Dec 282012

(In this guest post, NCS reader Richard Donahue shares his lists of favorite 2012 albums, honorable mentions, and the best metal tracks of the year.)

1. GoatwhoreBlood For The Master (TIE)

Their best record to date; if you consider yourself a fan of metal and don’t listen to Goatwhore or own this record, I pity thee.


1. TestamentDark Roots of Earth (TIE)

Featuring some of the best guitar work of the year by Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, Testament prove yet again to be one of the most consistent bands of their genre; Pure Heavy American Thrash Metal at its finest. Continue reading »

Dec 282012

(Today we forge ahead with year-end Listmania by bringing you a guest post by a dude who calls himself Punman. So far, every list we’ve published has brought us something new, and this one is no exception.)

I’ll preface this with an immediate apology that many of these bands break the nominal rule of this site. But these are the albums I’ve found most compelling this year. Are they the best? Maybe. Most listened to? Not necessarily. The material I enjoyed the most — yes, that’s more like it. They’re not genre-busters, they’re not necessarily the most innovative (though some are), they’re just what I liked, what caught my ear, what I played and replayed and said “WOW THIS SHIT IS GOOD” or something like that.

I find lists of this sort to be a real masturbatory exercise, but that can be fun sometimes. Mostly, I just like looking at others’ lists. (And … shit just got creepy, didn’t it.)

So, here we go: Continue reading »

Dec 272012

(As part of our continuing year-end Listmania series, we welcome back guest contributor Happy Metal Guy. This post may make somewhat more sense to you if you also read Happy Metal Guy’s Metalocalypse Survival Guide.)

The unmetal horde is spreading its presence faster than I thought, and I dread the day their inferior presence taints the great, freezing kingdom of true metal in the North.

I can see the horde approaching in the distance. I need to plan my escape route to the next safehouse as soon as possible. But first, if you are reading this and this abandoned safehouse seems deserted and bloodless, it means that I have already safely made my way to the next safehouse.

This fateful year, I could not have made it through the unmetal apocalypse without the aid of the following soundtrack. These are the records that get me “into the mood” to slaughter those unmetal beanpoles as mercilessly as Scyther slashing through a field of burnt Bellsprouts. However, listen to them at your own risk! ‘Cos if they don’t work for you, you might be better off not listening to them at all while on the run; better to have your ears unplugged while escaping than to stubbornly adhere to someone else’s personal playlist. You wouldn’t want to end up like Egoistic Metal Guy, who is now that emaciated figure shambling about the floor just above you. The following soundtrack did not work for him, but he plugged those earphones into his ears anyway to give himself a “handicap”, so that the “piteous unmetal poseurs” could have a fair fight with him.

Well, so much for his valor. Continue reading »

Dec 272012

(As I did last year, I invited fireangel — one of the two people behind the Night Elves web site and a walking encyclopedia on Finnish metal — to contribute a year-end list, and once again she graciously agreed. As you’ll see, her list is different from any we’ve published so far in our year-end Listmania series.)

 My guilty habit, to which I easily admit, is: I like listening to cover songs or “metalized” versions of great pop music. You might have noticed from some choices in last year’s post, but the true extent of the situation is much more extreme. This habit collides with something that Finnish musicians seem to be world class at: taking a song, adding metal, adding sometimes several vocalists at once, rearranging the whole structure upside down, and ta-dah!: Awesome music. Of course I`m aware that people in warmer climates of the world are possibly capable of that, too. I, however,  mainly tune in to Finnish Metal, because it just happens to be my favourite.

What I like especially is the wonderful opportunity to hear the variety of someone’s singing, outside of their usual band setting.  Additionally, the arrangements and the metal treatment very often improve the song, in my opinion. An example could be A-HA’s 1980s hit “Take On Me”. A lot of the typical 80s songwriting is top-notch, but I just prefer metal to pop music; so, having a combination of the catchy melody and lots of guitar takes the song much further.

On the other hand, of course, the vocal style someone has and the band this singer usually is in will already influence the direction of the cover song, so it is somewhat an extension of the catalogue – more songs from my favourite artists. Of course, this might work the other way around, too: most often, the vocalists are performing songs which might have influenced them in the past – songs by their own favourite artists. Continue reading »

Dec 262012

(Earlier this month we published the personal best-album list of long-time NCS patron SurgicalBrute, and it attracted quite a lot of attention (and still does, based on our web traffic stats). Today we’re publishing another of his year-end lists. This one may come from even deeper underground than the last one — and almost all the music is free.)

As I said in my last article, there was just an insane level of new music being put out this year. Despite having a rather slow start, it was almost like someone flicked a switch about halfway through the year. Because of that I ended up limiting my already substantial year-end list to just full-length albums. So Im back this time to shed some light on the Top 10 demos I heard this year.

Those of you who read my “best of” list have an idea what kind of music I like, so no long descriptions on this one.


1)    OccultistHell by Our Hands

Female-fronted crusty blackened death/thrash from Richmond, Va. Straighforward and thrashy, they do a great job mixing metal with punk. While they do have a Bandcamp, once again it’s streaming-only. Fortunately there’s an official mediafire download at their label’s home page (Primitive Ways). Continue reading »

Dec 262012

(This is the second of NCS writer BadWolf’s multi-part series of posts about 2012′s top albums. Yesterday, we posted his Top 10 “Exceptions To the Rule”. Today, we get the straight hard stuff. The artwork above is “Assassin nocturne” by Olgenki.)

In all honesty this is what you come here for; what I came here for. My top 10 albums of abrasive and turbulent music reside in this post. Yes, some of these albums feature a few pinches of melodic vocalism, but these are the albums which speak to man’s primitive, violent natures—to paraphrase an album below, they are for wild children.

As much as I think the greatest strength of this blog is its ability to shine a spotlight on incredibly obscure artists, metal is an old man’s game, and my list leans hard on veterans, many of whom dropped, out of left field, pieces of incredible strength and ferocity. It also leans less on black metal and progressive metal—those two genres are perhaps dovetailing out of brief and brilliant Renaissances—and heavy toward death metal and hardcore. The HM-2 pedal’s revival is still soldiering on, as is the producing career of one Kurt Ballou.

Metal music and culture, to me, are about running against the grain of society at large, and the music below does that with aplomb. I tend to shy away from overly violent lyrics, but some of this music is absolutely depraved. Which is not to say that these aren’t intelligent records—some of 2012’s finest works move through tremendous meditations on serious and real evils in our world today, such as the plight of the American miner, our abusive relationship with the environment, and the possibility of a global surveillance state. Continue reading »

Dec 252012

(Today NCS writer BadWolf begins a multi-part series of posts about 2012’s top albums. For newcomers, The Rule to which BadWolf is recognizing exceptions is embodied in the name of our site.)


Normally, I split my end of the year list into the catchiest albums I’ve heard and the most artistic. I’m abandoning that format this year, having lost faith in the dichotomy—I’ve spent too much time writing the same thing about the same band twice, and not enough time respecting you, the reader. Catchiness and artistic value, these are things for you to decide, not me. In addition, I really needed to alter and shift my routines. This will be part of a continued process extending into 2013.

I am changing, my habits are changing, as are my tastes. In particular, comrades, you will note a plethora of doom records below. 2012 was a banner year for doom, but that ignores a thick thread of this particular post’s plot. To be confessional: 2012 was a horrid year for me, personally. I won’t get into details, but due to a series of personal and professional events, I spent most of the year suffering from a serious depression. (This is one contributing factor to my reduced blog output. I apologize.) I have a history of major depressive episodes, but normally they come and go more-or-less unrelated to any external stimuli, but recently, to make a poker metaphor, I was both drawing dead AND playing like shit.

Perhaps that’s a lot of deadweight to place on a simple album list, and if these sorts of confessions upset you, comrade, feel free to stop reading. The fact is, our personal psychic landscapes have a stranglehold on our perceptions of the worlds around us, of arts, of music in particular. In the grips of these dark, restless moods, most of 2012’s more energetic and colorful releases slid off me. What remained was often beautiful, horrifically depressing music. Normally with… gasp… clean singing. I can’t think of a better year in my writing career for clean singing than 2012. Here’s my list of ten records featuring more than a few exceptions to our rule. Continue reading »

Dec 252012

Despite my general bah humbug! attitude toward Christmas, I confess there’s one thing I’m feeling kind of moistly emotional about today, and that’s this blog and everyone who supports it with their writing and their eyes and ears. I am genuinely thankful for what all of you have given me in this ongoing labor of love.

I actually feel this way almost every day, though I don’t often express the feeling in print. What’s making me gooey about NCS today is our Listmania series, and in particular how enthusiastic people have been about it this year, not only in the level of interest readers have shown in the posts (as reflected both in site visits and the volume of comments), but also in the participation we’ve seen in both The NCS Readers Lists and in guest post submissions.

So far we’ve published 10 year-end guest posts, and as of this morning we’ve still got 11 more to go! What’s especially cool about this, apart from the enthusiasm of the support we’re receiving, is the tremendous diversity reflected in these lists. It really hasn’t been the same thing repeated over and over again, not by a long shot, and that diversity of interest is going to continue in the lists that are up-coming. Diversity means new discoveries, and new discoveries (at least for me) are the main reason year-end lists are worth reading.

We’ve also got more NCS staff lists on the way. For example, in our next post today we’ll begin a multi-part year-end series by BadWolf that I’ve really enjoyed reading. Continue reading »

Dec 252012

(byrd36 has been hanging around the site since at least September 14, 2010, which is when he taught me the origin of the name Naglfar in his first comment at NCS. In addition to being a long-time supporter of what we do here, dude also knows his metal, as he showed us while writing for Death Metal Baboon, and as you’re about to see again.)

Hello, NCS readers! Friends, brothers and sisters in Metal, I come in peace and offer gifts! I left my list of my favorite twenty metal albums in the NCS Readers’ Lists if anyone cares to get a glimpse of my overall tastes this year. Part of my reason for doing that was my intention to do this list, and with no DMB, I knew I’d probably be pushing my luck trying to sneak just one on here. You know, quality control and such.

Anyway, the idea for this came to me last year at list season and I enjoyed putting one together at DMB then, and figured it may be a good tradition to start. Sorry in advance if I come across a little short on words. Any of you who may be familiar with my previous “writings” will know I’m not a writer, just a fan saying “check this shit out!”.  So, please bear with me as I present you with my ten favorite free and name-your-price releases of 2012.

Just to fuck with y’all, I’m going to put the top three in alphabetical order and then restart the bottom seven in alphabetical order. I refuse to order the list and separated the top three only because they are in my overall top twenty.


This one is loaded with plenty of brutal, lots of blackness, and an atmosphere that will most likely smother you where you sit. All of this with a damn fine production, if I may say so. This came out on the second day of this year and I acquired it very shortly afterward. It’s been in heavy rotation ever since. Continue reading »

Dec 242012

(As we forge ahead with our 2012 Listmania posts, we’re pleased to present a year-end list from one of our most ardent supporters, who lives in the Dominican Republic and goes by the name Vonlughlio.)

Everyone is doing their end-year list of best metal albums of 2012 and I  would type up my list as well, in order to post it on NCS. But first I just wanted to say that this has been my first year reading NCS and I’ve become a great fan of the site for the following reasons:

1) The music I discovered from the site and the great posts by the man with no head, Islander, the other writers, and guests.

2) The discovery of Bandcamp. I don’t need to state why I love it, because there have been plenty of posts already that basically show why, with all the advantages for records labels, bands, and fans.

3) The love triangle between Islander, Phro, and myself. Hoping we can all get together and go on either a camping or fishing trip and explore!!!

I did a top 25. These albums are just fantastic and a lot of them came from reviews or posts on No Clean Singing. So here is my list: Continue reading »