Jun 212012

(Andy Synn gives us examples of reverse-Eye-Catchers.)

In between reviews (at the moment I have pieces on the new Vintersorg, Gojira, Ihsahn, and De Profundis in gestation) and work on future editions of The Synn Report (for which I have a vague outline of what bands I want to cover, and in what order), I’d like to drop in little columns on bits of metal culture tangentially connected with the music. It’s fun to do, and it gives me a bit of breathing space and a place to clear my head.

Now, while I have a long-running piece on metal lyrics and the art of writing them (and then setting them to music) in the works, I thought for now I’d do a short, irreverent piece on metal artwork.  More precisely, bad metal artwork.

Ok, so clearly I could have filled this entire list with bad black metal artwork… although similarly I could easily have filled it with bad death metal artwork (any number of covers featuring zombies, rape, or zombie rape would do) or bad thrash artwork (robots, tanks, robot-tanks, etc). But I’ve gone for a cross-genre approach to make things a little fairer, and to allow me to fit in some real stinkers.

All these examples have been chosen from my own collection, and I’ve selected a few pieces of artwork that have unfortunately been latched onto otherwise great albums. Not all of them are utterly terrible, but none of them do justice to the music contained within. Continue reading »

Sep 152011

The 2011 album from Septic Flesh, The Great Mass, has been one of the year’s high points for several of us here at NCS. Andy Synn opened his detailed review of the album this way: “Equally comfortable playing the roles of death metal behemoths, gothic troubadours and classical composers, Septic Flesh have crafted another deep and rewarding piece of majestic, symphonic metal that carefully navigates the pitfalls and clichés which plague many of their peers. . . . I for one could not imagine these songs without the complex classical arrangements, nor see them existing without the frantic energy provided by the furious drums and guitars.”

Unlike many “symphonic” metal bands who are forced to rely on synthesizers for the addition of orchestral elements, Septic Flesh recorded The Great Mass with the Prague Filmharmonic Orchestra, and the difference in sound is dramatically evident. While it may be difficult to imagine the songs without the fury of the drums and guitars (or the power of Seth Siro Anton’s vocals), we don’t have to exert our imaginations, because Septic Flesh have now made the orchestral version of one song — “Mad Architect” — available for streaming. I had fun this morning listening to the album track first and then the orchestra-only version of this magnificently bombastic song. So I thought I’d give you the chance to do the same, after the jump.

Also after the jump is a song that has been exploding my head from an album called Thy Blackened Reign by an Illinois band called The Horde. The album was released last month by Stormspell Records. I’m so far behind on reviews that I’m worried I may not get around to writing a proper one of this ass-kicking slab of metal — but I’m at least going to include a short one here, while spotlighting that one song as a taste for you of what the record has to offer. More about The Horde and that song after the Septic Flesh tracks. Continue reading »

Jul 142011

I’ve never been in a metal band. I fantasize about it sometimes. I’d guess most fans do that at one time or another. But there’s at least one aspect of band life that I think I’d get tired of pretty fast — touring in cramped, dysfunctional vans, sleeping on people’s floors, and eating crap food while on tour. When I was younger, I didn’t think anything about living (and smelling) like an animal. But now that I’m older than dirt, it don’t sound so appetizing any more.

It’s easier to fantasize about being in a band who are successful enough to tour in style, in a big full-comfort bus with a road crew to take care of some of the heavy lifting and assorted other bullshit you’d otherwise have to do for yourself. But even bands like that don’t get to travel in style all the time. Like when the bus breaks down and 15 of you have to get in a van and drive for hours across the flat, featureless landscape of the Canadian prairie. Which is what happened to The Devin Townsend Project and Septic Flesh on the road from Saskatoon to Winnipeg not long ago.

Most hand-made tour videos that I see aren’t all that interesting. Basically, you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. But Devin Townsend, being the evil creative genius that he is, put together a short video of this cramped van trip that I enjoyed. In terms of what you see, it’s still pretty much in the category of “seen one, seen ’em all”, but the editing and especially the musical soundtrack are cool. Plus, I saw these bands on their current tour (along with Obscura and Children of Bodom), and they were both so tremendous that I couldn’t resist watching this. The video is after the jump.

Also after the jump — news about a newly released 3-song single from 7 Horns 7 Eyes that we recommend highly. Continue reading »

Apr 122011

I just saw news about a tour scheduled to make its way through the U.S. and Canada this summer, and fluids burst from every orifice. Well, at least my nose started running.

The headliner: Children of Bodom

The supporting bands:  The Devin Townsend Project, Obscura, and Septic Flesh

The dates and places? They include Seattle on June 27, which is really all I need to know. But because I love every single one of you, especially those of you who will be denied the chance to see this tour because I know you will be hurting inside, the rest of the schedule is after the jump, along with the tour flyer. Excuse me now while I wipe my nose. Continue reading »

Apr 122011

(Our UK contributor Andy Synn provides his review of an album we’ve been eagerly awaiting here at NCS — the new one from Greece’s Septic Flesh, due for release by Season of Mist on April 18 in Europe and one day later in NorthAm.)

Ladies and gentlemen, for my next trick I’m going to attempt to review the new Septic Flesh album without ever explicitly mentioning their previous album Communion (not counting this mention obviously)!

Equally comfortable playing the roles of death metal behemoths, gothic troubadours and classical composers, Septic Flesh have crafted another deep and rewarding piece of majestic, symphonic metal that carefully navigates the pitfalls and clichés which plague many of their peers. Largely this is due to their focus on making the more esoteric elements of their sound just as important and vital to their success as the guitar riffs and drum patterns which underpin them.

I for one could not imagine these songs without the complex classical arrangements, nor see them existing without the frantic energy provided by the furious drums and guitars. At no point is the orchestration treated as an afterthought, or designed simply to fill otherwise empty space, and equally it has been used at the expense of the metallic heart which powers the songs. Rather, the classical elements have been composed to suit the core metallic might of the band . . . which has itself been influenced and shaped by the core classical influences that run through their musical veins!  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Mar 212011

We are consumed, body and mind, in a never-ending search for ways of improving the NCS experience for you, our beloved readers, who thankfully have way too much time on your hands.

Actually, to be brutally honest, which is the only kind of honest we know how to be at this site, we don’t think much about improving anything around here because that would involve . . . well . . . it would involve thinking. Which is why almost nothing has changed since we started NCS, except on those rare occasions when someone else has basically done all the thinking for us, like when groverXIII (TNOTB) just up and re-designed our site banner out of the goodness of his black heart.

Well, recently we found out that some of you have been experiencing delays in streaming or downloading song files when we include a song-link in our posts instead of an embedded audio player. This could be explained by network congestion or your own bandwidth limitations, but I suppose it could have something to do with our file-hosting service. 

So, we decided to experiment and see what happens when we use a different service. We randomly picked two songs as the guinea pigs. Can you guess which album one of them came from? (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Feb 092011

This is just too good not to share, in part because it involves Septic Flesh and in part because the artwork is cool and in part because the band’s Seth Siro Anton, who designed the artwork, is . . . well . . . cool.

As we’ve reported before (in a post that included a bunch of other art created by Mr. Anton), Septic Flesh has a new album on the way. It will be called The Great Mass, and it will be released on April 18 (one day later in North America, because we North Americans are not worthy). If history is a reliable guide, it will be worth hearing.

Today, the band unveiled part of the album art — the cover for the jewelcase edition, which you can see above. But it’s only “a small fragment” of the whole.  To see Seth Siro Anton’s description of what’s coming — which is a kick to read — follow along after the jump. Continue reading »

Dec 162010

What?  You thought we’d let you forget?  Perish the thought.  Yes, the new Septic Flesh single that we told you was on the way is now out and available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon MP3.

This time of year, various metal artists release songs to commemorate “the holiday season”, but not many release one like this. Odds are, you won’t be hearing “Vampire From Nazareth” mixed in with the carols at the mall. Or mixed in with carols anywhere else.

It starts with a brief symphonic overture and a soprano vocal and then the song kicks into gear. It’s bombastic, and dark, and furious, and melodic. As was true on the band’s last album, Communion, Septic Flesh employs a full orchestra to add symphonic elements, without losing the intensity of its blackened death-metal assault. It makes us even more hungry for the new album scheduled for arrival on April 18, 2011 (one day later in the U.S.).

By the way, in case you don’t know, Seth Siro Anton, who’s the bassist and vocalist for Septic Flesh, is also quite a talented artist. Not only did he create that eye-catching artwork for the “Vampire” single up above, he has created album covers and merch art for many, many other bands you’ve heard of, and what he does never fails to be visually arresting.

As you know, album art is a big deal to us at NCS — an aspect of metal music we hope never dies out despite the dominance of download culture. Periodically, we devote our blog space to featuring metal album art from artists whose work we admire. Today seemed like a good day to do that for the work of Mr. Anton. So, get an eyeful after the jump, and for even more examples, visit his MySpace page. And just in case Septic Flesh is new to you, we’ve added one of the songs from Communion just before the artwork. Continue reading »

Dec 152010

That eye-catching cover up there is for a new digital single that Greek symphonic black metal band Septic Flesh will be releasing on Friday. The single is called “The Vampire From Nazareth”. I wonder who that refers to?

Septic Flesh’s new album, as yet unnamed, will hit the stores on April 18, 2011 (one day later in the U.S.) in various editions. It will include orchestral elements provided by the Filmharmonic Orchestra of Prague, and it was produced by none other than Pain/Hypocrisy mainman Peter Tägtgren (who’s done similar duties for the likes of Amon Amarth, Marduk, Therion, Children of Bodom, Celtic Frost, and Immortal).

The last album from Septic Flesh, 2008’s Communion, was just all kinds of awesome. We’ll be very interested to hear this new single. Don’t worry — we’ll probably remind you again on Friday.