Nov 212022
 


artwork by necrosadist

On November 21, 2009, I made the first post at this blog. On the 21st day of every November since then (except last year, when I forgot to do it until a few days later) I’ve made a post celebrating our birthday. And here I am doing it again, because we’ve survived another year.

In these annual posts I usually explain how I had no ambitions or expectations when I started the blog, nor any training or experience as a music writer, and that the sum total of my motivation was to create an enjoyable diversion for myself from the grind of daily life, and to indulge my burgeoning interest in heavy music. And there, I just did it again, albeit in fewer words than usual.

In these annual observances I also tend to reminisce about how many things about NCS have changed from the early days, and about how surprising it is to me that we’re still here. Some of you remember the early days, because you were here with us then and haven’t left. Others who have begun checking in here more recently might yawn if I indulged in that kind of nostalgia, so let’s just skip that, as I did last year too, and get right into expressions of gratitude and the annual tradition of mind-numbing statistics.

 

As for why we’re still here, still riding through the flames, and why our audience has grown, the most important reason (still) is that I was eventually joined by a group of other writers who seemed to care about the music as much or more than I did, and who completely bought into the guiding principles that I had adopted in starting NCS, the most important of which was that we would spend our time recommending music we believed in, and would simply ignore the music that we didn’t like or that we thought wasn’t very good, rather than tearing it down or making fun of the people responsible for it.

Many writers have drifted in and out of our cadre over these 13 years, some of whom have gone on to write for other publications or to focus on family and careers, and have remained good friends. A few hardy souls have hung in there almost as long as I have, and have become particularly close friends. And so, as usual, I’ll call them out to take a bow.

 

Andy Synn’s first post was a review of Dimmu Borgir’s Abrahadabra on September 23, 2010. And DGR’s first post was a series of year-end lists on December 28, 2011. They are very fine people, and for me, my friendship with them and with others who eventually joined our ranks has become the most important blessing to me of all for having done this. Their steadfastness in continuing to write for NCS without pay and despite being buffeted by the usual vicissitudes of life over so many years is something I greatly admire, and for which I’m again enormously thankful.

Another old-timer, TheMadIsraeli, still surfaces when life’s travails allow it, and he has again been subjected to recent travails that have made that difficult, but he still checks in with a review as life allows. (A search of our posts shows that his first NCS review (of an album by The Interbeing) was published on May 11, 2011),

As I look back over the last year, thanks are also in order for the contributions of many other fine folks who have also been helping us for years — among them  Comrade AleksWil CiferTodd Manning, GonzoKarina Noctum, and Neill Jameson. We also continue to benefit from the contributions of relative newcomers, which this year included Hope Gould, Christopher Luedtke, Rob Tamplin, and “fetusghost“.

 

Another big reason why we’re still here is you, and others like you — people who find some value in our recommendations, people who enjoy the writing, and/or people who actually seem to care what we think about the releases that continue coming in a flood every week.

Even though we make no effort to make any money from NCS, I think it’s fair to say that none of us would have continued to do this if no one cared or paid attention or gave us any feedback. It’s a lot of work, and we might all have concluded that it’s time better spent in other ways if we were just yelling into a great void. Perhaps needless to say, we have a special love for people who leave comments, even if infrequently.

Of course, we’re also still here because an ever-increasing stream of bands, labels, and publicists exhort us to give their music a shot, and because we still get a lot of joy out of the process of exploring new music, and a lot of satisfaction out of helping spread the word about what we find that gets us excited.

 

And now for the annual round-up of boring statistics!

Since we launched NCS 13 years ago, we’ve published 14,238 posts, including this one — and 901 of those have appeared in the 12 months since our last birthday, which is significantly fewer than last year but still averages out to 2.47 posts per day, including weekends.

At this writing, we’ve received 84,489 comments since NCS began on this day in 2009, not counting spam and not counting the very, very few I’ve deleted because their toxicity exceeded even my usual hands-off attitude about comments. I still don’t reply to comments as often as I used to, but I read every one of them, and continue to be grateful for the insights, the recommendations, the humor, and the support — and for the fact that our commenters have almost always been civil to us and to each other, which continues to be a relative rarity in the realm of metal blogdom.

According to Google Analytics, as of yesterday we’ve had 293,264 active individual users over the last 12 months from all over the world. Roughly in keeping with data from past years, over the last 12 months less than half of those users (42.25%) lived in the U.S., even though NCS is based in the U.S., with 5.70% coming from the UK, 4.54% from Canada, and the balance from more than 100 other countries around the world, with Germany, China, Australia, France, Sweden, Italy, and the Netherlands rounding out the top 10, in that order over the last 12 months (which is a slightly different order than the last time I reported these stats a year ago, though the countries are the same — and I’m still perplexed about the appearance of China).

Since this time last year we’ve had 1,140,914 page views, which is a decrease of about 185,000 from last year, perhaps at least partially a result of the fact that there was a drop-off in the number of posts we made this past year and perhaps a function of Facebook continuing to tweak their algorithm so that a minuscule percentage of our FB followers see the posts we make about new articles appearing on the site, or perhaps because a few more people have decided that we suck.

Speaking of Facebook, the number of people “following” our page has grown to 49,219. I can’t see a precise count of the number of “likes” we have, and I’m not sure whether Facebook still allows people to “like” a page, so I won’t try to make that comparisn with last year. You can tell how much of a shit I give about Facebook. I’ll also remind you that because we don’t advertise on Facebook, the reach of our posts there isn’t terrific. In other words, following us on FB might not be a very good way of learning when we add content to NCS.

 

As we now begin our glorious 14th year of survival, I’ll once again paraphrase from Blade Runner: I don’t know how long we’ll have together… Who does? I hope we’ll still be here at this time next year to celebrate the end of our 14th year, and I hope you’ll still be here with us. It’s been a hell of a trip so far, and all of us here at NCS are excited about continuing the ride.

Stay safe, and don’t let the bastards get you down.

Islander

  54 Responses to “HAPPY 13TH BIRTHDAY TO US!”

  1. Still my favorite metal blog. And, coincidentally, my oldest boy’s birthday. Happy Birthday, NCS!

  2. Hooray! Congratulations.

  3. Happy birthday! Great site with some very eloquent wordsmiths and genuinely passionate reviewers \m/

    • We are definitely passionate about the music we feature, and I’m glad you think we’re eloquent. None of us had any kind of training as music writers when we started doing this, so it’s been a learn-on-the-job experience. But I think all of us have kept trying to get better and better as time has passed.

  4. Very thankful for the site and the people who run it! You all helped me become a die hard fan of extreme metal by showing me countless exceptional pieces of music, and by being so positive!

  5. Always hugely grateful for the output – lost count of the amount of gems I’ve discovered through the site. Happy birthday and hope you all are keeping well x

  6. Happy Birthday NCS! I can’t believe it’s been this long already. Looking forward to the next year!

  7. Happy Birthday NCS ! Islander, you’re tireless efforts are indispensable for this metalhead. Keep it rolling, Sir.

  8. Once I get home at night and settle on I check NCS. It’s a ritual. Blaze one and see what’s new. I think.its great you cover such a wide spectrum, even though I hate most of it. That one or two gems out of ten is worth it. For every Egregious Anal Drippings we get a Swampborn, so I thank you for that. Happy Fucking Birthday.

    • This is how I came to launch NCS: I’d get home from work, blaze one or have a cocktail, and check out a few of the fledgling metal sites that existed back then. And finally, I thought what the hell, it might be fun to start something. It’s cool that now other people are doing that ritual with us, even people who hate most of what shows up here. And it’s a damned shame no one has picked Egregious Anal Drippings for a band name. 🙂

  9. NCS you are extraordinary! Happy Birthday! Today you are a man. Now we all know the teen years can get tough so try not to get too batty in the years to come. Thank you for the amazing work so far. And thank you for opening my ears to so much great music!

    • It’s been great to finally start wearing long pants, though we still can’t hit the bowl when we pee. But… hormones! (Thanks for all your consistent support.)

  10. Shout out Surgicalbrute for the cults and VonLughlio for the brutes.

  11. Love this site, especially the Shades of Black Metal. Discovered a ton of bands. Thanks for your efforts!

    • Very glad to hear it. I always have fun putting Shades of Black together — it’s a vehicle for discovery for me too. I used to put together a different kind of column every Sunday, and in fact wrote 101 of them before abandoning it (that collection is linked below), which I still miss doing. I didn’t really mean to permanently replace it with Shades of Black, but once I got started doing SoB I got hooked.

      https://www.nocleansinging.com/category/thatsmetal/

  12. Thanks so much for what you do. I stopped digging for new metal many years ago and started digging heavily into other genres. About 5 or 6 years ago I rediscovered the joy of my first love and have fully immersed myself once again and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Your site (along with 2 others) has been a regular source of great discoveries, Swamp Lantern and Tishina being 2 notables from this year I know I heard about here first. So thanks again, your work is greatly appreciated.

    • Nice to see your mentions of Swamp Lantern and Tishina, both of them bands that still need more attention. And I’m glad we’ve become one of your resources for new discoveries. Hopefully we’ll continue to highlight music you’ll dig.

    • Many thanks for the swamp lantern rec. Instapurchase. Cheers.

      And thanks to team NCS for the high volume, high quality stream of reviews. I now need to gird my loins for list season. Yikes.

      • HAHA! Yikes is right. I don’t think we’re ever really ready for this season even here, it’s almost overload to think back over the whole year, and probably overload for people to see the mountain of YE picks that get spread across our site. But it’s a tradition that MUST BE OBSERVED.

  13. Thank you for all of your hard work and time. Greatly appreciate the site!

  14. Awesome milestone, my man. Thanks for having me along for the ride.

  15. Happy Birthday, Metal Dudes!

  16. Well, Happy Birthday!

    One of my absolute favorite reasons for being here is the utter lack of drama, be it band drama or simply contentious album reviews.

    Another reason is that ability to discover music I would probably otherwise never hear, and for that I am so grateful.

    Here’s to another year!

    • Thanks Joe. It means as much to us as it does to you that this is a drama-free zone. That’s the main reason we steer clear of gossip and negative reviews, just trying to focus on the music we think is worth people’s time. Of course, some people will disagree with us about what’s worthwhile, but we’ve been lucky that even then the reactions have been civil.

  17. Great Day For Metal Heads…I Have Been Following Your Posts Since 2016…8 YEARS…The Best Site For Extreme Metal In My View..Thnks

  18. Man…are you guys still here!?

  19. Happy birthday and many thanks, NCS – particularly for being there for all of us sad-sack metal heads over the last few rough years. Appreciate you!

  20. Happy birthday!

    You are still here, and so am I. Reaping the benefits of your labour on a daily basis.
    Thanks for your tireless efforts to bring the music you believe in to the wider world!

  21. Greetings from Russia, a revelation not much welcome these days… but still a big big thank you for highlighting some new and good russian bands, and for your kind words to russian people. We do not all back this madness.

    May the peace be with all of us.

    • The situation is horrible, and I say that as someone who really can’t imagine what it must be like in Ukraine or in Russia. My wife is half-Ukrainian, but even she does not blame the common people of Russia. We know where the true evil lies, in the dictatorship and the people who have sold their souls in its service.

  22. Happy 13th Birthday! An incredible achievement.

    And don’t be surprised, there are actually many metal fans in China, including myself.

    • Greetings to you Sui, and thank you for your steadfast support. I am sure that there are many metal fans in China, and as you know, we have written about Chinese metal bands (but not enough). I guess my surprise comes partly from China being ranked so high in just the last two years.

      • And thanks for bringing excellent new discoveries all this time. I guess 13 years in NCS has found itself a devoted following here, which probably grows. I also recommend NCS to others. Cheers.

  23. Happy 13th birthday! I’m glad y’all keep keeping me informed. Thanks a lot!

  24. Thank you Islander and all the writers and contributors, for creating this killer website. Its clear how much effort and devotion go into it. I think I discovered NCS in about 2015 and have been a regular visitor since. I am heavy metal blog slut and also visit other sites too, but I always return to NCS. One notable thing that jumps out from your statistics is just how prolific you are: average 2.5 posts per day for 13 years!!! No wonder its such a gold mine here for discovering new music every day. I really dig the variety of types of columns here too: interviews, reviews, waxing lyrical, premiers, and of course the sacred lists. Regarding China popping up on the main countries visiting the site–could it be “bots”? The metal scene is, I believe, very small in China (someone from China–please let us know). Best to all you guys.

    • Thank you for all the years of staying with us, you devil, and for being active with the comments. Regarding China, I was under the impression that Google Analytics did things to filter out bot traffic for their counts, but I’m no expert. I don’t pay much attention to this kind of data, other than for birthday posts. But if you look up above at the comment by Sui, there might be more metalheads there than you think.

  25. Late to the party like normal. I give everything you guys review a listen, and spend way too much in Bandcamp Fridays trying to catch up

    Thanks for keeping it going! Brightens my little metal heart.

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