Apr 192019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Swiss metal band Xaon, which was released on April 12th by Mighty Music.)

Somewhere along the way we’ve developed a bit of a reputation here at NCS as a site that primarily covers Black Metal (I suppose the fact that my last three reviews were for Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Skald In Veum, and Mephorash might have contributed to that a little).

So, despite the fact that I’m currently in Norway, the home of Black Metal, I decided it was about time to write about something of a less corpse-painted colour, in this case the new album from Swiss Symphonic Melodeath maestros Xaon. Continue reading »

Apr 182019


In October 2017 we premiered a demo named Astral Necrosis by the Italian band Devoid of Thought, whose name I thought would also describe the mental state of listeners exposed to the demo’s three tracks. The music was a whipsawing amalgam of death metal and thrash, with the kind of blazing instrumental performances and brain-spinning intricacy that might lead one to slap a “progressive” label on the ingredients as well — except the music seemed too maniacal and vicious for that word. It was insanely good, and also just insane.

Now Devoid of Thought are returning with a new EP, which proves to be just as severely destabilizing and perhaps even more ghoulishly fascinating than Astral Necrosis. Entitled Cosmic Apoptosis, it will be released on April 19th — tomorrow! — by Caligari Records, but we’ve got a full stream for you today. For those who’ve encountered  the earlier demo, you’ll have a decent idea of what’s coming. The following paragraphs are for everyone else — because it would just be cruel to expose newcomers to these three tracks without some kind of warning. Continue reading »

Apr 172019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Swedish band Mephorash, which will be released by Shadow Records on April 18th.)

Black Metal, as we all know, contains multitudes. And within these multitudes it also contains (and practically revels in) a multitude of contradictions.

For instance, despite the genre’s seemingly endless (and not entirely unjustified) fixation on issues of authenticity and artistic purity, it’s also one of the most image-obsessed styles of Metal in existence.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. In fact I have a lot of respect for those bands who go to the extra effort of ensuring that their visual aesthetic – from their album art, to their promo shots, to their stage get-up – both reflects and complements their musical identity.

Oh, I’ve definitely seen it go very wrong in the past… just throwing on some cheap robes you bought off Amazon doesn’t suddenly make you more “occult”, and no amount of corpse-paint is ever going to make someone like Carach Angren look or sound any less embarrassing… but those bands who really go the extra mile, bands like Mephorash, who match their appearance to their art in every possible aspect, truly offer something a cut above the standard Black Metal experience. Continue reading »

Apr 162019


Those of you who are already familiar with Gabriele Gramaglia‘s work in his progressive black metal project The Clearing Path, or his progressive-sludge-post-metal endeavors under the name Summit, know that he is technically accomplished, compositionally inventive, and continually evolving. In his new project, Cosmic Putrefaction, he has turned all those talents in the direction of death metal — and the results are predictably unpredictable.

With the aid of some talented guests, he has recorded a debut album entitled At the Threshold of the Greatest Chasm, which will be released by the always-distinctive I, Voidhanger Records on April 19th, and today it’s our fiendish pleasure to present a full stream of this savagely head-spinning record. Continue reading »

Apr 162019


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by the French progressive death metal quartet Fractal Universe, scheduled for release by Metal Blade on April 19th.)

I am a HUGE fan of Fractal Universe and what they do.  I find myself, as a result, actually pretty perplexed (from within my small window view) at the extremely mixed opinions on this band across the scene.

It’s progressive death metal with the sort of oddball cross-genre hybridization that I feel we need more of.  The biggest complaint I’ve always heard about this band is that these guys don’t quite have an identity, or that they sound confused in terms of what they want to be. I strongly disagree with this assessment, and honestly wonder if people just don’t “get” it.  I don’t mean that in a pretentious way. I simply mean that I think people don’t get where this band is coming from, or make comparisons that are, in my mind, plainly wrong. Continue reading »

Apr 162019


(This is DGR’s review of the new EP by Sweden’s Gloson, which was released on April 5th by Black Lion Records.)

The sinister atmospherics that run throughout Gloson’s newest EP Mara — coming in two years after their excellent full-length Grimen — are entirely by design and not a happy accident. If any band has shown a keen mastery of the frightening undertone to their music in recent years, Gloson would be included in the discussion. Our premiere of Mara’s first song “Usurper” touched on the song’s sense of presence early in the writeup, drawing contrast to our compatriot Andy’s review of Grimmen and then highlighting the continued intensity that “Usurper” picks up and carries forward on their newest release.

Gloson describe the concept behind the EP on their Bandcamp page for Mara as such:

The concept of our new EP Mara is about our subconsciousness while being asleep; being stuck between the realm of dreams and reality. Portraying personal demons has usually been the agenda of Gloson, and the most graphic and terrifying ones occur during such states.

So if there was any thought that the almost sixteen minutes of crawling sludge and doom across two songs was going to play nice, then Gloson seek to wipe that away fast. Continue reading »

Apr 152019


(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new album by the Swedish black metal band Skald In Veum, which was released on April 12th.)

Although I’m not at all religious myself, and have probably broken several key commandments in my time (I’ve definitely coveted my neighbour’s ass on a few occasions), I have to admit I’m still endlessly fascinated by those bands who manage to bring some proper Old Testament fire and brimstone to Black Metal.

After all, while these days it’s become more of a mainstream-friendly corporate conglomerate, the roots of Christianity are awash in just as much blood and dirt, and home to just as many devils and demons and strange superstitions, as any other major (or minor) religion, and the various artefacts and apocrypha left over from this period have provided fertile inspiration for both believers and unbelievers alike over the years.

All of which brings us nicely to Stridslysten, the debut album from Swedish celebrants Skald In Veum, whose particular approach is less “turn the other cheek” and more “rain of fire, pillars of salt”.

So hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen, it’s about to get biblical… Continue reading »

Apr 152019


On their impending third album, the Portuguese band Martelo Negro (“black hammer”) have whipped up an intoxicating but thoroughly evil musical concoction. With ingredients that range from black metal to thrash, from death metal to d-beat punk, the music is brutish and bruising, bombastic and barbaric, demented and demolishing, occult and orgiastic. By turns it’s a demolition job, a chaotic romp, a dismal plague, and a ghoulish vision of ultimate horror. It’s also catchy as hell.

That’s a lot of diverse qualities for any one band to pull together in an organic way, and Martelo Negro do it in every song, which makes the album a relentless thrill ride (and a really nasty one too). You’ll get the chance to experience it yourself right now, because we’ve got a full album stream to share. And if you’re as high on it as we are, you won’t have to wait long to pick it up, because Helldprod Records is releasing it on April 17th. Continue reading »

Apr 122019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the German black metal band Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult.)

The name Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult is one of those monikers that, once you’ve heard it, you’re unlikely to ever forget.

Unfortunately it’s been my experience that, even amongst the Black Metal faithful, the band’s name is somehow still more famous than their music.

Thankfully, with the release of their sixth album (which comes out today on War Anthem Records) I’m hopeful that this might just be about to change, as Mardom is not only a fantastic continuation of their already impressive legacy, and a near-perfect jumping-on point for new fans, it’s also one of the best Black Metal albums I’ve heard so far this year. Continue reading »

Apr 122019


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by the Colorado melodic death metal band Allegaeon, set for release on April 19 by Metal Blade Records.)

Ever since I first wrote about them back in 2011, Allegaeon have proven themselves to be America’s best argument for the continent’s viability in the melodic death metal space since The Absence.  They have shown consistency, growth, and a level of sophistication that’s rare, even if that growth and willingness to expand their sound in multiple directions have resulted in a discography that doesn’t hit everybody the same way from album to album.

I’ve really enjoyed the more consistent sound this band have been dialing in, though, since Elements Of The Infinite (funnily enough, the last Allegaeon album I personally reviewed here), where they’re trying to hit this interesting note that sits somewhere between Soilwork, Nevermore, and Dream Theater while incorporating some other more bombastic straight-forward death metal elements into things.  Suffice it to say, I like all Allegaeon, but I’ve found myself liking this incarnation of the band the best by far. Continue reading »