May 262019


After the first three days of Maryland Deathfest 2019 my feet are protesting, my back is mewling in pain, but my brain feels like it’s 13 years old again, jumping up and down and anxious for the last day to begin.

I’m here in Baltimore with my NCS comrades Andy Synn and DGR, and a big crew of good friends from Seattle and scattered other locations. Needless to say, we haven’t been blogging, but I thought I’d check in real quick before running the metal gauntlet one more time, beginning this afternoon. Continue reading »

May 242019


(Professor D. Grover the XIIIth [ex-The Number of the Blog] returns to our pages with this review of the new album by Odyssey from Spokane, Washington, which is being released today.)

Greetings and salutations, friends. A week ago I promised a full review of the new Odyssey album, The Swarm, and today I return to deliver on that promise.

Now, when you’ve been listening to a band or artist for the majority of their career, often you begin to foster a sense of casual ownership, that feeling of I Knew Them Back When, that helps to deepen your connection to them. You know their albums intimately, to the point that when you somehow manage to go an indeterminate stretch of time without listening to them, everything still feels comfortable and familiar. Continue reading »

May 232019


(DGR reviews the new EP by Polish extreme metal veterans Vader, which will be released on May 31st by Nuclear Blast.)

It doesn’t feel that long ago that we were musing on the idea, prompted by Vader’s previous EP Iron Times — prior to the full-length The Empire in 2016 — that the group’s habit of putting out an EP just before an album release often served as excellent preview of where the long-running Polish death-metal/thrash-metal group’s head-space was currently at, and what sort of album we might be getting from them soon after.

It’s a serious consideration with Vader, because unlike many other death/thrash hybrids the group often aren’t a hardcore fusion of genres, where elements from both are clearly recognizable all the time. Vader have two methods of operation: They can actually be a full-blown thrash band, or a fully furious death metal band. When they mix the two, they often lean hard into one side. When they are in a full-on thrash mood, it is like they could’ve easily headed the genre as a whole, and when they go for the blast-furnace style of death metal played at high pace, it seems like they could do the same thing there. Continue reading »

May 222019


(TheMadIsraeli re-surfaces at NCS with a group of quick recommendations of recent releases for your earholes.)


Kolossus are a pretty neat Finnish band whose music I couldn’t peg when I first heard them but I’ve settled on calling it melodic death metal. Really good melodic death metal is rare for me these days, but this group’s combination of the playfulness of Into Eternity, Before The Dawn‘s style of morose gothic melody and atmosphere, and  their militant energy and propulsive grooves bring to mind both Byzantine and System of A Down. Continue reading »

May 222019


(DGR reviews the new album by the Swedish band October Tide, which was released on May 17th by Agonia Records.)

In Splendor Below is a very different album from its predecessors. Since reforming and releasing A Thin Shell in 2010, October Tide have kept to a pretty steady release schedule of every three years, with the most recent album prior being 2016’s Winged Waltz. Since that time the group have added two of the gentlemen from Letters From The Colony in their midst, picking up the rhythm section while the Norrman brothers stay on guitar and vocalist Alexander Högbom sticks around to deliver the deep-throated and anguished yells that have become a staple of the band since his first appearance on Tunnel Of No Light.

While there is a definite sense of lineup familiarity in place, the death metal atmospherics and groove that have worked their way into the group’s sound between the release of Winged Waltz and now are certainly new. Guitarist Fredrick Norrman was quoted in the press release for thier Our Famine lyric video describing the album as “a bit more aggressive, a bit more death metal, and with an overall colder feeling than previous records.” And that feeling makes itself apparent immediately. Continue reading »

May 222019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Denver’s Call of the Void, which was released on May 10th by Translation Loss Records.)

For the sake of simplicity we often tend to think of the Metal scene as being split between the “underground” and the “mainstream”. But, of course, nothing is that simple.

The “underground” scene is itself separated into several distinct strata, from the upper echelons where the various “big” names live, well-known to all of us, but still practically invisible to the “mainstream” audience, all the way down into the deepest, darkest, dankest pits of squalling, sub-musical noise that only a handful of people are ever likely to hear… and everything in between.

And while Call of the Void have been hovering on the brink of breaking through to the wider underground for a while now, Buried In Light looks set to elevate them to a whole new level entirely. Continue reading »

May 212019


In just about every review of an album by Black Crucifixion there seems to be an obligatory history lesson, and there will be one here too, because in the case of this band the historical context may actually matter. And there are other reasons to appreciate their history, which we’ll come to.

At the same time, the road traveled by this band has led them to a very different place than where they began in their songcraft almost 30 years ago, as it has in the case of such other early black metal stalwarts as Ulver, Satyricon, Ihsahn, Tom G Warrior in his Triptykon days, Enslaved, and Carl-Michael Eide under the banner of Virus. What doesn’t seem to have changed is Black Crucifixion‘s devotion to the devil. Continue reading »

May 202019

Every song on Hornwood Fell‘s new album Damno Lumina Nocte is named “Vulnera” — the Latin word for “wound” (accompanied by Roman numerals I – VII) — every one of them a projection of “dark landscapes, discomforts, and open wounds of the society we live in”. Every one of them is a cavalcade of disturbances, a mind-warping amalgam of dissonance and derangement that seems to embody mental fracturing and emotional splintering. It is as if the band found Pandora’s Box, and without hesitation opened it, recording the sounds of all the evils within as they escaped in a mad rush of freakish abandon.

This is not easy listening. The music is persistently abrasive and frequently cacophonous. There are twisted melodic motifs and rhythmic patterns that appear often enough to stitch the songs together, often in physically compulsive ways, but things change unpredictably, and veer so sharply and so often that it’s hard for a listener to maintain any balance — like trying to walk a high tightrope that’s being plucked (rapidly) by giant fingers.

It is also, perhaps perversely, an utterly fascinating experience. There is a mad genius at work within these tracks (two of them, actually), and the songs are so weirdly transfixing that the minutes speed by like starlings in flight. Looking away from these deep, festering wounds turns out to be very difficult. Continue reading »

May 202019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the first album in 10 years by Rammstein, which was released on May 17th.)

It seems like every year, if not every six months, the Metal Media ™ is overwhelmed with a glut of articles declaiming the imminent “death” of the scene, and asking “who will be the next Metallica?”

Yet amidst all the pontificating, prognosticating, and populist predictions – will it be Trivium (no, despite their best efforts), will it be Slipknot (I hope not), will it be Five Finger Death Punch (dear god no…) – one name seems consistently omitted and overlooked, despite the fact that they’re already quite capable of filling arenas and selling umpteen records without even breaking a sweat.

That band, as the more astute of you might already have guessed, is Rammstein. Continue reading »

May 172019


(Our Atlanta-Based contributor Tør attended the performance of Meshuggah and The Black Dahlia Murder on May 6th at Buckhead Theater, and provided us with these impressions and many of his photos of the performances, most of which follow the text below.)

It is a rather peculiar scene: a bunch of metal fans lined up on the sidewalk of one the trendiest parts of the city waiting for Meshuggah and The Black Dahlia Murder to perform. The Buckhead Theater is a wonderful venue for all kinds of live music and I am glad I can finally catch a show there for the first time after six years of living in Atlanta. Continue reading »