Aug 122023

What do you get when you mix a lingering cold, nighttime cold medication, and way too much wine on a Friday night? In my case I got 12 hours of sleep and coma-like brain fog when I woke up this morning.

Strong coffee has amazing restorative powers, but this morning was nearly all gone before it started to work, and unfortunately it’s not a cure for colds, nor is anything else. This infection just refuses to crawl away, and there’s nothing I can do to make it retreat. It even seems to have laughed off 12 hours of sleep.

On wrecked Saturdays like this one, which thankfully have been rare over the last 13+ years of NCS, I usually just throw in the towel and accept that we’ll have a day with nothing new on the page. However, I’m just obstinate enough today that I turned seething anger over the virus into a selection of angry music, even if it arrives here much later than usual.


A link to this first song, “Climb Out“, landed in our in-box three days ago, and the comparative references to Converge and Trap Them caused me to bookmark it. The reported fact that this Salt Lake trio includes members of Cult Leader and that the song is from a debut album which will be released by Church Road Records provided extra incentives.

The big hook here is the riveting rumble and tumble of the rhythm section that opens the song — right after the guitars make you feel like ants are rhythmically swarming under your skin.

The swarming unnervingly persists, creating a manic and marauding pulse. The guitars also slash and blare, ratcheting up the music’s unnerving intensity, and the vocals are strikingly unhinged.

But the rhythm section never release their hooks. The drumming is especially gripping and inventive, and that bass sounds like it’s chewing on femurs, when it’s not musing and murmuring or galloping like stallions. At the end, the band decide to slug you silly (get your mouth guards in if you don’t want to crawl around looking for your teeth).

Last year Rile released a video for the album’s title track, and I’m including that one too, so you can get some quick glimpses of the band discharging another viscerally powerful and frighteningly intense song — an eruption of explosive, discordant, nerve-wrecking, and technically impressive mayhem, replete with the kind of berserk vocals that would send a normal larynx straight to the emergency room.

As indicated, the name of this debut album is Pessimist, and Church Road plans to release it on October 27th. Some other luminaries were involved with its production: Kurt Ballou (mixing), Brad Boatright (mastering), and Aaron Turner (cover art).




There’s a bit of a head-fake at the outset of this next song — the kind of cymbal-shimmering and quick drum bursts that leave a listener uncertain about where the song will go. Where it goes turns out not to follow a straight line.

Without warning, the band cause the music to clatter and jolt, but also to lurch and heave, to run riot and to drag us through thick congealing viscera.

In other words, this is eldritch death metal that spasms and also revels in foulness and degradation (the vocals do so as well, through cavernous roars and tortured screams), but the riffs also chug ahead like a mid-paced freight engine while the drumming snaps a punkish groove, and there’s a slithering solo near the end that’s both white-hot and thoroughly miserable.

On the whole it’s primitive, ghoulish, old-school stuff, but the prominence of the bass and drums are welcome, and as noted, the band do switch things up repeatedly as they propel us toward our dismal end.

The song is “Stuck In Limbo“, and it’s the first track revealed from this long-running Japanese band’s new EP Beyond Oblivion, which is set for release on August 24th by Me Saco Un Ojo, Sewer Rot Records, and Unholy Domain.



I HELVETE (Finland)

This next song begins in a way that’s thoroughly saturated in misery. Anchored by a big heaving bass and a marching snare groove, the guitars create a piercing, whining harmony of agony while the words come in gritty, monstrous growls.

Yet there’s something about the tremolo’d whir of the lead guitar that’s curiously elevating in the midst of such morose heaviness, and you’ll get an even bigger surprise when a female voice (the band’s guest Anna Pellikka) begins to sing in old folkish tones — the earthen beauty to the other vocalist’s shaggy fanged beast.

Eventually the song does become more feverishly intense, as the guitars frantically burn, the drums race, and keys swirl high above in tragic grandeur. A third vocal style steps forward then, a throat-tearing expression of wretched torment, leading toward a stricken guitar solo.

The name of this song is “Uuden Ajan ABC“, the first single from Finnish extreme metal band i Helvete‘s second album Yksi Yhteinen Yhteiskunta (“One Common Society”), which will be released on November 24th by Inverse Records. It’s described as “a concept album about a cult that wants to destroy current society to build a new one.”



photo by Vogan Laundromat


I’m going to close the corral gate on this roundup with a new video that premiered at Cvlt Nation for a punishing Torpor song (“Accidie”) that I wrote about previously in another Seen and Heard selection. I won’t repeat what I wrote before (you can read that here if you’re so inclined), but I will include this quotation about the video that was part of the premiere feature:

Thematically, the video reflects the theme of living things beginning as, and returning to, carbon — the cycle of birth, death, and renewal. The trio perform against stone walls, with vignetted leaves and branches framing many of the shots. The beaming white of the sacred burial cloth used throughout the video is contrasted against the oft silhouetted lighting of the band and their gear — a juxtaposition enhanced greatly by the resonance of the black and white gradient. “My feeling was trying to make the video as claustrophobic as possible,” confirms director Oliver Melville.

The song is the first single from an album named Abscission, which is this trio’s third full-length. It will be released on September 15th by the UK label Human Worth. Ten percent of all proceeds will be donated to a charity called Second Step – “a leading mental health charity in Bristol and the South West”.

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