Feb 152019
 

 

Most of the installments of the list this week have been genre-focused, moving from shades and phases of black metal, to doom, to technical death metal. Today’s installment also focuses on death metal, but of three very different kinds.

To check out this week’s previous installments of this still-expanding list, and all the others, you’ll find them behind this link, and to learn what this series is all about, go here.

HEADS FOR THE DEAD

The first formulation of death metal in today’s installment happens to be a song we premiered last year from the debut album of this new group, whose impressive line-up consists of Jonny Petterson (Wombbath, Ursinne, Henry Kane, Pale King), who was responsible for the music and its production, and vocalist Ralf Hauber (Revel In Flesh), with Erik Bevenrud (Down Among the Dead Men) as the session drummer. To add to those names, Matt Moliti (Sentient Horror) performed guitar solos on three tracks, and Håkan Stuvemark (Wombbath, Pale King) soloed on two others. Continue reading »

Feb 142019
 

 

There’s probably someone out there who was thinking, “Is this list STILL not finished? It’s the middle of fuckin’ February — when is that lunatic going to stop?” And then that someone saw the title of this installment and thought, “Oh wow. Didn’t realize he hadn’t gotten to Obscura or Soreption yet. I guess it’s okay if he goes on for a bit longer.”

OBSCURA

All of us here were big, big fans of Obscura’s latest album Diluvium — and it seems like everyone else who listened to it felt the same way. In his review, Andy recognized it as “the culmination of a decade’s worth of work and growth by this ever-evolving entity” and considered it home to “some of the most nuanced and natural-sounding songs of the band’s career” — “another win for Obscura, as well as a more than fitting conclusion to their epic endeavour” (it eventually made Andy’s list of the year’s Great albums).

For his part, DGR (in his year-end write-up) also thought the album was great — “predictably dense, but not in the stuffed-to-the-gills way that a lot of tech-death albums have been, but more because this was an album that really saw Obscura exploring their chosen sound” — and gave it a very high recommendation. Continue reading »

Feb 132019
 

 

Yesterday I leaned into black metal in adding to this list, and today I’m favoring doom — though these two songs are very different formulations of misery and gloom, both beautiful in their own way, and both emotionally wrenching, but there are at least as many differences as similarities. And of course I think both of them are intensely memorable.

MAJESTIC DOWNFALL

The new Majestic Downfall album was one I eagerly anticipated, and eagerly embraced once I heard it. As I wrote in a review on the day it became available for full streaming in early December, the four long songs of doom/death and one brief interlude that make up Waters of Fate are staggeringly intense and atmospherically immersive, and the melodies are powerfully alluring, but the music should also appeal to listeners with a taste for crushing heaviness and soul-splintering sorrow. There is tear-stained beauty to be found in the music, and passages of epic yet bleak grandeur, but this is an album that will dash your fondest hopes and smother your budding joys in their crib. Continue reading »

Feb 122019
 

 

As you can see, I decided to really load up today’s installment of the list, with four songs instead of two or three, and I also decided to lean into black metal for this one. I also thought these songs fit together in a way that would make for a good playlist, in addition to each of them being deserving presences on this list. As a bonus, two of these songs were performed at the Fire In the Mountains festival last summer outside Jackson, Wyoming, and I’ve included quality video of both of those, thanks to (((unartig))), as well as the album tracks.

To check out the previous installments of this still-expanding list, you’ll find them behind this link, and to learn what this series is all about, go here.

PANOPTICON

Without advance fanfare, or any preceding reviews, last April Panopticon released the extraordinary double-album The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness (I and II), one half devoted to atmospheric metal and the other half focused on Americana (though the division isn’t a rigid one, with some bleed-over going both ways). Austin Lunn shared the album with me in advance of its release, and I wrote a review, holding onto it (at his request) until the release date — and then I never posted it.

I felt that I owed the music something better than the words I’d cobbled together, which struck me as more emotional and stream-of-conscious in their ramblings than they should have been. And then, with the music out in the world, I just never got back to the drawing board in the hope of crafting a better homage. Continue reading »

Feb 112019
 

 

With the weekend now behind us we’re resuming the rollout of this list, beginning the 6th week of the trek, with a self-imposed stopping point looming closer (by the end of this month, and possibly earlier — not sure which, since I haven’t finished compiling the list).

Almost every year I’ve shoe-horned music into this annual escapade that doesn’t really fit the label of “extreme metal”, and I’m doing it again today (and might do it yet again before I’m finished this year). Among other things, these two songs have plenty of (very good) clean singing. But although they may not be as extreme as almost everything else, they’re heavy enough — and they’re also damned memorable

KHEMMIS

I’m very happy to say that we’ve been backing this Colorado band since long before they became household names — and if they’re not yet at household name status, they can’t be far away, after three such exceptional and broadly appealing albums — Absolution, Hunted, and now Desolation. Among the core group of NCS writers, Andy Synn was the last to tumble to how good Khemmis‘ music is, though he tumbled pretty hard once he gave it a chance following the band’s performance last year at Maryland Deathfest. Continue reading »

Feb 082019
 

 

In the famous phrasing of Browning, my reach exceeded my grasp yesterday. After finishing a pair of premieres and a very large two-part round-up of new music, my brain was fried and my NCS time had expired, and so I had to skip a day in the rollout of this list. But now, to resume, prepare to get blasted to smithereens….

The great thing about getting blasted by songs like these two, and the reason they’re on this list, is because you want to get blasted by them over and over again, every time you’ve put your pieces back together again. Or at least I do.

PIG DESTROYER

The latest Pig Destroyer album surprised some people (a dismaying surprise in some quarters), but it really shouldn’t have. As DGR put in his NCS review, “chaotic-ping-ponging around the metal genre-sphere” has been the band’s bread and butter, with their discography “translating to never quite knowing what you’ll get upon first picking up a new release, outside of the band’s trademark speed”.

In the case of Head Cage (again quoting DGR), it represented “the hardest right turn the band have made yet — like a car screeching against the outside railings of a highway off-ramp — taking on a groove-heavy sound in the midst of all that grind, resulting in an album that is overall far less chaotic than what they’ve put forth before, and also a hell of a lot of shameless ‘fun’”. Continue reading »

Feb 062019
 

 

For this latest installment of the list I didn’t have any particular organizing principle that motivated the pairing of these two songs. Stylistically, they’re quite different, and so are the compositional strategies that resulted in each of them becoming so memorable and so personally addictive. I just felt it was time to give both of them the recognition they’re due.

SULPHUR AEON

Having already released such exceptional achievements as Swallowed By the Ocean’s Tide (2013) and Gateway To the Antisphere (2015), perhaps it wasn’t much of a risk that Sulphur Aeon‘s third album would be overlooked despite its release so close to the end of last year. Though it might not have been trumpeted through year-end lists prepared a month or two earlier, the band’s reputation had already become so revered as a result of those two previous releases that it didn’t require clairvoyance to know that word of The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos would spread far and wide by other means — especially because it is also a stupendously good album. Continue reading »

Feb 052019
 

 

Another day, another pair of songs for my list of highly infectious tracks from 2018 releases. Without further ado, here they are (you can check out the preceding installments of this series here):

MIRE

The first track I’m adding today is “Lightless“, from the 2018 album Shed by Denver-based Mire. A choice of something from this album might have seem fore-ordained, since it made Andy Synn‘s “Personal Top 10” year-end list, as well as No. 33 on DGR’s year-end list. But not so. I don’t always agree with my colleagues’ views about albums, and even when I do (as in fact I do here), that doesn’t mean the album will necessarily be home to one or more genuinely infectious songs. But I do think this one is. Continue reading »

Feb 042019
 

 

This is another instance in which I consciously paired songs for this list because I thought they sounded good together. In fact, the second one helped me decide on the track I chose from the first band’s album (a choice that had become an intractable mental struggle).

To check out the previous installments of this still-expanding list, you’ll find them behind this link, and to learn what this series is all about, go here.

WOLFHEART

This really was a tough call for me. After listening to Wolfheart’s latest album, Constellation of the Black Light, I had no doubt that something from it would be on this list, I just didn’t know which track it would be.  The album came hot on the heels of 2017’s Tyhjyys, but as DGR noted in his review, it nevertheless continued the band’s impressive level of consistent quality, delivering a blend of fast-paced, explosive hammering and brooding, wintry melody with an often epic atmosphere. Continue reading »

Feb 012019
 

 

The two songs I’ve added to this list today consist of one that I discovered very late in the year after neglecting the album for many months, and another that’s been stuck in my head since we premiered it in October.

As usual, I’ll be taking a break from the rollout of this list this weekend while I continue trying  to figure out what will come next. Decisions, decisions, and they’re not getting much easier even though 19 installments are now behind me.

SVALBARD

I confess that I didn’t pay close attention to this UK band’s latest album until near the end of the year. Even after reading Andy Synn‘s review of It’s Hard To Have Hope last April, which spoke of the album’s  “unbridled passion and unwavering integrity” and insisted that “Svalbard deserve all the support and attention they can muster going forwards”, I didn’t listen. I meant to, but it must have been one of those especially harried weeks around the NCS compound, and as time passed, so too the album passed me by. Continue reading »