Jan 182019
 

 

(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by North Carolina’s Mo’ynoq, which was released on January 11th.)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… but precisely what it is that separates a “Good” album from a truly “Great” one isn’t always clear. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling, an instinctive response which tells you that this… this is something really worth shouting about.

If you’re been paying attention then you’ll quickly realise that this is exactly the same intro spiel I used for my recent review of the new Barshasketh album, recycled here with good reason.

Because not only have I frequently seen the two records compared, contrasted, and (occasionally) pitted against one another in single combat, but they also happen to quite concisely demonstrate just how razor-thin the line between being a “Good” album and a truly “Great” one really is. Continue reading »

Jan 162019
 

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by the Scotland-based band Barshasketh, which was released yesterday by W.T.C. Productions.)

Precisely what it is that separates a “Good” album from a truly “Great” one isn’t always clear. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling, an instinctive response which tells you that this… this is something really worth shouting about.

Of course your subjective response(s) and reactions will always be the final arbiter of which side of things an album ultimately falls on for you, but to even come close to this line, to be in contention, is something of an impressive achievement in itself.

Which I suppose is a long-winded way of saying that that the new, self-titled, record from Barshasketh could well be the first truly “Great” Black Metal album of 2019. Continue reading »

Jan 152019
 

 

(This is Vonlughlio’s review of the new album by the French death metal band Ad Patres, which will be released by Xenokorp on February 8th.)

The following write-up is a special one for me. It concerns a band whose sophomore release elevated the quality of their music, preserving the sound that made them special but also evolving after so many years since their first album into a group that has a lot more to offer their fans.

Ad Patres formed in 2008 in France and released a demo in 2010, a split with Writhing in 2012, and then a full-length entitled Scorn Aesthetics released via Kaotoxin Records (now XenoKorp) in 2012. I discovered the album in 2013 and became a fan right away, enjoying how straight-forward and vibrant the music was, and the way in which the instruments interacted cohesively without getting in each other’s way. The vocals were especially good, giving added life to the music in patterns that suited it so well. Continue reading »

Jan 142019
 

 

(Andy Synn wrote the following review of the new album by the Norwegian band Endolith, which will be released by Rob Mules Records on January 18th.)

Hands up who here has heard Endolith’s debut album Voyager?

Ok, I see a few people have… maybe one or two more in the back, but the rest of you… shame, shame!

Honestly, after all the effort I went through (ok, maybe not that much effort) to talk about the record and highlight the band I’m not even sure you deserve to read about their new album at this point.

But, since I’m in such a magnanimous mood (and because Chicxulub is just so damn good), I suppose you might as well read on and get to know what should, if there’s any justice, turn out to be one of the best albums of the month, if not the entire year. Continue reading »

Jan 142019
 

 

(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Nailed To Obscurity, which was released on January 11th by Nuclear Blast.)

Nailed To Obscurity is a name I’ve heard a lot, but whose music I hadn’t listened to — just too much metal to check out at any given time, really. My ignorance stretched as far as not even knowing what kind of metal they played, if you can believe it. But when I checked out the single and title track to their new album, Black Frost, I discovered immediately that this band was my thing.

Nailed To Obscurity play a style of doom-driven melodic death metal that hits an intersection of In Mourning and a lot of Dan Swanö’s recent output with Witherscape. There are, of course, hints of Opeth, which I think were pretty low-key influential on this style, but the previous influences I mentioned are definitely at the forefront. Continue reading »

Jan 132019
 

 

In this second Part of this Sunday’s SHADES OF BLACK column I’ve changed course away from the predominantly atmospheric and sometimes folk-inflected music that dominated Part 1 in moody, mystical, and magnificent strains of sound. The selections in this Part are less easily categorized with broad brush strokes, but I guess I’d venture to say they are mainly more “muscular” and savage than what you’ll find in Part 1.

BLODHEMN

I’ve been deplorably late in catching up to the third album by this one-man band based in the black metal hot-bed of Bergen, Norway, but under persistent prodding by my Norwegian friend eiterorm, I finally have. That third album, Mot Ein Evig Ruin, will be released on February 16th by the Dutch label Soulseller Records, and now there are two tracks out in the world — “Dra Te’ Helvete“, which surfaced in October, and more recently “Det Gjekk Ein Faen“. Continue reading »

Jan 132019
 

 

This weekend has been similar to the last one. I didn’t try to write anything for yesterday, and that left me free to focus on choices for today. With so much time, I found many things to recommend, so many that I’m again dividing this post into two parts (shocking, I know). And it made sense to put these particular selections together int Part 1.

SAOR

Roughly two years after the release of Guardians, the Caledonian metal band Saor are returning with a new record named Forgotten Paths. Along with another group of session musicians supporting him, Saor’s visionary Andy Marshall is also aided this time by Neige from Alcest (on the album’s title track, which opens the record).

Of the four songs on the new album, three are quite long, including the edited version of the track that debuted in recent days through a beautiful and mysterious music video that includes jaw-dropping vistas of the Scottish highlands (as well as appearances by Mr. Marshall and what seems to be a pair of twin witches). Continue reading »

Jan 072019
 

 

(In this feature TheMadIsraeli reviews the new self-titled album by the California death metal band Oblivion and introduces our premiere of a track from the album named “Insurrection“.)

I honestly believe Oblivion are one of the most consistent newer death metal bands we’ve got right now, with a unique voice of their own. Whether it’s down to Nick Vasallo’s distinctive old school high/low vocal approach, the same granite yet antimatter guitar tone they’ve had since their debut EP, or the flagrant combination of ’90s tech death and modern progressive tendencies, there’s always been a lot to like on all fronts about Oblivion.

I was a huge fan of the band’s last record The Path Towards and it’s move in a more proggy direction with some very welcome black-metal-intensive moments, and songs that really shook things up and showed the band expanding their horizons delightfully. I was surprised, as a result, on my first hearing of Oblivion’s upcoming self-titled record, that the band had decided to take a direct, distinct step backward to the more grounded death metal sound they came crashing through the gates with on Called To Rise. Continue reading »

Jan 042019
 


Photo by Stephansdotter Photography

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new 11th album by Sweden’s Soilwork, which will be released on January 11 by Nuclear Blast.)

One thing which you may have noticed, if you’ve been visiting NCS consistently for any length of time, is that we sometimes purposefully refrain from covering what you might think of as “the big names” in Metal.

Largely this is because we feel that our time would be better spent focussing on smaller, and less well-exposed artists, but also due to the fact that these “bigger” bands invariably receive so much attention and fawning flattery (in fact I’ve just recently stumbled across a few suspiciously sycophantic reviews which seemed like they’d been half-written before even hearing the album), that any attempt on our part to offer a more nuanced or critical appraisal would likely just get ignored and lost in the flood.

Still, every so often one of us will stumble upon a particular take or angle that they feel compelled to follow up on, which is why you’re about to read my review of the soon-to-be-released eleventh album from those stalwart Swedes known as Soilwork.

Be warned though, if you’re expecting nothing but blind praise based on the band’s name-value alone, then you might want to look elsewhere. If you’re after a more measured appraisal of the album’s pros and cons, however, then please, read on. Continue reading »

Jan 022019
 

 

(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Swedish group A Swarm of the Sun, which will be released by Version Studio Recodings on January 11th.)

After debating with myself for a while I’ve decided that the best way to kick off my 2019 at NCS is by… covering some minimalist, melancholy, and mostly instrumental Post-Rock where the vocals, sparingly used yet sublime, are delivered in a plaintive, cleanly-sung croon.

Who, me, contrarian?

In all seriousness though, A Swarm of the Sun’s previous album, The Rifts, was easily one of the richest, most rewarding musical experiences of 2015, so much so that I was compelled to include it in my Critical Top Ten of the year alongside other such impressive entries from bands like Sulphur Aeon, Bell Witch, and Alkaloid.

Hence you can probably imagine just how eagerly (and impatiently) I’ve been waiting for the band to produce this follow-up, which is scheduled to hit the streets (and the internet) next Friday. Continue reading »