Dec 292021


(For the years 2012 through 2015 an NCS supporter from India who went by the name deckard cain contributed some interesting year-end lists that we posted as part of our annual Listmania series, and he reviewed songs and albums for us too during that same interval. Then he drifted away, but he has returned after a six-year absence with a new YE list that’s worth your investigation.)

Ever come across that often ludicrous brand of idiot who will tell you without any scruples “Oh metal! Yes! I had a phase when I listened to Metallica when I was younger”? Suggesting perhaps that it was a phase that normal humans just wean out of? An affront to our sensibilities yes, but we reply with a modicum of decency, “Oh cool! That’s good to know”. Most of us that follow this brand of music, more often than not, respect all other genres in its variedness. But then there is this guy.

When a world is as mangled as it is today, it’s been our vaccine against the virus of life. It’s been that soothing salve. It’s been our choice of anodyne. It’s been our muse. It’s always been everything to us all.

Of course! Most of us listen to it as leisure as well and for that pure sense of enjoyment that is often our wont. Nolan Gasser, a musicologist, suggests in his book Why you like it: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste that one tends to have a particular affiliation for music we lend an ear to in our formative years (think late teens/early adulthood). To that end, I feel that while musical tastes may vary, that anger and fire we looked to in early stages of our lives is always with us to the grave. Some of us stuck onto metal and some of us found it in our later years to clearly resonate with the fire that was lit ages ago. Coloured as they are by our different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds.

I think then, it’s important to harken back to our good times and yet hold that familiar pain, that slice of reality, that these last two years have bequeathed to us….close… Holding them tight…. So tight that we may hope for a better future or be swallowed by it! Lending us, at the least, some sense of perseverance (success be damned!).

So, let’s get started shall we? Tune our channels to dread 666 and find solace within it! Continue reading »

Dec 282021


(Below our Norway-based contributor Karina Noctum presents her own year-end list of eleven 2021 favorites.)

This year started with lots of Thrash and now it ends just the same. The damper mood with lots of restrictions and lots of cancelled or postponed concerts and festivals does not allow for anything too dark nor cold at the moment. So this list is quite biased in the sense that it highly favors rhythmic virtuosity, old school sound, and non-monotonous riffing for the most part. Also I’m not going to include commercial bands that have been mentioned a thousand times already. Continue reading »

Dec 272021


(For the 11th year in a row, our friend Johan Huldtgren of the Swedish black metal band Obitus — whose 2017 album Slaves of the Vast Machine (reviewed and premiered here) is their latest release — has again allowed us to share with you his year-end list, which originally appeared on Johan’s own blog.) Continue reading »

Dec 272021


(Here’s the final part of Neill Jameson‘s 5-part series of year-end lists for NCS. As always we’re grateful to him for letting us share them, and we hope you’ve made as many great discoveries from them as we have.)

So now we’ve come to the end of several days’ worth of things to read while you’re on the shitter which, according to Christmas tradition, should be full. I didn’t do full albums for this, you can use Google to find my list of those, and I would have added Funeral Mist and Ifernach to the heap but both of those came out too late for me to really do much about it, and by now you should have already guessed they’re both great.

Again, these lists are entirely subjective and I’m sure I missed whatever bullshit you’ve been chubbing up to, which you’ll tell me about in some forum I’ll never read. Or worse, perhaps you’re one of the people who spend the other 51 weeks of the year talking cash shit about me only to suck up this last week of the year hoping I’ll do something for your band or label, only to fall back into the internet sewing-circle of dry dicks waiting for me to do something that finally gets me “cancelled’.

Well, get fucked, your band sucks and I’ve had shows cancelled due to Antifa decades before you even knew your dick was for anything besides pissing. If this is the first you’ve heard that it can be used for anything else, congratulations and welcome to 2022. I’ll be leaving 2021 the same way I came in: making crass dick jokes some shitty webzine will dissect thinking it’ll get them somewhere. They can get fucked, too. Here’s the best of the best of the last twelve months in my eyes (ears?): Continue reading »

Dec 272021


(Our friend Professor D. Grover the XIIIth (ex-The Number of the Blog) has been joining us this time of year for many years to share his diverse year-end lists, and does so again now.)

Greetings and salutations, friends. It’s that time of year again, that magical time when I realize that my taste in music is highly unusual and diverges significantly from most other people who are also in the list-making business. And before you say it, no, I don’t mean this in an “I’m so random and eclectic” kind of way. It’s been a long, long time since I had any fucks to give with regard to what people think about the kind of music that I like and don’t like. When I review an album, or write a list like this, it’s usually because the artist or artists that I mention have affected me on some emotional level, and I feel that they deserve to be recognized for this, because if they impacted me then they might do the same for someone else. Music is something that should be enjoyed, one way or another, and it’s basic human nature to want to share something you enjoy with others.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten all of that mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let’s get down to the list. Actually, before we get to the list proper, I want to mention a song that I enjoyed that wasn’t on an album that made the list. Continue reading »

Dec 242021


(We’ve reached Part IV of the year-end lists we’re gratefully sharing from Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood), with a fifth and final segment slated for publication on Monday.)

This was a huge year for small releases. What do I mean by that? I mean that these lists are taken up mostly by EPs, splits, cassettes, etc. Not necessarily bite-sized pieces, that’s too fucking cutsey, but a lot of bands did a lot of shorter releases this year that held my attention way more than the traditional long-player. Some excellent pairings that helped introduce me to new sounds as well as some that paired so well you’d think a fucking sommelier crafted the menu.

I don’t really need much more of an introduction than that. Here’s the splits of 2021 that really kept my attention: Continue reading »

Dec 242021


(NCS contributor Todd Manning wades into our year-end LISTMANIA series with his picks for the year’s 12 best releases.)

Another year has came and went and somehow we as a species are still here. Maybe the apocalypse won’t arrive until we beg for its sweet release. Well, at least there’s always more metal to obsess over.

I can’t believe this is my sixth year contributing at NCS. Usually my lists oscillate between the experimental and the outright darkest and brutal shit there is. This year, while there are certainly those elements, things feel more varied. Just a little bit… Continue reading »

Dec 242021


(We reach the concluding segment of DGR‘s 2021 year-end list with his picks for the year’s Top 10 metal releases.)

Usually I will muse at the end of this list how it seems to get easier and easier as I go along, as I rediscover just how much I loved each release on here. By the time I hit the final ten records I’m basically tumbling over myself in effusive praise to try and get people to like what I like. That’s still the case here but 2021 still held some interesting susprises for me. While it generally felt like much of the year existed in a weird musical brainfog, once I finally hammered everything down into a numbered list I think my year was as varied as I could get… except for these final ten, which are basically just me lining up to get run over by a bus again and again.

Not only that but I even found myself breaking one of my usual rules, which is to not let the ‘shiny because its recent’ effect work on me with the year-end list. There’s a healthy chunk here that saw release in the back half of the year. This would normally bother me but not this time, because all heck, did we have a great run of music mudslide over us in the last few months of the year. It became real hard to hold onto that promise to myself, and at the end I finally caved, although I think you’ll agree that when you hear and see which ones managed to get through that jello-clad wall that is my personal restraint, they were pretty good picks.

Let’s get this mess on the road before I make myself look stupider than you already think I am. Continue reading »

Dec 232021

photo by Catherine B Photografie


(Seb Painchaud, the main man behind the Montréal band Tumbleweed Dealer, has very expansive and eclectic musical tastes, which is one reason why for six years in a row we’ve asked him to share a year-end list with us. This one, as usual, goes in all sorts of different directions.)

So, 2021 huh? At least it wasn’t ‘2020 part 2, this time it’s personal’. The theme of the year has to be ‘cautious optimism’ as things slowly creep back to something we can consider adjacent enough to what we used to call normal for us to become complacent once again. Shows are slowly starting back-up, I can eat at my favorite Pho place again, looks like we might just be on the other end of this shitstorm and we may even get a few months before the next one starts (omicron, nuclear warfare, global warming, the fall of capitalism, murder hornets 2: The Return, all bets are open on what will hit next!)

All in all, a much better year than the previous one, musically and personally. I’m turning in my list earlier than usual this year, for once having a list of 20 potential albums that I all feel comfortable including. I will still be scouring everyone else’s list for a potential entry in a ‘Shit I Slept On’ compilation early next year, but until then, hope you discover something new in here! Continue reading »

Dec 232021


(Today we present Part III of a five-part series of year-end lists from Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood).)

I guess I’ve talked about my waning interest in dungeon synth every time I’ve written about it for the last few years, which has been frequent, so that makes me either dishonest with myself or an idiot. I’m sure the internet will provide a measured response to such an existential question so while I wait patiently for the polite and measured response I’ll walk you through the synth pieces I’ve really enjoyed in 2021.

As a note: not everything is dungeon synth or even remotely linked to it, the music here just shares the common thread of being ambient, electronic or synth-driven in nature. And like every year I tend to stick to the same few labels so I’m sure I’ve missed a few great recordings elsewhere (and probably a few hundred not so great ones). This is one genre that I’m always willing to listen to recommendations in, so if you have any then shoot your shot. Continue reading »