Jan 292014

(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new collaborative album by SUNN O))) and ULVER.)

Three tracks may not seem like much, on the surface of things, yet, as with all things involving their creators, appearances can be deceiving.

You see, these aren’t just any three songs, they’re three songs that are the product of a secretive, clandestine collaboration between prophetic drone disciples Sunn O))) and esoteric audio alchemists Ulver.

The existence of this enviable (to some, still unbelievable) musical pairing only became apparent a few months ago, though its roots extend all the way back to a fabled and near mythical meeting in Oslo, August, 2008.

It was here that Sunn O))) locked themselves away at Ulver’s Crystal Canyon Studio, beginning one evening and ending the following dawn, to record three “live in improvisation” pieces… for what purpose as yet unknown.

Over the intervening years the Norwegian new-age nihilists (with periodic input from the irrepressible Stephen O’Malley, who would occasionally return to the scene of the initial crime to offer his inimitable assistance) have cut and pasted, chipped and painted, mixed and moulded these three compositions– adding, subtracting, metamorphosing and mutating – into the final forms we see here today. Continue reading »

Nov 182013

It’s been an action-packed day here at NCS, with some ass to mouth plus three album reviews and two song premieres — and I had two more reviews ready to go, but I’ve deferred those until tomorrow so that we don’t overdose you with awesomenessness. But at the risk of giving you a manic sugar high, I thought I’d round up some of the best things I saw and heard today. We’ll begin with a couple of announcements and end with a new song and a new video


One week ago I reported about a cryptic announcement by Southern Lord that seemed to suggest a long-rumored collaboration between Sunn O))) and Ulver was about to become a consumable reality. Today we got a more informative announcement, i.e., that these two storied bands have indeed collaborated to create a three-track recording entitled Terrestrials — “a trio of movements which flow like magma beneath the Earth’s crust, sonically uninhibited, unpredictably cosmic, haunting and stirring, yet simultaneously ceremonious and beautiful.”

Southern Lord will be releasing Terrestrials in February 2014, the cover can be seen above, and we are promised that over the course of the next month details shall be dribbled out concerning “the story of how this alliance and recording came to be.” Continue reading »

Nov 112013

Hope you had a good weekend. And if you didn’t, hope you have a good week. And if you don’t, I apologize for the feebleness of my hopes. At least your life will be enriched by seeing and hearing these things I saw and heard over the weekend (and yes, I had a good weekend, thank you).


When last we wrote about this Danish band it was during 2012 in a review of their three-way split with As We Draw and Euglena. They’ve now recorded a new album entitled Abalam which is projected for release on January 11, 2014. Over the weekend I saw a music video released earlier this month for one of the new songs — “Tenebris” — which was made by London filmmaker Craig Murray. Murray’s video is an homage to a certain unforgettable scene in William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, with a bit of a twist in its finale.

As for the music, it’s a storm of razors, thunder, and vocal lightning, a ravaging assault of fused black metal and hardcore. Continue reading »

Sep 122013

(Andy Synn reviews the new DIY album by Norway’s Ulver, with an album stream at the end of the review.)

Sometimes you have to wonder… why do Ulver albums still get reviewed on metal blogs? After all, the band themselves haven’t had a shred of “metal” in them for a long time.

Still, there’s a connection – and it’s more than just nostalgia or a sense of obligation due to the band’s “seminal” early years.

I know quite a lot of metal fans who love the strange, otherworldy music that Ulver make, but don’t really have anything else even vaguely similar in their music collections.

I think, ultimately, what draws people in, and what makes them stay with the band through all their digressions and deviations, is the boundless (stubborn, even) sense of artistic integrity they display. From poppy exuberance to dark psychedelia, they are a band who embrace, and revel in, contradiction. Each of their albums is simultaneously daring and difficult, challenging yet compelling, filled with a warmth of emotion yet governed by a calculating intellect.

And Messe I.X-VI.X is no different, in that regard. Continue reading »

Aug 182013

This is a surprising piece of news about a band who seem to specialize in surprises. Norway’s Ulver have changed their sound dramatically over the years, losing and gaining different groups of fans as their music has changed. Their latest album (their 12th) is named Messe I.X–VI.X. We’ve been expecting it, but the delivery came today in a way we didn’t expect. Here’s the full text of the message that appeared this morning on Ulver’s official site (and thank you BadWolf for the tip about this):


Dear parish, as CDs are airborne – and leakage is imminent – we have decided to accelerate the digital release on our own platforms. We have held back as long as we can. Messe I.X–VI.X is now available from our webshop and Bandcamp. Just like that.

Again: we urge all conscientious music lovers to purchase digital from our platforms. WAV and all other formats at Bandcamp, 320 kbps MP3 via our webshop. Spotify and iTunes will follow in September, along with the release of Kscope’s standard editions.

Please share and spread the word. We hope you enjoy the somber sound of the wolves’ mass.

Ulver, Oslo, August 18 2013. Continue reading »

Nov 162012

(Guest contributor Kaptain Carbon is getting a head start on year-end listmania with a most amusing review of albums he missed earlier in the year. Despite the fact that I laughed out loud on numerous occasions, I haven’t forgotten that the Kaptain owes me a Russian Nesting Doll. Some things you don’t forget.)

Well, I am now a guest in another person’s house. I should take my shoes off and pretend I eat with my pants on. No Clean Singing put out a call for entries and usually I would be hosting board game night in my basement over at Tape Wyrm but now I am here. What a lovely house you have. I really love your collection of Russian Nesting Dolls. Oh dear, I think this one may be broken. I’ll set it down right here.

2012 is almost done and we will soon all be judged before the great cosmic eye. Before our fate is weighed on the gilded scales at an altar of ivory and blood, we all have to go through our end of the year lists. Yes, before the inevitable reckoning, where December is consumed in an omnipresence hellfire, we have to make our top 10s of 2012. Now, we all know it will probably go to the new Marilyn Manson record, but there is also the matter of the stacks of records which now make a castle on your coffee table. Look at this mess. Look at all of this stuff you said you were going to listen to but never did. You are a horrible human. I found this Abigail Williams record in the vegetable crisper.

I recently went through my library and pulled out all of the 2012 records I meant to review but never got around to doing so because I am a terrible metal-hating human being who secretly loves everything which you hate. I just want to make sure I did not miss anything, so I am going to go through this pile of laundry and rifle through its contents before throwing it back on the ground. Sure, things will still be messy, but there was production involved.

It is time to revisit the forgotten, at least by me, and the never-heard of 2012. Sure, No Clean Singing is giving me a wonderful opportunity to share some of my work with you, but let’s be honest, I woke up late and I am doing my homework while running to class. Thank you No Clean Singing for this opportunity and fuck you, you motherfucking stupid cocksucking alarm WHERE ARE MY KEYS? Continue reading »

Jun 012012

I’ve been doing actual paying work all morning. I took a break not long ago and cast my baleful eye around the interhole and my NCS e-mail box to see what there was to see and hear. And these are things I thought worth passing on.

First, that cover you see above is for a tribute album to Emperor called In Honour of Icon E, which will be released on June 25 by Metal Swamp. It’s a very nice piece of art, created by Wolkogniv of Folkingrimm Art.

It also looks like it will be a very nice album, with Emperor covers by the likes of Demonical, Helheim, Horna, Taake, and Setherial. I’ll give you the full tracklist rundown after the jump, but the news for today is that the album has gone up on Amqzon for pre-order, which means you can hear snippets of each song here. Continue reading »

Apr 292011

(I swear this was a coincidence. I wrote a post that went up earlier today on metal covers based on a single by Anachronaeon we received yesterday, and then our UK contributor Andy Synn delivered this special edition of THE SYNN REPORT about . . . covers. This is the kind of occurrence that sends me back to the dictionary once again to figure out the difference between synchronicity and serenditpity. Or maybe it’s both.)

Covers are a strange breed of song – they’re the equivalent of a parallel universe, an alternate history, a What If? Comic, an adaptation of your favourite book starring an unexpected actor, a Shakespeare play set in an average American high school…

Seriously though, they have a huge amount of potential, both to be intriguingly inventive and woefully horrendous. Their success (or lack thereof) depends on many factors, but mainly on the song-choice itself – is it a natural fit for the band? Do they have the intelligence to re-work it in a distinctive manner? Or is it simply enough to tear through it in their own inimitable style, making few changes, but relying on sheer power to see them through?

I have chosen 15 artists who have produced some of my own personal favourite covers, showcasing a variety of approaches, some fully traditional takes on the original, others totally reworked variations. If there’s one thing that these covers show however, it is the subtle threads that inter-link all different sub-genres of rock and metal, which allow bands to re-work them organically. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Apr 152011

(Our UK contributor Andy Synn provides this review of the new album by Norway’s Ulver, which will be released by the Kscope label on April 25 in the UK and on May 3 in the U.S.)

At their recent London show, Ulver, in traditionally uncompromising fashion, elected to play the entirety of their as-yet unheard new album, start to finish, as the majority of their set without reference to the classics or fan favourites. Thus my first exposure to the music was as part of a brilliant, shining experience of crystalline dynamics, stark, psychedelic sounds and captivating visuals. Thankfully, the record stands up to this live experience, confirming and expanding upon my initial impressions.

Essentially Wars Of The Roses stands as a companion piece to Shadows Of The Sun. Where Shadows was warm and subtle, the new album is colder and more starkly portrayed. Much as the artwork of Shadows… reflects the warm shades of melancholy contained within, so does the beautiful, minimalist black and white art of Wars… reflect the clarity and extremity of emotion contained within.

Yet for all the cold and stark presentation of dichotomous musical elements on this album, there is a deep seam of emotion to be discovered beneath the surface. Whereas Shadows… was earthy and masculine, Wars… is ethereal and feminine, a female moon to a male sun, brilliant whiteness and deep shadows containing grand sweeping vistas of divergent emotions.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Feb 242011

We’ve got a couple of quick updates for you about bands we like (used to like?), one of which we’ve been writing about recently — The Haunted and Ulver. The cause for the updates? Both bands have recently made brand new songs available for streaming; in The Haunted’s case, it’s the third song to be released from their forthcoming album.

The verdict? Well, there’s good news and bad news.


Previously, we’ve featured the first two songs from The Haunted’s new album, due for release next month: “No Ghost” and, as recently as yesterday, “Disappear”. Today, the band put up the new album’s title track, “Unseen”, for streaming on their Facebook page.

The good news is that if you like Chevelle-style hard rock with metal riffs and clean singing, you will like the new song. It’s probably better than whatever is topping the hard rock charts these days, but honestly, I wouldn’t know because I don’t get near that kind of music any more.  The bad news? (more after the jump, including Ulver’s new track . . .) Continue reading »