May 312020


Opium, the new album by the Romanian funeral doom band Descend Into Despair, is a classic example of a musical river. It began somewhere high in the mountains (a collective of minds). As the waters flowed down, they picked up an increasing variety of ingredients and became enriched, eventually gathering in a vast array of sonic textures and changing moods as well as works of visual art. By the time it reaches the sea (what by all rights should be a sea of listeners), it has become a flow of great and branching power. And as it mingles with the waters of that sea, it will become something different again, as the listeners bring their own experiences and emotions into the interpretation of what they hear.

The album truly is vast — an hour’s worth of music divided into only three tracks — and both the scale of its dramatic power and the intensity of its emotional impact are sweeping. It’s also musically rich, both in the variety of its instrumental and tonal textures (many of which are foreign to the traditional experience of funeral doom) and in the spectrum of the voices. And like a great river, it has the capacity to carry listeners away across changing soundscapes, and to submerge them in its extravagant depths. Continue reading »

May 292020

In the Company of Serpents


(Today Andy Synn completes his week-long foray into the realms of doom with another trio of reviews. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, you’ll find them here and here.)

The one thing which unites the three bands featured in this article, the third and final edition of my week-long focus on all things slow, heavy, haunting, and atmospheric, is their sheer quality, as each one of them could be considered a highlight of this year’s bumper crop of doomy delicacies. Continue reading »

May 272020

Close the Hatch


(Andy Synn continues his week-long foray into the realms of doom with another trio of reviews today. If you missed Part 1, you’ll find it here.)

For the second part of this week long doom-odyssey we’re tacking into sludgier waters, tinged here and there with currents of Post-Metal melancholy, so if that’s not your sort of thing… well, the lifeboats are over that way.

Still, if you do choose to abandon ship at this point you’re going to be missing out on three absolutely killer albums, at least one of which is firmly in contention for a spot on my “Critical Top Ten” list at the end of the year. Continue reading »

May 272020


(Vonlughlio has brought us another recommendation, which he describes in this post — a 2020 demo by a relatively new band from Belarus.)

Being able to write here on NCS about the bands in one of my favorite genres (Brutal Death Metal) is something that I have been grateful for, to help spread the word with the hope that readers will find something they might like.

I am always on the lookout for releases coming up from new and unknown bands that will grab my attention. So on that note, I have to write about a band called Grimentity who released their three-song promo To Perfection this past February — two original tracks and a Lock Up cover.

The project is a trio hailing from Minsk, Belarus, that was born in 2018, combining death and grindcore elements.   Soon after their birth they released their first demo The Power of Broken, with two songs that gave a great representation of their music.  The band is Roman Drobishevski (drums), Pavel Lapkovski (guitar, vocals), and Nikita Metelskiy (vocals, bass). Continue reading »

May 262020


Death looms large in Exaugurate’s vision of death metal, but it is not a vision of sudden death or the endless void that would follow it. Instead, their malevolent and morbid music channels raging infection and delirium, protracted misery, the ravages of despair, the foul rot of untreated corpses, and the crushing grief of those left behind. Their death metal is a contagion shaped in sound, in the full expanse of its ravages, and so seems entirely appropriate for the current plague year.

Exaugurate’s debut EP, Chasm of Rapturous Delirium, will be released on May 29th by the Maryland-based label Rotted Life. It contains four monstrous abominations, and we’re streaming all four of them today. Continue reading »

May 252020



(With this post Andy Synn embarks on a week-long excursion into shades of doom, beginning with this trio of reviews.)

So far this year the majority of my writing has tended to focus more on the Death and Black side(s) of things, with maybe a bit of Tech/Prog/’core thrown into the mix when the mood strikes me.

But, for whatever reason, very little from the doomier end of the metallic spectrum has grabbed my attention.

This was a little concerning. After all, every year there are several doom-laden diamonds which make my “Critical Top Ten List” with ease – the last few years alone have given us fantastic albums from Fvneral Fvkk, Sinistro, Loss, and more – but so far 2020 seemed to be really lagging behind.

Or so I thought… because over the last couple of weeks I’ve dug up, unearthed, or just randomly stumbled across so many brilliant Doom (or Doom adjacent) albums – some not yet released for public consumption, some a full five months old already – that I’ve decided to dedicate this entire week to the dreary, desolate, delights of the genre, beginning with the new albums from Exgenesis (CO/SE), Funeralopolis (CH), and Sorcerer (SE). Continue reading »

May 252020


(Seattle-based NCS contributor Gonzo has provided the following review of the new album by the multi-national band Sojourner, which is out now on Napalm Records.)

In all its forms and mutations, you could use a lot of adjectives to describe metal: Brutal. Powerful. Aggressive. Loud. Dynamic. Technical. And dare I say: Beautiful?

Some bands dabble in a “pretty” side at times, and it might work for them as a temporary gimmick or when forcing it into the occasional power ballad. But avid listeners are gonna know when you’re phoning it in, and as a result, the “beautiful” side gets buried under layers of the aforementioned adjectives. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with sheer, unabashed brutality (we ARE metalheads, for fuck’s sake), bands that succeed in combining the beautiful with the brutal can wield an almost overwhelming amount of power when they use it to write songs.

This brings us to Sojourner, a six-piece multi-national atmospheric black metal band, and their monumental new album Premonitions. Continue reading »

May 222020



(Andy Synn delivers another installment of his occasional series devoted to reviewing releases by bands from his UK homeland.)

So how’s everyone doing? Going a little stir-crazy? Trust me, I know the feeling.

While I’m lucky enough to still be working right now (and my foresight of buying up an entire home gym’s worth of equipment over the years is really paying off) the days are definitely starting to all blur together… heck, I’ve got a four-day weekend coming up starting tomorrow, but I’m not really all that sure what I’m going to do to try and differentiate it from the rest of the week, apart from maybe (hopefully) getting to sleep in.

One thing that’s helping me to maintain my always tentative grip on sanity, however, is music, and I’ve uncovered, discovered, or re-discovered, a whole host of bands during the lockdown period which I’m eager to share with you all, so today I’d like to direct your attention to the recently released albums from Ante-Inferno, Burial, and Patrons of the Rotting Gate. Continue reading »

May 212020


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the astonishing new opus from the genre-bending UK band Rannoch, which is set for release on May 25th.)

How does one measure ambition?

How do we quantify it and qualify it? How do we analyse and assess it? How do we judge whether one band’s ambition to be the heaviest/fastest/most technical is somehow inferior/superior to another band’s desire to cross-pollinate multiple styles and sub-genres to create something entirely new?

And what of those bands whose central ambition is simply to be the best that they can be and to write the best songs possible? Are they any less worthy than the band who just wrote an hour long, single-track, Prog-Metal odyssey?

All these questions, and more, were floating around my head while listening to the exceptional new album from Rannoch. Continue reading »

May 202020


(Andy Synn introduces our premiere of the self-titled debut EP by the western U.S. black metal trio Devil With No Name, which is set for release on May 22nd.)

Unlike most Black Metal bands, Devil With No Name take their inspiration not from the chilling heart of winter but from the burning heat of the Arizona desert, whose desiccated desolation is, in its own way, just as bleak and inimical to human life as the icy vastness of the frozen wastes. Continue reading »