Apr 092022
 


Mantar – pic by Matthis van der meulen

 

I was a hamster last week, racing along the treadmill at my day job, with the only apparent signs of progress being motion and the cage filling up with shit. Oh lordie, while I was spinning that wheel the NCS in-box and other message accounts filled up with a lot of shit too — the good shit!

Based on my pawing through it this morning, I found a lot to share, as you’re about to discover in a very wide-ranging musical excursion. But since I’ve now got to go scrub my paws with lye you won’t find my frothy words or cover art in as much abundance as usual.

MANTAR (Germany)

Let’s begin with a new song and video from one of our favorite bands. I have a long list of people (none whom I personally know) that I’d like to hang low so the rats can get ’em because they make life more miserable by their existence. I’d like to beat and scorch them with this song before they take the drop, though they won’t deserve the song’s great chorus. Continue reading »

Apr 022022
 

 

I had a hellish work-week at my fucking day job, which caused me to fall behind again in listening to candidates for this weekend round-up. I’ve also got an appointment for a second booster jab coming up soon this morning. Putting those two things together means this round-up will be shorter than I’d like. As is becoming something of a habit, I also included a curveball at the end.

JUST BEFORE DAWN (Sweden)

These Swedish favorites of mine have always chosen themes that focus on war, mainly WWII. They’ve repeatedly demonstrated a talent for channeling not just the mad exhilaration and explosive destructiveness of armed conflict but also the pain and grief it brings. It’s not surprising, therefore, that they would record a song for the victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Continue reading »

Mar 312022
 

Ascension Festival Iceland MMXXI in November of last year was one of the most memorable metal festivals this writer has ever attended, and also one of the most heart-warming, despite the chilly temperatures outside the venue and the often wintry music inside.

The good feelings were in part the result of knowing about the avalanche of hurdles the festival had to leap over in order to make the event a reality — which included two covid-related postponements, two venue changes, numerous band cancellations, and of course the persistent peril of the virus, which included a surge happening in Iceland right around the time when the festival began and which threatened to cause a government cancellation of the festival’s third and fourth days. The fact that the event went off at all, much less as beautifully as it did, made it one to remember.

Of course, the music was also fantastic, as were both the people who worked the fest and those who attended. It was as if everyone, both on-stage and off, genuinely and deeply understood how lucky they were to be there after 18 months of lockdown and after all the ridiculous odds stacked against the event happening at all. Continue reading »

Mar 292022
 

 

I’m sure some of you noticed that I didn’t post anything at NCS last weekend, neither a new-music roundup on Saturday nor a Shades of Black column on Sunday. I was in my hometown of Austin, Texas, which was only my second departure from Washington since the pandemic began (the other one being a trip to Iceland last fall for Ascension Festival).

No reason to go into details about that trip, other than to say that it was packed with activities that led to late nights and hungover mornings, and I had no time to write anything for this site. I did have a little time to myself on Friday afternoon and used that to check out some new songs and videos. From that I assembled a tentative collection for a Saturday roundup, and even though I couldn’t get that done, I decided to stick with the list for today.

I enjoyed the hell out of all these songs when I first heard them — my kind of ear candy. I hope you’ll have fun with them too.

DARKENED (International)

This group of all-stars put out a hell of a debut album in 2020’s Kingdom of Decay, and early signs are that their new record will also be a rousing a success. Continue reading »

Mar 242022
 

 

High intensity is the hallmark of all the new songs and videos I’ve collected in this round-up, even in the one song I’ve included that’s not like any of the others.

KANONENFIEBER (Germany)

The real-world footage compiled in the video for Kanonenfieber‘s new song “Stop the War” is so powerful that it could be accompanied by a child singing a nursery rhyme and it would still be moving. But the song is every bit as powerful as the imagery. Continue reading »

Mar 192022
 


Ufomammut – photo by Francesca De Franceschi Manzoni

I hope your weekend is going well. Mine got off to a very good start this morning as I made my way through songs and videos that surfaced over the past week or so. By sheer good fortune, almost everything I listened to struck a chord, and the ones that rang loudest made its way into this big round-up.

I organized the selections in a way that made sense to me, capped by a shot of pure adrenaline. I’ll briefly tell you what to prepare for.

UFOMAMMUT (Italy)

Prepare for: a slow burn, a dreamy but sinew-triggering trip reminiscent of an old Pink Floyd space odyssey, with an increasingly fiery slug-fest as its destination. Continue reading »

Mar 152022
 

 

Drowning in new music and regrettably short on time to listen and write about it, I’ve decided to just grab five of the new things I’ve recently seen and heard to share with you today.

MISERY INDEX (U.S.)

I don’t know what came first in the creation of this new Misery Index song, the words or the music, or whether they were conceived together, but both are enraged. The politically charged lyrics begin this way:

Ancient ways ensnared in the monetary grip
Sons and daughters slaved by the wage and the whip
Our way of life crushed, as our lives drown in work
Is this what we’re to think, that a human life is worth? Continue reading »

Mar 122022
 

I spent hours yesterday (no exaggeration) assembling a list of new songs and videos that surfaced just since Monday. I kept at it, even knowing full well that as the list grew I was just making it harder on myself in deciding what to include in this Saturday round-up.

And then I remembered the legend of Alexander the Great and how he solved the seemingly insurmountable problem of untying a knot in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia at Gordium, a feat that was prophesied to make the knot-solver the eventual ruler of all Asia: He cut the knot in half with a single stroke of his sword.

I cut my own Gordian knot by deciding to focus on advance songs (all of which were revealed just yesterday) from just one label’s forthcoming releases. It’s a special label, as anyone knows who has indulged in its many past releases. In December its future became clouded with uncertainty when the label owner (Luciano) fell prey to covid and was hospitalized in intensive care, with his life hanging by a thread. Continue reading »

Mar 082022
 

 

I had a premiere scheduled for today that unexpectedly fell through, so I decided to scurry around and grab some new songs and videos for a round-up. The scurrying didn’t allow much time for writing, so you won’t find much of that here. I did try to create a genre-spread, because unlike me not everyone likes every formulation of metallic extremity. Have a listen, and pick your poison. (Some very good artwork in this collection too.)

COSMIC PUTREFACTION (Italy)

You’d know if someone slipped this poison into your drink, because it doesn’t go down easy. Prepare for churning, gut-punching, fret-leaping, brain-broiling death metal mayhem by a virtuoso practitioner (Gabriele Gramaglia, with help this time from drummer Giulio Galati). Continue reading »

Mar 052022
 


Septicflesh – photo by Stella Mouzi

I wasn’t able to pull together any roundups of new songs and videos this past week, which means that today I’m only scratching the surface of what surfaced. It’s more like scratching just the top molecular layer of a solid block of steel. I’ll be back tomorrow to do some more scratching. Maybe some of your musical itches will be scratched too.

SEPTICFLESH (Greece)

Yesterday Nuclear Blast released news about a forthcoming album by SepticFlesh and a video for its first singe, “Hierophant“. It’s a conceptual song that begins a story which continues in the track “Self-Eater”.

This first part of the story (to quote band member Sotiris Anunnaki V) “depicts the experience of a high priest, acting as a human conduit between Heaven and Earth. Having never heard a single word from the mouth of God, he grows tired of preaching the preordained words of the clergy. He turns to performing primitive and powerful rituals that have been long forbidden, as he seeks the guidance of a chaotic elemental consciousness”. Continue reading »