Mar 152018

Anthony Pilon: “The Fevered Sycophant”


(Andy Synn goes on a rant.)


I don’t know about you guys, but the amount of fawning hype I’ve seen being bandied about with regards to certain bands recently has begun to make me feel a little green around the gills.

It’s not so much the fault of the bands in question either – both Rivers of Nihil and Conjurer (to name but two) have produced new albums recently which, while overhyped to a frankly ridiculous degree in places, richly deserve the praise they’ve been getting – nor do I blame them for capitalising on it, but the general lack of any sense of professional ethics or detachment and the perceived unwillingness (or inability) to even try to be even semi-objective on the part of many of those who call themselves “reviewers” has really started to get my goat.

And I realise I may be putting the cat amongst the pigeons here, nor do I contend that NCS is entirely innocent in this regard either, but the fact of the matter is that a large number, maybe even the majority, of the reviews that I encounter these days tend to read more like unpaid press releases than an attempt at any sort of critical analysis/assessment.

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 052018


(This is the third and final part of DGR’s round-up of selected new songs and videos that appeared over the last couple of weeks. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.)


Venom Prison – Devoid (Live)

The last time we checked in with Venom Prison was in late January, to spread the news of the February 23rd Prosthetic Records re-release of their 2016 album, Animus, and the group’s music video for the song “Immanetize Eschaton”. That deluxe edition of Animus is now out with five live songs added to it as a bonus disc, and the group unveiled a live-shot video for one of those songs, “Devoid“, right around that time.

Mar 052018


(This is the second part of DGR’s round-up of selected new songs and videos that appeared over the last couple of weeks. You can find Part 1 here.)


Inferi – Behold The Bearer Of Light

Right now, the hyperspeed tech-death, melodic-death, black-death, everything-kitchen-sink-and-broken-down-freezer-in-the-backyard metal crew of Inferi are out on the road, touring with Aethere, Alterbeast, and Grindmother as part of Alterbeast’s Feast album release tour. It’s been four years since the group’s last incredibly packed album The Path Of Apotheosis, but those moments of silence shall soon wane as the group have an upcoming April 21st release in the form of Revenant.

Mar 052018

At the Gates


(DGR has prepared a collection of new songs and videos that appeared over the last couple of weeks, which we’ve divided into three parts, this one being the first.)

By the time you are all reading this it is highly likely that a small collective of the NCS editor (not me) and NCS cohorts (which also doesn’t include me) will have arrived in Iceland, traveling there to attend some bullshit with an excellent lineup known as Oration Festival and generally to have a good time in a foreign country — which I will not be doing, instead being overjoyed that there has been rain the past few days so my car has been getting a decent wash.

Of course, this has in no way left me saltier than the Dead Sea, nor have I turned into the living embodiment of this article at all. I am, instead wishing my compatriots an excellent time in a country (that I haven’t been to) where the weather changes on a dime and will only be slightly amused if they get caught up in a small rainstorm whilst standing outside; they should be used to that anyway.

Since this is happening, I will more than happily bear the yoke of having to deliver the much needed metal news to the world that we might’ve missed, given my general job title of news pelican here, in between whatever else the rest of us who couldn’t go to Iceland have on the docket – which is looking mighty packed – and the general scribblings of the crew in attendance at the show.

Mar 042018


I would have started this post with the new At the Gates song, but DGR is including that in a big round-up for Monday, and I don’t want to steal his thunder because I’m too interested in reading his take (I know he likes the song, as do I). But I am beginning with another melodeath band for whom I also have a soft spot, so it’s all good.

By the way, by the time you read this I’ll be in Iceland, with a bunch of friends from Seattle. The main object of the trip is the third and final edition of Oration Fest in Reykjavik this week, but because we have days on either side of that, I assume we’ll also explore the environs beyond the capital city.

Because of this metal-filled vacation, I think it’s likely that the volume of posts at our site will decline this coming week. I have agreed to write one (but only one) premiere each day, and my NCS comrades have some things in the works, plus I’ve learned not to underestimate the strength of my blog addiction. For example, unless jet lag completely short-circuits my own biological batteries, I do have some ideas for a SHADES OF BLACK post in the near future.

Feb 272018


I’m beginning today’s round-up with two recent videos, which are quite different both visually and musically but which share two common features: Both were directed and produced by the same person (Eric Revill-Dews of Bigger Boat Film), and both include the voice of our own Andy Synn, in all its increasingly varied range of tones.

And then I’m following those two wonderful videos/songs with a selection of other recently discovered releases that also helped make my listening session last night a real joy.


Until watching this first video for the song “Dying Earth” I had no idea that any place in England could look as vast, as inhospitable, or as starkly beautiful as Derbyshire in the wintertime. Until reading the credits I assumed that the three grim-visaged gentlemen in Twilight’s Embrace had smuggled themselves on board a flight to Scandinavia (though of course I’ve never been there either). Apart from teaching me something new about the landscape of England, the video also proved to be a wonderful match for the music… which is itself as powerfully moving as the vision of those snow-covered reaches.

Feb 242018


Two nights ago on my way home from a late meeting in Seattle I hit a patch of black ice less than a mile from my house. My car skidded off the road, rolled over, and landed on its side in a deep ditch. I missed hitting a telephone pole by two feet, but did destroy a mailbox and probably my car as well.

On the other hand, I’m unharmed, just a bit sore in a few places. I spent three hours sitting in a police car with a very decent officer while we waited for and then watched some remarkable tow-truck guys figure out how to get the car on its wheels and out of the ditch, in 20-degree weather in the middle of the night. The cop finally drove me home at 4 a.m. yesterday morning.

That scary incident fucked up my plans for a round-up yesterday. I’m afraid to go back and read the premieres I wrote after a sleepless night and in an addled frame of mind, but I sure didn’t feel up to writing anything I hadn’t already committed to do.

Anyway, the past week was another blockbuster in terms of new metal, and I’ve left a lot of stuff out of this post — which is still pretty long. I picked the music of the following five bands to provide a wide spread of different genres.


So far, the Irish troubadours in Primordial have released videos for two singles from their new album, Exile Amongst the Ruins, the second one appearing last week. Both songs will likely be surprising in some ways to Primordial fans, although Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill‘s remarkable voice is still front and center in both.

Feb 212018


In the first part of today’s two-part round-up of recommended new music I selected songs that included clean as well as harsh vocals. In this one, it’s all unmitigated savagery… but the savagery comes in varied exciting forms. I really, really like all six of these tracks, and hope you’ll get just as fired up about them as I have.


The Finnish grind merchants Rotten Sound, who are favorites around our crumbling domain here at NCS, have a new EP named Suffer to Abuse slated for release by Season of Mist on April 13th in Europe, and on May 18th in North America, because the bastard step-children must apparently wait their turn. Fortunately, we were served at the same time as everyone else with the EP’s first single, “Harvester of Boredom“.

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.

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