Sep 272023

(Andy Synn catches up with a band who we haven’t checked in with in quite a while)

Change, as they say, is the one universal constant. But that doesn’t mean that change is always good. Or, at least, it’s not always perceived (or received) that way.

Case in point, following the departure of the Sandagger brothers in 2009 Mercenary were – rightly or wrongly – criticised for, ahem, metamorphosing from the distinctive Prog/Power/Death Metal hybrid they used to be into a more groove-focussed, Metalcore-ish “Nu-Melodeath” act in the vein of bands like CalibanDeadlock, etc.

Much of the blame was placed, unfairly, on bassist (and now primary vocalist) René Pedersen – mostly, it seemed, because his singing style was supposedly less “epic” and more “emo” than his predecessor – even though the core guitar duo of Jakob Mølbjerg and Martin Buus (who have, at the time of writing this, now been playing together for over twenty years!) remained unchanged.

But the truth of the matter is that there was no one person responsible for the band’s downturn in fortunes, it’s simply that, for a while, they didn’t seem to know quite who they were, or who they wanted to be, any more.

But on their new album Mercenary sound more like… well, Mercenary… than they have in years!

Continue reading »

Sep 262023

(We’re honoured to be hosting the premiere of Rorcal‘s new album in advance of its September 29 release by Hummus Records, with words by our own Andy Synn)

Success, or so they say, can be a double-edged sword.

What, for example, do you do after releasing an album which – in my opinion, at least – is both the very definition of a true cult classic and one of the best records of the year? How do you follow something like that?

Some bands double down on what already worked. Others switch things up and try a different approach.

But Rorcal… they just reached even deeper down into that aching, infinitely empty pit of gnawing hunger and nameless horror that exists within their collective soul and tore loose another spiteful slab of auditory darkness that they chose to call Silence.

Continue reading »

Sep 262023

(Below we present a review of the new album by the Irish band Primordial written by NCS contributor Didrik Mešiček.)

I’ve always found it a bit surprising that Ireland, given its significant influence on the rock scene, hasn’t really provided us with many well-known and successful metal bands. But there’s no denying Primordial have been one of the fiercest forces in the black metal spheres, and when you have a band like that not much else is needed.

The Irishmen will be releasing their 10th album, How It Ends, on September 29th on Metal Blade Records, five years after their previous album, Exile Amongst the Ruins. Continue reading »

Sep 252023

In preparing to write what you’re about to read I finally tried to answer a question I’ve wondered about for years: Where did the Portuguese band Wells Valley get their name?

After spending more time googling than I should have, and even reaching out to the band’s label Lavadome Productions, I still don’t know the answer. It may be a place on a map, a fixed location on the Earth, or a fictional location in a tale, conceived either by the band or some novelist or filmmaker.

I’m still curious, but one thing is quite clear: whatever else Wells Valley may mean, it now represents a landmark for a mysterious and extremely unsettling place the band create in a listener’s mind, and their new album Achamoth is a previously uncharted descent toward that harrowing place that’s unlike most others. Continue reading »

Sep 252023

(Andy Synn unveils his thoughts about the recently-released return from Deadspace)

Our relationship – and I should be clear that by our I also mean my – with the band known as Deadspace has been a long and rewarding one.

Over the years we’ve seen (and heard) them grow from their disconsolate, DSBM-inspired roots to adopt a darker and more symphonic-laced sound, and then an altogether more aggressive approach, culminating in the release of A Portrait of Sacrificial Scars, arguably their best, and seemingly final, album in 2020.

I say “seemingly” because although, at the time, it did appear that …Portrait… would be the group’s last work – and we were, to be certain, saddened to hear this – it turns out that rumours of the band’s demise were greatly exaggerated, with the release of the Within Haunted Chambers EP (which contained three significantly heavier reworkings/re-recordings of earlier songs) being the first sign that Deadspace were definitely not as dead as they had seemed.

And now, finally, we get to find out exactly what it is that brought them back to life.

Continue reading »

Sep 242023

I obviously didn’t prepare a Seen and Heard roundup yesterday, which is usually the way I spend Saturday mornings. Just too many other interferences, both personal and job-related, so I checked out.

Today has its own interferences in store for me, some eagerly anticipated and others more mentally grinding. But I couldn’t stomach the idea of missing another appointment with our visitors, so I got an early start on the day and managed to pull together the following recommendations, presented in alphabetical order by band name.


As I was beginning to make choices for this column I received an alert about a new starkweather SubStack entry (here). Although I didn’t have much time to spare, I did quickly read through the new recommendations there. Continue reading »

Sep 212023

Death comes for some people suddenly, and often far too soon. For others it waits at the end of a slow process of physical and mental decline, far later than some would wish.

In times greatly distant from our own the harshness and hardships of life, coupled with an inability to treat illnesses, caused people to age and diminish faster and die sooner. But even then, as well as now, it has often fallen to children to care for declining parents, past the point when the pleasures of companionship have vanished and only pain remains.

In many cultures at different times around the world the problems of aging were solved by the practice of senicide — the killing of the elderly. In some places the aged were expected to relieve the burdens on their clans by killing themselves. In others, they became the victims of ritual sacrifice.

It is said that in ancient Scandinavia “the practice consisted in elderly people throwing themselves, or being thrown, from precipices after becoming unable to take care of themselves or perform everyday tasks.” And that practice, as described by the Portuguese band Lacrau, is the subject of their debut album Axioma, which we’re premiering in full today on the eve of its release by Monumental Rex. Continue reading »

Sep 212023

For those of you who might be experiencing the music of the band Dungeon for the first time today, don’t misunderstand their name: They don’t play dungeon synth or creeping and rotten old school death metal. In fact, you’ll soon discover that they’re somewhere over on the opposite end of a spectrum that might include those other genres.

But surely many of you already know that, because Dungeon (whose members are divided between the UK and Germany) have already made their searing mark through three previous releases whose titles very openly brandish the kind of music they’ve been making: the Unholy Speed Attack demo in 2015, the English Hell demo in 2016, and the Purifying Fire EP in 2018.

Fans have waited five years for Dungeon‘s next audio attack, and today you’ll hear it through our full stream of a new EP named Into the Ruins that’s set for release tomorrow by Dying Victims Productions. Those five years, it turns out, have done nothing to quench the hellfire that burns in their songs. Continue reading »

Sep 202023

(Andy Synn rides the waves of Prog-Metal magic with the upcoming new album from Obsidian Tide)

Earlier this year – and several times since – I’ve stated that 2023 has been, for me at least, a very Prog-heavy year. And that’s before I was even aware that Obsidian Tide had a new album coming!

If you’re not familiar with the band you might want to start by checking out our review of their debut album, as not only is it well worth listening to in its own right it also helps provide some extra insight and added context into how much they’ve developed – both instrumentally and artistically – since then.

There’s little to no question, of course, that The Grand Crescendo is even better than its predecessor (which itself was one of the most pleasant, and praiseworthy, surprises of 2019) but just saying that isn’t really enough to count as a proper review, so I should probably wrap up this increasingly-rambling intro and get stuck into what the album actually sounds like!

Continue reading »

Sep 202023

The Norway-based duo Hammerfilosofi came together in the plague year of 2020 with the goal of creating primeval black metal that would represent a “cleansing fire that aims to eradicate every trace of the civilized, the harmless, and the mediocre”, and to function as “an instrument to initiate a violent cathartic inner journey – and a celebration of strength and vigor, of terror and strife, and of glorious death.”

The results of their dark and imperious endeavors are captured in a debut album entitled The Desolate One, which is set for an imminent release on September 22nd by ATMF. Did the band achieve their goals? You’ll be able to answer that question for yourselves through the music player below, which provides all six tracks and nearly 45 minutes of sound.

Of course, we have our own answers. Continue reading »