Dec 012012

In here: A few things I noticed this morning.


Soilwork’s ninth studio album The Living Infinite, which will be a two-disc release, is now scheduled for release by Nuclear Blast on March 1 in Europe, and March 5 in North America. Late yesterday, the cover art was unveiled. The artist is Mnemic’s Mircea Eftemie Gabriel. He also created the artwork for Soilwork’s Stabbing The Drama album seven years ago. It’s a change from the style of the band’s last few covers, and I’m liking it. It seems to have a nautical theme; I don’t know how that connects to the music, but we’ll find out.

Nuclear Blast also released the album’s track list: There are a total of 20 songs. I’m sure there will be some catchy melodic ones in there, but I’m hoping for some old-school Soilwork head-wreckers, too.


This morning I also saw four new music videos. The first one isn’t metal. It’s for a song named “Stone Letter” by Tomahawk, who we last featured here. Tomahawk consists of Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) plus a bunch of other interesting musicians: Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard, Unsemble), Trevor Dunn (Fantomas, Melvins Lite), and John Stanier (Battles, Helmet). Five years have passed since their last release, but they’ve got a new album coming in January called Oddfellows. Continue reading »

Oct 302012

Sweden’s Soilwork have been working with producer Jens Bogren on a new double-CD album, The Living Infinite, which will be released sometime next year by Nuclear Blast. Today, they announced the first North American tour in support of the album — and it’s a mammoth one. It will begin on March 12, 2013, in West Springfield, Virginia, and finish on May 7 in Worcester, Massachusetts.

I’m sure I’ll see this tour, especially because it’s coming to a relatively compact venue in Seattle, but also because I still have a warm spot in my heart for Soilwork despite a musical trajectory over time that’s been less than completely satisfactory, given my tastes. With a new double-CD worth of new music to promote, I suspect there won’t be much room for the really good, hard, older stuff, but we’ll see.

Also, Jeff Loomis is along for this ride, and I’d see this show even if he were the only name on the bill.

The line-up on the whole is curious — you certainly can’t accuse the organizers of lacking a taste for musical variety. In addition to Soilwork and Loomis, the tour will include Blackguard, The Browning, and Wretched. As for me, I’ve never been able to get into Blackguard, The Browning are a guilty pleasure, and Wretched — they kick ass. And what do you think? Continue reading »

Aug 302012

Here’s a quick round-up of news items I saw today. I may have more later . . .


That’s a really good promo shot up there, don’t you think? It was taken by Hannah Verbeuren. Could there be a relationship to the band’s fabulous drummer Dirk Verbeuren?

In addition to seeing that great photo, I also saw the news that Soilwork’s new album, The Living Infinite, is going to be a double-album. According to the band’s front dude Björn “Speed” Strid , it will be: “A REAL double album, in the true sense of the word, which means no fillers and no left-overs.”

Oh, let’s hope that will prove to be true! And let’s further hope that with all that extra room it will include the kind of harder-edged, melodeath marauders like “Needlefeast”, “Follow the Hollow”, “Like the Average Stalker”, and “The Chainheart Machine” that Soilwork once enjoyed delivering, in addition to the catchy, poppier, cleanly sung stuff that dominated The Panic Broadcast (2010). I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy that last album, because I did, but I kept waiting for something with real teeth in it . . . and waited in vain. Now I’ll start waiting again . . . .

On the other hand, I don’t think lack of teeth will be the problem with this next band’s new album. 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 292011

(Andy Synn provides an unexpected SYNN REPORT, seizing upon the imminent calendar change to discuss the re-recording of 12 songs by 12 tremendous bands — and of course we’re including the music, which means 24 tracks. Fuck, this would be a mixtape that KILLS.)

So here it is, a surprise Synn Report to finish off the year. Arbitrary though the distinction may well be, the end of the year provides a perfect excuse to attend to a similar theme, the transition from the old to the new – re-workings and re-recordings.

Are they better? That’s an argument for the ages? Are they necessary? Hell, that’s probably an even worse argument to start up…

Primarily, re-recordings serve a twofold purpose – 1. to reinvigorate songs that might otherwise not be getting the set-time they deserve, and 2. – to royally piss off a band’s fan-base. Although there’s a chance that the second isn’t entirely intentional. Still, the re-recorded album courts controversy like almost no other, whether it’s a varied collection of songs that are chosen to receive the treatment, or a full re-recording of an entire album.

The full re-recording of an entire album is clearly the most contentious option, while single track re-recordings are often a much more successful and welcome proposition, most often appearing as b-sides and bonus tracks for the avid collector. The full-album re-recording, however, remains exceptionally and unequivocally divisive, alienating as many old fans as it attracts new ones.

So here’s a list of some of those renewed tracks that I think definitely have something to offer the listener, both old and new. I’m sure I’ll have to turn in my kvlt card after this, for promoting something so new and shiny, but ah well… Continue reading »

Nov 072011

(Andy Synn ventures outside his usual meat and potatoes with this one. I’m not objective, of course, but this post includes many observations that ring true to me, and maybe will to you as well. Also, this post includes a heavy cargo of highly-worth-watching videos.)

I’ve been looking at doing some shorter pieces on various topics for a while now, spreading myself a little more widely and letting the material do most of the talking for me, and Islander’s sabbatical seems like the perfect opportunity to do so.

So I wanted to bring your attention to a couple of music videos which you may have overlooked, and highlight why I like them and what I think makes them a good example of the video “art-form”. Equally, however, the success (relative or otherwise) of these videos highlights some of the regrettably common failures of most metal videos!

Now bear in mind that most metal videos are a missed opportunity. I’m a fan of a good solid performance video, this is true, be it live footage (purpose-shot or amalgamated) or the traditional warehouse/barren-field performance, as long as it gives you a sense of the intensity and power of a band really getting into their music and their instruments. However, this is where most of them fall down, simply giving us a general shot of “hey look, this is what we look like when we’re playing” rather than any sort of “feel” for the intensity of the experience. And I’m not saying this is easy, far from it.

I do, however, want to highlight the issue that for so many bands (and most recently I’m looking at the plethora of metalcore/deathcore/djent bands) videos become merely a case of being SEEN without actually SAYING anything with the opportunity they’ve been given. Just because you’re moving/jumping/posing does not mean you’re coming across as doing anything more than singing into a hair-brush in front of the mirror.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Feb 242011

Do you remember that not long ago we compiled an NCS list of THE MOST INFECTIOUS EXTREME METAL SONGS OF 2010? Well, some of you do. Others are newcomers and still others have recently destroyed the brain cells that were responsible for remembering that list.

On that list, we included a Soilwork song, “Epitome”, from their Panic Broadcast album. I really wrestled with that one, because I thought there were three songs on the album that were viable candidates. The first time I thought about it, my choice was “Let This River Flow”. And then I changed my mind, partly because many of you let it be known, through comments and otherwise, how much you liked “Epitome”.

“Epitome” is a very infectious song, and a good song, too. But I’ve still got a soft spot in my heart, or in some other organ that functions when I feel heartless, for “Let This River Flow”. So, imagine my excitement in seeing, just minutes ago, that Soilwork has released an official video for that song. I so excite that I gotta put it up here on our web site — especially because it’s my favorite kind of metal video. (go watch it after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 042011

So far, we’ve named 14 songs to our list of 2010’s most infectious tunes, and so far the songs have been without clean singing. No shock there, of course. But today we’re including a couple of exceptions to the normal rule around here, with songs from Soilwork and As I Lay Dying.

Both of these bands have been favorites of this site’s founders for many years. We’ve always found something to like in their albums, even when the overall album strength has dipped a bit, and 2010 was no exception. Plus, both bands put on great live shows, and we snap up tickets whenever they venture into the PNW.

Both bands released new albums in 2010 that we reviewed, and both albums contained multiple songs that made our master list of “most infectious” candidates. In the end, we picked one song from each. For a full explanation of what we mean by “most infectious”, read this. And to see the songs we’ve named so far, click the Category link over on the right called MOST INFECTIOUS SONGS-2010.

To read about and hear the songs we picked for our final list from Soilwork and As I Lay Dying, continue on after the jump. Continue reading »

Jul 292010

Soilwork is in the midst of a headlining tour in support of its recent album The Panic Broadcast, and the three perpetrators of NO CLEAN SINGING were in the audience when the tour blew through El Corazon in Seattle on July 27.

The bands on this tour are an interesting mix. No two of them play the same style of metal. We had Soilwork‘s melodic metalcore, Death Angel‘s supercharged thrash, hyper-technical death metal from Augury, Mutiny Within‘s aggressive power metal, Swashbuckle‘s pirate thrash, and melodic death metal from Seattle’s Deathmocracy.

It was also a long night, and those (like us) who were there from start to finish got their money’s worth: Deathmocracy took the stage at about 7 p.m., and Soilwork finished a 90-minute set at 12:30 in the morning. In a nutshell, we got thoroughly deep-fried in a vat of molten metal.

In this post, we’ll give you some brief notes on the performances and a collection of our reliably half-assed photos of each band — after the jump. Continue reading »

Jul 152010

We named this site NO CLEAN SINGING for a reason, which is spelled out in excruciating detail on the “ABOUT” page. In a nutshell, the personal tastes of myself and my two sometimes-collaborators veer toward the more soul-shakingly cathartic side of the extreme metal continuum. And for us, that tends to correlate with the absence of clean singing. But from the beginning, we’ve admitted that there are Exceptions to the Rule.

To be brutally honest (which is the only kind of honest we know how to be), there are some songs by some bands that live with us in our memories precisely because the melodies are so unforgettable — particularly when paired up with adrenaline-laced rhythms and blowtorch power. And sometimes those songs have featured clean singing. Sometimes the clean singing is part and parcel of what makes the songs so unforgettable.

There might be a better example of what we’re talking about than Sweden’s Soilwork, but if there is, it ain’t coming to mind. The first notes of songs like “Exile”, “Black Star Deceiver”, and “Stabbing the Drama” start playing, and the whole, epidemically infectious songs immediately come tumbling out of our corroded mental databases like the vivid images of old, close friends.

At the same time, Soilwork has been capable of harder-edged, melodeath marauders like “Needlefeast”, “Follow the Hollow”, “Like the Average Stalker”, and “The Chainheart Machine”. Those songs, and others like them, have tapped into the reptile parts of our brains that just want to headbang, windmill, and slam into shit.

Soilwork’s hallmark ability to straddle that divide between melodic death metal and metalcore, between mayhem and epic melody, is exactly what’s made them an NCS favorite despite all the clean singing.

So, what are we to make of the new Soilwork release, The Panic Broadcast? As a group, the three of us are conflicted. (what we mean? follow along after the jump . . .) Continue reading »