Jul 012023


When I started this blog 13 years, 7 months, and 10 days ago (but who’s counting?) I had very few ambitions. One of them was to continue posting about metal straight through the weekends for as long as this NCS lark might last, no days off.

Back in those days of the internet’s infancy, blogs devoted to metal were few in number (none of them were fancy enough to call themselves “web sites”), and I thought being the only such place with something new on the weekends would attract a few more visitors. But my main motivation was to tangibly demonstrate that NCS wasn’t a business, and writing for NCS wasn’t a job, and never would it be. Because if it were a job you’d get the weekends off, right?

13 years, 7 months, and 10 days later, I’m still not pausing NCS on the weekends. In all that time we’ve had some weekend days where nothing new went up, but not many. Maybe a dozen days, certainly not more than two dozen. Illness, injury, and apocalyptic hangovers have taken their tolls, but not nearly as often as you might think. However, weekends like this one pose a special challenge.

You see, here in the U.S. next Tuesday is Independence Day, a national holiday usually celebrated by going outside, over-eating, over-drinking, watching or setting off fireworks, and maybe even waving flags, never mind all the pols who seize the chance to bloviate about patriotism or how God made the United States The Greatest Nation on Earth (and this year the going-outside part is going to risk heatstroke in a big chunk of the country). Because this year July 4th falls on a Tuesday, lots of people will find ways not to work (or not to work very much) on Monday, so as to turn this into a four-day weekend. It’s kind of an ideal fucking-off calendar event.

My own employer, for example, now requires some staff to be in the office three days a week (but not me, because I’m not “essential”). However, no one will be required to show up at the offices on Monday. Everyone can “work from home”, which I thought was a nice “wink and a nod”, a welcome bit of generosity.

So, there’s a temptation here to take a day off from NCS somewhere over the course of these four days. Today would be the likeliest choice because, this being the first day after the end of a month, Andy Synn is planning to post one of his monthly Synn Reports even though it’s a Saturday (oh look, he’s already done it!). So I don’t have to do anything myself to keep the day from becoming a blank spot on the NCS calendar.

(I know Andy is also working on a “Best of British” column for next week, and it would be fitting if he could post it on July 4th, given that most people here think that the best thing the British did was surrender at Yorktown.)

Anyway, as you can see, I didn’t yield to the temptation to take a day off. As usual, the last week brought too many new songs and videos for me to ignore all of it. I got especially excited about some new discoveries from the realms of black metal, but I’ll identify those tomorrow (no, I’m not taking this Sunday off either!). Here are a few of the other discoveries that generated enthusiasm.




How could I resist listening to the new Incantation song? I wish I had five bucks for every time I’ve seen “Incantation worship” used in a description of some other band’s music, or seen Incantation‘s name dropped as a comparative reference point. So when these OGs drop something new themselves, it’s kind of mandatory listening, even though everyone has a very good idea what they’ll likely experience.

However, the press release we received included comments by frontman John McEntee suggesting that Incantation wasn’t “playing it safe” on their new album Unholy Deification, and specifically this: “When people hear the new album, I hope they think, ‘Why are these guys so pissed off?!’ Rage gives focus, which is why this album turned out the way it did.” What we have as a test of these sentiments is a video for the album’s first advance track, “Concordat (The Pact) I“.

McEntee’s guttural vocals are as monstrous and macabre as ever, and the song’s main riff is a creepy-crawly thing, a spawn of horror-realms that seems to ooze illness and squeal in freakish delight. But sure enough, the band kick the accelerator, drums furiously hammering and tremolo’d guitars whirring and whining in a demented frenzy. The lead guitar bizarrely darts about, but even at full propulsion the song still sounds steeped in agony.

The whole thing sounds like a ghoulish nightmare, and the video adds to that atmosphere, but it’s an insidiously infectious song too. Bravo!

Unholy Deification will be released by Relapse Records on August 25th. The stunning cover art was painted by Eliran Kantor.





Incantation weren’t the only OGs to release new music from a forthcoming album this week. Marduk did too, and so did Kataklysm, but I decided only to write about the second band before turning to considerably more subterranean groups.

The latest from Kataklysm is a video for the second advance track from their new album Goliath. This song, “Die As A King“, is described as a prequel to the first single “Bringer Of Vengeance” (covered here), both lyrically as well as in the theme of the video. It shows the fall of King Richard I “Lionheart”, and the message, as described by Maurizio Iacono, “is one of standing tall for your convictions until the end, even when facing certain death”.

This is, of course, a horse of a different color from that Incantation song — even more violently assaulting in its riffage and drumming (but with some grim, ugly thudding tones in the mix). The furiously screamed and roared vocals add to the song’s barbarous intensity, and of course it’s a jolting experience too, yet the band also bring in riffs and bits of mewling melody that channel foreboding and dismal sensations as well. Cornered, the king fights, but perishes by the sword… but we see his successor crowned.

Goliath will be released on August 11th by Nuclear Blast. As in the case of Incantation, Kataklysm turned to the phenomenal Eliran Kantor for the painted cover art.





I’m never going to write about metal that I don’t enjoy, but I confess that sometimes I do pursue a strategy of leading these round-ups with well-known names as a way of trying to lure people into other music from much more obscure groups. As you can see, I did that today, and so now we begin with what’s dangling in deeper waters at the end of the lure.

I first came across Wisconsin-based Ossuary back in 2019, following their second release, the Supreme Degradation EP — and promptly frothed at the mouth about it. Now they’ve returned four years later with a new EP, Forsaken Offerings, and damn, it’s worth frothing about too. (I’m assuming that it’s again the work of two members of Jex Thoth (drummer Nick Johnson and bassist Matt Jacobs), in addition to vocalist/guitarist Izzi Plunkett).

As expected, these three new songs are ravaging, inflicting the senses with roiling and raking guitars tuned to an ugly level of distortion, bowel-loosening bass upheavals, neck-snapping drum strikes, and (as I wrote once before) vocals that sound like “raging horrors fighting to escape a subterranean crypt”. The music also reminds me of an old comment by Izzi Plunkett that ’90s Finland was her favorite region and period for death metal, “on the basis of stand-out originality and ugliness” — “every band I’ve heard is uniquely fucked up and depraved sounding… unconventional, unguided and seemingly organic choices all around.”

These new songs do indeed sound depraved, with a depravity spawned by the supernatural, and the mauling that occurs is of titanic proportions. The opener “Forsaken Offerings (to the Doomed Spirit)“, for example, slowly drags the listener into a foul, cavernous pit of agony, brutally stomping the listener as it does so. The guitars dreadfully moan, hideously shriek, and manically quiver while the snare chops at your neck like an executioner’s ax and the vocals growl and roar in ravenous madness.

But there’s also something magisterial (or imperious) about the cruel haughtiness of the music. And the band also eventually throw themselves into a demented spasm of hammering percussion and wildly roiling riffage, with ruinous results.

Shifting gears, “The Undrownable Howl of Evil” is a primitive and brutish thing, hulking and hammering with jackhammer might, but surrounded by weirdly shivering fretwork that channels evil hunger, hellish lunacy, and horrid misery. In the midst of all those grisly and gruesome sensations, the ax continues to chop and the beast continues to growl, and near the end a guitar solo seizes attention as it vividly swirls upward like a tortured wraith, above a bass that sounds like its chewing through concrete.

To close the EP, Ossuary serve up a cover of the song “Chicken Dance” by the defunct Nevada band Goatlord. Like everything else on the EP, it sounds like it was recorded in a dank dungeon, and it’s evil as hell — both brazen and broken, reveling and ruined. At times you could conceive of headless chickens mindlessly cavorting, and at others you feel the torment of the tortured. And it too jackhammers the spine.

This EP was just released yesterday, and I already can’t get enough of it. Well worth the $5 they’re asking on Bandcamp.





There have been other songs in today’s collection that manage to combine sensations of ruthless cruelty and pitiable misery, and the next one does that too.

This new single by Ohio’s Crucible of Hate delivers some punishing jackhammer grooves and brazen chords, as well as molten death metal gutturals, but they intertwine squirming arpeggios that seem to plead for mercy and wretched whining guitar tones, along with vocals that descend into deeper caverns. The drumming in the song will also throw you into a tumble-dryer loaded with bricks, as if the jabbing and jolting grooves weren’t enough to punch you out.

Fittingly, the name of the song is “Decimation of the Flesh“. It appears on the band’s new album The Unknown Path, which is set for release on September 1st, It follows up their 2018 debut album Dark Metamorphosis.





To close today’s collection I’ve chosen a song that doubles-down on the degradation of the spirit, drawing us ever deeper into catacombs of doom and despair, thanks to the work of this Arkansas “blackened sludge” band (so-branded by Metal-Archives).

Crown of Writhing Worms” begins with a ghostly haunted-house intro that meshes very well with the cover art on the album that includes it (which is self-titled). Once they’ve put that chill on your flesh, Ghost Hollow then begin their main mission, unfurling slowly crawling melodies of misery while the bass delivers crushing weight beneath it and the vocals usher forth ragged growls and howls.

The song brutally stomps while steeping the listener in sounds of wretched grief, including a solo that piteously wails. And then the band dramatically slow the pace of their pounding, making the rhythmic punishment even colder and more atonal, but also injecting bursts of corrosive whirring guitars and strangled screams that magnify the music’s pain.

P.S. Just as I was finishing up this column I figured out that Ghost Hollow‘s self-titled album was actually released yesterday, and you can find the whole thing on Bandcamp. I look forward to hearing more of it.



  1. “G-g-g-GHOST HOLLOW!!” – Shaggy, ov Scooby Doo

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