Jul 162019


The new album by the Austrian alchemists The Negative Bias is so ambitious in its conception, so extravagant in its composition, and so tremendously powerful in its execution that it merits the often-overused term “visionary”. It becomes a form of breathtakingly dramatic musical theater that seems calculated to create shock and awe, to assault and bedazzle the senses, forcibly shattering commonplace perceptions in order to make the mind more receptive to new and unexpected visions.

The name of this monumental work is Narcissus Rising (A Metamorphosis In Three Acts). It follows the band’s debut album Lamentation of the Chaos Omega (2017) and a 2018 split with Golden Dawn. It will be released on July 26th by ATMF, and today we premiere a full stream, preceded by further thoughts about this stunning experience. Continue reading »

Jul 152019


On July 26th Redefining Darkness Records will release a trio of demos that feature recordings both old and new by three death metal bands, grouping them together under the banner “Demo Daze of Summer“. To help spread the word we’re presenting premieres of music from all three.

The first is a never-before-heard demo of songs originally written in 1992 by the Kentucky band Effigy. The second is a re-press (with a bonus instrumental track) of a demo originally self-released in 2018 by Sculpted Horror from Athens, Georgia. And the third is a brand new EP from the Italian death-mongers Morbus Grave.


The back-story about Effigy begins in 1992, when Craig Netto and Dillard Logsdon (formerly of Sarcoma) first traded musical ideas at a mutual friend’s home in Kentucky and formed Effigy. As Redefining Darkness explains: “Effigy completed four songs within a few months before getting the offer for their first and only show. Not long after the show two of the members joined Abominant and went on to release a number of albums with the band. While a few of the guys had some underground success in Abominant, Dillard Logsdon didn’t pursue a band after Effigy’s early demise.”

“In mid-2016 the core of the band re-connected and decided to resurrect Effigy with the intention of giving their original songs from 1992 a chance to be heard and, if all went well, continue to play together and maybe even write new material”. Continue reading »

Jul 152019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the 7th album by the solo project Arctic Sleep from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was released on July 12th. It is a significant exception to our “rule” about singing. The cover art was created by Jennifer Weiler.)

Some of our readers may not be aware of this, but the Metal blogosphere (of which we are but a small part) is kind of like its own separate ecosystem, with all the various sites and zines and writers sharing and interacting within the same digital space, by turns feeding, and being fed upon, and occasionally coming together to copulate, exchange information, and (hopefully) create something new.

This doesn’t mean we’re all “in cahoots”, by any means. I’ve questioned and criticised the work of others just as much as I’ve been questioned and criticised in turn. But it does mean that, sometimes at least, the circle of life – or the circle of riffs, as it were – moves us all in similar ways.

Case in point, I have to give full credit to those brave lavatorial adventurers at The Toilet ov Hell for introducing me to the music of Arctic Sleep, whose latest album I’ve been listening to pretty much non-stop over the weekend. Continue reading »

Jul 142019


I’m in the midst of a two-day outdoor event with co-workers and other friends that happens every summer. It tends to leave me very little time for NCS, and that has proven true again this year. I also failed to ask someone else to take over SHADES OF BLACK for this Sunday.

But I didn’t want to have a complete blackout of the site today, which might leave some of our visitors wondering if some disaster had befallen us, or if that Manhattan power outage had decided to leap the continent and send us into a different kind of darkness than what usually descends in these weekly columns. So I have one song to share with you, and unfortunately only one. As it happens, a notice of it arrived in our in-box only this morning. Lacking the time to listen to any other candidates on my list, I took a chance and listened only to this one. If it had not been good, we might have had a total blackout. Continue reading »

Jul 132019

Zao 2018 – Photo by Jered Scott


(For this week’s edition of WAXING LYRICAL Andy Synn questioned Dan Weyandt, lyricist/vocalist of the long-running American metal band Zao.)

It’s no exaggeration to say that Zao are one of my all-time favourite, most-listened-to, bands.

I first came across their punchy, endearingly scrappy form of Metallic Hardcore/proto-Metalcore early on in my transition towards heavier music, and immediately liked what I heard.

By chance, however, I actually lost touch with the band for a while, only to rediscover them a few albums later, by which point, to my great pleasure, their sound had metamorphosed into an even more aggressive and metallic form.

Not only have a I been a major fan ever since, but the biting vocals and cathartic lyrics of Dan Weyandt have been a major influence on me as a singer/writer myself, so I am doubly-pleased to be be able to speak to him for this latest edition of Waxing Lyrical. Continue reading »

Jul 122019


The line-up of Phobia has been in flux. As compared to the crew that pumped out 2017’s Lifeless God tirade, vocalist Shane “the Pain” Mclachlan, guitarist Bruce Reeves (who was there at the beginning along with Shane), and bassist Calum Mackenzie have now been joined on their new album by guitarist Jason Robert and drummer Ray Banda (who also performed on various Phobia recordings in the 2000s).

But it’s not like anyone should expect these changes to throw Phobia off-course, and they clearly haven’t. It’s hard to imagine that anything could do that, except maybe a massive asteroid strike on southern California, and you wouldn’t even want to bet on that derailing these “undisputed kings of the grindcore underworld” (PR verbiage, but not an exaggeration).

Phobia’s fury has never been in doubt, and the current sociopolitical environment of course provides zero reason for them (or anyone else with a functioning brain) to calm down. There’s certainly no retrenchment in the band’s explosive power and brutality on their new album, Generation Coward, which is now set for an August 9 release by Willowtip Records. As proof of that, just listen to this song we’re premiering: Continue reading »

Jul 112019


The U.S. label Redefining Darkness Records (Ohio) and the European label Raw Skull Recordz (Netherlands) have embarked on a collaborative venture born of their shared love for different breeds of old school death metal. The name of the project is Invasion of Extremity, and under that banner the labels will be jointly releasing select albums on both sides of the Atlantic, beginning with two new records by bands based in Eastern Europe — the Estonian extremists Deceitome and Swarn.

Deceitome’s new EP is Flux of Ruin, and Swarn’s is entitled Black Flame Order. Both records will be simultaneously released on August 2nd, and today we’re premiering a track from each one. Continue reading »

Jul 112019


Lifetime Shitlist confronted a significant challenge in following up their deceptively titled 2017 album, Slow March, but that was no one’s fault but their own. As we recounted in a review accompanying the stream premiere of that record, “Slow March will punch you in the kidneys and treat your head like a piece of sheetrock ready for the nail gun, but man, it’s a ton of battering fun — the kind of fun that leaves you with loose teeth the next morning and the kind of bruising that goes beyond black and blue and into that shade of yellow that makes you queasy to look at it”.

How would these Baltimore brawlers be able to exceed, or even match, the pure viscerally appealing momentum of that album? As bleak and bludgeoning as the songs often were, the riffs and crowbar-hard grooves were lined with razor-sharp hooks. Every song was catchy, every one of them made you want to move. Most of them might also have made you want to body-check the person next to you.

We’re beginning to get the answers to these questions. They’ve got a new album set up for release on August 16th through Grimoire Records, once again recording it with label boss Noel Mueller (who also mixed and mastered it). This one is more accurately named Bad Blood. Not long ago The Obelisk premiered the title track, which is a massive neck-wrecker — part punk anthem, part psychoactive squall, part pile-driving pavement-buster — and now we’ve got another track to reveal. This new one is named “Not Yet“. Continue reading »

Jul 112019


(This is Todd Manning‘s review of the new album by No One Knows What the Dead Think, which is set for release on September 20 by Willowtip Records.)

All hail the new flesh, the new band that is a merciless reincarnation of the insane and mighty Discordance Axis. No One Knows What The Dead Think contains D.A. alumni Jon Chang on vocals and Rob Marton on guitar, and they are joined by Kyosuke Nakano on drums, and the band make no bones about this being the culmination of the original series of albums by Discordance Axis.

For those not familiar with Discordance Axis, they produced some of the most stunningly original Grindcore albums of the nineties. The sound was utterly unhinged, partially due to Chang’s vicious and wide-eyed vocal approach, but also because of Marton’s almost Godflesh-like riffs being paired with Dave Witte’s blasting drum work. And just like before, the vibe here is suitably Post-Human, a sort of logical conclusion to Cyberpunk, where Earth’s hellscape is primarily populated by swarms of of artificial intelligence. Continue reading »