Mar 252019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Whitechapel, which will be released by Metal Blade Records on March 29th.)

While we don’t always cover the so-called “big name” releases here at NCS, on those special occasions when we do we always try write something that actively adds to the conversation, rather than simply rehashing the same old tired tropes and clichés.

Of course that begs the question, is it actually possible to write anything new or insightful about Whitehcapel at this point?

After all, this is a band who have now comfortably reached that “critic-proof” level where a sufficiently large proportion of their fanbase will likely pick up whatever they put out, sight unseen, while their more committed detractors will continue to deride and denigrate the band for their ‘core roots, and nothing I write is likely to massively influence anyone from either side.

However, this presupposes that the only point of a review like this it to rate an album as “good” or “bad”… whereas I’d contend it’s just as, if not even more, important to provide potential readers/listeners with context and perspective so as to help them make their own, educated, decision(s).

Which brings us to The Valley. Continue reading »

Mar 222019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the British Columbia death metal band Gomorrah, which is being released today.)

While I definitely could have written about this album long before now (seeing as how the band’s representatives were kind enough to send me an early promo copy on request), I decided to wait until today to publish my review as I wanted everyone reading it to be able to listen to (and, ideally, purchase) the full record straight away.

Because while I can’t guarantee that all our readers are going to fall in love with Gomorrah (the band and/or the album) as much as I have, chances are that the band’s bombastic, blast-tastic brand of high-yield, high-octane Death Metal will appeal to an extremely wide cross-section of our regular audience. Continue reading »

Mar 222019


There’s an entire generation, and probably more than one, for whom Swedish melodic death metal was a gateway into extreme metal, ushered into a new world of musical experiences by the likes of At the Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity. For a stretch of years, a certain golden age, it seemed to rule the underground, and eventually some of the surface world. And then, as always happens with a sound that strikes such widespread sparks among audiences, the genre became saturated with lesser lights and then overtaken by the next new thing, and the next.

It isn’t what it used to be, but as in the case of Mark Twain’s rumored demise in 1897, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Undeniably, it’s enormously more difficult for a band to succeed with this style in the current age than when the sound was in its infancy, and seemed like a revelation. But as daunting as the task may be now, it’s not impossible, and Bleeding Utopia from Västerås, Sweden, have proved that with their new album Where the Light Comes To Die, which is being released today by Black Lion Records.

They succeed (in spades) in part because they’ve brought some other ingredients into the mix, and in part because they’re just so damned good at what they’re doing — so good, in fact, that one could imagine this album also being a gateway of its own to a new generation, in addition to being a great reminder of this music’s appeal to those of us who were led down the path by those legendary progenitors. Continue reading »

Mar 222019


(This is DGR’s review of the new album by the Finnish icons Children of Bodom, which was released on March 8th by Nuclear Blast.)

Fathoming what a “return to form” by Children Of Bodom would sound like is an exceedingly difficult task. It seems that every new album from the Bodom crew is referred to as a “return to form”, and yet what “form” the group are returning to is never fully explained.

If anything, for better or worse, Children Of Bodom have been one of those groups who have been the very hallmark of consistency. You could throw on any of the group’s ten main albums (including their latest, the one discussed here) plus a few of their EPs and have a generally good time with the guitar-shred and keyboard-cheese therein. Yet within that consistent discography there have absolutely been different eras of Children Of Bodom songwriting.

You can begin with the thrashier form of Something Wild, then move to the neo-classical hybrid that the band would become in the Hatebreeder/Follow The Reaper/Hatecrew Deathroll era that is a high-point of the group’s career (which one would guess is the “form” people are often saying they’re returning to), to the chunkier and Americanized-groove of Are You Dead Yet? and Blooddrunk, and on to the group’s most recent three, which have been all over the place stylistically. Continue reading »

Mar 212019


True to the band’s name, the music of The Flaying will slash the skin from your face in paroxysms of blood-spraying savagery. But it does more than that. It will also suck the air from your lungs, boil the brain, and hammer your bones into fragments fine enough to blow away in the wind.

The second album by these death-dealers from Quebec City, the name of which is Angry, Undead, will be released by PRC Music on March 22nd. It comes recommended for fans of The Black Dahlia Murder, Deicide, Archspire, Suffocation, and Cryptopsy — all of which are indeed good reference points for what you’re about to hear in our album premiere — and it was Cryptopsy’s own Chris Donaldson who produced, mixed, and mastered this rampant barrage of brutalizing barbarity at The Grid in Montreal. Continue reading »

Mar 212019


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the black metal band Csejthe from Quebec City, which was released on March 13th.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, never underestimate the power and importance of good artwork.

Honestly, it still boggles my mind to see that album art – which is, in many cases, the first thing people will ever experience and associate with your music – is so often treated as a mere afterthought, something to be skimped on or left to the very last minute.

After all, why wouldn’t you want to present your music in the best way possible? Wouldn’t you, shouldn’t you, want the visual aesthetic to match and (ideally) complement the sonic side of things?

Case in point, I was initially drawn to L’Horreur De Čachtice by the distinctive design and unusual colour palette of the album’s cover art (by Ovezt Alia), only to discover that what I’d stumbled across was some fairly ripping Black Metal from the cold, wintry wastes of Canada, which was more than good enough to justify a feature here at NCS. Continue reading »

Mar 202019


(DGR reviews the new album by California-based Continuum, which was released in February by Unique Leader Records.)

I’ve often mused that if I were to pick a handful of bands who represent the Unique Leader label, as a sort of throughline of all the sounds that they currently have signed to their roster, Arkaik would be one. Their combination of tech-death, core, and straightforward death metal does a pretty good job representing a whole lot of what the roster sounds like.

To continue with that thought exercise, Continuum would likely be one of the others. The line-up alone includes resumes of time spent in about a third of the groups on the Unique Leader roster. Guitarists Chase Fraser and Ivan Mungia add Decrepit Birth, Deeds Of Flesh, and Arkaik to that list just between the two of them, not to discount Chase’s work with Conflux either. Continue reading »

Mar 192019


(DGR catches up to the debut EP by Tribe of Pazuzu, which was released in February this year.)

It’s not hard to imagine why the announcement of Tribe Of Pazuzu and their debut EP release Heretical Uprising turned some heads on first notice: It’s not often you get a group that unites musicians with credits to their name like Cryptopsy, Incantation, Soulstorm, and Pestilence. Yet that’s what this hybrid Canadian/American death metal band does, combining the forces of bassist/vocalist Nick Sagias, guitarists Randy Harris and John McEntee, and drummer Flo Mounier. Together they’ve recorded five songs and just over fourteen minutes of high speed death metal that is surprisingly straightforward, bludgeoning, and clear-sounding from a collective of musicians whose previous groups have alternated between sounding like cavernous whirlwind maws of death metal and sheer technical chaos.

Tribe Of Pazuzu‘s somewhat thrashier offering moves quickly, with a take-no-prisoners approach, and is so surgical about it that after its fourteen minutes wrap up, you’ll likely be a couple of spins into Heretical Uprising before you can even sort your thoughts from the first run-through. Continue reading »

Mar 182019


(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the horrifying new EP by San Francisco’s Body Void, which was released on March 15th by Seeing Red Records, Dry Cough Records, and Crown and Throne Ltd.)

I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, or if it’s bothered you at all, but the majority of my writing over the last several weeks has focussed on covering a variety of big names, famous faces, and iconoclastic figures… plus the occasional up-and-coming contender… which has left surprisingly little space for the more underground or esoteric bands which NCS has generally been more famous for covering.

Does this mean I’m… whisper it… on the verge of selling out?

Hell no. It just means that I happened to have listened to a fair few artists/albums who (deservedly) have also been receiving a lot of coverage elsewhere recently, and that I felt like writing about them.

But for those of you who might have been a little concerned, fear not, as it looks like this week is going to be all about the underappreciated and the underground, kicking off with this quick smash ‘n’ grab review of the new EP from Body Void. Continue reading »

Mar 182019


Over the course of nine albums, two splits, and one live recorded album, Evergreen Refuge (the solo instrumental project of Colorado musician Dylan Rupe) has created music of varying styles, ranging from atmospheric black metal with post-rock and acoustic elements to blackened folk. In all these variations, however, Evergreen Refuge has drawn from experiences in the wild and a deep reverence for nature as sources of inspiration for creating music designed to foster self-reflection.

But in the newest album by Evergreen Refuge, which its our pleasure to premiere in full today, Dylan Rupe has turned his attention to the stars, to the vast reach of the cosmos that surrounds our own tiny home. Entitled Skyward, the album is a single 66-minute composition, and it will be released on March 20 by A Moment of Clarity Recordings. Continue reading »