Sep 192017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) joins us again with this review of the debut album by NZ’s Methchrist, which has just been digitally released on Bandcamp.)

Methchrist are a belligerent, hate-driven war metal trio from Dunedin, New Zealand. And the band’s Nomadic War Machine debut is the third album from a New Zealand war metal band that I’ve covered here at No Clean Singing in recent times.

To be honest, it’s not the easiest task coming up with fresh ways to unpack more bestial metal from the southern reaches. But that’s not because Nomadic War Machine is uninspiring. The album’s actually a skull-cracking riot –– it’s as fuelled by pure fucking spite as it is any creative ambitions –– but I inevitably feel like I’m repeating myself talking about war metal, because the subgenre’s somewhat of a stylistic cul-de-sac.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a criticism of war metal’s established characteristics. I mean, I love crust punk and d-beat to death, and they’ve got a limited range of musical hallmarks and potential descriptive options too. It’s simply that war metal’s parameters are so resolutely set in stone. There’s only so much you can say about the subgenre before you’re reiterating the same points or uttering the same phrases.

Jul 242017


(Our friend from New Zealand Craig Hayes (Six Noises) brings us this alert about the first excerpt of sound from the new album by NZ’s Bridge Burner.)

Crusty New Zealand death metal band Bridge Burner features members who’ve played in groups like Graves, Diocletian, Ulcerate, Punished, Heresiarch, Witchrist, In Dread Response, and The Mark of Man. That’s an intimidating roll call of bands, but I’d draw your attention to the first name on that list, because the death of turbo-speed Auckland punk/metal band Graves resulted in the birth of Bridge Burner.

Graves released a couple of thoroughly neck-wrecking and nihilistic albums before calling it quits in 2015. And the band’s guitarist, Josh Hughes, went on to compose all the pulverizing music on Bridge Burner’s first EP, Mantras of Self Loathing. That release featured a crushing mix of brute-force punk and death metal, and vocalist/lyricist Ben Read howled with unhinged rage over the vitriolic barrages within. Mantras of Self Loathing’s marriage of intensity to belligerence promised great things, and Bridge Burner have recently stoked the fires of anticipation even more by releasing the preliminary mix of a storming track entitled “Illness & Loathing” from their upcoming full-length debut.

Jul 142017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) joins us again with this review of the new album by NZ’s Vesicant, which is being released today by Iron Bonehead Productions.)


New Zealand black/death metal duo Vesicant have only played a handful of shows, and their 2014 Edict demo was originally released in limited numbers, too. But that hasn’t stopped powerhouse German label Iron Bonehead Productions from stepping in to release the band’s formidable full-length debut, Shadows of Cleansing Iron.

If you’re wondering how an obscure band from the far-flung reaches gets to enjoy Iron Bonehead’s patronage, the answer is twofold. First, and most obviously, Iron Bonehead were clearly impressed by the stockpile of murderous music Vesicant have housed in their armory –– and we’ll get to those battering munitions soon. But it’s also well worth pointing out that Iron Bonehead’s shown a marked interest in NZ’s extreme metal scene over the years.

Jun 272017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) returns to NCS with this review of the new album by his countrymen in Heresiarch, which will be released on July 7 by Dark Descent.)


So here it is, Death Ordinance, the long-awaited full-length debut from New Zealand black/death wrecking machine Heresiarch. It’s no exaggeration to say that Death Ordinance is one of the most anticipated releases in the annals of Antipodean metal, and fans of belligerent and bestial metal the world over have been counting the days until the album’s release. That’s because Heresiarch deliver a singularly brute force audio onslaught –– aka everything you want in an obliterating war metal juggernaut.

Heresiarch are militant, violent, and ruthless; and hell, there’s even a whiff of spurious controversy about them too. All of that’s fuelled the band’s defiant mythos, which Heresiarch reinforce by delivering some of the most remorseless underground metal around.

Feb 022017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) returns to NCS with this review of the new album by New Zealand’s Into Orbit, which will be released on February 3 — and we have a just-released full stream of the album as well.)

Countless bands try to grab our attention with an enticing vocal hook. Hell, even in the world of extreme metal, where vocals are frequently an indecipherable blur, words and lyrics still play a crucial role in imparting meaning. At the other end of the spectrum though, instrumental bands seek to convey meaning without any lyrical or vocal cues, and that’s obviously a tougher task. When it all goes well, audiences can decipher meaning from moving songs, and that forges a connection between fans and bands. But when it all goes wrong, because a band is technically proficient but emotionally sterile, instrumental music is simply tedious background noise. Elevator music, at best.

It’s rare to find an instrumental band that manages to transmit its message evocatively. But the music of New Zealand instrumental duo Into Orbit has received rousing applause at home for doing just that. In some ways, Into Orbit are building on a legacy established by New Zealand bands such as Jakob or Kerretta –– both guitar-led instrumental groups with fan bases in Europe and the US. Jakob and Kerretta have gained international recognition because they make truly gripping music, and there’s no question that Into Orbit’s superb new album, Unearthing, is filled with captivating music too.

Nov 072016



(We’re grateful to New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) for bringing us this review of the debut album by New Zealand’s Setentia, which will be released on November 11 by the Finnish label Blood Music.)

Setentia are an atmospheric death metal band from New Zealand. They write hard-hitting, complex songs where jagged melodies do battle with tremolo deluges on dissonant soundscapes. The band’s accomplished full-length debut, Darkness Transcend, intertwines gut-felt ferocity with forward-thinking expressiveness. And yes, with those creative hallmarks, Setentia have been compared to New Zealand’s much-lauded death metal behemoth Ulcerate, many times.

That’s an understandable comparison to make. Sonic similarities aside, Setentia and Ulcerate have higher profiles than most other New Zealand death metal bands because they’re signed to international record labels (Finnish label Blood Music, in Setentia’s case).

Nov 012016



(Our friend, New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) is back with us again with this review of the new album by NZ’s remarkable MetalTower — and the premiere of a full album stream.)


New Zealand progressive death metal band MetalTower have shared the stage with international touring acts like Carcass, Krisiun, and Psycroptic. And that trio of bands also happens to be the perfect representation of the musical diversity that the long-running MetalTower exhibit on their latest full-length, Myopic Dystopia. No Clean Singing is proud to be hosting the album’s worldwide premiere, and here’s a few hundred words of praise about Myopic Dystopia to get you started.

Where to start? Well, how about those aforementioned bands. Like Carcass, MetalTower inject a sense of self-awareness into their whirlwind tunes; see Myopic Dystopia’s “Fvk Mourning”. MetalTower also exhibit a Krisiun-like desire to snap necks and shatter spines with hammering riffs and percussion on tracks like “Futility”. And if Psycroptic’s mix of bombarding metal and technical prowess has impressed you before, then you’ll likely admire MetalTower’s combination of ferocity and finesse too.

Oct 242016



(New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) returns to NCS with this review of the forthcoming second album by NZ’s Winter Deluge.)

Changes within a band can lead to creative uncertainty or even outright artistic collapse. But that’s clearly not an issue for New Zealand black metal outfit Winter Deluge. Last time we heard from the group was back in 2012, when they released their hate-fuelled full-length debut, As the Earth Fades into Obscurity. Since then, Winter Deluge have cycled through a few bassists, and lost and gained both a guitarist and a vocalist. But none of those changes has dented or derailed Winter Deluge’s malevolent mission in the slightest.

Oct 202016



(We welcome back New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises), who wrote this review of the debut album by Verberis, which has recently been released by Iron Bonehead Productions.)

The roster of German record label Iron Bonehead Productions reads like a who’s who of pre-eminent cult metal bands. That’s certainly true when it comes to bands who reside in the far-flung isles of New Zealand. Indomitable underground New Zealand bands like Vassafor, Sinistrous Diabolus, Veneficium, Witchrist, Diocletian, Creeping, Prisoner of War, Solar Mass, and Heresiarch have all had storming works released under Iron Bonehead’s banner. And next on the label’s list of uncompromising releases from the southern latitudes is Vexamen: the debut full-length from blackened death metal band Verberis.

Apr 212016


Sinistrous Diabolus-II


(New Zealand music writer and broadcaster Craig Hayes rejoins us with this review of the new album II by Sinistrous Diabolus, which was self-released on March 31, 2016, and is available on Bandcamp.)

Many of metal’s most interesting bands are intensely dramatic without ever indulging in any overt theatrics. Often those bands are fronted by singular musicians whose creations reflect the pitch-black depths of their own trials and tribulations. Those musicians aren’t playing ‘make believe’, and their music frequently burrows into the darkest recesses of our own minds.

Cult New Zealand death/doom band Sinistrous Diabolus definitely fits into that category. And the band’s new full-length, II, is a monstrous, spine-chilling album that delivers an altogether soul-crushing experience. Fans of Australian death/doom band Inverloch’s excellent Distance | Collapsed album from earlier this year will find comparable levels of heaviness awaiting on Sinistrous Diabolus’ II. But if the name Sinistrous Diabolus doesn’t leap to mind when you’re contemplating the gloomiest metal around, that’s perfectly understandable.

Sinistrous Diabolus is a markedly underground entity from the far-flung reaches, and has been on hiatus a number of times since forming in the early ’90s. The band isn’t actually operating right now, even though there’s a new album out. But even if you’ve never heard of Sinistrous Diabolus before, you might well have heard the band’s influence echoing in Australiasian extreme metal.

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