Jan 222018


(Wil Cifer turns in this review of the new album by Tribulation, which will be released by Century Media on January 26th.)


The new album from this Swedish band is labelled by my iTunes as “gothic metal”. This is a bit of a misnomer as it sounds nothing like Type O Negative or My Dying Bride. They have been wearing a bit of make-up for some time now, but that affects their complexion more than their sound. The bells and whistles giving them a layer of atmosphere have multiplied. There are more synths on this album, but it makes it more melodic not darker.  But I have a high bar for what I call “goth”. If there are not less than six degrees of separation between a band and The Cure’s Pornography album it’s not “goth”.

What seems to have occurred in the time that has passed since they released The Children of the Night is this band has listened to a ton of classic metal from the ‘70s and ‘80s. While a logical progression for their sound, this makes for a much more streamlined version of their already melodic take on death metal.

Dec 222017


(We present NCS contributor Wil Cifer’s selection of the Top 25 metal albums of 2017.)


Here’s my top 25 metal albums of 2017. Making these lists can send my OCD into a spiral, so I have learned to abandon my more complex methods of ranking them and leave it to what Last Fm said I listened to most. In some cases it didn’t feel right so I flipped entries around.

While I adhere to a pretty strict policy of not feeding the trolls, these lists can lead to a great deal of grumbling, so this time around I have included a brief blip explaining why one album ranked higher than the other.

In short these are MY Top 25 Albums of 2017, so if your name is not Wilhelm Satanchild Cifer, then I don’t really care what you think, but feel free to share your thoughts any way since this is the internet.

Nov 172017


(Not long ago we posted Wil Cifer’s review of the new Morbid Angel album, which will be released on December 1st, and now we present his interview with Steve Tucker.)

With Morbid Angel’s new album Kingdoms Disdained continuing to grow on me, I am beginning to feel it’s their best work since Domination. So I jumped at the chance to talk to bassist/vocalist Steve Tucker and ask about what played into this return to their more vicious sound and what factors in the world today influenced the album’s thematic lyrical tone. Here is what was said.

Nov 132017


(Our contributor Wil Cifer usually brings us album reviews, but today he provides a most interesting interview with all three members of the distinctive Italian band Ufomammut.)

Back in September this Italian trio released 8 on Neurot Records, which has proven to be one of the year’s more interesting releases in heavy music with their blend of psychedelic sludge. I managed to catch up with them when they got off their most recent jaunt on the road to pick their brains about the creative process and what makes this band tick. The result is as follows.


The hardest part of being in a band can be interaction between other members over the years, so what has been the key to keeping the band together?

Urlo: A good dose of stoicism for sure… ahaha. I must say that we found a good alchemy between us. Poia and me are always together, we see each other every day, being 2/3 of the poster art collective Malleus. We’ve known Vita since a lot of years before we started the band. So… we three had great moments and bad moments, obviously. We all believe in what we’re doing, in one way or the other, so Ufomammut is what kept us together. And, at the end, after so many years, it’s been fun 🙂

Nov 082017


(These are Wil Cifer’s initial thoughts about the new Morbid Angel album, which will be released on December 1 by Silver Lining Music.)

You can’t blame me or any long-time fans of this band for going into their 9th album with trepidation. Trey is the only original member. I hoped Pete Sandoval might come to his senses like a kid who learns Santa isn’t real and drop the Jesus thing to rejoin the band. But that was the wishful thinking of my inner 15-year-old. I never liked the Steve Tucker albums. They just sound like everyone else.

A few songs in, Tucker was still a hard sell for me even though he is certainly trying his fucking hardest here. The new drummer Scott Fuller won me over much earlier on with his aggressive assault.

Nov 062017


(This is Wil Cifer’s review of The Dusk In Us — the recently released ninth album by Converge.)

Twenty years ago a friend of mine said to me, “There is this band you would like called Converge, they are like if Sunny Day Real Estate was metal-as-fuck hardcore”. Over the course of those 20 years things have changed for the band. They got a new drummer and put out this album called Jane Doe that turned heavy music on its head. Their guitarist Kurt Ballou is now a highly sought-after producer. With their guitarist behind the mixing board for The Dusk In Us, you might expect to be hit by a wall of guitar. This is not the case. Instead you get guitars with a warm organic sound that sit back in the mix like they are just running straight into their amps. Even in the album’s more experimental moments it retains a very organic sound.

“Eye of the Quarrel” makes it pretty clear that their punk side has not gone anywhere. Bannon’s vocals are not screamed with the same emotional tumult of earlier albums. You can actually understand what he is yelling. They do return to the kind of grit I want from them on “Under Duress”. The chorus is almost sung in a throaty bellow, with the drummer throwing in angular accents and odd-timed punches.

Oct 052017


(This is Wil Cifer’s review of the new album by GWAR, whch will be released by Metal Blade Records on October 20.)

Their blood-drenched, cum-soaked live shows overshadowed the fact these guys had some good songs and made pretty killer albums up to, say, This Toilet Earth. They also used to be one of my favorite bands in high school, so the nostalgia runs deep. It also makes me proceed with caution knowing that they are carrying on without their lead singer Oderus Unrungus, whose human form Dave Brockie passed away in 2014. His voice fluctuated from a gruff punk-like bellow that could have come off of a Fear record to more of a growl or a croon.

I became more willing to give them a new shot when I learned that Blothar, the new singer, is the old Beefcake the Mighty taking on a new mantel. So they promoted from within. I can deal with this better than if it was some new guy they just brought in. The new sound has to grow on me even though he handled the vocals on the song “Nice Place to Park“. So his voice is not totally alien. It holds a Blackie Lawless-like edge. The songs on the new album typically carry a more straight-ahead metal feel in the vein of mid-’80s thrash, with songs like “Viking Death Machine” touching on their punk roots.

Oct 022017


(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by the Belgian band Amenra, which will be released on October 20 by Neurot Recordings.)

Here is an album that reminds us distortion alone is only as heavy as the emotion being poured into the songs. This Belgium sludge band returns with another piece of despair. Gone is the Neurosis worship, which has been washed away from a more lush sound with thicker atmosphere. The emotional depth can be heard in anguished howls of the vocals. The layers of accompanying guitar have a droning sense of melody and carry an inner darkness.

The album opens with the brand of aggressive sludge you expect, with an almost hardcore-tinged anger. When this dies down the band float out into something more fragile and intimate with vocals sung in an almost androgynous Sigur Rós-like whisper, but then throw themselves back into the tormented screaming. One thing this album has going for it is the fact that the sung vocals are not used to create a MySpace Metal good cop/bad cop routine. Instead they build a dynamic in a less contrived fashion.

Sep 182017


(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Chelsea Wolfe, which will be released by Sargent House on September 22.)

With a Burzum cover early in her career Chelsea Wolfe gained a solid following in the metal community. Her brand of gloomy folk rock was dark enough to keep them listening. Gradually this darkness grew denser and began to cross over into a more metal-influenced sound on Abyss. Her newest album takes it even a step further into metal.

On her last album the bass was fuzzed enough to give it a doom-like heft. Now the guitar is assuming a more metallic role. Production-wise, this recalls her older work, in the sense that her voice is mixed with ghostly effects against the guitar. Tempo-wise, it is very much in a doom/sludge direction.

“16 Psyche” finds the guitars kicking the door down, then backing off for her to sing, then it comes back around to the verses. “Vex” summons up more intensity in the drive of the song and finds Aaron Turner’s growled vocals coming into the background toward the end of the song.

Sep 122017


(Wil Cifer review the new album by Ufomammut, set for relase on September 22 by Neurot Recordings.)

When I am searching for doom I want something that is just Black Sabbath worship. I’ve listened to those albums for over 35 years and can pull them off the shelf at any moment to revisit as needed… So it gets me excited to hear a band like these men from from Italy who must set bongs aflame across the world with their super psyche-filled doom.

Ufomammut take you out into the cosmos with a fuzzed-out density that is obscured by clouds of trippy haze. The vocals feel more Pink Floyd-like to me than carrying any kind of an Ozzy influence. Each song takes you further into the depths of their warped rabbit hole.

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