Nov 292022

Almost exactly two years ago I had the great pleasure of premiering an album named Znelo lesom by the Slovak pagan metal band Ramchat. At that time I wasn’t familiar with their previous works, and so I went into the album with no expectations. What I found was a gigantic surprise — so surprising that I likened it to a comet racing across the skies.

I opened the floodgates to a great torrent of words about that album in introducing its premiere, but here I’ll only repeat 104 of them:

“The songcraft of Ramchat is, for want of better words, idiosyncratic and mercurial. At a high level, it could be described as a fascinating amalgam of folk-influenced blackened metal and devilish rock that’s capable of generating (among other things) orchestral levels of grandeur, barbaric levels of savagery, bewitching episodes of sinister sonic sorcery, and heart-breaking moments of melancholy. In each song (no two of which are quite alike) the band pack an ingenious array of sonic sensations and moods, and while the changes are often unexpected, there is still a natural flow and integration among them which makes the progressions cohesive rather than jarring.”

Ramchat have now brought us another new album, one named Krveľ (“Blood”). Having been exposed to the marvels of Znelo lesom, I had very high hopes for it, and have not been disappointed. And so here we are again, with another Ramchat album premiere — though it’s not literally a premiere. Continue reading »

Nov 282022

(Andy Synn goes to war once more with the music of Imha Tarikat)

While you’re reading this there’s a good chance I’ll be attending a funeral for one of my oldest, dearest friends.

As you might imagine, feelings have been running high ever since his death, and each of us who knew and loved him have had to find our own way to deal with his loss.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I have been turning to music, even more so than usual, as a conduit for my emotions, and Hearts Unchained – At War With a Passionless World has been one of the albums I have returned to most frequently over the past several weeks.

Of course, I’d like to think that I’d have listened to this record just as much even without this tragedy occurring (after all, I was a huge fan of the group’s previous work and have been looking forward to this one ever since), but sometimes an album hits you at just the right moment, in just the right way, to resonate even more deeply.

And this is one of those times.

Continue reading »

Nov 272022

Vidmershiy Shmat

My NCS time can be captured by this formula:  NCS = 24 – [FDJ + FAF + SBBS + MAE], where 24 is the number of hours in the day (a constant I haven’t figured out how to extend), FDJ is Fucking Day Job, FAF is Family and Friends, SBBS is Sleep, Bathroom Breaks, and Smoking, and MAE is Meteors and Earthquakes.

EAD (Eating and Drinking) doesn’t enter into it because I can do those things at the computer. So far, the value of MAE has been Zero. I might have made a place for DDD (Disease, Dismemberment, and Death), which would leave the calculated NCS time at Zero, but hope springs eternal!

The most consequential variable (so far) is FDJ. Unfortunately, I can’t ignore it, as I sometimes do with FAF, and it’s difficult to minimize the time required, as I sometimes do with SBBS. But during this long Thanksgiving holiday it has left me alone, and that’s why I finished two big roundups on Friday and Saturday, and now a third one here. Continue reading »

Nov 262022


Since yesterday was a Bandcamp Friday [actually, it wasn’t, as Nic pointed out in a comment below] I wish I could have spent more time recommending more music than I did, but at least I got a full handful of choices out there. Now my hands are full again, and when I open them these things will fly like moths to your flame, or I hope they will.

This new collection was the result of lots of surfing the effluent that continually floods the interhole, searching for nuggets that aren’t the kind you’d find in a septic tank. I found them, an octet of them (including three complete EPs), but I must confess that in the course of the sifting I fell into a strange trip. Dark moods descended, and occasionally lifted, but not entirely. I encountered nostalgia too, and found a pair of curveballs to throw at you for the finale, which is always fun, especially for those of you who have no idea about baseball.

But of course, although these trips are mainly about what pleases me, I always hope (fervently) that some or all of it will please you too. Continue reading »

Nov 252022


When you combine a Black Friday with a Bandcamp Friday the result is a goddamned typhoon of new music and videos, with bands and labels not only launching sales but trying to take further advantage of the situation with new releases, some of them out today and some now up for pre-order.

Correction: As Nic pointed out in a comment on the post following this one, Black Friday was NOT in fact a Bandcamp Friday, and now I’ve forgotten why I thought it was. On the plus side, I get to do something like this again on December 2nd!

I can’t say I’ve waded through all of it to make your shopping experience easier (I’m only one bedraggled human and speed-cloning is a generation or two away), but I did make my way through some of it, and have these recommendations for you.

I also did try to provide some genre scatter in the choices, knowing that not everyone loves everything, and to provide a range of radar elevations among the bands. As vivid proof of that, I’m leading off with… Continue reading »

Nov 242022

Here in the U.S. today is Thanksgiving Day. For 13 years our site has made a point of observing no holidays, but instead continuing to focus without pause on the heavy music that inspires us. But on this holiday we can kill two birds with one stone — presenting music that kills, and being thankful, for the gem that is Jade.

To be clear, we are talking about a gem of a band, not the gemstone, though both share certain qualities, with a capacity to seize attention as the facets turn. And undeniably, the debut album of this part-German, part-Catalonian band provides music of many elaborate facets that’s altogether stunning. Entitled The Pacification of Death, it will be released tomorrow by Pulverised Records, but we’re providing a chance for everyone to hear it now. Continue reading »

Nov 232022

It is with considerable pride and pleasure that we present a complete stream of It Never Ends…, a new album by the Danish band Maceration — pride, because this marks the return of a group who made a heavy mark in the old annals of death metal with their 1992 debut A Serenade of Agony, and pleasure, because the new second album is really fucking good.

In a time when metal re-births seem increasingly common, the resurrection of Maceration after three decades still seems worth an extra measure of attention, in part because for their new album Dan Swanö has again stepped in to fill the session vocal role, as he did under the name Day Disyraa for that 1992 debut. He hasn’t done growled vocals since the halcyon days of Edge of Sanity, but you couldn’t guess that from his performance here. His monstrous growls, ravenous howls, and wretched gagging emissions are frighteningly powerful throughout.

But as vital as those vocals are to the success of It Never Ends…, it is of course the quality of the songwriting and musicianship that weighs most heavily in the balance between success and failure, and there the credit goes to original guitarists Jakob Schultz and Lars Bangsholt, bassist Robert Tengs, and drummer Rasmus Schmidt (Illdisposed, ex-Myrkur). Continue reading »

Nov 232022

(Andy Synn gets riffy with the new album from Sweden’s Vittra)

As we inch closer and closer to the end of the year time is running out for us here at NCS, and tough decisions are having to be made about what, and who, we can cover before “List Season” officially begins.

To be clear, I’ll still be writing and publishing reviews throughout December – mostly of things that I wasn’t able to get to over the last twelve months and which I think deserve more coverage and attention – but probably not as many as usual (the next couple of weeks are going to be particularly hectic and stressful for me, for various reasons, so I intend to take a well deserved rest from work, writing, and everything else).

Until then, however… let’s all enjoy some catchy-as-covid Death/Thrash riffage courtesy of Vittra and their new album, Blasphemy Blues.

Continue reading »

Nov 222022

(October 28th brought the release by Church Road Records of a fourth full-length by Germany’s Implore, and in this review DGR provides a lot of reasons to get enthusiastic about it.)

It’s been a little while since we’ve gotten an album as clearly “bookended” as Implore‘s October release The Burden Of Existence, yet one glance at track times alone and it seems like the masterminds behind the metallic chaos that is Implore got a taste for track-sequencing symmetry.

Implore are not the type of band to go on musical journeys or prog-dalliances, so none of the songs on The Burden Of Existence stretch for time in any sense of the word, but it is fun noticing how the group have three of their four longer songs on The Burden Of Existence positioned within the front two and the back two of the lineup. Of course, when you close out an album with a song called “The Sense Of Endings”, maybe room for subtlety is a couple of train stops away from where we are currently – but alas, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Continue reading »

Nov 212022

We’re about to premiere an extraordinary album in its entirety. We’re also about to open the floodgates on a waterfall of words, in an unnecessary and probably fruitless effort to explain why it’s extraordinary.

Where to begin? Maybe by saying that although you will see genre labels affixed to the music of Australia’s Estrangement on their album Disfigurementality — principally referring to it as a blending of funeral doom and classical music — there’s no kind of shorthand reference that could be accurate. To borrow from the press materials, “Funereal-Flamenca-Nuclear-Jazz-Fusion-End-of-World Music” comes closer to the mark, but still falls short.

Does it go too far to claim that Disfigurementality is unique? Well, you’ll be the judge of that, but in our estimation that’s what this music really is, something so astonishingly eclectic, so wildly creative, and so mind-blowing to hear that it really does seem unparalleled in the annals of extreme doom. Continue reading »