Oct 162017
 

 

You may have noticed that my posts have been scarce over the last few days — nothing at all over the weekend (Andy’s Best of British kept us from going dark altogether) and only one post on Friday and one on Thursday. The reason is that last Thursday my employer hosted its annual retreat, which was in Montana this year.

As usual, it has a very good time. But between the travel, the work-related meetings, the staying up late while getting hammered with co-workers, and the watching of some playoff baseball, NCS temporarily fell far down the ladder of my life. I wasn’t even been able to keep up with our e-mail traffic or my usual daily searching through statuses of friends, bands, and labels on Facebook.

Needless to say, I’m way behind. So what I’m doing here is collecting some music I actually had planned to post last Thursday, but ran out of time before leaving Seattle — though I have added two more songs I became aware of since then. Continue reading »

Nov 242016
 

thankskilling

 

Here in the good old U.S. of A. it’s Thanksgiving Day today, and so to all of our American readers, I want to wish you a happy fucking Thanksgiving. And if you’re puzzling over what to be thankful for, I have some new metal for you. You’re welcome.

That’s right, while the rest of the miscreants in U.S. metal blogdom are acting like normal, reasonably well-adjusted people and taking the day off, I’m still here like a good samaritan at the soup kitchen, feeding you nourishing metal so you won’t think no one cares about you, at least for today. As usual, I’ll also post something new on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this long “holiday” weekend, not because I’m better than anyone else but because I obviously have an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Because it’s Thanksgiving, this holiday edition of what we normally call Seen and Heard is overstuffed, which is the condition of most Americans by the end of this day. So get ready to gorge yourself through the earholes with music from a dozen bands. Continue reading »

Mar 152015
 

 

(Our Norwegian friend eiterorm has stepped up to assist with a round-up of recommended new music.)

While Islander is away on duties, I promised to do a quick round-up of some of the news I find. Due to my music-to-words converter running at low capacity at the moment, I’ll leave it to you to find descriptive words for the music. So if you find that adjectives and metaphors are lacking, feel free to add your own in the comment field below. Despite the scarcity of words in this post, however, all the music below is highly recommended. Don’t just take my word for it; stream it all and hear for yourself.

Macabre Omen

Macabre Omen was founded in 1994 on the island of Rhodes in Greece. For the next decade, they recorded a variety of demos and splits until their debut album, entitled The Ancient Returns, was released in 2005. Now, another decade later, the Hellenes have unleashed their sophomore album upon us. The new opus, entitled Gods of War – At War, is an hour-long collection of epic hymns to Hellenic warfare, in the musical vein of Bathory. The entire album can be streamed below for your auditory pleasure. Continue reading »

Feb 182015
 

 

A lot of exciting things have happened in the world of metal over the last 48 hours, despite the fact that I haven’t had time to write about them. Yes, amazingly, it’s true: When trees fall in this forest, they make a sound even if you don’t hear them (or read about them) on this putrid blog. I will mention a few of the occurrences in this post, and then collect more for a post tomorrow.

RELAPSE RECORDS: 25 YEARS OF CONTAMINATION

Yesterday Relapse Records released a digital sampler that, at least in my memory, is the most humongous collection of songs yet released in a digital format. And on top of that, it’s a “pay what you want” offering.

It’s part of the label’s celebration of its 25th year in business, and it includes more than 180 tracks, one from almost every band that has released an album or EP on Relapse since 1990. The sampler can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp at this location: Continue reading »

Jan 202015
 

We now come to Part 23 of our list of 2014′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. For the other songs we’ve previously named to the list, go here.

In most of the installments of this list, I’ve tried to pair songs together that have something in common. Not today. Not only are these two songs unlike each other, they’re both unlike anything else I’ve selected for this list so far. But they’re both damned infectious, so there’s that.

TREPALIUM

When I first saw and heard Trepalium’s video for a single named “Moonshine Limbo” off their 2014 EP Voodoo Moonshine, I got the biggest grin on my face.  It still makes me smile — and want to jump! — even when I’m in the midst of a truly shitty day. Continue reading »

May 122014
 


Vinterbris — drawing by Kim Holm

A lot of music and videos reached my ears and eyes over the weekend and today, and I’ve been collecting the best of what I heard in a series of posts. I guess I could have called all of them “Seen and Heard”, but I labeled the first one today “Videography”, and the next one (to be posted tomorrow) will be “Shades of Black”. Here are the next three goodies:

VINTERBRIS

I first came across this band from Bergen (Norway) last month after discovering that the very talented Norwegian artist Kim Holm had created the cover art for their forthcoming new album, Solace. I found an advance song named “Fathoms”, liked it a lot, and featured it here. (You can listen to another one at Pitchfork, where Kim Kelly spotlighted it.)

Today Vinterbris unveiled a wonderful music video for another new song, “Dysphoria”, which fittingly features Kim Holm’s creation of artwork for the songs on the album. As the band have explained, nothing in this video is sped up or otherwise altered. Continue reading »

Jan 232014
 

Welcome to Part 9 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two I’m announcing today, click here.

Both of today’s songs are folk-influenced examples of epic melodic death metal — albeit from widely separated corners of the world. They’re both highly infectious, too.

WOLFHEART

When Finland’s Tuomas Saukkonen announced about a year ago that he was shutting down all of his many musical projects — Before the DawnBlack Sun Aeon, Dawn of Solace, Routasielu, and Final Harvest — it rocked me and many of his other fans, and not in a good way. But what Saukkonen put in their place turned out to be something quite excellent — a new solo project named Wolfheart. In the band’s debut album, Winterborn (reviewed here), he took the best elements from what he had done before and interwove them in this new work, while also finding ways to stretch his talents in new directions.

With lyrics full of imagery of ice and snow, deep woods and frozen lakes, wolves and warriors, darkness and frost — and with dramatic, sweeping, intense music that captures the magnificent purity of loss and longing, struggle, and sacrifice — the album is a collection of highly memorable anthems. Saukkonen has always had a talent for writing powerful, often folk-influenced melodies, and Winterborn has them in spades. Sometimes languid, sometimes erupting with compelling urgency, they are woven into the fabric of the music. The album is an epic achievement, and one of the best releases of 2013. Continue reading »

Nov 232013
 

In the daily discourse about metal, whether it be online, in print, or in face-to-face conversations, it’s common for the music to be described in physical terms. In fact, I can’t think of any other genre of music where fans, critics, and musicians so frequently discuss and describe what they’re hearing by reference to the physical sensations that the sound triggers in their imaginations.

For example, when someone describes a song as “galloping”, most metal heads immediately have at least a general idea about the pace and rhythms of the music. And that word is always the first one that springs to my mind when I listen to China’s Tengger Cavalry — and not just because the word “cavalry” appears in the band’s name or because their music is so heavily influenced by Mongolian culture, in which the horse occupies such a central place (The Font of All Human Knowledge tells us that nomads living in the traditional Mongol fashion still hold more than 3 million horses, which outnumber the country’s human population).

Tengger Cavalry have completed recording a new album entitled Ancient Call that will be released on February 1, 2014, and thanks to a tip from my NCS comrade DGR, I learned that they’ve just made it available for pre-order on Bandcamp and have started streaming two new songs (which can be downloaded immediately by those who pre-order the album). Continue reading »

Sep 232013
 

(BadWolf reviews the wonderful 2013 album by China’s Tengger Cavalry.)

Folk metal is hard. On the one hand, when the genre is executed to my liking, it’s one of the finest sub-genres of metal there is—full of character, interesting lyrics, groove, hooks, and interesting instrumentation. I’m talking about bands like Moonsorrow, Melechesh, and Primordial. On the other hand, most folk metal bands send me flying for the delete key: folk metal bands like Finntroll and Turisas get cheesy quickly, and the sheer earnestness behind that cheese just makes me pity them more—and want less of them in my ears.

File China’s Tengger Cavalry alongside Primordial on my list of folk bands that do it right. Invisible Oranges scribe Rhys Williams turned me on to this band of heathens with a few cuts from their previous album, Sunesu Cavalry. Tengger Cavalry hail from China, and play folk metal based on the myths and legends of nomadic Asiatic tribes such as the Mongols and Huns. What was once a one-man project, led by guitarist Nature Zhang, has since become a full six-piece band. Tengger Cavalry’s second album, and first as a live unit, The Expedition, dropped on Bandcamp early this summer, and it will trample you under hoof.

The tribes of Mongolia once raided as far west as the Roman Empire on horseback. With a name like Tengger Cavalry and song titles like “Black Steed,” horse sounds and imagery compose a big part of the band’s sound. The heavier tracks on The Expedition all use Iron Maiden-style gallops, as well as mid-paced triplets to great effect. The band even use a whinnying noise from one of their two (!) Horse Head fiddle players as accent marks in a manner reminiscent of Gojira’s pick-slide dive-bombs. Continue reading »

Nov 212012
 

NO CLEAN SINGING is three years old today. We opened the doors on November 21, 2009, and we’ve posted something (or several somethings) every damned day since then. Of course, the fact that we’re still here after three years doesn’t mean we’re worth a shit, only that we haven’t given up.

Whether this birthday is a cause for celebration or for mourning, depending on your perspective, it does seem like a good time to do three things: Explain who we are (because we seem to have accumulated a lot of new readers in the last year); take note of some accomplishments; and offer a few words of thanks.

WHO WE ARE

On birthdays it’s always nice to reflect upon your origins. This blog began as a protest against the kind of clean singing that was infiltrating metalcore music at the time (what temporarily happened to Bury Your Dead three years ago was the specific provocative incident). My two co-founders and I weren’t dead set against all metal with clean vocals — we announced from the beginning that there would be Exceptions to the Rule — we just found that the kind of extreme music we preferred usually didn’t include them.

Since then, we’ve expanded our horizons to include a much greater variety of metal, with more clean singing in the mix, though I’ve hung on to the site’s original name despite (or maybe because of) how confusing it may be to newcomers. My original co-founders fell by the wayside long ago, ultimately to be replaced by a cadre of regular writers and many irregular ones. Actually, to be brutally honest, we’re all pretty irregular. So’s the music. So, it’s a good fit. Continue reading »