Oct 182016


Monday morning, Oakland waterfront

This wraps up our coverage of the second installment of CALIFORNIA DEATHFEST, which took place from October 14-16, 2016, in Oakland, California. As was true of my posts on Day One and Day Two, I haven’t written fulsome reviews of the performances I saw on the final day, though this time I have included a few more impressions than in the earlier installments — but I’ve once again included photos and videos I made using my iPhone.

Yes, this is a half-assed way to document a festival compared to what you will probably see from a few of the more well-healed metal publications out there who employed professional photographers and videographers. However, because “Half-Assed” is in fact my middle name, I’m being true to myself.

Oct 162016



I started this Sunday morning in Oakland earlier than I would have liked, but it had its compensations. Grabbing coffee and my smokes, I sat for nearly an hour along the Oakland waterfront enjoying the peacefulness of it, with no one else around except a hopeful seagull and a swooping flock of starlings.

Yesterday was not peaceful, but it was electrifying. It was the second day of this year’s edition of California Deathfest. Between a late lunch, a dinner break, and my inability to physically make it to the bitter end, I only caught about two-thirds of the 12 bands on the line-up. And as was true of yesterday’s write-up on Day One, I’m not going to take the time to write reviews of the performances. Instead, here’s what I’ve done:

Oct 152016



I’m in Oakland, California, this weekend for the second edition of California Deathfest, which began yesterday afternoon (Friday, October 14, 2016) and continues through Sunday. The photo above captures one of the sights that greeted me this morning a few steps from our waterfront hotel. I’m here with my NCS comrades DGR and BadWolf and some other good Seattle friends, enjoying some mild and occasionally drizzly weather while Seattle is getting beat to hell by a weekend windstorm. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Usually when I go to metal festivals I take lots of photos (and more recently videos) and try to write up reports on the performances for the site. This time, before leaving for Oakland, I decided not to do that. I decided I would just devote myself to watching the sets and talking with people and not worry about “work” for NCS. So far I’ve mostly kept to that resolution — but not entirely.

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.

Aug 182016

Migration Fest poster


This is a recap of the third and final day of the first edition of Migration Fest, organized by 20 Buck Spin and Gilead Media and conducted in Olympia, Washington, on August 12-14, 2016. My recap of the pre-fest show and Day One can be found here, and the Day Two write-up is here.

I’m not as prompt in concluding this review of the festival as I was with the first two parts, but other commitments to our putrid site plus inconsiderate intrusions by the routine of daily life have screwed with my time since I got back to Seattle on Monday. On the other hand, the delay enabled me to upload videos of Day Three performances to YouTube, and I’ve collected those at the end of this post. I still intend to add more videos to the other write-ups as well.

Aug 142016

Capitol Theater-Day Two


This is the second part of a three-part recap of the first Migration Fest in Olympia, Washington. For the first installment, covering the pre-fest show on August 11 and Day One on August 12, go here.

The first day of Migration Fest proved to be a very strong start to what I selfishly hope will become an annual tradition. If anything, Day Two topped it, in large part on the strength of a history-making performance by Saturday’s headliner — Panopticon — that was simply stunning.

At the end of this post I’ve embedded five videos from Panopticon’s 90-minute set, and I’ve got one video of Vastum in here, too. By tomorrow, I also plan to update this post (and yesterday’s recap of Day One) with videos of additional bands. For now, I’m including the best of my crappy cellphone photos, and some words of course.

Aug 132016

Migration Fest poster


Here I am on a gorgeous Saturday morning in Olympia, Washington, still pinching myself to make sure what I’ve been experiencing isn’t some kind of fantasy (or more likely, incipient dementia). Yesterday was the first day of Migration Fest, and the night before that was the unofficial start of the party with a three-band pre-fest show. In a nutshell, it’s been an absolute blast so far. More words (and amateurish photos) to follow.

This is, of course, the first edition of what by all rights should become a never-ending tradition, a labor of love jointly organized by Adam at Gilead Media and Dave at 20 Buck Spin, with support from a whole bunch of their tireless friends and family members. They assembled a stellar line-up of bands, and based on what I’ve seen so far (at least from a fan perspective), they’ve been executing on the plan like a well-oiled machine.

Jun 172016

Sister Iodine-photo by Ani Samperi
Photo cred: Ani Samperi

(Our guest writer Ani Samperi is a music journalist based out of Berlin. Here, she dives into ravenous pits of noise in an attempt to map out the layers of controlled chaos.)

French experimental noise rock band Sister Iodine, formed by Lionel Fernandez, Erik Minkkinen, and Nicolas Mazet in 1992, is an assault on the rational mind that simultaneously evokes feelings and images of health and sickness. Scratching itself out of a translucent skin defining the bounds between raw atonal no-wave and scathing noise music, it is a spectral beast that quietly dominates its audience with terminally latent portents of imminent madness.

The black-washed walls of Urban Spree’s main showroom were [dis]graced with their presence on Saturday, May 14th. Juxtaposing prenatal red lighting interrupted by white flashes of light, the live experience is a familiar, primordial feeling laced with guttural screams, at once indicating a clawing desperation to remain inside the visceral bounds of embryonic safety vs. the harrowing inevitability of pain and confusion that comes from exposure.

Jun 052016

Maryland Deathfest


It’s time for me to bring this five-part reminiscence about Maryland Deathfest 2016 to a close and try to get back to more typical NCS activities this week.

I said when I started this recap that I wanted to give a round of applause to the best bands I saw at MDF, organizing them into four categories. The first three categories I nicknamed Swedish (and Dutch) Death Metal Supremacy, Shades of Black, and The Black Death. However, there’s no common denominator among the five bands grouped together today, so I’m calling this collection Divergent Delights.

I was thinking about Mixed Martial Arts, but much of the music here isn’t martial. Assorted Ass-Kicking was appealing, but I don’t think “ass-kicking” really fits everything either. Maybe Variegated Victories would have worked.

Jun 042016

Alewife brunch1
Friday beer/brunch at Alewife with friends.

For those of you just now joining this series about Maryland Deathfest XIV, I’m in the process of highlighting the bands whose performances were the best of the ones I saw and heard in Baltimore beginning on Wednesday of last week.

Rather than doing a day-by-day recap, I’ve organized the bands into four somewhat loosely defined categories. Yesterday’s feature was a “Shades of Black” collection of black metal bands, and before that was one under the heading “Swedish (and Dutch) Death Metal Supremacy”. I’m calling today’s celebration “The Black Death“, not only because that describes the general style of music performed by the following six bands, but also because they all spread a lethal kind of auditory plague.

Presented in the order in which I witnessed the performances over 5 nights and 4 days, and I’ve again included my photos of each band (most of which are gathered at the end of this post).

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