Dec 102016



No, we’re not being repetitive. Yes, we did post a year-end list by Rolling Stone magazine earlier in our LISTMANIA series, but that one was the magazine’s list of the top 50 albums across all genres of music that they care about. This, however, is a list in which metal isn’t elbowed aside by the likes of The Monkees, Elton John, and Brandy Clark, leaving only Metallica standing as the lone metal recognition.

This is Rolling Stone’s list of the “20 Best Metal Albums of 2016”, which appeared yesterday. And here it is:

Dec 092016



This post is divided into three parts. It includes a review of the new EP, AYFKM, by Colorado’s Call of the Void, which will be released by Translation Loss on December 16. You’ll also find a brief interview of the band that offers some insights into the music, the EP’s title, and the cover art.

But first, I’d like to ask you to watch the following video trailer for the EP, which we’re debuting here. I’m going to stifle my usual tendency to give away the game and spoil surprises. I think after you see it, and hear it, you’ll be even more interested in the other two parts of this post — or at least you’ll want to hear more music from the EP. I can help you with that, too.

Dec 092016

NCS The Best of 2016 graphic


(So far, our LISTMANIA series has mostly been devoted to year-end lists from other sites and print zines, but today we begin rolling out our own lists. As has become customary, we start with the first of six year-end lists that Andy Synn is preparing. Every day next week we’ll post his remaining five — along with other staff and guest lists.)

Somehow another year seems to have passed by, which means it’s almost time for my annual, week-long round-up of the year’s best and brightest (and most disappointing) releases.

For those of you unaware of how this whole thing works, I split my assessment of the year into three categories initially:

The “Great” albums, the ones which I honestly consider the true cream of this year’s crop, regardless of fame, fortune, or style.

The “Good” albums, which vary between solid (but not necessarily stunning) morsels of metallic goodness and those which (arguably) come within a hair’s breadth of greatness.

And the “Disappointing” albums of the year, the albums which, while not necessarily bad, I feel don’t live up to the standards which the band(s) have set for themselves, or which their listeners have come to expect.

Then, finally, I put together my two Top Ten lists. The “Critical Top Ten”, where I try to be as objective as possible in selecting ten of the year’s finest albums to serve as a representative sample of the best which 2016 has to offer, and my “Personal Top Ten”, which are simply the ten albums which have tickled my fancy the most over the past twelve months.

But first, how about we have a little round-up of some of the best EPs of the year?

Dec 092016



I’ve been immersed in compiling LISTMANIA features the last few days, but at the same time I’ve been noticing the appearance of new songs, many of them from albums headed our way in the new year. I’ve rounded up 9 of them here that I’ve enjoyed, with a range of metallic styles. I organized them sort of like a bell curve, with things starting hard and then getting more melodic in the middle, and then descending again into increasing ugliness and violence by the end.

Also, serious question: Should I divide collections of this length into smaller parts and spread them out over the day? Or does it matter?


I’m afraid that if I googled “lock up” these days, I’d get stories about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The world obviously needs to grind again, and the real Lock Up is here to help us do that.

Dec 092016



In past years I haven’t included Terrorizer’s annual lists of the year’s best albums in our LISTMANIA series, but I don’t know why. They’re a long-running metal print zine, and although their on-line site isn’t as large as the other cross-genre “big platform” web portals I typically include in this list, it’s a popular one, and of course far more metal-centric than most of the others. So this year, they’re in, especially since our own Andy Synn now writes more regularly for them (obviously an exercise in slumming).

Terrorizer began as a UK print zine in 1993 and now they’re up to Issue No. 275, which features a band on the cover that placed highly on the list you’re about to see. In in its own judgment Terrorizer “is considered the world’s most authoritative extreme metal magazine and when it comes to heavy metal and all forms of an ungodly racket”. They launched an online site in 2007, and now have hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors.

Dec 092016



Yesterday we re-posted a lot of year-end lists from “big platform” music sites and print zines, or at least the portions of them that included metal albums (where such portions existed). I’ve come across another one since then, and it’s a list from Exclaim!

For those who may not know, Exclaim! Media Inc., which was established in 1991, describes itself (here)  as “Canada’s foremost source of news and information on the best in emerging new music”. In its print format, Exclaim! has “a monthly circulation of over 100,000 copies distributed through more than 3,000 outlets across Canada”. is the company’s digital platform, which focuses on streaming music, news, reviews, interviews and original video content across a range of music genres.

Yesterday, Exclaim! published its staff list of The Top 10 Metal and Hardcore Albums of 2016.

Dec 082016



On January 6, Werewolf Records in cooperation with Hells Headbangers will release the debut album by a Mexico City black metal trio who call themselves Mordskog. The title of the album is a Roman numeral — XIII — and from that album we bring you the premiere of a hellish track called “Mors Est Vitae Essentia“.

The riff is king on this song — or more accurately, the riffs are kings. Anchored by a driving drum rhythm and bursts of double-bass thunder (with nary a blast-beat to be heard), the song moves from one infectious piece of poisonous black guitar magic to another. It only takes one listen for the song to get stuck in your head.

Dec 082016



(Andy Synn returns to his occasional series focusing on new releases by UK bands, with a trio of reviews and music streams.)

Just squeaking in under the wire before next week’s massive round-up, The Best of British is back once again with three killer cuts of prime metallic meat for your delectation.

Now you might be surprised to know that I still sometimes get accused of “not supporting the scene” enough, mostly in cases when Joe Douchebag is angry that I either haven’t covered his favourite band, or when I’ve had the temerity to suggest that his favourite band really isn’t all that good.

I suppose it doesn’t help that, despite playing in two bands myself, and writing for a couple of different publications, I still don’t really think of myself as part of “the scene”, which often tends to be too cliquey and insular for my tastes, with an unfortunate predisposition towards applauding bands just because they happen to be from the UK, and/or because they know the right people.

But I do feel that since I have my ear a bit closer to the ground than our other contributors (for obvious reasons) when it comes to up-and-coming acts from the UK, it’s important to use this knowledge to single out the bands who I feel really are deserving of praise and of wider exposure.

I’ve always felt that if you really want to “support the scene” then you should be asking, and expecting, more from it. You should be more, and not less, discriminating. If you want your scene to grow – rather than simply stagnate, producing the same interchangeable crop of bands year in and year out – you need to throw your support behind bands who can truly hold their own on the world stage.

And that’s the purpose of these columns. To bring these bands to a wider audience as best I can.

Dec 082016



The cover art for the new album by Kratornas could hardly have been better conceived. Like the artwork, the music pours sulfurous satanic hellfire down upon the damned (and everyone else) in a superheated torrent. The album’s name suits the music as well: Devoured By Damnation. And there’s no reason to just take our word for it, because below you’ll find our premiere of a full album stream to coincide with its release today by Grathila Records.

Kratornas began in the early ’90s as the solo project of a musician in the Philippines named Zachariah — though the debut album of Kratornas didn’t appear until 2007. In 2011, after the release of the second Kratornas album, Zachariah moved to Canada. And here we are, roughly 7 years after the last album, ready to be scorched by the new one. For this album, Zachariah is accompanied by a human drummer, GB Guzzarin, though he continues to handle vocals, guitar, and bass by himself.

Dec 082016



As part of our year-end LISTMANIA series, we bring you lists of the year’s best metal from a few print zines with wide circulation and from some cross-genre web platforms that get orders-of-magnitude more eyeballs than we do. In the case of most of these other lists, we do this as a way of peaking at what the wider world sees, since our world is very narrow and subterranean. In this post, we’re looking at Rolling Stone and NPR. It won’t take you long to read the metal names on these lists.


Last week, the venerable Rolling Stone magazine posted on their web site a list of the 50 Best Albums of 2016. This list isn’t limited to metal. In past years, Rolling Stone has published a separate list of the year’s best metal, but I’m not sure if they will do that this year. So what I did was to scroll through that “50 Best” list and carve out the metal names, which I’m listing below along with their rank on the list.

The full article appears here, with accompanying explanations for the choices:

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