Oct 112013
 

(Andy Synn offers some thoughts, and some questions, about why we do what we do here. The artwork above is a new piece by Sam Nelson, and it’s here not because it resembles Andy Synn but because I like it.)

Something that comes up occasionally, both online and out in the real world, is the question of what a review is really for? What is it trying to achieve… what is the point… heck, why even bother?

So I thought it might be interesting to put down a few thoughts about why we here at NCS – or at least, me personally, since I’m not aiming to speak for anyone else really – do bother writing, blogging, and putting our thoughts and opinions out there.

Although I’ve had this column in my head in a vague form for a while now, just recently a couple of (minor) incidents have helped me start to crystallise this question of who/what we are writing for, who our audience might be, and – notably – who our audience definitely isn’t.

 

First there was an amusing post on Raunchy’s wall where a particular gentleman stated – unequivocally – “Wow. I really hate reviews. Dumb. Oh well he needed something to write.”

I’m going to assume, by his tone (condescending and superior) and by the fact that he “hates” reviews (and really dude, you “hate” reviews? Seems a tad over the top), that this guy didn’t bother to read the actual blog post/s in question. But he DID take time out of his day to post on something specifically linking TO a review, in order to call DGR “dumb” for writing about a band of which they both are clearly fans. Something about that just doesn’t seem to add up in my mind.

Oh sure, there are blogs and magazines out there who have given the “art of the review” (see what I did there?) a bad name. Taking kickbacks, showing obvious (and shameless) bias, etc. But that shouldn’t sully the simple idea of reviewing and analysing an album. And I certainly don’t think it means that any reasonable, intelligent person should start to “hate” reviews in general.

The second incident came only yesterday when Skeletonwitch reposted about BadWolf’s (very positive) review of their album. Some ignorant pri… opinionated party decided to let us know, in a thinly veiled attack, (which may have been provoked by a comment about Ohio in the excerpt from the review that Skeletonwitch included with the link) that we weren’t worth reading because he’d never heard of us. And, in fact, he wouldn’t bother anyway, because he buys Skeletonwitch cds just because they’re Skeletonwitch cds.

The fact that he’s never heard of us means he’s quite literally not part of our audience (which, from the various bands he name-checked, is probably a good thing), but he really seemed to take the idea of someone reviewing the album as a personal affront. Maybe he’s one of those over-invested people who identifies with a band to an unhealthy level… but seriously… it was a positive review, and the band took time to repost and reference it. Surely that means something?

Really, people seem to get easily offended by absolutely nothing (and I’m sure that’s no surprise to you!) – several of them seem to interpret any review as a personal attack on their own taste… even when it supports them and agrees with them!

Sometimes it really seems that people resent reviews and reviewers purely because they themselves haven’t been given the same platform to express their opinions. Anything that comes from a different perspective is demonised. These people won’t take the time to read a review – certainly not ones of the length that ours can be anyway – and simply react based on their own misconceived perceptions!

But these people aren’t our audience. If nothing else, Facebook has helped make that very clear. It’s always interesting to observe the variety of reactions and comments that appear whenever a band reposts something we’ve written, and there’s definitely a sense where we can predict the reactions of certain types of people.

What I’m really interested in though is what the people who DO come to the site – whether frequently or just occasionally – think. How they, how you, feel about what we write, and the way that we work here.

I can tell you now that we don’t write articles and reviews in order to prove ourselves in any way superior to anyone else. It would be incredibly pitiful if our self-image and self-esteem were tied up in some faceless internet opinion sharing (though we appreciate each and every person who takes time to read and engage with our work – it validates, if nothing else, the effort and the purpose behind our writing).

We write because we enjoy it, and we think it serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things. But that purpose is defined (to a certain extent) by our audience – by how you engage with, and respond to, what we write. Otherwise we’re just screaming at a wall.

Personally I write reviews (and in this I’ll include each edition of The Synn Report as well) in order to promote bands and albums that I love, to induce people to give them the time and effort they deserve, and perhaps to help put people in the right mindframe for their listening.

For me the writing and the music go hand in hand – the music dictates what I write, and the writing should then give people a sense of the music. There’s also something to be said for potentially opening people up to a new way of listening to an album/artist, and exposing them to new interpretations. I can say right now that being exposed to new perspectives has certainly, in the past, opened my eyes to bands I had previously dismissed.

Obviously the two guys mentioned above don’t care about any of this – and thank god they’re not our target audience. I think Islander himself has said, explicitly, that we write for people who WANT to read. People stuck at work, or on the train, who want to kill some time and discover and explore some new music – often without being able to listen to it immediately.

That’s the underlying purpose of our writing. To talk to YOU, the metal fan out there who wants to engage with something, to get involved, to read and react to something written about a subject you love.  And that love for metal – as an art form, as a culture – is something we share. We’re not faceless overlords, trying to tell you what to listen to and what to like. We’re you. You’re us. And because we know what we like, we write in the hope that you’ll like it too.

But if we’re writing for you (and thereby, also writing for ourselves), are we just preaching to the choir? Are we serving any purpose by telling you what you already know? If you like Skeletonwitch you’re probably going to buy the album anyway, regardless of anything we say or try and do about it. So why bother?

I think a big part of it is trying to bring in those on the fringes – the undecided, the unconvinced, those who’ve had a bad experience with the band before – and give them something to chew on, something to think over. Because we think that they’ll like it if they just give it a chance.

Another part of it – and this is something I think NCS strives for more than most other sites I can think of – is that we try to make the writing match the music that inspired it. In expressing the music – and our feelings about it – we might just make other people see something new or different. We might help people, even in a small way, to get the most out of an album. And that’s a rewarding thought. Thus the writing becomes an end in itself – it’s rewarding and illuminating for us to delve into an album in this depth, and hopefully you’ll be carried along with us.

Maybe we are preaching to the choir a bit (though the steady growth of the site seems to suggest we’re doing something right, even without meaning to) – but even that’s important.

So I’d like to end by asking you, our beloved readers, what it is that brings you to the site? What brought you in the first place, and what keeps you coming back? We want to get to know you, just as much as (perhaps) you want to get to know us. The better we know each other, the more we can connect.

  88 Responses to “THE ART OF THE REVIEW: PREACHING TO THE CHOIR?”

  1. The review is an art form for me, and, what’s more, indispensable for finding new music. Of course it’s great to find something on you’re own, but, at least in my mind, it’s equally venerating when someone you trust recommends something new.

    In fact, it’s gotten to the point now where I hardly buy magazines, only one regularly and even the reviews in that particular rag are no way near as good as they used to be.

    In any case, this muppet clearly is a short-sighted gimp with too time on their hands, shouldn’t stop you and the crew from doing what you do best Andy.

    • Thank you for that man. Don’t worry though, comments like that don’t get to us all that much, but they DO get me thinking about who reads our site, who reads other sites, and what people are looking for in their internet metal nerdery!

  2. Well, I love the concept of album reviews and NCS does a goddam good job of it so ignore those that don’t like what you do. I use reviews to help me make buying decisions on new (to me) bands’ CDs, I use reviews to see if known awesome bands are still being awesome, and I even read reviews on albums I already own because I am a nerd like that. The problem with the internet and our culture today is that people are exposed to more than ever and they seem to have lost the ability to just look the other way when they see something they don’t like. No, they feel as though they have to cry about it and try to ruin someone’s day by bitching on their page about it. I’m not saying people shouldn’t dislike stuff, I hate TONS of stuff, but that they should dislike it and carry on. The world doesn’t give a shit that you don’t like something so why bother sharing.

    • “The problem… is that people are exposed to more than ever and they seem to have lost the ability to just look the other way when they see something they don’t like. No, they feel as though they have to cry about it and try to ruin someone’s day by bitching on their page about it.”

      There’s definitely a WHOLE other column in that statement about the sharing of opinions – in this case about metal bands and albums – using the internet, as you lack any sort of filter or concurrent feedback in the way you would in a real conversation. Basically you end up SHOUTING ALL THE TIME LIKE DAVID DRAIMAN TRYING TO VOID YET ANOTHER UNFLATTERING OPINION.

  3. Im not trying to defend “Mr. Opinionated Prick” (because seriously…Miss May I?), but after looking at the comment I get the impression that reading comprehension isnt his strong point. Most of the resentment by him and a couple others seemed to revolve around a misbelief that Badwolf was putting down the Ohio metal scene.

    As for dismissing the review…Id chalk it up to special snowflake syndrome…”I listen to whatever I want and I dont care what others think and everyone needs to know I dont care” (which is clearly true because..The Devil Wears Prada?..Really?)

    As for reviews..in general, I feel like reviews are best used when people have a sense of the reviewers tastes. I think by definition, reviews have to speak to the choir because the only people who are really going to put stock into your reviews are the ones whose tastes align with yours already.
    I, for example, am probably going to ignore reviews posted by someone whose tastes, I know, tend to run towards things like techdeath or brutal death because Ive got no interest in that style…dosnt matter what kind of marks the album itself got, I know his tastes dont appeal to me.

    When it comes to bands Im already a fan of, well I like to read reviews by people with similar tastes because I like to get a feel for how the album holds up against there previous stuff. With so much music out there, if a couple of people I trust are giving it average or even bad marks Im probably more likely to hold off or skip buying the album.

    Now, since negative reviews arent done on NCS, I view the articles here a bit differently. Theyre usually written in an effort to bring attention and convey the writers enthusiasm for some new band or new album. I know when Islander has been cool enough to post some of my guest pieces, Ive done it in the same way Id do it on a message forum…which is “Hey, check out this band, song, album…I think its cool and some of you might as well”. Its about spreading exciment for something we personally are enjoying

    (..sorry about the TL;DR post here)

    • P.S….while I generally dont remember how I stumbled onto the site, I do remember it was Islander’s post asking about Finnish metal bands that first got me posting here.
      I liked the fact that he was willing to post replies in the comment section and that he was generally interested in finding out about more underground bands (unlike a lot of sites that generally ignore the underground or complain about IMN’s posting bands theyve never heard of). The site does a great job balancing the underground acts l tend to enjoy with the more mainstream acts and the people here seem genuinely interested in finding out about and discussing new music. Not just pushing the same names over and over again

      • “I listen to whatever I want and I dont care what others think and everyone needs to know I dont care”

        It is always funny when people go to great lengths to tell you how much they don’t care.

        And I never actually called him an opinionated prick. I’m not vulgar like that.

        I’ve actually been considering suggesting we do a follow-up to Finnish Metal Week, probably a French one.

      • I really loved doing that Finnish Metal Week series. It was a great example of the interaction between writers and readers at this site. It started completely impulsively, and grew from a couple of days worth of posts into something that went on for 2-3 weeks as readers kept suggesting bands and I kept following up on the recommendations. I found so many bands I’d never heard of (as well as genres of metal I’d never paid any attention to).

        I remember doing some similar series about metal from South Africa and North Africa, which were also a lot of fun (for me at least). I’ve fallen into the time-consuming habit since then of trying to find and write about new music every day or two and haven’t done that impromptu kinds of series in a while. Looks like maybe Andy will pick up the ball.

  4. The style of this site, which encourages deep analysis into each song or album presented, and synthesis between various songs and albums in a meaningful way (at least that’s how I define this site), makes this my favorite site by far. If I want to actually talk about metal, and get into a deeper discussion about an album, then I go here, since nearly every other site seems to consist of angry IMNs ready to derail any positive discussion in a heartbeat. The aesthetic of the reviews here at NCS is something I tried to continue when I did a few guest posts a month or two ago, and is something I’m trying to spread in the album reviews I’m now doing for my new job at sdmetal.com (feel free to check them out by the way; so far I’ve reviewed Damnations Day, Death Angel, Sepultura, and Kataklysm, with a Pyrexia review on the way). The NCS side of the metal blogosphere is easily the most comfortable and my favorite, and it’s something I intend to spread with my new gig and in any way I can as time goes on. So don’ apologize for anything, Andy; what you’re doing here works just fine for me.

  5. I write the odd review myself, and this part of your article really struck a chord with me:

    “Personally I write reviews […] in order to promote bands and albums that I love, to induce people to give them the time and effort they deserve, and perhaps to help put people in the right mindframe for their listening.”

    This is the EXACT reason why I do what I do. I’m passionate about the music that I listen to and I want to share that passion with others. It’s also the reason why I visit sites like this one. I know that if you guys think an album is worth listening to, then there’s a strong chance that I’ll like it.

    • There are definite perks to doing this (though we don’t make any money off it) – we get to know bands, get into shows sometimes, get recognised occasionally (there is a small element of pseudo-fame involved after all) – but really I would say we all do it for the love of writing, creating something, and sharing our passion with other people.

      I’m not sure I could ever stop doing so now!

  6. Sometimes it’s fun to imagine what it would be like if real-life social interactions were the same as your average YouTube or Facebook comment.

    Random Guy: “So, me and my girlfriend went out to dinner last night, and…”
    Random Guy’s Co-worker: “FUCK YOU! NO ONE CARES ABOUT UR DUMB DINNER OR YOUR WHORE GF!!11! YOUR GAY!”

  7. I come here for the community and because I trust the taste of the reviewers here. Not to mention the occasional philosophical/anthropological discussion of metal such as this. I live in a state of constant questioning and play devil’s advocate purely for the fun of it, and this is one of the few places I can get honest discussion without it dissolving into a flame war. There’s sort of a mutual respect for almost everyone here, and at the end of the day, despite disagreements, we’re all here for the love of metal. I love that.

    I’m not sure there’s another blog out there where you get that sense of community alongside the writers of the blog. There’s a personal connection at NCS that’s hard to come by elsewhere.

    • Though to answer another of your reader questions, “what brought me here”? Tbh, I don’t even remember how I found this site in the first place. I probably just googled “metal blogs” and found it eventually. All I know is NCS and Death Metal Baboon were the only blogs that were cool (or maybe uncool) enough to respond to my emails to feature Oak Pantheon’s first EP. Came for the shameless promo, stayed for the writers and the community.

      • That’s part of what makes it fun to do this — getting to know not only other fans but also the people making the music, most of whom we first made contact with in the same way, or got to know by writing about their music. Thanks for all the very nice compliments!

      • We do tend to have an awesome community of fans here (with one or tow occasional exceptions).

        Not all of them came to the site through shameless self-promotion though! Ha!

    • Your shameless self-promoting worked, though! I love “From A Whisper” and I’m really looking forward to your upcoming split! Probably never would have heard about you if not for NCS!

  8. Phone posting before work so I’ll keep this short. I think reviews serve a number of purposes. If its for a band I like who I would probably pick up anyways, it just plain reminds me that an album is coming and that it’s awesome (or maybe not as awesome as people were hoping!) and that’s enough. Sometimes the opening paragraph combined with the album art can make me fire up spotify and check out a band I’ve never heard of before because you made them sound that interesting. With this site in particular that happens a lot!

    Sometimes reviews really do make me reevaluate an album or band I thought was meh. I’ve been seeing reviews and reminders that Trivium has a new album coming fucking everywhere. Now, The Crusade is one of my least favorite albums of all time (that I’ve purchased, anyways) and kind of burned that bridge. But seeing positive comments about them made me give their new stuff another chance. And it was meh as fuck but hey, the writers did their job and made me want to hear what they were hearing!

    Shit, gotta get to work!

    • I’ve actually been half playing with the idea of doing a review for vengeance falls when that disc comes out.

      • As long as you’re only half playing, that’s cool.

      • I’m always down to have my preconceptions challenged! In Waves was just kind of meh to me with some catchy moments which was a massive step up from my prior feelings for the band so hey, they could bring me back into the fold yet!

        Since I kinda skipped the questions earlier, just thought I’d come back to say that I came here through Number of the Blog and I stuck around because this place really has a similar feel. It’s big enough to have a community and small enough to have a good community. The recommendations are always solid and I find at least one album to spin on here a week.

        • I don’t know if I’d be challenging preconceptions on whether or not the disc was meh, just thoughts on what Vengeance Falls feels like in the grand scheme of Trivium’s discography from someone who had been following them since Like Light To Flies popped up out of nowhere on Headbangers Ball and Ember To Inferno was the only material they had out at the time.

          • It’s a shameless attempt at mainstream success. And as long as they admit that, well, really, what’s the problem? They have (and I say this with all sympathy to them) hit a brick wall in certain ways – they’re very popular, but have perhaps peaked in terms of the wider metal “scene”. They don’t really have many other places they can go before they start seeing diminishing returns.

            It’s just a shame to see them trying to spin hiring Draiman as anything other than an attempt to cash in on his mainstream expertise. I’m sure he’d look down on me for saying so, and clearly doesn’t need to care about it, but Draiman is not really a “metal guy”. He’s got rock star dreams and pretensions and I think that’s EXACTLY what Trivium are trying to tap into.

            • I too was once a Trivium fan. It was through Matt Heafy being one of the key chiefs or whatever they called them on Roadrunner United, and I thought ‘who is this guy pulling this off at such a young age?’. This was when Ascendancy had just come out, which I thought was an interesting blend of old school metal with a modern twist. And screaming. Shogun was solid album too, but then the weird thing that struck me with In Waves was the complete lack of guitar solos?, especially after the shred-tastic-ness of Shogun.

              It’s sad, they seem to have a lot of talent but my impression is that they’ve never really had the fortitude to play their own thing, it’s like you can hear them struggling to fit a commerical mould. And they appear to have made a conscious decision to pursue music as a business – and obviously every musicians gotta eat, pay rent, etc. – but they sound like their hearts aren’t really in it anymore.

    • If only we got a cut of some of the sales we (assume) we’ve had a hand in!

      (Seriously though… if we can make a tiny difference to a band, which will obviously be a band we like, then it’s self-serving – they’ll stick around longer and we’ll all get more music from them!)

  9. I found this article really thought provoking. I write a blog here in the UK and have asked myself the same question a couple of times. I find myself reading NCS because I share the same tastes and just like reading about bands. I write reviews because, like you guys, I want to help support bands and spread the word about their music. I think that sines I got into metal, I’ve made more friends than any time before, because everyone share the same passion. The majority of writers aren’t in it for the ego, though I unfortunately know of a few that are. We’re all part of the same community and wether they’re in magazines or on the Internet, reviews are still viable and people should take time to write them and digest them.

    • I think you hit on something there with that last sentence… there are a few too many instances where reviews are a bit slapdash, and that can put people off the art of reviewing as a whole. Similarly though, if people aren’t willing to “involve” themselves in a review (even if it only needs to be a little) then there’s not much that even a masterfully written piece of work can do in that case!

      Also one of the real benefits of being head of the NCS UK Office is the chance for me to expose UK bands to an American (and international) audience who might not otherwise find out about them!

      • Thanks for the response Andy, it’s interesting reading it. I totally get your point about being able to expose UK bands to international audiences. I’ve found that the same works the other way round too. I wrote a peice about a US band and then shared the band with a label friend, who ended up releasing them in the UK. I think writers can make a real difference if they use their passion and energy in the right ways. Keep up the good work man!

  10. I think I came to this site in the first place just because it was mentioned on Metalsucks, but I kept coming back because the first post I read was a Miscellany (I believe Absence of Light was one of the subjects) and I thought that was cool.

    Honestly, I’m not a big reader of reviews, at least for albums I haven’t heard yet. I use them if I’m on the fence about wanting to listen to a band, and I usually skim the ones on this site to see if something catches my eye. Sometimes I read reviews after I’ve gotten a first impression of an album, to see what other views are out there. So as far as NCS goes, it’s mostly the non-review pieces (and I guess the ones that are semi-reviews, like Miscellany & Seen and Heard) that keep me coming back.

    • Thank you man, it’s good to get a handle on what different people prefer and appreciate on the site. And also how different people “use” reviews really.

      I definitely think it’s always worth keeping in mind, as a writer of reviews, that you’re not JUST meant to be preaching to the choir (you shouldn’t assume everyone shares the same opinion as you, for one thing), but that it’s those people on the fence who are perhaps the most important. Bringing them into the fold should be our real mission!

  11. I come here every day, and read almost everything. The reason is to find out about bands that I haven’t heard before. The reviews here are usually long and full of good information, and usually contain links to hear the actual music, so it’s a win win for everyone. I don’t know why anyone would “hate” reviews, seems counterproductive to obtaining knowledge..

    • The idea of “win-win” I think is central to the NCS manifesto.

      We get something out of the writing (often simply the joy of writing in itself) and hopefully our readers get something from it too, whether it’s the chance to kill some time and read something interesting, or (even better) the discovery of a whole new band to get into!

  12. I come here because this is the best fucking metal site on the internet. I don’t have as much time on my hands as I once did and haven’t been commenting much, but I still read NCS everyday. I first came here on recommendation from Niek, the Death Metal Baboon, and quickly grew to love Islander’s stye. I’ve watched you guys grow as a site and as writers individually. The overall positivity and quality of the writing and community here is unmatched. Great article, Andy.

    • Always a pleasure to see that weird icon pop up in the comments. And great to know you’re still keeping track of what we do. You’ve been with us a loooong time!

    • “I come here because this is the best fucking metal site on the internet.”

      Sure you just don’t want to stop there? (Not that the rest of the comment wasn’t similarly awesome, so thank you!)

  13. Is that amazing painting an album cover? Please do forgive my ignorance, I’m grinding my brain into mush this week.

    • It’s not an album cover . . . yet. I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think Sam did that as a commission for a band, but something that a band could buy for a cover.

  14. I love, love this article. Thank you. I only wanted to pull out one thing and comment on it:

    “Sometimes it really seems that people resent reviews and reviewers purely because they themselves haven’t been given the same platform to express their opinions.”

    If that’s the case, then they just don’t understand. Literally anyone can do this! All you have to do is work your ass off writing for about a year to prove you can do it, ask a few lesser-known bands and labels for some promos, then work your ass off reviewing those for another year, and eventually some PR folks might take notice of you, and then, if you keep working your ass off, then you’ll eventually get big enough that a handful of people will actually care what you have to say and re-post it from time to time.

    It’s so easy!

    • This recipe sounds vaguely familiar. 🙂

    • I think a lot of them still see writers like us as “the man” or as getting undeserved privileges. And that sort of ignorance needs combating – hence why I tried to explain here a little bit about what we do and why (and how) we do it!

      Though, if I AM just preaching to the choir with this article, then that’s unnecessary. Catch 22.

  15. I should also kind of answer your questions. Even though I’m inundated with promos now, I sometimes read reviews to help me figure out which ones to spend my time on. It’s much quicker and simpler, and I don’t trust a brief preview nearly as much as a thoughtful and considered opinion.

    I think I came here the first time due to something mentioned on MetalSucks. I haven’t even been on MS in well over a year, and stopped reading it regularly about two years ago, but I still come here all the time for the same reason others have mentioned: Community. I also enjoy these meta-metal discussions on the site quite a bit. In fact, I find my tastes only rarely coincide with those of the writers here*, but I still get a lot out of what you guys write.

    *That’s true even as I find my tastes migrating. When I started my blog in earnest, I had no focus whatsoever, then it gradually became about death and doom, and a little bit of black metal, and now it’s gone almost completely into dark Americana and death metal, with a little black and doom. Lately, I’ve noticed a strong shift toward Hells Headbangers releases in my taste. Seriously, everyone should hear Intöxicated’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hellpatröl and Shitfucker’s Suck Cocks in Hell.

    • My tastes have been migrating almost since Day 1 here. Different migratory paths, but where I am now is definitely a far cry from where I started (though I haven’t completely abandoned my early passions). And btw, I second the recommendation for Intöxicated. I’ve been meaning to listen to that Shitfucker, because SHITFUCKER!

    • This site has definitely shifted over time as well – though I think broadened out is perhaps more accurate. We’ve all got our specific tastes, with a big central cross-over of stuff, but our specific “special subjects” have a nice variety to them.

  16. To be fair, anyone just calling me dumb is a cause for celebration. It means I’m moving up in the world past ‘barely functioning single cell organism’

  17. I don’t remember how I came here first, but I stay because you guys recommend a hell of a lot of music. Not all of it is going to be to my taste, but that’s part of the fun of the hunt. I also like that this site doesn’t post music to trash it. I like having, at the very least, the anticipation of quality.
    As always, props to the community here for being basically troll-free and to Islander, and all the regular contributors as well, for being friendly and engaging. It makes returning and participating in discussions enjoyable. This coming from a habitual lurker.

    • Habitual lurkers most welcome. The best kind of lurkers. And we do remember your comments.

    • “the fun of the hunt” is definitely something we appreciate here at NCS. Discovering that new band after really putting the effort in (even if it’s not all THAT much effort) just makes it seem even more rewarding to then follow them and watch them grow.

  18. So, how did I get here? Not sure (and this seems to be a trend in view of the other replies). I vaguely recall being desperate for new music after knowing inside out each and every chord of every album I had at the time. NCS was just the first to show up. Haven’t considered anything else.

    How did I stay, and why do I bother to read almost every post, and listen to almost all music (I even go back when I fall behind a day or two)? Because you NCS staff are doing a brilliant job.
    Superior and very eloquent writing, not taking yourselves too seriously. Long posts. In-depth and informative reviews (and only positive ones) that go way beyond “I like dis”. A friendly, engaged and positive-minded community which you connect with really well (and I’m happy to be a small part of it). The occasional reflective post like this one, which broadens our minds and provides us with new knowledges and perspectives.

    And, last but very important, nearly every post contains some music. So many great (but often new and underground) bands I discovered because of you. I’ve lost count. You also deserve credits for broadening and refining my tastes in metal.

    Case closed: NCS is the archetype of a metal blog. Bring it on!

    • Well hell, this is just such a great comment to read. I don’t know what else to say, except, THANK YOU.

    • Thank you sir.

      To continue the trend, I made sure to include a song with this post. It’s become habitual now!

    • I second everything Lord_Farin says. I cannot express how awesome what y’all are doing is, or how much I appreciate such a quality blog and “community” that has been cultivated here. I was just thinking the other day, “Man, why have been listening to so much extreme metal for the past year or so? Oh, right…NCS.”

  19. what a great post! NCS is my absolute favorite source of music reviews on the internet for a few reasons. i love metal. i love being around people who also love metal, and who love sharing their excitement over a particular band or album. i don’t like people that just want to bitch about how much they hate a particular band, album, genre, etc. and while i do already know i’m going to buy a few of the albums that are reviewed here, there are many reviews that serve as my introduction to bands. that’s pretty awesome.
    i don’t like every band that is reviewed on this site, and (spoiler) you can generally tell which bands by the fact that i don’t post any kind of comment. i know, constructive criticism and all that but i’m not an angst ridden twenty something or bitter thirty something anymore, so i take a pass on spreading around more negativity and just stick to my boring little comments like “this is awesome!” and “that’s badass!”. they sound silly but they’re genuine, just like the excitement and enthusiasm of the writers on this site.

    • I have figured this out — that you don’t comment on everything we post, and when you do, it’s to express enthusiasm, from which I infer that you basically have the same attitude I have about this blog: if you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all. So I completely get the fact that when you don’t write, it means you’re not into the music.

      It would be a miracle if anyone liked everything we like. I’m still amazed that after nearly 4 years we almost never get comments from people who just want to shit on the music we’re writing about. We certainly get thoughtful comments that disagree with what we say, but there’s a big difference between that and just slurring the bands or the writers.

    • I think this site needs some more negativity though…. so therefore I hate you, and your comment.

  20. stupid me, i forgot to answer the question. what brought me here? i might be remembering wrong, but i think it was a link site called heavymetalnews? why did i keep coming back? because i have a “gushing fanboy” quota that i have to fill every day and you guys post frequently.

  21. I first came to the site cruising on my iPad. Lol. I was at my sisters house during the holidays and Megadeth had just released Thirt3en. I wanted to know “What other metal is there?” So I cruised the net tangentially from one article to the next reading top 10 lists, reviews, listening to samples, and taking in as much as possible. I had no idea that metal was so awesome. You know how the ebb and flow of styles goes in and out of your life, right?
    Once I found this site I had to keep coming back. I’ve said before this is the best blog on the internet. The writers here are easily as good as, if not better, journalists than any major publication. You use words to describe things unlike anything I’ve ever read. I can paraphrase like “…it’s like holding a chainsaw and sawing apart your furniture.  Wood chips fly into your face and eyes blinding you, but you don’t care because…” Or “…it’s like slamming for face into your wall until you can see your neighbor sitting on their couch. They laugh at you until they puke on their cat…” Or “…it’s like a sonic tide of ball bearings slamming into a cliff releasing an avalanche of pain in a thunder of distortion that’ll make you wish you could…”
    I’ve read some sites with random reviews like “1 star this band sux don’t waste ur time bc I downloaded it from getfreeshiz.com and they siad good but not good teh guy singing sounds like the guy um elmo or something so fuk that”
    You know at first, I’m not gonna lie, I downloaded some music from some sites. Then I realized what I liked, and now I try to buy the physical media, or digital from bandcamp. In the worse case I buy the digital from iTunes to support the bands. I know that those leaks or rips are subpar, and the bands usually put out enough material to make a decision whether to buy or not. Bands can only produce quality stuff if people buy their stuff. 
    I come here to read pretty much everything. I’ve discovered so much new music. I don’t have friends that listen to any metal.  So I need to come here to hear what’s new, and what I should focus on. 
    NCS also writes heart felt stories, some about heroes and people that matter. Not too many people are willing to sacrifice their time with that. 
    Keep up the good work everyone!
    Doug

    • Man, thanks for taking the time to write that beautiful comment. It also makes me feel good to read what you said about downloading. I always feel like I’m lecturing when I get on the soapbox about it, especially since I used to rip off music myself. But I really do believe that metal culture needs to change — and is changing — to respect the wishes of the bands who create the music and the labels who promote it: if they don’t want to give their music away, then it’s not right to just take it from them. The scene is too damned small and basically too damned broke all the time to do anything else but support each other.

    • All credit to Islander really for giving this platform to us, as writers, and to you guys, as the audience.

      And also for spending the time supporting the scene and also posting interesting pieces of non-metal news and info to help keep us all sane!

  22. just for fun, a few more reasons why i keep coming back to this site (please insert your own drum rolls and rimshots):

    – they blocked access to TMZ’s website at my workplace.
    – this is the only site my security software will let me pull up, so it’s this or Readers Digest.
    – my dog likes this site and the last time i defied him he hit me on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. really hard.
    – i just like the way the white text on black background makes all the posts stay in my vision for a few minutes after i look up from the screen.
    – hitting the “refresh” button is easier than trying to find a different blog to read.
    – if i open this site in 16 different tabs, the top of my browser says NO NO NO NO NO NO…..
    – i’ve been banned from everything single other site on the internet for trolling.
    – i heard there was going to be a raffle.
    …and finally, the real reason i keep coming back to NCS:
    – i’m copying all your posts into a folder on my desktop, and when i’ve collected enough i’m going to start my own blog called “morefrogburpingplease”.

  23. “people seem to get easily offended by absolutely nothing”.

    That seems to be something to do with the internet – technically, it’s just a bunch of cables, but somehow these cables have magical properties that act as a magnet for cat photos, porn, and unrestrained rage. Equally mysterious, is that NCS seems to have avoided the aforementioned conglomeration (although I do recall a few posts like this 🙂
    https://www.nocleansinging.com/2012/07/15/ncs-site-re-design/
    https://www.nocleansinging.com/2012/10/21/sunday-savagery-with-enslaved-xehanort-fistula-and-cats-mating/ ).

    So yeah, the community and general good-natured-ness of the place and the writers is a rare gem in the interwebs.

    “It would be incredibly pitiful if our self-image and self-esteem were tied up in some faceless internet opinion sharing ”
    … oh come on, there’s nothing quite like some homoerotic internet circle-jerking, no?….

    … no?…

    guys….

    Anyway, in all seriousness I try to make it here every day or two. I’ve discovered so many awesome bands as a result of your work, and also love the more philosophical/anthropological discussions that arise. Just like everyone else, I can’t remember at all how I came across site. For a while I was flirting between The Number of the Blog, Heavy Blog is Heavy and NCS, and well, guess who won out….or drew the shortest straw 😉

    Keep up the good work guys!

    • I’m upset that you only come here every day or two. That’s not the level of commitment we expect of our minions here at NCS!

      And re: the whole self-image/self-esteem thing – I still would never describe myself as a writer (much less a journalist) just because I write on a blog. Writing on here doesn’t make me particularly special as a human being, and I resent people who act like they’re someone “bigger” or “better” because they’ve got a platform on the internet.

      • Yeah there definitely are some people like that running blogs…. *cough* metalsucks *cough*. I think the lack of high-horsed-ness (probably not an actual word) at NCS also contributes to its appeal and the community feel.

        Okay, I am duly castigated, time to pull finger and hit refresh at least once per 24 hrs 😉

        • Oh shit! I completely forgot about those posts! A couple of real solid classics right there. I really need to get back in the habit of writing the really moronic stuff, with cats.

  24. I felt the need to comment, even though I see a large amount already. I will try to be brief, though. I am not sure what brought me to this site in the first place. It was more than likely a link from elsewhere. I do know what keeps me coming back. I enjoy that this site does not waste its readers time by reviewing terrible albums. If it is reviewed here, I know it is good. In fact, multiple times, I have read reviews on this site, have not even bothered to actually listen to the music first, but immediately bought those albums because I trust what I read here so much. It is nice to have a site that doesn’t get involved in petty insults hurled towards unfavored metal musicians as well. That gets really tiring. Overall, I just enjoy the great content on a daily basis. I am not sure how you guys do it, but I am glad you do.

    • One thing I would never want to do, which would certainly bring this site into disrepute, would be to get involved in that precise sort of gossip-rag bitching and moaning that just seems… so unnecessary and such a waste of time!

  25. Two points..
    1. The content on the site matches with my thirst for new material, which is almost addiction like. I believe I.S.lander is definitely a victim. Rummaging through all the news for that something that sounds good.

    2. Everybodys already mentioned this. Probably the only site with a sense of community. Everyone here being respectful, agreeing to disagree, constructive and lest i forget those possibly one liners between Islander, Phro and Andy while three timing. 😀 Still fun none the less

    P.S. I’ve been running a site myself for more than two years now, but let me tell you, that NCS and the content style on here have always been the prime source of inspiration.

  26. I come to NCS non-consciously now… fundamentally I visit the site whenever I need to hear someone talk metal. In some respects I value NCS as a social place, but I don’t need to feel social to be there, if you know what I mean…

    Throughout most of my professional and personal life there are frankly no people that actually understand what a phrase like “skull crushingly heavy” means. When Islander (or any of the lads for that matter) writes it in a yarn about a track or a disc, I know it means, and for me that is important, because it is the same language I think and feel in.

    I always enjoy supporting bands, and often buy discs reviewed on NCS after listening to one or two tracks if it matches my tastes (hell sometimes it is within the first 30secs). I do it out of habit now to be honest…

    I have some much music (as imagine most folk reading this site do) that I never get to give all the music the listening time it deserves, and I know that when I buy it. I know that my life will dictate such that I can never possibly listen to all the music from start to finish, even once sometimes…

    But for me it doesn’t matter, what matters is that I got to enjoy the music, I got to support the guys that did it, and, I know that I got to share a particular musical experience with other people. That is the value in NCS for me. Fuck, I would even pay an annual subscription to keep NCS from ever slipping into the void..

    • This is what we hope for. People unable to resist the siren song of the site and being unconsciously drawn back time and time again.

      Now you’re in our clutches.

    • You sound very much like me, in that I consume way more music than I can thoroughly dive into. I probably suffer from some kind of compulsion, always hunting for something new instead of getting thoroughly immersed in what I already have. I was pretty much that way even before NCS got to the point where I could hear a lot of new things for free. (and btw, I really appreciate your support)

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