Aug 162017


There’s a movie out in theaters now that includes the name “Valerian” in its title, and it seems that more than half the people who’ve seen it think it’s terrible. Because the name isn’t one you see every day, some people reading the title of this post might make an association, but let’s be clear: This song has nothing to do with that movie.

This “Valerian” is a stunningly good song by Seattle’s Old Iron, and it comes from their second album, Lupus Metallorum. Emblazoned with unforgettable cover art by the band’s own guitarist/vocalist Jesse Roberts, it will be released by Good to Die Records on August 18, just days from now.

Aug 162017


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by the UK death metal band Vacivus, set for release by Profound Lore on September 22nd.)

Here’s a seemingly simple, but actually incredibly complex, question – why are some bands good and other bands… less so?

Or, to be more specific, what makes some bands capable of spinning fresh gold out of a well-worn sound, while others are doomed to wallow in their own mediocrity?

This is something I’ve been wondering about quite a bit recently, after I came across a pair of Death Metal bands from the UK, both of whom have been receiving a fair bit of hype and attention online, whose albums couldn’t have more clearly represented the opposite ends of this spectrum.

You see, whereas one of these albums (whose name has been withheld out of respect to the victims) turned out to be one of the most painfully unoriginal and uninspired records I’ve heard all year, the other captured a certain freshness, a viciousness, a certain sense of drive and urgency, which made it an absolute joy to listen to.

So whatever this particular attribute, this special x-factor is, it’s clear that Vacivus definitely have it.

Aug 162017


(Comrade Aleks is back, and brings with him this interview of Steve Colca, guitarist/vocalist of Austin-based Destroyer of Light.)

Horror movies, bloody sacrifices, and a bit of smoke – these topics work better when you play slow and low stuff. Just like Destroyer of Light do. That Austin-based band crawls out of their dungeon with seven new tracks entitled Chamber of Horrors.

It’s their second full-length, and the men naturally reached another level in their musicianship, keeping the same grim and hard sound. The feature of this record is a wider range of influences (including a heavier, sludgy sound), yet all of these imprints fit Destroyer of Light’s image well.

Need some darker vibe? Here it comes! “There’s a murder at the altar, So his spirit will arrive!”

Aug 152017


Non-blog life is rapidly encroaching on me, so I’m forced to make this round-up short. But it’s sweet. It’s short but sweet. I just made that up… pretty good expression, don’t you think?


For me and many others, The Grim Muse by Poland’s In Twilight’s Embrace was one of 2015’s highlights — a multifaceted and uniformly strong melodic death metal album loaded with fantastic riffs, memorable lead-guitar melodies and solos, powerful performances by the rhythm section, and absolutely ferocious vocals. We had the privilege of premiering the full album stream, and then last year we also debuted a full stream of their next release, an EP named Trembling that also consisted of tracks from the recording session for The Grim Muse.

Today I was excited to learn through an announcement at DECIBEL that the band’s fourth album, Vanitas, will be released on September 22 (through their longstanding label partner Arachnophobia Records). At the same time, DECIBEL premiered a track from the album named “The Hell of Mediocrity“.

Aug 152017


With a name like Lifetime Shitlist and song titles on their new EP such as “Beach of Death”, “Infestation”, and “Death Rattle”, you don’t expect this band to make music that feels like a warm hug and a shoulder to cry on. And sure enough, Slow March will punch you in the kidneys and treat your head like a piece of sheetrock ready for the nail gun. But man, it’s a ton of battering fun — the kind of fun that leaves you with loose teeth the next morning and the kind of bruising that goes beyond black and blue and into that shade of yellow that makes you queasy to look at it.

Slow March manifests some changes from this Baltimore band’s last album, Pneumaticon, including a new vocalist (Ned Westrick), a new second guitarist (Corey Fleming), and an evolution in their sound. For the new EP they also tracked the drums, the bass, and the rhythm guitars live in the studio of Grimoire Records on a single April Saturday, with the vocals added the next day. The gods of the mosh pit must have been smiling on that weekend.

Aug 152017


As I listened to this debut album by the French band Malemort I asked myself a question I’ve asked before — though to be clear, I haven’t heard many records in the league of this one: Why do our minds and emotions make such deep connections with music that’s so convincingly calamitous, so mercilessly stripped of hope, so sodden with misery and soaked in blood, so cataclysmically heavy, so frighteningly violent?

Perhaps it’s just the part of us that instinctively admires anything done with the meticulousness of a jeweler’s hand, even if it’s an efficiently organized demolition job. Maybe it’s because death looms over us all, the fear of extinction, the dread of all feeling and thought being snuffed out without warning, like a beautiful daughter torn to pieces in an instant by a machine rammed forward under the direction of a hate-filled lunatic… it’s always right there, hovering on the edges of daily life, and regulalry reminding us of its presence through some new tragedy.

I don’t know. I’m no psychologist. I only know what I feel, and for fuck’s sake I’ll just say it up front — this album is the most stunningly powerful, staggeringly horrific, blindingly apocalyptic doom album I’ve heard this year, and it has few peers in any year.

Aug 142017


You may wonder about the meaning of the Greek word “phaneron“, as I did when I saw it in the title of the song we’re about to premiere. As one writer has put it, “The phaneron is essentially the real world filtered by our sensory input (sight, hearing, touch, etc)… the collective total of all that is in any way or in any sense present to the mind, quite regardless of whether it corresponds to any real thing or not.” You might then further ponder what it might mean for the phaneron to be eclipsed.

While you think on that question, listen to the song, which is quite a mind-bender in its own right. It’s by a band from New Delhi, India, named Fragarak and it comes from their imposing new double-album A Spectral Oblivion, which will be released by Transcending Obscurity India on October 30.

Aug 142017


(Austin Weber reviews an album that has made a deep impact on him, and many others — the fascinating debut by the quartet who’ve named themselves John Frum, out now on Relapse Records.)

Typically, if I run too far behind on turning a review in, I have to accept that my time is probably better spent moving on to something newer. For once, I’ve felt a pressing urge to break that self-imposed rule, because John Frum, and the demented form of death metal found on A Stirring in the Noos, are simply too brilliant not to provide a full and proper review here at NCS.

Like most people new to John Frum, I was curious what the album as a whole would sound like, and hopeful that their enormous combined talents would make for something special. I was not, however, ready to have my brain scrambled, and my expectations destroyed, to the immense degree that A Stirring in the Noos has managed to do for me. I’ll admit that during my initial phase of listening, I was unsure how I felt about this release, sensing weaknesses in some of the tracks that I’ve now come to appreciate as crucial and important within the context of the full experience they’re delivering. But we’ll touch on that point more in a bit.

Aug 142017


(On September 15, Luxor Records will release a new album by A Hill To Die Upon, and here we present Andy Synn’s review of the album plus a stream of its first single.)

There are certain artists who have, for whatever reason, become very special to us here at NCS.

Artists with whom we’ve built up a certain relationship, a certain rapport, over the years, to the point where they become essentially one of our “house bands”.

Illinois iconoclasts A Hill To Die Upon are one of them.

Having been fans of the group – now comprising original members Adam and Michael Cook alongside the newly-indentured Brent Dossett and Nolan Osmond – ever since their debut, following them through all the ups and downs, calamities and controversies, it’s been our privilege to watch them grow and evolve from plucky contenders into the veritable Blackened Death Metal powerhouse they are today.

It should therefore come as no surprise, if you’ve been paying attention, that the band’s fourth full-length album sees them continuing to develop and mature, stepping outside of the shadow cast by their forebears by, paradoxically, more fully embracing the blackened roots of their sound.

So hold onto your hats, it’s about to get biblical in here.

Aug 142017


The 16th edition of Maryland Deathfest will take place in Baltimore on May 24-27, 2018. In June, MDF announced the first round of confirmed bands for the festival and added 19 more in July. And today, about an hour ago, they named 13 more, including My Dying Bride, Misþyrming, Dødheimsgard, and Mantar. Here’s the full list of new names:

My Dying Bride (UK)
Misþyrming (Iceland)
Dødheimsgard (Norway)
Viscera Infest (Japan)
Arkhon Infaustus (France)
Mantar (Germany)
Mortal Decay
Pavel Chekov
Torn the Fuck Apart
Bestial Evil

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