Dec 012022
 

We have now entered the final month of 2022, and that begins the final countdown to the end of the year. In the world of metal, this month we’ll also start seeing more and more lists of the year’s best releases.

Back in 2009, when this site was just a few days old, I wrote a post about year-end lists and why people bother with them. The best reason still seems to be this: Reading someone else’s list of the albums they thought were best is a good way to discover music you missed and might like.

We don’t do an “official” NCS year-end “best albums” list. However, we publish the picks of each of our regular staff writers as well as a group of invited guests, in addition to lists that we re-post from a few print zines and “big platform” online sites.

Every year we also invite our readers to share their lists and we’re doing that again right here, right now.

If you’ve been pondering what you’ve heard this year and have made your own list of the albums, EPs, or splits released in 2022 that you think are the best of what you’ve heard, we invite you to share it with everyone in the Comments section to this post. And if you haven’t made a list yet but want to, there’s still plenty of time (read below). Continue reading »

Dec 012022
 

As part of our annual NCS LISTMANIA extravaganza we re-publish lists of the year’s best metal that appear on web sites which appeal to vastly larger numbers of readers than we do — not because we believe those readers or the writers have better taste in metal than our community does, but more from a morbid curiosity about what the great unpoisoned masses are being told is best for them. It’s like opening a window that affords an insight into the way the rest of the world outside our own disease-ridden nooks and crannies perceives the music that is our daily sustenance.

One of those sites is PopMatters. It has been in existence since 1999. In its own words the site “is an international magazine of cultural criticism and analysis” with a scope that “is broadly cast on all things pop culture”, including “music, television, films, books, video games, sports, theatre, the visual arts, travel, and the Internet”. PopMatters, which which has been independently women/LGBTQ-owned and operated since inception, claims that it is “the largest site that bridges academic and popular writing in the world”.

As in past years, last week PopMatters has published a list of “The 20 Best Metal Albums“ of the year, again under the by-line of Spyros Stasis and Antonio Poscic. You’ll find that list below. Continue reading »

Nov 302022
 

In September of 2021 Void Wanderer Productions released the fine debut album Galgenbrok by the black metal band Schavot, whose sole figure is part of the Dutch Zwotte Kring (Black Circle), a collective that also includes the likes of Asgrauw, Meslamtaea, and Sagenland.

But as good as that debut album was, Schavot has not rested upon it but used it instead as a foundation for building something even greater — or at least that’s the conclusion we draw from the song “De Laatste Dans Gedanst“, the first track that we’re revealing today from a new Schavot full-length entitled Kronieken Uit de Neve that’s set for release on January 27th by the same Void Wanderer Productions. Continue reading »

Nov 302022
 

Four years ago the mere name of this Toronto-based band seized our attention. An unusual name, A Flock Named Murder, and one that seemed to draw upon the wonderful collective appellation for an assembly of crows, it also sent sinister messages. Other messages that accompanied the announcement of their debut album An Appointed Time also added to the intrigue and the interest — references to the musical influence of such groups as Agalloch, Neurosis, Cult Of Luna, The Ruins Of Beverast, and Immolation.

Happily, after all that, the music presented through that first full-length turned out to be exceptionally good, and it got a fair share of acclaim among fans and scribblers like us. Even four years later we have no hesitancy recommending An Appointed Time. It is well worth tracking down (here, to make it easy), if you haven’t heard it.

Four years can be a long wait for something new after a debut, especially when you enjoy a debut so fervently. Happily, the wait is over, because A Flock Named Murder have recorded a new single — one that we’re premiering today in sync with its release — and they’ve disclosed that they’re at work on another album. Continue reading »

Nov 302022
 

Recommended for fans of: Employed to Serve, Power Trip, Misery Index

This has been a big year for Hardcore, Metallic Hardcore, and Death Metal-meets-Hardcore… and I, for one, have been absolutely loving it.

So much so, in fact, that I’ve decided to dedicate the final Synn Report of 2022 to Canadian crushers Get The Shot (whose new album, Merciless Destruction, was released just last month).

Of course, while there’s been a lot of digital ink spilled about the resurgence of Hardcore-influenced-Death Metal recently, Get The Shot clearly come at it from the opposite direction… sure, they’ve got a distinctive Death Metal side (especially on their more recent stuff) but they’re a Hardcore band at heart, which gives their howling vocals, hammering riffs, and hefty, chug-heavy rhythms a slightly different flavour to the Creeping Deaths and Gatecreepers of the world (although fans of those bands will definitely want to give GtS a shot, trust me).

Continue reading »

Nov 292022
 

Lo and behold, even though we’re two days past the Thanksgiving break my fucking day job is still mostly leaving me alone, so I’ve got time for a quick round-up of new songs and videos this Tuesday. Given the song I picked as the opener, it’s an outlier from my usual proclivities, but don’t worry, it gets a lot more subterranean after that, and then ends with a rebellious song that qualifies as a well-earned exception to our rule about singing.

METALLICA (U.S.)

A good argument could be made that Metallica is the biggest name in metal, and therefore a name very unlikely to appear at this site, where we tend to focus our attention on bands who need (and deserve) more exposure. Even just listening to their new song “Lux Æterna” wasn’t high on my list of things to do. It felt like I’d just be joining a surging crowd of lemmings and wondering just how big a cliff I’d be falling off of.

And then I began to see comments from assorted friends on social media who aren’t given to mindless fawning, even though, unlike me, they spent their formative years listening to Metallica during the band’s best years. One of them thought Metallica were channeling Motörhead. Another wrote that it sounded like a lost Diamond Head cover from Garage Inc. But everyone seemed to be liking it, even if maybe it was pushing slightly different buttons from person to person. So, I gave in and gave the song a shot. Continue reading »

Nov 292022
 

It seems quite likely that fans of black/thrash are well aware of the Chilean hellions in Hellish. They’ve filled up the dozen years of their existence with a plethora of frequent releases, including two albums and last year’s stand-out EP The Vermis Mysteriis. As the releases have piled up, however, it has become increasingly evident that Hellish have been bent on giving genre die-hards more for their money than what might be typically expected from this evil genre, and there’s no more striking demonstration of those ambitions than the band’s new album The Dance of the Four Elemental Serpents.

Not surprisingly, the especially inventive and interesting nature of the new music has become the lead story-line of the promotional activity for the album, which is set for release by Dying Victims Productions and Unspeakable Axe Records on December 16th, and as you’re about to discover through our premiere today, the music really is dizzying as well as diabolical, just as the PR material proclaims. Continue reading »

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 292022
 

(On November 25th the French band Monolithe released Kosmodrom, their latest album in a 20-year career, and in this new interview we present Comrade Aleks‘ discussion with Monolithe multi-instrumentalist Sylvain Bégot.)

Monolithe went their long way from sci-fi influenced funeral doom metal with a unique approach and to their own original melodic death-doom from outer space. Their reputation at first was built around the Monolithe triptych (The Great Clockmaker concept) where each of this series of albums consisted of one huge epic track. The band developed their ideas further and made a step out of funeral doom territories with the next albums.

The lineup is remarkably large, as their masterplan demands a careful and individual approach where each of the band’s members plays his role: Sylvain Bégot (guitars), Benoît Blin (guitars), Olivier Defives (bass), Thibault Faucher (drums), Matthieu Marchand (keyboards), and Rémi Brochard (vocals, guitars).

The new Monolithe album Kosmodrom is a 67-minute-long journey to the brave past of the Soviet Space Program, the times of healthy competitions and high hopes which seem to be lost for us nowadays. This story was told with the universal tongue of death-doom, but some of its parts demand explanations, and Monolithe’s keeper Sylvain Bégot is the one who knows all the secrets behind it. Continue reading »

Nov 282022
 

Almost exactly one year ago we had the pleasure of premiering a song from a then-forthcoming EP (The Living) by the Canadian death metal band Mors Verum. In commenting on that ever-changing EP, we made reference to the music’s volcanic viciousness, its firestorms of mind-mauling dissonance and bursts of head-twisting technicality, and its capacity to induce feelings of madness, violent chaos, pestilential peril, and shattering emotional downfall.

Now we’re returning to Mors Verum, and hopefully introducing even more people to what they’re all about, through our premiere of “Purging Waterloo“, a video of the band’s full 35-minute set performed in Waterloo, Canada, in July of this year. Continue reading »