May 052021

(The long-awaited debut album from Italian Black/Death duo Hadit is set for release this Friday via Sentient Ruin/Caligari Records, and Andy Synn has volunteered to act as Virgil on this journey into the inferno)

After my shameless flirtation with – dare I say it – the “mainstream” (ok, not really, but you know what I mean) earlier this week, it’s high time I got back to the underground, the underdogs, and the underappreciated.

And what better way to do so than with a quick look at the long-awaited, soon-to-be-released, debut album from Italian Death-duo Hadit, whose elaborately titled new album conjures up a sound that is distinctly more occult and “old school” in demeanour and delivery than that of the band’s more popular and blast-happy contemporaries/countrymen?

Continue reading »

May 052021


Those of us who toil at this site draw pleasure from what we do in many ways, but perhaps the most fun comes from presenting explosive surprises — helping to spread the word about new, unheralded bands whose appearance turns out to be something like a big meteor blazing through a night sky. And that’s exactly what we have for you today, in our premiere of the debut EP of the multi-state U.S. band Empty Throne in advance of its release this coming Friday by Wise Blood Records.

This EP, Glossolalia, really is a spectacular experience, one that’s perhaps best enjoyed after hyperventilating, because you may need the extra oxygen. In a nutshell (to borrow the label’s words), “this is hellish and ornate blackened death metal with thrashing rhythms and an epic scope”. It draws upon “the violent propulsion of ‘80s thrash, the agile savagery of death metal circa 1994, with Gothenburg adornments and rabid vocals”, blended with an ambitious scope and the dark atmospherics of late-stage black metal.

And it must also be said that the high-speed instrumental pyrotechnics are likely to find fans among devotees of technical death metal too. Continue reading »

May 052021


It would seem like a paradox to most people (though not to many of the fiends who visit our site) that music which violently and ruthlessly assaults the senses can fuel a feeling of outlandish fun (as well as triggering a big discharge of adrenaline).

When riotous, high-speed brutalization is inflicted with no care for restraint or mercy, it can become terrifically exhilarating rather than repellant — at least when the experience is created by technically skilled executioners and diabolical songwriters. Even better when it becomes apparent that subtle structures and seductive accents exist within the explosive chaos, so that you feel the compulsion to have the experience again and again — and find even more to like about it with each renewal.

All of that is true in the case of “L’Abomination“, the song we’re premiering today from the forthcoming third album by Nephren-Ka, From Agony To Transcendence, which will be released by Dolorem Records on June 25th. Continue reading »

May 052021


(We welcome NF, a new contributor to NCS. He has brought us the following interview of Fredrik Söderberg of the Swedish band DAWN, who should need no introduction, as well as lots of photos, some of which are being published for the first time.)

Fredrik, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It is an absolute pleasure to be having this conversation with you. Let’s go back to the very origin of DAWN. How, where, when, and why did DAWN come to be?

-Fredrik rehearsing-

Fredrik: Thanks for your support. It’s an honor to have this conversation with you today, I really appreciate it! Continue reading »

May 042021

(For his first post of the week, Andy Synn takes aim at three of last month’s most sacred cows… but is he here to slaughter them, or just give them a little push?)

Last month saw the release of several new albums from some pretty big and (in)famous names (well, in Metal terms at least) and a resultant storm of press and PR both leading up to and following on from these releases.

And, to be honest, I wasn’t sure whether it was really worth us commenting on them. After all, they’re all well past the point where write-ups and reviews are going to have any sort of major impact on album sales, and have reached a stage in their careers where the fans are going to praise, and the haters are going to hate, no matter what.

Case in point, I’ve seen people calling the new Cannibal Corpse album “boring” even as others declare that it “pushes the Death Metal genre forward” (it doesn’t, but it’s far from “boring”), I’ve read posts claiming that Gojira are either “just a generic groove-metal act” or “the greatest band of the century” (they’re neither, as it happens), and observed several sites giving the latest Vreid a perfect 10/10 score (c’mon guys, it’s good, but do you really think it’s on the level of, say, Master of Puppets or are you just spitting hype because you know it gets clicks?).

That being the case, however, I still feel like there’s a place for a more measured and “objective” analysis of each of these releases, one which doesn’t exist just to confirm the pre-existing prejudices of its readers, which is why I decided to step up to the plate, take one for the team, and attempt to bring a little bit of balance to the force, by reviewing them all myself.

Continue reading »

May 042021


Like a certain other band whose music was the subject of a premiere today, The Flight of Sleipnir is one we’ve been following for a long time as they’ve accumulated a substantial and increasingly impressive discography. In a feature more than six years ago devoted to their first four albums (created when the band was a duo, bound together by a clear and passionate love of heavy metal, heartfelt melody, and heroic Norse folklore), our Andy Synn characterized the music as a distinctive amalgam “whose earth-shaking, doomy power and sombre, progressive inclinations incorporate binding threads of folk-inflected melody and slithering strands of blackened fury”, while making room for “lengthy acoustic passages and folkish murmurations”.

In our review of the fifth album, V, Andy noted (here) that the songs were, on average, “longer and more intricate than on previous albums, with a greater sense of light and shade than ever before, their hidden depths and subtle secrets concealed beneath waves of gleaming melody and brilliant metallic clarity”. And their sixth album, 2017’s sublime Skadi, only enhanced the strength of the band’s reputation for crafting richly textured, dynamically nuanced, and stylistically diverse conglomerations of massive heaviness, acoustic serenity, and much, much more in between.

And thus we’ve been eagerly awaiting The Flight of Sleipnir’s seventh album, Eventide, which is now calendared for release by Eisenwald on May 28th. From that album, we’re proud to premiere its second advance track, “Servitude“, and to bring you a brief interview with guitarist/bassist Clayton Cushman. Continue reading »

May 042021


Withered‘s Verloren, which is now set for release in June by Season of Mist Underground Activists, is one of the albums we named earlier in the year as among our most anticipated 2021 releases. It follows 2016’s Grief Relic (reviewed here), which we hailed as one of the best albums of that year. And that frighteningly superb album in turn followed three previous full-lengths collectively reviewed here in a report that attempted to sum up their sound as “blending the raving savagery of Black Metal, with the wrenching heaviness of Death Metal, and the slime-drenched grooves of Sludge, each one bathed in a scalding miasma of acid-rain atmospherics and bleak, bitter misanthropy.”

In a nutshell, we are big fans.

But the eager anticipation we have felt for Verloren isn’t simply a function of how phenomenal Withered‘s track record has been over a career that’s now entering a third decade. It’s also a matter of intrigue, because Withered have most definitely followed the beat of their own contrarian drummer, and the beat changes, in thought-provoking and sometimes confounding ways, while the constantly genre-bending music nevertheless continues to hit home with tremendous visceral and emotional power. Continue reading »

May 032021


There may be only two succinct statements that it’s possible to make about Kosmodemonic‘s new album: The first is that it’s not possible to sum up the music succinctly. The second is that the music is really damned good!

The reason that attempting to capture what this New York group have achieved on Liminal Light is so tough is that the songs are so multi-faceted. Even if you knew nothing about the line-up, it quickly becomes evident in listening to the album that their inspirations are manifold and their tastes eclectic (even if they seem to share a pretty grim world-view). One prominent hint of that comes from the comment we received from James Rauh of Transylvanian Recordings, who will be releasing this new album on May 7th: Continue reading »

May 032021


The French band Ascète have drawn their inspiration from Peirigòrd Nègre in the southwest of France, an area described as one that presents the grim face of a forgotten and forlorn countryside marked by ruined minor landmarks, where an aging populus of “small, poor people of the rural lands slowly die in the shadow of indifference of big cities’ administrations”. We are told that this miserable area is also home to a dark and strange folklore, which has provided lyrical inspiration to the band as well.

How has this French foursome translated these inspirations into sound? The answers are revealed in a debut album named Calamites & les Calamités, which is set for international digital release on May 28 (with physical editions on slightly different dates) by one of our favorite labels, Antiq Records. One hint of what the album holds for listeners has been provided through the release of a song called “Courroux du Lébérou“, and today we present another through our premiere of “La Lanterne du Mort“. Continue reading »

May 032021


Part 2 of this week’s Shades of Black isn’t as voluminous as Part 1 was. I had two objectives in making it: First, to give some early attention to a four-way split many of us have been eagerly awaiting for a very long time; and second, to follow through in recommending an album I had originally intended to include in Part 2 of last week’s column, but had to cut because I ran out of time.


The long-awaited split is SamaeLilith: A Conjunction of the Fireborn, and it combines the prodigious talents of four groups we’ve been writing about with admiration for years: Thy Darkened Shade (Greece), Amestigon (Austria), Inconcessus Lux Lucis (UK), and Shaarimoth (Norway). It will be released on June 30th by W.T.C. Productions.

Each band contributed multiple tracks to the split, ranging from three to five, for a total of more than an hour and a half of music spread across 15 songs. Although I’ve been fortunate to recently receive the complete album, this isn’t something I want to rush into just in order to publish one of the first reviews. Just counting the minutes alone, there’s a lot to take in, and if past is prologue, one hurried listen to what these bands have done here won’t do their efforts justice either. Continue reading »