May 042021
 

(For his first post of the week, Andy Synn takes aim at three of last month’s most sacred cows… but is he here to slaughter them, or just give them a little push?)

Last month saw the release of several new albums from some pretty big and (in)famous names (well, in Metal terms at least) and a resultant storm of press and PR both leading up to and following on from these releases.

And, to be honest, I wasn’t sure whether it was really worth us commenting on them. After all, they’re all well past the point where write-ups and reviews are going to have any sort of major impact on album sales, and have reached a stage in their careers where the fans are going to praise, and the haters are going to hate, no matter what.

Case in point, I’ve seen people calling the new Cannibal Corpse album “boring” even as others declare that it “pushes the Death Metal genre forward” (it doesn’t, but it’s far from “boring”), I’ve read posts claiming that Gojira are either “just a generic groove-metal act” or “the greatest band of the century” (they’re neither, as it happens), and observed several sites giving the latest Vreid a perfect 10/10 score (c’mon guys, it’s good, but do you really think it’s on the level of, say, Master of Puppets or are you just spitting hype because you know it gets clicks?).

That being the case, however, I still feel like there’s a place for a more measured and “objective” analysis of each of these releases, one which doesn’t exist just to confirm the pre-existing prejudices of its readers, which is why I decided to step up to the plate, take one for the team, and attempt to bring a little bit of balance to the force, by reviewing them all myself.

Continue reading »

Feb 172021
 

 

What follows is a collection of new songs and videos that different people messaged me about today, plus a few I had noticed in preceding days. With apologies to anyone who might care, I unfortunately don’t have the time to provide as many stumbling brilliant verbal descriptions of the music as I usually do, but nevertheless hope you enjoy all the sounds, as I have.

GOJIRA (France)

Born For One Thing“: feverish tumult with slightly industrialized grooves, trademark atonal pounding, and gripping rhythmic interplay, plus eerie melodic accents… definitely in their comfort zone, and very good…. Continue reading »

Aug 212019
 

 

(This is Karina Noctum‘s interview of Steingrim, drummer of the Norwegian black metal band Vreid, whose latest album Lifehunger was released by Season of Mist  in September 2018. The interview took place in late June at the Tons of Rock festival in Oslo. All photos were made by Andrea Chirulescu for the Midgardsblot festival, 2019.)

 

What’s behind the name “sognametal” and what makes bands that are under this name stand out within the Norwegian Black metal scene?

Sognametal was an expression from the founder of Windir, Valfar. He wanted to stand out from other bands in the same genre. After that they just labelled the music coming from the region Sogn og Fjordane as Sognametal. That being said I don’t think all the bands coming from that region play the same type of music. So now 25 years later on I don’t think the label Sognametal can be applied to a certain music genre, but it’s the label you get when you are from a certain region in Norway. But again, he wanted the band to stand out, but it was meant just for Windir music and that’s what was Sognametal, so the irony is that now there are 10 or 15 bands under the same label as well. Continue reading »

Sep 272018
 

 

There was once a time when the music of Vreid could be characterized, at least at a high level, as melodic black metal or black thrash. Those days are pretty much gone. The expansion of Vreid’s music into more diverse territory has been an evolving process, evident from the changes that have occurred with each successive album, but the band’s new album Lifehunger seems more heedless of genre boundaries than any other, and the result is an ever-changing experience, richly embroidered with a multitude of musical styles, of which black metal is only one.

Lifehunger will be released tomorrow by Season of Mist, and today we’re helping premiere a full stream of the record — preceded by a few more words of introduction. Continue reading »

Jul 192018
 

 

Well, my fine fiends, yesterday was a very interesting day (and no, I’m not talking about the bizarro-world mind-fuck of American politics at its zenith of gob-smacking grotesquery). I’m talking about the flood of new metal, at least one wave of which proved to be crashingly controversial, and I’ll get to that.

Damned hard to figure out what to shovel into this round-up, which is a big reason why it’s so voluminous, but really not voluminous enough even though it comes in multiple parts today. As usual, I just let my mind percolate a bit, and trusted that whatever twisted thing lurks within it would make the right choices.

UNIFORM

I have a tendency to organize these posts in order from bigger names to lesser names, and sometimes because my subconscious mentation perceives a certain pleasing flow from one to the next, but this time I’m starting with a song by Uniform because last night it pounced on me like a wolf appearing in Aisle 9 in the grocery store — about that surprising, and about that effective in triggering a fight or flight response. The video is a mind-fuck too. 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 »

Oct 072015
 

Vreid-Solverv

 

Yesterday I compiled a massive round-up featuring new songs and/or videos by seven bands. But that still didn’t exhaust what I had found in the preceding days. And, metal being such an explosively metastasizing tumor, I’ve found still more things to get excited about since I wrote yesterday’s compilation. So, what the hell, I’ve decided to throw caution to the winds and prepare another even more jam-packed post, with good things from eight bands. Once again, I’m choking back my tendency to shower many words over the music… I’ll just scatter a few droplets instead.

VREID

I’m going to start by telling you about a full-album stream that came rushing up like a freight train at night with the lights off. Which is a way of saying that although we here at NCS are enormous fans of Vreid, we received no advance copy of their new album Sólverv, and just learned that all the songs have now been officially uploaded to YouTube for streaming. Continue reading »

Oct 012015
 

Vreid-Solverv

 

Last night and this morning I engaged in an extended bout of metal listening and found not only a lot of new music I’m anxious to share with you but also some fantastic visual art. By chance, much of what I found is in a blackened vein, and so once again I’ve collected these discoveries in an installment of this irregular Shades of Black series. I have a lot to throw your way, and so it will come in at least two parts, with the other(s) headed your way on our site tomorrow.

VREID

It’s not an understatement to say that my NCS comrades and I are huge, slobbering fans of this Norwegian band. Okay… I guess I’m probably the only one who actually slobbers… the others just sweat a lot.

Anyway, I’m excited to spread the news that Vreid have now divulged some additional details about their new album and have also today premiered a video for the album’s title track. Continue reading »

Jan 082014
 

Welcome to Part 2 of my list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. Each day (more or less) until the list is finished, I’m posting at least two songs that made the cut. 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.

VREID

Vreid’s 2013 album Welcome Farewell made Andy Synn’s list of the year’s Great Albums as well as his Personal Top 10. It was one of my favorites as well. In Andy’s words: “This is music that deserves to be conquering arenas around the world. Still black as pitch, but with song-writing that goes above and beyond the call of duty, it grooves with grim intent, soars with bleak majesty, and blasts away with freezing, fractured ferocity. Insidiously catchy and ruthlessly aggressive, it thunders away with perfectly focussed, primal force.”

“The Reap” is the catchiest song on Welcome Farewell, and one of the most infectious of the year in my humble opinion. And it was also the subject of one of the year’s best music videos, animated by the wonderful Kim Holm. Enjoy it all over again next, as we add “The Reap” to this list. Continue reading »

Feb 132013
 

(Here we have another installment in UK-based Andy Synn’s occasional series on favorites of his that come in five’s.  Music is included.)

Chance and coincidence are funny little things. One of the various ideas I had noted down for these “Favourite” columns was a short insight into my own collection of non-musical metal materials, specifically the various merch (shirts, etc) I’d picked up over the years.

So when David appeared on the scene with his series of posts on Metal Culture it seemed like the perfect time to actually put this piece together, and hopefully see what items of your ‘metal uniform’ you guys particularly cherish as well!

The funny thing is, I’m actually currently in the process of getting rid of a host of shirts, to various good homes and good people, because I feel like I’ve amassed a rather unnecessary collection, many of which I never/rarely ever wear. So I’ve been winnowing through my wardrobe, selecting the ones I don’t really have a need for, and simultaneously identifying my favourites, all of which plays nicely into this column.

Ok, so we’ll go in some sort of sartorial order, shall we? Continue reading »