Mar 212024

(Today Andy Synn submerges himself in the new album from Acathexis, out now)

In the intro to my review yesterday two days ago (sorry, it was meant to run on Wednesday, but we ended up not having space for it) I wrote about how, at its heart, music is all about communicating something – an idea, an emotion, a sensation – that cannot be expressed any other way.

And, yet, the artist has no control about how their work will be received or interpreted, as what each listener hears and gets out of their work will be – to some extent – entirely unique.

Which got me thinking a little about what we do here at NCS – namely, trying to process our own thoughts, reactions, and emotional responses to music into words in the hope that they resonate with people (or, at least, provide them with some useful context) despite the fact that the essence, the qualia, of our experiences(s) can never be fully transmitted to another person (and, even if they were… how would we ever know?).

But still we try, because we want to share our experience with others and because we want others to have that experience for themselves… and while no two listeners are ever likely to respond in the exact same way to Immerse, the new album from borderless Black Metal collective Acathexis, we have no doubt that those with ears to hear it will come to love it as we have.

Continue reading »

Feb 182024

Like yesterday, I was able to assemble a big round-up of fairly new music for today. It seemed like a way to welcome myself back to doing what I habitually did before I got thrown way off course by my job. And now I’m wondering, as I habitually used to do, whether I’ve overdone it.

What you’ll find below are singles from three forthcoming records, followed by five complete albums or EPs, all of them released this month. I only stopped at the total of 8 so the cover art would line up neatly in the collage I made.

If you have the patience to move through everything, you’ll find as you go deeper that the doors start coming completely off the hinges, in bizarre and even horrifying ways, but with something profoundly dreamlike at the end. Continue reading »

Dec 302018


Here we are, nearing the end of that strange seven-day period that begins with the Christmas holiday and ends with New Year’s Day, when many of us have more lazy free time than usual but also experience something like sensory overload from an onslaught of family, friends, food, drink, commercialized excess everywhere you turn, and the looming dread of a new year beginning with a return to jobs and no more holiday reprieves on the visible horizon. It can be both a joyous time of year and a depressing one, more of the former than the latter if you’re lucky, but with both conditions defined with greater intensity than the plodding progression of a normal week.

Even as odd and disorienting as this annual occurrence usually is, the one we’re in the midst of now has struck me as even more bewildering, even comically so, from my perspective as an obsessive fan of extreme music with a compulsion to share recommendations. On that front at least, things are supposed to slow down, with fewer albums being released (given the likelihood they’ll be overlooked against the background froth of so many other holiday diversions) and something of a pause in the promotional activity around albums slated for release in the new year, including the debut of new songs. And while that has in fact happened to a degree, it’s been a smaller degree than usual, especially in the genres of music that are the focus of this column. Continue reading »

Oct 142018


Four months ago Fallen Empire Records announced that it would be shutting down, marching blissfully to its demise at some point before the end of this year. For those of us who had greatly respected the musical choices of this Portland, Oregon label and enjoyed so many of its releases over the last seven years of its existence, this was sad news indeed. But Fallen Empire isn’t moving toward self-extinction with a whimper, but in something akin to a blaze of glory.

Based on a Fallen Empire announcement two days ago, I count 6 albums and one EP scheduled for release later this month (plus a Triumvir Foul release by Vrasubatlat that FE will be distributing), another seven releases in November, and six more in December. Most of these will be physical releases made-to-order based on however many copies are pre-ordered. Some will be digital releases by Fallen Empire, with physical editions provided by Amor Fati Productions, and some will also be released on cassette tape.

Along with that announcement, Fallen Empire launched a sampler of music from eight of these forthcoming releases on Bandcamp — the ones that FE will be handling exclusively — and the music is fantastic. Along with those eight song streams, the label also revealed the artwork for all but one of them, and the cover art is also quite good. In fact, let’s start with the artwork, which I’ve annotated with the name of the band whose album it will accompany: Continue reading »