Feb 182014

(Amazingly, my comrade Andy Synn thinks I left off some deserving tunes from my list of last year’s most infectious metal songs, and what follows is his supplement.)

Ok, so that title might be slightly inaccurate – what I’ve actually chosen here are ten of my favourite songs from last year that were cruelly, inexplicably overlooked by the NCS “Most Infectious” list/s, not necessarily the top ten all-time best-ever songs of 2013. Subtle but distinct difference.

In all honesty, you’d probably be better off calling this “Andy Synn’s List of Ten of the Most Distinctive Songs of 2013”. They might not be my absolute top ten favourites (though there’s definitely a significant cross-over), but they’re the ones that just felt right to talk about.

I’ve tried to avoid repetition as much as possible – though there are a few artists here who did make an appearance on the main list. Largely, however, I’ve tried to use this as an opportunity to highlight some songs that deserve more attention and that (for whatever reason) didn’t get it on any of the preceding NCS lists! Continue reading »

Jan 272014

(When I was setting things in motion for our year-end LISTMANIA series, I invited Mads Lilletvedt (composer and drummer for Norway’s Hellish Outcast) to send in his list of favorite albums from 2013. As you’re about to find out, he didn’t really have a list, but he did have some things to share that I’ve been saving for the right occasion. And since earlier today we got a bit of a teaser about the new Hellish Outcast album from Andy Synn, now seems the right time.)

A few weeks ago I got asked to do a guest post for the prominent webzine NoCleanSinging naming the releases I’ve enjoyed the most this past year. Initially I was stumped by the question, instantly wondering if I had listened to anything at all this year!? My mind was completely blank, and especially as I interpreted the request to concentrate on releases from this past year. The year of doom. 2013.

It took me about 30 minutes time to reflect on what new music I had been spending my precious time around. It seemed that not one single track released in 2013 had stolen as much as a fraction of my concentration… whatever album I had raped was from either the 70’s, 80’s, or 2012… mostly… ‘cos I’m an album raper. I pick up an old gem and listen to it back to back for weeks. Months even. I get obsessed with the soundscapes of that particular recording, and never change it for anything else until I’m sick of it.

And therefore the newest music, ‘cos I do like to check out new music as well, is already at least one year old before I carve some time in my schedule to check it out. Anyway – uninterestingly enough – the latest “new” album I had spent some time with was Opeth’s Heritage. A slightly different approach to the progressive death metal I’m used to from that lot. However – great fucking drumming! But it wouldn’t be interesting for anyone to read yet another dissection of this odd rarity of a jazz album, with a slight refuse to any actual and obvious metal heritage…! Continue reading »

Jan 242014

EDITOR’S FORWARD: When I announced the end of our 2013 LISTMANIA series, I wrote that there might still be one or two late-breaking lists that I would add later. What you’re about to read was the main one I had in mind. It could have arrived in July, and I still would have posted it. It comes from someone in Michigan’s Upper Penisula who has been a supporter of NCS since the early days. His first comment was back on May 28, 2010, and though he now appears pretty infrequently in our Comment section, my WordPress dashboard tells me he was responsible for over 900 comments in the earliest years of the site, and his interaction meant a lot to me at a time when we had few readers and even fewer commenters. His thoughts and eclectic recommendations, and occasional guest reviews, also played an important role in my own continuing education as a metalhead, and so I also figured his 2013 list would be an interesting one worth waiting for. And so it was. Plus, he can write, as you will see.


2013 was a pretty busy year. Between work, spending a good part of the summer being sick and on antibiotics a few times and short on cash a bit more often than I would have liked, I missed out on quite a bit. I was able to catch a few metal releases early on, but a lot of what I had on my radar had to wait. Then, other stuff got my attention, not all of it good. Still, without these albums (and a few more that I haven’t mentioned here), I may have lost my mind having to endure the likes of the “Single Ladies” dance, Ke$ha, “Blurred Lines”, Miley Cyrus, and bad singalongs set to Journey, Bon Jovi, and the B-52’s (hint: these all happen at weddings). (editor’s intrusion: ElvisShotJFK manages a couple of buildings, one of which is often used as a venue for weddings)

First, let’s visit a couple entries from late 2012 that caught my attention early on last year. Continue reading »

Jan 162014

With one or two possible late-arriving exceptions, our 2013 edition of Listmania has finally drawn to a close. Or to put it differently, since we’re halfway through 2014′s first month, I decided it was time to compile this wrap this up.

Our 2013 series of lists proved to be another extensive one — in fact, the biggest one in four-year history: We published more than 50 lists with accompanying commentary. Some of these were lists that appeared at other “big platform” web sites or magazines — places with large audiences, many of which cover musical genres well beyond metal. We also published our own staff lists, of course. But the largest group of list posts came from guest writers — NCS readers, band members, and fellow bloggers/writers. Plus, we also received many lists in reader comments on THIS POST.

In this article I’m collecting links to all of the 2013 list posts that we published. For people who are looking for the best metal that 2013 had to offer, these lists provide a tremendous resource.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to 2013 Listmania and to everyone who made time to read what we pulled together. Continue reading »

Jan 142014

(NCS reader and occasional contributor Old Man Windbreaker has prepared this year-end list of lists for 2013.)


Now that One has gained your attention, you should take it back. You shall need it for the last post in this series. Yes, indeed. This is to be the first of a series of posts recalling my favourite metal (and unmetal) music of the tredecennium 2001 to 2013. Why a period of 13 years, you ask? Because fuck you, that’s why!

Actually, One missed the many opportunities to do a series of articles for the dodecennium 2001 to 2012 throughout the past year. One would have much rather done a list with 12 items than 13. That said, One shall not be doing a full list for each year. With the exception of this list for the year 2013, my lists for the other years will be of about 3 metal albums each. Apart from that, there will be a list of album trilogies and such, and One’s favourite unmetal albums of the tredecennium. All of those lists will be created, submitted, and posted at wildly irregular intervals. So, don’t hold your breath for them.

Moving on to One’s favourite music of the year, One feels like One hasn’t listened to enough music to make a list. On the other hand, the albums that One hasn’t listened to don’t feel like they would be as memorable as those that One already has. Additionally, One could not hope to properly listen to as much music as the staff here seem to.

So, here is Old Man Windbreaker’s list of favourite music albums from the year 2013, feeling shorter than One would like. The top 3 are in order, the remaining are randomly ordered. Continue reading »

Jan 132014

(We are not, I repeat NOT, finished with 2013 LISTMANIA.  How could we finish without BadWolf’s reprise of this list that he has done in years past?)

They said we were crazy.

They said it couldn’t be done.

Well ladies and gentlemen, they were right. We are crazy—but we’ve done it anyway.

Listmania is even bigger than last year (60+ lists as I write this), and lasting into January. What on earth is wrong with us?

NoCleanSinging will resume its normal functioning soon enough, but first we need to get these fucking lists off our desks.

Long-time readers, you know what that means; my favorite article of the year; my top 10 most metal not-metal albums of the year. I’ve rustled up an eclectic mix, featuring anarchic emcees, satanic songstresses, and even a few ex-metalheads exercising the weirder bones in their musical bodies. Continue reading »

Jan 082014

(We still have a few more Best of 2013 lists, including this one from our guest Kunal Choksi, owner/editor of the Transcending Obscurity webzine and India’s Transcending Obscurity record label.)

This list is different from others in some ways. I didn’t feel obliged to throw light on or check out the so-called “big” releases — which I did, however, but didn’t succumb to unnecessary hype. As I hope is evident, I’m focusing on releases that are outstanding in a way, mostly where originality or at least innovativeness is involved. Most of the releases mentioned are a mix of styles, which is what it takes these days, and I’m perfectly fine with it. Grindcore is neglected more often than not, but on this list are a couple of underground gems, to say the least, released in the last year, a great one for music.

Annorkoth (Russia) – The Last Days (Black Metal)

Yes, this is more of the atmospheric kind, reaching out, creating a vast landscape and sweeping melodies. But then there are few with the kind of vision and scope this band has, and successfully portrays. This is just beautiful, infusing breathtaking melodies into fast, melancholic, and atmospheric music. Continue reading »

Jan 072014

EDITOR’S NOTE:  William Smith is the vocalist for a Long Island band named Artificial Brain who we’ve written about repeatedly — and who have been signed by Profound Lore for the release of their debut album Labyrinth Constellation on Feb 18 [details here]. He also writes a very entertaining blog named Vitos Squid Stop and Death Metal Museum. For the third year in a row, as part of our annual LISTMANIA series, he has given us a 2-part list of “anniversary” albums — five albums recorded 10 years and 20 years earlier, respectively. This is the second part, discussing death metal gems that appeared in 2004. You can find Part 1 (class of 1994) here.

CLASS OF 2004 (10 year anniversary)

Fermento – (Spain) “Insignia” (Voliac Rock Productions)

A bombastic and unrelenting album whose production could be described as “clunky” and “overdriven”, this fairly obscure diehard brutolitarian entity could be the truth for those underground warriors who seek Death Metal salvation.  Sounding like the missing link between Obscura-era Gorguts, Incantation, and Internal Suffering, with a testosterone-charged war obsession, this is arguably the most intensely butch recording I own. Continue reading »

Jan 062014

EDITOR’S NOTE:  William Smith is the vocalist for a Long Island band named Artificial Brain who we’ve written about repeatedly — and who have been signed by Profound Lore for the release of their debut album Labyrinth Constellation on Feb 18 [details here]. He also writes a very entertaining blog named Vitos Squid Stop and Death Metal Museum. For the third year in a row, as part of our annual LISTMANIA series, he has given us a 2-part list of “anniversary” albums — five albums recorded 10 years and 20 years earlier, respectively. This is the first part, discussing death metal gems that appeared in 1994. Part 2 will appear tomorrow.

The past year and the promises of 2014 have proved very fortuitous for forward-thinking underground Death Metal diehards.  I have witnessed a younger generation carry the traditions and soul of the basement underground scene of the 90s into the uncertain future of today with unblinking nerve and progressive attitudes. Beyond that, old school veterans such as Malignancy, Mortal Decay, Gorguts, and Demilich have proven active and relevant in contemporary Death Metal culture and in doing so have acquired a powerfully potent respect and credibility with both newcomers and archgoats alike. All that being said, the departure of the holiday season has inspired a wistful tear for nostalgia in my eye and, as always, I am grateful to share with you my favorite gems that turn 10 and 20 years old this year.

“Immersed in reflection, memories linger and cling like dirt.” – Intronaut, “Nostalgic Echo” Continue reading »

Jan 052014

(NCS contributor Austin Weber shares with us his year-end lists of 2013 metal (and not-metal), focusing on releases that may have evaded attention.)

I’ve had a lot of fun sharing my terrible, obnoxious, and idiotic music tastes with you the sexy readers of NCS. Time is always against us, but my goal is to develop further as a writer in a manner that continues to become less grating and grammatically inaccurate while at the same time giving off a demeanor of pure irrelevancy.

Most of the bands mentioned heavily on 2013 best of metal lists will not appear here, nor will most albums that got good coverage during the year, even if they haven’t appeared on many lists. I’m trying to give you, the reader, more music to check out from 2013 that may have been overlooked and underappreciated.

To save myself from writing something new to explain why each one of these is great, I’m going to paraphrase from album reviews that I wrote here at NCS. For albums I already reviewed through my gig with LEO Weekly (a local Louisville, KY print publication with additional online content), I will paste in my reviews instead of writing a short synopsis. For a few I will say only a sentence or two because I’m running out of time to work on this behemoth. What follows isn’t anywhere near everything I loved in 2013, but I hope it will bring something new for everyone. Continue reading »