Nov 132019
 


Katharos XIII

 

(In this article Andy Synn combines enthusiastic reviews of three 2019 albums that are departures from our normal musical fare.)

One of the oddest things I’ve observed recently is a surprising number of people bemoaning the fact that “underground sites/magazines don’t cover enough mainstream bands”.

This seems like an odd complaint to make. Not only do mainstream/popular bands already get more than enough attention/coverage, but choosing to read a site/zine which specialises in a certain area, only to then moan about that speciality, feels like an exercise in futility.

Thankfully this doesn’t really affect us here at NCS all that much, as while we do prefer to cover artists and albums that don’t necessarily get a lot of exposure elsewhere, we’re also not afraid to write about more mainstream or popular bands when we feel the occasion calls for it.

This also extends to writing about artists/albums whose work is an “exception to the rule” when it comes to our “no clean singing” policy (although, let’s be honest, that was always more of an in-joke than an actual edict), as while the three bands featured here today are far from “mainstream” they’re still all far more melodic, far more listenable, and far more laid-back than the majority of what we usually cover. Continue reading »

Oct 292019
 

 

I really like all the songs you’ll find below. Only problem is that I don’t have much time to write about them, so I’m forced to just blurt some brief blurbs.

You may have noticed that I have a different title for this post than the usual “SEEN AND HEARD“. That’s because some of these songs go hard and some go a bit softer in comparison, and I’ve arranged them in alternating fashion (until we get to the end, when I’ve doubled down on the hard stuff)

DEIVOS

What a welcome return this is. The Polish death metal destroyers Deivos have a sixth album named Casus Belli that’s headed in our direction via Selfmadegod Records, with a November 29 release date. The first advance track, “Ataraxy“, is what I’ve picked to launch this round-up. Continue reading »

Oct 232019
 

 

(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the French duo Alcest, which will be released by Nuclear Blast this coming Friday, October 25th.)

Back in the days of yore, it was commonly believed that the world we inhabit, the terrestrial sphere, was surrounded and permeated by an omnipresent, invisible essence called aether.

More fundamental than earth, more intangible than wind, more primal than fire, and more fluid than water, the search for this unseen fifth element (which, thanks to Luc Besson, we now know was actually “love” all along) consumed the lives of many of the most prominent scientists, thinkers, and philosophers of the time but, ultimately, was all for naught.

Of course, if they’d had access to the music of Alcest then the results might have been very different. Continue reading »

Oct 172019
 


Geist

 

(In this edition of Andy Synn‘s series on recommended releases by UK bands (presented by the letter “G”), the focus is on Geist, Gévaudan, and Godeater.)

Being a British writer for what is, primarily, a US-based (though not necessarily US-focussed) publication like NCS occasionally puts me in some odd, awkward positions.

For one thing, the level of autonomy afforded to me here is far greater than anywhere else I’ve written for, and, due to our location/reputation, there’s never any pressure on me to blindly “support the scene”, something which often forces other, UK-based, sites/zines to grit their teeth and find ways to be gratingly polite/positive even when they don’t really want to.

On occasion this “outsider” status has come back to bite me, for instance when a band (or their fans) decide I’ve not been nice enough about them, or when I’ve simply refused to cover a band because I didn’t think they were all that good, but, for the most part, it’s a very freeing position to be in, and not one I take for granted.

Hopefully it also absolves me of any accusations of bias or favouritism – I’m not covering these bands because I’m trying to ingratiate myself with them, or “the scene” in general, I’m doing it because I think our readers will want to hear them! Continue reading »

Oct 042019
 


Cognizance

 

(Andy Synn again turns his attention to albums released by bands from the UK, and this time has provided reviews of new releases by Cognizance, PSOTY, and Torpor.)

You may have noticed DGR’s sly little dig at me in Part 1 of his recent round-up series last week and, rest assured, there will be repercussions. Terrible, terrible repercussions.

That being said, it’s good that he’s catching a few things that slip through my net as, no matter how hard I try, there’s no way I can cover absolutely every album and artist coming out of the UK scene that’s worth writing about.

In today’s column you’ll find my thoughts on a highly-anticipated, and understandably hyped, helping of razor-sharp Tech-Death, some brilliantly melodic, emphatically emotive Post-Metal, and a grim and gritty slab of suffocating Sludge, each of which is well worth checking out if any of those genres is your particular cup of tea (or whatever your daytime beverage of choice is). Continue reading »

Oct 012019
 

 

Editor’s Note: Our occasional contributor from Greece, John Sleepwalker, conducted this interview of Eric Clayton shortly before the recent performance of Eric Clayton & The Nine at the Demon’s Gate Festival 2019 in Athens, Greece. Clayton is perhaps best known for the band Saviour Machine that he formed in 1989 with his brother Jeff, which has reunited following an extended hiatus and is at work on a new album, as well as Eric Clayton & The Nine.

John Sleepwalker also asked us to specifically mention that, as the following interview began, Eric first wanted John to tell him some things about himself before the questions began, so he could get to know the person behind them, which seems to be an uncommon occurrence in interviews.

This interview was first published (in Greek) at Avopolis. Continue reading »

Sep 232019
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the French band Klone, which was released on September 20.)

It appears that some people have developed a few misconceptions about this site, so perhaps it’s time to clarify some things.

Firstly, we don’t make any money from NCS. We don’t run ads. We don’t take any money from labels or PR firms. None of us get paid for this. We do it for the love of music, and as a way of expressing ourselves. And, maybe if we’re lucky, what we write makes a connection with someone else along the way.

We also don’t do this for notoriety, or clicks, and while we’re aware that certain opinions or ideas might be controversial we don’t write anything for the specific purpose of courting controversy (despite a few recent examples which might suggest otherwise).

Not only that, but we also don’t have any formal structure for the way we work. No-one is “assigned” anything. No-one is given a specific field or remit or genre to focus on. We just each write about whatever grabs us or inspires us and try to keep everyone else informed so we avoid stepping on each other’s toes as best we can.

We’re also not totally opposed to clean singing, even if the site name suggests otherwise. In fact we were originally going to be called “No Clean Singing That’s Shoehorned In Purely For the Purposes of Increasing Sales or Radio Play” but that was ruled to be maybe a tiny bit too long.

Anyway, now that’s all cleared up, on to Klone. Continue reading »

Sep 182019
 

 

(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by Chelsea Wolfe, which is out now on the Sargent House label.)

Metal is a sound. Heavy is a feeling. There are plenty of bands that on paper are metal, but when played are not heavy. There are some entire genres of metal that might be suited for the Friday night D&D game or drinking mead with your mates, but are not heavy. Then there are artists who are not metal, but given their sense of darkness, despair, or pure sonic gravity, are heavier than a great number of metal bands. Artists like Swans, Diamanda Galas, and The Birthday Party come to mind. Chelsea Wolfe is also one of those.

Her Burzum cover brought her to the attention of metal fans early in her career before she caught the ear of the indie rock crowd. I have obviously covered her here before, since I tend to prefer sonic heaviness and melancholic heaviness over metallic heaviness. This album falls more under melancholic heaviness and is less sonically heavy than her past three albums. Continue reading »

Sep 022019
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the German progressive metal band Disllusion, which will be released on September 6th by Prophecy Productions.)

As we’re all aware, music isn’t a competition. But it’s hard, dare I even say impossible at times, not to compare and contrast artists/albums and pit them against one another, weighing up their relative merits, in order to conclude, subjectively at least, which is somehow “better”.

Consider, for example, the comeback album from German Prog-Metal sensations Disillusion.

For those unfamiliar with the band, over the course of these seven tracks you’ll encounter echoes of the cinematic style of Devin Townsend, the epic riffage of Insomnium, the moody melancholy of In Mourning, and the intricate songwriting of Opeth, all interwoven in a way that’s not only far more cohesive and coherent than the most recent release by the former, but which suggests that the latter three will have to produce something truly special in the next few months if they’re not going to be outdone.

For those who already know Disillusion, however… all I really need to say is that The Liberation isn’t just the long-awaited follow-up to their semi-legendary debut (sorry Gloria fans) but might just be even better. Continue reading »

Aug 232019
 

 

I’m posting this Friday round-up on my way to Sea-Tac airport, where I hope to depart the area for a mini-vacation in Wyoming with a bunch of other miscreants, returning Monday night. I’m not sure how much else I’ll be able to write for NCS between now and then, and I’ve been scurrying even to get this round-up completed before I disappear into the wild blue yonder.

A ton of new music has appeared over the last 24 hours, much of it from bigger names in the metal cosmos. I’ve included some of that here, but not all of it. There is, for example, a video released today for a new Insomnium song called “Valediction” (here) from the album Heart Like A Grave, out on October 4th, that I haven’t included. I assume it’s proving to be a crowd-pleaser. I’ve only listened to it once, and it did get its hooks in my noggin, but I also have some mixed feelings about it. And anyway, I wanted to make room for a couple of more obscure names in addition to the big ones below.

ALCEST

I’m beginning with a video for a new song by Alcest named “Protection“, from their new album Spiritual Instinct. Here’s what vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Neige had to say about it: Continue reading »