Nov 242020


(Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør returns to NCS with the third edition of a series that began here in August and continued here in September.)

It’s official: I am in I-don’t-give-a-fuck-anymore mode. Between quarantine, social distancing, and Covid-induced madness, I’ve managed to stay above water but barely. Like most of us, I miss going to shows, hanging out with fellow metalheads, having a beer or two, and getting my ears blasted with hellish riffs in some smoke-filled, damp shithole in the sketchy part of town. As Islander points out in this piece, it has become abundantly clear by now that we will be dealing with this mess for the foreseeable future and any talk of a vaccine sorting things out, at least immediately, is pure fantasy.

Adding to the misery is the current political situation in the US and elsewhere. Recently, we were made to choose between two sets of incompetent and corrupt candidates whose political grand accomplishments include gems such as drafting the 1994 Crime Bill, imprisoning thousands of black men on minor (and often bogus) drug charges, building a ridiculous border wall, giving the rich more tax cuts, and tweeting nonsense at the world all day, everyday, for the last four years. Those who have done the most damage to American society by harassing, abusing, and dividing its people with their actions and rhetoric are now masquerading as leaders committed to social justice and unity. Continue reading »

Sep 102020


(In February of 2019 we published an article (here) about the “Proliferation of Metal Across National Boundaries” by guest writer Tør, a self-professed metalhead, data nerd, and ex-academic. The article, and accompanying interactive maps, were based on his work on a Ph.D. doctoral dissertation. Now Tør has updated the work in that previous article, along with a new map, under the second of the “Isolation Diaries” he has written for us — which includes some music at the end.)

I recently revisited some data I had collected on metal bands from The Metal Archives website and decided to make an interactive map illustrating the location of all metal bands archived on there.

Los Angeles, Mexico City, Santiago, Paris, Moscow, Athens, and Stockholm emerge as the most vibrant hubs for metal bands although there are plenty of equally important “metal cities” across the globe. A couple of notes about this map: (1) it is not normalized for population so only raw numbers are depicted, (2) the data is current as of 2015 so it doesn’t reflect the latest catalog of bands listed on the MA. I will probably make an updated map at some point in the future. I should also thank the fine folks over at MA for all the work that goes into maintaining that site. Continue reading »

Aug 172020


(Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør returns to NCS with the first edition of what may become a series — and invites you to contribute.)


The last six months have been difficult for all of us, no doubt. From social upheaval in the US to pandemic-induced lockdowns all around the world, 2020 has been an utter disappointment. In some ways it has been a symbolic disaster; twenty years on from the turn of the millennium, we find ourselves questioning every aspect of our lives, including our collective obsession with conspicuous consumption and entertainment culture, social media and technology, and the impact of conflict, poor governance, and greed on the very fabric of our societies.

We see the devastating impact of callous acts on our individual and global relationships, poor health outcomes, and the gradual devastation of the climate. Homelessness, addiction, and growing income inequality have spun out of control in the US as our politicians bicker over irrelevance and divisive identity politics. One could argue that twenty years on, our post-post-modernist experiment has not only failed, but it has left us exposed and hopeless as well. Continue reading »

Feb 102020


(Atlanta-based NCS contributor Tør is hoping to attend the 2020 edition of Steelfest in Hyvinkää, Finland, on May 15-16. This year the open-air festival will include such bands as Deicide, Sodom, Moonsorrow, Primordial, Venom Inc, Nifelheim, Impaled Nazarene, and many more. In this interview, Tør spoke with Steelfest founder Commander.)


Tell us a little bit about the concept and history behind Steelfest. What motivated you to organize it and how is it different from other metal festivals?

Steelfest started over a decade ago, 14-15 years ago, as a private “festival.” In the beginning, it was just local bands, friends, and lots of beer. I think in the first few events, there were more band members than the audience. So just the normal underground activity as usual.

I don’t remember how it happened but one day we just decided to change the venue and try to sell some tickets. We didn’t really think about what kind of bands or genre we wanted to focus on. We just invited bands what we liked at the time, and of course those we could afford to invite.  In the first years, we had seven guys doing this and it really showed in our lineups. So, we didn’t have much of a [cohesive] idea about what we were doing or what kind of festival we wanted to do.

Nowadays, there are just two guys including me behind our events. So in the last four or five years we have founded the path that Steelfest is now on. As we concentrate on the underground and extreme side of black/death metal and other obscure controversial stuff, I would like to think that Steelfest is different because of its whole atmosphere. Atmosphere made by the venue, bands, audience and all of Steelfest’s volunteers crew. Usually, Steeefest includes some rare artists which you cannot find in other festivals. So maybe that also is something that is unique to us and what we are known for. Continue reading »

Sep 032019


(Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør was fortunate to attend the 2019 edition of the Beyond the Gates festival in Bergen, Norway (headlined by Watain, Mayhem, Emperor, and Abbath), which took place on August 21-24, and he provides the following thoughts about the experience, and a treasure-trove of his own wonderful photos.)

Beyond The Gates VIII has just wrapped up and I am back in my Airbnb room — the cool Bergen breeze is coming in through the open window. It has been one hell of a festival with all three days providing quality entertainment for all who were lucky to witness it. I have lots of things to say about the festival itself, the city of Bergen, the country of Norway, and the friends I met along the way: things about why Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world, how Bergen is one of the liveliest cities I have visited, and why metal has become such an international phenomenon. However, those are heavy subjects for my tired soul and best left for another time. For now, a brief overview of the last three days will suffice. Continue reading »

Jul 092019


On August 21-24, 2019, the eighth edition of the Beyond the Gates festival will take place in Bergen, Norway, featuring a remarkable line-up of bands, headlined by Watain, Mayhem, Emperor, and Abbath. Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør was able to get the attention of BTG founder and principal organizer Torgrim Øyre, to discuss not only the upcoming event but also its history, and the predecessor Bergen festival Hole in the Sky. Our thanks to both of them for this interview.


Tell us a little bit about the history of Hole In The Sky/Beyond The Gates and how the idea for them came about.

Hole in the Sky was founded as a tribute to our late friend Erik «Grim» Brødreskift. He was a prominent figure in the metal scene in Bergen. Erik played with bands like Immortal, Gorgoroth, and Borknagar. Initially it was intended to be a one-off where friends from Bergen were paying their respects to their lost friend. The line-up was based on Bergen bands only. After the first festival, people kept saying that we should make it a tradition as there literally were no underground festivals in Norway at all at that point. This was pre-Inferno too. The festival quickly took on a life on its own. Slowly growing from the 300-cap venue Garage and moving into USF Verftet a few years later. It was an intense time. Not a lot of metal bands had played these shores before, so everything felt new and exciting. Everyone involved had very high standards for Hole in the Sky and after 12 years, we came to a point were we felt that we had done everything we could within that framework, so in order not to repeat ourselves and possibly compromise the quality of the festival, we felt that it was a good thing to put the fork in the road and end on a high note. Continue reading »

Jun 122019


(Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør was in the audience at The Loft on June 6th when the Devastation on the Nation Tour made its stop in Atlanta, and he provides these impressions, with his own excellent photos following the text.)

I have been looking forward to this night for months. The Devastation On The Nation Tour is in full swing, and co-headliners Dark Funeral and Belphegor are being supported by a host of bands including legends Incantation, HATE, Vale of Pnath, Nightmarer, and Malformity.

I make it to The Loft and have to walk up the stairs past some teeny-bopper event going on in the first-floor lounge area. Yes, I am a metal snob. I walk in the middle of HATE’s set, and Sinner’s vocals hit me like a brick. After a short setup, death metal legends Incantation take over the stage. With every riff and groove, I’m reminded of why this band has such a cult following. Incantation embody American death metal in the most imaginative way possible and I have a total blast watching their set. Continue reading »

May 172019


(Our Atlanta-Based contributor Tør attended the performance of Meshuggah and The Black Dahlia Murder on May 6th at Buckhead Theater, and provided us with these impressions and many of his photos of the performances, most of which follow the text below.)

It is a rather peculiar scene: a bunch of metal fans lined up on the sidewalk of one the trendiest parts of the city waiting for Meshuggah and The Black Dahlia Murder to perform. The Buckhead Theater is a wonderful venue for all kinds of live music and I am glad I can finally catch a show there for the first time after six years of living in Atlanta. Continue reading »

Apr 182019


(On April 11th our Atlanta-based contributor Tør returned to The Masquerade venue to take in Finnish-heavy performances by Children of Bodom, Swallow the Sun, Wolfheart, and local openers Summoner’s Circle. He sent us this report, along with a large batch of his own excellent photos from the show, most of which appear after the review.)

The traffic makes me want to ditch my car in the middle of I-75 and move to Europe. I get to The Masquerade customarily late but manage to catch a bit of the openers, Summoner’s Circle.

On their Facebook page the Knoxville outfit describe themselves as “a six-piece theatrical metal band that blends elements of doom, death, black and progressive metal into what they refer to as simply Epic Metal”. While genre-blending is not my cup of tea, I am pleasantly surprised by the solid display on stage. These guys are serious about what they do and the costumes and imagery match the grandiose sound they produce. Check out their first full-length, Tome, if you haven’t already done so. Continue reading »

Apr 022019


(On March 27th our Atlanta-based contributor Tør made his way to The Masquerade venue to take in performances by Aenimus, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Hypocrisy as part of their ongoing national tour. He sent us this report, along with a large batch of his own excellent photos from the show. For a full list of remaining dates on the tour, go here.)

I walk in late and it’s already happening. Openers Aenimus have just taken the stage and are blazing through their set. The crowd is into it: with every riff, the front-row crowd inches closer to the stage monitors. I stand on the side and enjoy the gig -— I like what I’m hearing. The metalcore-tinged proggy riffs take me to a place I’ve been to before but can’t quite recall. I’ve liked what I’ve heard of the new album, Dreamcatcher (Nuclear Blast) so far, and the band doesn’t disappoint live. Despite the solid start to the night, nothing prepares me for what is to come soon. Continue reading »