Feb 052023
 

I hope this Sunday is treating you well. Or maybe you’re landing here on Monday… or Tuesday… or (heaven forfend) on Hump Day (what a lot of time those people have been wasting).

My Sunday is off to a slow start, thanks for asking. I had a riot of a Saturday night. Splattered on the couch with the cats, binge-watching a fantastic series I don’t need to name (it was Slow Horses) until way late. So I was late to rise and feeling very groggy. But there’s nothing like plunging into a lake of black and black-adjacent metal (sometimes only barely black-adjacent) to kick-start your heart. Here’s what I surfaced with today: Continue reading »

Feb 022023
 

Track lengths on albums and EPs can vary significantly, but the most common seem to be in the 4-5-minute range. Even when some song lengths creep up into the 10-minute range, most releases still include enough individual tracks that interested listeners can do some “sampling”, i.e., listening to a song or two in order to decide whether to take the plunge into the entire record.

Scáth Na Déithe‘s new album Virulent Providence does not allow this. It includes only two tracks, each of them in the vicinity of 20 minutes long, and those two are also conceptually connected, so even listening to just one of them diminishes the impact of the album as a whole.

Obviously, this is a risky approach, especially in an age filled to overflowing with distractions, where minds constantly flit from thing to thing and patience is in short supply. The demands for immediate gratification and tendencies toward quick impulsive decisions can make the prospect of investing 20 minutes in a single composition, or two of them that demand that much time, a daunting one. The desire for sampling won’t go away either, and so there’s also the risk that people might just spend a few minutes listening to the start of one of these two long tracks, and make a snap decision based on that alone.

But we’re here to tell you that Virulent Providence is well worth all the attention it demands, because the album is a remarkable one. It’s also difficult to fathom how it could have been broken up into shorter pieces without severely sacrificing what makes it so remarkable. It’s simply one of those albums that, to be fully appreciated, requires immersion in the whole saga. Fortunately, it turns out that becoming immersed in it isn’t difficult at all, and as long as there isn’t some external event that forces you to stop, you probably won’t have any sense of a clock ticking and time passing. Continue reading »

Feb 012023
 


Katatonia

(Gonzo has delivered to us another monthly round-up of his favorite releases for the month that just ended.)

And we’re back.

January has already found its way into our rearview mirror, and not a moment too soon. It’s been 6 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver for the past few days and I can’t feel my nuts. No respite seems to be on the way. It’s the land of the ice and snow over here, to be sure, but it also gives me a good reason to sneak a larger-than-usual portion of whiskey into my coffee. Is it coping with being a daytime corporate asshole, or is it a problem?

No one knows.

Moving on!

January is a notoriously shit time for new music, but if the first month of ’23 is any indicator, that trend may very well be on its way out. Whether it’s something in the water or labels just deciding to not take January off for a change, I’m already impressed with some gems I discovered this month – here’s the best of the bunch.

Continue reading »

Jan 272023
 

(Andy Synn takes another look back at another album from last year that went unheralded and unsung)

There’s lots of reasons why a band might not get the attention and exposure they deserve (trust me, I know), and I could write reams upon reams about all the different factors which come into play when promoting a new album (successfully or unsuccessfully).

But, ultimately, sometimes it just comes down to “wrong place” and/or “wrong time”.

That certainly seems to be the case when it comes to Darrva and their second album, Ōviš, as not only does the band hail from a location (Latvia) that’s often overlooked, but their decision to release the record right in the middle of the festive season last year meant it was quickly lost in the shuffle, and it was only by mere chance that I stumbled across it a few weeks ago myself.

I’m very glad I did though, as the band’s sound – an intriguing mix of Black, Death, and Progressive elements that doesn’t fit neatly into any one particular box – is well worth shouting about and, hopefully, at least some of you will agree with me.

Continue reading »

Jan 262023
 

 

(Hope Gould returns to NCS with the following review of a new album by the Montréal extreme metal band Profane Order, which is due for release tomorrow.)

Look, I get it. Some genres aren’t exactly known for their ingenuity. Whether to you it’s called war metal, bestial black metal, or it’s just some grind-black-death bastardization, this style is often written off as ‘uninspired noise’ by even the most extreme metal connoisseurs. Reliably cacophonous, always chaotic and peppered with pick-scrapes aplenty, I find it most effective to approach new releases in the genre with criteria of how memorable the full listen really is. While Profane Order certainly don’t give a fuck what you think, their second full-length is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

One Nightmare Unto Another is set for release for tomorrow, January 27th. The aptly titled sophomore album ushers in an entirely new nightmare featuring the Montreal duo’s most uncompromising work yet, full of spastic nuances you’re not going to hear on “just another war metal record.” Illusory and Olcadóir whet their blades on the old school death metal edge they really cut their teeth on in 2019’s well-received Slave Morality. Their first full-length was a bit of a shift from the straight-ahead bestial assault on the preceding EP but called back the grinding crust punk structures of their 2016 demo. (Seriously, it’s worth visiting every nightmare the band has cooked up). Material this ruthless often works best in small but heavy hits; even Slayer’s immortal Reign in Blood clocks in just shy of twenty-nine minutes. Profane Order tap into the same dark ancient magick, opening the throttle on a twenty-five minute wholly satisfying hellride. Continue reading »

Jan 252023
 

The Dutch band Dead Will Walk pack six songs into their new EP A New Day of Dawning, and you’ll get to hear every one of them today in advance of the record’s January 27th release. Horror and ferocity await you in this music, with its roots sunk deep into the fetid earth of death metal from decades past, but delivered with the killing efficiency of modern mechanized armaments and the kind of songwriting chops that make the songs highly addictive. We share these thoughts from the band:

Our goal for this release was to write songs that underline our roots for the old school underground scene. Here we have tried to convey the same feeling as from the glory days of death metal. Thoughtful songs that remain listenable and always have a small twitch. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we wanted to record an EP that wouldn’t look out of place in a record collection from the late eighties or early nineties.

The humility in that comment is admirable, and so the task is left to us to explain just how damned good A New Day of Dawning really is and why it definitely should not be overlooked in the vast seas of old school death metal that now surround us. Continue reading »

Jan 242023
 

(The sky may be on fire, but Andy Synn still has new music to share with you all)

While the start of 2023 has (thankfully) been relatively calm – release-wise, at least – allowing us all to take a metaphorical (and also literal) breather before the inevitable onslaught of new albums begins again, there have already been a handful of highly-anticipated, and justifiably hyped, which have received the lion’s share of the coverage over the past few weeks.

As a result, there’s also been a fair few more underground and/or underappreciated artists/albums which haven’t received their due, including (but by no means limited to) the new album from Poland’s Death Crusade – eleven tracks of crusty grindy, Punk-infused Death Metal (and I know some may argue with this description, but I hear at least as much Entombed in this album as I do Extreme Noise Terror and their ilk) whose gnarly riffs and gravel-gargling vocals disguise a keenly-honed sense of structure and flow.

Continue reading »

Jan 202023
 

(Here’s Todd Manning‘s review of the new album by the UK’s Memoriam, which is set for release by Reaper Entertainment on February 3rd and features stunning cover art by Dan Seagrave.)

Old School Death Metal is more vital than ever, with both old fans and new initiates alike being drawn into the crypts searching for their next fix. While many of the original bands continue to put out new records, other scene veterans form new groups in order to develop the genre’s sound even further.

Such is the case with the British act Memoriam. Formed by Karl Willetts, vocalist of Bolt Thrower, and bassist Frank Healy of Benediction, and joined by guitarist Scott Fairfax and drummer Spikey T. Smith, Memoriam draws on the blueprint of those seminal acts and adds a number of new elements to the sound. Their latest album, Rise to Power, forms the second section of a trilogy that began with 2021’s To the End. Continue reading »

Jan 192023
 

(Andy Synn dives into the thrilling third album from France’s Death Engine)

Broadly speaking, there are two types of “Post-Metal” bands – there are the Post-Rock bands who discover the power of massive metallic distortion, and the Hardcore bands who discover that ambience and atmosphere can actually make you sound even heavier.

And, let me tell you, Death Engine are very much the latter sort of band.

Continue reading »