Mar 152018


(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Judas Priest.)

I have now given this album time to sit with me. My first concern about a Priest album at this point in their career is how is Rob’s voice going to hold up? We might be able to live without KK, but as the Ripper Owens years proved, Rob’s  voice is one of the defining traits of this band.

The first two songs are pretty much dialed-in versions of their former arena-rock classics. Think closer to Defenders of the Faith, which found  the band trying to replicate the massive success of Screaming For Vengeance. While the ghost of Priest past might haunt some of the songs, it is without a doubt a better album than Redeemer of Souls. It has the up-tempo aggression that influenced the thrash bands that would follow. “Lightning Strike” has more of a gallop than the opener. The over-dubbed vocal layers that show Halford’s upper range are pretty convincing.

Mar 132018


I returned to Seattle last night after more than a week in Iceland, which was glorious in all sorts of ways, from the music at Oration Fest to our day trip on Sunday around the Golden Circle (which included stops at the Þingvellir National Park, the geothermal area in Haukadalur, the Kerið volcanic lake, and the stunning Gullfoss waterfall pictured above).

I’m trying to get back into the usual swing of things at NCS, but it hasn’t been an easy transition. I catch myself just staring into space and day-dreaming about the trip. The fact that metal didn’t obligingly stand still while I was gone makes the transition even tougher. I think it’s hardly even worth trying to catch up with all the new music that emerged since I left Seattle roughly 10 days ago. I decided it would be less stressful just to focus on some of the music I discovered this morning.


I’m leading off this collection with the song I heard most recently this morning out of all of these — a new track by the Mexican death metal band Zombiefication, who have been favorites of ours around here for many years. The new track is “Blood Falls“, and it comes from a new album entitled Below the Grief, which will be released later this year by Doomentia.

Mar 032018


If the two songs on this new split aren’t a perfect match, I don’t know what is. It’s not that they’re twins, not even fraternal twins. It’s that they complement each other so beautifully. I don’t know to what extent the artists shared their ideas before completing the compositions, but the experience of listening to the two songs together is so enthralling that you might think they were working together through a Vulcan mind meld.

Entitled Alone Among Mirrors, the split consists of one song by Black Mare, the solo project of L.A. musician Sera Timms (Ides of Gemini, Black Math Horseman), and one song by Offret, the solo project of Russian musician Andrey Prokofiev. It was released just yesterday on 7″ vinyl and digitally by Dark Operative.

Feb 212018


I don’t know if I’ll manage to follow through, but my plan for today is to post two round-ups of new music, this one being the first. As the post title suggests, I carved these songs away from the others and pulled them in here because the vocals in each of them aren’t solely of the kind that would suit the (demonstrably porous) rule in our site’s title. That’s right (gasp), there are some clean-sung melodies in these tracks… combined in each song with harsh ones.

Of course, to my ears the tracks have many other things to recommend them or I wouldn’t have asked you to listen. But the varied voices in these tracks are part of what made them stand out to me.


In April of last year I came across and wrote about a song from a two-track demo by a Bay-area band named Ails, whose line-up included two former members of the sorely missed Ludicra — vocalist Laurie Sue Shanaman and guitarist/vocalist Christy Cather — as well as guitarist Sam Abend (Desolation, Abrubt, Scurvy Dogs), drummer Colby Byrn (One In The Chamber, 2084, Aequorea), and bassist Jason Miller (Apocryphon, Cretaceous, Phantom Limbs). At the time, Ails was in the process of mastering their full-length debut and were seeking label support — and they got it, to no surprise of mine or anyone else who heard that demo.

Feb 152018


(This is a guest review by The Metal Elitist of the new album by the Utah band Visigoth, which was released by Metal Blade Records on February 9th.)


I consider myself a wary person. So, while I generally do agree that there exists a “golden era” of heavy metal long since passed, I tend to eye with suspicion many of the so-called NWOTHM bands which seem to coast their way to success on the waves of nostalgia. Though it is certainly true that we’ve been blessed with several excellent releases in this vein (think Sumerlands, Eternal Champion, or Night Demon), there are also countless me-too retro acts which have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Visigoth, however, is no such band. When I, like many others, first discovered them in 2015 after the release of their debut, The Revenant King, I knew that they had created something very special.

While The Revenant King certainly had its flaws, I sensed in it a maturity and passion that is missing from many of Visigoth’s leather-clad contemporaries, which is probably why the mournful wails of “Blood Sacrifice” and the thundering grooves of “Mammoth Rider” still manage to hold my attention almost three years later. Not content to simply rehash classic bands like Cirith Ungol, Heavy Load, and Grim Reaper, the Salt Lake City quintet had crafted a perfect chimera of both old and new.

Nevertheless, it was with caution that I patiently anticipated their follow-up. I knew the potential was there, but I felt the ol’ pessimism rising up within me, which couldn’t help but wonder, “Has the band already peaked? Will the successor be a disappointment?”

Jan 262018


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Norway’s In Vain, which is being released today by Indie Recordings.)

If you’ve been paying attention to the Metal blogosphere over the last few months, chances are that you’ll have stumbled across either (or both) of the new singles from Norwegian Prog-Metallers In Vain, released in advance of their new album Currents (out today on Indie Recordings).

What might surprise you, however, is the revelation that these two tracks are. arguably, the worst on the album.

Jan 212018

Robert Venosa: “Ayahuasca Dream”


(DGR has stepped into the round-up void left by our editor this past week and has produced a three-part collection of recent songs and videos. Parts 1 is here; Part 3 will be presented on Monday.)


Three weeks into January, and judging by the handful of massive Seen and Heard and Overflowing Streams posts we’ve had to put up, you could say that we’ve managed to the get ourselves into gear as our beloved musical genre has already offloaded numerous news bits upon us in the new year.

I, your ever-faithful servant, have also been doing my best to go along with my ragged fish net and catch everything that might’ve slipped by us — which in the case of this post dates back to last week and then some.

Jan 182018


We were introduced more than three years ago to the Indian doom band Djinn and Miskatonic through Comrade Aleks’ inclusion of them in one of his Doom Quizes. At that time, they had released a debut album, Forever in the Realm, and now they’re back with a second full-length, just released by Transcending Obscurity. Bearing the title Even Gods Must Die, it’s a six-track edifice of doom exceeding an hour in length. Three of the tracks have appeared in the lead-up to the release, and now we deliver the premiere of a fourth one: “Harvest of Kings“.

It’s difficult to imagine any fan of traditional doom not becoming enthralled by this long track, which casts a haunting spell that grows ever deeper as the minutes pass.

Jan 182018


In March of last year we brought you the premiere of the title track to The Abyss Noir, the latest album by the Greek metal band Disharmony. The album was released the following month by GrimmDistribution, and in its multifaceted musical textures it has drawn comparisons to the sounds of Nevermore, Sanctuary, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, and Anthrax. It also includes a hell of a good cover of Metallica’s “Disposable Heroes”.

What we’ve got for you today is a vivid reminder of the album, a video for one of its best tracks, “Vain Messiah“.

Jan 062018


I had a very busy week, both on and off our site, so busy that I wasn’t able to cobble together a round-up of news and new music. However, I did try to keep abreast of what was coming out, and my list of intriguing tracks that appeared over just the last week is YUGE — so YUGE that I’m afraid I’ll have to resort to an OVERFLOWING STREAMS post on Monday, one in which I don’t do anything but just stitch together new music streams and release details without commentary.

But I decided I would do something for today as a head-start (in addition to working on a SHADES OF BLACK post for tomorrow), and here’s what I’ve done: I picked the latest recommendations from three of my NCS colleagues, and then added one of my own, which happens to be the latest new song premiere that I’ve listened to. But first, a news item…


A few days ago the administrator of Panopticon’s official Facebook page posted the artwork you see above, along with these few words: “Slip case cover for the new double album. the scars of man on the once nameless wilderness. Out in March on Bindrune Recordings in the USA and Nordvis in Europe. Art by Hanna Larsson of Sólfjall Design.”

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