Nov 142018
 

 

(DGR continues his Herculean, or perhaps Sisyphean, effort to catch up with reviews before the year-end LISTMANIA typhoon arrives, and today we have his extended thoughts about the new album by The Ocean, which was released by Metal Blade on November 2nd.)

The review nightmare continues on with two more massive releases that could not be more opposite from one another on the metal spectrum, yet are likely to completely wreck the shambles of a top year-end list that I had already written. The first of these two comes today, and the next one tomorrow

The back of the year of our Satan 2018 is proving to be quite bountiful, in a year that was already moving in massive fits-and-starts. I’m imagining the year-end lists are going to be hilariously like 2016’s bloodbath, in that everyone will have moved in so many different directions and found so much stuff to love that there will be fuck-all in terms of overlap. Yet, despite these predictions, the constant battle to “catch-up” and expose our dear NCS readers to newer music continues, and so I present to you the latest in a desperate album review exercise that now has at least five albums I still want to chat about waiting in the wings. Continue reading »

Nov 132015
 

Damnation Festival 2015

 

(Andy Synn provides this report on the 2015 edition of Damnation Festival in the UK.)

It’s been a few years now since I last attended Damnation Festival, the annual celebration of all things dark and metallic hosted (as always) at Leeds University Student’s Union. But this year I knew I simply couldn’t miss it, as not only were a number of my favourite bands playing (hello Sólstafir, hi there Primordial) but also two bands I’ve been a fan of since their very first albums, but whom I’d never actually managed to see live before (The Ocean, Altar of Plagues).

Oh, and some band named At The Gates. Who are apparently pretty famous or something. Continue reading »

Apr 212014
 

(BadWolf turns in this live show review and also proves he’s got some photographic skills.)

This summer, progressive rock legends Yes announced not only that they would tour, but that their show would consist of not one but two—two!—of their classic records, 1971’s Fragile and 1972’s Close to the Edge, in their entirety.

What in the fuck does this have to do with The Ocean? More than you’d think.

On their spring co-headlining tour with Scale The Summit, The Ocean elected to play their 2013 album Pelagial front-to-back. It’s a bold move. Metal fans, as a rule, demand the old stuff. Even if the new Metallica record is awesome, nobody will want to hear more than a single song from it in a live setting—everybody will want to hear Master of Puppets in its entirety. The former album, no matter how slick, will enver have the ‘classic’ status that we attribute to their older work.

Then again, sometimes a band can smell a classic the minute they shit it out. Continue reading »

Feb 102014
 

Welcome to Part 25 of our list of 2013′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 three songs I’m announcing today, click here.

It’s a Monday, the beginning of a new week, and time for me to make an important though painful decision: I am going to finish this list by Friday.   Friday is the halfway point in the second month of the New Year, so it really seems like I ought to finish a 2013 year-end list by then. Plus, I’ve already forced myself to pick the remaining songs, and having done that, my habitual indecisiveness won’t get in the way of bringing the list to a close. As for today, here are three songs from 2013 I’m pretty high on.

RUSSIAN CIRCLES

Down to the last week, and only now am I coming to a purely instrumental track. The name is “Deficit” and it appears on Memorial by Chicago’s Russian Circles. To borrow from what I’ve previously written about the song: For anyone who still thinks instrumental “post rock” doesn’t pack enough visceral kick to shake your skeleton from skull to tarsus, listen to “Deficit”, because it’s a heavy beast. It sets a doomy tone with a moving wall of guitar noise and a hypnotic drumbeat at the outset. The intensity builds from there, and beginning at the 3:00 mark it’s fuckin’ headbang city all the way forward (accompanied by a memorable chiming melody).  Continue reading »

Jan 152014
 

Satan has been a busy little sulphurous bee this week. So many newsy metal announcements, so many new metally songs, more than my addled brain can keep up with. Here are a few of the items I spied over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth sharing. More will come in another post today.

TOURISM: THE OCEAN / SCALE THE SUMMIT / THE ATLAS MOTH / SILVER SNAKES

Who are these people who are constantly blaring that “Metal Sucks” and why are they associating with miscreants such as The Ocean, Scale the Summit, The Atlas Moth, and Silver Snakes? I must add that question to the long list of life’s mysteries to which I must devote my investigative energies. Whoever those people are and whatever obscure impulses motivate them, they are presenting a U.S. tour of the afore-mentioned miscreants, wisely choosing to launch it in The Emerald City, for which I will give thanks by sacrificing a neighbor’s child under the next full moon.

Other less important cities will be visited by this very impressive line-up, and I will list them after the jump for those whose eyesight isn’t sharp enough to discern them on the tour poster above. And speaking of the line-up, though I have been savaged by the first three bands in previous musical performances, Silver Snakes have not had the pleasure of savaging me before, and in fact I was unaware of their existence before those people who blare “Metal Sucks” presented them in this new tour, though I sometimes see silver snakes while on the verge of a blackout drunk. Therefore, along with the dates I will provide a bit of their music, which involves clean singing along with heaviness and lightness. Continue reading »

Oct 082013
 

Here’s a collection of recent items that seemed worth sharing with our esteemed readers, as well as you.

ARTILLERY

I know we have thrash heads in the audience, and for you we present as a public service a new song from Denmark’s Artillery. For those of you born after 1982, Artillery have been recording music since before you were born. For those of you who don’t look both ways before crossing the street, they may still be recording music after you have left this veil of tears. Their seventh album, Legions, will be released by Metal Blade in the US on November 26, and on somewhat earlier dates elsewhere. It features a new vocalist, Michael Bastholm Dahl, and a new drummer, Josua Madsen, along with original guitarists Morten and Michael Stützer and longtime bassist Peter Thorslund.

Yesterday, an advance track was made available for streaming. The introduction to “Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)”, with its hand drums and exotic melody, is a surprise, and an immediate hook into the rest of the song. Thrash lives or dies by the power of the riff, and this song has got some good ones going on. I’m also told by a long-time fan of the band that the new vocalist is reminiscent of former vocalist Flemming Rönsdorf, last heard from on the band’s fourth album in 1999. Continue reading »

Sep 162013
 

Interview subject, with new friend Al Weiwei at The Ocean’s September concert in Beijing.

 

(Our man BadWolf had a long chat with The Ocean’s main man Robin Staps just prior to the release of Pelagial this year, and we have it for you here.)

Robin Staps comes across nothing like his music. Soft-spoken, and eloquent as he is lithe, Staps appears as some sort of scholarly outdoorsman. Which is true.

However, he’s also the composer/lyricist/lead guitarist and all-around mastermind behind cerebral genre interlocutors The Ocean, and in that capacity he is anything but soft. His early records, the instrumental Fluxion through the sprawling Precambrian, compose some of the strongest post-whatever music put to disc, mixing sludge, hardcore, and progressive metal with orchestral music and jazz. His subject matter—the food chain, the literature of Dostoevsky and the gradual cooling of the prehistoric earth’s crust—is arch as all get out. You could say he innovated the high-concept album. And what albums they are. The last two, conjoined twins, Heliocentric and Anthropocentric, form a literate, scientific, and absolutely burning indictment of Christianity.

“There is no alternative to the theory of evolution.” Staps insists through frontman-as-avatar  Loïc Rosetti.

Those albums may present a larger existential threat to organized religion than the entirety of black metal put together. Witchcraft destroys minds, but The Ocean changes them.

Earlier this year, Staps released his followup to the -centric albums, Pelagial, and it’s another doozy—a one-hour trip from the surface of the ocean to its floor. It begins delicate and ends crushing, and along the way dabbles in new territory. Hell, parts of “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny” sound almost like a down-tuned Queen, but still work in the album’s greater context.

From his music’s time signature to its instrumentation, conceptualization, packaging, and presentation, Staps pushes every aspect of his art to the extreme. He Skyped me just prior to the release of Pelagial to talk about what drives him, the way Pelagial was made, and the source of his inspiration—the ocean. Yeah, the interview took a while to get up. Sorry, Robin. Continue reading »

Jul 022013
 

(DGR wrote this.)

Begin: SHOW FADES in to reveal office door, sign on door says NOCLEANSINGING.COM. Door opens to reveal small room with single fan spinning overhead. One corner appears charred black as if set on fire. Camera pans over to reveal a single table up against wall with four computers, a typewriter, a telegraph, and a cage with a pigeon sitting in it by the window. Camera turns to show another table with people sitting around it. Three long-haired guys, one headless guy, and one with short hair.

DGR: It’s nice to have a bit of downtime between releases, we’ve basically run through everything that’s come out within the past couple of months.
Islander: Yep
Israel: Yeah
Andy: Oi; don’t you think I’m worth more thought than a cheap British accent for this gag?
DGR: Nope.
Islander: *nervously* Actually, we still have a couple sitting in the backlog after all. Apparently no one has done The Ocean yet.
DGR: Seriously? No one? That album had a lot of heat behind it, they were the critical darlings for a little bit there. Islander?
Islander: Don’t look at me, I’m busy with work….and trips for work…and stuff.
DGR: Andy?
Andy: Busy, playing a bunch of shows. Also that album came out, like a month ago.
DGR: Israel?
Israel: Don’t ask me, working on ways to write a review for the Amon Amarth album.

Cut to blackboard with “It is an Amon Amarth album” scrawled over and over on it. Continue reading »

Mar 122013
 

(NCS writer DGR brings us a round-up of new music from The Ocean and Robots Pulling Levers.)

Here’s a couple of things that caught my eye over the weekend and yesterday.

A couple days ago The Ocean premiered a new song off of their upcoming two disc album Pelagial (one with vocals – the other an instrumental version) entitled “Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams”, and it is a solid piece of metal for those who enjoyed the group’s heavier aspect from their two-part release Heliocentric/Anthropocentric back in 2010.

It’s been three years since those two discs hit, and so far this intro song proves that the band have not decided to rest on their laurels during this passage of time. It’s not as moody and introspective as the stuff on Heliocentric – instead going for the much more straightforward bombast and powerful chorus work of something like “She Was The Universe”. Continue reading »