Sep 292023

Today the three oldest of old-timers around here (Andy Synn, DGR, and myself) will be making our way toward the California coast to attend a wedding on Sunday of some dear friends, one of whom used to write for NCS. As a consequence, we have nothing planned for the site today, and it’s unlikely I will write the usual weekend columns either.

In a certain demographic at the wedding, including the bride and groom, there will be a lot of metalheads. In the other demographic groups, probably not so much. The entrance and exit music at the ceremony probably won’t include Slayer or Metallica. Probably little or no metal at the wedding reception either, even if someone could find metal that people could dance to. Mosh pits or a wall of death would be fun to see but that probably ain’t happening.

I did look for live music in the area on Saturday night, which we will have to ourselves. I found a karaoke night at an American Legion hall. But hell, it will be better to shoot the shit with friends anyway, lubricated by a few adult beverages. Continue reading »

Jun 252022


Off and on all day, every day, I read the news of the world. Every day I come across reports that make me feel varying mixtures of sorrow, disgust, anger, and frustration (because there’s not a damned thing I can do about any of it). A person concerned for their mental health would get a clue and stop doing this. Why I continue, I don’t know.

Most days I still forge ahead with what I do for NCS without uttering a syllable about the news that happens to be upsetting me; I know that no one comes here to see me whine. But sometimes what happens in the outer world is so bad that it becomes very difficult for me to concentrate on music, so bad that music barely seems relevant, or no longer functions very well as an escape, much less a treatment for my mental turmoil. This is one of those days. Continue reading »

May 312021


In the United States, today is Memorial Day, a national holiday. Here, it marks the unofficial beginning of summer and is typically a time of social gathering and celebration. This year its celebratory aspects are even greater, because many of the pandemic-related restrictions on social activity have been lifted. People are traveling by air and car at levels not seen since March of last year. Bars and restaurants are packed. So are parks and beaches.

I don’t want to pour cold water on any of this, but the Memorial Day holiday was not established as a day of celebration. It was created as a day of remembrance and mourning of American military personnel who died in the performance of their duties. In its earliest incarnation after the Civil War, it was called “Decoration Day”, because mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers.

Nowadays, there are still solemn remembrances, but those are usually overshadowed by all the fun-loving activities, and by politicians and businesses who use the day as an excuse to engage in flag-waving glorification of the military. Many of those are the same people who hypocritically do nothing to help military personnel once they’re out of uniform, but badly need help because of physical or mental injuries suffered during their service. Trying to survive apparently doesn’t count nearly as much as dying. Continue reading »

Mar 182021

Spanish Love Songs


(Seb Painchaud, the main man behind the Montréal band Tumbleweed Dealer, has very expansive and eclectic musical tastes, which is one reason why for five years in a row we’ve asked him to share a year-end list with us. He did that for 2020 (here), but as explained below he has found some other (mainly non-metal) 2020 releases he wants to recommend.)

As you might have noticed reading my year-end list, I wasn’t in a very good place mentally when I wrote it. Reflecting upon such a shitty year amidst attempts to make holiday plans around the pandemic and knowing the disappointment that was in store for my kid made what is usually the highlight of my year turn into a chore. Even the wife remarked that I’m usually in a great mood afterward and looking forward to it being published, when this year I seemed to power through it like a chore and be happy to just have it done with. I did, and I was.

Seasonal depression had met OCD-induced anxiety and they both basked in my negative outlook as I tried to find something good to say about anything that happened in the last twelve months.

The year itself, other than the plague-filled mess it became, was also a reaction to a 2019 spent scouring new releases where I honestly just wanted to jam some familiar classics. The year-end lists filled me with dread rather than glee, and that was just one more thing that COVID had taken away from me. I gotta admit, I didn’t put in the time I usually do to compile the list, and just didn’t listen to as much new music as I did in previous years.

After a beginning of 2021 spent ignoring all recent albums and basking in nostalgia, my passion for seeking out new stuff has returned, and I’m now realizing 2020 had some damn good releases I just plain slept on. Some I missed completely, some I passed on after too quick of a listen, and some just didn’t click at the time.

So here are 10 albums I slept on last year that you need to check out: Continue reading »

Jan 252021


In a round-up yesterday I disclosed that I spent a lot of time on Saturday catching up with new music I was interested in hearing. I actually just scratched the surface, but still got submerged in a lot of metallic extremity. As palate cleansers, I sometimes gave my ears and my head a break by venturing into music I knew in advance wouldn’t be the usual bread and butter of NCS. From those off-the-beaten-path excursions I selected the following music to share with you.

I don’t mean to suggest that there’s no metal here at all, and a couple of the names will be well-known to NCS readers, but it’s still different. And you’ll also find that there is a lot of globe-hopping coming your way.


I can always recognize the music of Thy Catafalque when I hear it, regardless of which vocalist happens to be accompanying Tamás Kátai. It may have something to do with his guitar tunings and his use of rhythms, but mainly it’s rooted in his crafting of melodies. I wish I could confidently assert that the melodies are connected to the folk traditions of his Hungarian homeland, but I’m just assuming that, because I’m not a student of Hungarian folk music. To my untrained ears, all I can say is that the sounds are exotic to me, and both earthy and haunting. But really, those two adjectives just skim the surface, because across the breadth of Thy Catafalque‘s extraordinary discography, there are many other sensations as well. Continue reading »

Jan 132021

Good morning/afternoon/evening my friends and a hearty “remain indoors” to you all.

Andy Synn here, stepping in for our great and glorious leader who, sadly, can’t be with you/us right now. And for good reason.

Well, I say “good”, but there’s actually nothing “good” about it. Due to inclement, semi-apocalyptic, weather conditions, our beloved overlord is currently without power, internet, or (for the most part) phone signal, meaning that he hasn’t been able to put together any of the posts he had planned for today.

We’re hopeful that, at some point, he’ll have his access to the grid (and therefore the web) restored, but for now we’d just like to issue an apology for the technical difficulties we’re currently experiencing.

Don’t worry though, it wouldn’t be an NCS post without at least some new music, so after the jump I’m going to share a few quick thoughts on a certain EP which dropped just last night (along with the requisite bandcamp embed, obviously) so we don’t feel like today has been a total waste.

Continue reading »

Nov 242020


(Our Atlanta-based contributor Tør returns to NCS with the third edition of a series that began here in August and continued here in September.)

It’s official: I am in I-don’t-give-a-fuck-anymore mode. Between quarantine, social distancing, and Covid-induced madness, I’ve managed to stay above water but barely. Like most of us, I miss going to shows, hanging out with fellow metalheads, having a beer or two, and getting my ears blasted with hellish riffs in some smoke-filled, damp shithole in the sketchy part of town. As Islander points out in this piece, it has become abundantly clear by now that we will be dealing with this mess for the foreseeable future and any talk of a vaccine sorting things out, at least immediately, is pure fantasy.

Adding to the misery is the current political situation in the US and elsewhere. Recently, we were made to choose between two sets of incompetent and corrupt candidates whose political grand accomplishments include gems such as drafting the 1994 Crime Bill, imprisoning thousands of black men on minor (and often bogus) drug charges, building a ridiculous border wall, giving the rich more tax cuts, and tweeting nonsense at the world all day, everyday, for the last four years. Those who have done the most damage to American society by harassing, abusing, and dividing its people with their actions and rhetoric are now masquerading as leaders committed to social justice and unity. Continue reading »

Nov 212020


On November 21, 2009, I made the first post at this blog, which, with tongue partially in cheek, I had decided to name NO CLEAN SINGING. I started it on a lark. I had no training or experience as a music writer. I had only scattered bits of knowledge about the long history of metal, because until recently I had spent my decades of time on earth mainly listening to other kinds of music. What I did have was a burgeoning attraction to heavy music and a lot of curiosity. Back in those early days of the blogging phenomenon, you really didn’t need much more than that to start out. Probably still don’t.

Of course, the intensity of my own interest and the ease of starting up didn’t mean that anyone would pay attention to NCS — and I didn’t expect that or need it. NCS existed as a hobby, for want of a better word, that I hoped would be an enjoyable diversion for me from the grind of daily life. That was the sum total of my motivation. If you had told me back then that I’d still be doing it 11 years later, or that NCS would achieve a certain level of global notoriety, I would have laughed so hard that I’d have been left gasping for air.

On this milestone birthday, I’ve thought again, as I do every year, about why unexpectedly we’re still here, and what has changed from those earliest of days. Continue reading »

Oct 172020


I haven’t done this in a long time, so long that I had to research when the last time was — and it was in May, if you don’t count a post I made in July soon after the Covid death of a man who was an influential mentor and father-figure in my life. But I was stunned to see a map and accompanying data this morning, which made me think it was time again to invite people to share their thoughts about what has been happening to them and their communities during the pandemic. As usual, I’ve included some new metal for people who don’t feel like doing that.

That map I saw is the same one you can see at the top of this post. It was accompanied by this chart:



This shows that at least 909 new coronavirus deaths and 70,451 new cases were reported in the United States on October 16th. Over the past week, there have been an average of 56,040 cases per day, an increase of 29 percent from the average two weeks earlier. As of Saturday morning, more than 8,090,500 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 218,400 have died, according to a database maintained by The New York Times, which is where I found this dismal news (here).

That 70,451 number is eye-popping because it’s close to the all-time daily high of 73,523 on July 24th. In other words, here in the U.S. we’re in the vicinity of a new peak that would rival the worst days of the outbreak over the summer. Continue reading »

May 302020


Until this morning I didn’t realize that 7 weeks had passed since the last time I invited people to share their thoughts about what was happening to them and their communities during the pandemic. I didn’t think that much time had passed. On the other hand, when I think back to what was going on during the second week in April and what has happened since then, it seems like seven months ago. I guess we’ve all experienced the distortions in our sense of time that the virus lockdowns have produced. I sure as hell have.

So here we are almost at the beginning of June, the start of summer in the northern hemisphere. Lots of communities are beginning to “open up”, though of course things are still far from normal. Some people are worrying that more frequent social interaction will lead to a “second wave” or at least a “second peak”. It’s becoming apparent that there won’t be any quick rebound in economies around the world. And even if we get through the summer without any dramatic surges in infections or deaths, is the virus (or some mutation of it) going to return with a vengeance in the fall?

It seems to me that even 7 weeks down the road from the last time I wrote one of these posts, the future is still as uncertain as it was then. There are so many unknowns. One of the few certainties is that 7 weeks from now life will not have returned to “normal”. Maybe we’re going to have to get used to a “new normal” that’s radically different from life as it existed just four months ago. Actually, no “maybe” about it. Continue reading »