Nov 282017

The Great Old Ones


(Greek metal writer and occasional NCS contributor John Sleepwalker attended the 5 Shades of Black show in Antwerp, Belgium, on October 21, 2017, and provides these thoughts about the performances by Saor, The Great Old Ones, Fen, Drawn Into Descent, and Sorrow Plagues. And we are most grateful to Kriss Wolf for kindly giving us permission to use her wonderful photos from the show, which appear throughout this review.)


5 Shades of Black stands as the type of an event that is a rare occasion in the lands of Greece. To the point that it seems more hopeful to dig for water in the desert than to expect names such as these to ever visit the capital city of Athens. Since the brand of old-school names is typically what tends to attract the majority of local interest, the few listeners dedicated to different aesthetics often need to travel to enjoy the related gigs of their choice.

Nov 272017


(Andy Synn continues to make his way down to London to witness shows that make his States-side friends violently jealous, but probably isn’t driven to do so solely, or even at all, by the prospect of that effect. Probably.  We have here his words and videos from the latest excursion.)

So last Friday, for the second time in as many weeks, I found myself back down in London at the Islington Assembly Hall to catch another of Norway’s finest musical exports, the nine-worlds-renowned Enslaved.

Now originally I had planned on seeing the Norse quintet in Nottingham the weekend before as part of their tour supporting Opeth but, due to still feeling like crap, I ended up not being able to make that show, resulting in me making the five-hour round-trip down South instead.

But, truth be told, given the option, I’d much rather see an Enslaved headlining show than an Opeth one, as the latter tend to be a little hit-or-miss live in my opinion, whereas I’ve never not had a fantastic time at seeing the former, so maybe things worked out for the best in the end?

Nov 202017


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the performances by The Infernal Sea, Dawn Ray’d, and Underdark in Nottingham, UK, on November 17, 2017, accompanied by videos he made during the show.)

I’m not sure why, but this November has been absolutely jam-packed with gigs, so much so that I’ve had to be a little bit picky about what I go to, and when, simply because of all the different pressures on my time and attention (not to mention my wallet).

But there was no way I was going to miss this one, considering that between them Dawn Ray’d and The Infernal Sea have produced two of the best Black Metal albums of recent years.

Nov 172017


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the performance by Norway’s Ulver at the Islington Assembly Hall in London on November 15, 2017.)

Despite the fact that Ulver are definitely not a Metal band by any measure (in fact they’ve not been a Metal band for so long that even stating that they’re “not a Metal band” seems utterly redundant at this point), I’m always happy to cover them here at NCS, whether on record, or in the live setting.

When people ask me “why” I keep covering them, particularly in the light of their most recent, shamelessly electro-pop turn, I always answer them in two ways:

Firstly, it’s entirely possible to make “Pop” friendly music which has both depth and substance. Yes, the majority of today’s big sellers may, in general, be the most vapid, soulless examples of “popular” music, but there’s still a rich legacy of acts and artists who have made a very successful career out of twisting and subverting the expectations of their audience in a variety of surprisingly clever ways.

Secondly… well, it’s Ulver, isn’t it? And if any band has earned my trust over the years, it’s them.

Which is why I recently found myself in Islington Assembly Hall watching the band perform material from their latest album, The Assassination of Julius Caesar.

Nov 102017

Employed To Serve


(Andy Synn prepared this review of the performances by Employed To Serve and Svalbard in Nottingham, England, on November 9, 2017.)

I’m not sure whether it’s due to my increasing age, or the regular quantities of alcohol which I consume, but for some reason I was certain – 110% certain – that we’d already covered Employed to Serve and their flabbergastingly good second album, The Warmth of a Dying Sun, here at NCS earlier this year.

So you can imagine my surprise when, as I was gearing up for this show, I discovered that we haven’t written a single word about the band all year!

For shame.

Still, at least I have a chance now to redress the balance somewhat.

Nov 072017


(Andy Synn was fortunate to witness the 2017 edition of Damnation Festival in Leeds, UK, on November 4, and prepared this report on the performances, along with many videos.)

One of the things I love most about Damnation Festival is that, because it always sells out, the organisers are free to keep things as underground and as intimate as possible, and to resist the pressure to book some of the more popular (and more predictable) marquee names which you’ll see play other festivals year in and year out.

That doesn’t mean that Damnation is an “elitist” event by any means – in fact the atmosphere and camaraderie on display every year is another one of the big draws for me, as it always warms my heart to see a mingling of Metal fans, of all ages, races, colours, and creeds, in an environment dedicated purely to the love of live music – but this focus in quality over quantity, on providing a unique experience, both for the fans and for the bands who play, is something that sets it apart from its peers and rivals.

Sep 272017


(Red River Family Fest II took place in Austin, Texas on September 22-23, 2017. The appearance of Krieg on the line-up took Krieg’s frontman Neill Jameson to the event, and he prepared these thoughts about the fest and the bands he saw. Credit for all the great photos accompanying his article goes to NecroBlanca Photography and Design.)


If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written or spoken to me you probably have the (correct) opinion that I generally don’t enjoy myself often. It might be the few decades of going to shows and fests or talking to people that have jaded me, but I tend to approach playing a fest as more of a job than a joy. But my experience over the weekend at Red River Family Fest II was surprising enough for me that by the end of the first night I was ready to sit down and write about it, and it wasn’t just the alcohol talking.

This is a recap of everything I experienced over my few days in Austin, Texas. I was able to catch at least a song from most every band with a few exceptions and I really enjoyed what I heard, again with a few exceptions.

Jun 272017


On the final night of the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg this year, Norway’s Ulver used the main stage as the setting for an album release show, performing all the songs from their latest album The Assassination of Julius Caesar, though not necessarily in the order of the album presentation. Segmented by instrumental interludes and enhanced by a spectacular light show, it was a performance that by all accounts was a great success, even if it might have caught some onlookers by surprise if they hadn’t yet heard anything from this new record (which we reviewed here). On the other hand, for those familiar with Ulver’s musical odyssey, the experience of being surprised is no longer a surprise — it is to be expected.

Many other bands performed on Day Four of Roadburn, but the formidable concert photographer Levan TK — whose photo essays from the first three days we’ve posted previously (collected here) — concentrated on Ulver, talking with Kristoffer Rygg before the show and shooting a multitude of photos during the performance. For this final installment in his pictorial memorial to Roadburn 2017, we present Levan’s selection from those photos. If only we could have been there, too….

Jun 142017



The latest edition of Roadburn Festival took place at Tilburg, The Netherlands, on April 20-23, 2017, and L.A.-based photographer extraordinaire Levan TK was there to capture the performances on film.

We are fortunate to bring you some of his amazing photos, divided among the days of the festival, with his photos from the third day in this post. To see the photos from Day One, go here, and the photos from Day Two are here. Photos from the final day of fest will be coming soon.

P.S. Levan was quick to get us these photos. The delay in sharing them is entirely the fault of our half-wit editor.

Jun 032017


I expected to get this second installment of Maryland Deathfest 2017 impressions finished before now, but have been caught up in other commitments since posting Part 1 (here), which is part of the price paid for being spirited away for five wonderful days in Baltimore.

In the first installment of these reminiscences I sort of cut to the chase, naming what I thought were the best sets of an event that (by my lights) was a rousing success overall. But those five days in Baltimore were filled with other memorable moments, both on-stage and off, and I’ve collected more of them in this concluding segment. I’ve also selected more of my not-professional photos to go along with the batch in Part 1.

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