Dec 072019


I wasn’t sure I would write anything for this Saturday. I mean, it’s not like we didn’t leave you enough music to explore through the 18 posts we made during the last five days, especially the 1,000 or so albums that Andy Synn recommended in his week-long year-end lists. But as I made my way through some new songs that appeared last week, it turned out that six of the tracks I enjoyed (some of which include a portion of clean vocals) were presented through better-than-average music videos, and so I couldn’t resist the temptation to pull those together here.


Sylosis are returning with their first new album in five years. Entitled Cycle of Suffering, it will be released by Nuclear Blast on February 7th, and includes the work of new bassist Conor Marshall. The first advance track, revealed through the first video in today’s collection, is “I Sever“. Continue reading »

Dec 062019


(This is the last installment in Andy Synn‘s week-long series of essays about metal in 2019, closing with a Top 10 list of personal favorites.)

In many ways today’s article, the last one of my seasonal “Listmania” (which is a lot like Hulkamania, only with better hair), is the easiest one to write.

After all, it’s not making any big claims about being “the best” albums of the year, nor is it trying to achieve any similarly lofty goal like my “Critical Top Ten” was. It’s just a list of the ten albums I’ve listened to most and/or which have connected with me most strongly, over the last twelve months.

But precisely because this is such a personal and subjective list, it’s been the one most constantly in flux, with the positioning and ordering of what bands/albums were included switching and changing right up until the wire.

Still, I think (I hope) a lot of you are going to discover (or rediscover) some cool new artists and albums here. Continue reading »

Dec 062019


Kvaen is the solo project of Swedish musician Jakob Björnfot, whose resume includes membership in The Duskfall and Autumn Death, as well as live performances with other noted bands. In this new project, he turns his talents to fast-paced black metal with Pagan and Viking Metal influences, drawing upon both Norwegian and Swedish traditions from the ’90s and upon inspirations emanating from deep mountain forests and cold valleys of the northland.

Kvaen’s debut album, The Funeral Pyre, will be released on February 28th by Black Lion Records, and today we’re presenting the album’s absolutely thrilling title track. Continue reading »

Dec 062019


Unholy Path“, the song we’re premiering through a lyric video from the debut album of Sweden’s Night Crowned, is a veritable tapestry of sound, and a sumptuous feast for the senses and the imagination. Through its richly embroidered and dynamically changing contours the music is mystical and marauding, sweepingly grand and physically jolting, brooding and bombastic. It summons visions of unearthly magnificence as well as chaotic savagery. It hammers the skull and lunges for the throat with teeth bared, and it’s also spellbinding.

That’s a lot to accomplish in a single song, particularly when all the changes are so well-integrated into a cohesive experience. It’s more than one might expect from a relatively new band, but less surprising when you realize that the members of Night Crowned, combined, have been playing metal for well over 60 years, with over 15 albums in their collective catalogue through participation in such other groups as Dark Funeral, Nightrage, and Cipher System.

This new album, Impius Viam, follows the band’s 2018 debut EP, Humanity Will Echo Out (for which we premiered a great song called “Nocturnal Pulse”), and it will be released on February 28th by a new label founded by ex-Nuclear Blast veterans called Noble Demon. Which makes sense, because “Unholy Path” is a noble demon of a song. Continue reading »

Dec 052019


Time is short, and always fleeting, so I’ll dispense with further introductory comments and get right to these three new songs (and a new video) that caught my attention.


We’ve been writing about the music of Svart Crown at NCS since the fall of 2010, when we got the chance to hear and review their second album Witnessing the Fall in advance of its release. Since then they have released two more terrific albums, 2013’s Profane (reviewed here) and 2017’s Abreaction (discussed in part here). And now Century Media has announced that it will release this French band’s fifth album, Wolves Among the Ashes, on February 7th next year. The first song in today’s small collection is the first track made public from that new album. Continue reading »

Dec 052019


In 2018 the mysterious Swiss collective Death. Void. Terror. released their first album, To the Great Monolith I, through Iron Bonehead Productions. It consisted of two tracks, identified by dashes rather than words, which together created a 41-minute out-of-body experience that was completely unnerving. As recounted in our interview of the band, their objective was to serve as vessels for what was bestowed upon them by an entity they called the Great Monolith, and to do that they sought to purge themselves of all traces of human thought and experience, to achieve the kind of “purity” that would make them receptive to what might become manifest through their performances.

Of that first album, our reviewer Grant Skelton wrote: “Not a trace of what could be called ‘humanity’ is left in this album…. Confronting To The Great Monolith I is to delve beneath pretense, beneath cultural normativity, beneath our waking personality…. To disengage from the world, to shut off the mind and allow it to wander, to blatantly refuse to hurry — these are necessarily a part of listening to Death. Void. Terror. Continue reading »

Dec 052019

Photo by Kamil “Camkam” Janowski


You begin your life in a diaper. If you live long enough, you’ll end it in one too. You begin your life playing with toys, and if you live long enough you’ll be playing with toys again, maybe imagining yourself (again) an armored knight vanquishing sword-wielding foes. If you’re lucky, your treasured toys will include a tiny music box in the shape of a sod-roofed house, one in which Septekh are waiting to be wound up and brought to life, to delight your age-melted mind.

If you’re wondering what prompted these thoughts, you’ll find out soon enough. But perhaps you don’t even know who Septekh are? Perhaps you’ve never seen a Septekh video, or even glimpsed the magnificence of Nils GRZNLS Meseke‘s gravity-defying mustache? How tragic for you if such is the case. But soon enough we can fill those gaping holes in your life, too. Continue reading »

Dec 052019


(Andy Synn‘s week-long round-up of metal in 2019 continues with this list of his picks for the year’s “Critical Top Ten” across a range of metal genres.)

Let’s be honest, most “Best Of…” lists aren’t really about identifying the “best” albums of the year.

Most of the time they’re either just a single writer’s personal favourites or, in the case of the major magazines, a wholly predictable round-up, written by committee, designed to confirm and reinforce the expectations of their readership and sell future ad space.

And, you know what? I get it. That’s fine. But I’ve always felt that it’s possible to do better, which is why I came up with the idea for the “Critical Top Ten” in the first place.

Rather than presenting these ten albums as a strict, authoritative list of the “best” albums of the year, the purpose of this article is to provide a representative sample of both the brilliance and variety of the underground Metal scene in 2019, at least as it stands from my perspective.

This year’s selection includes three albums from the USA, two from Germany, two from Spain, and one each from Australia, Switzerland, and the Ukraine. The earliest release is from February, the latest from just last month, and at least three of these records are making an appearance here at NCS for the very first time, so, hopefully, there’s still a few surprises in store for all of you! Continue reading »

Dec 042019


Altered State, the debut EP by the California project Xantam, creates dramatically contrasting sensations, but all of them seem separated from the familiar mundane world around us. The music hurls the listener into vortices of unchained madness and diabolical violence, but also pierces through into other haunting dimensions that seem extraterrestrial, or perhaps the nether realms of imagination. There is sweeping, hypnotic beauty to be found here, as well as tyrannical terrorism, but in all its manifestations the music is chilling (as well as exhilarating).

Xantam is the solo work of a California musician who has taken the name of a Beholder from the game of Baldur’s Gate. His first published work was the LifeDeathBeyond demo, reissued by Blood Harvest Records in 2016, and the same Blood Harvest will be releasing this new EP on Friday the 13th of December. We are pleased to give you a stream of the full experience today. Continue reading »

Dec 042019


(Comrade Aleks rejoins us with this interview of Saku Moilanen, the man behind Red Moon Architect.)

Red Moon Architect was started by Saku Moilanen as a melodic death doom project in Kouvola, Finland, in 2011. He recorded the debut album Concealed Silence (2012) with guest musicians, but after two more albums and the transformation of the solo project into a full band Saku returned in the spring of 2019 with a fourth album Kuura, which tends to a funeral doom sound. We’ve discussed with Saku the way Red Moon Architect grows. Continue reading »