Jun 162023

(Andy Synn collects a series of six short-form releases you may not have heard)

Time, as they say, is a cruel mistress.

No matter what we do, she never seems to give us enough of herself, and always demands that we try to do more, write more, say more, with what little she allows us to have.

It means that we frequently have to make some harsh decisions when it comes to what we do, or do not, cover here at NCS, and so it’s inevitable that stuff we might otherwise have liked to write about – for example, the delicious new Depeche Mode covers record by SOM – sometimes doesn’t make the cut.

Which, ultimately, makes it extra important that you all check out the following EPs… because so much already gets missed out that you really can’t afford to let these pass you by too!


Altarage suddenly dropping a new EP – while at the same time announcing a new album for later this year – was one of the most welcome surprises of the last few months, as I’ve been a fan of theirs for a good long while now (though I stand by my criticisms of 2021’s Succumb).

Featuring three tracks which may, or may not, make an appearance on their next album, Worst Case Scenario (personally I’m hoping that it’s just “Worst Case Scenario” itself that makes a reappearance, as I do like it when EPs like this stand on their own but… I guess we’ll have to see) Cataract is a neat – and nasty – little reminder of just what makes Altarage so good.

The opening title track, for example, is just over three-and-a-half minutes of pulverising intensity, crushing density, and claustrophobic atmospherics (in that order) that will keep you right on the edge of your seat from start to finish, while the evocatively-named “Sacrificial Annihilation” is – somehow – possibly even more intense, especially when it comes to the howling, almost sub-human anguish of the vocals.

And then there’s the aforementioned “Worst Case Scenario”, whose drawn-out, doom-laden ambience may – or, again, may not – serve as a preview of what to expect of the group’s next full-length record. Either way though, it certainly has me intrigued!


One of the most consistently underrated and underappreciated acts in the UK underground – whose previous work(s) I have compared to a cross between Nevermore and Carcass – Dāmim have, over the last few years, slowly been building the sort of momentum and reputation which should, finally, see them receive the wider attention and acclaim that they’ve always deserved.

For evidence of this you need look no further than the two new tracks which (alongside two live recordings) make up their new EP (their first, as it happens, as well as their first release on Church Road Records).

Both “World Turned Hell” and “To Catch a Falling Knife” showcase a leaner, meaner, version of the band, one which is clearly only too happy to embrace its 90s-era Death Metal influences even more (there’s some obvious, though not too overt, Morbid Angel influence going on in both tracks) without feeling like it’s trying to just recreate or recapture the “glory days” of the genre.

It helps, of course, that the group’s proggier proclivities and melodic moxie are still given time to shine – with the lethally infectious lead guitar hook of the latter track practically guaranteed to embed itself in your brain almost immediately – and that the group’s songwriting skills are as sharp as ever, meaning that there’s absolutely no fat or filler on this short but sweet teaser of the band’s future.


Innumerable Form‘s debut album, Punishment In Flesh, was a good album. The follow-up, Philosophical Collapse, was even better.

And although The Fall Down isn’t the third full-length we’ve all been waiting so patiently for, it definitely continues this trajectory, building upon the pulse-pounding, doom-laden momentum and morbid, mind-warping melody of the latter record while simultaneously tightening up the songwriting and loosening the restrictions on the band’s established Incantation/Autopsy/Convulse inspired formula at the same time.

“Impenetrable”, for example, is just over five minutes (though it certainly doesn’t feel like it) of brutish, bone-grinding riffs and weirdly hypnotic leads, interspersed with eruptions of blast-driven fury, which builds to a moody, mournfully melodic finale, whose esoteric essence then carries over into the lucid, dream-like guitar leads and haunted, hanging chords of the terrific title-track.

As you may have already guess, the lead guitar work is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle here, and this continues to be the case during the EP’s immersive instrumental outro, “Satori Part 3”, but – even so – it’s the wider picture, the greater whole, which holds the most promise, and I’m already eagerly awaiting whatever the band do next.


I don’t know much about Mórnu, but – on the evidence of their debut EP, The Unearthly Becomes Inherent – I know that I like what they do.

The two tracks which make up this release, both of which clock in at over ten minutes long, strike a delicate balance between ominous, doom-laden atmospherics and blistering blackened fury in a way which frequently puts me in mind of The Great Old Ones (and, if you know how highly we regard the latter band around here you’ll understand how big a deal that is).

Following a slow-burning, scene-setting opening, “Ordeal” bursts into life in a flurry of frantic blast beats and frenetic tremolo guitars, which – in turn – lead to a series of darkly malevolent melodies, dreary, doom-heavy chords, and moments of moody ambience, all of which flow fluidly and organically out of one another, while “Theophaneia” errs – for the most part at least – towards the darker, doomier end of the scale… which makes its occasional outbursts of piercing melody and punishing power all the more effective.

A band to keep an eye (and an ear) on going forwards, most definitely.


Seattle’s Triphead are another band I don’t know much about, apart from the fact that this is their first release… and it’s really good.

Comprising four tracks of proggy/techy Death Metal in the mould of Decapitated/Gorod/Soreption – are we excited yet? – the band’s self-titled debut EP shows off a striking mix of chunky, churning riffs and punchy, pneumatic rhythms, all interspersed with moments of creepy, crawling melody and uncanny ambience, that is as obnoxiously heavy as it is oddly hooky.

The last two tracks, “Undisgusted” and “SCHiZOiD Dream”, in particular show off a lot of promise for the future, with the twitchy rhythmic hooks and itchy atmospheric embellishments of the former acting as a clever counterpoint to all the chugging, chattering guitars and ballistic belt-fed drumbeats, while the latter’s extended ambient interlude showcases a band not afraid to take a few risks and push the envelope in pursuit of something a little different.

Is it perfect? No (the vocals in particular can be a little one note at times, and need to add a bit more character and flair before they’ll truly be ready for the big leagues) but it’s still brimming with potential and possibilities.


Last, but by no means least, Californian duo Woods Witch deal in a form of stripped-down, streamlined Black Metal that marries the gritty, guitar-driven momentum and scything tremolo melodies of bands like Woe and Dawn Ray’d to a sense of brooding, post-Cascadian atmosphere somewhere between Agalloch and Ash Borer.

Opener “A God In Human Flesh” focusses more on the aggressive side of that particular equation, with its blazing riffs and bombastic, headbanging hooks leading the charge without quarter or restraint, while “The Risk of Dreaming” switches from dynamic, almost DSBM-style, intensity to moody, meditative minimalism, and back again, over the course of just under eight minutes, all building to a grandiose, gloom-laden crescendo.

The climactic title-track then makes it clear why the band have, on occasion, been pinned with the Black/Doom tag, as its opening minutes recall the darkest, doomiest moments of classic Novembers Doom, before eventually giving way to an explosion of blistering blackened catharsis and wistful, winding melody that bodes extremely well for the band’s future… whatever that may hold.


  1. I’ve never heard of SOM but was intrigued as someone who respects what Depeche Mode has achieved, and isn’t the EP sublime!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.