DIR EN GREY Announces November 2015 North America Tour

DIR EN GREY have announced their first North American tour in support of their latest album, Arche. The band will hit major U.S. cities as well as one show each in Canada and Mexico.

Arche was released back in December 2014 but has yet to be officially released in the U.S.

Tour15 Never Free from the Awakening dates:

11/02 The Showbox : Seattle, WA
11/04 Slim’s : San Francisco, CA
11/05 The Mayan : Los Angeles, CA
11/07 Plaza Condesa : Mexico City, Mexico
11/09 Bottom Lounge : Chicago, IL
11/11 Gramercy Theatre : New York, NY
11/13 The Opera House : Toronto, Canada

KONTINUUM – Kyrr

Kontinuum - KyrrIceland’s KONTINUUM pick up where the excellent Earth Blood Magic left off. Filling the void that bands like GREEN CARNATION and SENTENCED left behind, KONTINUUM forge a sublime, melodic, and memorable album in Kyrr.

The powerful album artwork really sets the tone and expectations of what Kyrr will sound like – emotive, powerful, and atmospheric. The thrash explosions from Earth Blood Magic are not to be found here.

With the new album, KONTINUUM improve as songwriters with more memorable songs. Opening track, “Breathe,” is more or less a radio single. The hooks are huge, especially the massive guitar riff that hits between verses. So good. It should be noted that it is pretty distinct from the rest of the album.

Vocalist/guitar Birgir Thorgeirsson has also become a better singer. Ex-IN THE WOODS… vocalist Jan Transit comes to mind. Thorgeirsson sings in Icelandic for most of Kyrr but his message easily crosses language barriers.

The instrumental song sections are carried by just great riffing. Things never get stagnant as there is always a momentum moving forward. Check out the awesome crescendo that closes out “Hliðargötu-heimsveldi.”

Lone” is a sublime (instrumental) gem that, unfortunately, ends all too soon after 4:29 of pure gold.

The strongest songs occupy the center and end of the album. KONTINUUM are perfect on “Hliðargötu-heimsveldi,” “Kyrr,” and “Undir Þunnu Skinni.” Closer, “Red Stream,” is a true closer bringing in all of Kyrr‘s elements together like an Icelandic volcano.

The only complaint about Kyrr is the fact that it’s too short. It’s cruel in a way…a good way.

If you’re seeking another winner from KONTINUUM that is unique yet shares spaces with the likes of IN THE WOODS…, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, BLAZING ETERNITY, and AGALLOCH, look no further. (Candlelight Records)

Video of the Day: OPETH Mesmerizes Milwaukee Metalfest 2000 in First Ever U.S. Show

Back in 2000, the, now, juggernaut known as OPETH was only known by the most devotee followers of underground metal.  While the first three albums were released domestically in the U.S. via Century Black (AKA Century Media Records), the newest one at the time, Still Life, was available as an import only.  You had to throw down $20+ dollars for that album but it was well worth it.  The lack of an official U.S. release for Still Life for many years really hurt that album’s exposure to fans.   It was like the final chapter on the early OPETH sound.

Lucky fans got to witness the band’s U.S. debut at Milwaukee Metalfest 2000 (Remember those awesome fests?).  Check out this video of their full set, complete with rental equipment.  So damn cool.

DZSTRKRFT – Disaster Craft

DZSTRKRFT - Disaster CraftFollowing in the footsteps of extreme metallers who went on to explore the electronic-based side of the music universe (i.e. Justin Broadrick with TECHNO ANIMAL, ULVER, Tom G. Warrior with APOLLYON SUN, and Svein Egil Hatlevik (FLEURETY/ex-DODHEIMSGARD) with ZWEISS), roycifer (AKA Royce Hsu) of the defunct Los Angeles black metal band SANCTUS explores these realms with DZSTRKRFT.

Pulling from various electronic dimensions, such as breakbeats and dub, the Disaster Craft EP offers different looks in each song. The backbone is the (programmed) percussion, which fills both channels with the perfect array of ear candy. And of course, the black metal spirit tenet of atmosphere is omnipresent.

The title track sounds like something that would be blasted in a nightclub in the futuristic classic, Bladerunner. Second track, “Machines, Tapes, Electronics/Morrison Dub,” switches to a mellower but no less percussive gear. A sample of Jim Morrison describing the future of music graces the track as the main guitar riffs echoes in and out. “Craft Work (Contra Break)” gets heavy and darker with low end bass rumbling through its cyclical rhythms.

The absolute gem of the EP is closing track, “Audible.” Sleek in its darkness and absolutely emotive, the track glides through the night with a build and flow that is perfect. Have ULVER give it a listen and they’d wish they wrote it. Bloody great song.

With DZSTRKRFT‘s best release to date (three total within one year), the future only holds great things.

P.S. Disaster Craft is available for free download.

(self released)

Dunable Guitars Announces July 15% Off Sale

Premium custom-made guitar and bass company, Dunable Guitars, has announced that all orders this month will receive a 15% discount, your choice of Bare Knuckle Pickups, and a nitro lacquer finish at no additional charge.

Dunable Guitars was founded by Sacha Dunable, vocalist/guitarist of INTRONAUT, who handmakes all the instruments.

Check out why members of DEAFHEAVEN and HIGH ON FIRE play these beautiful guitars.

JAGA JAZZIST – Starfire

Jaga Jazzist - StarfireThe Norwegian supernova known as JAGA JAZZIST have created yet another meisterwerk with the appropriately titled Starfire.  Pulsing with life, pulsing with creativity, the dazzling audial assault is the soundtrack to a vintage movie set in outer space.

Within Starfire‘s five songs is an impressive amount of content.  Intricate layers created by seemingly a gazillion different instruments travel through the galaxy.  JAGA JAZZIST‘s electronic and psychedelic synth influences take hold of much of the album atop their Norwegian jazz foundation.  There is a melancholic thread that runs through it all.

The title track starts things off with a sublime and quiet tone that morphs away from its jazz intro to spaced out psychedelic/prog realms.  “Starfire” creates this feeling of the vastness and futurist feelings of being in space albeit.  The cascading and panning in and out of electronics gives the sensation of comets streaking by.

Big City Music” is decidedly more electronic-based with its plethora of synth work.  The 14+ minute song is built around a massive melody that is the song’s apex at the 7:30 and 12:15 marks.  Keen ears will hear progressive house song influences tucked in there.

Despite being named after Japan’s bullet trains, “Shinkansen” is a mellow track that brings the sensation of floating in the cosmos as comets fly by.

The heart of “Oban” is the wonderfully sublime bass clarinet riff that comes in when during the song’s quiet sections.  The song sound is essentially the soundtrack to how stars are formed amongst molecular clouds.

Prungen” has jazzy bookends and crescendos in the middle with some excellent electronics going off.

A true appreciation of Starfire cannot be had without seeing the band live or watching videos of their live performances of these songs.  The number of moving parts and the intricateness of the compositions is so impressive along with the seemingly gazillion instruments the band play.  Take time to get to know Starfire and it will reward you again and again. (Ninja Tune)

MORBID ANGEL Line-Up Gutted; Steve Tucker Returns

This past week, MORBID ANGEL announced the departures of drummer Tim Yeung, guitarist Destructhor, and today, frontman/bassist David Vincent.  On June 15th, the band announced former frontman/bassist Steve Tucker‘s return even though no official statement on David Vincent‘s status was announced.

Needless to say, this is a complete mess and further dilutes and hurts the legacy of the band.  David Vincent chose to take the high road in his official statement:

“I had good communication with Trey yesterday and we agree that there are incompatibilities with regards to us working together.

Trey and I have accomplished amazing things together over the past 30 years and I wish him the best with his future projects.  Out of respect for the legacy of these accomplishments, I encourage Morbid Angel fans to not take sides because, I am not.

“I look forward to sharing my new endeavors with all of you in the near future. Until then, stay Morbid!  ~David Vincent

MORBID ANGEL haven’t been musically relevant in a very long time.  Let’s see what the future holds.

ARCTURUS – Arcturian

Arcturus - ArcturianThe last time ARCTURUS released new music, they were not at the top of their game.  Sideshow Symphonies was simply not on par with the band’s previous releases.  Ten years later, we have Arcturian and a band that sounds creatively refreshed.  Arcturian is unequivocally better than its predecessor and brings ARCTURUS back on track with some of their best material to date.

The album is sharp, direct, and wastes no time with meandering.  The symphonic elements, the space/prog rock elements, subtle dark electronic influences, and the black metal roots meld together wonderfully.  There are song sections and entire songs that exemplify the band’s previous albums as well as new elements brought to the table.

Crashland” sounds like the stepchild of La Masquerade Infernale with its string arrangements and atmosphere.  “Angst” has the glacier-sized keyboards of the band’s early releases with a ferocity not heard since “Radical Cut” featuring Ihsahn.  “Warp” is archetypal ARCTURUS with spacey synth, solemn pianos, and non-stop pulsing energy.  “Demon” sounds like DEPECHE MODE – in a good way.  “The Journey” is new territory with its new age feel.  It starts out with electronic beat and violins before segueing with acoustic guitars and ghostly vocals sweeping in and out.  “Bane” closes out Arcturian with a strange space carnival caravan, which fits their onstage presentation.  It’s also one of the weakest songs on Arcturian.

As far as performances go, the band are at the top of their game.  Co-founding member Hellhammer is as godly as he always is.  Other co-founding member Sverd dazzles and shows why he is the most legendary synth player in the Norwegian metal scene.  Knut Magne Valle‘s first take-improvised guitar solos are perfect.  ICS Vortex may be the only one to take a hit for some of his vocal lines.  They can come off as off key here and there.  But to his credit, he does sing his ass off and sounds good for the most part.

Arcturian is not perfect but overall, it’s a strong return to form.  There is a lot to love about it.  Welcome back, ARCTURUS.  (Prophecy Productions)

MANIMALISM – Manimalism

Manimalism - ManimalismMANIMALISM‘s self titled debut is an anachronism of sorts. While the band wrote the album’s material during the span of 1993 to 1999, things did not come together until now. MANIMALISM is never cited as being part of the Norwegian black metal wave that took the world by storm due to their low-key status.  The band’s most well known member is guitarist Kim Solve of Trine + Kim Design Studio, who has designed artwork for ULVER, SOLEFALD, and THE WRETCHED END.

Using VED BUENS ENDEFLEURETY, and recent MAYHEM as reference points, MANIMALISM walk on the strange, eclectic side of Norwegian avant garde metal. The ominous ringing of clean guitars and discordant time signatures meld with heavy, palm muted riffing juxtaposed with crooning vocal stylings. There is a feeling of being dragged away to the twilight zone.

Not only are the individual performances excellent, the live recording-like production make the album a great listening experience. The drumming crashes and bashes with seemingly unexpected yet perfectly timed flurries. The guitar crunch and clean guitar tones are immaculate. For example of great bass playing, check out the awesome basslines on “The Dandified and the Devilfish.”

Ironically, opener “Demons in Tuxedos” may be the weakest song on Manimalism. The vocal lines on the chorus are a tad sour. However, Manimalism gets meatier, weirder and more compelling as the tone gets stranger and more unsettling. Fourth track, “Romance,” may be the best song with the band use the dynamic of pockets of silence to great effect. Everything comes together with its ghostly eeriness.

MANIMALISM is wholly unique and thus, fits perfectly into Norwegian avant garde metal universe.  (Adversum)