Jan 192022

(Andy Synn would like to enlighten you about the new album from Washington’s Swamp Lantern)

One of the great joys involved in being a music writer – and I’m sure many, if not most, if not all, of my fellows would agree – is discovering a band and then watching them grow into their full potential.

Case in point, when I reviewed Swamp Lantern‘s debut back in 2020 I immediately felt that this was a band who had “it”, even if they didn’t quite have a handle on exactly what “it” was.

Their second album, however, takes that hard-to-define x-factor and improves on it in pretty much every single way, offering up an even more refined and robust version of what was already a pretty riveting sound, with a stronger sense of identity, a clearer creative vision, and a more instinctive grasp of flow and dynamic.

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Jan 182022

(Andy Synn kicks off another week with a review of the new album from Hungarian hellions Fragda)

Conventional wisdom – if there is such a thing – would tell you that the two worst times to release a new album are the beginning and end of a year.

After all, December is usually dominated by lists and round-ups, and January often finds people desperately trying to catch up on what they missed in December… so no band in their right mind should be planning to release anything in these particular months, right?

Apparently a lot of artists didn’t get this particular memo however, as not only was the tail-end of 2021 absolutely packed with albums, but the start of 2022 has also been remarkably busy with new releases.

And, no, I’m not just talking about the new Wiegedood and Fit For An Autopsy albums.

So, for the rest of the week (and likely next week too) I’m going to endeavour to showcase some of you may have missed in what has, incredibly, already been an unexpectedly busy month, beginning with this spine-breaking slab of ultra heaviness from Hungary’s Fragda.

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Jan 172022


(New NCS contributor Alex Atkinson has brought us the following review of a recently released EP by the Oregonian band Mizmor.)

Wit’s End is the funeral doom/black metal band Mizmor’s (aka Liam Neighbors) follow-up EP to 2019’s widely acclaimed Cairn album.  Musically, Mizmor brings back the anguish they’ve become known for, offering up a cohesive half-hour of two tracks that demand focus.  This is not background music for your workday, trust me.

The initial track, “Wit’s End”, is introduced with a spoken-word clip in which vocalist A.L.N. sets the intent of the following 14-minute piece.  The hissing of the analogue tape recording is accented by a simple, melancholic guitar as feedback begins to erode, leading into the second movement of the track.  With a few massive chords and thoughtful drums, the vocals are introduced with chilling agony. Continue reading »

Jan 142022

(After some time away, Grant Skelton returns to NCS with this review of the long-awaited new album by Portland-based Dolven)

Greetings, fellow NCS readers! While it has been some time since I’ve contributed any content to our beloved site, I remain a faithful visitor. I know that the last 2 years have been particularly dreadful for us all. It is my sincere hope that all of you maintain the wellness of mind, body, and spirit. With that in mind, I am pleased to present you with this review of The Tyranny of Time by Dolven. Though the album was released in December, I didn’t want it to get buried in the year-end Listmania morass. Thanks to Dolven guitarist/vocalist Nick Wusz for agreeing to a later review.

I (briefly) covered the first album by these melancholic minstrels all the way back in 2015. I’m an ardent devotee of folk music. And that passion seems to deepen as I grow older. Acoustic instrumentation brings with it an air of remembrance. Even the term “folk” carries connotations of history, mythology, culture, and traditions. Folk music isn’t something that’s performed for you. It isn’t something that you just listen to. Rather, folk music invites you to participate in the formation of a narrative. This is the realm where Dolven dwells. Continue reading »

Jan 142022

The black metal collective known as Smother are writing a musical saga in chapters, eventually to be joined by a book that is connected to the lyrics and audio experiences of those sonic chapters. The members of the collective have shifted, but are still anchored by drummer SD (Black Vice, Ravnblod), whose percussion tracks and conceptions are the foundation for what the other collaborators contribute.

Four musical chapters have been recorded so far (out of a planned 10 releases), and in each one the sounds have changed. The latest installment, Chapter IV – Tying Thy Noose of Rusted Chain – is the one we’re presenting in full today. For this newest work SD was joined by MW (Crown of Asteria) as principal vocalist and keyboardist, and by guitarist JV (Grst, Uruk), both of whom also participated in Chapter III.

What you now have the opportunity to experience is a single 41-minute track that’s being released by Red River Family Records. At a very high level (and potentially a misleading one), it could be considered atmospheric black metal, but it’s an experience that makes significant use of harsh and mentally destabilizing electronics and of ingredients from catastrophic doom metal. It’s capable of creating trance states, but more often is a manifestation of terrors, most of which don’t seem bound to an earthly plane of existence. Continue reading »

Jan 132022

(Andy Synn takes a look at the new album from Fit For An Autopsy – out tomorrow on Nuclear Blast – to see what the future holds the band)

Love them or loathe them – and it should be pretty clear what side of the equation we fall on here at NCS – there’s no denying that Fit For An Autopsy have been on a nigh-unstoppable roll for the past several years.

But I’m here to tell you that, as good as both The Great Collapse and The Sea of Tragic Beasts were (the latter especially), Oh What The Future Holds makes them seem like a mere practice run in comparison.

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Jan 122022

The breathtakingly savage death metal band Ecryptus introduce themselves as “an elite group of assassins from Korriban, now based in Atlanta, Georgia. We dispense galactic death metal inspired by the Dark Side and brutal tales of the Canon Arcane.”

For those who may not be as steeped in the lore of Star Wars as the marauders in Ecryptus, one internet source discloses that Korriban “was the original homeworld of the Sith species and a sacred planet for the Sith Order, housing the tombs for many ancient and powerful Dark Lords of the Sith, and containing immense dark side power.”

And for those who may not speak Mandalorian, the title of Ecryptus‘ new EP — Kyr’am Beskar — means (what else?) “Death Metal” in the tongue of far-flung Mandalore. Continue reading »

Jan 122022

(For his first album review of 2022 Andy Synn selected a record more than a decade in the making)

Hands up if you enjoyed Zao‘s latest album, The Crimson Corridor, last year?

I did, obviously, since I chose it as the #1 pick on my “Personal Top Ten” list, and I’m guessing that quite a few of you did too.

Well, if you’re looking for something on a similar wavelength – something which combines the bruising bite of Metalcore (or Metallic Hardcore, if that term offends you) with the moody dynamics of Post-Metal – then the long-gestating new album from Indiana’s Trenches should be right up your alley.

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Jan 122022

(We welcome first-time NCS writer Alex Atkinson, who makes his debut with a review of the recently released first EP by the Calgary-based heavy metal band Kontact.)

As our planet continues on its path toward ultimate doom, we must look to the cosmos for relief, enlightenment, and breakneck, extraterrestrial riffing.  Kontact fills the vacuum of space with songs soaked in all the ancient technologies of heavy metal’s heroes while creating a sense of new possibilities that help the surging traditional metal scene remain exciting.  Through the combined forces of Canadian powerhouse Traveler and the downright dirty Blackrat, Kontact has managed to harness their talents to finely (space)craft their debut EP, First Contact.

The album opener, “Ancient Malice”, uses some familiar tropes to build up to an unexpected vocal performance by singer, The Alien.  The vocals sound a bit like Alice Cooper and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard stopped listening to music once they heard King Diamond’s lamentation, “Melissa”, while creating something stark and original inside that space.  This is what really sets First Contact apart from an overwhelming couple years of excellent heavy metal releases.  Surprising vocal melodies are around every corner on this track, not to mention the remaining four powerhouse songs. Continue reading »

Jan 112022


The Boss HM-2 distortion pedal, and other devices that emulate its effects, are fantastic inventions. Similes for the sound abound, including the ubiquitous references to chainsaws cutting through dense wood. It also brings to mind someone gunning a big V-8 engine (do such things exist any more?) in a vehicle with a severely corroded, smoke-belching muffler, or maybe a junkyard car compactor working at full metal-mangling intensity. The deployment of the tone just makes everything sound more massively crushing.

That brand of distortion has become inseparably linked to old school Swedish death metal in all its gruesome, dragging, and scampering glory. But its uses extend beyond music devoted to death and supernatural horror, and in the case of Australia’s Descent (which features members of Snorlax, Resin Tomb, Feculent, Siberian Hell Sounds, and more) it has become a weapon in the discharge of violent, politically charged fury. In their case it’s also not the only weapon in their arsenal, nor is death metal the only genre ingredient in their music, because black metal and grindcore play prominent roles as well.

Maybe especially for those of who may think chainsaw discordance has worn out its welcome after so many years, Descent‘s new album Order of Chaos is worth your attention. And it definitely demands attention for any fan of metallic extremity who’s looking for a cathartic release through music of pulverizing, neck-ruining power and shuddering ferocity (coupled with effective use of gloom-drenched melody).

The album is set for imminent release on January 14th by Brilliant Emperor Records in cooperation with Redefining Darkness (CD) and Caligari Records (tape), and it’s our privilege to present its full streaming premiere today. Continue reading »