Aug 132021


It’s a rare day when I have no premieres to write for our site, and no posts to edit and format from any of our other writers either. So I spent the extra time listening to more than the usual number of new songs and videos released this week, and found a whopping 16 of them I wanted to recommend.

Rather than put them all in a single post, which might have been like hitting you in the mouth with a bag of nails, I’ve divided them into two parts, arranged alphabetically from the beginning of Part 1 to the end of Part 2 — beginning with A and finishing with Z.


It’s been a long wait for something new from this very talented Washington State black metal band, but now they’re back with a new album named A Distant Fire, and a first advance track from the album that’s a sure sign the wait has been worthwhile. Continue reading »

May 292018


The 2018 edition of Roadburn Festival is in the history books. From April 19th through April 22nd at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands, metal fans got the chance to choose from among performances by more than 100 bands across four stages and a fascinating array of musical genres. NCS was fortunate to be represented by the fantastic New Orleans-based music photographer Teddie Taylor, who made a visual record of the event for us.

We left it to Teddie to decide which bands to see; no doubt she had a lot of difficult decisions to make — and we had difficult decisions of our own in determining which of her images to share with you (they’re all really damned good!). We’re dividing this collection of pics into four parts, one for each day of Roadburn 2018. You can find her photos from Day 1 here, Day 2 here, and Day 3 here. Continue reading »

Mar 282016

HammerHeart Ostarablot flyer


(Our guest from the Midwest, Ben Smasher, was fortunate enough to attend the Ostarablot festival organized by HammerHeart Brewing Co. (the brewery and tap house located in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, that’s co-owned by Austin Lunn of Panopticon) and hosted on March 18-19, 2016, at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. Here’s Ben’s review of the festival, along with some photos and videos the editor has scrounged from the internet.)


Hammerheart Brewing Company and the amazing people that comprise it consistently put themselves second to their intentions.  Austin once said to me, “I want to make beer that brings people together.”  So, as it would turn out, if you bring the world’s best beer and music under one roof, the best people in North America will join in a two-day celebration of the vernal equinox.

Though 2014’s Winterblot was a pretty remarkable event for bringing UK’s Wodensthrone to the US shores alongside some of America’s finest bands, Ostarablot brought artists from even further reaches to Minnesota.  Vemod traversed all the way from Norway and Germany’s Waldgeflüster came a long way as well. Continue reading »

Jul 142015

Alda - Passage


More than four years have passed since Alda’s release of their last album Tahoma. For those (like me) who greatly admired that album, it has been difficult to be patient while waiting for something new. At last, Alda have completed a new album. The name is Passage, it will be released by the end of this month via Bindrune/Eihwaz Recordings, and it’s wonderful.

For those of you are as impatient as I’ve been, you can skip straight to the bottom of this post and listen to our premiere of the album’s first track, “The Clearcut“. For those whose patience hasn’t been completely exhausted, you can first read the following thoughts about the album as a whole — or perhaps listen and then read.

I suppose it has become prosaic to say that an album is a journey, but Passage really is one. The long songs flow into each other almost seamlessly, and although the individual tracks can be heard and appreciated on their own, moving through the entire album in a single sitting is to be caught up and carried away (and sometimes to be carried deep into your own mind, as the music fires your imagination). You get the sense that there are stories in these songs, though the vocals are sparse and often wordless, and the narrative is one that’s dramatic and powerful. Continue reading »

Apr 152012

Replenish Records is a label based in Washington, D.C., that I discovered only yesterday. What caught my attention in their e-mail to me was their impending release on double-vinyl — and as a free digital download — of an album previously pressed only on cassette: Tahoma, by the band Alda. I saw Alda open for Agalloch in Seattle last year, and they floored me. So the chance to get this album as a legit download was hot news.

In the same e-mail, Replenish reported their release on vinyl (and as another free download) of the debut full-length by a Tennessee band called Sky Burial. That was a new name to me, but I decided to check that out, too, especially because I found the minimalist album art strangely appealing. So, here are a few more words about each band and then a chance to hear their music. At the end of the post, you’ll also find a link to the Replenish Bandcamp page, where more releases can be explored.


Alda are from Tacoma, Washington, just down I-5 from the NCS stomping grounds in Seattle. They are a black metal band cut from the same Cascadian cloth as Agalloch, so if you are a fan of the latter (as I am, in spades), there’s a good chance you’ll get off on Alda, too. They have a similar nature-centric take on the music and a similar ritualistic approach to their live performances. Their songs are long and often hypnotic, with tribal percussion, and memorable, sweeping melodies. But they also know how to slash and burn. Continue reading »