Oct 172022

(Today we present an extensive article by Rob Tamplin that’s part interview with Garry Brents of Cara Neir and Gonemage, and part essay on the fantasy worlds that have taken shape through those projects and the techniques used to bring them to life, along with some meditations on the pluses and minuses of nostalgia.)

If I was reluctant to say Cara Neir is the most exciting band in the US metal underground, it’s only because that would mean putting them in a box. Hell, even the word “band” seems like a loose fit, as there is a communal element to the Texas duo absent from most acts.

On Phantasmal, Garry Brents and Chris Francis’s eighth album together, Cara Neir debut five characters submitted by fans via their Bandcamp page. Over the course of the album, the duo encounters these characters on their quest through a horrifying alternate dimension.

See, Phantasmal is a concept album – just like Tommy or Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. Although it’s about as far from a pompous rock opera as it’s possible to get. The music, which broadly ranges from noise-rock to electronic powerviolence, is glazed with a frosting of rudimentary 8-bit synths, the kind you last heard when you were playing Castlevania at the arcade in your matching acid-wash denim two-piece, cramming the Dungeon Master’s Guide while blasting Master of Puppets on your Walkman. Which could have been today. It’s 2022, you could be doing some, or all, of those things while reading this. Continue reading »

Sep 302022

(Today we premiere a song off the new album by Veilburner, which is set for release on December 2nd by Transcending Obscurity Records, and to accompany it we present a fascinating in-depth review by Rob Tamplin.)

At this moment in time it’s difficult to think of a more on-the-nose band name. If Pennsylvania’s Mephisto Deleterio and Chrisom Infernium intended to toy with controversy when they conceived Veilburner, they could never have predicted world events taking place on the eve of the release of their sixth album. Born into a world where burqas are banned in 16 states, while protesters in Iran have been arrested and killed for burning their hijabs, both sides, fighting for the choice to either wear or not wear an item of clothing.

On this almost-eponymously-titled mission statement, Veilburner tell us none of us has any choice at all.

Across the album’s runtime, Infernium fires off a volley of hexes, ipse dixits, questions, and demands, all pointing to the inconvenient truth that humans’ warlike nature (“lathe a shiv from broken rib”) has consigned us all to a grisly end.

The band restrict the album’s lyrical matter to the realm of Old Testament apocrypha. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on with the lyrics than I can identify – Google searches of ‘the womb of Gehenna [and] the valleys of Sheol’ reveal these to be abodes of the dead in Jewish and Christian eschatology, i.e., ‘the doctrine of last things’! Continue reading »

Sep 192022

(We’re joined today by a new NCS contributor, Rob Tamplin, with his review of a new album by Texas-based Gonemage, set for release on September 30th.)

With Handheld Demise, Garry Brents, emerging master of high-concept narrative genre-spanning almost-metal, rounds off a trilogy of albums which started with 2021’s Mythical Extraction.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the eye of Brents’ particular musical hurricane, the nucleus seems to be Phase Out, Cara Neir’s ongoing trilogy of 8-bit black metal homages to RPGs. The Phase Out cycle is a trilogy of loosely-narrative albums inspired by dungeon crawler games like Neverwinter Nights, Pools of Darkness and Death Knights of Krynn, in which the listener ‘experience[s] a range of bits, bleeps, beats, and buzzing sounds you might hear from 90’s dungeon crawlers and JRPG’s.’

Like its parent project, Handheld Demise presents an entrancing medley of metal and geek culture (the cassette version of Sudden Deluge, the trilogy’s middle-child, came with its own custom printed Magic: The Gathering card). So, If Cara Neir is the main show, then Gonemage is the spin off. Continue reading »