Apr 192019


Just two days ago, in introducing another premiere, I remarked that 2019 was shaping up to be a banner year for medieval black metal. In the forefront of my mind when I wrote that was this extraordinary album by Grylle. It’s not the only example I had in mind, but it stands in front. And perhaps paradoxically, an album that has proven to be one of the best of any genre I’ve heard this year (or likely will hear), in the midst of so much metallic extremity, is one performed almost entirely with acoustic instruments — and very old ones at that.

Les Grandes Compagnies is not stingy in its sharing of marvels either. It presents 11 tracks and more than an hour of music. Becoming immersed in it is quite easy. Leaving it behind 65 minutes later is very difficult. In some ways it’s like a time-traveling journey many centuries into the past, but not exactly like that. Rather than a pathway into a long-gone world that once did exist, it’s perhaps more like being transported into a world of the imagination, an ingenious hybrid of the ancient and the modern that exists only there. Continue reading »

Apr 192019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Swiss metal band Xaon, which was released on April 12th by Mighty Music.)

Somewhere along the way we’ve developed a bit of a reputation here at NCS as a site that primarily covers Black Metal (I suppose the fact that my last three reviews were for Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Skald In Veum, and Mephorash might have contributed to that a little).

So, despite the fact that I’m currently in Norway, the home of Black Metal, I decided it was about time to write about something of a less corpse-painted colour, in this case the new album from Swiss Symphonic Melodeath maestros Xaon. Continue reading »

Apr 192019


The Toronto-based black metal band Panzerfaust are about to embark on a very ambitious project. With their fourth album, The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War, they will begin a planned tetralogy of full-length releases devoted to some of history’s most awful events. This first chapter in that monumental effort, which will be released by Eisenwald on June 14th, takes as its subject matter many terrible occurrences of the past century, creating a synthesis that mirrors a vision of the future described by George Orwell as “a boot stamping on a human face forever”.

Today we bring you the first advance track from War, Horrid War, a song of punishing physical power and brain-mangling intensity, yet one that proves to be as spellbinding as it is titanically ravaging. The band describe the inspiration for the song’s name, “The Day After Trinity“, in these words: Continue reading »

Apr 192019


This is a song dominated by two powerful voices, one male, one female. As you see and hear the lyrics in this video, you can interpret their interaction as a dramatic conversation that indeed happens on the edge of an abyss — one voice bitter, resigned, and hopeless, and the other offering earnest encouragement to go on. The hard-hearted among us may dismiss the encouragement as too earnest, and find the bitter resignation more familiar and realistic. But the music and the voices are so emotionally powerful that perhaps they will pierce even the hardest of hearts.

Obviously, that’s what happened to me, or you wouldn’t be seeing this premiere at our site. And it happened even though — or more accurately becauseMarianna Laba‘s soprano voice is so clean and pure, which of course makes the song (in part) an exception to the “rule” in our site’s banner. It’s only an exception in part because that other voice is harsh and harrowing — and gargantuan in its gravelly tone. Continue reading »

Apr 182019


(On April 11th our Atlanta-based contributor Tør returned to The Masquerade venue to take in Finnish-heavy performances by Children of Bodom, Swallow the Sun, Wolfheart, and local openers Summoner’s Circle. He sent us this report, along with a large batch of his own excellent photos from the show, most of which appear after the review.)

The traffic makes me want to ditch my car in the middle of I-75 and move to Europe. I get to The Masquerade customarily late but manage to catch a bit of the openers, Summoner’s Circle.

On their Facebook page the Knoxville outfit describe themselves as “a six-piece theatrical metal band that blends elements of doom, death, black and progressive metal into what they refer to as simply Epic Metal”. While genre-blending is not my cup of tea, I am pleasantly surprised by the solid display on stage. These guys are serious about what they do and the costumes and imagery match the grandiose sound they produce. Check out their first full-length, Tome, if you haven’t already done so. Continue reading »

Apr 182019


In October 2017 we premiered a demo named Astral Necrosis by the Italian band Devoid of Thought, whose name I thought would also describe the mental state of listeners exposed to the demo’s three tracks. The music was a whipsawing amalgam of death metal and thrash, with the kind of blazing instrumental performances and brain-spinning intricacy that might lead one to slap a “progressive” label on the ingredients as well — except the music seemed too maniacal and vicious for that word. It was insanely good, and also just insane.

Now Devoid of Thought are returning with a new EP, which proves to be just as severely destabilizing and perhaps even more ghoulishly fascinating than Astral Necrosis. Entitled Cosmic Apoptosis, it will be released on April 19th — tomorrow! — by Caligari Records, but we’ve got a full stream for you today. For those who’ve encountered  the earlier demo, you’ll have a decent idea of what’s coming. The following paragraphs are for everyone else — because it would just be cruel to expose newcomers to these three tracks without some kind of warning. Continue reading »

Apr 182019


Roughly 18 months ago I came across Saudade, the debut album of a French atmospheric black metal band who call themselves Cepheide. Though commenting about only the album’s first advance track here, I found that it was very easy to get caught up in the music’s wrenching passion, and to get carried away as it rocketed toward a glorious crescendo. Its atmosphere was a mix of depressiveness and delirium, an experience both mortifying and majestic, with a swirling, intense, symphonic melody that glimmered and soared, and rising choral voices mixed with scalding rasps.

The album as a whole proved to be just as gripping, and so it was exciting to learn that Cepheide would be participating in a new split release, especially because the other band on the split, Time Lurker, had also proved through their 2017 self-titled debut album to be such a formidable new force. We’ve already paid attention to one of Time Lurker‘s new tracks on the split, and today we get to present Cepheide‘s contribution, a thoroughly engrossing song called “Lucide“, in advance of the split’s release by Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions on May 3rd. Continue reading »

Apr 182019


The last time I posted a round-up of new music (here) was 15 days ago. At the time I had 10 new songs I wanted to recommend, and no logical way to arrange them, given the diversity of the sounds, other than in alphabetical order by band name.  I got through five bands in the A-M range, with every intention of posting a second installment of five in the M-Z range by the next day. That didn’t happen, and I didn’t get it done by the end of that week, or the next week either, and now it’s Thursday of this week. My fucking day job has been killing me lately.

Of course, a ton more songs have been released in the last 15 days, but I’ve decided to stick with my original plan and finish that selection of 10 that I started more than two weeks ago, even though the music is no longer “hot off the presses”. I have made one change, because one of the songs I had chosen for the second group of five (by Misotheist) coincidentally wound up in eiterorm’s guest edition of SHADES OF BLACK last Sunday, so I made a substitution. Continue reading »

Apr 172019


Five notes, one minute, a medley of blast-beats, and scorching vocal fury. Those are the key ingredients to “Useless Fake“, though the impact is far greater than such a simple description might suggest. But there’s something else about the song that’s almost equally important, and that’s its historical significance — so let’s begin there.

Useless Fake” first appeared on Expect the Worst, the first EP and second release overall by the Bay Area band Antagony, who became one of the pioneers of deathcore, integrating elements of death metal, grind, and hardcore in ways that really hadn’t been done before. After a decade of making music (from 1999-2009), the group disbanded, and its members went on to form or join such bands as Oblivion, All Shall Perish, Hacksaw to the Throat, Suffokate, Oblige, Misericordiam, Connoisseur, and more.

But now Antagony has risen from the ashes, with a line-up that includes all original members from that first decade of the band’s existence, and they’ve recorded a new album named… Ashes. The album includes new recordings of a selection of tracks that all date back to demos and EPs released from 1998-2000, and the title track, which is brand new. But even the old songs sound new, in part because the performances have now been executed by a veteran group of musicians, and in part because of the power of the production.

Antagony are unveiling one new song every week, concluding with the title track “Ashes” on the day of their album release/comeback show May 25, 2019, at the Oakland Metro Operahouse, and we’re happily presenting this week’s new song — that righteous blast named “Endless Fake“. Continue reading »

Apr 172019


2019 is shaping up to be a banner year for medieval black metal. For those who are paying attention, it’s also proving the diversity of that particular sub-genre of music as different bands interweave strains of ancient melody from different parts of Europe into their compositions in different ways, and using different instruments, some very old and some modern.

The Spanish band Calyx will certainly be among the front rank of what 2019 has to offer to fans of medieval black metal — or fans of black metal of any stripe, for that matter — through their debut album Vientos Arcaicos, which will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on May 17th. Their inspirations are described as “firmly entrenched in the Middle Ages, sweeping across the native legends of the Iberian Peninsula as well as castles, ruins, Aragonese Pyrenees, and decrepitude”, but they have channeled those inspirations in melodically memorable black metal of tremendous power and emotional intensity — as you shall discover through our premiere of a track from the new album called “La Sima“. Continue reading »