Nov 212017


We have survived another year, and yes, I still count mere survival as a kind of triumph in the precarious realms of metal blogdom. We are a whopping eight years old today — we made our first post on November 21, 2009.

Measured according to other time scales, eight years seems like the blink of an eye. But measured by the lifespan of your average metal blog (or even by some large commercial metal sites), we’re… kind of mature. Not in our behavior, of course.

I continue to be amazed and thankful that we’re still here, that so many good friends are still devoting themselves to writing for NCS on a purely volunteer basis, and that so many readers haven’t yet gotten fed up and purged us from their lives. Continue reading »

Jul 072017


(We have a little-used category of posts that, for want of a better term, we call “Off Topic”. This is one of those “not metal” posts. But it also fits in another category of posts — “That’s Music — But It’s Not Metal” — which is too complicated to explain in detail, but basically refers to music that isn’t metal, but also kind of is “metal”. I’ll shut up now and let Grant Skelton take it from here.)

I used to loathe country music. Going to college near Nashville, the Mecca of country music, probably didn’t help. Metal was all I wanted to hear. That is, until I discovered late greats like Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt.

Whole libraries have been written on each of those two. And even among metal fans, Cash and Van Zandt seem to occupy something of a sacred place. Late last year, Islander gushed over Panzerfaust’s cover of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” referring to Cash as, “the most black metal country singer you can find.” Neurot Recordings has released two compilations (Volume I and Volume II) of Townes Van Zandt covers by Scott Kelly, Wino, Mike Scheidt, and Steve Von Till. Dorthia Cottrell of Windhand recorded her creepy rendition of Van Zandt’s song “Rake” for her self-titled 2015 solo album The much-hyped upcoming outlaw country cover album from DevilDriver (whether you hate that idea or love it) further underscores my point.

Don’t get me wrong, the country music you’ll hear on the radio is nothing more than the foul ordure of red-state identity politics. The songs aren’t songs, they’re lists of ideals and symbols that perpetuate a mythical, illusory way of life. But this article isn’t about that. It’s about artists whose music, while not metal in the slightest, I believe will still be meaningful and enjoyable to readers of our site. On my honor, here you will find no songs about girls in trucks. Continue reading »

Dec 112016



The last two days have been crazier than usual in the not-blog part of my life, the part that I usually succeed in squelching down into a tiny thing that whines for attention but doesn’t get it. Beginning two days ago, it became the mouse that roared.

The nastiness started when the web hosting service we use for NCS (Bluehost) somehow crashed their entire system around mid-day on Friday just as I had posted one premiere, with one more that I had still planned to post. I’m calm about it now, but I was punching walls for a few hours after that happened. Once it became clear that this debacle wasn’t going to be fixed any time soon I just said, Fuck It, and started drinking.

Ten hours later, Bluehost still hadn’t fixed the problem, NCS was still inaccessible, and I was pretty well hammered. Continue reading »

Nov 212016



We have survived another year. And when you get right down to it, sheer survival is the reason any of us celebrate birthdays. We are seven years old today — we made our first post on November 21, 2009.

As I wrote at the time of our last birthday (and it remains true), seven years isn’t very long when compared to the lifespan of your average Galápagos tortoise, but measured by the lifespan of your average metal blog, we’re almost ready for a nursing home.

I continue to be amazed and thankful that we’re still here, that so many good friends are still devoting themselves to writing for NCS on a purely volunteer basis, and that so many readers haven’t yet gotten fed up and purged us from their lives.
Continue reading »

Nov 092016



“Anger trumped hope. Donald Trump’s astonishing victory over a heavily-favored Hillary Clinton on Tuesday is the greatest upset in the modern history of American elections – convulsing the nation’s political order in ways so profound and disruptive its impact can’t even be guessed at.”

And that’s how one article I read this morning began. There are tens of thousands of articles from around the world that in substance began the same way. We did not see this coming, and now many of us can’t see where we are going — or we think we can see it, and it’s a very dystopian vision of the future.

On days like this, it’s hard to go forward with a “business as usual” approach. As much as we love what we do here at NCS, it’s obviously dwarfed in importance by what happened at the polls in the early morning hours of this day, and what that outcome portends for the next four years and longer. Continue reading »

Sep 012016

Neill Jameson


EDITOR’S FOREWORD: We’ve had a few posts over the nearly 7 years of our existence that have focused on works of literature, but very damned few. That’s not shocking, because this is first and foremost a blog about music. But for some musicians who dare to talk about it, and for many ardent fans, there are connections between these two forms of art.

Beyond those connections, some of you (maybe even the majority of those who visit this putrid site) spend as much time reading for pleasure as you do battering yourselves with violent sounds. For those in that group, and for those who are open to finding new inspiration, we bring you a very different kind of list from Neill Jameson of Krieg. I selfishly hope this will spawn both comments on this post and more features on our site about written works of art that dovetail with our interests in metal.

Our thanks to Neill for the following words: Continue reading »

Jul 152016

The Comancheros-Four Horsemen


(Andy Synn reviews the debut EP by The Comancheros, headquartered in Columbia, Missouri.)

As my third and final entry this week on the theme of bands beginning with “The” I’m venturing a little bit outside of our usual wheelhouse with the smooth and smoky brand of musical misery served up by The Comancheros.

But Andy, how are these guys in any way relevant to the NCS audience, I hear you ask?

Well, for one thing, one of their members just so happens to be a certain R. Michael Cook of the inimitable A Hill To Die Upon (who, I have it on good authority, are back in the saddle and working on new music themselves), and for another The Comancheros list their main influences as “Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, Judas Priest, and Dwight Yoakam”, which suggests to me that one or two of you might just find something to like on their new EP, Four Horsemen. Continue reading »

Jun 232016

Krieg-Photo by Hillarie Jason


(Neill Jameson (Krieg) returns to our site with some remembrances about under-appreciated albums from a formative period.)

Recently I did a piece for Invisible Oranges about discovering Alice in Chains and Nirvana as a young boy stuck in the shitty Pittsburgh suburbs in the late 1980s, and that got me to thinking about that period of time for music and how there’s some really great records that almost never get mentioned because people’s tastes generally stick to what they hear about, akin to how so much great early ’90s black metal is missed because of a lack of a controversial narrative to them.

So I figured I’d share a few records that never really got their due from that era in my continuing mission to be on your newsfeed as often as possible without it being for exposing myself at a playground. And we’re off! Continue reading »

May 012016



By way of explaining why my own output at the site has been sparse over the last week, I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I have a close friend in the ICU at a Seattle hospital whom I’ve been visiting for hours each day. One week ago she was driving to work in downtown Seattle and was hit in an intersection by a big city aid truck responding to an emergency call. She’s still in a coma, with a brain injury, though there are signs that she is approaching wakefulness.

Yesterday being a Saturday, I spent a few hours at home listening to music before returning to the hospital. I listened to some new metal that suited my mood, which I plan to compile in a Shades of Black post later this morning. But in a sequence of unpredictable but serendipitous events I also happened upon all the music collected in this post. There’s a bit of metal in the first and last items, but mostly this music is way off our usual beaten paths, yet these songs also suited my mood. I hope you’ll appreciate them, too.


A Russian friend in Novosibirsk (and a member of Station Dysthymia) recommended this first band, calling the music “hauntingly beautiful” — and so it is. The band’s name is Offret, from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. I’m not sure if this is a one-man project or a group. What I heard was a self-titled EP released on April 25, 2016, via Bandcamp. Continue reading »

Apr 212016



Prince Rogers Nelson, born in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958, was found dead today at his home and recording studio, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minnesota. This is according to numerous reports, including one by the Associated Press, which seem to be true.

I’m posting this because it is hitting me just as hard, and maybe harder, than the deaths of Lemmy and Bowie. I’d be giving away more about my age than I want to give away if I went into too much detail, but let’s just say that I was an ardent fan of his music in the early years and it was a point of connection between me and my then wife-to-be.

I’m not capable of trying to explain what it was like when he burst upon the music scene, and there will be obituaries and retrospectives galore in the coming days written by people much more eloquent than me. But although I won’t try to write it, I can show you. Continue reading »