Nov 192019


You may have noticed that last week we announced the beginning of our annual LISTMANIA extravaganza. For those of you new to this orgy, our LISTMANIA blockbuster comes in four parts:

First, we re-print assorted lists of the year’s best albums, leeched from other big web sites and magazines, like the one last week from DECIBEL, which always seems to become the starting gun. Second, we will provide a post in which our readers can share their lists of the 2019 albums and shorter releases they enjoyed the most (we’ll be asking for those on December 2nd, so get ready). Third, we post the year-end lists of our own staff and assorted guest writers. And fourth, I’ll roll out my list of the year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

And that last list is the subject of this request for help.

In case you’ve become an NCS reader since this time last year, here’s what this Most Infectious Song list is all about: Continue reading »

Nov 192019


Not all bands or their recordings immediately spring forth fully formed like Minerva from the brow of Jupiter. The album we’re presenting today, for example, is the culmination of creative work that began 13 years ago in an ancient mountain village in the northwest of Sardinia. Then and there, Nicola Piras began writing music as a one-man project. Over the many years that followed, he searched for and finally found a stable line-up of fellow musicians, and together under the name Ganondorf they recorded this debut album, Ancient Ruins, which will be released by Third I Rex through its affiliate Imperatrix Mundi Records on November 30th, along with Slava Satan Records, Nothing Left Records, and LiveviL Records. Based on what we hear, we can only hope that this long-coming first step will be followed by many more.

Ganondorf’s style of black metal is often explosive and ravaging, ferocious and furious. At its foundation are Nicola Piras‘ blazing blastbeats, thunderous double-bass fusillades, titanic kitwork detonations, and rapidly somersaulting fills. But rather than rely entirely on turbocharged assaults, he mixes in a variety of neck-snapping rock rhythms that amplify the head-moving grooves that regularly surface in these songs. And with Piras‘ riveting drumwork (paired an equally fleet and fiery bass performance by Matteo Usai) as the music’s propulsion, guitarists Giovanni Murgia and Riccardo Chessa weave a changing array of seductive and shattering melodies, while Alessandro Ventura‘s scorching vocals amplify the songs’ intense emotional power. Continue reading »

Nov 192019


(On November 22nd Nuclear Blast will release the debut album of the British band Strigoi, and today we presentt DGR’s review of the album.)

Gregor Mackintosh‘s newest project Strigoi is an interesting proposition: Even though his previous project Vallenfyre exists no more, having released three excellent albums and then neatly wrapping things up, Strigoi sees Greg Mackintosh once again reuniting with one of his Vallenfyre friends in order to release more doom-infused death metal, fully divorced from the gothic melodrama of Paradise Lost.

Abandon All Faith comes packed with music, weighing in at eleven songs and an intro track and all of it some of the weightiest and sometimes dirtiest death metal that the group could muster. If there were an award for crushing by sonic weight via guitar tone, Strigoi could easily find itself in the running, as the whole album is filled with cacophonous bellowing and hefty guitar riffs that make every song feel astronomically heavier than they otherwise would have been.

Ostensibly launched as a project for the crew to explore more facets of heavy metal music than what they felt they were able to do in Vallenfyre, Strigoi still keeps it pretty close to home on Abandon All Faith. It’s a huge album wherein the experimentation comes largely in the different atmosphere the band try to portray across their twelve songs, and although there is a strain of familiarity that runs throughout Abandon All Faith, hearing the group still manage to create a suffocatingly heavy brick of death metal remains an exciting experience. Continue reading »

Nov 192019


(The Montréal black metal band Ossuaire released two related albums this year through Sepulchral Productions, one in April and one in October, and Andy Synn reviews both of them here.)

Imitation, so they say, is the sincerest form of flattery.

Whereas innovation is one of the prime forms of creativity.

In between these two poles, however, is iteration, and that’s where most artists ply their trade, building upon what has come before, taking bits and pieces of their influences for themselves.

This is particularly true in Black Metal, where the form of the music, the integral demands of shape and structure, play a decisive role in making it what it is. And while that doesn’t preclude bands from totally innovating on the concept, the truth is that there’s only so far you can go, so much you can innovate, before you stop playing Black Metal at all.

Ossuaire clearly know this, and know it well. And, as such, their music is not about breaking the mould or reinventing the wheel, but about striving to capture the purest essence of Black Metal in all its grimly grandiose, mercilessly melodic glory. Continue reading »

Nov 182019


At least within the realms of extreme metal, Iceland is probably best known these days for black metal, with that charred chalice being carried high by a surprisingly large number of bands (many with interlocking line-ups) for such a small nation. But other cauldrons of musical extremity boil within the stark, dramatic landscapes of that remarkable country, and we get the sense that even across genres, bands set standards for each other to meet and surmount, if they can. That may be one reason why Iceland’s musical output has been so consistently good, despite the relatively small population.

As evidence that black metal isn’t the only exceptional music coming out of Iceland these days, today we’re presenting a full stream of the self-titled debut album by a group called Vofa, who with this release should make a rapid ascent toward the higher plateaus of funeral doom — even though the music itself seems like a horrifying descent into madness.

We present this complete stream on the day of Vofa’s release by Funere (Armenia) and Exhumed Records (Ecuador), and so you won’t have to wait to pick it up. And you won’t have to guess about whether it’s worth having. Continue reading »

Nov 182019


Mount Soratte is a limestone mountain ridge roughly 45 km north of Rome. No less an authority than Virgil identified Apollo as its guardian deity, and in another age the mountain was used by ancient Italic and Etruscan peoples as a sacred place for for the worship of Soranus and then Apollo Soranus. The worshippers were firewalkers and were referred to as Hirpi Sorani (the “wolves of Soranus”). And it is this ancient fire cult that is the subject of the debut album of the formidable Italian black metal cult Comando Praetorio.

The name of the album is Ignee Sacertà Ctonie, which itself refers to fire and to the mysticism of the underworld, whose gods were also linked to the rituals on Mount Soratte. The music is in keeping with the album’s thematic inspirations, creating an array of dramatic sensations that are mystical and profound, ominous and dire, melancholy and doom-stricken, and — of course — incendiary.

We have already commented about the first strike from the album, a song called “Barbarie della Pietà” that was released in October, and now we present another one of the album’s four substantial tracks, this one named “Pire di Ere Incenerite“, as we approach the December 13 release of the album by ATMF. Continue reading »

Nov 182019

(In this new interview Comrade Aleks presents a discussion with Pim van Dijk, bassist of the Dutch band Façade, whose new concept album The Eternal Dance will be released on November 29th.)

Dordrecht, South Holland, seems to be a nice place: a lot of ancient buildings, museums, and a National Park alongside swamps in the vicinity… Façade was founded there in 2011, and since then the guys have performed their depressive and quite intricate doom/death metal. At least we could tell that in 2017 when they released their debut full-length Loathe, and now the gents have new material, and things turn to be even more complex.

Façade’s forthcoming album The Eternal Dance not only shows development of the ideas they represented two years ago, but this album also has a thoughtful concept and a more varied sonic palette, as these compositions sound richer and naturally deeper than Loathe. The band grows, it’s good…

Why not discuss these topics with one of its members? Pim van Dijk (bass) is on duty today. Continue reading »

Nov 172019


As promised earlier, Part 2 of today’s column collects music that, for want of a better word, is more demonic than what I chose for Part 1. It also includes music from four obscure bands whose music I had never heard before this past week — mainly because these are their first releases. But before I get to those, I’m beginning with something new from an old favorite.


I have very fond memories of the 2018 album Lightbringer by the Finnish group Black Royal, and in particular of a song called “The Chosen” that I put on our list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs for that year. I didn’t expect we’d have another album so soon, but that seems to be the case.

Word is, that an album named Firebride will be out on February 14, 2020, via Suicide Records. And on November 1st the band premiered an occult-themed pagan video (here) for an advance track (which has been released as a true single) called “Pagan Saviour“. Continue reading »

Nov 172019


I have a lot to cover today, not counting a big stack of new albums I might mention by way of excerpts tomorrow, as I did last week, so by way of introduction I’ll say only that I grouped the two sets of songs in these two Parts in a purposeful way. Here, there’s a lot of heart-rending distress to be found (among other things). For the most part, what will come in Part 2 is much more… demonic.


For more than a decade, Harakiri For the Sky‘s vocalist J.J. has maintained a solo project named Karg, whose discography will soon include a seventh album entitled Trakat. The first single, “Irgendjemand wartet immer“, was released a few days ago. I think it’s best introduced through J.J.‘s comments about the album as a whole: Continue reading »

Nov 162019


It was another one of those weeks when I didn’t have enough time for a round-up of new music. I started working on the one you’re about to read last Tuesday, hoping to post it on Wednesday, which of course I didn’t, and Thursday and Friday were failures, too. Since I began working on it, many other worthy new songs have debuted, but rather than spend time assessing those and revising/expanding this round-up, I’m just leaving it as originally conceived.


The digital version of Enslaved’s most recent album, 2017’s E, included a bonus track, which wasn’t part of the promo we received in advance of the album’s release, or on the vinyl edition. Looks like the bonus song was also included on most of the CD editions of the record. I never heard it until last Tuesday, when it became the subject of a video that Nuclear Blast released as a way of celebrating Enslaved’s re-signing with that label for whatever they do next. Now I can’t get this song out of my head. Continue reading »