Sep 272016



More than a decade ago a Texas band named Vpaahsalbrox came together long enough to record a three-song demo labeled 14 Sovereign, and then disappeared into whatever hellish dimensions gave them birth, with its members later reborn in other obscure black metal incarnations such as Erraunt, Nivathe, Triphane, and Khimaat. Only 50 copies of the tape that captured the music were produced, yet it made a lasting impression in certain quarters — one strong enough that on the first of next month Pale Horse Recordings is going to re-issue 14 Sovereign on limited-edition vinyl as well as digitally.

The band’s confounding name is an expression in Enochian, a language recorded in the private journals of John Dee and his colleague Edward Kelley in late 16th-century England — the language of angels, given to Dee and Kelley by angels, or so they claimed. In Enochian, Vpaahsalbrox seems to mean “Lucifer’s Wings”.

Sep 272016



(Last year we were fortunate to bring you a report from Kaptain Carbon on the first annual Shadow Woods Metal Festival , and now we are fortunate to welcome him back with his report on the second edition of the festival, which took place on September 15-18, 2016, in the vicinity of White Hall, Maryland. He also took the photos that you’ll see in this post. Kaptain Carbon operates Tape Wyrm, a blog dedicated to current and lesser-known heavy metal. He also writes Dungeon Synth reviews over at Hollywood Metal as well as moderating Reddit’s r/metal community.)

The Shadow Woods’ second event is an important step for a festival still attempting to set its roots and find an identity. Held in the woods of upper county Baltimore, Shadow Woods caters to a diverse array of acts, but with a concentration on extreme metal. With a festival’s life this young, its future is always in jeopardy and dependent on press, attendance, and overall happiness of its guests. There was some speculation and conjecture whether or not Shadow Woods would even have a second gathering. This was further jeopardized with the ongoing drama of alcohol licensing and the looming calculations of cost versus return.

By the time the campfire of the second night was winding down and shrieks were heard throughout the woods, immediately swallowed by hideous laughter, the number of people who attended this year were convinced that this may be a thing to do every year.

Sep 262016



(Todd Manning wrote this review of the new album by Britain’s Winterfylleth.)

The ever-prolific British Black Metal madmen Winterfylleth are poised to release their newest full-length, and first for Spinefarm Records, entitled The Dark Hereafter. Drawing inspiration from Britain’s venerable heritage, Winterfylleth construct their own take on rustic and hypnotic Black Metal.

The group prove once again to be experts in walking the fine line between mood and atmosphere and sheer aural violence. In only five songs lasting around forty minutes, The Dark Hereafter” is able to maneuver a vast number of emotions. Opening tracks “The Dark Hereafter” and “Pariah’s Path” both showcase the band’s more immediate and brutal side. They alternate between blast beats and mid-paced double-bass-heavy sections with powerful, throat-shredding vocals. The riffs are simultaneously melodic yet razor sharp and drenched in distortion. Despite the immediacy of these tracks, they also possess a hypnotic quality as well. This allows for a smooth transition between the first and second halves of the release.

Sep 262016



(Wil Cifer reviews the new split by Louisiana’s Barghest and California’s Teeth.)

This is a split that captures two different shades of metal. They are both dark.

The first side of this cassette release showcases Baton Rogue’s Barghest, who are just as feral as in their earlier releases, but this time around the buzz-saw of rapid fire guitar you face is smoothed out by the more cavernous production, giving them the needed ambience for me to fully digest their sonic venom.

Sep 242016



No, this post isn’t about the new Mithras album, though it has been on my mind lately. It’s about a listening experience I had late last night (after possibly drinking too much), when the music fell into place as if it had been ordained by some ingenious higher power. I feel compelled to share it, not only because of how good each piece in the chain is, standing alone, but also because of the interesting ways in which each piece flows into the next and eventually comes back around to join together, the end resonating with the beginning in an unexpected way.

I’ll tell the story of how I came to move from each of these four recordings to the next precisely in the order set out below, because at least to me it makes this playlist even more strange and wondrous. And to be clear, the connections between the recordings aren’t predictable — it’s more like an evolution, progression, and transformation that’s occurring instead of a collection of like-sounding songs — with things becoming increasingly heavy and extreme. By the end, I had bought all four of the releases on Bandcamp.


This experience began last night when I happened upon a Facebook post by metal writer and musician JR (I haven’t told the people involved in this story that I’m writing about them, so I’ll be using initials instead of full names). In it, he linked to a just-released new album by Kinit Her, calling it “magic”.

Sep 232016

Departe album cover


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Tasmania’s Départe.)

So this is the point where I would usually say something about how great the last few years have been in terms of Australia’s Metal exports, coupled with some tongue-in-cheek reference to the country’s proclivity for producing some of the world’s most vicious and venomous creatures… the Box Jellyfish, the Eastern Brown Snake, Mel Gibson… ok, I know that last one’s originally from America, but cut me some slack ok? It’s hard to be funny when you’ve just had your eardrums pummelled and your soul scalded by an album like Failure, Subside.

Sep 222016

Martrod-Transmutation of Wounds


I wish I had more time to write reviews of new releases, not because anyone really needs them but because it helps ME to unbottle my enthusiasm and to offer public thanks to bands who brighten my days. Reviews may be especially unnecessary in the case of EPs and albums that have already appeared on Bandcamp, as these have, where the sounds are far more meaningful than any words written about them. But I suppose scribbling at least a few words may help guide a few souls to the music streams…

…and so here is some brief scribbling about four recent releases that can now be heard and acquired on Bandcamp. Apart from the quality of these releases and the breadth of the variety in styles they represent, I picked them out of the hundreds of worthy releases I haven’t written about this year because they happened to be the ones I’ve spent time with most recently.


Thanks to an e-mail from our Norwegian friend eiterorm (and several other friends on Facebook), I learned in August that the band Martröð would finally be releasing their EP, Transmutation of Wounds — on 12″ MLP via Fallen Empire Records and Terratur Possessions. I first heard about this project almost two years ago (and wrote about it here). The band’s eye-catching line-up reportedly consists of:

Sep 202016



(Andy Synn delivers his first impressions of Meshuggah’s new album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, with thoughts on a track-by-track basis as well as overall.)

Despite what some of their detractors might say, every Meshuggah album is different. The basic ingredients might stay the same, but each album leans in a slightly different direction… Nothing brought the groove, Catch 33 went all experimental, obZen was the overtly “technical” album, and Koloss the more song-based, riff-based number… which is why every Meshuggah album is ultimately going to be someone’s favourite Meshuggah album.

So the big question really isn’t “how good is The Violent Sleep of Reason?”… no, what we should be asking is “what sort of album is it…?”

With that in mind I decided that, this time around, it would be more fun to eschew the traditional review format and instead just note down my first impressions and overall musings about the album as I listened to it. So, just as Meshuggah went for a more raw and “organic” approach this time (doing it all live in the studio for the first time in their career), so too am I going to produce a much more raw and unedited piece of writing while I listen to it.

Of course I reserve the right to change my position in the future, but for now… let’s just see what happens!

Sep 192016

Reviews in Haikus


(Andy Synn brings us a new installment in his series of album reviews in haiku. Three reviews of three lines each come after the jump. With music, of course.)

Despite what I’ve seen suggested by certain slightly ill-informed commenters recently, Metal’s obsession with space and the vast potential and possibilities of the great beyond is nothing new.

Let’s be honest for a second – a bunch of the genre’s progenitors were massive nerds who stole took inspiration from some of sci-fi’s biggest (and some not so big) names to feed their lyrics and concepts, and this basically laid the groundwork for everyone from Agalloch to Obscura to Wormed to draw their own inspirations from the same deep well, be it the pulpiest of science fiction or the hardest of science fact. Sometimes both.

So for the latest edition of this column I’ve selected three fantastic albums which, to date, haven’t been covered properly here on NCS, each of which firmly and confidently puts its own spin on the great interstellar enigma and our place as insignificant motes of fleeting life within the vast and unending void.

Sep 192016



(Our friend Grant Skelton prepared this review of the self-titled debut album by Poland’s Monasterium.)

I have yet to reach satiety when it comes to doom metal. Each new release I come across only seems to whet my appetite rather than quench it. Perhaps a hearty diet of doom simply begets a desire for even more doom. And since I dine daily on doom, I discovered a gem of an album from Poland’s Monasterium. Their self-titled album is currently available from Greek label No Remorse Records.

The stoneclad cover art by Michal “Xaay” Loranc depicts a skeletal coat-of-arms. This banner seems to mark a threshold that, once crossed, will entreat the listener on a journey throughout various mythologies of history. Lyrically, the songs featured on this debut deal with subjects such as martyrdom (“Christening In Blood”), persecution (“A Hundredfold Cursed”), and human sacrifice (“In The Shrine Of The Jackal God”). The liner notes also feature seven unique drawings to accompany each of the seven tracks. Loranc’s artwork adds a deeper dimension to each of the tracks, allowing the listener a visual narrative into the lyrical descriptions.

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