Jan 182019
 

 

Within the world of heavy metal, the new year is in full swing. I’ve noted more than four-dozen new songs, EPs, and albums that have been released just this week alone and that, at least on a superficial level, seemed worth checking out. But for me it hasn’t been the best week to go exploring. With multiple premieres to write each day, and the time required to compile new installments of our evolving 2018 Most Infectious Song list (one more of which is coming later today), almost all my free time has been consumed.

By chance, however, I woke up at an even more ungodly early hour than usual this morning, and got far enough ahead on today’s planned posts that I spent a bit of time digging into that giant list of new things that appeared this week. I didn’t get far, but, serendipitously, everything I checked out proved to be appealing. All those new discoveries are collected here. Be forewarned: this list includes a healthy dose of clean singing, and one not-metal track.

SWALLOW THE SUN

Swallow the Sun threw more than a few people off-balance when they released the single “Lumina Aurea“ last month. But since then they’ve followed it with two tracks from their next album, When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light, which will be released by Century Media on January 25th. The first was “Upon the Water“, and then more recently they debuted a video for the song “Firelights“. Continue reading »

Dec 252018
 

 

If today is a holiday for you, we hope you’re enjoying it, regardless of whether it has any ecclesiastical meaning to you. If it’s not a holiday for you, we hope it will be a good day for you, too.

We don’t observe any holidays at NCS, not because we’re against them, but because from our first year the goal was to post something every day of the year, a goal we’ve kept with very rare exceptions. I can’t exactly remember why I set that goal (come on, it was 9 years ago!), but probably because I thought our best chance of getting readers was to be out there on days when there was no competition. Now, we keep doing it out of sheer stubbornness.

Since it is Christmas Day, I thought about exclusively going with metal that has some kind of holiday theme, but with a trio of exceptions at the end of this giant new-music round-up, I tossed that idea out the window, unless you count the introductory music from Rotting Christ. And why wouldn’t you?

ROTTING CHRIST

My NCS colleagues and I seem to be having a disagreement about RC‘s new album The Heretics. One of us, who shall remain unnamed, thinks it’s repetitive and boring, a distillation of the sound of the last three or four albums but lacking in dynamic peaks and troughs. A couple of us (including me) acknowledge that it’s basically Rotting Christ firmly in their established groove, but is nonetheless a whole lot of fun. Continue reading »

Feb 072016
 

Zatokrev-Silk Spiders Underwater

 

As I explained at the outset of this list, I didn’t have it finished when I began it. I’ve been making it up as I go along, without any pre-set idea of how long it would be. But since we’re now a week into February of 2016, I’m forcing myself to bring it to an end by this time next week. It hasn’t been easy, but I spent hours yesterday going through my still-massive list of song candidates and I’ve now got things in place in my head — or at least these things.

Beginning today and continuing through next Sunday I’ll post three new songs for the list each day. Except for next Sunday’s installment, I know which three I’ll post each day. And at the end, I’ll still have many more songs I’d like to post. But all good things must come to an end, and so this exercise will, too.

For most of the installments in the series up to now, I’ve grouped the songs according to certain themes, usually some kind of genre similarity in the groupings. But for most of the remaining installments, I’m focusing on variety, and grouping the songs together in ways that I think make for interesting listening, moving from one song to the next. To see the other songs on the list up to this point, click this link.

ZATOKREV

This band is so damned good. I feel that they haven’t yet gotten the widespread and tumultuous celebration that they deserve. I picked a song from their last album (The Bat The Wheel And The Long Road To Nowhere) for the 2012 edition of this list, and I’ve picked one for 2015 as well, because 2015 brought us another great new Zatokrev album — Silk Spiders Underwater… Continue reading »

Nov 302015
 

Swallow the Sun-Songs From the North

 

(In the longest review we’ve ever published, DGR assesses the mammoth new three-disc album by Finland’s Swallow the Sun.)

We’ve had this disc for a bit. I know we’re late on this, but I hope to make it up you guys by essentially deep-diving and excavating this album, as there’s a ton going on with Songs From The North I, II & II that deserves to be highlighted.

I have become one with this album. It is inside me, and I am inside it. At this point, I consider myself the Jacques Cousteau of album reviewers — minus the whole being French, deep-sea diving, and talented part, but still. I believe the analogy holds on its own merits. I have stared into the abyss through the eyes of this album and asked if there was anything worth saving, and still my heart said, “No”.

Songs From The North is an album that a lot of folks have been approaching with equal measures of dread and excitement. A huge cause of this is obviously down to the fact that the up-front description of Songs From The North was essentially this: doom metal band from Finland decides to release a triple-album — as in, not one disc, or two discs, but three separate platters of music. Continue reading »

Nov 262015
 

Swallow the Sun-Songs From the North

 

(Here are some ideas from Andy Synn….)

Recently my good friend DGR and I were having a discussion about the merits of Songs From the North, the new Swallow The Sun triple album, focussing mainly on which of the three CDs we considered the strongest overall, which we thought were the best songs across all three albums, and just generally shooting the shit about the reasoning behind releasing such a mammoth endeavour in one fell-swoop.

As expected, we eventually digressed into a wider discussion of the band’s discography, but came to loggerheads over how we viewed the band’s 2012 release Emerald Forest and the Blackbird. DGR thinks that, though it’s not the band’s best album, there’s still some solid songs on there. I disagree.

Why?

Because it doesn’t pass “The Setlist Test”. Continue reading »

Nov 142015
 

Anchorage temperature

 

This is my last morning in Anchorage for my fucking day job, at least for this trip. When I woke up before sunrise it was 3°F. Now the sun is up, and it’s 1°F — that’s One Degree. I’m definitely ready to come home.

In between packing and eating a formidable breakfast at the Snow City Cafe a few blocks from my hotel I listened to a trio of new songs and watched one new video that I enjoyed. I thought you might like them, too.

PILE OF PRIESTS

This Denver trio released an EP named Unholy Death in 2011, which followed a five-track demo in 2010 named Burn. Now they’ve completed a debut album entitled Void To Enlightenment, which features cover art by the masterful Sam Nelson (Stigma) and is due for release on December 12 (CD and digitally). The band recently released the album’s first single, “Incantations of Old”, and it’s fascinating. Continue reading »

Oct 062015
 

Swallow the Sun-Songs From the North

 

Yesterday and today brought yet another flood of very good new song and video premieres, many of which I’ve collected in this post. This is another instance where there’s so much music I want to share that I’m having to throttle my tendency to spill great piles of words on top of the music. Instead, there will be only small molehills of words.

SWALLOW THE SUN

Yesterday Finland’s Swallow the Sun premiered a lyric video for one of the vast number of songs on their forthcoming three-disc album on Century MediaSongs From the North I, II & III. We’re trying to figure out how to review this album. Current thinking is to divide it among three different writers here at our site. We probably need to think more.

Anyway, this song is “Heartstrings Shattering” and features guest vocals by Aleah (Trees of Eternity) The title is well-chosen. Continue reading »

Aug 192015
 

Swallow the Sun 2015

 

I haven’t taken a poll, but I think most of us here at NCS are long-time fans of Swallow the Sun. And so today’s news about their next album was exciting to see. But I must say that it is also the kind of news that causes some trepidation — because the new album, Songs From the North, is a TRIPLE ALBUM.

It’s due for release in November of this year. For pessimists and cynics, the idea of a triple album will raise the specter of self-indulgence. Only the best single albums are brilliant all the way through; even fewer double albums can make that claim. But three?

With fingers crossed, I present the official statement that appeared on the band’s Facebook page this morning: Continue reading »

Oct 162012
 

Let’s start this day at NCS with a contrast — two new songs from forthcoming albums that are on opposite ends of the speed spectrum. The first comes from a new Finnish band — Kuolemanlaakso — whose members include some names I’m pretty sure most of you will recognize. The second is from a new release by a French band — Destinity — whose last album I really liked and whose new one is also sounding excellent.

KUOLEMANLAAKSO

This band’s Finnish name means “Death Valley”. It began as a one-man project of guitarist Markus Laakso (Chaosweaver). After recording a handful of demo tracks, he recruited a group of additional musicians to flesh out the band:  vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun, Barren Earth), guitarist Savon Surma (“Kouta”) (Chaosweaver, ex-Verjnuarmu), bassist Tuomo Räisänen (“Usva”) (Elenium, The Nibiruan), and drummer Toni Ronkainen (“Tiera”) (Discard, Cult of Endtime).

Together they recorded an album at Woodshed Studio in Germany with V. Santura of Triptykon and Dark Fortress fame, who also mixed and mastered the music. The album is named Uljas uusi maailma (“Brave New World”) and it’s now scheduled for release by Svart Records on November 23. The cover art by Maahy Abdul Muhsin is a real eye-catcher — it’s right after the jump. Continue reading »

Sep 262012
 

(In this post DGR reviews the performances by Kreator, Swallow the Sun, Solanum, Blessed Curse, and Black Mackerel at Sacramento’s Ace of Spades on Sept. 24, 2012.)

I understand that there are people out there who don’t have weekends off and likewise work crazy schedules where their two days off aren’t in succession, but Monday shows always seem a little crazy to me. Few people are brave enough to venture out of their homes, knowing full well they either have Tuesday off or have work the next day, to attend a show on a Monday.

I also know that being in a band is a 7-day per week job, so Monday on their end is just another day. But I’m musing about Monday shows in part to explain what seemed like a somewhat small turnout for this one.

Ace Of Spades was about 1/3rd full, which is around 200-300 people, which is a lot, but Ace Of Spades is a pretty big place and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a show where people had space to pit, rock out, and in general have their own personal space without having to worry about crashing into other folk. Parking was also easier than hell to find this time, too.

I’d like to extend a fuck yeah to those of us who did go to a show on a MONDAY, because damn, it seemed like we had a hell of a time, didn’t it?

Continue reading »