Dec 042019


(This is the third part of Andy Synn‘s five-part reflections on the year in metal that’s about to end.)

Today’s list collates those artists and albums which I felt represented the top tier of this year’s metallic output, drawn from a variety of styles and sub-genres, and a multitude of different countries.

Certainly there’s some variance in their quality too, from absolute game-changers to albums which some of you might argue belong more on yesterday’s list (and vice versa), but these records are honestly the ones which I think deserve the highest praise (for various reasons) this year.

Of course if you don’t see something here, and can’t find it on yesterday’s list, then that just means I didn’t get a chance to listen to it.

In fact, I can tell you now that, despite my best efforts and best intentions, I never got round to listening to the new albums from Mayhem, Spirit Adrift, Falls of Rauros, Wilderun, The Drowning, Devourment, or Ossuarium, so sadly you won’t be seeing any of them appearing in the list below. I do hope they were everything you wanted them to be though.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me, let’s get to it, shall we? Continue reading »

Dec 032019


This past June we premiered a song named “Pines” from the debut album, Harm Remissions, by a trans-oceanic noise/grind trio named Fawn Limbs (presented through a video that excerpted footage from the 1933 film White Zombie). Even just that one song made a stunning impact, one that we likened to “the thrill of witnessing destruction… like the excitement of being present at the implosion of giant buildings to create space for something new”, but combined with “other thrills within the mayhem of the music which derive not from chaos but from the almost machine-like precision of their otherwise freakish demolition jobs”.

Those impressions might have seemed paradoxical, but while the track did indeed have its berserker destructive components, there was an impressive degree of precision on display as the musicians rapidly morphed from one kind of demolition to another (and delivered some unexpected groove along the way). The album as a whole — experienced as a whole — was (and is) an even more breathtaking bombardment, one that plays nasty games with your mind as this trio maniacally shift gears without warning and engage in even more extravagant displays of seething and boiling fretwork lunacy and rhythm-section interplay (along with unexpected digressions).

As the year draws to a close, Fawn Limbs have decided to give us one last blast with which to properly bury 2019 beneath rubble — a new EP that will be released on December 6th under the nightmarish title Their Holes Aroused by the Splinters Carved From Their Teeth — and today we’re bringing you a full stream of it. Continue reading »

Dec 032019


Why do noted musicians in well-established and well-known bands form side projects? There are many reasons, but certainly one of them is to pursue musical interests that lie beyond the stylistic boundaries of their main bands — sometimes far beyond them — often coupled with the chance to create and perform with different friends. Some side projects seem to vanish overnight, and some of them become such strong attachments for their members, or become so well-received by listeners, that they persist.

Death Wolf began as a side project, and it has persisted, and we are all the better for it. In this case, the project was started near the turn of the new millennium by Marduk guitarist Morgan Håkansson under the name Devil’s Whorehouse, and with his bandmates released two albums and two EPs under that name. After they changed the band’s name to Death Wolf, they released three more albums from 2011 through 2014.

Now a fourth one is at last ready for release on December 10th by Blooddawn Productions (distributed and marketed by Regain Records). Its name is IV: Come the Dark, and we’re proudly presenting a full stream of the album today. Continue reading »

Dec 032019


(We’ve got a new interview from Comrade Aleks, and this time his discussion partners are members of the heavy Venezuelan band Cultura Tres.)

I try to watch for certain bands’ progress, but sometimes I miss something, as I did with Cultura Tres. Formed in Maracay, Venezuela, in 2006, they pay tribute both to South American cultural and historical legacy and to modern sludge metal. They speak of current problems of their land and of bloody shadows from the past — I believe it’s an important element of any band to keep their ideology actual and hard.

I lost track of the band after their fourth album La Secta, released in 2017, and when I decided to approach the guys a month ago, they appeared to be in The Netherlands to my surprise! May Third World sludge exist and develop in the conditions of the Old World. Let’s find out what’s happening with Alejandro Londoño (guitars, vocals) and Juanma De Ferrari (guitars). Continue reading »

Dec 032019


(We dom’t publish a single “official” NCS year-end list of best releases. Instead, each of our staff members compiles his own individual list.Andy Synn‘s week-long series of personal year-end lists continues today with his list of 2019’s “Good” albums.)


It’s important to clarify, right now, that both today’s list and tomorrow’s are NOT in any way an attempt to rank (at least not in any detail) the various albums which I’ve listened to this year.

The purpose of these two lists, today’s “Good” and tomorrow’s “Great”, is simply to provide a round-up of the various new releases which have found their way into my eardrums this year.

Of course, even these two lists (which together total somewhere approaching 300 albums) don’t provide a comprehensive account of everything that’s been released in 2019, but I sincerely hope that every one of you reading this right now comes away from this article with at least a handful of new bands/albums to check out.

As always I’ve broken things up into various categories to make the reading easier/fun, and (where possible) I’ve included a Bandcamp link to the album in the full list at the end of the article. Continue reading »

Dec 022019


We have now entered the final month of 2019, 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. In fact, today we began rolling out some lists of our own.

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 guest writers, 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 2019 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 022019


It has been a long seven years since the release of Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum, the debut album by the Ukrainian band Rattenfänger (discussed here). Although Rattenfänger was a new name then, its members were not newcomers, having already made their mark through Drudkh, Blood of Kingu, and Old Silver Key. Rattenfänger had become their alternate vehicle for indulging an affinity for certain flavors of old school death metal.

But the band’s name is much older than the era that produced the early works of Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, and Celtic Frost, whose influences (among others) played a significant role in the music. The name Rattenfänger was taken from the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (Rattenfänger von Hameln), who was hired by the folk of that town to rid themselves of the rats that had overrun it. As we know, he was deceived and cheated of his payment, and exacted a dreadful revenge by luring away Hamelin’s children, never to be seen again.

Rattenfänger connected themselves to the Dark Ages in other ways, by writing their lyrics in Latin, in the style of medieval poets, thinkers, and troubadours/minstrels. And now, seven years on, they’re about to release a new album, which we present to you today in its entirety. Continue reading »

Dec 022019


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album (released on November 29th) by the German band Aeons Confer.)

Sometimes you have to… not temper your expectations, but when it comes to artists you love and the output they produce you have to learn how to divorce yourself from your own nostalgia-based bias.  I’ve never been a fan of nostalgia, and I’m someone who is always eager to try and avoid the pitfalls of it as much as possible.  I was confronted with this resolution when listening to Aeons Confer’s new record Zero Elysium.

I LOVE this band’s debut Symphonies Of Saturnus, which I reviewed here nearly six years ago.  Since 2013 I’ve actually listened to it AT LEAST once a week.  I never got over that album, so it’s expected maybe that someone like me might feel a bit cold when encountering a sophomore record that didn’t deliver on an assumed promise of “first album, part two”. Continue reading »

Dec 022019


(We do not publish a single “official” NCS year-end list of best releases.  Instead, each of our staff members compiles his own individual list. A week earlier than we did this last year, today we’re beginning the roll-out of Andy Synn‘s five-part series of year-end lists. As usual, we’re starting with an installment that veers off our usual theme of focusing on music we enthusiastically recommend. Feel free to disagree — some of us here may disagree as well — but also feel free to share in the Comments your own thoughts about 2019 albums that disappointed you.)

Normally I’d wait until a little deeper into December before writing/publishing my End of the Year lists, but various circumstances (including a short run of dates supporting Hour of Penance next week) mean that I’m going to be pretty busy for the rest of this month (though hopefully not too busy to do at least a little bit of writing for NCS), so you lucky people are getting the benefit of my yearly round-up a little early this time around.

As usual I’m going to kick things off with a short (shorter than usual, in fact) piece on the most “Disappointing” albums from the last twelve months, which this year contains a mix of big names, over-hyped newcomers, and, sadly, some of my personal favourite bands.

And because some of you might be a little unfamiliar with the format of this particular piece, I’m going to quote from our friends over at Last Rites, who I think summed it up nicely in a recent piece:

The idea of this feature isn’t just to bash bands or records — it’s ultimately more about us, as fans, lamenting the releases that disappointed us the most. And, of course, disappointment implies some heightened level of hope that a release might be, y’know… good.” Continue reading »

Dec 012019


I think I made a mistake. Between Friday and Saturday I spent 6+ hours just listening to new music, at least half of which I devoted to individual tracks publicly released from forthcoming albums. That’s a LOT of individual tracks. Along with discarding things that didn’t grab me, I started excitedly assembling ideas for round-up posts organized around varying themes, and of course added to an already long existing list of ideas for the column you’re reading now.

Why was that a mistake? Because now I’m mentally suffering from the knowledge that there’s no way I’ll have the time to follow through on all the writing schemes I imagined, no way to feature everything I’d like to recommend. Even if I could, it would be too much music and too many words for any normal person to consume over the space of a few days, on top of other music you would be exploring from other sources.

Well, as they say, I made my bed and now I have to lie on it. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, here’s what I chose for today — which is a lot of music, but not nearly enough.


If you haven’t done whatever you need to do to follow the Chinese label Pest Productions on Bandcamp, you ought to fix that post haste. The releases are stylistically more unpredictable than many labels with a black metal pedigree, and over a lot of years I’ve encountered very few that didn’t do something good for me. A Bandcamp e-mail alert just days ago is how I discovered that Pest had released Fragile, which is the name of the debut album of Mother Augusta. Continue reading »