Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nocturno Culto new solo release!

It came to my attention today that Ted Skjellum AKA Nocturno Culto (notably of Norwegian Metal band Darkthrone) will release a solo album via Peaceville Records on Oct 28th 2013! See the link for details as I am too busy cleaning the shit out my pants since I heard about this! For those of you unfamiliar, Nocturno Culto has also been busy with the Sarke, in which he provides vocals. Though he took no credit for song-writing on the 1st album, the riffs suit him quite a bit. Since Sarke (with Nocturno!!!) are playing Maryland Deathfest this year (2014), this is the year of Nocturno! Ted had also been busy this summer trying to fund a film idea, 'SAGA,' a biker-chick-zombie-viking-Heavy Metal film. Yeah, that awesome. Co-written by and starring Nocturno. How this didn't get enough funding, I don't know except that it was poorly advertised. I contributed, but alas, not enough money was raised to start filming. Hopefully, this year's MDF appearance and sales of his album will help funding but artists make precious little on their releases so it will probably only put food on his table. One can hope, though...

I would also recommend to all readers interested in the Norwegian Black Metal scene to view Nocturno Culto's film "The Misanthrope" which is available on DVD and in a CD/DVD set with the soundtrack (written by Nocturno) included. I have the CD/DVD set and suggest it, the music is great eerie ambient electronica. The film itself has a heavy David Lynch vibe at times, alternating with a very honest, simple, fly-on-the-wall feel as the viewer watches Nocturno go about his business ice-fishing with members of Enslaved, seeing Gallhammer in Japan, and having a Tyrant Syndicate (his now-defunct label co-operated by Fenriz) 'meeting' which amounted to a gathering of Norwegian Metal legends gathering around a fire and talking. Do not miss Apollyon pissing on the fire, hilarity ensues! If you found "Until The Light Takes Us" interesting, I you MUST see "The Misanthrope" to see what life is currently like for Nocturno and friends.

To Pre-order:

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Death In June LIVE in Brooklyn Sept 20th 2013

The Blackened Series brought me another gem this week, as I FINALLY got to see Death In June live! Firstly, if anyone has every said that DIJ is a fascist band, they were wrong, they are quite the opposite. Don't believe me? See the early Crisis stuff (pre-DIJ punk band). Yes, one former member DID go super right-wing, but DIJ itself and certainly founder Douglas P. never have.

THAT said, DIJ has had several styles over the years, progressing from the punk sound of Crisis on very early recordings, to stripped-down mostly martial percussive drones, to noisey electronics, to acoustic folk, to any combination of the above. The lion's share is the acoustic folk, usually consisting of Douglas P. singing over an acoustic guitar with minimal background accompaniment, often sparse percussion, chimes, bells, horns, etc. The subject matter of the lyrics is usually depressive, utilizing metaphors, symbols, ideas/ideals from Nordic and Germanic culture to create a unique and personal gestalt that is something like sad-man paganism. I do also love that Douglas P. is openly gay. One (of many!) quirk(s) in their history that I would like to discuss is the extensive collaboration with Boyd Rice. I am not super familiar with him but from I gather of his public persona, he likes to annoy people simply for his own amusement. I give him credit for his sound experimentation and for having (at the very least) interesting and different ideas, but I have yet to find anything that really makes me like him much. ANYWAY, Death In June is awesome and so was the show.

The set started and ended with songs in the martial drumming style with acoustic bits throughout the majority of the set. I was happy with the mix of songs, with some from pretty much every major release. Douglas even asked for and delivered some requests! The sound was great too, which I had been a bit worried about since the acoustic stuff takes careful miking to broadcast.

As for stage show, there was a back drop of a huge American flag with  the death's head symbol used by DIJ in the blue field. The same design with alternation between the death's head and the DIJ 'whip hand' symbol decorated the drums on stage. Performers were Douglas and a percussionist. Both of course were wearing all camouflage and Douglas began by performing in his signature DIJ mask. Of note, it was interesting to see him play in a long flectar camo jacket with shorts and high socks! Throughout most of the set though he wore no mask but instead a hat and dark glasses with his camo get-up. I was well pleased with the show and felt satisfied with the set.

Songs included (in no order) but not limited to:
Giddy Giddy Carosel, She Said Destroy, Symbols of the Sun, 13 Years of Carrion, Roseclouds of Holocaust (check out the Nachtmystium cover!), Fall Apart (check out the cover by Ikon!), Good Mourning Sun, To Drown a Rose, Death of The West, We Drive East, Ku Ku Ku, But What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?, My Black Angel, All Pigs Must Die, The Enemy Within

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Medicine LIVE at Williamsburg Music Hall 2013

So, firstly, this show was a BIG DEAL in the apartment. My partner turned me on to this band early on in our dating days. Medicine is noisy and experimental rock group that stands out from others in the shoegaze genre in that they are able to mix huge walls of sound with dreamy, pop-like vocals in a way I haven't heard any other band do as well. Prior to listening to Medicine, I was familiar with bands like My Bloody Valentine, (loosely with) The Jesus And Mary Chain, etc. though my tastes run more towards darker variants of the style such as many Wolves In The Throne Room releases (Black Metal seems to lend itself well to shoegaze as it is already pretty tilted towards guitar experimentation from the 2nd wave, from Scandanavia i.e. "De Mysteriis.." era Mayhem, Thorns, even Darkthrone's early Black Metal releases have a droney, wall-of-sound style, though I'd argue that this had more to do with crust punk sensibilities and limited access to equipment.

Anyway, Medicine does what they do very well, big guitars with many, many layers and ethereal vocals that are just a few notches short of the Cocteau Twins to me. After about 13 years of silence, they returned with a new album that, to me, at least matches their back catalog. As songs were released to fans (a small but loyal base, from what I've seen), I listened and digested. I was most impressed that the availability of newer technology did nothing to ruin the Medicine sound, instead, it was improved: more layers, better noise.

As for the show itself, I will start off saying that I was not impressed with the opener (to the point that I don't even remember their name) which consisted of about 10 hipsters on stage with an incredible redundancy of instrumentation that didn't come through the mix anyway. So, for Medicine! The live sound was excellent, so my hat's off to the sound technician, they are a difficult sound to manage. It was not as good as the album, but certainly better than I expected for live (and I had high hopes). Part of the treat was just to see the guitar/effects rig being used. The set was a solid mix of new and old songs as I recall. In short, if you like Medicine and somehow get a chance to see one of their exceedingly rare live shows, do it! The sound will not disappoint. Additionally, everyone had excellent showmanship and exuded heavy energy the whole show.

I also appreciated that the band members were super-approachable and mingled with the crowd afterwards, talking with friends and fans present for more than an hour after the set, as they were able with stage break-down.

Medicine Facebook:

Pictures of the above show via Brooklyn Vegan:

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DOA Live in NYC for last time (sort of) Sept 13 2013

I am a recent fan of DOA (about 10 months) though I've heard them spoken of often and highly by sources I trust. Anyway, this tour was intended as a farewell party as founding member Joey Shithead is going to run for office in Canada next election season. Here's what I love about DOA: they do indeed back their talk with action (they have an album named for it), they are proud of their influences (Joey had  a Pink Floyd sticker on his guitar and is also a big Bob Dylan fan, for example), and, finally, they know how to ROCK! So many artists the world over (myself included!) have a hard time composing songs that are dynamic but in what I consider true rock form, DOA always delivers. The songs go somewhere; there is tension built and released, structured progression of notes and volume, etc. The newest DOA cuts on "We Come In Peace" are no exception so if are already like them, I think you dig it. If you've never listened to them, this is a great place to start!

Hopefully we can look forward to more DOA shows in the future, though I want Joey to have as much positive influence on this world as he can (and so should we all) so I will try to keep perspective in mind. DOA can be full of surprises though, take this show for example: it was supposed to be their last NY show (held at Brooklyn's Europa Club, which has hosted the Casualties, the English Dogs, Antisect, and many other great acts!) but there was a secret 2nd show at the Grand Victory right after (I didn't go, subway travel was FUBAR, I was a tired old man at an ancient 26 years of age, and Grand Victory shows have always started WAY late for both shows I've seen there (Koffin Kats and Gene Loves Jezebel) though the venue is intimate and loud).

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Sacrifice Pt 2 (Saxon live)

So SAXON has released a new beast on the world, with their 2013 release, "Sacrifice." It has been kicking my ass since I bought it at the show.

Regarding the CD: the production is tight and heavy, but don't worry it doesn't feel clinical, just that the producer knew what he/she/it was doing. Stand out tracks are 'Sacrifice' 'Made In Belfast' and 'Wheels of Terror' though 'Waiting in a Queue' gets humor points.

Regarding the show: the set list was picked by a fan, as there was some contest on the Saxon facebook that I missed. Whoever arranged it, the set was KILLER! They opened with 'Sacrifice' followed by 'Wheels of Terror' and it wasn't long before we shared some of the "Power & the Glory." The band was in excellent form and was extra-energetic.

Fozzy opened, which to my dismay and confusion did NOT involve any muppets. Fozzy is a little to soft for me, they seem to always 'almost' make it, but that's just my taste. I WILL say that they put EVERYTHING into their live show, they were interacting constantly with fans, jumping all over the place, and in general having great showmanship. So if a non-fan is saying they are great live, I suggest that any fan gets their hide to a Fozzy show, poste-haste!

The show was at BB Kings Bar & Grill which I like as a venue except for the fact that you get major bottle-necking trying to exit and if you sit at a table (optional) there's some annoying minimum purchase required ($15, I think?). On the other hand, they get and I have seen some great acts there, including Morbid Angel, Grave, Dark Funeral (one show!) and The Minions of Gozer (a Ghostbusters Shadowcast, you should see them!).

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

"Sacrifice" Pt. 1 (Triton Fest 2013, NY)

Firstly, yes, it HAS been a long while since I've posted. That said, let's get on with it! I recently had opportunity to attend the 2013 edition of Triton Fest in NY, which is a big goth rock/dark electronic fest held yearly. This year it was a 3 day event starting off at Gramercy Theatre in NYC for Thursday and Irving Plaza for Friday and Saturday. It couldn't be all 3 days at Irving as they were hosting The Mission (UK) on Thursday... but more on that to come below (yes, that IS what she said...).

Right, get on with it,  I arrived at Irving without tickets as my plans had been in flux re: how days I would attend. This worked out to my advantage as I was able to score a sold-out VIP pass for the price of a regular ticket from someone with extra. I was thus advanced from lowly ticket-less attendee-hopeful to backstage-buddy, as the VIP ticket allowed me to meet all the bands. I had one goal: meet Sean Brennan of London After Midnight. Mission accomplished (no, I am not punning a tease on the show reviewed below, be patient). Conveniently, I had brought the booklet for 2007's (their most recent release) "Violent Acts Of Beauty" in the off-chance that I ran in to him. He signed it and was super-friendly and approachable. He talked to me about previous LAM shows in the region over the years as well as discussed the artwork for the album. Insider info: the photo in the center IS him as a child, taken by his father with a '3D camera' so you have to hold it at arm's length and cross your eyes, etc. to see the '3D.' Sean also looked incredible, I must say. Apparently exercise and a vegan diet are working well for him!
So, to the show: all the bands were enjoyable, but special mention goes out to Psyclon Nine for their energy. They are a little to 'chuggity-wuggity' with their guitar riffs to keep me interested long or to become a huge fan (though there was certainly some great bits for me), but they have talent and massive energy so even if you don't care for them musically (as I don't), I recommend seeing them live if you get the chance. I also give them credit for trying to bring American-style Black Metal to dark electronic fans. ANYWAY, I have been a fan of London After Midnight since the mid-2000's and was mega-stoked to see them. They delivered, too. There was a running film for all the songs, reminding me of Sean's film/visual background (they ARE named after an obscure and basically lost silent film, after all!) which was entertaining, however the band kept it hard to take my eyes off them. The set was solid, with choices of all my favorite cuts from each album. I can't complain except that I would have wanted more songs. This of course was impossible as each band had a tight slot to play and LAM had to leave time for Birthday Massacre and Dawn of Ashes. I will add that LAM had some sound issues but Sean explained that there was a too-brief sound check. Honestly, they still sounded great to me, but then I am used to shows with sloppy sound (this being a benefit in some cases). Since nothing from the remaining bands could top that performance for me I skedaddled afterwords. I HIGHLY recommend London After Midnight (the band) if you like ANY 90's Goth Rock (and I think they are one of the best). What sets them apart is their political lyrics, most notable on "Violent Acts..." and catchy melancholy that doesn't forget how to rock. LAM closed their set with their classic "Sacrifice"  and I will do the same:

NOW, about the Mission. I will first say that I did get to see The Sisters Of Mercy on Halloween about 7 or so years ago, so now seeing Wayne Hussey perform, it's almost like I got to see the "First, Last, and Always" line-up of SOM. Sort of. That's besides the point of this post though, the Mission stand strong on their own. Wayne's jangly guitars always interest me and he really knocks it home with some melodies on many of their songs. This was my first time seeing them and I loved every minute of it! I also got to introduce a friend to them via the show. I am quite jealous as his first exposure to them was a live performance! The tour was to support their new album "The Brightest Light" which I must say was quite enjoyable. Very catchy, delivered just about as well for me as their classic early albums (though "God's Own Medicine" will probably always be untoppable for me, I just relate too much it). The new song 'Black Cat Bone' sticks out for me quite a bit from the album.

Wayne had some interesting choices for the set as they opened AND closed with new songs though we did have to wait for 'Wasteland.' There was at least one encore (there may have been a second but I had work at 8 AM at it was already about midnight, yes I'm like an old man). The short of it is that the Mission still delivers a great live show and a great album so if you're already a fan, try to share both with them, if you're not a fan, check them out!

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*