Apr 202018


(Andy Synn returns to his irregular series devoted to things that come in five’s, the focus of this one being metal album art.)

The phrase “never judge a book by its cover” was obviously uttered by someone who’d never found themselves stranded in a busy bookshop and frozen by indecision over which of the many, many options to spend their hard-earned cash on.

Of course while I agree with the sentiment in principle – style is no substitute for substance after all, and a shiny package is no guarantee of superior contents – the truth is that human beings are very visual creatures, and an eye-catching cover, one which hints at the themes and manifest delights contained within, can be the difference between finding a new reader and being consigned to the bottom of the bargain bin at the end of the month.

The same obviously applies when we’re talking about albums too. Yes, the move towards a primarily digital market has had an impact on the means and methodology behind how new albums are accessed and presented (though apparently physical sales have been rebounding quite a bit recently), but the importance of good album art still shouldn’t be understated. Continue reading »

Apr 132014

John Martin: “The Deluge” (1834)

As I mentioned yesterday, the past week brought good song and video premieres in a flood, which was unfortunate only in the sense that I didn’t have time to write about all those discoveries day-by-day as they happened. So this weekend I decided to just flood you with them, leaving behind all but some short snippets of my own sparkling prose and mainly delivering the streams, along with release info.

Yesterday I collected 11 (!) new songs and videos, plus a couple of tantalizing news items, and today I’ve got 12 more, plus a few more news items. Once again, I present them in alphabetical order:


The Song: “Apotheosis of the Hangman”
From: Dismembering the Image of God
Release info: self-released by the band on April 7; below is a new video for the opening track

Vicious melodic death metal with flying fretwork that gets more interesting and seductive as the song progresses. Punches pretty damned hard, too. Continue reading »

Apr 072014

(In one fell swoop, Andy Synn reviews three superb new albums — by Enthroned, Infestus, and Horizon Ablaze — and we bring you the streaming premiere of a song from Horizon Ablaze.)

It may only be early April but 2014 has already produced numerous candidates for my own personal End of Year list/s. And it looks like it’s going to be a very bleak, blackened year indeed.

So, to highlight the wealth of majestic misanthropy that has already appeared this year, I’ve selected three examples of Black Metal at its finest, three albums that richly deserve to be feared and worshipped in their own right, three artists who may yet lay claim to the crooked crown.

Each one has its own allure, its own character, from the uncompromising, to the unknowable, to the unorthodox. Each one has its own voice and style, from the demonic, to the despairing, to the deranged. Yet each one is united by an undercurrent of remorseless passion and refusal to follow the path of others. Each one a visceral, violent, dissonantly melodic and brutally infectious example of blackened musical magick. Continue reading »

Mar 112014

I have a lot of new discoveries from the preceding 24 hours that I want to share with you today in between the two premieres we have scheduled. I’ve divided them into two of these “Seen and Heard” posts. In this first one I tried to mix things up. Some of what’s here isn’t metal, but it’s all good.


As I previously reported in these pages, Agonia Records will be releasing the 10th studio album by Belgium’s Enthroned on April 15. The title is Sovereigns, and it’s now available for pre-order at this location. Earlier, I featured the first advance track from the album (“Of Feathers and Flames”), and today Noisey premiered another one — “Of Shrines and Sovereigns”. This one is ravaging and rapacious, but it also includes  a somber interlude, something similar to Gregorian chant that transforms into a black metal processional, and it really makes the song.

Enthroned’s Facebook page can be accessed through this link. Here’s the new track: Continue reading »

Feb 242014

I thought about saving the two songs in this post until our next round-up of new music, but I’m too excited to wait.


A scant six days ago I received the news in my e-mail inbox that Agonia Records will be releasing the 10th studio album by Belgium’s Enthroned on April 15. The title is Sovereigns, and it’s now available for pre-order at this location. I wrote about that news even though I had no music to share, because hell… it’s Enthroned!

Now I have new music to share. “Of Feathers and Flames” is the song’s name. It’s both a blitzkrieg assault of feral power and a stomping death march, both a ravaging storm and a swirling fog of funereally bleak melody, both a merciless battlefield fusillade and a dismal downpour of staggering hammer blows. After being stunned by 2012’s Obsidium I had very high hopes for Sovereigns. Sounds like expectations will be met. Continue reading »

Feb 182014

I’m working on a couple of posts for today but didn’t finish either of them last night and I’m getting a slow start this morning. But I wanted to get something up here on the site for your entertainment while I continue to dither around on those other posts. So here are three entertaining somethings.


The first thing I saw in my e-mail inbox this morning was a press release announcing the news that Agonia Records will be releasing the 10th studio album by Belgium’s Enthroned on April 15. The title is Sovereigns, and the eye-catching artwork can be viewed above. It’s now available for pre-order at this location. Enthroned’s Facebook page can be accessed through this link.

And other than expressing my figurative tumescence over this news, that’s about all I have to say on this subject. I will let this stream of music from Enthroned’s fantastic last album, 2012’s Obsidium, say the rest. Continue reading »

Feb 242013

(Andy Synn wishes to bring a show to your attention.)

So Islander’s been kind enough to let me use NCS for more of my own nefarious purposes, in this case bringing some attention to a big show we have down in London next week.

Now I’m not sure how many of our readers are UK-based, nor how many of you crazy foreign-types have friends over here in this green and pleasant land, but if you are/do, then perhaps you’ll consider coming along and witnessing nine of the UK’s finest black and death metal bands tear up the stage at The Electrowerkz at an event headlined by Belgium’s finest purveyors of obsidian majesty, Enthroned.

That being the case, I thought it would be prudent to introduce you all to the various bands performing, so you can pick and choose your own favourites.

Aeon Promotions in association with Nazgul Agency presents… Continue reading »

Mar 132012

(In this post, NCS writer Andy Synn reviews the superb new album by Belgium’s Enthroned.)

I can’t quite tell you exactly why, with the advent of Obisdium, Enthroned have produced their magnum opus, a defining statement of their sound and purpose. It’s a combination of lots of little things, and a culmination of years of work and progression from a band who have always teetered on the edge of producing something great. The songs stand proudly alone, yet united as a furious horde of channelled barbarism, every instrument given prominence and power in a combination both compelling and devastating.

The lethal focus and razor-sharp intent of each and every track is like a scalpel cutting into fragile flesh, clean, quick and precise. Yet this impressive concision and precision does not preclude variety. For all its panzerfaust blasting assault on the senses, the album manages to intelligently vary its pacing and style, from a blizzard of icy tremolo picking to a more death metal stomp and grind, through to rusted, doomy funeral marches of ghastly, shrouded chords. At its fastest, the album absolutely scorches, leaving behind only blackened and gnarled bones, licked by ebon flames. At its slowest, it churns a hideous maelstrom of dragging rip-tides and claustrophobic, choking undercurrents.

For all that Obisidum represents as another salvo in the Satanic war of dominion, it does so with disarming cleverness and subtlety, easing its way under the listeners’ skins to possess them wholly and entirely. Though it never sacrifices sheer, obliterating power, it is the hidden complexities and predatory intelligence of the material’s construction that makes it the most devastating weapon of damnation in Enthroned’s 9-album strong arsenal.

The devil truly is in the details. Continue reading »

Mar 012012

Lots of new music relevant to my interests debuted yesterday. Because it interests me, I presume that it will interest you, because of course if something is interesting to me it will necessarily interest you simply because I find it interesting. If you disagree with that statement, please keep it to yourself so that I can retain my high opinion of myself.

Because this post includes so much music, I will attempt to keep my verbal diarrhea in check by using the patented NCS butt plug, figuratively speaking of course. Not literally. Literally, I’ll limit my song descriptions to two words each.


We previously featured the artwork for this Italian band’s new album. It will be called Sedition and will be released on March 27 in North America, April 2 in the U.K., and April 6 in mainland Europe via Prosthetic Records.

HoP will be following the release of Sedition with a North American tour — their first — which will be headlined by The Black Dahlia Murder and will also include Nile and Skeletonwitch. I already climbed out on a limb and predicted that this will blow up Hour of Penance in North America much as their fellow Romans in Fleshgod Apocalypse blew up through NorthAm touring in the wake of last year’s Agony.

Now we’ve got the first track from Sedition:, which Terrorizer premiered yesterday: Bone splintering. Continue reading »

Feb 102012

Here’s the second of today’s three posts about new song premieres from bands we like.

Last month, we featured the eye-catching cover art created by Olve J. W. l for an album I’m highly anticipating — the new one from Belgian black metal band Enthroned. They recently signed a two-album deal with Agonia Records. Their new album, Obsidium, will be released on March 20 in Europe and on April 10 in North America.

Yesterday, the band debuted the album’s magisterial title track. It’s a charging, plunging animal with claws out and teeth bared, marked by an insistent, needle-like guitar melody that’s already hooked itself in my head. Nornagest’s scraped-throat, mid-range vocals are passionate and powerful, and the brief moment of clean singing behind them works quite well.

This is a jam that I would put on a repeat loop for the morning if I could. It bodes well for the album as a whole. Have a listen after the jump. Continue reading »