Jan 042021
 

 

(In this post Andy Synn reviews three 2020 album “reissues” that in different ways gave the original releases a new lease on life.)

“Out with the old, in with the new!”

That has, traditionally, been the mantra that accompanies the end of one year and the beginning of another.

And so, in that spirit, I’ve decided to bit adieu to 2020 with a look back at three albums which originally reared their ugly heads in 2016, 2011, and 2004, respectively, but which were all given a new lease on life last year.

So I guess that opening mantra should have been “everything old is new again…”, shouldn’t it? Continue reading »

Dec 302020
 

 

(For the final SYNN REPORT of 2020, Andy Synn reviews all the rcords in the significant discography of the unorthodox German black metal band Maladie.)

Recommended for fans of: Solefald, Sigh, Dødheimsgard

Well, it’s the end of the year as we know it and I feel… well, to be quite honest I’m not sure how I feel.

After all, it’s been a very strange (not to mention challenging) twelve months for most of us, with this site being one of the very few constants capable of brightening the bleak monotony of daily life in 2020.

So, I thought to myself, why not end the year with a feature on a band who are, in their own way, just as strange, and just as challenging (though far more rewarding)? Which is why you’re about to read my in-depth analysis of the still-expanding discography of the multi-headed metallic entity known as Maladie.

Musically-speaking the band’s sound is rooted in Black Metal, sure… but it’s also wilfully Avant-Garde, wickedly Progressive, jazzily indulgent, turbulently Technical, and everything in between, running the gamut from strafing blastbeats to swirling saxophone to groove-heavy riffs to grandiose synths, all topped off with a cacophonous chorus of shrieks and snarls, barks and bellows, sonorous croons and high-toned harmonies delivered in a polyglottal mix of English, French, Spanish, German, and Latin!

As complex and chaotic as all that sounds though, Maladie aren’t afraid to deploy hooks and/or heaviness to keep their listener(s) engaged, and – as a result of the band’s kitchen-sink-in-a-blender approach – there’s a good chance that there’ll be something here to appeal not just to fans of the three bands mentioned above (Solefald, Sigh, and Dødheimsgard) but to people who love Satyricon, Sear Bliss, Arcturus, Ne Obliviscaris, Vintersorg, In Vain, Ihsahn’s solo work, and more. Continue reading »

Dec 262020
 

 

Time has become ill-defined for me as for everyone else this year, but I do realize that it’s not still Christmas Day. I just couldn’t get Part 2 of this round-up finished in time to post it yesterday before having a virtual get-together with close family members. Probably just as well, because stacking this much new music on top of what was in Part 1 might have drowned you, especially on top of another installment of DGR’s mountainous year-end list, which (by the way) ended today without caving in the site’s foundations, though that was a risk that left me in a cold sweat all week.

For Part 2 I’m starting with an album and then moving onto a couple of EPs and a couple of singles.

CASAVIEJA (Guatemala)

When Rennie (starkweather) first urged me to listen to this band a week ago, their new second album had just come out. He said they were from “South of the Border, South of Heaven”, but I didn’t realize until later that they hail from Guatemala. Without intending to be condescending, that’s not a nation that spawns typhoon waves of extreme metal bands, a fact that just made me more eager to hear them. Continue reading »

Dec 222020
 

 

(We welcome NCS guest contributor James Parry-Smith , who brings us his review of the new album by Corrupt Moral Altar, which was released in late November by APF Records.)

In a year as irreversibly horrendous as 2020 has been for most of us, a short, sharp injection of white-hot anger and riff-heavy grindcore is exactly what is needed to spruce up the terrible day you may very well be having. Liverpudlian group Corrupt Moral Altar have previous experience in the aforementioned areas, with a pair of EPs and full-lengths to their name over the past decade that have established them as one of the UK’s preeminent grind bands and, with a penchant for delving blithely into sludge metal realms and the battering distortion that characterises such a sound, one of the most interesting to boot.

With 2014’s Mechanical Tides and 2017’s Eunoia both allowing space for the band to stray off the beaten, grinding track and fully explore their collective creative vision, their EPs are by no means one-dimensional in comparison – something that is as clear on latest release Patiently Waiting for Wonderful Things as it has ever been. Continue reading »

Dec 222020
 


Growth

 

(As the year limps to the finish line Andy Synn continues to recommend 2020 albums we haven’t yet covered in detail, bringing us three more reviews today.)

For today’s edition of “Unsung Heroes” we’re looking out towards the edges of the nascent (and slightly controversial) “Post-Death” scene, with three bands who – each in their own way – have taken a sound rooted in the firm foundations of Death Metal and nurtured it, cultivated it, in a much more expansive and progressive direction, cross-breeding it with outside elements and influences in an attempt to produce a new, hybrid-strain of heaviness which is more than just the sum of its varied parts.

Have they been successful? Well that, to an extent, is in the eye of the beholder, but I’d say that each of the three bands featured here shows a lot of promise and potential (in some cases a frankly incredibly amount), to the point where some of them (perhaps even all of them) may one day become future leaders and trailblazers in this slowly evolving sub-scene. Continue reading »

Dec 182020
 


Ecclesia

 

(Andy Synn follows yesterday’s installment of “Unsung Heroes” with another one, this time presenting reviews and streams of new albums by two French bands and one Italian group, all of which provide well-deserved exceptions to our “Rule” about singing.)

As I’ve tried to stress several times – not just this year, but every year – it is literally impossible for any “Best of…” list to be totally comprehensive and/or definitive.

There’s only so much listening time available, and so many, many albums released each year, that the most you can ever really hope for is a representative sample of the year’s “best” releases.

It’s in acknowledgement of this unfortunate, but incontrovertible, fact of life that I first started writing these “Unsung Heroes” articles in the hope of providing some well-deserved, albeit retroactive, coverage for a bunch of artists and albums which I/we didn’t get chance to cover in proper detail before now, and which you, our readers, may well have missed out on too.

Today’s article has a particularly doomy focus although, as you’re about to find out, each of the three bands featured here has a distinctly different take on the genre.

Of the three artists I’m about to (possibly) introduce you too, one of them is a very recent discovery that I didn’t stumble across until my week-long list-a-thon was almost finished, while the other two I was hoping to be able to write a paragraph or two (or five) about prior to “List Season” commencing, but just never found the time. Continue reading »

Dec 172020
 


Ilsa

 

(Andy Synn wrote the three album reviews collected in this post.)

As you may know, List Season is now officially over (for me anyway, though not for the site)… which means Post-List Season is officially open!

Now I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that over the past few years (and beyond) we’ve been experiencing another one of those periodic Old School Death Metal “revivals”, where it seems like everyone has been competing to find the most effusive and hyperbolic way to praise the latest batch of Floridian-meets-Finnish Death Metal disciples (especially, or so it seems, if they’re American).

One reason for this, I’d imagine, is that we’ve now reached a point where a certain generation of bands, fans, and writers who weren’t old enough to take part in the original rise of the genre, or the early waves of Old School nostalgia, have risen to positions of prominence/notoriety, and by praising, supporting (and sometimes over-hyping) the current crop of retro riff-mongers they’re now able to relive – if only vicariously – the “classic” days of the genre which they missed out on.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some absolute gems to have come out of all this (several of which we’ve written about here before now), and so I’ve decided to dedicate today’s edition of “The Unsung Heroes of 2020” to three more of them, one of which was a firm favourite on my “Good” list, another of which took a prominent position on my “Great” list… and the third of which might, if I’d discovered it sooner, have forced a major rewrite of my “Critical Top Ten” this year! Continue reading »

Dec 172020
 

 

(This is Vonlughlio’s review of the debut album by the Indonesian brutal death metal band Sufism, which was released on December 13th by the Brutal Mind label.)

As some of you might know, one of my favorite BDM scenes is from Indonesia, due to the everlasting passion and commitment to the music from fans, labels, and bands in that area.  Someday I would love to visit the country and meet some of the musicians/projects I enjoy (one can dream).

Today I have the opportunity to review the debut album of the Indonesian band Sufism, entitled Republik Rakyat Jelata, which was just released via Brutal Mind on December 13th. The band were formed in 2014 and the following year released their first EP, Reptilia Buas, which consisted of five songs that were well-crafted and showcased impressive musicianship.  I will say that it was not groundbreaking nor made waves, but overall it was a good EP that I enjoyed quite a bit. Continue reading »

Dec 162020
 

 

(This is Vonlughlio’s review of the new album by Deeds of Flesh, which was released by Unique Leader Records on December 11th.)

I have the honor to write about a band who are considered a classic act by fans of Brutal Death Metal, a band who came to life back in 1993 in Los Osos, California, and whose music has transcended the test of time and inspired many bands in both the BDM and Tech scene.

I remember while living in the Dominican Republic discovering their 1996 debut album Trading Pieces and being blown away as the music started. It left an everlasting impact on my life. Continue reading »

Dec 132020
 

 

I continue to fall far behind in my listening due to a year-end crunch at my fucking day job, which will continue through the coming week. What little free time I have to devote to NCS between now and this time next week will be consumed by premieres and the continuation of our annual LISTMANIA series (later today I’m sharing a couple more lists from “big platform” web sites, and then we’ll have more lists from our writers and guests in the week ahead).

But fortune smiled on me, and it didn’t take me long to find what I decided to share with you in this column. Enjoy!

TEMPESTARII (U.S.)

Deathwards Xibalba” is the long opening track to Chaos at Feast, the new second album by Tempestarii, an Idaho-based black metal band who picked a great name for themselves, because listening to their music is very much like being subsumed in frightening, wholly engulfing tempests — or perhaps, given the dramaturgical trappings of their music, like witnessing firsthand the magical storm of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Continue reading »