Feb 212014

Now this is some truly heart-warming news, at least for my black heart. The organizers of PAGANFEST AMERICA PART V have just announced the schedule of dates — which I will share with you in a moment. But first, here are five reasons why this is worth noticing:

Korpiklaani:  They are a band that I think are worth seeing whenever the opportunity presents itself. It doesn’t even matter if their music isn’t in your regular rotation. I’ve seen them twice, and I’m completely sold. Jonne Järvelä is a magnetic, high-energy, infectiously good-natured frontman, the smiling Buddha-like bass-player Jarkko Aaltonen has an epic beard, they sing a lot about drinking, and they know how to rock the fuck out in a live setting.

Turisas: Never seen them, but based on concert videos I’ve watched, I’m betting they will be tons of fun too.

Chthonic: Their last two albums are really good (I hadn’t fully climbed on the Chthonic bandwagon before then), and based on videos, they also look like they know how to put on a kickass show. Continue reading »

May 062013

In every field of artistic endeavor, whether it be music, painting, writing, sculpture, acting, filmmaking — you name it — there are examples of people who have created great works of art but are deplorable as human beings. They make you question yourself: Is it right for me to admire, enjoy, and even praise this person’s artistic work if the creator is someone whose actions or expressions outside of their art clash with my own principles and beliefs?

Metal is no exception to this quandary. Perhaps the single most notorious example is Varg Vikernes. On the one hand, he played a leading role in the origination and development of Norwegian black metal under the name Burzum (and as a member of Mayhem), and he has continued to create notable music under the Burzum name nearly two decades later. On the other hand, in 1994 he was convicted of murdering Mayhem guitarist Euronymous and burning churches in Norway, and he spent 16 years in prison for those crimes.

He has also written extensively about his own beliefs in the racial purity of Northern Europeans and the superiority of its pagan traditions, filling volumes’ worth of words with racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic diatribes. In Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, director Sam Dunn described him as “the most notorious metal musician of all time”, and it’s hard to disagree.

Well, metal may have seen the last of Varg Vikernes. In an April 30 post on one of his blogs (Thulean Perspective), he summed up his own role in the history of black metal and the evolution of that movement into what he terms “nihilstic shit”, ending with the proclamation that “I no longer play metal music”.  Continue reading »

Jan 092013

Burzum’s Varg Vikernes and his wife Marie Cachet have made a movie entitled ForeBears. But before getting to that, some background:

On the night of March 31, 2012, I discovered that someone had uploaded the entirety of the new, as-yet unreleased Burzum album Umskiptar to YouTube. At the same time, whoever manages Varg’s web page uploaded a batch of photos of Varg wearing, among other things, chain mail and an archaic helmet. The YouTube stream didn’t stay up for long, but long enough for me to listen to the album once. On April 1, I posted (here) a generally unflattering review along with some snarky comments about Varg and those photos.

That post became a gathering point for a ton of comments, mostly from people who are not regular visitors to NCS, and it still gets a lot of traffic to this day. I’m not sure why — maybe because it was such an early review of Umskiptar. It also led Varg’s wife Marie Cachet (though I didn’t know she was his wife at that time) to ask that I remove the Varg photos that I had added to my article — which she had made — because I posted them without her permission. I then had a very polite e-mail exchange with her, and she graciously agreed to allow me to keep the photos with the post after adding proper credit, despite the fact that I was poking fun at them. Continue reading »

Dec 042012

There’s nothing that will get you excited for a metal show quite like arriving at a Seattle venue in December twenty minutes after the doors are supposed to open, only to find that the doors haven’t opened and and that you get to stand in a cold, drizzling rain for 20 more minutes near the end of a motionless line of water-logged metalheads that snakes around the block.

I’m here to tell you: That will make you really eager to get inside. The poor motherfuckers who’d been standing near the front of the line for an hour must have really been stoked.

I wish I could say this is the first time such a thing has happened to me, but there seems to be an unwritten rule (at least at Seattle venues) that doors will not open until at least half an hour after the doors are supposed to open. I could understand this if the venues had their employees walking the lines selling hot dogs with cream cheese and grilled onions, but all El Corazon had for us on the night of December 2 was a dude with a megaphone repeatedly broadcasting to everyone that if you didn’t have everything removed from your pockets by the time you reached the door for the pat-down, you would be sent to the end of the line. This did not taste as good as a hot dog.

It did feel good to get inside, though I was already plenty excited to see Varg, Wintersun, and Eluveitie even before the bonus of a twenty-minute wait in the rain. Once inside, my friends and I made a bee-line to the bar, thinking that a shot of rye and a PBR would help un-freeze our guts. In the bar we came across members of two local bands (Blood and Thunder and The Devils of Loudon) and proceeded to drink and talk our way straight through most of Varg’s opening set. So I have no review of Varg’s show. I blame the rain. And the rye. Continue reading »

Sep 102012

Last week we reported the news that Wintersun would be embarking on their first tour of North America this fall with Eluveitie. We further reported that a German pagan metal band named Varg (“wolf”) would also be part of the touring line-up. I was pretty sure I’d never heard any music by Varg and I made a mental note to find some immediately, since this is a tour I’m bound and determined to see when it reaches Seattle. However, I was distracted by something important, like the sound of a passing car, and I forgot.

Fortunately, I was reminded earlier today, because somewhere I saw that Varg had just released a new music video for the title track to a forthcoming album by the name of Guten Tag, which was like killing two birds with one stone, getting the reminder and some music at the same time. Before forgetting again, all I had to do was quickly press play. And I did.

The song isn’t really the folky kind of pagan metal. It’s more the thrashing, grooving, headbanging, howling-wolf, infectious kind of metal that one might easily put in some genre other than “pagan”, but since I’ve never been quite sure how “pagan metal” is defined other than by its lyrical themes, and since I don’t speak German, who knows? It’s a catchy romp, though, however you want to categorize it.

As for the video, its meaning is ambiguous. Is it condoning or condemning the suicide that you’ll see? Or neither? I’d be happy to have the interpretations of others, so take a look: Continue reading »

Sep 052012

Here’s some breaking news that will be of serious interest to fans of Wintersun (and Eluveitie):  The two bands will be joining forces for a 21-date North American tour in late November and December. The tour will begin on November 28 in Tempe, Arizona, and end on December 21 in Boston, and almost half the shows will be in Canada.

This will be Wintersun’s first North American tour, and it will come on the heels of the band’s Time I album. Wintersun’s Jari  Mäenpää says, “We’ve had lots of requests from the fans before, but finally we are able to come there and kick some ass with new material from the Time I album and of course play the old stuff too! Hope to see you guys there. Let´s make it special!”

The tour will also include the German pagan metal band Varg.

I won’t make special mention that the tour is stopping in Seattle, because that would be self-centered and boorish. The full schedule is after the jump. Continue reading »

Feb 272011

We’re jumping the gun on this post, since the month doesn’t end until tomorrow. Why? Uh, because this post is ready to go and we don’t have anything else finished for today yet. Work and other shit interfered with our grand plans for a Sunday post.  We might still get another one up later today, but for now, feast your eyes on the barrage of metal headed our direction.

What we do with these installments of METAL IN THE FORGE is collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last 30 days (or in this case, the last 27 days) about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know them yet. And in this post, we cut and paste the announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

This isn’t a cumulative list, so be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming New Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported in previous installments. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. There’s some awesome shit on the way. Continue reading »

Dec 012010

November is now in our rear-view mirror. December lies ahead of us: A perfectly good stretch of road marred by the speed bumps of the cataclysm that is Christmas. And on the other side of those speed bumps is the end of the year – the roadkill that is New Year’s Eve. And you know what the run-up to year-end brings — year-end lists. It’s already started, but the coming weeks will bring us a slew of Best of 2010 album lists. We’ll probably do our own Best of 2010 list — not the best albums of the year, but, as we did last year, the most infectious extreme metal songs of the year.

But we’re not quite ready to launch that list. Instead, we’re looking off into the future, not backward at the music that’s rattled our skulls over the past year. Yes, it’s time for another monthly installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, in which we cobble together a list of forthcoming new albums, cribbing like rag-gatherers and lint-pickers from PR releases and metal news sites like Blabbermouth in order to construct a line-up of new music that we’re interested in hearing.

All of our previous monthly updates can be found via the “Forthcoming Albums” category link on the right side of our pages, and because we’re not keeping a cumulative list, you might want to check the last couple months of these posts if you want to get a full picture of what’s coming. The list that follows, in alphabetical order, are albums we didn’t know about at the time of our last installment, or updated info about albums we’d previously heard were on the way. After the jump, of course . . .

Continue reading »