Islander

Jan 252021
 

 

In a round-up yesterday I disclosed that I spent a lot of time on Saturday catching up with new music I was interested in hearing. I actually just scratched the surface, but still got submerged in a lot of metallic extremity. As palate cleansers, I sometimes gave my ears and my head a break by venturing into music I knew in advance wouldn’t be the usual bread and butter of NCS. From those off-the-beaten-path excursions I selected the following music to share with you.

I don’t mean to suggest that there’s no metal here at all, and a couple of the names will be well-known to NCS readers, but it’s still different. And you’ll also find that there is a lot of globe-hopping coming your way.

THY CATAFALQUE (Hungary)

I can always recognize the music of Thy Catafalque when I hear it, regardless of which vocalist happens to be accompanying Tamás Kátai. It may have something to do with his guitar tunings and his use of rhythms, but mainly it’s rooted in his crafting of melodies. I wish I could confidently assert that the melodies are connected to the folk traditions of his Hungarian homeland, but I’m just assuming that, because I’m not a student of Hungarian folk music. To my untrained ears, all I can say is that the sounds are exotic to me, and both earthy and haunting. But really, those two adjectives just skim the surface, because across the breadth of Thy Catafalque‘s extraordinary discography, there are many other sensations as well. Continue reading »

Jan 242021
 

 

I may have bitten off more than you can chew in this collection of recommended black metal. It’s certainly more than I can masticate with adequate words. I’ve started with a collection of individual songs from forthcoming albums by five bands, and then followed that with a complete album and two full EPs. To make this manageable for me, if not for you, for the full releases I’ve only hinted at what you’ll find within them and then left you to browse for yourselves.

SARKRISTA (Germany)

The first song in today’s collection, “The Beast Reborn“, is a teaser for the third album to be released by these Finnish Satanists (who dwell in Germany). It rips and ravages, batters and scampers, but soars in a way that’s both glorious and desperately beleaguered, and the trilling leads channel a heart-felt yearning that might seem at odds with the completely unhinged, flamethrowing vocals. Continue reading »

Jan 242021
 

 

We had a rare day with no posts yesterday. I spent most of my free time clawing through the hundreds of mostly un-read e-mails that had piled up in our in-box last week, and made a gigantic list of new music to check out, and then attempted to do the checking. I didn’t finish listening to everything because the list was so long. But of the new stuff I heard, the following collection kind of assembled itself.

I don’t think any of these bands require an introduction. All of their names are prominent. And all the songs until the last one have a pronounced old school death metal flavor. They’re also all heavy on the chugs, and the death metal tracks include uniformly ferocious vocals. Melvins obviously aren’t a death metal band, but their new song is also heavy on the chugs, and there’s also another reason why it fits in an “old school” round-up.

P.S. If you came here today expecting to find a SHADES OF BLACK column, be patient. It’s coming.

ASPHYX

As mentioned above, there are a lot of powerhouse vocalists in this collection I’ve assembled, beginning with the inimitable Martin van Drunen (a lot of people do try to imitate him, and to be honest, some do so with some success, but there still ain’t nothing like the original). Continue reading »

Jan 222021
 

 

It’s been another one of those weeks when a smorgasbord of distractions (did you hear we inaugurated a new President?) prevented me from doing much more at NCS than write up the premieres I’d agreed to do. As the days rolled on I noticed dozens of new songs and videos that I’m anxious to check out. I haven’t gotten to most of them; I guess I know how I’ll be spending this weekend. But I did seize on a few of them, and from those I picked the three included in this quick Friday round-up.

BEYOND GRACE (UK)

Yes, I suppose you could accuse me of nepotism with this first pick, given that our own Andy Synn fronts the band in question. But I’m just so thrilled for him and his band that I honestly haven’t given a second thought to my decision to lead off with this new song and video. And it’s not just that the song and video are so good, it’s also that the video premiered on the day of an announcement that Beyond Grace had signed to Prosthetic Records for the release of their next album. Continue reading »

Jan 222021
 

 

(Here we have Andy Synn‘s review of the debut album by the multinational avant-garde black metal band Thermohaline, which had its surprise Bandcamp release today.)

Give us a choice between covering a big-name band or a relative unknown and we’ll plump for the latter 99 times out of 100.

That’s just the way we roll, and the way it’s always been.

Granted, we’re not against covering bigger, more well-known acts, particularly if/when we think we’ve got an interesting or unique take to offer, but for the most part our efforts are best focussed on the underdogs, the underrated, and the under-exposed… bands like blackened, avant-garde genre-blenders Thermohaline. Continue reading »

Jan 222021
 

 

Last February we had the pleasure of presenting a lyric video for a song by the Australian black/death ravagers Oath of Damnation. That song, “I Curse Thee, O Lord!” was an eye-popping thrill-ride, both eerily majestic and utterly hellish, both atmospheric and barbaric. And there were a lot more thrills awaiting listeners in the album that included it — the well-named Fury and Malevolence — which was released by Gore House Productions in March 2020, roughly six years after the band’s full-length debut. Months later, that record popped up on numerous year-end lists around the web, and now we have a vivid reminder of just how good the album is.

Fury and Malevolence is brimming with well-told tales of darkness, horror, and ancient mythologies, and one of the most compelling tales is “Imhullu“, the track that opens the record and carries the listener into an unearthly world of titanic struggle and gargantuan bloodshed. No wonder that the band chose that song as the subject of the video we’re premiering today. Continue reading »

Jan 222021
 

 

Last September at NCS Andy Synn devoted the 125th edition of his Synn Report (here) to the discography of Minnesota-based Feral Light, whose music he recommended for fans of  Tombs, Cobalt, and Wolvhammer. In Andy’s words, Feral Light (drummer Andrew Reesen and guitarist/vocalist Andy Schoengrund) “deal in a gritty, gruesomely groovesome brand of Black ‘n’ Roll which has, over the years, also developed an increasingly savage-yet-sombre (not to mention ever-so-slightly proggy) edge to it”.

The latest record in their discography as it existed at the time of Andy’s retrospective was the 2020 album Life Vapor, which he characterized as Feral Light‘s “darkest record yet”, a “more refined and more atmosphere-heavy album than either of its predecessors”, but also “even more focussed and ferocious”: “[F]or what it might lack (or sacrifice) in terms of bombastic hooks and swaggering attitude it more than makes up for in sheer intensity and potent staying-power, making for an overall more fulfilling, and no less thrilling, listening experience from start to finish.”

If you haven’t yet encountered Feral Light, you should definitely check out Life Vapor — but you really couldn’t go wrong with any of their albums. And thankfully, the band continue to forge ahead. On February 26th they will be releasing a new three-song EP named Ceremonial Tower, and today it’s our pleasure to premiere one of those three tracks — “Conjoint Lightlessness“. Continue reading »

Jan 212021
 

 

(Here is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Finnish band Aethyrick, which is set for release by Sinister Flame on January 22nd — tomorrow!)

I have to begin this review with a mea culpa.

I clearly remember listening to Aethyrick’s previous album, Gnosis, when it was released last year. I remember enjoying it, I remember making notes about it, I remember fully intending to review it… but somehow, for some reason, it never happened. And that’s no-one’s fault but my own.

However, time heals all wounds – or, at least, gives us an opportunity to atone for them – and the recent release of the prolific Finnish duo’s third album means I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. Continue reading »

Jan 212021
 

 

In early December we got a big but very welcome surprise when Debemur Morti Productions announced that they would be releasing a new album by the avant-garde Australian death metal band The Amenta (the band’s first full-length in almost eight years), and sprung upon us a video for the album’s first advance track, “Sere Money“. And now we’re springing upon you a video for the album’s second single, “An Epoch Ellipsis“, along with an interview of the The Amenta’s Timothy Pope which focuses on what you’re about to see and hear.

The name of the new album is Revelator, and Debemur Morti has set February 19th as the release date. As DMP rightly reports, it is “the culmination of nearly 20 years’ collective experimentation in nonconformist, dissonant, dynamic and electronically-lacerated Death Metal”. And although we typically resist just copy/pasting promotional texts written by others, the following passage does a very good job as an introduction to the manifold experiences the album presents: Continue reading »

Jan 212021
 

 

We’ve been following the music of the Italian death metal band Valgrind for many years, and for good reason. But if you happen to be discovering them for the first time, despite how often we’ve written about them, they released four demos and an EP between 1995 and 2002 — and then seemed to go into hibernation until the appearance ten years later of their debut album, Morning Will Come No More. Another four years passed, and then Valgrind’s second album, Speech of the Flame, was released by Lord of the Flies Records. The wonderful 2017 EP Seal of Phobos tided over Valgrind fans until the 2018 appearance of the next album, Blackest Horizon, via Everlasting Spew Records.

And then last year brought us a new full-length, Condemnation, which was released in July through the Spanish label Memento Mori, who rightly characterized the record as “poignant, crushing and classy”. It was further proof of what the band’s discography had already revealed, i.e., that Valgrind aren’t content to remain stuck in one place. Even after all this time, they have continued to evolve, to challenge themselves, and to let their interests and ambitions lead them to create music that’s mentally and emotionally engrossing for listeners — as well as frequently eye-popping in its ferocity.

And now Valgrind will be independently releasing a new EP named From the Viscera of Darkness, and today we’re pleased to present a video for the title track. Continue reading »