Feb 042018


I almost never watch anything available through on-line streaming services like Netflix. I don’t watch multi-part TV series available through cable networks like HBO either (I’m one of four people in the U.S. who has never seen a Game of Thrones episode; the other three have been in a coma since 2010). It’s not that I’m uninterested. It’s a question of time, and choices among what I’d have to sacrifice in order to make room for all the hours of viewing. But I made an exception last night.

My wife is out of town visiting one of her sisters. Time with my wife, who has no interest in watching the kind of shows referred to above, is one of the things I’d have to sacrifice if I watched more TV. Time with NCS is another one. But with my wife gone and with my NCS post for today (not this one, the next one) at least planned out in my head, I decided to start watching Altered Carbon on Netflix. The first season became available on February 2nd.

The book of the same name, by Richard Morgan, is an old favorite of mine; I’ve read every other sci-fi book he’s written, too, but I always thought it would be great if someone turned Altered Carbon into a movie or TV series. So, with some extra time on my hands, this was a temptation I couldn’t resist.

Jan 252018


Another day, another edition of our Most Infectious Song list, with a trio of black metal tracks and a song that might be a bit of a cheat.


With their 2015 debut album, As All Light Leaves Her, Australia’s Advent Sorrow made a beneficial change in their sound. As Andy Synn wrote in his review, they “shed the symphonic grandeur that permeated their debut EP in favour of an all-round darker and more desperate form of borderline DSBM-style sonic despair… resulting in an album of bleak, harrowing melody and torturous metallic agony that errs closer to the sound of Infestus or early Shining than it does the more dramatic Dimmu Borgir-isms with which the band first made their name”.

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.

Mar 012017

Dyscarnate in the studio…


(Andy Synn shares a list of his most anticipated releases of 2017… along with musical reminders… and a request for your own most-anticipated releases.)

Somehow, even though it’s only March, I’m already well behind in terms of covering new and upcoming releases. Partially that’s due to how many albums from last year I still had left to catch up on during January/February, but it’s also a testament to the sheer number of killer albums which have been released already in this year.

Now it was around this time last year (in fact, I just checked, and it was almost exactly one year ago) that I published a list of five albums whose impending release had me afroth with anticipation, including two albums (Death Fortress, Khonsu) which ultimately proved to be two of my absolute favourites of the year… although another two, Nidingr and Decrepit Birth, ended up being delayed until 2017, with the latter still not having a confirmed release date even now…

So, in a vain bid to get ahead of the curve a little, here are five six seven upcoming releases which I’m extremely stoked/jacked/hyped to hear this year, starting with…

Aug 052014

We’ve collected here a quintet of new videos for your viewing and listening pleasure. In a rare display of brevity, I’m not going to attempt to describe the sounds or what you’ll see in the videos. I’ll identify the music and provide a band link, and then let you dive into the streams… beginning with an exception to our Rule.


Song: “Anathema”
Album: Distant Satellites

Apr 112014

(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new album by A Hill To Die Upon from Illinois.)

Sometimes when you’re confronted with unexpected bouts of synchronicity, it’s best to pay attention to what’s being said. You might just learn something.

Case in point, at least three times in the last week, in separate conversations, someone has raised the point to me that A Hill To Die Upon (hereafter referred to as AHTDU) are one of the few bands “who sound like Behemoth… but don’t really sound like Behemoth”. And it’s true. Despite clearly holding the Polish blasphemers in high regard, AHTDU have always managed to remain somehow sonically separate enough to stand as their own entity.

I’m not sure exactly why. It’s maybe a combination of things. A tendency to use interesting, almost baroque chord patterns. A signature riffing style that illuminates, rather than imitates. Little twists and tweaks to their approach, a rhythmic shift here, a touch of esoteric instrumentation there, and a vocal style that heaves with righteous fury and passion. And blast beats. Lots of blast beats. All molded and shaped in a way that remains instantly recognisable and distinctive.

It’s hard to quantify. But it’s clear to me. AHTDU are their own breed of monster, plain and simple.

Mar 172014

We’ve been eagerly awaiting the third album from the titanic blackened death metal entity known as A Hill To Die Upon, and now it’s nearly upon us. Entitled Holy Despair, it’s scheduled for release on April 22 via Bombworks Records. The album follows 2011’s Omens, which Andy Synn praised in this review on our site, and an excellent 2013 single called manden med leen (reviewed here). We’ve had the chance to hear the new album in advance of its release, and it’s really, really good. Today, we’ll give you evidence of its strength by premiering an official lyric video for the song “Satan Speaks”.

As the lyrical text for the song, AHTDU used a poem of the same name by noted British essayist and novelist C.S. Lewis. It appears in a collection of poems named Spirits In Bondage that Lewis wrote as a young man after returning from the horrors of World War I. As Lewis wrote to a friend in 1918, the book is “mainly strung around the idea that I mentioned to you before – that nature is wholly diabolical &
malevolent and that God, if he exists, is outside of and in opposition to the cosmic arrangements.”

As one writer described the bleak message of the poem, “Death, not life, is the victor. The spider catches the fly, creation returns all its creatures to the dust from where they came, even the sun will in the end be ‘consumed’ by maximum entropy.” To the end of Lewis’ poem, AHDTU added their own final couplet: “I am Satan, accuser accursed / Heed not my words, I was not first.”

Jan 272014

(Here’s another installment of Andy Synn’s irregular series devoted to his favorite things that come in fives. Seems like a good occasion to sound off on what you’re looking forward to as well, so please leave Comments.)

Now this is an easy one… and a hard one… to write.

Easy… because there are SO many awesome albums coming out this year to choose from.

Hard… because there are TOO many awesome albums coming out this year to choose from!

Still, here’s a selection of five to whet your appetite. (Note – some nepotism involved)

Apr 222013

My NCS comrades and I follow a large number of bands and labels on Facebook and through other news outlets. Not a week goes by without seeing a report of some new misfortune befalling one or more of them. During some weeks it’s a daily occurrence. Many of the misfortunes involve van break-downs or vehicular accidents while on tour. Others involve theft of gear or money. Sometimes, as you’ll see below, even the weather gods get involved.

The past week saw a string of calamities affecting bands we like quite a lot around here. They’ve all reached out to fans for financial support. This is not exactly a sure-fire means of getting back on your feet, because the average metal fan isn’t exactly swimming in free cash, but what else are you going to do?

We could easily make this a weekly feature: bands who’ve been fucked by human scum or fisted by the fickle hand of fate and who need help. I’m not saying we’re going to do that, but we’re doing it today. Here are stories and appeals for help from A Hill To Die Upon (Illinois), Jeff Loomis (Washington), and Eyeconoclast (Italy).

Feb 132013

(Here we have another installment in UK-based Andy Synn’s occasional series on favorites of his that come in five’s.  Music is included.)

Chance and coincidence are funny little things. One of the various ideas I had noted down for these “Favourite” columns was a short insight into my own collection of non-musical metal materials, specifically the various merch (shirts, etc) I’d picked up over the years.

So when David appeared on the scene with his series of posts on Metal Culture it seemed like the perfect time to actually put this piece together, and hopefully see what items of your ‘metal uniform’ you guys particularly cherish as well!

The funny thing is, I’m actually currently in the process of getting rid of a host of shirts, to various good homes and good people, because I feel like I’ve amassed a rather unnecessary collection, many of which I never/rarely ever wear. So I’ve been winnowing through my wardrobe, selecting the ones I don’t really have a need for, and simultaneously identifying my favourites, all of which plays nicely into this column.

Ok, so we’ll go in some sort of sartorial order, shall we?

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