Nov 242015

Solution .45 cover


(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Solution .45.)

I’d be rather curious to see a proverbial show of hands in the comments on the question of who still gives a shit about Christian Älvestam metal. The guy, despite having been regarded as one of the “it” vocalists of modern metal’s evolution, seems to have a loyal underground fanbase and not much more these days. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that his bands have all been a spin on the same sound in some fashion or another (including even his Unmoored-to-Scar-Symmetry transition if you look at Unmoored’s last album) and I could see or imagine that for some people it just got really old.

It’s only been recently that he, along with his cohorts in his various bands, most notably showed an effort to branch away from this with Miseration’s last album, which was a full-on death metal record with an oddly peculiar attack. Solution .45, though, with their debut For Aeons Past showed themselves to be a culmination of every single facet of the bands with Älvestam at the helm, and also the closest you could get to Scar Symmetry for sure. There were shades of them in the record, as well as Unmoored and Miseration, and overall the album was really solid, although I found myself taking more of a liking to what Scar Symmetry was doing after his departure.

Nov 232015


(Here’s Part 4 of our Norwegian friend Gorger’s entertaining multi-part feature on bands we seem to have overlooked at NCS. Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here; Part 3 is here.  And be sure to check out Gorger’s Metal.)

With Islander back in the saddle, I felt no hurry to complete this fourth part of Beneath the NCS Radar.

This was initially intended as the last episode of the series, but then the producers decided to give Season 2 a chance. I’ve discovered more music that deserves a larger audience. This leaves me with a question, though.

If this were to become a regular feature, the name would sort of bite its own shiny metal ass. If it’s presented on NSC, than it’s no longer off the NCS radar, and thus the very title becomes contradictory. Perhaps this minute dilemma is so
small it is negligible. Moving on…

Nov 232015

Extreme Cold Winter-Paradise Ends Here


Everything about Extreme Cold Winter’s debut EP is massive, frigid, and pitiless. Compared to what I’ve heard from the music of founder AJ van Drench’s previous death/doom band Beyond Belief, Paradise Ends Here is slower, more desolate and forbidding, and more brutally staggering in the force of its impact. The word DOOM belongs before “death” this time, and it deserves all the capital letters.

In keeping with the band’s name, the song titles and the apocalyptic lyrical themes are devoted to the extinction of heat, joy, and life. The music and the words — which can be heard clearly in the well-rounded and monstrous growls of vocalist Pim Blankenstein (Officium Triste, The 11th Hour) — conjure feelings of desperation and dread. When Blankenstein roars, “We came from far, from raging worlds to kill again the sun and moon!”, you can easily imagine that he’s talking about the band, even though he’s not.

Nov 232015

Arkaik-Lucid Dawn


(DGR reviews the new album by Arkaik.)

The idea of a “tentpole” band is something that has been playing on the darkest reaches of my mind lately. Like an idea that has its claws slowly wrapping around you, so the tendrils have slowly wormed their way into my thoughts over the course of my album listenings for this review.

I’m definitely the most unqualified person in the world to opine about how the record label business is conducted, but I’ve always been under the impression that a lot of many label’s rosters often don’t exactly generate tremendous amounts of money, and under some business models there are usually two or three fairly huge bands that happen to bring in most of the money, and that tends to get kind of spread out amongst the rest of the label.

If it isn’t the profit factor, sometimes these bands I’m thinking of just happen to be the ones that seem to define the ethos of the label. In other words, there will usually be a band or two per label that seem to define what much of the roster sounds like, or they embody huge swaths of the sound — the exemplaries of the label, so to speak. In my mind, this is the case with Arkaik and their label Unique Leader.

Nov 222015

Nachash-Conjuring the Red Death Eclipse


As you can see, I decided to give the “Seen and Heard” title a rest for today, but that’s still what this post really is — another selection of music I’ve come across in recent days that I thought you might enjoy as much as I have. Most of what’s in here is new, some of it only newly discovered by yours truly. As is usually the case, the featured music is stylistically diverse. And because this is a birthday weekend at NCS, I decided to really load up this post with a lot of listening.


We’ll start this collection of music with the debut EP from Norway’s Nachash, a four-track offering entitled Conjuring the Red Death Eclipse. Though it was released in February of this year (through Unborn Productions), I only discovered it recently, and what a discovery it has been.

The four long songs on the EP are rich and multifaceted. The final track “A Necromancer’s Lament”, which is set to play first on Bandcamp, is like a melding of stoner doom and black metal; the riffs are so goddamn delicious that I got pulled headfirst into the rest of the EP as if I’d been sucked into a whirlpool.

Nov 202015

Expander cover art


Last weekend I came across an EP named Laws of Power that was digitally released in July by a band named Expander from Austin, Texas. It seized me by the throat so fast and so firmly that I spilled some words about it on Monday of this week (here), while noting that it would be released on tape by Caligari Records. Little did I know at the time that I would be ending the week as I began it — with more music from Expander.

It turns out that this past summer the editors at Metal Sucks selected Expander to be one of 10 unsigned bands who would be given the chance to record new music at Converse Rubber Tracks — Converse’s free recording studio — in either Brooklyn, NY, with producer Will Putney (The Acacia Strain, Suicide Silence, Exhumed), or in Boston, MA, with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge, High on Fire, Torche). Expander did their thing with Kurt Ballou, and while Metal Sucks earlier premiered one of the two songs they recorded with him, the band have just today released both tracks via Bandcamp.

Nov 202015



I came across a ton of new music yesterday that lit me up, too much to cram into a single post. So I made some hard choices, and selected this grouping from six artists with an eye toward creating a diverse listening experience. The last item, of course, isn’t metal — except it kind of is. You’ll see. If I have time I might be able stitch together some more new songs for later today, and if not, tomorrow (because tomorrow is the glorious sixth anniversary of our site’s birth).


January 15 is the date set by Relapse Records for the release of the new album Chasm by Oakland’s Lycus. As you can see, it features cover art by Paolo Girardi. The band’s last album, 2013’s Tempest, was fantastic, and I’ve been curious to see what Lycus would do next.

The new record consists of four long songs, and one of them, “Solar Chamber”, debuted yesterday. Drummer Trevor DeSchryver described its concept this way:

Nov 202015

Sanzu-Heavy Over the Home


(Andy Synn reviews the debut album by Australia’s Sanzu.)

Stepping out of the shadow of your influences can be a tricky thing. Particularly when one of your major influences happens to have a fairly distinct and instantly recognisable sound of their own. Trying to put a fresh spin on things, to stamp it with your own identity whilst also maintaining a sense of continuity with your own vision of how you want things to sound… that’s hard.

One option, of course, is to simply say “fuck it” and just leave it all behind. You can see this in the host of ex-Deathcore and ex-Djent bands who, some by accident but many by design, quickly ended up straying pretty far from their roots, with their development and attempt to establish their own particular idiom pushing them outside the boundaries of their home-genre and leading them further and further away from their initial influences.

Of course… there’s another way. One that, like the method I’ve just described, comes with its own fair share of risks, but also offers up some tantalising rewards. And that’s to seize the sound of your influences with both hands, to grip it, and hold it, and crush it in your grasp and bellow “this is mine now”.

I’ll let you guess which one Sanzu have gone for on Heavy Over The Home.

Nov 192015

The Canyon Observer-FVCK


FVCK is the title of the debut album by Slovenia’s The Canyon Observer, and it will fuck you up. It’s almost unremittingly intense — as heavy as a pile of corpses, as hallucinatory as a drug-induced nightmare, chaotic, deranged, and powerfully disorienting. It’s also spellbinding, a descent into a subterranean demolition zone that proves to be as hypnotic as it is harrowing.

Three of the album’s four songs are long ones, ranging from roughly nine minutes to almost 15, and the first three tracks flow into each other, further deepening the immersive effect of the music. Making your way straight through the album is an emotionally exhausting experience, but there’s really no other good way to do it. Each of the songs are devastating enough standing by themselves, but it’s the combined, layering effect of all of them together that makes this album such a towering monument of derangement and catastrophe.

Nov 192015

Annihilist- Vol 1


(Andy Synn reviews the debut EP of Australia’s Annihilist.)

Never underestimate the value of good album art. After all, first impressions DO count.

For every cheesy cgi monstrosity, for every uninspired and multi-hued “cosmic” abortion, for every generic “war is bad” post-apocalypse or totally brutal “I’ve never been consensually touched by a woman” guts-n-gore album cover, there’s something far more interesting and eye-catching out there, something that stands out from the pack and practically yells “check this out!”

Such is the case with Australian metallurgists Annihilist and their debut EP Vol. 1.

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