Sep 252020
 

 

(In this post Andy Synn reviews three albums being released today or in the near future — by Deftones, Enslaved, and The Ocean.)

As anyone who’s been following this site for, ooh, more than five minutes, will know, we tend to aim our collective focus at the more underground and/or underappreciated albums and artists out there.

Not because we have to. Not because we think it makes us “cool” (trust me, we’re not cool). Not even because we’re trying to make some sort of point or big statement. It’s just because we want to, and because it’s generally more fun to write about these sorts of bands than it is to regurgitate the same generic platitudes you can see/read everywhere else about bands who already have more than enough exposure.

That being said, sometimes we like to turn our attention to some bigger game, and bigger names, because… well… because we feel like it, basically. Which is why you’re about to read my short, but sharp, take on three artists/albums who’ve already received a fair bit of praise elsewhere but whom I think deserve a slightly more critical (dare I even say, objective?) assessment.

Think of it as my attempt to restore some balance to the force, as it were. Continue reading »

Sep 222020
 

 

Like almost all the posts I wrote this past weekend, I put this one together in my head during a long listening session on Saturday. Since then more new songs have popped up, but I decided to stick with my original mental plan rather than have this thing turn into something even more intimidating to people who are already drowning in music.

I’ve already put the first four songs in this collection onto the list of candidates for my year-end series on Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. In different ways they rock, and they’re all very catchy. And then I decided to turn in other more ugly and unhinged directions.

PUTERAEON (Sweden)

I use the word “majestic” way too much in describing music, because I don’t spend enough time with a thesaurus. Usually it comes to mind when a band use soaring and sweeping melodies (other over-used words in my vocabulary) or create sensations of towering obsidian immensity, as often found in funeral death-doom. Neither of those qualities is present in Puteraeon’s new song (and video) “The Curse“, but the word “majestic” still came to mind. Continue reading »

Sep 192020
 

 

When I woke up this morning I thought there was no way I would be doing something as seemingly inconsequential as listening to music and writing about it. The awful confluence of events in the country this year — the rampant disease, the hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths, the economic collapse, the vivid reminders that systemic racism still thrives, the burning of immense swaths of Western forest and the immersion of millions in a miasma of toxic smoke — just got worse again because of a single death, one that will give a mentally defective tyrant and his sycophantic enablers the chance to finish the job of tearing the country apart. Can we not get even one tiny fucking break from 2020?

And then I thought, we do get tiny fucking breaks every day. Every good new song is a break, maybe tiny in the grander scheme of things, but if 2020 has taught us anything it’s that hopes for bigger breaks are likely to be dashed without mercy.

So, I listened to some new songs, just a few, but enough to get a bit of a break. Maybe I picked them because they express (and perhaps reinforce) my current dark mood of rage mixed with despair, but I guess that’s often what musical catharsis is all about. Continue reading »

Sep 122020
 

 

Greetings, ladies and germs. As promised in yesterday’s round-up, I have MANY more selections of new music for your listening pleasure. Does this mean that I’m now caught up in showing you what I’ve discovered? Oh, hell no! I will have more in tomorrow’s SHADES OF BLACK column (and still won’t be caught up).

To speed things along I’m just throwing you the music streams and my usual impulsive commentary, sans artwork. Later today I’ll fill in the art, a few more details about the releases, and the usual ordering and FB links. The following tracks are presented in alphabetical order by band name (with Greece coincidentally represented at the beginning and the end), and I’ll tell you that the music is all over the map stylistically.

DEPHOSPHORUS (Greece)

This first song is such a heavyweight neck-wrecker at the beginning, although filaments of ravishing melody rapidly spiral out from beneath its bone-breaking rhythm. However, the song also explodes in breathtaking fashion — a storm of battering drums, blizzard-like guitars, and truly wild, howling vocal ferocity. The track is tremendously thrilling in all of its course-changes, which include sweeping, fire-bright sonic panoramas; the sludgy heft of the low end is a thrill all its own. Continue reading »

Sep 112020
 


Katla

 

(Our friend Gonzo returns with anoher Friday selection of new music, this time actually posted by our editor on Friday!)

 Doing these columns over the past few weeks has made me intensely aware of my perception of time. Some weeks feel like days, some days feel like weeks. Nothing makes sense anymore. We’re all living in a Black Mirror episode that’s been left on repeat after being force-fed enough LSD to turn ourselves into spiritual mediums for an alternate dimension where capitalist houseplants have enslaved humanity.

Fortunately, there’s new music to distract us from our inevitable fate at the hands of some power-worshipping azalea. And where would we be without it? I don’t want to imagine that dark alternate reality.

Sticking to the darkness of the current reality seems sinister enough.

The good news? If dark and sinister is your musical preference, I can’t recommend this week’s new releases enthusiastically enough. Continue reading »

Sep 112020
 

 

Earlier today one of our writers, purporting to speak for all of us, asserted that we at NCS are not perfect. I disagree. I, for one, am perfectly aware of my inability to keep up with the release of new music.

Last night I did manage to plow through the last two days of e-mails in our bulging in-box and checked a few other valued sources. From that effort I added roughly two-dozen new songs to check out, on top of a similar number I had identified the last time I went exploring just a couple of days ago.

A laughable thing to do, of course, given there’s no way I could make my way through all of that in time to write anything for today. So I threw mental darts at the list, with some hits and some misses. The following eight new songs were among the hits. I’ll pick some more for your listening pleasure on Saturday.

DARK TRANQUILLITY (Sweden)

In “Phantom DaysDark Tranquillity launched the run-up to their new album Moment with a sure-fire crowd-pleaser — nothing terribly different, but capable of stimulating the pleasure centers of fans. I confess that I felt stimulated, though not to the point of tumescence. Will I remember it? That’s a different question. Continue reading »

Sep 102020
 

 

(In February of 2019 we published an article (here) about the “Proliferation of Metal Across National Boundaries” by guest writer Tør, a self-professed metalhead, data nerd, and ex-academic. The article, and accompanying interactive maps, were based on his work on a Ph.D. doctoral dissertation. Now Tør has updated the work in that previous article, along with a new map, under the second of the “Isolation Diaries” he has written for us — which includes some music at the end.)

I recently revisited some data I had collected on metal bands from The Metal Archives website and decided to make an interactive map illustrating the location of all metal bands archived on there.

Los Angeles, Mexico City, Santiago, Paris, Moscow, Athens, and Stockholm emerge as the most vibrant hubs for metal bands although there are plenty of equally important “metal cities” across the globe. A couple of notes about this map: (1) it is not normalized for population so only raw numbers are depicted, (2) the data is current as of 2015 so it doesn’t reflect the latest catalog of bands listed on the MA. I will probably make an updated map at some point in the future. I should also thank the fine folks over at MA for all the work that goes into maintaining that site. Continue reading »

Sep 072020
 


TOMBS (photo by Dan Higgins)

 

EDITOR’S CONFESSION: Is it possible? Could I have actually failed to post the second installment of this series by our contributor Gonzo on Friday, just like I was late in posting the first one? Even though it’s called NEW MUSIC FRIDAY? Hell yes! It’s true! I fucked up two weeks in a row! But I’m risking covid to visit a tattoo parlor today to have NEW MUSIC FRIDAY tattooed on my forehead so I’ll never forget again. Of course, when looking in the mirror it will read YADIRF CISUM WEN.

 

The show must go on.

Given the quality output so far in a year otherwise mired with seemingly every kind of imaginable strife dominating the headlines, you’d think those words were the mantra of every working band out there.

Some of those themes of the year, as it turns out, make for excellent and timely material to write songs out of. I have no doubt that we’ll start seeing more and more of it start to emerge as we trudge on through this supremely uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing timeline we’re living through. This week [Editor’s Correction: last week!] has dropped a few hints of what’s to come, with spectacular results. Continue reading »

Sep 052020
 

 

For me, this past work-week was much like the one before (and the one before that, and the one before that), i.e., I had to devote so much time to the fucking day job that I couldn’t keep up with the usual flood of new metal, much less pull together any new-music round-ups. This morning I spent some time trying to catch up, at least a little, and from that exercise I picked the following nine new songs and videos.

I arranged things in a particular way — beginning with something that’s rousing, then going down into sadness (verging on despair) with a block of songs that happen to include clean singing, then beginning to pull out of that mood with reminders that not not everything is horrible (and with music that’s more extreme), and then concluding with something that ought to perk you up again.

GAVRANOVI (Serbia)

Six months ago my Serbian friend Miloš pointed me to “Pjevanija prva” (“Cry of Yore”), the fantastic first song released by the Serbian band Gavranovi (a word that means “ravens”). I still know very little about the band, though now I know a bit more than I did then.

Gavranovi’s frontman is Nefas, who was the vocalist for the great black metal band The Stone for almost 20 years. A second member, Janković, who seems to be the principal instrumentalist, plays the gusle, a traditional horsehair-string instrument that dates back to the 9th century. And there are three more members, all of whom also perform vocals — Matković (who’s also credited as a guitarist), Sokolović, and Rančić. Continue reading »

Aug 292020
 


Fates Warning

 

(Because your humble NCS editor has done a shit job compiling new-music round-ups in recent weeks, our contributor Gonzo stepped up and offered to begin doing that himself on Fridays, and this is the first edition. It actually would have been posted yesterday, on Friday, except your humble editor fucked that up too.)

Suffice to say, it’s been a fucking weird year.

Weirder, perhaps, is the fact that so much new music keeps rolling out from all corners of the earth; weirder still is that most of it is quality material instead of half-assed live albums, comps, EPs, singles and cover albums.

Most of it.

(I’m looking at you, In Flames.)

Before I start spiraling into a tirade about my odious thoughts on the Clayman reboot, allow me to get right to it: Yesterday, August 28, marked another Friday in this endlessly bizarre, dystopian and occasionally terrifying timeline we all just call “2020,” and it marked another day of new metal coming to assault our eardrums.

This one’s a glorious mix of old and new, and some stuff I’ve been anxiously awaiting for a while. Continue reading »