath debuted the album’s cover art (above) and the first studio recording from the new album, a track called “Winter’s Bane”. Continue reading »

Jul 112014
 

Germany’s Obscura announced a few hours ago that guitarist Christian Muenzner and drummer Hannes Grossmann have left the band, each for different reasons. As a result, Obscura have postponed the recording of their fourth album to the end of 2014 while they audition potential replacements for Muenzner and Grossmann.

Muenzner says, “There is no bad blood between me and any of the other members of the band”, but that “my heart is not fully into the music anymore” and that “I just want to devote the biggest part of the time I have to work on my own music and visions”.

At least as important, Muenzner explained that his decision to leave Obscura was also driven by the persisting neurologic condition in his fret hand known as Focal Dystonia, which almost robbed him of his ability to play guitar by late 2011/early 2012: Continue reading »

Nov 162012
 

(Guest contributor Kaptain Carbon is getting a head start on year-end listmania with a most amusing review of albums he missed earlier in the year. Despite the fact that I laughed out loud on numerous occasions, I haven’t forgotten that the Kaptain owes me a Russian Nesting Doll. Some things you don’t forget.)

Well, I am now a guest in another person’s house. I should take my shoes off and pretend I eat with my pants on. No Clean Singing put out a call for entries and usually I would be hosting board game night in my basement over at Tape Wyrm but now I am here. What a lovely house you have. I really love your collection of Russian Nesting Dolls. Oh dear, I think this one may be broken. I’ll set it down right here.

2012 is almost done and we will soon all be judged before the great cosmic eye. Before our fate is weighed on the gilded scales at an altar of ivory and blood, we all have to go through our end of the year lists. Yes, before the inevitable reckoning, where December is consumed in an omnipresence hellfire, we have to make our top 10s of 2012. Now, we all know it will probably go to the new Marilyn Manson record, but there is also the matter of the stacks of records which now make a castle on your coffee table. Look at this mess. Look at all of this stuff you said you were going to listen to but never did. You are a horrible human. I found this Abigail Williams record in the vegetable crisper.

I recently went through my library and pulled out all of the 2012 records I meant to review but never got around to doing so because I am a terrible metal-hating human being who secretly loves everything which you hate. I just want to make sure I did not miss anything, so I am going to go through this pile of laundry and rifle through its contents before throwing it back on the ground. Sure, things will still be messy, but there was production involved.

It is time to revisit the forgotten, at least by me, and the never-heard of 2012. Sure, No Clean Singing is giving me a wonderful opportunity to share some of my work with you, but let’s be honest, I woke up late and I am doing my homework while running to class. Thank you No Clean Singing for this opportunity and fuck you, you motherfucking stupid cocksucking alarm WHERE ARE MY KEYS? Continue reading »

Dec 082011
 

(The METAL SUCKFEST that took place in NYC on Nov 4 and 5 was a milestone event — the first U.S. metal festival organized and co-sponsored by a metal blog, and Metal Sucks pulled together a fucktastic line-up to boot. So, NCS decided to document the event up-close and personal by sending two emissaries — NCS writer BadWolf and photographer Nicholas Vechery.  They returned intact, and this is BadWolf’s report of the festival’s second day, along with Nick’s photos. We’ll have interviews to come in the days ahead.)

Photographer Nicholas Vechery and I returned for the second day of Suckfest even more hung over and disgruntled than on November 4th—we wanted to look and feel our best.

I learned about the sad passing of GWAR’s Cory Smoot earlier that day, so I was all frowns… until we walked into the Grammercy and found it bustling. Tickets to the second day must have outsold the first two-to-one.

What’s more, people seemed excited. No one is very visibly excited about anything in New York except exiting a subway train (especially the Green line, ugh!). A mass of goat-throwers chit-chatted, drank, acted like an honest-to-god community—something rare for me, the Midwestern Metalhead.

Community, people coming together—that’s what makes festivals amazing. Continue reading »