Nov 132019

Katharos XIII


(In this article Andy Synn combines enthusiastic reviews of three 2019 albums that are departures from our normal musical fare.)

One of the oddest things I’ve observed recently is a surprising number of people bemoaning the fact that “underground sites/magazines don’t cover enough mainstream bands”.

This seems like an odd complaint to make. Not only do mainstream/popular bands already get more than enough attention/coverage, but choosing to read a site/zine which specialises in a certain area, only to then moan about that speciality, feels like an exercise in futility.

Thankfully this doesn’t really affect us here at NCS all that much, as while we do prefer to cover artists and albums that don’t necessarily get a lot of exposure elsewhere, we’re also not afraid to write about more mainstream or popular bands when we feel the occasion calls for it.

This also extends to writing about artists/albums whose work is an “exception to the rule” when it comes to our “no clean singing” policy (although, let’s be honest, that was always more of an in-joke than an actual edict), as while the three bands featured here today are far from “mainstream” they’re still all far more melodic, far more listenable, and far more laid-back than the majority of what we usually cover. Continue reading »

Nov 132019


In September of last year Atavism Records released the debut demo of Hexekration Rites, and we premiered one of the two tracks, a song that brought forth feelings of lust (rather than love) in my heart (loins?) because, as I wrote then, “the appeal of the music is definitely more carnal than romantic, more rooted in atavistic impulses and more likely to trigger primal reflexes — and as the song’s name suggests, ‘Chaos Absolution’ is wild, channeling a feeling of frenzied liberation and savage ecstasy”.

I concluded that premiere by disclosing that this formidable French black/death duo didn’t intend to stop, and that more Hexekration Rites creations would be forthcoming. And now another one looms on the near horizon.

On November 22nd the same Atavism Records will release the first EP of Hexekration Rites. Fittingly named Desekration Manifesto, it includes five transfixing assaults on the senses, and once again we have the twisted pleasure of presenting one of them, a track called “Ascension“. Continue reading »

Nov 122019


Ex-Asphyx drummer Bob Bagchus and Acheron frontman Vincent Crowley, who’ve been friends since 1991, finally got fed up with what they perceived as an overdose of political correctness in the metal scene, and decided to do something about it. Determined to express their disgust with a culture in which “everything is offensive and so-called victims are a plenty” (as Crowley put it in an interview), they collaborated to create Infidel Reich, a head-moving riff machine that now includes early Asphyx guitarist Tony Brookhuis and a bassist named McNasty.

The band’s name is itself intentionally provocative, though not intended to convey any political, religious, or racist dogmas. The “Reich” refers to the band’s own self-contained “empire”, while the name of their debut album, Reichenstein, is a play on Mary Shelley‘s classic novel, and (like the cover art by Triple Seis Design) was conceived as a way of capturing the monstrosity of the musical beast created by this band of metal mad scientists.

Musical inspirations of course come from a myriad of experiences and convictions, and no doubt those which animated Infidel Reich will succeed in pissing off some segment of the listening public before they hear a single note of Reichenstein. It’s hard to shed any tears over that, because that’s exactly what Infidel Reich anticipated. On the other hand, those who reject the particular kind of disgust and rage that drives this album will miss out on a remarkably well-crafted and relentlessly addictive collection of songs which successfully integrate a wide array of old-school heavy metal traditions. Continue reading »

Nov 122019


(On November 22nd Profound Lore will release a new album by Lord Mantis, and today we share with you Todd Manning‘s review.)

It’s the return of the filth, courtesy of Lord Mantis. These people have been absent for five long years, but they are ready to reopen festering wounds with their new full-length, Universal Death Church, out November 22nd on Profound Lore Records.

At one point this entity appeared to be dead, but the group decided to rebuild burnt bridges in order to honor the memory of drummer and founding member Bill Bumgardner. Universal Death Church is an immense statement by the reformed line-up, a sprawling testament to chaos and sadism, done as only Lord Mantis knows how to do. Continue reading »

Nov 112019


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Colorado-based Blood Incantation, which will be released on November 22nd by Dark Descent Records (NorthAm) and Century Media (Europe), and features artwork by Bruce Pennington.)

The rapid rise of Blood Incantation can, when all is said and done, be attributed to a combination of a few different factors.

First and foremost, of course, is that fact that the Colorado quartet are just a fantastic Death Metal band. No caveats, no equivocations.

They’ve got the technical talents, they’ve got the songwriting skills, and, perhaps more importantly, they’ve got just the right blend of sounds – proggy enough to keep themselves from being boxed in with the rest of the “old school” revivalists, but “classic” enough to appeal to the nostalgia-hounds – to reach a surprisingly wide audience, both young and old.

Then there’s the group’s blissfully baked, “I’m not saying it was aliens…”, aesthetic which, when combined with their impressive songcraft and easy meme-ability (the scraggly logo, the hesher-friendly merch designs, the far-out ’70s sci-fi artwork) has given rise to a near-perfect storm of viral fame and critical acclaim that’s seen the band go from “relative unknown” to “next big thing” in just a few short years.

And while there’s definitely a little bit of home-grown hero-worship going on with some of their more rabid (typically American) fans, the truth is that the band’s highly-anticipated second album makes a strong case for why you need to start believing the hype.

Well, most of it anyway… Continue reading »

Nov 112019


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Mayhem, which is out now via Century Media Records.)

Mayhem is one of Black Metal’s most storied names.  They were pioneers — a lot of modern stylistic conventions of black metal are owed to them, and you can hear their influence even today in much of what you listen to.  A lot of my personal favorite black metal is definitely influenced by Mayhem in significant ways, and I’m a huge fan of the band’s diverse yet admittedly hit-or-miss discography.

Although not all of their albums have hit the mark, they’ve never failed to live up to the inherently rebellious ethos of black metal, always trying something different and attempting (sometimes desperately) not to pander to expectations from release to release.  Mayhem have also often displayed a leaning toward more eccentric quirks, and kind of a flare for technical guitar work before a lot of other bands of their era did that.

So it may seem peculiar that my two favorite Mayhem records are Grand Declaration Of War and Esoteric Warfare, both which pursued really weird or chaotic tangents from black metal convention.  Grand Declaration… was almost a spoken-word recording with black metal accompaniment, and Esoteric Warfare seems to explore every extreme metal style in a black metal framework with a lot of interesting noise elements, and it really spoke to me. Continue reading »

Nov 092019


Lo and behold, I managed to finish the second part of the round-up of new music I began here yesterday. Not a great shock that I couldn’t finish it yesterday; more shocking that I finished it at all. Hope you enjoy what you’ll find here. Musically, it’s pretty diverse.


I’m not embarrassed to admit that when I first listened to the title song of the debut album by Exulansis, which opens the album, I got a lump in my throat and moistness in the eyes. It’s no secret that I tend to have stronger emotional responses to music (and tend to express them more unabashedly) than many people who are (or pretend to be) music critics, mainly because I think of myself more as an enthusiastic fan than a critic. But this song damn near broke my heart. And it turns out that the song continues to have that effect every time I hear it, which means I have to ration how often I turn back to it (simply forgetting about it isn’t an option). Continue reading »

Nov 082019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Abigail Williams, which will be released by Blood Music on November 15th.)

Patience, as we’re so often told, is a virtue. As, perhaps, is perseverance.

If so, then Abigail Williams mainman Ken Sorceron must be practically a saint at this point, having spent over a decade weathering the slings and arrows of hostile critics and the ignorant public in equal measure.

Thankfully, all this time playing the black sheep of American Black Metal has had a paradoxically freeing effect on the band’s music, allowing it to adapt and evolve at its own pace without being shackled by commercial considerations or concerns for the critical consensus.

And nowhere is this more true than on Walk Beyond the Dark. Continue reading »

Nov 082019


(We present Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by the British doom lords Esoteric, which is being released on November 8th by Season of Mist, along with a complete stream of the album.)

What I love about this band is their ability to take doom to places that have little to do with Black Sabbath. Nothing against Geezer and the boys, but I don’t need a genre of impersonators. I want the kind of sonic despair a band like Esoteric are capable of delivering. Eight years after Paragon of Dissonance, which is pretty much a perfect album. expectations are high. What is a band to do after such an achievement?

In the case of Esoteric, they decide to open the album with an almost 28-minute song. To put this in perspective, that is the length of the entire Reign in Blood album. Granted, Slayer were moving at the speed of punk, and these guys are a slow trudge through the apocalypse. With a song of this length I tend to approach it as if it is a symphonic work, written in movements rather than the compact verse-chorus formula. Continue reading »

Nov 072019


(We present DGR’s review of the new third album by the Italian technical death metal band Order Ov Riven Cathedrals, which will be released at the end of this month.)

The last time we checked in with the mysterious duo behind hyperspeed death metal band Order Ov Riven Cathedrals was as recently as last year, with their second full-length album Gobekli Tepe. That album arrived a little under a year after the group’s debut record, The Discontinuity’s Interlude, which is one hell of a creative pace to try and up-keep, and in some ways Gobekli Tepe reflected that, at times feeling like the duo were stretching themselves a little too thin.

That disc sought to expand upon the musical themes found within its predecessor and saw the group’s sound doing so as well, making usage of multiple samples, a myriad of electronics and synths working their way behind the group’s frenetic pace, about fourteen more minutes’ worth of music, and a new-found obsession with nuclear reactions that has become even more obvious with the group’s newest album – this time with a little more time in the hopper, close to a year and a half.

Thermonvclear Scvlptvres Blackness  – a title befitting the Dimmu Borgir school of “three awesome words as album title” method – seeks to pick up right where its predecessor left off and mostly does just that, with the band’s chosen tempo applying not only to their music but apparently to the release schedule as well. Continue reading »