Jan 042018


(Norwegian NCS contributor Gorger, the author of the continuing “Beneath the NCS Radar” series, provides this list of favorite 2017 albums, valiantly but grudgingly attempting to comply with the editor’s request that contributor lists this year be limited to an even 20 selections.)


Ah. Ain’t this the loveliest time of year. Attempting to review releases that’s being tossed at you by Donkey Kong, whilst also trying to decide who’s been naughty, who’s been nice, and who to treat with Yuletide presents, plus what the fuck to get them, and at the same time making an effort at finding out who delivered the most memorable and indisputably best shit throughout the year. Yes, this intro was written before the season flushed over me like a tidal wave.

This year there’s even rules to abide by. A maximum limit of 20 releases has been set by that sadistic autocrat Islander. That’s 1.666666666 (with those 666-decimals continuing ad infinitum) release per month. Now just where the hell am I supposed to find ⅔ of an album each month?

Due to this rule, I’m not allowed to mention such acts as Venenum, Balfor, The Ominous Circle, Zornheym, Caïnan Dawn, Aosoth, et al. As a law-abiding citizen here in Naughty City State, I’ll obey with a suitable portion of lack of respect. If your favourite ain’t on the list, that right there is the main reason. I swear. (I swear a lot. I don’t know what that’s got to do with anything, though.)

Come to think of it, there’s a second reason too. I’ve missed out on a lot of nifty shit, like A Hill to Die Upon, Kreator, Svart Crown, AntropomorphiA, Sinister, Hetroertzen, Paradise Lost, Belphegor and much more. Continue reading »

Jan 032018


(In what has become an annual tradition, former NCS writer, ex-Invisible Oranges editor, and current contributor to Decibel and Noisey, Joseph Schafer (whose NCS moniker was BadWolf) brings us a year-end list of favorite Not-Metal albums.)


As in previous years, this is my favorite article to write. There remains something delicious and transgressive about extolling the virtues of mainstream pop music to metal fans on a metal-centric platform. The reason why is no mystery: metal is intended itself to be delicious and transgressive, but too often becomes a stale and staunch conservative vomitorium. Eat the same diet of blast beats, high-gain distortion, and Lucifer sigils, vomit them back up, ingest a new round of the same, repeat.

I like a Roman feast as much as the next guy, but I also know to take myself out to sushi every so often, remaining Fukushima background radiation be damned. And yes I know that’s not what a vomitorum was actually used for but you all gleaned my meaning regardless, and if not what’s wrong with you?

Besides, as any social media window left open too long will tell you: even staunch metal fans love plenty of extra-metallic material. Tom G. Warrior loves David Slyvian. This is no great act of rebellion, this is the simple acknowledgement that metal is pop music, as in art meant for popular consumption. That is no damning admonishment. It describes Mozart, too. Continue reading »

Jan 032018


(2016 was the year when I discovered Montréal’s Tumbleweed Dealer through their extremely cool album Tokes, Hatred & Caffeine (and may there be a new one soon, please). The band’s main man Seb Painchaud has very expansive and very eclectic musical tastes, and a way with words, and so for a second year I asked him to share his year-end list with us.  As before, he pulls us off our usual beaten paths by highlighting favorite releases that are outside the usual metal lists… including a lot of very interesting Not-Metal.)




  1. Kusanagi – Aeon

A band I always enjoyed yet never recommended, they seemed like a 2nd- or 3rd-tier math rock band with really good albums but never transcending into anything great. This all changed with Aeon. The band puts song writing before technicality on this album and 5 songs averaging a format of 8 minutes each puts emphasis on that, as these are actual songs with recurring riffs and melodies rather than a collection of angular riffs.


Continue reading »

Jan 022018


(As our 2017 LISTMANIA series continues, we present a Top 10 list assembled by NCS contributor Todd Manning.)

Another year, another avalanche of Metal to sift through. It’s not a bad thing, but if you’re open-minded and would like to try to keep up with everything, well it’s downright overwhelming. This year seems to be particularly backloaded, with a lot of incredibly powerful releases popping up in the final quarter. Hell, Krallice put out two heavyweight full-lengths less than a month apart. It’s a lot to try to absorb, and also tricky to try to give things equal weight whether they came out last spring or in October and November.

Getting down to brass tacks, though, this is supposed to be “The Year of Death Metal” and who am I to argue? Fact of the matter is, there’s been a goddamn flood of quality DM and it will probably take at least another year to sort through it all. It’s nothing short of an embarrassment of riches. And yes, several veteran acts put out some great releases in 2017, but only one old school Titan made my year-end list. For me, I’m more excited about bands pushing the limits of the genre and I think my list testifies to that. So without further ado… Continue reading »

Jan 022018



(For the fourth year in a row we invited Semjaza, the main man behind the superb Greek black metal band Thy Darkened Shade and also a member of the formidable Acrimonious, to share with us his lists of favorite releases, and he again agreed. This year, his year-end thoughts will again be presented in multiple parts, of which this is the first.)


Upon contemplating which albums I listened to and bought this year, I comprehended that the list is vast. I don’t view my lists at NCS as the regular end-year lists since I am not completely interested in that. This is an opportunity to spread the message and, along with it, some of the releases that spoke to me each year. This is by no means a way to review these albums. With the over-flooding of the mainstream, I see lists including the same albums over and over again. That’s one of the core reasons I decided to appear regularly at a web-zine like NCS.

With that being stated, I prefer a no year list than another tasteless list with the same bands that engulf the magazines and the internet. It is infrequently that a list can do anything to me personally. Some of us are here to prove that brain-dead paid reviews or public relationship praise aren’t the solitary reasons to write such articles. Continue reading »

Jan 022018


(As part of this year’s LISTMANIA series, our friend from the Dominican Republic, Vonlughlio, prepared a list of Top 20 brutal death metal albums from among the vast number that he listened to in 2017… although it actually works out to more than 20 because of ties at various positions, and at the end there is a list of Honorable Mentions as well.)




  1. Abuse – Nothing Is Safe

After 16 years from their debut album, they released their sophomore album, and although it is not as raw or near the length of Like a Virgin they maintained their essence as a ferocious, fast blast-beast with nasty vocals. This has a special place for me and I appreciate that the band decided to make more music. Hope they continue but won’t take as long for a follow-up.


Continue reading »

Jan 012018


Happy New Year to everyone!

Our 2017 LISTMANIA series isn’t finished yet, even though the year now is. And really, there’s no reason to think that it should be finished. There’s a decent argument to be made that before you decide which releases were the best ones in a given year, the year should be allowed to end first.

We have seven more year-end lists in hand and ready for publication, and three more that should arrive this week, including two eagerly awaited ones from Austin Lunn (Panopticon) and Semjaza (Thy Darkened Shade). Even if we post two per day beginning tomorrow, LISTMANIA will continue on into the second week of the year. And at some point soon I’ll begin rolling out the Most Infectious Song list.

But today I’ve decided to highlight some Lists of Lists that have appeared recently. These represent the efforts of some hard-working people to aggregate a wide range of Best of 2017 lists, including one master list that’s based on the selections of our own readers. Continue reading »

Dec 292017


Editor’s Intro

If you haven’t yet discovered the music of Australia’s Convulsing, you should carve out some time and allow it to carve you up. 2016’s Errata (reviewed here) was amazing; Convulsing‘s side of this year’s split with Siberian Hell Sounds (reviewed here) even more so.

I’ve benefited not only from Convulsing‘s music, but also from the musical recommendations of Convulsing‘s lone gunman Brendan Sloan (also a member of Dumbsaint), whom I follow on Facebook. And so this year I invited him to share with us (and you) his year-end list of favorite releases. He has chosen a Top 17 (plus a list of EPs, splits, and Honorable Mentions), and they aren’t all metal, but they are all interesting. He went further and hand-picked individual songs from each release as examples, and I’ve embedded streams of them within his list. So settle in for some good reading and some good listening.


The last few years I’ve been the most clever person of all time and listed a “top 14 of 14, 15 of 15, 16 of 16”, but this year is genuinely the only one where I’ve struggled to actually pare it down. 2017 has been a monster year for music, and here are the reasons why. Continue reading »

Dec 292017


(This is the third and final part of DGR’s massive year-end list feature. Part 1 (here) included Honorable Mentions and albums ranked 30-21; Part 2 (here) counted down albums 20-11. And today we present DGR’s Top 10, plus a few other assorted year-end honors.)


There are few things that I enjoy each year more than the yearly list roundup here at NCS – including taking the time to write out my own personal favorites. This is a post that I spend a large part of the year dreading, knowing that my penchant for massive verbiage in the face of all things common sense will turn around and bite me in the ass and the stress implied therein of the constant re-reading and editing that goes into the joy of crushing one’s website editor under the sheer weight of text. Were the yearly list allowed to be a book, I would deeply enjoy witnessing the ever increasing size of the roll of toilet paper mine would have to be printed on throughout the year. Maybe one year I’ll actually be able to spring for two-ply and at least have some effect. Continue reading »

Dec 282017


(We present here the lists of 2017 releases that proved to be the favorites of NCS writer TheMadIsraeli.)

2017 was a fucking great year for metal of all kinds, but most particularly the extreme kinds. Keeping it short and sweet again this year, I’ve decided to call this list Blasphemous Foundations. I picked a Top 6 of thrash, black, and death metal, the central pillars of extreme metal (heuhueheue 666 get it!?) followed by a miscellaneous Top 10 of stuff either not in those categories or was its own thing to the extent I didn’t think it fit into them. This will probably be my year-end list format going forward, although there will be differing amounts of exposition and me generally being an overly verbose fuckhead.

But first, some hot takes, and not-so-hot takes I’d like to offer: Continue reading »