Nov 142018


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the debut album by Azusa, which will be released on November 16 via Solid State Records and Indie Recordings.)

Like many of you I was pretty giddy with excitement when the official Extol Facebook page began teasing some sort of new release earlier this year, only to feel a rather sharp sting of disappointment when it was revealed to be for a brand-new project named Azusa, rather than the hoped-for follow-up to the band’s excellent self-titled comeback album.

As it turns out, however, I shouldn’t have been counting my chickens quite so soon because, for all intents and purposes, Heavy Yoke pretty much IS a new Extol album. Continue reading »

Nov 142018


(DGR continues his Herculean, or perhaps Sisyphean, effort to catch up with reviews before the year-end LISTMANIA typhoon arrives, and today we have his extended thoughts about the new album by The Ocean, which was released by Metal Blade on November 2nd.)

The review nightmare continues on with two more massive releases that could not be more opposite from one another on the metal spectrum, yet are likely to completely wreck the shambles of a top year-end list that I had already written. The first of these two comes today, and the next one tomorrow

The back of the year of our Satan 2018 is proving to be quite bountiful, in a year that was already moving in massive fits-and-starts. I’m imagining the year-end lists are going to be hilariously like 2016’s bloodbath, in that everyone will have moved in so many different directions and found so much stuff to love that there will be fuck-all in terms of overlap. Yet, despite these predictions, the constant battle to “catch-up” and expose our dear NCS readers to newer music continues, and so I present to you the latest in a desperate album review exercise that now has at least five albums I still want to chat about waiting in the wings. Continue reading »

Nov 132018


(On November 16th Candlelight/Spinefarm will release the new (11th) album by the Japanese band Sigh, an album about madness and the blurring line between sanity and insanity, with 90% of the lyrics in Japanese and cover art by Eliran Kantor. What follows are Wil Cifer‘s thoughts about it.)

The term progressive metal can bring to mind some cringe-worthy images, among them Berklee dropouts making long sprawling songs with obtuse riffs written with one thing in mind — “How will this sound if I solo over it?“ What sets Sigh apart from such bands, aside from their black metal past, is that their sound actually progresses. It is not stagnant wanking. You know only to expect organized chaos when you go into one of their albums. So I should have not been surprised by the opening track of Heir To Despair (“Aletheia”) sounding like a space-age take on Jethro Tull as a metal band; it makes perfect sense. Continue reading »

Nov 122018


Korpsesoturi began as the solo death metal project of Juha Ahlfors from Kouvola, Finland, first releasing demo tracks last year (which were eventually captured on tape by Caco-Daemon Records and on CD via Death In Pieces Records). Now Korpsesoturi is about to deliver an explosive debut album named Malus Corpus through Rotted Life Records. You won’t have to wait long for it — the release date is November 16th — and you won’t have to wait even that long to hear it, because we’re presenting a full stream today.

On this album Juha Ahlfors composed the music and performed vocals and bass, and he was joined by a pair of astonishingly good musicians — drummer Oskari Viljanen and guitarist Isto Jänönen (who was also responsible for acoustic and ambient parts). And “explosive” really is the right word for what the three of them have done here. Continue reading »

Nov 072018


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Finnish band Devouring Star, which was released on October 26th by Dark Descent (U.S.) and Terratur Possessions (E.U.).)

Whether you call it “Black Metal” or “Blackened Death Metal” (I prefer the former in all honesty, although, given how obnoxiously heavy the band’s sound can be, I suppose I can see the argument for the latter too) it should be obvious that Devouring Star is one of the absolute best at what it does, as both the band’s debut album (Through Lung and Heart) and its similarly blistering companion EP (Antihedron) can already attest.

You probably won’t be surprised then to hear that The Arteries of Heresy continues this tradition of providing some of the best Metal (Black or otherwise) you’re going to hear all year, all delivered without concession or compromise. Continue reading »

Nov 052018


(DGR reviews the latest album by an NCS favorite, Finland’s Wolfheart, which was released by Napalm Records on September 28th.)

A quick preface for this one: We’re still hacking away at backlogs here and in case you missed out, that’s meant quite a few ‘shorter’ review archives with a handful of grouped bands together. This review was born of that experiment but unlike the Beyond Creation/Chthonic/Benighted jam that I unleashed upon the world last week, we were quickly able to recognize that the length of the next multi-band review collection was getting out of control, and so we’ve carved this one out to stand alone.

Increasing wordiness tends to happen when it’s a band you enjoy, and even though the short gap between this group’s most recent releases can look scary at first, Wolfheart manage to stick to a very consistent level of quality this time around. Continue reading »

Nov 052018


Both Amiensus and Oak Pantheon are from Minnesota. Both bands are long-time favorites at our putrid site, and we’ve been following both since very early days in their development. And now both of them, today, have released a new split named Gathering II.

As the name suggests, this isn’t their first collaboration. Five years ago to the day, they jointly released another split named Gathering. It included one track by each band, and so does Gathering II, but the new release also includes a third track that’s a true musical collaboration in which both bands participated. Continue reading »

Nov 022018


(Andy Synn again compiles reviews of new records from the British Isles.)

Just as I said in my previous column (which you can, and should, check out here) the fact that there’s just so much music out there means that it’s impossible for anyone, even someone as smart, debonair, and erudite as myself, to cover all of it.

What this means, at least in regards to my ongoing “Best of British” series, is that if you haven’t seen a band featured here the most likely reason is that I just haven’t heard them yet – either through sheer ignorance, or because of simple time constraints – although there’s always a chance that I honestly didn’t rate them as anything particularly special or worth writing (at) home about.

Today’s feature includes a band who’ve just released their debut album alongside two much more well-established acts (one of whom I’ve only recently taken a shine to), who all deal in weighty, megaton riffage and nuclear-level rage, making this one of the most brutal write-ups I’ve put together all year. Continue reading »

Nov 022018


If my brain worked better or if I kept better notes about interesting phenomena I could provide an exhaustive list of all the 2018 albums released by notable bands with little or no advance fanfare. Off the top of my head I can name Panopticon, Sargeist, and Kriegsmaschine. And now I can name one more, because yesterday the Polish blackened death metal band In Twilight’s Embrace released a new album without warning.

This is the band’s fifth full-length, following hot on the heels of last year’s Vanitas, which we premiered and reviewed here (at length). Because everyone can listen to it now, and because I’ve only listened to it twice (in rapid succession), having been surprised by its appearance as much as anyone else, I’m only going to share some immediate impressions of Lawa… and they’re obviously positive ones or I’d be keeping them to myself (since at this site we only write about what we want to recommend). Continue reading »

Nov 012018


Apollyon come our way from Kelowna, British Columbia. Following last year’s release of their debut EP, Immolation, the band are now on the brink of releasing a very impressive debut album named False Light. The official release date is tomorrow, but we’re very happy to bring you a full stream of it today.

The album is an ambitious undertaking, one in which elements of death metal and black metal play dominant roles but don’t exhaust the musical ingredients that Apollyon have woven into a richly textured musical tapestry. Dynamic change is a hallmark of the record, with carefully crafted variations in tempo, style, and mood a significant source of the album’s considerable appeal. And the emotional power of the melodies is as much a strength as the bruising physicality of these tracks and the instrumental prowess demonstrated in their execution. Continue reading »