Sep 142023

Across all the many sub-genres of extreme and not-so-extreme metal, there’s an upper echelon of technical virtuosity — musicians who, through some combination of genetics, devotion to practice, and experience, are exceptionally good performers.

Across the same range of sub-genres there is also an upper echelon of composers who have a knack for writing songs that not only make an immediate impact but also get stuck in people’s heads and stay there — albeit for differing reasons.

To achieve success it’s not necessary for a band to combine both types of exceptionalism. For example, as the ongoing tech-death arms race demonstrates, some bands do quite well moving at ferocious speeds and demonstrating exceptional dexterity, even when there’s not much more than that on offer. On the other hand, other bands are capable of consistently leaving people humming, head-nodding, and remembering, with music that makes few technical demands.

But when a band not only achieves rarefied heights of technical skill at all positions but also conceives of songwriting ideas that are so far outside the ordinary as to be startling, and memorable for that reason, the results can be truly exceptional.

Which of course brings us to Alkaloid and their new album Numen. Continue reading »

Sep 062023

(Andy Synn has once again chosen to bite the bullet and attempt to analyse the new Alkaloid album)

Finding the right way to write about a band like Alkaloid isn’t easy.

After all, not only are the band’s collective technical talents are practically unparalleled, but their uniquely unorthodox songwriting style – which has become more and more dominated by the influence and input of legendary uber-drummer Hannes Grossmann over the years – has allowed them to venture into places that most “heavy” bands likely wouldn’t even dare, which makes all the usual methods and measures hard to apply.

At the same time, they’ve garnered a rather rabid fanbase over the last few years who tend not to take too kindly to any criticism – no matter how constructive or well-intentioned – of their Bavarian heroes.

But if the band themselves are able to thread the needle between the eccentric and the extreme as well as they are, then surely I can find a way to talk about what they’ve woven on their upcoming new album, Numen?

Continue reading »

Jun 232023

Once again I’m beginning what I hope will be a three-stage march backward through some of the better metal I came across over the past week, most of it brand new and some of it only newly discovered. Stage One is today, with the next two stages planned for the weekend. (None of the stages will include the bludgeoning and blistering new Cannibal Corpse song, but only because you probably already know about that one).

ALKALOID (Germany)

The last time I included Alkaloid in one of these round-ups we had news and cover art to share, but no music from their forthcoming third album Numen. Now we do. You might assume from the song’s title — “Clusterfuck” — that Alkaloid are going to throw your head into an instrumental blender set to liquefy, but if so you might be surprised.

I read this in a press release before listening to the song: “‘Clusterfuck‘ might have a clean and catchy chorus, but even the fiery, finger-tapped solo that squiggles loose around the four-minute mark is crushed like an ant between colliding moons”.

I also read the following comment from the band (now a quartet consisting of Morean (vocals, guitars, concepts), Hannes Grossmann (drums), Christian Münzner (guitars), and Linus Klausenitzer (bass)), which reveals that the song’s title has perhaps more to do with its subject matter than its sounds: Continue reading »

Jun 172023

The plan as of yesterday was three round-ups in a row, and now I’m two-thirds of the way to success. The way things are looking now, I feel good about the odds of finishing a third one in tomorrow’s Shades of Black collection. Don’t place any bets, however, because there’s a party in my future tonight and possibly a hangover in my future tomorrow morning, but at least there’s no sign of my fucking day job bringing out the whip.

ALKALOID (Germany)

As a rule, news doesn’t get published here unless there’s music to go along with it. But like the rule in our site’s title, we do make occasional exceptions. This is one of those times.

Yes, I’m sorry we don’t yet have any new music from Alkaloid to share, just that album art you’ve been staring at up there — but hell, that’s worth an exception isn’t it? Continue reading »

Jan 232019


On we go into the 12th installment of this list, in which I’ve added three more songs. To check out the previous installments of this expanding list, you’ll find them behind this link, and to learn what this series is all about, go here.


Well, you had to know there would be an Alkaloid song on this list. We devoted a lot of attention to Liquid Anatomy (and of course so did the rest of metaldom), including Andy’s review of the album and premiere of a song, his subsequent placement of the album on his Critical Top 10 list for all of 2018, and DGR’s positioning of the record at the No. 2 spot on his own year-end Top 50 list, accompanied by an extensive write-up. Continue reading »

Jan 042019

(At last, we reach the fifth and final installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music. It includes his Top 10 albums, plus a list of EPs, and one final non-metal entry.)

Here we go into the final installment. One last grouping of albums and one last collection of thudding riffs, heavy guitars, and enough drumwork to leave one’s head spinning by the time it wraps up.

This final ten is all over the place, in terms of both genre and location. My lists tend to be pretty international always, but the consistent bouncing back and forth that is happening in this part has proven to be entertaining in its own right.

This group also reveals just how much of 2018 turned out to be the year of cathartic release for me. Alongside all the genre-bending, all the experimentation, and all of the well-executed groove, I found that every once in a while this year a disc would hit that would just boil down to a half-hour-plus of yelling, and I would relish every single second of it. I’m sure we could credit that to the wider situation of the world these days but I’ve also always been a sucker for turning music into an instrument of release, and for some reason that approach won me over hard this year.

So let’s begin with the final ten, and then a grouping of EPs I enjoyed this year, my final non-metal (ish) release recommendation, and a small (ish) closing paragraph… because why would I ever stop typing after just finishing the final ten?

That’s for crazy people. Continue reading »

Dec 132018


(Andy Synn‘s week-long round-up of metal in 2018 continues with this list of his picks for the year’s ten best albums across a range of metal genres — one of which hasn’t been released yet and is reviewed here.)

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that any attempt to craft a “Top Ten” list that represents the wide variety and near-infinite density of the modern Extreme Metal scene is doomed to failure. There’s simply too much of it, too many different competing styles and sub-genres, for a mere ten albums to cover.

That doesn’t stop me trying every year though, so what you’re about to read is my latest effort to capture a clean snapshot of the very best of the best from the past twelve months.

Interestingly this list seems to differ significantly from the various other sites and zines I’ve been keeping an eye on, though that’s not by conscious design. It also skews in a surprisingly “progressive” direction overall, which is not something I anticipated when I first began trying to piece it together, with a massive 70% of the albums featured here making use of clean vocals in some form or another.

In demographic terms, this year’s list features two entries from the USA, two entries from Germany, one from Portugal, one from Iceland, and three from the UK – which, again, wasn’t by design – as well as one international collective whose members come from all across Europe.

It also runs the gamut of practically the entire twelve-month period, with the “oldest” album on here having been released all the way back in the first week of January, while the “youngest” entry won’t even be out until the 21st of December! Continue reading »

May 032018


(On May 18th Season of Mist will release the hotly anticipated (and thoroughly remarkable) second album by Alkaloid (which is now available for pre-order HERE), and today we are delighted to present the premiere of a track from the album as well as Andy Synn’s extensive review of the record, all of which he introduces with a bevy of comments from members of the band.)

So I originally wrote this review last month, and expected it to be published… well… then.

However, just prior to publication, we were offered an exclusive track premiere, and I was asked if I minded holding off on publishing for a little while so that things would line up better. And, of course, I said fine, because I’m nice like that.

Now the song in question, “As Decreed By Laws Unwritten”, is one of the heaviest, and most purely Death Metal tracks, on the entire album, and one of the few which fits with our site name, in that it features… no clean singing.

It’s also one of the songs written entirely by guitarist Danny Tunker, as he explains here:

“This was the second song I wrote for Liquid Anatomy. When we first started sending demos and talking about songs, we felt we needed some heavier songs. We had the title track, which is a ballad, and “Kernel Panic”, which didn’t have a heavy section yet, and another song I wrote, which was a mellotron-driven prog-ballad at that point and turned into “In Turmoil’s Swirling Reaches” later. As a result, Florian wrote “Azagthoth” and I wrote “As Decreed By Laws Unwritten”. Continue reading »

Mar 212018


(With a bow toward the Waxing Lyrical series begun by Andy Synn at our site, Karina Noctum posed questions to Morean of Alkaloid (and Dark Fortress) about his creation of lyrics for the ravishing new Alkaloid album, Liquid Anatomy, which will be released by Season of Mist on May 18th. The answers are fascinating.)


Alkaloid are going to release their latest album called Liquid Anatomy on the 18th of May, and I took this opportunity to ask about the lyrics. Musically, we know already it is going to be a remarkable album because the band counts among its members such metal luminaries as Hannes Grossmann, Christian Münzner (Obscura), Danny Tunker (Aborted, Prostitute Disfigurement, God Dethroned), and Morean (Dark Fortress, Alkaloid, Noneuclid).

Morean is not only a versatile vocalist, but also an excellent guitarist and a classical composer. His hymn to the city of Rotterdam was performed by the Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest not so long ago. If you are interested in classical music then I recommend you check his double guitar composition Schattenspiel.

We have Morean’s opening insights into his writing of lyrics and choice of themes, and that’s then followed by a more detailed dialogue. Continue reading »

Mar 052018


(This is the second part of DGR’s round-up of selected new songs and videos that appeared over the last couple of weeks. You can find Part 1 here.)


Inferi – Behold The Bearer Of Light

Right now, the hyperspeed tech-death, melodic-death, black-death, everything-kitchen-sink-and-broken-down-freezer-in-the-backyard metal crew of Inferi are out on the road, touring with Aethere, Alterbeast, and Grindmother as part of Alterbeast’s Feast album release tour. It’s been four years since the group’s last incredibly packed album The Path Of Apotheosis, but those moments of silence shall soon wane as the group have an upcoming April 21st release in the form of Revenant. Continue reading »