Dec 012020


Nexul’s new album, Scythed Wings of Poisonous Decay, is not for the faint of heart. It’s a shock-and-awe campaign of terrifying blackened death metal that seems thoroughly devoted to ruining minds and bodies through typhoon assaults of unhinged violence intertwined with nuances of horrific dread and paralyzing misery. The fear factor of the music is through the roof, and so is the raw, abrasive, punishing quality of the sound.

But as you’ll also discover if you choose to run this gauntlet, the songs are more carefully calculated than you might expect from what you’ve just read, and more attuned to the elaboration of unearthly atmosphere in the midst of sonic atrocities.

And running this gauntlet from start to finish is just what we’re giving you the opportunity to do today, through our premiere of a full album stream in advance of its December 4 release by Iron Bonehead Productions on CD and 12″ vinyl. Continue reading »

Dec 012020


5 R V L N 5 is the name of a solo/collaborative electronic-based Industrial project created by Chicago’s Chuck Clybourne. 5 R V L N 5‘s first release was a five-track EP named The Black Mark, which appeared just as the pandemic was beginning to get into full swing in March of this year. Its harrowing soundscapes turned out to be a prescient representation of the miseries, the disgust, and the rage spawned by the months that have followed, as well as something like a desire for escape. As we work our way to the end of 2020, but with no imminent end in sight to everything that made it so rotten, it’s fitting that 5 R V L N 5 has arranged for new sonic experiences.

One of the tracks on The Black Mark is “World of Filth“. Tomorrow it will be re-issued in the form of a “maxi single” accompanied by two remixes, one by Sanford Parker (Corrections House, EyeHateGod, Statiq Bloom) and the other by Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu, Napalm Death). Earlier today Cvlt Nation premiered the “Deliverance” remix by Sanford Parker, and we’re now bringing you the “Dissociation” remix created by Justin Broadrick. Continue reading »

Dec 012020


We have now entered the final month of 2020, and that begins the final countdown to the end of the year. In the world of metal, this month we’ll also start seeing more and more lists of the year’s best releases. In fact, today we began rolling out some lists of our own.

Back in 2009, when this site was just a few days old, I wrote a post about year-end lists and why people bother with them. The best reason still seems to be this: Reading someone else’s list of the albums they thought were best is a good way to discover music you missed and might like.

We don’t do an “official” NCS year-end “best albums” list. However, we publish the picks of each of our regular staff writers as well as a group of invited guest writers, in addition to lists that we re-post from a few print zines and “big platform” online sites.

Every year we also invite our readers to share their lists and we’re doing that again right here, right now.

If you’ve been pondering what you’ve heard this year and have made your own list of the albums, EPs, or splits released in 2020 that you think are the best of what you’ve heard, we invite you to share it with everyone in the Comments section to this post. And if you haven’t made a list yet but want to, there’s still plenty of time (read below). Continue reading »

Nov 302020


As part of our annual LISTMANIA series we re-publish “best album” lists from some of the the few surviving print publications that cover metal, and from a handful of “big platform” sites that include metal in their on-line coverage, along with a range of other music genres and other aspects of popular culture.

Of course, as soon as you see the words “popular culture” you know those lists aren’t going to devote too much attention to the kind of music we cover at NCS. But it’s still amusing, and sometimes even edifying, to get a glimpse of what these “taste-making” organs are telling the above-ground world are the year’s best metal releases.

Last week Revolver magazine published their list of “The 25 Best Albums of 2020” on-line. Revolver claims that “millions of passionate consumers” visit their website and view their videos across desktop and mobile; that the print edition is the “biggest hard-rock and metal magazine in North America,” with a subscriber base that’s three times larger than the “next biggest U.S. metal print publication”; and that they have a “highly engaged social following with over 1B impressions per month across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.” Continue reading »

Nov 302020


Born in late 2009 from the ashes of So Cold, the Italian doom-metal group Hadal (from Trieste) have created a compendium of their ten-year history in the form of a new album named December, whose title not only signals the month of its release but also musically summons the wintry bleakness and crestfallen moods that come with the season.

Arriving three years after their debut album Painful Shadow, December draws upon the traditions of such bands as early Paradise Lost and Anathema, as well as My Dying Bride, while also bringing into play doses of black metal viciousness to accompany the crushing riffs, doleful melodies, and despairing atmospheres.

Today we’re premiering a song called “Without A Word“, which is the third track to be publicly revealed from December. Collectively they provide vivid evidence of just how multi-faceted Hadal’s new album really is. Continue reading »

Nov 302020


(This is Andy Synn‘s SYNN REPORT for November 2020, and this month he lines up reviews of all the albums by California’s Vampire Squid.)

Recommended for fans of: Cattle Decapitation, The Red Chord, Slugdge

Being in a Metal band and not taking yourself too seriously, while also treating your craft and your audience with the respect they deserve, is a difficult line to walk – but not an impossible one.

Matter of fact, some of my favourite bands are dead serious (and highly professional) about what they do while also being fully aware of the innate absurdity of using the medium of Metal to bellow barely decipherable lyrics about historical atrocities or struggles with mental illness or scorn for global politics… or any one of a hundred other deadly serious, and seriously dark, issues.

And while lyrically Southern California Tech-Grind crew Vampire Squid may be slightly less serious than some – most of their songs are based around the classic Death Metal themes of blood, guts, and dismemberment, albeit with a suitably briny twist – musically speaking they’re cut from the same creative cloth as bands like The Red Chord and The Faceless, marrying the angular technicality of these groups with a rabid intensity reminiscent of Cattle Decapitation and Benighted, all topped off with a dose of the complex-yet-catchy songwriting style of their mollusc-based brethren in Slugdge (with whom they also share a love for pun-tastic song titles).

But, hey, if all that sounds too good to be true then why not see/hear for yourself and join me on a free dive into the crushing depths of the band’s discography for this month’s edition of The Synn Report? Continue reading »

Nov 302020


Over a significant span of years — going all the way back to the spring of 2010, in fact — we’ve devoted a lot of attention to the musical endeavors of the multi-faceted Mumbai-based extreme metal musician Sahil Makhija, whose nom de guerre is Demonstealer. We’ve followed his progress through the bands he has led, including Demonic Resurrection and Reptilian Death, as well as through his solo work in Demonstealer.

In addition to his musical output, which has featured live appearances at big European metal fests, his career has included starting a record label, establishing a professional recording studio dedicated to extreme metal, and even hosting a YouTube cooking show. And so, through two decades of activity in the often-fractious metal “community” he has not only survived but often thrived, and is probably India’s best-known figure in its heavy music landscape.

Of course, those two decades weren’t all smooth sailing. “Smooth sailing” is a foreign concept in the world of extreme metal, where fans are fickle, money is always scarce, and failure rather than fortune tends to be the dominant narrative. Yet despite all the obstacles, Sahil is still working at what he loves, and we have a new Demonstealer EP to show for it. Its title is And This Too Shall Pass, and today we’re bringing you the premiere of one of its four death metal tracks, presented via an official video, in advance of the EP’s release on December 11th. Continue reading »

Nov 292020


If you happened to lose your way, you can find Part 1 of today’s black metal collection here. And now you can get lost in the music I’ve chosen for Part 2. Lots of twists and turns lie ahead.


I mentioned in Part 1 that on November 18th ПРАВА Коллектив (Prava Kollektiv) released no fewer than five full-lengths, and that I spent time this weekend with two of them, while remaining eager to check out the other three as soon as time permits. I picked one of those two to lead off Part 1, and the second one is this: an album-length split named Astrophobia that includes the music of Arkhtinn and Starless Domain and features cover art by Markov Soroka. The split consists of two epic-length tracks, one by each band. Continue reading »

Nov 292020


I was able to devote much of Saturday and this Sunday morning to music-listening. The result was not only yesterday’s gigantic round-up but also a two-part SHADES OF BLACK that I’m beginning here. I realize it’s too much to expect that any normal person would listen to all of this, but my enthusiasm often triumphs over practicality. It also often triumphs over my capacity to write, resulting in more hurried consideration and fewer words than the music deserves. That’s especially true today.

I devoted a big portion of the listening time to two of the five (!) full-length releases issued on November 18th by ПРАВА Коллектив (Prava Kollektiv). I’m beginning Part 1 of this post with one of those, and starting Part 2 with the second one. The other three look just as exciting, but I’ll have to get to those another day. This Part also includes another album, an EP, and an advance track. Hopefully you’ll have time to at least sample everything. Part 2 will be even longer.


Based on past experience with this mysterious entity I would have eventually checked out Hwwauoch’s new album without any other encouragement, but the fact that three of my most trusted recommenders of music — Rennie (starkweather), Miloš, and eiterorm — all urged it my way elevated it on my listening list. The name of the album is Protest Against Sanity, and it’s one of those five Prava Kollektiv releases that emerged 10 days ago. Continue reading »

Nov 282020


I don’t have any words of wisdom to offer today, other than the usual: Wear your damn masks, stay away from other people as much as possible, and stop bathing and wiping after you take a shit so that other people will stay away from you. If you must go out, play the following tracks on a boom-box so people will run away.


To begin, here’s a video for a song called “Pandemic” because, as you can tell, the virus is on my mind (as it is on most days) — but also because the hooks in this song are potent, from the rocking and rumbling drum rhythms to the darting, gleaming, and roiling riffs. The vibrancy of the song is as contagious as the subject matter, and so is the menace that surfaces in its more frenzied episodes. Meanwhile the vocals are utterly scorching. Continue reading »