Nov 222021

(Ryan Dyer, who made his NCS debut touting the insanity of one-man bands in China and followed that by trumpeting the destructiveness of Calgary’s Whorrify, now returns to the Chinese scene with this new review.)

Guangzhou, China’s Horror of Pestilence are a group of metallic conductors who specialize in creating tech-deathcore savagery blended with symphonic elements, taking the genre beyond its preconceived limitations. Their new EP Illiterate Construction // Inaudible Deterioration marks a pivot for the band, as a new guitarist from Hong Kong-based Massacre of Mothman has recently joined up for further collaborations on their next full-length LP.

Still, there are some Dune-sized ear worms found on this EP such as Middle Eastern elements leading into the snarling “Exiled Revenant.” A tasty saxophone solo also shows up, bringing to mind the brass attack used by Japanese black metal masters Sigh. “God Given. Hell Risen” features some ear-catching dual vocal melodies – another surprise from the plague ragers. Continue reading »

Nov 222021


Gourmand‘s new EP To Bring To Nothing is the kind of thing that demands to be heard repeatedly, in part because the experience is so electrifying and frequently head-hooking, but also because there’s so much to unpack. Every one of the three songs is so intricate and so surprising in its rapidly mutating configurations that it’s almost too much for the normal human mind to assimilate in just one run-through. And it’s such a kaleidoscopic rush that even after repeated listens it still sounds new — because the odds are you’ll detect something (or many things) for the first time that you missed before.

“Progressive death metal” might the closest genre label for what this collective from Kansas City, Missouri have created here, though the technical exuberance of the execution and the labyrinthine compositional approach suggests a more multi-hyphened hybrid. As their name implies, they are connoisseurs of many tastes. The music is certifiably savage, but also remarkably elaborate (and pleasingly groovesome just when you think you’ve become thoroughly discombobulated). Continue reading »

Nov 222021

(As a member of the UK Metal scene himself, our man Andy Synn likes to think he has his finger on the pulse – or at least, the prostate – of what artists and albums he needs to be looking out for, but the recently released debut album by THÅRN almost slipped under his radar)

Despite all the setbacks and difficulties of the last couple of years – or maybe, in a sense, because of them – the last twelve months have been an extremely strong and fertile time for the UK Metal scene.

From long absent legends making a killer comeback, to established fan-favourites stepping up their game, to new names and new faces making a serious impact, there’s been no shortage of blackened, deathly, proggy, sludgy, and atmospheric delights for fans the world over to enjoy.

And joining this still-growing list, right at the eleventh hour (or, at least, during the eleventh month) is the debut album from London-based duo Luke Booth and Jérôme Barré – aka THÅRN – whose prodigiously powerful take on the classic Post-Metal formula could easily go toe-to-toe with some of the genre’s biggest and best names.

Continue reading »

Nov 212021


This morning I read an article concerning some recent books about H.G. Wells, and the article used the word “vertiginous”. It’s a word that refers to something that causes vertigo — the sensation that you or the environment around you is moving or spinning. Another word for vertiginous might be “dizzying”.

I searched all of our posts at this site and was surprised to find that I had used the word a few times before, but not in a long time. Because I think it’s a great word, and it was in my head, it pulled me in the direction of briefly reviewing and streaming music from the following two albums, which are both vertiginous, albeit in very different ways.

KAECK (Netherlands)

Kaeck’s new album, Het Zwarte Dictaat (released near the end of October by Folter Records), is war music — not because its lyrical themes are devoted to historical conflict but because the music is so often violently tumultuous. The low-end is thunderous and granite-heavy, and when the music mounts a mid-paced charge it sounds like the assault of a tank battalion. At higher speed, the drums pump like heavy-caliber weaponry and the bass vibrates in the marrow. Continue reading »

Nov 192021


In many ways, the album we’re about to present is strikingly different from our usual musical fare at this site. Most obviously, the songs include only singing. Blast-beats are a rarity, and distortion is either completely eschewed or applied to a mild degree. The music often has more in common with prog-rock and hard-rock than heavy metal, and pulls from wells of classic heavy metal when it does venture into metal realms rather than dabbling in the sub-genres of extremity that occupy most of our attention.

And so you might scratch your head about what the album is doing here. Maybe you will wonder less after you’ve heard it. What it lacks in throat-cutting viciousness or mind-scarring abrasiveness it makes up for in so many other ways — in ways that make it utterly captivating. It has visceral “physical” power as well as the power to both channel and alter emotional states in gripping fashion, and it reaches heights of splendor that are breathtaking.

The name of the album is Ideals & Morality, and it’s the debut full-length of Sgàile, the solo project of Scottish multi-instrumentalist and vocalist extraordinaire Tony Dunn, whose resume includes work with such other bands such as Falloch, Cnoc An Tursa, and Saor. It will be released by Avantgarde Music on December 10th. Continue reading »

Nov 182021


I write a lot of premieres, indeed one or more every damned day. I have many reasons for doing that, but one of them is the opportunity it affords to discover something I might otherwise miss, something out of the ordinary and invigorating, and that’s exactly what happened when we were invited to host a full stream of Zmarłym‘s debut album Druga Fala in advance of its November 21 release by Godz Ov War Productions. It struck me like a bolt from the blue, immediately captivating and head-spinning from the first listen.

The album title is Polish for “Second Wave”, and it does indeed mark this trio’s second release, following a 2020 EP, Ziemie jałowe. The fact that it’s only the band’s second effort makes it all the more remarkable. It provides a rich cornucopia of surprises, a truly adventurous black metal album that pulled this the listener in and didn’t let go. It has quickly become a 2021 favorite of mine. Continue reading »

Nov 182021

(The nights are growing darker, and the hour grows late, but Andy Synn is still finding time to cover a few obsidian gems from the Black Metal scene that you may not have checked out yet)

It’s looking like my annual week-long litany of year-end lists will commence either on the 6th or 13th of December this year, depending on whether or not I end up doing some last minute shows with my own band during either of those weeks.

Either way though, that means there’s very little time left to write up and review some of the various albums which are going to appear on those lists, so some harsh decisions are going to need to be made regarding what gets reviewed, and what gets left by the wayside, over the next few weeks.

Case in point, selecting the three artists/albums which I’ve chosen to cover here today meant I had to skip writing about several big and/or highly anticipated new albums from the likes of Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Plebeian Grandstand, Ars Magna Umbrae, and more.

Hopefully someone else from the NoCleanTeam™ will be able to find time to pen a few thoughts about some of them (and, even if not, at least one of them is scheduled for a Synn Report some time soon) but, in the meantime, I’d like you to instead turn your attention to this trilogy of blackened terror by Bornholm (HU), Demonic Temple (PL), and Whoredome Rife (NO). Continue reading »

Nov 182021


(We reach the end of DGR‘s nearly week-long collection of reviews, in which he attempted to clear out the backlog of writing about favored releases before year-end Listmania descends.)

Devils Reef – A Whisper From The Cosmos

Even though the plague-times we live in currently mean that we have a whole army of musicians who effectively haven’t been able to do anything but be trapped at home, I still find myself very intrigued by the quick turnaround on certain releases. The Frederick, Maryland based crew of Devils Reef released their album Chosen By The Sea in January of this year and then early October saw the group return with five more songs in the form of an EP, A Whisper From The Cosmos – from one terrifying unexplored depth to another, it seems, just in the opposite direction.

There’s definitely some interesting stuff happening on A Whisper From The Cosmos. It seems that in the span of time between the two releases this year Devils Reef have really leaned into their influences and drew from a well that could see them being compared to Revocation and Alkaloid almost immediately. Makes sense then, that if you have a peek at some of the recommended releases by the band on their Bandcamp page, you’ll spot both Alkaloid’s Liquid Anatomy and The Outer Ones by Revocation among others. Continue reading »

Nov 172021


(This is the third Part of a week-long series of reviews by DGR as he tries to clear out a back-log before year-end Listmania descends.)

Be’Lakor – Coherence

Australia’s prog-death long-form masters Be’lakor are now five albums deep into their career, with their latest record – and second for Napalm Records – Coherence releasing just a few days before Halloween this year. Despite the five-year gap between Coherence and its older sibling Vessels, there’s no sign whatsoever that Be’lakor are making any attempt to change what works for them.

Since 2009’s Stone’s Reach the run-times for their albums have consistently stayed within the fifty-five minute to one-hour range. Part of the experience has been listening to how the band try to earn their time with you, because in all honesty, with the absolute flood of metal that is out these days, it’s a pretty big ask that you invest an hour of your time with one specific group.

In Be’lakor‘s case though, they’ve nearly always earned the right to do so and have proven time and time again that their ‘no part left behind’ writing style can be made to work within the confines of the prog-minded melodeath scar that the band have carved into the Earth. Continue reading »

Nov 162021

(The year may be winding down, but it’s not over yet, and there are many more gems for Andy Synn still to uncover, including this one by Vertebra Atlantis, which was recently released by I, Voidhanger Records)

There are, let’s be honest, quite a few ridiculously talented individuals in the Metal scene, a revelation which I’m sure comes as a surprise to exactly none of you.

Take Gabriele Gramaglia (aka G.G.), the mastermind behind The Clearing Path, Cosmic Putrefaction, and many other projects (several of which we’ve also covered here at NCS in the past), whose songwriting skills and instrumental abilities are, by this point at least, pretty much beyond question.

The thing is, however, that while I absolutely loved Watershed Between Earth and Firmament (and still do) nothing else that he’s done has quite affected me in the same way, even though I’ve still been able to appreciate both the sheer amount of talent and the obvious dedication to his craft he’s shown with each and every piece of work since then.

That all changed recently though, with the release of Lustral Purge in Cerulean Bliss, the debut album by Vertebra Atlantis.

Continue reading »