Mar 102018


As I woke up this morning and it hit me that the final edition of Oration Festival was over, I experienced a wave of sadness, coupled with regrets over not having made the trek for the first two years of the event. Oration Fest MMXVIII was, by my lights, an extraordinary experience, one formed by the combination of its setting in Reykjavik (a magical place), the wonderful friends, both old and new, with whom I was able to share the experience, and of course the incredible music.

I’ll have some more perhaps excessively emotional things to say about all that at the end of this post, but the first order of business is to provide photos, videos, and accompanying personal reactions concerning the performances last night by these bands, who appeared in this order: Almyrkvi (Iceland), Inferno (Czech Republic), Misþyrming (Iceland), Svartidauði (Iceland), Vemod (Norway), and Rebirth of Nefast (Ireland/Iceland).

Once again, the high-quality photos you’ll find below were made by my Seattle friend Tanner Ellison; I made the rest of them, and the (sadly mediocre) videos, with my phone.

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.

Jan 292017


I have a large collection of recent releases or advance tracks to recommend, all of them within the ever-widening spectrum of black metal or reflecting to varying degrees the influence of black metal. I’ve divided the collection into two parts. I haven’t written the second one yet, so I’m not sure if I’ll be posting it today or on Monday.


Formed in Reykjavík back in 2013, Misþyrming (Icelandic for “abuse” or “mistreatment“) was originally the solo project of multi-instrumentalist D.G., but eventually expanded into a full band as a result of D.G.’s desire to perform Misþyrming’s music in a live setting. The band shares members with Naðra and Carpe Noctem, and D.G. is also a member of Martröð and Skáphe.

May 042016



The 2016 edition of the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands, is now in the history books. It was the first edition of the festival to be presented at the newly renovated 013 venue, and it boasted a typically impressive and diverse line-up of bands. While none of the NCS scribes was on hand for this year’s event, we do have beautiful photos of many of the performances, thanks to Kris T. Therrian of 17 seconds photography.

We’ve divided these photo collections into four parts, one for each day of the festival, and we’re rolling them out on successive days here at our site. You can see photos from Day One here and Day Two here. The remaining installment will appear tomorrow. Many thanks to Kris for letting us share these memories with you. For more info about her work, visit these links:

Mar 082016

Katatonia 2016


If you recall yesterday’s “Seen and Heard” round-up, I explained that I had fallen so far behind that I had a list of 30 new tracks from over the last week that I thought were worth exploring. And sure enough, the list has only grown, because so many other good new things popped up in the last 24 hours. So I’m starting with the four newest items and concluding with four from last week.


Yesterday brought details about the next Katatonia album, as well as a very brief teaser video. This will be their tenth studio full-length, with the title of The Fall of Hearts. It’s set for a May 20 release by Peaceville Records. Here’s the artwork (by Travis Smith, of course):

Sep 242015

Photo by Rakel Erna Skarphéðinsdóttir (web site here).

(We welcome Argentinian journalist Matías Gallardo, who brings us this interview with multi-instrumentalist, composer, and frontperson D.G. of the phenomenal Icelandic band Misþyrming.)


As ironic as it might sound, during the last couple of years Iceland has become a hotspot for black metal. To the work of bands like Svartidauði, Carpe Noctem, and Dynfari, we now have to add a new stellar name: Misþyrming.

Formed in Reykjavík back in 2013, the group (Icelandic for ‘abuse’) fronted by multi-instrumentalist D.G. is one of the most glorious revelations of the year within the genre. Capable of mixing the darkness of French anti-heroes like Deathspell Omega and Blut aus Nord with eerie atmospheres and a wicked sense of melody, the quartet’s debut album Söngvar elds go óreiðu (‘Songs of Fire and Chaos’) promises more than a cold chill to your spine. Brace yourselves: Misþyrming is coming.

Apr 072015


 (Andy Synn took in the sights and sounds of the Inferno Festival on April 1-4, 2015, in Oslo, Norway, and this is the first of a multi-part report about his experience. Andy took the photos as well.)

Once again last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend Inferno Festival in Oslo, which this year is celebrating its 15th Anniversary, with a frankly flabbergasting line-up of bands that could almost have been hand-picked for yours truly, including some of my absolute favourites as well as a number of bands I’ve been dying to see live.

For those of you who are unaware, the Wednesday night always serves as a pre-festival “Club Night” and kick-off party, with a variety of different bands playing at different locations scattered around in relatively close proximity to the main venue. With the right pass (which, thankfully, included my fancy pink “Press” wristband) you can wander freely between the different places, picking and choosing what artists you want to see.

I decided (for reasons which will become clear) to focus my activities around the new Vulkan arena, and particularly the smaller Pokalen bar down in the lower level…

Mar 162015


(In this post Dan Barkasi continues his monthly series recommending music from the month just ended.)

Here we go for round two of Essential Entries. You guessed it – we’re covering February this time. Yeah, yeah, suspense isn’t this guy’s strong point.

January gave us genius like Desolate Shrine and Agos, which is just what was needed to start things off right. How does February measure up? To quote one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time, “Great Scott!” If you don’t get that, I bestow upon you great shame. But yeah, February did bring the noise (no Public Enemy included). Here’s the proof, in no particular order.

A Forest of StarsBeware the Sword You Cannot See

Self-described as a secret society from Victorian-era 1895, A Forest of Stars compose music that’s as intricate and unique as their theming. Black metal with a lot of psychedelic elements is the most basic description, but really, their music is so much more. It’s a continuing story, and their latest chapter is awe-inspiring. Invest the time, as there’s a lot of layers, with the payoff being oh so worth it.

Feb 152015


This is a round-up of news and new music that I discovered in a long bout of listening and reading yesterday. It happens that all the items in this collection concern black metal, but black metal is a broad spectrum, and it happens that the music you’re about to hear is quite diverse — and all of it very good.


This first item is a piece of news, an official announcement of an album that’s been on my personal “most anticipated” list for 2015 since I heard it was being recorded last year. It’s the debut full-length by False from Minneapolis, and it will be released by Gilead Media in the May-June time frame, both as a double-LP and as a CD. The cover art (above) is killer — I’m eager to see what the LP gatefold looks like.

False have only released three songs in their meteoric career — two of them on an untitled EP in 2011 and one on a 2012 split with Barghest (reviewed here). But False are fond of long songs, and so those three add up to almost 45 minutes of music — 45 very intense minutes.

Jan 072015


Every now and then I feel the need to elevate myself to about 40,000 feet above the Earth so as to more clearly receive extraterrestrial emanations and special guidance from the cosmos itself. I happen to be doing that right now. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology I can snoop the web for news and new music and post what I find, even as I receive mysterious communications from entities far beyond our own sphere.

Actually, to be brutally honest, which is the only kind of honest we know how to be at this site, I’m cooped up on an airplane flying across the country for my fucking day job, and the only emanations I’m getting are from the whine of the jet engines outside my window; I can’t make sense of them.

Although there’s an internet connection on board, it’s not good enough for me to hear music streams or watch videos. So, I’ve picked all but one of the music streams in this round-up based on educated guesses that they will be good. Maybe you’ll leave a comment and let me know if I guessed right. Presented in alphabetical order:

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