Jan 252013
 

Thanks to tips from DGR, I learned about two attention-grabbing developments this morning — new details about the forthcoming albums by Sweden’s Hypocrisy and October Tide plus new songs from each of them. And then on my very own I found a new single from the next album by Norway’s Vreid. It is a good day to be alive.

HYPOCRISY

Here’s how I progressed toward the new Hypocrisy song: First, I saw the cover art for the new album, End of Disclosure, which was created by Wes Benscoter (Slayer, Kreator, Nile, Vader, and more). I found it pleasing. Kind of a Zen demon. Also, many skulls. Second, I read, and was intrigued by, this quote by Hyporcisy’s main man Peter Tägtgren in the Nuclear Blast write-up on the album:

“This time I wanted to go back to basic, felt like we lost it for the last couple of albums , it’s straight to the point, it’s more Hypocrisy than ever, the fast, the heavy, the epic.. Enjoy!”

And then I listened to an edited version of the album’s title track, “End of Disclosure” — which you are about to hear, too, and which is available for free download. Continue reading »

Nov 282012
 

In my daily ramble through the interhole yesterday probably nothing made my eyes bug out quite as much as the sight of The Acacia Strain’s overturned van, which will force them to pull out of their tour with Veil of Maya but fortunately (and amazingly) left the band with only minor injuries. But a couple of other items were close seconds in the eye-popping competition. I’m including those in this post — new album art for the next releases by Vreid (Norway) and The Botanist (U.S.). I’ve also got for you a brand new song from Vreid and a new song by Maveth (Finland) from their forthcoming album.

VREID

Vreid’s last album, V, was extremely good. It made a number of the year-end lists we posted at the close of 2011, including our own Andy Synn’s list of “The Great Albums of 2011”. Summing up his thoughts, Andy called V “a stunningly dynamic series of songs that filter the thrashy energy and classical aspirations of Ride The Lightning-era Metallica through a blackened prism of primal fury.”

So my eyes went wide yesterday when I saw the album art for Vreid’s sixth album, Welcome Farewell, and the news that it will be released by Indie Recordings on February 26 in Europe, February 22 in Germany/Austria, and March 5 in North America. Yesterday Terrorizer also premiered a track from the new album named “The Reap”. I gotta be honest — it surprised me. Continue reading »

Dec 152011
 

This is the fourth and final part of a multi-part post about up-and-coming Norwegian bands. The first part is HERE, the second part is HERE, and Part 3 is HERE.  And below is an abbreviated version of the full explanation, which appears long-form in Part 1. But first, since I’m on the subject of Norwegian metal, here’s a bit of breaking news:

The Spellemann Awards are the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammy’s here in the U.S. The first Spellemannprisen were awarded in 1973 for albums released in 1972, so if my math is correct, we’re approaching the 40th annual awards show, and today the Spellemann nominees were announced. In the category of Best Metal Album, the following bands and albums were nominated (and we’ve featured four of the five nominees here at NCS):

INSENSE BURN IN BEAUTIFUL FIRE
SHINING LIVE BLACKJAZZ
TAAKE NOREGS VAAPEN
VREID V
ÅRABROT SOLAR ANUS

And now, onward to the explanation about the rest of this post: “Pyro” is the name of a radio program on one of the radio channels (P3) operated by NRK, the state-owned Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. The NRK P3 radio channel is mainly aimed at younger listeners, and Pyro is the program that focuses mainly on metal and hard rock. Continue reading »

Dec 152011
 

(This is the fourth in Andy Synn’s week-long series of posts looking back at albums released this year. Andy previously provided his lists of the year’s Great albumsthe Good ones, and the most Disappointing ones, and tomorrow we’ll have his Personal Top 10. Today, we have his list of “The Critical Top 10”. For more explanation of what all this means, plus Andy’s picks for the year’s best EPs, visit this location.)

So here’s the penultimate list of the week, the first of two ranked top-tens. This list will include the albums that I think are the very best of the best, the ones that best combine creativity, artistic ambition, song-writing, and performance. Regardless of my personal feelings and preferences, these are the albums that I think are critically superior to others. Though the ranking of them was difficult (as it always is when trying to compare artists and albums across metallic sub-genres), I’ve tried my best to give a sense about the critical and objective factors that led to each record earning its respective position on this list.

Although the potential candidates for the list were unavoidably influenced by my own listening tastes — I do, after all, only really tend to select the albums that I feel best qualified and most inspired to review – I have done my best to keep personal preference as far away from these judgements as possible, something that I hope will become clear when you see tomorrow how different the list of my top ten “favourite” albums of the year is from today’s list.

So here are the ten releases I think best represent the year critically. The ten that, ultimately, would be my choices to represent the year in metal music for posterity. Some of them have appeared quite commonly on other lists, albeit perhaps weighted differently, while others have largely been ignored by other sources thus far. Enjoy . . . Continue reading »

Nov 222011
 

(Andy Synn wrote the following opinion piece.  If we don’t get some comments on this one, I’ll be quite surprised. Andy’s got some questions at the end, and we’d love to hear your answers.)

Here’s a question that’s been on my mind for a while now; what do we do when our heroes let us down? What happens when the bands we love go off the boil, make weird creative decisions, or just simply move away from playing the music for which we fell in love with them?

Music is an intensely emotional topic, and one which promotes a peculiar kind of loyalty to develop in those of us who love it deeply. As metal fans in particular, we seem to embody the very extremes of this trait; treat us well and we will die for you, cross us and our wrath and enmity shall be eternal. Indeed, once a certain line is crossed it’s very common to see a band written off as “dead” by any number of their former fans.

Most recently, however, I’ve been trying to take positive steps when confronted with this situation. Rather than entering into either a) a defensive flame war on behalf of our fallen heroes, or b) seizing on the opportunity in order to heap my own well-earned scorn on the victims of this public derision, I have instead been taking the fall of our chosen heroes to promote potential successors who are ready and waiting to step up and take on the mantle.

This does, however, raise one further issue: to what extent we, as metal fans, are willing to accept our heroes being replaced and (if that is the case) do we actually always have one eye out for the Next Big Thing – not the one who’ll necessarily sell the records and get the airplay, but the one who will step into the well-worn shoes of our heroes once they have gone to the sacred feasting halls of Valhalla?

Now 3 particular albums/events inspired these thoughts recently… Continue reading »

Jul 072011
 

OK, time to court some (albeit minor) controversy. To compare and contrast with the “Wintermoon Wednesday” piece on post-millennial black metal by Tr00 Nate (unseen at the time of this writing) over at TheNumberOfTheBlog, I’ve decided to list my own picks for the prize.

I’ve left out the obvious choices, so no Satyricon or 1349 – even though the former have transformed themselves post-2000 very successfully, courting both success and controversy in equal measure, while the latter have pushed their hyper-blast style beyond the breaking point, only to discover a new lease on life through their exploration of gnarled, twisted atmospherics.

No Rotting Christ? Or Samael? Nope. I love both of them, but they both had long pre-millennial careers and spent much of the post-2000 stage of their careers exploring less focussed, less black metal sounds — although both have recently released masterful examples of their own focussed and distinctive brands of black metal.

I have left out records which are perhaps less “purely” black metal — records for which a strong case can be put forward that they belong more as “blackened” examples of another genre — so there’s no place for Altar Of Plagues or Withered, both great bands in their own right. No Akercocke either, the sheer weight of their crushing death metal heft disqualifying them for this list.

I have also by choice left out artists/albums I have covered recently. Therefore, no Iskald (though The Sun I Carried Alone IS one of the best black metal albums of the last ten years), or Elite (see HERE for my thoughts) or The Axis Of Perdition (HERE), even though I’d argue that each of them has at least one example under their belt of near perfect post-millennial black metal.

So who have I chosen? Well look upon my choices dear reader, and despair… Continue reading »

Jun 032011
 

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn is back with his third concert review of the week. This is what we call good living — Andy caught three stellar concerts in four days over the long weekend that just passed. We don’t think he wrote these reviews just to make us jealous, but they’ve had that effect anyway. We forgive him because he writes so well that reading is almost like being there.)

Starting an unbelievably short time after doors opened, Krakow had the unenviable task of warming up an underground black metal show on a rainy Monday night in Nottingham. Thankfully, their grooving take on warp-riding post-black metal was a perfect appetiser, their music providing a surprisingly warm and welcoming way to start off the evening’s entertainment.

Similarities could be drawn with Icelandic progsters Solstafir who ply a similarly post-black metal route through the murky waters of genredom. However, where Solstafir evolved into a post-black mutation from their original Viking-era incarnation – whilst maintaining a cold sense of post-millenial dissociation – Krakow began their lives as the direct offspring of post-black metal parents – they were born this way. These mutant spawn of post-black metal Norway have more in common with the rolling, abstract sounds of Isis and Cult Of Luna than they do with Mayhem or Emperor.

Embracing a free-wheeling, psychedelic rock spirit to offset the bleaker tendencies of their musical DNA, the band had a loose, fiery sound and swagger, mixing aggressive metallic tendencies with a stockier, more muscular riff-based sound and a bedrock of grooving, hammering beats. Bassist/vocalist Frode Kilvik possessed a powerful, primal roar equally as capable of expressing animalistic lust as extolling the twin themes of human misanthropy and apocalyptic decline, tempered with a positive, almost antagonistic fatalism. If doomsday is coming, they’re not going out without a party. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jan 182011
 

I go through stretches when I fall behind in reading other metal blogs because I get too distracted by other things, like this blog — which I know all of you read every day, without fail, even if it means skipping a meal or a shower or letting your cat/dog fend for itself. Yeah, right. But I do always read Steff Metal‘s regular feature called Linking Horn because there’s always something interesting in there that I’d otherwise miss.

Her current Linking Horn feature linked to a Metal Insider piece I hadn’t seen which summarized a recent Nielsen Music and Midem report about music consumption habits. Some of what’s in that report wasn’t surprising — like the data showing that almost 50% of online users obtain their music from the internet without paying; the report found that neither digitally downloading a full album nor a single track reached 20%. What a shock.

But one item did surprise me: The survey showed that 58% of online users consume music by watching music videos through the computer and 20% watch music videos on their mobile phones. Granted, the survey wasn’t limited to any particular musical genre, and the numbers could be entirely different if you were to conduct a survey limited to metalheads. I know I don’t watch metal music videos that often because, mainly, they suck.

Usually, the videos are so bad that they detract from good songs and do nothing to make mediocre songs better. Instead, they seem to function more as bait than actual entertainment — a way of luring you into listening to a song or  a band for the first time out of curiosity (because it’s faster than downloading), though sometimes I’ll watch one for a song I already know just to see what the band looks like. But I don’t claim to be like most people, and the study seems to verify that most people like to consume music (and probably print) when they can see pictures at the same time — which is why moving pictures make such attractive bait.

All of which is a windy lead-in to the real point of this post. Over the last couple of days I took the bait and watched some new just-released music videos, and for different reasons, I thought they were worth sharing.  They feature music from Vreid (Norway), Stigma (Italy), Semargl (Ukraine), and members of Dreaming Dead (U.S.).   (after the jump . . .) 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 »

Jan 032010
 

I knew this would happen.  On New Year’s Day, we put up a long list of extreme metal bands who reportedly will be releasing new albums in 2009, and then carved from that list the 21 bands we especially want to hear in the New Year.  We tried to be complete in compiling the master list, but of course we’re already hearing about bands we left off.

So far, three overlooked bands, in particular, deserve mention: Kivimetsän Druidi, Portland’s own Agalloch, and Mors Principium Est. These bands may not be as widely known as others that made “forthcoming” lists in various trade publications, but we’re psyched to hear that new releases are in the works.

KIVIMETSÄN DRUIDI

Kivimetsän Druidi (pictured above) is a Finnish symphonic folk metal band whose name appears to mean “druid of the stone forest.”  The band released their Century Media debut CD “Shadowheart” in late 2008 and followed that with a cool video, shot in Finnish Lappland, for a song sung in Finnish called “Jäässä Varttunut.”  It appears the song title, loosely translated, means “Grown Up Within Ice,” as in, “The white steel that has been grown on ice will clot the blood with its strike.”

I saw the video, was impressed, tracked down the CD, and remained impressed. It’s a fast-paced, dramatic combination of symphonic death metal, celtic folk stylings, savage gutteral vocals from Joni Koskinen, and soaring sopranos from crystal-voiced Leeni-Maria Hovila. Heavier than you might expect, with memorable melodies and plenty of hard-driving riffs.  (more after the jump, including that video. . .) Continue reading »