May 302021


We used to have a series called The Rearview Mirror on Sundays. Like many of our ideas, it eventually withered away, like a night-blooming flower that didn’t get enough nutrients from its tenders (us). It provided a vehicle for me and other writers to unearth old albums that meant something to us, and introduce them to people who might not know about them.

It was a good idea, and fun for us to do, but like everything else we do here its survival depended on the intensity of our own innate interest, which is a way of saying that we don’t force anything. Things happen naturally, or they don’t. And so it died, R.I.P., though the entire series is still available here.

I’m not really making a concerted effort to revive The Rearview Mirror today. In fact, the song that prompted me to make this post isn’t even old. But it’s a tribute to a long-lost artist and it made me re-live some treasured memories of my own, so I thought this one-off addition to the series, almost three years after it expired, was the right format. (And don’t worry, SHADES OF BLACK is still coming later today.) Continue reading »

Aug 262018


I keep coming up with reasons to talk about this band, despite the fact that they haven’t released any new music in more than five years. The last time I found an excuse was almost exactly one year ago, in exactly the same place where I am now (Jackson, Wyoming), after playing the song to exactly the same group of people I was hanging out with last night.

Arkhamin Kirjasto have recorded 19 songs so far, in the eight years they’ve been together, but I continue returning to one song, because it has such tremendous primal attractiveness that it rises up from my memory in a way that few songs do. And it did again last night, and that’s all it took for me to find one more excuse to put the stream on our site. Continue reading »

Aug 222018


(Our Rearview Mirror series, which used to be an NCS fixture on Sundays, has been eclipsed by black metal, but has been temporarily revived today as a vehicle for this retrospective by TheMadIsraeli.)

This is one of my favorite albums of all time.  I’ve never heard anything like it, not before it and not after it.  Nu metal was a weird, kooky-ass genre but it produced some gems, and this is one of them. For me personally, this is probably the best record ever made during nu metal’s reign.  The passion and the weird inter-sectional nature of the elements involved made this album, for me, basically perfect.

American Head Charge themselves are a weird band, releasing a 1999 debut (an underground, very rare release that mostly had songs from this album with much worse production and less fleshed-out sounds), this album where they hit an unreal stride, followed by a detour into just… kind of plain nu metal.  I’m not sure why they didn’t continue what they did on this album; it’s a mystery that bugs me to this day, but I genuinely do believe that The War Of Art is one of the best albums made in metal’s history, in addition to being the best of its entire sub-genre. Yeah, I said it. Continue reading »

Jan 212018


(Andy Synn presents our first Rearview Mirror post in many moons. For those who may have forgotten, the column is a rare instance in which we look at metal’s past rather than its present and future.)


Even though we’ve been running these “Rearview Mirror” columns for quite a while now it appears that this is only my third contribution to the series.

Whether that’s simply because I’ve been too busy, or because I like to have a rest on the seventh day (make of that what you will…), the fact remains that this particular corner of NCS has largely been left to Islander (and occasionally DGR) to run.

But today it’s my turn behind the wheel, and I’ve decided to take this opportunity to highlight one of the most overlooked albums in the discography of the legendary Testament! Continue reading »

Aug 072017


The original idea for The Rearview Mirror (credit to DGR) was to give us a quick and easy way to begin Sundays at our site when we had nothing else ready to go. It was supposed to be quick and easy because all we’d do would be to post a song stream from fondly remembered releases from the past, as opposed to our usual constant focus on new and forthcoming albums, EPs, and splits. Yesterday would have been a good day for that since I was on a mini-vacation and had nothing ready to go. Of course, I forgot.

It didn’t take long for the original idea to morph. “Wordiness” is our middle name, and so our Rearview Mirror posts expanded into essays and took almost as much time to prepare as everything else around here. Which is probably why the series eventually melted away. It might come back on a regular basis since I’m now thinking about it, or it might not. But I am reviving it at least for today… since I don’t have anything else ready to go on this Monday morning (things are in the works, just not finished).

But this post still doesn’t follow the original Rearview Mirror idea. Wordiness still reigns (though in this case I’ve cribbed from some things we’ve written in the past). Continue reading »

Feb 122017


Metalheads are geeks (I know, because I am one), and they have long memories. Many of them also love burrowing down the gopher holes of history, trying to learn where things started (yes, I’m a metal gopher, too). And many also zealously honor bands who played pivotal roles in the evolution of genres and sub-genres (and sub-sub-sub genres), even when such bands recorded precious few songs, and did so decades in the past. Which brings me to the Norwegian black metal band Strid.

I first learned about Strid only nine months ago when Neill Jameson devoted part of his NCS series on black metal to the band’s 1994 self-titled EP, and I’ll take the liberty of quoting part of what he wrote about them then: Continue reading »

Jan 292017


About a week ago we premiered a stream of Turm Am Hang, the  new album by the German band Horn. The brilliant last track on that album is a cover of “The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way” from the 2013 album Coven of the Wolves by Iowa-based When Bitter Spring Sleeps, with a guest appearance by the latter band’s vocalist Lord Sardonyx.

It’s a great cover, and it also caused me to revisit the original song. The lyrics are wonderful, and the song is too. So that’s the first track I’m including below in this Sunday’s look back at metal from past years. Continue reading »

Jan 222017


Almost exactly nine years ago Misery’s Omen released their debut album Hope Dies . . . and have released nothing else since then, although they seem to be dormant rather than dead. The album is very good, which perhaps should be expected, given that this Australian trio’s members have participated in numerous other bands including Mournful Conregation, Martire, Sacriphyx, Johnny Touch, and Cauldron Black Ram.

Hope Dies is almost an hour long, and it begins with the title track, which tops 11 minutes and is the album’s longest track by a significant margin. It’s also a remarkable song, and that song alone is the subject of this Sunday’s Rearview Mirror column. Continue reading »

Jan 082017


For this Sunday’s Rearview Mirror post I’m reverting to the original concept for the series, and just posting one good old song.

Correction: This song isn’t good. It’s goddamned stupendous.

The song is “Life Is A Coma” by the super-group Demiurg off their last album, 2010’s Slakthus Gamleby. And yes, Demiurg are a straight-up super-group, with Rogga Johansson as guitarist and vocalist, Dan Swanö as lead guitarist and keyboardist,  Ed Warby hitting the skins and vocalizing, and Johan Berglund on bass. Oh, and let’s not forget Marjan Welman from the Dutch goth metal band Autumn, whose vocals on this song are one of the twists that make it so stupendous. Continue reading »

Dec 252016

Rearview Mirror


(Andy Synn steps in for this Sunday’s look back at metal releases from the past.)

Christmas Day, for many, is not just a time to spend with family and friends (or whatever fictional deity you prefer)… it’s a time for reflection, a time for looking back and taking stock. So I suppose it’s only fitting that we publish another one of our Rearview Mirror pieces today.

This time around it falls to me to take you all on a journey into the misty depths of days gone by, all the way back to the fabled year of two thousand and ten, to discover the wonders of the first (and, so far, only) album by French philosadists 11 As In Adversaries. Continue reading »