Sep 012014


It’s rare for us to look back over our shoulders at releases from past years (or even past months). We have too damned much trouble trying to stay abreast of current releases. But I’ve recently discovered some short releases by three bands from Pennsylvania that I felt I had to write about, despite the fact that most of the music is from 2013 — if for no other reason than to introduce you to some names I suspect you’ll be hearing more about in the future.

The first one is a 2013 demo by a band named Outer Heaven, and the second is a 7″ split by Drones For Queens and Occult 45.


I discovered the existence of Philadelphia’s Outer Heaven as a result of some glowing Facebook remarks by Krieg’s Imperial about their performance at last weekend’s Detest Fest Vol. 1 in the band’s home town. I hadn’t heard the name before, but after some poking around I learned that they include guitarist Jon Kunz from Rivers of Nihil and that they released a 7-track demo last year. But having said that, I suggest you now put Rivers of Nihil right out of your head, because Outer Heaven is a very different beast.

On that 2013 demo they drop ropey sludge riffs down from the rafters, knot them around your neck, and then push an anvil-heavy counterweight over the edge — and up you go, while the band beat you like a piñata with crowbars.

Aug 282014


Right about now, as this article is being posted on our site, Iceland’s Sinmara will be revealing the contents of their new album Aphotic Womb at an official listening party at the Beyond the Gates festival in Bergen, Norway, where the band will also be performing live tonight along with an impressive list of other extreme metal bands. But even if you’re unable to teleport yourself to Garage Bergen to hear the album, we’re hosting our own listening party right here through our U.S. premiere of Aphotic Womb.

Sinmara (formerly known as Chao) now includes members of other impressive Icelandic bands – WormlustSvartidauði, and Rebirth of Nefast – and I’ve written enthusiastically about each of the songs from the album that have premiered to date:

The squalling dissonance of the riffs, the extremely creative drum rhythms, the extraterrestrial atmosphere of the melody, the sheer vehemence of the acid-spray vocals — all of that combines to make “Verminous” a song that’s both utterly unnerving and utterly riveting. And the album’s title track is an otherworldly flowering of poisonous thorns, shrouded in a miasma of tremolo chords, serpentine leads, thrumming bass notes, and fantastic drum work that you can feel in your spine.

Aug 272014


(In this post we premiere a full-album stream of the new release by Virginia’s Solace of Requiem.  Austin Weber provides the following review by way of introduction.)

As a hardcore death metal junkie, I pride myself on my extensive knowledge of the genre. Especially the many underground, unorthodox, obscure, and defunct acts of the genre. As such, I feel like an idiot for being unaware of the Virginia-based group Solace Of Requiem until now. But even in my shame, I can rejoice in having spun their new record, Casting Ruin, numerous times already. To mix my metaphors, it’s a voracious technical death metal beast and a feast for the ears, one whose smorgasbord of sounds has been intricately intertwined into a singular weapon of immense hatred.

Solace Of Requiem write with a diverse array of metal influences, and the in which way they string those influences together in various combinations is the crux of what makes Casting Ruin stand out. Overall, their style weaves around massive bone-crushing columns of racing riffs and brimstone-exploding blast beats, topped off with highly venomous vocals. But to further dissect it, the death metal side of their sound often brings to mind the jackhammering propulsive beatings that Hate Eternal brought to life. In addition, they accent each song with a plethora of aggressive melodic leads and round them out with scathing infusions of blood-curdling black metal blasphemy.

A symphonic undercurrent with classical and orchestral motifs then further enhances most of the songs, including the monstrous savagery present in “Heaving Bile And Ash”. They also display a penchant for beginning and ending several tracks with samples — of such things as chains, clinking machinery, and echoing water droplets. If I had to guess, maybe the cold clang of chains and mechanical whirrings was intended to represent our mental self-imprisonment, societal restraints, and existence as a helpless cog in a larger grinding machine, with the graceful sounds of water drizzling down showing the flip side — freedom and the serenity found freely in nature.

Aug 252014

Autumn’s Dawn is a new two-man band from Australia whose debut album Gone is being released today by Eisenwald. And today we bring you the premiere of a full-album stream — though when you hear the album you may think a site with a name like ours is a peculiar place for a premiere of an album such as this. But read on…

Autumn’s Dawn may be a relatively new project, its only previous release being a self-titled EP, but its two members are not newcomers: Tim Yatras (who uses the name “Sorrow” in this project) has made a name for himself in such bands as Germ, Austere, Woods of Desolation, and Grey Waters, while Matthew Bell (“Anguish”) is a member of Rise of Avernus and Troldhaugen. Following our album stream, we’ll bring you an interview with Tim Yatras about the origins of Autumn’s Dawn and the new album.

With names like Sorrow and Anguish, an album entitled Gone, and song titles such as “The Ashes of A Life”, “Until My Heart Corrodes With Rust”, and “Blank Stare, Dead Eyes”, you might think you’re in for a thoroughly depressive listening experience. There is indeed a sorrowful air to much of the music, but it’s also full of life, highly memorable, and often strikingly beautiful — and it also includes scathing elements of black metal and songs that often rock very hard.

Aug 242014

Black metal today comes in so many shapes and textures that’s it’s almost as diverse as “death metal”, its original thorned orthodoxy having blossomed into a garden of unearthly delights. In this post I’ve collected the diverse music of five black metal bands who I discovered last week. If there’s one thing they do have in common, it’s a skill in crafting melody (of all things).


Misþyrming (“Mis-thyr-ming”) are an Icelandic band whose name came my way in rapid succession from an e-mail by NCS supporter eiterorm and an Eistnaflug-themed article by Kim Kelly. According to Kim’s article, “The Reykjavik-based project started out as a one-man endeavor and expanded when founder D.G. added drummer H.R.H. (also of Carpe Noctem) on drums.” I’ve written admiringly about Carpe Noctem before, so that kind of made three reasons to go exploring.

Misþyrming’s debut album Söngvar elds og óreiðu will be released in a collaborative effort by Fallen Empire and Terratur Possessions, and two of the songs are on Bandcamp now. The music is incendiary — perhaps the most destructive music of the five bands in this post — but when they back down from the flame-spewing they cast mesmerizing riff spells. And they do a damned fine job of flame throwing (with eerie ambience), too.

Don’t forget this band’s name — I’m confident it’s going to spread. Brilliant stuff.

Aug 232014


Here are three short reviews of three short releases that I think are really good. I’ve been meaning to say something about two of them for the last week or two, and the third I only heard for the first time yesterday — and that’s the one I’ll start with.


I wish I had time to carefully read every e-mail and Facebook message we get from bands and listen attentively to all their music, but I can’t. Instead, what I’m able to check out is a matter of happenstance — it often comes down to whether I happen to have a few minutes to kill at the moment when I read a message that pricks my curiosity.

For example, yesterday I was skimming through the NCS e-mails with a few minutes to kill and saw a message from a Polish band named Soulless Carnage who described themselves as “a blackened death metal crew, inspired by classics like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Grave“. In fact, they’re partially named after a Grave tune (“Soulless”).

Aug 222014

(In this post Ty Lowery reviews the debut album by Germany’s Maat.)

Serendipity can be a powerful thing. A few months ago, I was deep in the bowels of YouTube, having started by listening to some random band’s EP (I think). Either way, I wound up listening to a song called “Atum / Conqueror of Chaos”. It was a pretty good song. I listened to it, marked the cool album cover in my head and vowed to look up the band later.

Naturally, I forgot all about them. Even in my search for my favorite album covers (see here), I couldn’t find the pharoah’s stony stare to save my life. Oh well, life goes on.

Fast forward to earlier this week, while I was on a quest to find some black metal that I didn’t hate… Imagine my surprise when I saw the song sitting in a recommendations list on a random forum. I found the album (As We Create Hope From Above), realized it had been released, and opened wide.

Aug 222014

(In this post DGR reviews music from three bands, with complete music streams for each one.)

FractallinePolymath Theory

Fractalline are a Los Angeles-based death metal band who have been around for a while now, with two prior releases to their name. However, those came out in 2010, and a lot can happen in four years, as evidenced by this group’s June 2014 release Polymath Theory.

The band currently have the album listed as “name your own price” on Bandcamp. As a whole, it’s a concept disc with a heavy science fiction bent. Part of what makes Polymath Theory interesting is that it pursues the theme without the album art just being a picture of a planet and the words ‘SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE’ underneath it, as so many other bands who’ve tried their hands at this subject matter seem to have done.

In the words of the band themselves:

Polymath Theory is a concept album that is a “commentary on humankind’s evolution from basic beings subject to the whims of their universe, to intergalactic explorers and energistic entities in search of purpose – while touching upon our present state in the final trek – DeEvolution.”

The album is full of infinitely complex mid-tempo grinders that see the band in a markedly different market than the current string of light-speed hyperblasting bands out there. Since the group don’t have the benefits of pyrotechnic speed on their side to help in their appeal, they have instead chosen to build Polymath Theory out of odd shapes and weird, angular structures.

Aug 222014

(Andy Synn reviews the new Decapitated album.)

To my mind each and every Decapitated album has a different flavour to it. Oh, the band definitely have a unique and specific sound, no doubt, but even within that, there’s still more than enough room for nuances of expression and style.

For example, Winds of Creation has a certain bloodstained thrashiness to it, Nihility an unearthly post-human precision, The Negation an otherworldly, angular feel… while Organic Hallucinosis positively reeks of unkempt madness and cerebrospinal corruption, and Carnival Is Forever offered us a warped, reflective mirror made of sharpened edges and shattered perceptions… Ultimately I think you’d be hard pressed to mistake a song from one album as belonging to any of the others, and yet each one remains recognisably, even intimately, Decapitated.

With Blood Mantra the Polish psychonauts offer up yet another facet of their ever-evolving sound, an album permeated with an eerie, almost nightmarish, sensation of discomfort and dissociation, carrying through familiar threads of each of its predecessors, whilst simultaneously twisting and reweaving them into fresh new forms.

Aug 212014


The Ukrainian black metal horde Blood of Kingu are on the verge of releasing Dark Star On the Right Horn of the Crescent Moon — their third album and their first in more than five years. As you will soon hear, it is a grim devotional to disease, doom, and decay — an intense, immersive listening experience that over its length builds a wholly enveloping atmosphere of ominous peril.

With Drudkh’s main man Roman Sayenko once again piloting this dangerous vessel, Blood of Kingu drive the music with relentless blasting percussion and huge moving waves of almost ceaseless tremolo-picked chords, accented by eerie and ominous keyboards that effectively deepen the aura of doom. Through these dense moving walls of sound, bleak minor-key melodies ripple like disease vectors, and Sayenko’s monstrous, hollow roars sound like a ritualistic chant in an occult ceremony of death. When the band isn’t storming like a hurricane, they’re pounding like titans hammering nails into granite, or using massive groaning chords in a way that sounds like chains being dragged across a crypt floor.

The album’s savage assault is segmented by two brief ambient interludes, but even those breaks do nothing but further intensify the sense that you have been transported to an arid, decomposing wasteland of perpetual night.

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