Jan 012021
 


New Year’s Eve, St. Petersburg Russia — but not this year (photo by Dmitri Lovetsky)

 

Happy New Year to all who may wander by our site today. But we extend that wish with one eye looking over our shoulder. Until we’ve cut the head off of 2020, put a stake through its heart, and burned the remains to ash, we fear it will remain with us, still shambling forward like a stinking zombie or coming back from its grave (which is just a temporary resting place) like a hungry vampire, ready to turn 2021 into something horrid just like itself.

The turn of the calendar means almost nothing of course. Today will be very much like yesterday and very much like tomorrow will be. If there is a meaningful change, it will only be one in our minds, which, however, is not nothing. I saw this poem today by Dana Gioia, named “New Year’s”: Continue reading »

Dec 292020
 

 

Just a few days left in this year that has been so miserable in so many ways, but so great when it comes to heavy music. Speaking of which, my plan is to finish rolling out our year-end lists by January 1st. At this point, I have five more slated to post. Soon after the beginning of the new year I’ll begin the last stage of NCS LISTMANIA, which is my list of 2020’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. I have a lot of thinking to do about that between now and then.

In the meantime I’m still trying to keep up with newly arriving metal. My fucking day job has been relatively calm over the holidays, which makes this task a bit easier, though I expect it to heat up again after New Year’s Day. Here’s some of what I discovered over the last 24 hours that lit me up.

VOID (UK)

The London-based avant-garde black metal band Void, who have been active since 1999, don’t hurry their releases. If you’ve heard either of their first two albums — 2003’s Posthuman and 2011’s Void, you’ll understand why. This isn’t the kind of music that can be thrown together quickly, but it has been so unusually good that it rewards the patience of fans. And now, a decade after their last album, Void will be releasing a new one through Duplicate Records near the end of January 2021. Continue reading »

Dec 262020
 

 

Time has become ill-defined for me as for everyone else this year, but I do realize that it’s not still Christmas Day. I just couldn’t get Part 2 of this round-up finished in time to post it yesterday before having a virtual get-together with close family members. Probably just as well, because stacking this much new music on top of what was in Part 1 might have drowned you, especially on top of another installment of DGR’s mountainous year-end list, which (by the way) ended today without caving in the site’s foundations, though that was a risk that left me in a cold sweat all week.

For Part 2 I’m starting with an album and then moving onto a couple of EPs and a couple of singles.

CASAVIEJA (Guatemala)

When Rennie (starkweather) first urged me to listen to this band a week ago, their new second album had just come out. He said they were from “South of the Border, South of Heaven”, but I didn’t realize until later that they hail from Guatemala. Without intending to be condescending, that’s not a nation that spawns typhoon waves of extreme metal bands, a fact that just made me more eager to hear them. Continue reading »

Dec 252020
 

 

Childhood memories tend to be fuzzy, at least around the edges. I have some vivid ones, but can’t always place them in chronological order. For example, I have some very clear memories of opening Christmas presents with my brother, and the rest of my family happily watching our glee. Some of those happened on Christmas Eve, and some upon waking on Christmas Day. Having been infected by the Santa Claus myth, I assume the memories from the daybreak celebrations were the earlier ones, and the nighttime ones happened after our family figured out (rightly or wrongly) that we had wised up about the myth, but I can’t be sure.

What I do know is that the nighttime gift-openings were more magical, even if they didn’t square with the notion of deliveries by Santa and the reindeer while my brother and I were off in the Land of Nod. Maybe it’s because the lights and ornaments on the Yule trees shown more brightly (our family wisely turned off all other lights in the room). Maybe there are other reasons why those memories are more scintillating, but if so, those reasons are… fuzzy… kind of like the gauzy light that shrouds these recollections in my mind. Continue reading »

Dec 192020
 

 

The past week was hellish in so many ways for so many people, but I know you’re particularly interested in why it was hellish for moi. Hell came for me in the guise of my day job, which doesn’t acknowledge the holiday season nor my NCS responsibilities (which, to be fair, I keep a secret from my employer). I barely had time to do the premieres I’d committed to do and the things I do to pretty-up what other people write before posting them.

No time for listening to other music, no time to sort through the tidal waves of effluvium that hit the NCS in-box, no time to prowl around the interhole looking for things that wouldn’t be the subject of press releases. And so when I awoke this morning I had no plans for what I might post, though I did feel the need to post something. Fortunately, a couple of my NCS comrades shared some links in our top-secret FB group, and even more fortunately what they shared turned out to be songs that fit together extremely well, as you’re about to discover. And they all come with videos!

FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE

The new Fleshgod Apocalypse single, “No“, includes all of the band’s signature bombastic ingredients — machine-gun drumming (punctuated by bunker-busting detonations), blizzard-like riffing, soaring operatic vocals mixed with hair-raising roars, extravagant keyboard flurries, glorious melodic guitar soloing, and an atmosphere that’s breathtakingly theatrical. It may or may not include a Britney Spears sample (DGR says it does, but may have been joking, and I can’t hear it). Continue reading »

Dec 052020
 

 

For me, Friday nights always create severe risk for Saturday mornings. I know this, yet am doomed to have to re-learn the lesson. So it was that my latest lesson began last night, mixing all sorts of intoxicants over the course of two Zoom get-togethers with different groups of friends, and today the lesson has been completed in hangover hell.

Strangely, listening to raucous music seemed to help rather than hurt, though trying to write remains… challenging. Hope you get some good out of the music I picked, along with whatever guidance comes through my meager words.

BLACK HOLE DEITY (U.S.)

To begin, I’ve chosen “Railgun Combat“, the first single off the forthcoming debut EP of Black Hole Deity, whose line-up includes members Chaos Inception and Malignancy (the full line-up is Chris White, Alec Cordero, Cam Pinkerton, and Mike Heller). Continue reading »

Dec 032020
 

 

We only made one NCS post yesterday, a consequence of some of our writers working on their year-end lists and myself getting ridden off the road by highwaymen from my day job. I managed to pick some things for a new-music round-up, but getting chased through the woods put an end to the actual writing. But now it’s done, a day later than anticipated. I picked more songs for a Part 2 of this SEEN AND HEARD column, but I have a feeling I’ll be chased again, so I’m making no promises.

I put these particular three songs together for several reasons, but probably the most prominent one is that all three feature powerhouse vocals.

LOCISTELLAR

Eighteen months have passed since I spent time talking with Lance Netherlin at the 2019 edition of Northwest Terror Fest in Seattle, before knowing that Locistellar existed or that Neatherlin was the band’s vocalist. I later learned that the band had been founded in London by drummer Didier Almouzni (Razor of Occam, Dragonforce) and guitarist Alexandre Lenormand (Loudblast), who then relocated to Seattle where they brought in other members, including Lance Neatherlin and guitarist Eric Snyder (Second Coming, The Crying Spell). Continue reading »

Nov 282020
 

 

I don’t have any words of wisdom to offer today, other than the usual: Wear your damn masks, stay away from other people as much as possible, and stop bathing and wiping after you take a shit so that other people will stay away from you. If you must go out, play the following tracks on a boom-box so people will run away.

FORTÍР(Iceland)

To begin, here’s a video for a song called “Pandemic” because, as you can tell, the virus is on my mind (as it is on most days) — but also because the hooks in this song are potent, from the rocking and rumbling drum rhythms to the darting, gleaming, and roiling riffs. The vibrancy of the song is as contagious as the subject matter, and so is the menace that surfaces in its more frenzied episodes. Meanwhile the vocals are utterly scorching. Continue reading »

Nov 272020
 


The Corona Lantern – photo by Tom Šrejber

 

I had plans for a “Thanks Giving” post yesterday, ruminating on why the holiday still means something to me, even though as a godless heathen the only spirit in the sky I’m thankful to is this one. It was going to include observations based on this fascinating article about how the science of the brain helps understand why this time of year can be so melancholy, why the stresses of the pandemic have made the sadness (and the anger) even worse, and why we could all get some good out of not using our prefrontal cortex so much.

I was even going to explain what I had just learned, based on this absurdly detailed article and this video, about how toilet paper is made, and in particular about how the hell they perforate such fragile sheets of soluble cellulose. I even had a way of connecting that subject to the others, which will now remain a mystery, because I obviously ran out of time yesterday before I could write it.

Now that we’re on the other side of Thanksgiving Day I don’t feel up to writing the post I had conceived of, and will just say that somewhere along the way I intended to thank all of you who make NCS possible and all who support it, as well as all the bands — though I already did that when celebrating our 11th birthday not so long ago. But it can’t hurt to renew expressions of gratitude, and it might actually be therapeutic, so thanks again.

And now here’s a bit of music, a very tiny bit compared to my usual round-ups, but time is again about to run out. More coming this weekend. 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 »