Feb 152019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Icelandic band Kaleikr, which is being released today by Debemur Morti Productions.)

If there’s one thing that sums up just how inundated with information we are, and how overwhelming that can be, these days, it’s the fact that I didn’t even know that Icelandic Black Metallers Draugsól– whose debut album, Volaða land, we were all pretty damn impressed with here at NCS – had broken up until I received the promo for Heart of Lead, the debut album from Kaleikr.

Although, perhaps “broken up” isn’t quite the right term, as not only is Kaleikr made up of two of the three members of Draugsól – namely drummer Kjartan Harðarson and guitarist/vocalist Maximilian Klimko  – but there’s also some ongoing contention and debate as to whether it constitutes an entirely new band, or simply a name change for an existing entity choosing to go in a new direction.

Either way though, it’s very, very good. Continue reading »

Feb 152019


Most of the installments of the list this week have been genre-focused, moving from shades and phases of black metal, to doom, to technical death metal. Today’s installment also focuses on death metal, but of three very different kinds.

To check out this week’s previous installments of this still-expanding list, and all the others, you’ll find them behind this link, and to learn what this series is all about, go here.


The first formulation of death metal in today’s installment happens to be a song we premiered last year from the debut album of this new group, whose impressive line-up consists of Jonny Petterson (Wombbath, Ursinne, Henry Kane, Pale King), who was responsible for the music and its production, and vocalist Ralf Hauber (Revel In Flesh), with Erik Bevenrud (Down Among the Dead Men) as the session drummer. To add to those names, Matt Moliti (Sentient Horror) performed guitar solos on three tracks, and Håkan Stuvemark (Wombbath, Pale King) soloed on two others. Continue reading »

Feb 152019


In the most rudimentary sense, split releases provide a vehicle for the participating bands to each release new songs in between more extensive releases of their own music, while allowing listeners the chance to sample the works of more than one band at a time. But of course there’s no assurance that the combination of songs from different projects in a single release will do any more than that. Whether the songs actually complement each other, and combine in a way that creates a holistic listening experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts, is a very different issue.

The split release we’re premiering today, entitled Vortex, is one that does go beyond a mere bolting together of singles from more than one group. The two up-and-coming black metal bands who are involved — Ophidian Coil from Serbia and Septuagint from Greece — do not follow identical paths in the music you’ll find here, but there is a “chemistry” between them. The songs of each band, though different in their strategies, exhibit a kind of “spiritual” union in which the different dimensions of Luciferian sound combine in a way that creates a near-30-minute experience that’s immersive — and chilling.

We invite you to listen to these four songs below, an opportunity that coincides with the release of Vortex by Deathhammer Records. And of course we have some thoughts about the music to share as well. Continue reading »

Feb 152019


(DGR reviews the new album by the now-larger-than-life Greek black metal band Rotting Christ, which is being released today by Season of Mist.)

If at this point in their career Rotting Christ have decided to be the AC/DC of anti-religious heavy metal then I am all for it, even if it just boils down to me having an easier time explaining why I enjoy the songcraft that the band have been up to for so many years now.

To say that they’ve found a sound would be putting it politely; Rotting Christ not only found a sound, but they also basically defined it and then later let it define them. Especially in more recent years they have basically shifted from being a fire-fueled black metal nightmare into an almost Hollywood-esque war-drums-and-all hybrid of martial rhythms, ’70s prog guitar influences, and the straightforward guitar stomp and lead work that has made them so insanely catchy over the years. The group’s latest disc, The Heretics, is a giant block of that specific sound. Continue reading »

Feb 142019


There’s probably someone out there who was thinking, “Is this list STILL not finished? It’s the middle of fuckin’ February — when is that lunatic going to stop?” And then that someone saw the title of this installment and thought, “Oh wow. Didn’t realize he hadn’t gotten to Obscura or Soreption yet. I guess it’s okay if he goes on for a bit longer.”


All of us here were big, big fans of Obscura’s latest album Diluvium — and it seems like everyone else who listened to it felt the same way. In his review, Andy recognized it as “the culmination of a decade’s worth of work and growth by this ever-evolving entity” and considered it home to “some of the most nuanced and natural-sounding songs of the band’s career” — “another win for Obscura, as well as a more than fitting conclusion to their epic endeavour” (it eventually made Andy’s list of the year’s Great albums).

For his part, DGR (in his year-end write-up) also thought the album was great — “predictably dense, but not in the stuffed-to-the-gills way that a lot of tech-death albums have been, but more because this was an album that really saw Obscura exploring their chosen sound” — and gave it a very high recommendation. Continue reading »

Feb 142019


When we encounter new music, it is the quality of the compositions and performances that always comes first, and remains paramount, but when a new release has been conceived and crafted with a deep guiding aesthetic that permeates the spirit of the music and the lyrics in a heartfelt way, especially when that aesthetic is an unusual one, it inspires even greater admiration. That’s what we have before us in Empyrée, the superb new EP by the French black metal duo Cénotaphe (multi-instrumentalist Fog and vocalist Khaosgott).

We have learned that in creating this new work, Cénotaphe drew inspiration from “a constellation of 19th-century French literary and artistic figures, such as Aloysius Bertrand, Théophile Gautier, Charles Beaudelaire, and the painter Odilon Redon,” but most especially from the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé. As I am unfamiliar with Mallarmé’s writing, I’ll quote from the press materials announcing this new EP: Continue reading »

Feb 142019


Happy Valentine’s Day. Here’s a bouquet of black roses for you. Careful with the thorns.

I had originally planned to post this round-up yesterday but ran out of time, so most of the songs and videos I’ve selected have been out in the wild for a couple of days. But you still might have missed them, so I’m forging ahead anyway.

The number of items in this collection is also large enough that normally I would have divided it into a two-part post, but I was so pleased with the stylistic variety represented in what I’d chosen that I decided to keep it all together in one place. Just take a deep breath (or maybe hyperventilate), and try to get through all of it — I bet you’ll find at least one new song you’ll really enjoy.


In not much more than three months from now, NCS will present the third annual edition of Northwest Terror Fest in Seattle. We announced the full three-day line-up on New Year’s Day, but of course, as always seems to happen, since then we’ve had a few bands drop out due to circumstances beyond our own control. One of those was scheduled to headline a night at one of the two main stages, but we got lucky and were able to secure a great replacement — Virginia’s Inter Arma, who happen to have a new album coming our way this spring. Continue reading »

Feb 142019


On a superficial level, the title of Wired Anxiety‘s song “Heavily Sedated” is ironic, because, as you’ll soon discover if you haven’t heard the song before, there’s nothing sedated about the music or about the effect it will produce on your nervous system. In fact, the opposite is true. Among the antonyms for “sedated” are “aggravated”, “agitated”, “disturbed”, and “excited”. Some or all of those adjectives would be suitable.

And so, while the title of the song makes sense in the context of the narrative portrayed by Wired Anxiety‘s EP, The Delirium of Negation — which revolves around the concept of mind-controlling monsters who develop a race of subservient humans — as a piece of death metal the track might have been more accurately titled “Heavily Excited” (or any of those other words, but “heavily” definitely belongs as well).

The Delirium of Negation, which includes this song as one of four, was released in 2016, but to help spread the word about it and about Wired Anxiety, today we’re premiering, as a Valentine’s Day present for lovers of death metal, a guitar playthrough video of the track that features the performance of guitarist Naval Katoch. Continue reading »

Feb 142019


(Andy Synn prepared this trio of album reviews, catching up on recommended albums from last year.)

With a small (and rapidly closing) window in my schedule of upcoming reviews/releases, I’ve decided now is the perfect opportunity to cover three artists/albums from last year that, for various reasons, I didn’t get a chance to cover at the time.

So, without further ado… Continue reading »

Feb 132019


Yesterday I leaned into black metal in adding to this list, and today I’m favoring doom — though these two songs are very different formulations of misery and gloom, both beautiful in their own way, and both emotionally wrenching, but there are at least as many differences as similarities. And of course I think both of them are intensely memorable.


The new Majestic Downfall album was one I eagerly anticipated, and eagerly embraced once I heard it. As I wrote in a review on the day it became available for full streaming in early December, the four long songs of doom/death and one brief interlude that make up Waters of Fate are staggeringly intense and atmospherically immersive, and the melodies are powerfully alluring, but the music should also appeal to listeners with a taste for crushing heaviness and soul-splintering sorrow. There is tear-stained beauty to be found in the music, and passages of epic yet bleak grandeur, but this is an album that will dash your fondest hopes and smother your budding joys in their crib. Continue reading »