Sportsball, 2019 Week 1 Preview: Part I (Are You Ready??)

 

Sportsball, 2019 Week 1 Preview Edition: Part I (Are You Ready??)

 

First, a quick warning to regular Valley of Steel readers: today we are introducing, in the words of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “something completely different.” While our purpose for existing remains sharing the good word about what’s happening in the world of music, this new feature (which is intended to be a semi-regularly recurring segment) revolves around a very different sort of heavy metal; specifically, the gridiron.

In case that still isn’t clear enough, we will be taking some time today (and tomorrow) to analyse the sport known around the world as amerikanischer Fußball, and domestically (here in the home of the National Football League) called simply football. As someone who has been voraciously devouring football news and stats for years, and as someone who already uses the written word as a way of exploring other lifelong passions, it just feels natural for me to experiment with writing about the sport. Sporadically, at least — if you aren’t a sports fan, don’t worry, maybe just skip this article and your regularly scheduled music news and reviews will continue coming your way very soon.

But for everyone else: tonight (Thursday, the 5th of September) will kick off the NFL’s 100th season, and we’ll be presenting you with a brief preview of all thirty-two teams. The previews are divided up into the sixteen match-ups that will be featured between now and Monday night, in case you want to quickly scroll through to find your favorite team. Half of them are included in this article, and the other half will be coming out tomorrow.

The main point here is to look at some of the major stories and trends that could shape each team’s season, rather than predicting the results of each specific game. However, you may also notice that each team has been listed with their current win-loss record (which, of course, is 0-0 for every team as of right now) next to their predicted record over the full season. These predictions are the result of an extensive series of proprietary calculations and data modelling based on the information currently available — but as the season progresses, the overall predictions will be updated based on new data and information, as new Sportsball articles are published. So just for fun, feel free to check back to see how right or wrong the outcomes in today’s preview (including the current expected playoff picture and Super Bowl teams, which will be included in tomorrow’s Part II) turns out to be!

Oh, and one last thing — as a fundamentally music-related website, I couldn’t help sneaking in a few references, albeit oblique ones, into the blurb about tonight’s participating teams. So anyway, please enjoy this preview, and then enjoy this weekend’s games. Feel free to voice your own opinions in the comments below, or argue over on Twitter like the cool kids do.

 

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Infernäl Mäjesty – Nigrescent Years of Chaos; Deceased – Fearless Undead Machines (2016)

infernal majesty - nigrescent years of chaos 200dpi

Infernäl MäjestyNigrescent Years of Chaos (Vic Records, 25 April 2016)

 

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DeceasedFearless Undead Machines (Transcending Obscurity Classics, 10 June 2016)

 

All right, people. Today we’re going to kick it old school.

Please accept my apologies for such a lame introduction, but honestly it’s all I have the energy for right now. After a busy weekend that was capped off with watching the Penguins seal a Stanley Cup victory late last night, I barely managed about three hours of sleep.

So anyway, here’s what I’ve got for you: a pair of newly reissued classics by two bands who — while I definitely wouldn’t call either of them unknown or obscure — have never seemed to achieve the level of recognition that they each seem to deserve …

 

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Incantation – XXV: Quarter Century of Blasphemy (2016)

incantation-XXV

 

IncantationXXV: Quarter Century of Blasphemy (self-released, 2016)

 

Way back in 1989 — about twenty-seven years ago — death metal was just beginning to grow out of its infancy. The genre had recently splintered off from thrash, with bands falling over each other trying to sound heavier, faster, more sinister, and more extreme than anything that had come before. But by this time, the “death metal” sound was already starting to expand; similar to the way thrash had been evolving and further distancing itself further from its hardcore punk roots, newer death metal bands were starting to add a greater technicality or progressiveness to the music, a wider range of tempos and dynamics, as well as beginning to incorporate various other influences. One of the newer bands to emerge around that time was Incantation, who employed the typical death metal aesthetic, while often sticking with more of a mid-to-lower tempo — allowing the intricate guitar solos and riffs to shine through more clearly than in those bands who chose to join the neverending maximum speed arms race.

Living in Johnstown, Pennsylvania — a place I myself have visited before; pretty much its only claim to fame is the fact that they had a big flood once, as evidenced by the fact that one of the few things to do there is to tour the Johnstown Flood Museum — naturally the band would spend a lot of their time traveling and touring. While undergoing numerous different line-up changes and using countless live musicians throughout the past couple of decades, Incantation has been all over the world multiple times. But early in their career they became aligned most closely with pioneering New York death metal bands like Suffocation, and especially Mortician (with whom they’ve actually shared or swapped members during a time or two in their joint histories).

From their debut album on Relapse Records, Onward to Golgotha, through later releases on Candlelight and their own label Ibex Moon, and finally through albums this decade on Listenable Records, including their latest, 2014’s Dirges of Elysium, the band has continued to push the envelope creatively, while garnering critical praise as well as a rabid international following. And now, after a quarter century of material, Incantation have put together a retrospective package that includes highlights from all over that lengthy career. This vinyl-only release (which is only available directly from the band) includes all new, never-before-released recordings: one completely new song and a few re-recorded gems from their earlier days, plus a number of live versions that are exclusive to this package. The new compilation, titled XXV is now being offered for sale to fans, including a few package deals with merch you also won’t find anywhere else …

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Incantation Reveals: a New Album is Coming Soon!

 
After more than two decades, American death metal pioneers Incantation just keep going and going, showing neither any signs of slowing down nor any inclination to follow the latest fad or change their style… despite the fact that sole original member John McEntee is now working with (if my counting abilities are accurate) the three-hundred-eighty-seventh different line-up of the band since its inception in 1989.

In the years since then, Incantation has made its mark as one of the very first bands signed to Relapse Records (growing alongside that label during their decade-long relationship), and as one of the originators of the New York Death Militia sound (remaining very close to former labelmates Mortician, and even sharing bandmembers with their NYDM brethren from time to time). In addition to having an ever-shifting cast of characters, the band has also called various locations its home — New York, Ohio, and Johnstown, PA.

Throughout this history, Incantation has put out numerous demos and EPs, participated in countless splits and compilations, and released a total of eight LPs. After a trek through Brazil earlier this year and several stops at European festivals during the summer, the guys have returned home to the States and announced that album number nine would be arriving sometime next month via the label that has handled their past few releases, Listenable Records.

 
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Get to Know: Cenobite (Review of ‘The Black’ EP)

 

CenobiteThe Black (05 July 2011)

 
Okay, first of all I feel like I need to clear this up right away: regardless of how it might sound, a “Cenobite” is not a unit for measuring computer memory. Don’t go into your local electronics store and try to buy a 50 Cenobite hard drive or something.

No, as my research has taught me, the word stems from the Greek roots κοινός (“common”) and βίος (“life”), and refers to individuals involved in the practice of communal living, as typified by Buddhist or Christian monks.

Researching a little bit further, I found that the name was also used for the race of formerly-human beings who live in an extra-dimensional void (but can be summoned to earth through a portal created by solving a complex puzzle-box) in the Hellraiser series of movies and comic books.

As I understand it, these creatures were named Cenobites because their apparently-religious-like devotion to hedonism and sadomasochism had ultimately transformed them into a state where they had completely lost all semblance of humanity, just like monks’ religious-like devotion to — well, to religion — inspires them to give up all earthly possessions and pleasures and enter a communal living environment. I guess.

I’d heard of the Hellraiser series before, but never actually knew anything about it until I read all this stuff earlier today. The funny thing is, the brief overview of the characters, and the synopsis of the first film’s plot that I read, both sounded awfully familiar to me — when I remembered that there was a Mortician song that incorporated a lengthy sample (as many of their songs do) where they talked about these demon-like beings who’d been summoned by using a box, and then they wanted to take somebody back to another dimension of hellish torture, someone who had escaped from their clutches previously. So I poked around a bit more, and found that the song “Hell on Earth” (from Zombie Apocalypse) did, in fact, make use of a sample from the original Hellraiser movie.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes a quick search on Wikipedia can turn into a whole chain of discovery?

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