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 »

Oct 162020
 


Benediction (photo by Karen Rew)

 

(Another Friday has arrived, and that means another selection of new songs and videos chosen and introduced by our contributor Gonzo.)

It’s always fun when I wake up on Friday mornings and discover new music I never saw coming, especially when it’s from bands I’ve loved for 20+ years. It reminds me of simpler times. For me, though, nothing beats the old feeling of walking into a record store and browsing through new releases for hours at a time.

Alas, the modern conveniences of having gigabytes of new shit funneled into your ears simply by opening your phone these days is nice, but this week’s new music is a trip into a universe of nostalgia for me. Why? I’ve bought CDs from all four of the bands I’ve included this week – some of which I still have in a giant binder that I don’t open very much anymore. Maybe I’ll go revisit that now.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these tracks as much as I do. Continue reading »

Oct 092020
 

 

(NCS contributor Gonzo returns with another Friday round-up of new music, this time featuring recent tracks and videos by five bands from albums that are being released today, or will be forthcoming.)

I took a road trip down to Fayetteville, Arkansas, last week. Driving to the Deep South from my Colorado home is a study in culture shock, and not in a positive or constructive way. The entire length of Kansas is a desolate hellscape full of Trump flags and locals casting a weary gaze towards anyone wearing a mask in public. Missouri isn’t much better.

Fortunately, so much time in the car allowed for plenty of time to listen to all the new metal I’ve been meaning to get around to. It was also nice to roll down the windows and blast some of this shit at offensively high volumes in conservative rural towns. (It’s the little things.) Continue reading »

Oct 092020
 

 

This is pretty much a DGR round-up, since it was he who urged the first three new songs and videos in this collection. They’re all from bands who’ve been around for a long time, from 14 years to more than 30 years (but are still kicking ass). To justify my own existence, I picked two more, one from a more obscure band than those first three but whose name is rising fast, and a second from an even more obscure name that I suspect will soon become better-known.

I have approximately 53 other new songs I’d also like to share with you. Maybe later. There’s a fly that’s making the rounds on the morning news interviews, so I need to check that out.

NECROPHOBIC

Devil’s Spawn Attack” is the closing track on Necrophobic’s new album, Dawn of the Damned. I smell a review simmering in the NCS mess hall that questions the wisdom of that choice — not a question about the quality of the song (which is damned good), but about its position in the running order. But I’ll let that writer speak for himself in due course; maybe he’ll change his mind. Meanwhile, I’ll speak my own mind. Continue reading »

Oct 052020
 

 

For the second weekend in a row I made no NCS posts, and this time I didn’t even explain why. The reason was that I took a short vacation with my spouse and friends and spent the weekend in the beautiful wine country around Walla Walla, Washington. There was copious drinking, eating, and sleeping. The covid-related opportunity to average 80 mph (129 kph) driving the 260 miles there and back again was kind of thrilling all by itself. Everything we did was socially distanced (and with only one exception our eating and drinking was done outside), everyone there was masked up, and it felt safe. It was all great, but the weekend left no time for listening to music or writing.

I got back home in one piece late Sunday afternoon, and to extend the holiday my wife and I went out to dinner at a restaurant near where we live that had just re-opened for in-door service. We were the only customers in the entire restaurant, so that felt safe too, though I was sad for them.

With all that behind me, I felt compelled to start this new week at NCS with a selection of new music. Having spent no time this weekend digging deep into what has surfaced over the last week, I made some truly random choices based on some very scattered listening early this morning. But of course I really like what I found, especially because all the songs serendipitously fit together so well. Continue reading »

Sep 282020
 

 

I finished my hike through a grand forest yesterday, more than three miles. My wife and her friend didn’t even have to drag me to the finish, though the fact that we had an hour break for lunch is the only reason I made it. I slept like a dead man last night and, to use an old idiom, was all “stove up” (google it) when I staggered out of bed this morning.

Confronting a massive list of new songs that could have been fodder for this post, I decided to make it easy on myself and just use a quartet that Andy Synn recommended to me late last week. This was a bit of a shot in the dark, since I hadn’t yet listened to any of them, but not completely in the dark since Andy has decent taste. On the other hand he’s not completely disinterested, because he performs with one of these bands. But that’s where I come in, to bring some objectivity to bear (through the waves of muscle and joint pain).

APATHY NOIR (Sweden/UK)

Wonderful cover art on this one, credited to the band’s sole instrumental performer on this release, Viktor Jonas, based on the original artwork “Grappling for the Lost Cable” (ca. 1866) by Robert Charles Dudley. It’s for a single called The Shipbreaker’s Song, with a B-side track named “The Sunken Place“. And yes, our own Andy Synn wrote the lyrics and performed the vocals on these two songs. Continue reading »

Sep 272020
 

 

As regular visitors to our site know, I didn’t post anything yesterday, which was the result of me sleeping in (sleeping way in) and then having to devote hours to my fucking day job, which sometimes views Saturdays and Sundays as just more work-days. I’m not going to post a SHADES OF BLACK column today either. I decided to goof off yesterday after I finished with work, and this morning I’m going on a hike.

You have no way of knowing how unusual this is. The only hiking I’ve done since March has been between the front door of my house and the mailbox, and between my computer and the refrigerator or bathroom. I get winded going to the mailbox and back. Only a blob of mercury on an undulating surface would be less “in shape” than I am. But my spouse, who hikes with a friend several days a week for hours at a time, has finally talked me into going with them this morning. I think she worries that as a result of muscular atrophy, my skeleton is the only thing that keeps me from dissolving into a puddle of fleshy goo.

So I’m going to hike. How far I get before my wife and her friend have to begin dragging me like a sack of cement is a question I can’t answer. We’ll have to see. Continue reading »

Sep 252020
 


Mr. Bungle by Buzz Osborne

 

(Gonzo brings us another Friday selection of new songs.)

We talk a lot at NCS about how utterly fucking wild this year has been. As September winds down and we all welcome the fall (that’s autumn, not the imminent collapse of society), it seems like the metal community is pulling out all the stops to close out the year – familiar faces releasing some of their strongest work in years, newcomers putting out amazing debuts, and unexpected surprises materializing out of seemingly nowhere.

This week is no exception to any of that. It’s a glorious mix of old, new, and “holy shit these guys still make albums?” 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 »