Sep 082014


(NCS contributor KevinP shares his latest quarterly round-up of albums that he commends to your ears.) 

We’re getting toward the end of the year and the amount of quality releases hasn’t slowed down one bit.  And there are even more to come as well (Wolfheart, At the Gates, Bloodbath to name a few just off the top of my head).  Here’s 5 more albums you should defintely check out.

Majestic Downfall/The Slow Death split

Once this is officially released on September 15th, you should be able to hear all 6 songs (3 by each band), but one listen to the Majestic Downfall track, “The Dark Lullaby”, should give you all you need to know.  The Slow Death is no slouch on this by any means.  Very good and competent funeral-esque doom.  So I don’t blather too much, start listening and see my review here [Editor's intrusion: I don't know why I'm letting Kevin link to his own review. I'm going to review this split and it's the only one you'll need to read.]

Jul 122013

(Earlier this week we asked NCS readers to share with us their lists of the best 2013 albums they’ve heard so far — and man did we get lists! More than 60 at last count, plus a bunch of interesting discussion. Our long-time supporter and occasional contributor SurgicalBrute decided to save his list for a post, and this is it, with sample music from each of his 25 picks.)

Anyone who’s ever made one of these lists knows how difficult they are to come up with. The truth is, for every one band that makes it onto a list, there’s probably another fifteen that are every bit as impressive and could have easily been chosen (which explains why some of you listed every band you could think of…seriously guys, save some albums for the rest of us ☺).

Personally, I’ve found the first half of 2013 to be extremely strong…new releases by metal stalwarts like Horna, Autopsy, and Amon Amarth…long awaited debuts by Lantern, KryptsVorum, and Sacriphyx. Hell, if things were to somehow totally tank from this point forward, I think we’d still come out ahead. Fortunately, we know that’s not going to happen, and it makes me eager to find out what’s in store for the rest of the year.

So, here’s my top 25 albums so far…Tell me what else you think I need to grab.

Jul 092013

We’re just past the halfway point of 2013, and it seems like a good time to take stock of what the year has delivered so far. As I’ve said before, I’m terrible at making “best of” lists. I overthink it, I agonize over it, I have great difficulty comparing metal across different genres. I have great difficulty choosing among albums I like even within a specific genre. When I contemplate making a “best of the year” list, my brain tends to just lock up like an engine that’s had a hole punched in the oil pan. So I’m not providing a list of my own — and I haven’t told my fellow writers that I’m doing this post, so I don’t have anything from them to share either.

No, the main point of this post is to solicit your choices. That’s more fun anyway. I mean, it’s clear that NCS readers have superb taste, because you’re reading NCS; I rest my case. It’s also clear from the comments we get that the readers at this site have diverse interests in metal and, with a few exceptions (those being the people who disagree with me), are highly intelligent. So I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with. That’s one of the best reasons to read lists of the year’s best metal — to make new discoveries — in addition to seeing confirmation of the wisdom of your own opinions.

So, in the comments to this post, please leave your lists of the best 2013 metal albums and EPs you’ve heard so far this year. Explanations or descriptions are welcome, but don’t feel you have to make time for that; a simple list is fine, too. A couple more things before you start pecking away on your keyboards or touchpads:

Mar 042013

(I bet you thought we’d finished our 2012 Listmania series. Think again. BadWolf brings us one more list.)

Three months into 2013, here’s another top 10 about 2012. These are my favorite articles to write every year, and also the most difficult. 2012 in particular was a musical gauntlet. The more promos we get here at NCS and at the other sites I write for, the more metal I listen to, the more I need non-metal records to give myself a break. It’s an infinite feedback loop.

I thought this would be an easy article. So many of my favorite artists in my favorite genres released albums in 2012 that I anticipated the article would write itself. Needless to say, things did not turn out that way. Old favorites like Marillion and Titus Andronicus released middle-of-the-road records. At the same time, I developed a tremendous appetite for hip-hop. One version of this list was entirely populated by rappers, which would have necessitated another top 10 list.

Also, so many metal labels released more-or-less rock records that I debated including them. In the end I opted not to: you know who Graveyard are, and they don’t need me for a cheerleader (seriously, though—listen to Graveyard).

In the end, these ten albums made the cut more-or-less based on play counts alone. They all share certain qualities with my favorite metal albums: intense sound, aggressive or melancholy delivery, vocals. You could call those things the core of my taste. Perhaps they’re also at the core of yours.

Feb 042013

(In this post, Colorado-based writer and guest NCS contributor Mike Yost (whose own blog is here) shares a duo of infectious songs from 2008.)

I have a mind that refuses to be linear.  My spasmodic thoughts love to jump around from past to future to present.  I wanted to contribute to the blog on the most infectious songs of the year, but my head has recently been stuck in 2008.  So, I shall share with the throng of NoCleanSinging readers some of my favorite, most infectious metal songs of that year.  These pandemic tunes are sure to burrow themselves into your brain and inject slimy pulsating egg sacks which hatch a multitude of ravenous squirming larva that devour your mind from the inside out, eventually crawling out of your blood-soaked ears.

This is not an exhaustive list of contagious canticles, so stay tuned for more (as soon as my brain jumps to another year).  And be sure to turn those speakers up.  If the music isn’t knocking over skyscrapers, mountains, or deities, then it’s not loud enough.


Jan 242013

With one or two possible late-arriving exceptions, our 2012 edition of Listmania has finally drawn to a close. Or to put it differently, since we’re approaching the end of 2013′s first month, I decided it was time to wrap this up and move on.

Our 2012 series of lists proved to be another extensive one: We published almost 50 lists with accompanying commentary. Some of these were lists that appeared at other “big platform” web sites or magazines — places with large audiences, most of which cover musical genres well beyond metal. We also published our own staff lists, of course. But the largest group of list posts came from guest writers — NCS readers, band members, and fellow bloggers. Plus, we also received many lists in the comments to THIS POST.

In this article I’m collecting links to all of the 2012 list posts that we published. But in this year’s wrap-up we’ve got an extra treat: NCS reader, commenter, and occasional guest writer Old Man Windbreaker has created a synthesis of all those lists, assigning point values based in part on how often an album appeared, in an effort to create a composite ranking of 2012′s best albums based on the lists published at NCS.

As you’ll see, this required a shitload of work, and I’m really grateful to the Old Man for this vast labor of love. His explanation of what he did, and the results, come right after my collection of links to the 2012 lists we published. Thanks again to everyone who contributed to 2012 Listmania and to everyone who made time to read what we pulled together.

Jan 212013

‘Sup dog!

(NCS reader and frequent commenter Old Man Windbreaker, who hails from India, helps us wrap up our Listmania series with a big-ass list of his favorite 2012 listening.)

Greetings. Over the length of this text, you shall be subject to Old Man Windbreaker’s self-indulgent eccentricities, primarily because you allow it. Here is a list of lists of One’s memorable listening experiences from 2012 (and the past couple of weeks). Furthermore, the items in the lists are provided with Bandcamp streams or Soundcloud playlists or YouTube playlists [Lists]. Note that One said “listening experiences”, and not “albums” or “music releases”. Quite a few of the entries are composed of mutiple releases. Anyway…

Feast your eyes and ears upon the list-yness!

But, in case you don’t want to read One’s commentary for some reason, here is a summarised list of Old Man Windbreaker’s favorite listening experiences of 2012, in no particular order after the top 3:

1. Portal of I by Ne Obliviscaris
2. Cognitive by Soen
3. Rengeteg by Thy Catafalque
4. Beastwars and Tower of Skulls by Beastwars
5. Griseus by Aquilus
6. Gods of Eden by Gods of Eden
7. Utilitarian by Napalm Death

Jan 202013

(Here’s the fourth and final part of TheMadIsraeli’s multi-part rollout of his list of 2012′s best metal. Sample songs are at the end of the post. And you can find the first 16 albums on his list herehere, and here. Despite the numbering, the albums are presented in no particular order.)

Finally, the end of my LP’s of the year.  These are, for me, the albums that blindsided me with how good they were.  Mostly new bands that came out of nowhere are here.

17. Infant Annihilator –  The Palpable Leprosy of Pollution

An album that dare I say is deathcore’s resurrection.  Infant Annihilator brought a titanic atom bomb impact with a style of technical deathcore that just destroyed everything in its wake.  I can’t wait to see what these guys do next.

Jan 162013

(William Smith is the vocalist for Buckshot Facelift and a Long Island band named Artificial Brain that I’ve written about twice — here and here. He also writes a very entertaining blog called Vitos Squid Stop and Death Metal Museum. I asked him around this time last year if he would write something for NCS . . . and he gave us a 2-part list of “anniversary” albums — five albums recorded 10 years and 20 years earlier, respeectively. And this year he’s done it again. The first part appeared yesterday, and this post discusses metal gems from 10 years ago.)

…but then it came – the era of Chris Barnes as the Death Metal Elvis was dead – bloated on a toilet after a worldwide glut of gore.  George Fisher  took the flag and waved it through the fog of corpse paint and KORN, but the late nineties and early 2000s was an awkward,  diehard period when keeping it real was all about guttural slam metal, old guys ran out of ideas and started Impetigo worship bands, and all of a sudden cassettes just disappeared .

10 years after the Death Metal renaissance of ’93, the internet had established a stronghold on the underground scene. File sharing sterilized the fun out of tape trading and straight edge hardcore bands began using blast beats and guttural vocals for their own benign purposes. “Fruity Loops- Relapse message board computer grind” all but drowned out “sociopathic loner tape trader grind”, one of North Americas most unsung “KVLT” phenomena of the late nineties (re: Extreme Scene, Anal Birth, Slough, Dismembered Fetus, Vomit Spawn) and old school tech-Death pioneers began sounding more and more like Hatebreed.

To view in the context of history where some of the last holdouts from the 90s stood in this unsure era, I’ve raided my collection for 5 underground releases that have stood the test of time to still be personal Kult favorites a decade later.

Jan 152013

(William Smith is the vocalist for Buckshot Facelift and a Long Island band named Artificial Brain that I’ve written about twice — here and here. He also writes a very entertaining blog called Vitos Squid Stop and Death Metal Museum. I asked him around this time last year if he would write something for NCS . . . and he gave us a 2-part list of “anniversary” albums — five albums recorded 10 years and 20 years earlier, respeectively. And this year he’s done it again. In this first part, he discusses some death metal gems from 20 years ago.)

Wow, time flies! I can’t believe another 12 months has passed and I’ve had my head in the thrift store record bins too long to be a credible judge of what came out since last year. Now, I could scrap together a hodgepodge of the random demos and albums I acquired in 2012, but it’s so much more fun to look through my personal vault and bring you all on a trip down memory lane to that most special of years in Death Metal – 1993.

We all know the story – bands such as Deicide, Morbid Angel, Sinister, Death, Carcass, and so on and so on, were proving their mettle in the worldwide markets, and tape trading was still the most viable and pragmatic way to get new music.  Here now, I present to you 5 of my favorite obscure gems that were just bubbling under the surface during this glorious period in Death Metal.

(In all honesty, I was 11 years old in 1993 and got into tape trading about 3 years later – what a poser!). In the (German-translated) words of Mangled Torsos, let’s “hold on the past”…

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