Jan 182020


This is the second part of a new-music round-up that I started here yesterday.


Back in 2018, the first recommendation our supporter Speelie made to me, in a comment, was for Hecate’s Une voix venue d’ailleurs. That turned out to be a valuable recommendation, as I attempted to explain in my too-brief review of that superb album (here). Many other valuable recommendations by Speelie have followed, most recently his message to me about a new song by Hecate that debuted on January 12th, and a new album from them that’s set for release by Mourning Light Records (on CD) in March of this year. Continue reading »

Jan 172020


As you can see, I have ambitions to recommend quite a lot of new songs, enough to justify splitting up the collection into two parts. I can’t promise that Part 2 will arrive today, because I haven’t written it yet. Might be tomorrow before you see it, but trust me, it’s worth seeing (and mainly worth hearing) even if you have to wait until Saturday.

I confess that I chose to put these particular five songs together not only because I liked them quite a lot but also because I enjoyed the idea of giving you genre-whiplash as you move through them.


The first four songs in this collection all come from bands whose previous releases we’ve acclaimed here at the NCS hovel, and all of them now have new full-lengths headed our way in 2020. The first of those is the Australian blackened death metal band Earth Rot, whose new album Black Tides of Obscurity will be released on March 6th by Season of Mist. The first advance track, “Dread Rebirth“, is the album opener, and it arrived along with a video that’s full of interesting visual effects. Continue reading »

Jan 172020


In retrospect, we should have foreseen the surge of bands over the last five years and more who have brought elements of black metal into the traditions of metallic hardcore. Both genres have found their own ways of expressing rage and disgust, and combining them was a natural and potent means of pushing the cathartic intensity of those emotions further into the red zone.

The Italian band laCasta (from Monopoli) made their own furious foray into that hybrid musical soundscape through their 2015 EP Encyclia, and on February 28th they’ll follow that debut with an album entitled Æternvm on the label of Argonauta Records. laCasta mince no words and pull no punches. Their name itself, as the label explains, “was inspired by the system that surrounds us and controls the entire planet, where all the castes hold more power day by day”, and their music gives a powerful voice to their nihilistic world-view. We have a prime example today in our premiere of a video for a track off the new album named “Vultures“. Continue reading »

Jan 172020


It’s a necessity to find some strategy for the selection of songs for these year-end lists because the universe of worthy candidates is so enormous. And so, as I’ve mentioned before, I make a conscious effort to present a mix of genre styles, and I also intermingle music from both well-known and much more obscure names.

For today’s installment, I’ve paired two very well-known and successful bands, both of whom have made their mark playing doom-influenced melodic death metal, but have also evolved in interesting ways. Not coincidentally, the songs I picked also include a mix of clean and harsh vocals, and both were presented through especially memorable music videos.


I was so happy that In Mourning‘s newest album Garden of Storms (reviewed by us here and here) was home to several highly infectious tracks because that allowed me, in picking one of them, to put one of my favorite pieces of 2019 cover art on our page again (credit to Necrolord). Continue reading »

Jan 172020


(Here is Andy Synn‘s review of the debut album by the Austrian-German band Oceans, released by Nuclear Blast on January 10th.)

Remember a few years back when the term “Black Metal” became so “hip” that pretty much every album released was getting referred to as “Blackened” this or “Post-Black” that… regardless of what the music actually sounded like?

Well it looks like it’s the turn of “Post Metal” to be 2020’s most wildly (and wilfully) misapplied label, as it’s only been a few weeks of the new year and I’ve already encountered numerous promo emails, press releases, and reviews touting anything with the barest hint of atmosphere or quiet/loud dynamic as being part of the resurgent “Post-Metal” zeitgeist.

Of course, you know what they say, never ascribe to malice what could be explained by ignorance (or laziness), and while this misguided (not to mention misleading) use of the term “Post Metal” by various writers/reviewers does little more than betray their lack of knowledge (or their desperation to jump on the latest bright, shiny bandwagon), some of the blame must also fall on the labels and bands themselves – including the subject of today’s review – for misusing the term in the first place.

All of which, I suppose, is just a long-winded way of saying that if you approach The Sun and the Cold expecting something in the vein of Isis, Neurosis, Cult of Luna, etc, then you’re going to be very, very disappointed (and probably a little confused too).

But if you go into it expecting some highly polished, hyper-modern (and ridiculously catchy) Melodeath then you’re far more likely to enjoy the experience! Continue reading »

Jan 162020


Welcome to the 9th installment of this list. I paired these two songs together because both of them are multi-faceted and musically elaborate, and because they’re both kind of frightening. And of course because I think they’re quite infectious.


Lovers of Loftcraftian metal were rewarded for their devotion last fall by the arrival of Cosmicism, a new album from the great The Great Old Ones (that was not a typo). The album’s title refers to Lovecraft’s literary philosophy, summed up (in a press release we received) as the notion that “humans are godless creatures who are totally insignificant in the grand scheme of our cosmic universe”. The same press release also included this encouraging quote from the great man himself:

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” Continue reading »

Jan 162020


Roughly five years into their existence, the Belgian metal band Sons Of A Wanted Man have sought to blaze a musical path that reflects the varying interests of its members and to find the right combination of genre elements to express the feelings and convictions that inspire them. Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions, the label that will release the band’s debut album Kenoma on February 7th, describes their hybrid of sounds as one that “incorporates the melancholic atmosphere of post-metal, the rhythmic intensity of black metal, the layered approach of shoegaze and the ethics of hardcore punk”.

The results of the band’s efforts, as revealed through Kenoma, is multi-faceted music of great emotional and immersive power, and the lyrical content of the songs is equally engrossing. The song we’re presenting today, “Absent“, is a vivid example of these qualities. The track is a meticulously embroidered tapestry of emotional change, although you could also think of it as a panorama of a pilgrim’s travel through the heart of darkness, through kingdoms of desolation and death. Continue reading »

Jan 162020


(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new album by San Diego, California’s SHRIEKING, which was released on January 8th.)

The Metal scene is, or at least it can be, a very nerdy place indeed.

And that’s fine! I’m basically a massive geek myself, and so are a lot (probably most) of the people I know who are into Metal.

Whoever it is behind solo Black/Death Metal act SHRIEKING is very clearly a nerd of the highest order too (and I mean that as a compliment), as their new album, Let the Galaxy Burn, is an unabashed tribute to the wicked world of Warhammer 40K, in all its ridiculously grimdark glory. Continue reading »

Jan 162020


Next week I’ll be posting the fifth installment of a list by Thy Darkened Shade’s Semjaza, but his list is less a 2019 YE list than it is a big group of recommendations that spans more years than just 2019. And so, unless I’m forgetting something (always a possibility) it’s time to wrap up our 2019 LISTMANIA series.

As in years past we posted an extensive series of lists. As usual, some of them were re-postings of lists that appeared at “big platform” web sites and print magazines, and others were prepared by our own stable of race-horse writers. But once again we had a large group of lists from invited band members and assorted other guests. Plus, we’ve again received valuable, extensive lists in reader comments on THIS POST (new lists can still be added there).

In this article I’m setting forth links to all of the 2019 year-end lists that we published, divided into categories and listed within each category in the order of their appearance. For people who are looking for the best metal that 2019 had to offer, these lists and our readers’ lists provide a tremendous resource, as they have in past years. Continue reading »

Jan 152020


As mentioned earlier today in the last installment of this growing list, I’m making an effort to catch up after a couple of missed days, and so we have two Parts today instead of one. For this one I’ve chosen tracks from two stand-out 2019 releases. To catch up yourselves on the choices that preceded these, follow this link.


I recognize that this first choice might be controversial, not because it’s a song from the latest Abigail Williams album, which rightly received plenty of acclaim in our own year-end lists as well as others, but because many of the people who embraced the album may have other favorite tracks that I didn’t choose.That’s the “problem” with an album like Walk Beyond the Dark. It’s so accomplished and so memorable that it makes the job of picking just one track, even for a list defined principally by “infectiousness”, a tough one. Continue reading »