Dec 312019
 


Akos Fulop cracks his whip during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Kecskemet, Hungary, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019 when shepherds, horseherds and story-tellers wave farewell to the year 2019 with singing and whipcracking. (photo by Sandor Ujvari/MTI via AP)

 

Ii won’t say this is becoming a tradition because I can’t remember if I did it before last year at this time and I’m too fuckin’ lazy to find out and who knows if I’ll still be alive this time next year? But anyway, for at least the second annum in a row I’ve decided to end the NCS year with a playlist of music and then roll into the New Year with another one tomorrow.

I feel pretty comfortable that I’ll be able to write the one for New Year’s Day in the morning because, once again, I’m planning a quiet new Year’s Eve at home with my wife. After more than a few decades of severe misbehavior, the idea of a quiet night and a New Year’s Day without a cataclysmic hangover has become very appealing. No more January 1 mornings wondering, “Is the blood on my shirt mine?”, “Whose room is this?”, and “Where did I leave my pants?”

For these SEEN AND HEARD round-ups I usually pick from the songs I’ve added most recently to the list of new music to check out (a list I update nearly every day). But this time I decided to do something different. Continue reading »

Dec 272019
 

 

Christmas Day and the day after are usually quiet ones in the spheres of activity of which NCS is a part. The typical flood of press releases dwindles to a trickle, most other metal blogs are hibernating, and few bands or labels release new music. Eyes are elsewhere, many of them probably closed altogether.

However, I can’t resist taking advantage of the relative peace to check out odds and ends I’ve been waiting to explore, or have recently noticed for the first time. I guess it’s obvious that I can’t resist, given how much new music I’ve already thrown at you during this holiday week — but here’s more (don’t duck!):

WORSEN

I could have sworn I had written something about Worsen’s 2019 debut album Cursed To Witness Life, but can find no evidence of it. Add that to the list of excellent 2019 releases I’ve shamefully neglected. If you haven’t already sampled what that album has to offer, and you enjoy black metal, you should go here and give it a shot. As a couple of commenters wrote on that Bandcamp page I just linked you to: “Cold as hell, awesome melodies and in your face riffs”; “Haunting, beautiful, dark and utterly mesmerizing.”

What reminded me of Cursed To Witness Life was a new single that Worsen released on December 24th to commemorate the birthday, not of Jesus, but of Lemmy Kilmister, at whose altar many of us pray more often than the other guy’s. It’s a cover of Motörhead’s “Killed By Death”, and it’s fucking great. Continue reading »

Dec 242019
 

 

(In what used to be an annual tradition, and hopefully will become one again, we present a year-end list of favorite Not-Metal albums by Joseph Schafer (whose NCS moniker was BadWolf). Joseph is a  former NCS writer, ex-Invisible Oranges editor, current contributor to DecibelNoisey, and Consequence of Sound, and a principal co-conspirator in the production of Northwest Terror Fest.)

Sorry it took so long. Last year, the usual hustle and bustle of the holidays totally occupied my time. If you think about it, it’s hard to think of a worse time of year for Listmania than the apex of social and familial pressure that is the end of the year— not to mention the horrid weather that blasts most of the United States as I write this. Regardless, after an abnormally tumultuous 2019, and my decision to skip Listmania the year before, I took the time to outline, as before, my favorite non-metal albums of the year.

Some of these choices should be familiar to anyone who has read my list in years past – I tend to err on the side of my favorites, most of the time. The artists who created five of these choices have turned up on these lists before. Continue reading »

Dec 082019
 

 

Hallelujah! I managed to finish Part 2 of today’s column. Whether you finish listening to all the music is a different question, because between Part 1 and this installment there’s quite a lot to be absorbed. Hopefully you’ll discover something (or several somethings) worth the effort.

AARDLING

I mentioned at the outset that today’s collection would include bands whose names you won’t find at Metal-Archives, and Aardling‘s debut album Transmit To A Distance is one of them — not that this bothers me, nor should it bother you. Continue reading »

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

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 032019
 

 

Why do noted musicians in well-established and well-known bands form side projects? There are many reasons, but certainly one of them is to pursue musical interests that lie beyond the stylistic boundaries of their main bands — sometimes far beyond them — often coupled with the chance to create and perform with different friends. Some side projects seem to vanish overnight, and some of them become such strong attachments for their members, or become so well-received by listeners, that they persist.

Death Wolf began as a side project, and it has persisted, and we are all the better for it. In this case, the project was started near the turn of the new millennium by Marduk guitarist Morgan Håkansson under the name Devil’s Whorehouse, and with his bandmates released two albums and two EPs under that name. After they changed the band’s name to Death Wolf, they released three more albums from 2011 through 2014.

Now a fourth one is at last ready for release on December 10th by Blooddawn Productions (distributed and marketed by Regain Records). Its name is IV: Come the Dark, and we’re proudly presenting a full stream of the album today. Continue reading »

Nov 202019
 

 

This coming Friday, November 22nd, the South African sludge metal band The Drift will release their third album, Seer, which forms the final installment in the Deluge trilogy that began with 2013’s Dreams of Deluge and 2015’s The Mountain Star. The new album is packed with ideas and diverse experiences, so much so that calling The Drift a sludge band is a great oversimplification, even if that label does accurately capture a part of their sound (but only a part).

The Drift sum up Seer as “the sound of introspection, with tracks ranging from claustrophobic and frenetic to open and expansive”, and that is accurate, but that too only scratches the surface of the broad spectrum of sounds and sensations that a trip through Seer reveals. Continue reading »

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 »