Jul 032018


In early August of last year, thanks to a recommendation from Rennie of starkweather, I discovered a song called “Legacy” by a solo project named Vorean. As I wrote then, I found it “little short of astonishing”. Rennie likened it to the sound of Florida’s Solstice, with a hint of black metal. It reached out almost immediately and seized me by the throat with the first instances of a bleak, twisted melody, and then erupted into an electrifying rush of hyper-speed riffing and blazing drum fire, with Vorean crying out in scalding howls.

That track displayed a lot of very impressive guitar work and a lot of compositional talent as well, becoming melodically memorable as well as just downright jaw-dropping in its execution. And part of what made the track — and the whole album from which it came — so astonishing was that it was the work of a single individual from Powell River, British Columbia (Ryan C. Schmeister) who had just turned 19 years old at the time of its release. Continue reading »

Jun 302018


(This Saturday’s edition of Andy Synn’sWaxing Lyrical series presents thoughts about lyrics from Joseph Martinez of Junius, whose most recent album, Eternal Rituals For the Accretion of Light, was released by Prosthetic Records in 2017.)

There’s a certain argument (not that it’s one I agree with) that proggy Post-Rock/Post-Metal collective (and celebrated Synn Report alumni) Junius don’t really “belong” here at NCS.

After all, their music is certainly far from “extreme” (though it does have its heavier moments), and the vocals are almost entirely clean-sung, meaning that the band’s whole existence essentially runs counter to the site’s original ethos.

But the truth is that NCS has grown far beyond its original remit, and the fact that we often cover lighter, more melodic fare is balanced out by the way in which we also give coverage to bands and artists who are leaps and bounds heavier and more abrasive than anything the site’s original founders could have predicted.

Personally I’m proud of the way in which we’ve broadened our scope, while still retaining our focus on quality and integrity as two of the key values in all the music we feature, just as I’m proud to have been able to convince Junius frontman/vocalist/lyricist Joseph Martinez to participate in this latest edition of “Waxing Lyrical”. Continue reading »

Jun 192018


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Colorado’s Khemmis, which will be released on June 22nd by 20 Buck Spin in North America and by Nuclear Blast everywhere else.)

I’m more than happy to admit that I’m a very late joiner to the Khemmis train.

Oh, sure, I’d heard the name around, I knew they were pretty well liked and that there was a fair bit of hype building behind them, and had even caught a glimpse of their eye-catching artwork here and there, but – for whatever reason – I’d just never found the time to actually listen to one of the band’s songs/albums.

Thankfully, their brilliant performance at this year’s edition of Maryland Deathfest made me an immediate convert to their cause, and I’ve spent the time since then immersing myself in the band’s back-catalogue and catching up on everything which I’ve been missing, just in time for Desolation to drop into my inbox with a resounding (digital) boom. Continue reading »

Jun 122018


(Vasilis Xenopoulos, a guest writer from Greece who has contributed to NCS in the past, rejoins us with this review of the new EP by the Greek band Lachrymose, which was released in May and is an exception to the “rule” in our site’s title.)

Doom metal and tragedy are intertwined. The music, slow and heavy, leads gradually towards redemption and serves as a means for the unfolding of the stories of the pain and woes of man. Doom metal is a dance, a bleak and sorrowful waltz that sings of the suffering of man while at times praises the spirit of revolt and the pursuit of salvation.

In 2015 Lachrymose released the story of a witch who was accused and sentenced to the pyre for the crime of defiance against the dogma of religion. Carpe Noctum is doom metal that brings to mind the aesthetics of Paradise Lost in the times of Gothic and Icon. Through their music we follow her journey, as it is performed by vocalist Hel, from life to death and her return from the dead by a necromancer’s ritual.

But something went terribly wrong. When the thin veil between the living and the dead opened, vengeful spirits passed through and got inside her now living body. Her mind remained in the medium world, between the living and the dead, where everything and nothing is true, where spirits dwell in the fog of the underworld. Continue reading »

May 302018


In this post we happily present the North American premiere of a new song and a new video from the new album, minus, by the Norwegian alchemists in Krakow, which will be released by Karisma Records on August 31. And as a prelude, let’s begin with the band’s own words — in part because the final sentence seems particularly fitting in the context of this new song: “black wandering sun“:

“Following the laborious process of distilling two albums worth of material into one focused gem, we give you “minus”. The pinnacle achievement of Krakow’s thirteen-year existence. After a year of recording, shaping, re-recording and refining, “minus” has been reduced to the bare essence of who Krakow are as individuals, as a group and as story tellers. An album that defies any attempts at genre definition. This release covers the heavy, the subtle, the melodic, the atonal, the groovy, the sluggish, the dense, the airy, the naked, and always, always, the wall of sound where no light can escape.”

Continue reading »

May 222018


Given our usual proclivities at this site, perhaps it’s best to begin by paying attention to the elephant in the room: Roughly 99% of the vocals on Ghostbound’s debut album All Is Phantom are clean. And there’s another elephant standing in our room, too: Metal is only one ingredient in the music, and not even the dominant one. Nevertheless, we’ve agreed to present the full streaming premiere of the record here today despite the fact that it goes well off our usual beaten paths — because it goes off our usual stamping grounds so very well, blazing its own trails in such remarkably vivid and memorable ways.

The band’s name was well-chosen, and so is the album’s title. The music wears its passionate and very human emotions right out on its extravagant, embroidered sleeves, to the point of becoming theatrical at times, but almost none of it sounds completely earthbound. Ghost-bound, indeed it is — edged with angst, shadowed by sorrow, haunted by death. And it’s also beautiful, inspiring,  even joyous. Continue reading »

May 172018


(Greek writer John Sleepwalker returns  to NCS with an in-depth interview of Deathmaster, frontman of Italy’s DoomSword, shortly before their appearance at Greece’s Up The Hammers Festival. Themes in the interview span the band’s entire epic metal career, as well as the status of DoomSword’s work on a new record. A Greek version of this interview originally appeared at Avopolis.gr.)


DoomSword haven’t released a new album since The Eternal Battle (2011). A wait that has been quite long, I must say. When should we expect the new opus? Have you been writing/rehearsing any new material?

Hi John, I hope you are well. To your first question I can answer that I do not have a precise timeline for the release of a new album, but works are underway. The guys in Italy are rehearsing and I am continuing with the songwriting. Therefore, I expect that completing the album is a matter of months. As for the long absence: I had in fact an album ready (and enough ideas for 2 albums, I would say), but if you let compositions sit for a while, then when you go back to them, you may feel dissatisfied with what you had. It may be because your mind has evolved, or because you are not in the same mood and want to express other emotions on your next album. Either way, what you have is unsuitable. Continue reading »

May 152018


This round-up is more musically diverse than what I typically select, ranging further afield from my usual extreme-metal stamping grounds. It’s also less littered with words. I got a late start on the posting day and am hurrying toward a couple of EP premieres on the schedule, but wanted to share these five tracks before getting there… because they made for quite an eclectic and enjoyable morning here at my metallic island home.


Finally, we have the first single from the debut album by Khôrada. It’s been a long and anxious wait since the news emerged last year that former Agalloch members Don Anderson (guitar), Jason Walton (bass), and Aesop Dekker (drums) would be forging ahead in this new group, alongside ex-Giant Squid guitarist/vocalist Aaron John Gregory. Continue reading »

May 082018


I had enough time last night to turn myself into a musical glutton. Just kept stuffing myself to the point of swelling up like a dirigible, hoping I’d come across something that wasn’t tasty before I exploded. That didn’t happen, so I had to summon the last vestiges of willpower and make myself stop.

So here’s a whole bunch of music, and only pithy impressions from me.


Wayfarer’s third album, their first for the Profound Lore label, is described as “a reflection of the Rocky Mountains and high plains of their native Colorado”, “drawing influence as much from the dusty, dark Americana of the ‘Denver Sound’ and the scores of epic westerns as they do the fury and melody of black metal….” Continue reading »

Apr 252018

photo credit: Lars Johnson


For this mid-week round-up I was again up to my eye-brows in worthy new music to choose from. I decided to do something a little different from usual, combining the formats of these SEEN AND HEARD collections and the occasional OVERFLOWING STREAMS columns. In other words, I’ll begin with some new songs and videos that I’ve introduced with my own descriptive verbiage (beginning with a couple of “exceptions to the rule”), and then followed that with a few more music streams that will somehow have to represent themselves through sound alone, difficult as that may be to imagine. (I also intend to present a rare week-day edition of SHADES OF BLACK later today or tomorrow in order to foist some more recent music on you.)

By the way, did you see that on July 6 Nuclear Blast will be releasing the first new Immortal album (Northern Chaos Gods) since All Shall Fall? It’s just Demonaz and Horgh, of course, but with Peter Tägtgren as session bassist. Even without Abbath in the line-up, I’m kind of excited.


I was also kind of excited about the prospect of a new Amorphis album when I first learned of it. That band has been the source of many joyous moments for yours truly in the past, and they put on a hell of an exciting show the only time I’ve seen them live (at Maryland Deathfest). Of course they and I have evolved to the point where their music isn’t as “extreme” as most of what I listen to these days, but when they’re on their game, even in these later days they still produce a thrill. Continue reading »