Feb 132019


Yesterday I leaned into black metal in adding to this list, and today I’m favoring doom — though these two songs are very different formulations of misery and gloom, both beautiful in their own way, and both emotionally wrenching, but there are at least as many differences as similarities. And of course I think both of them are intensely memorable.


The new Majestic Downfall album was one I eagerly anticipated, and eagerly embraced once I heard it. As I wrote in a review on the day it became available for full streaming in early December, the four long songs of doom/death and one brief interlude that make up Waters of Fate are staggeringly intense and atmospherically immersive, and the melodies are powerfully alluring, but the music should also appeal to listeners with a taste for crushing heaviness and soul-splintering sorrow. There is tear-stained beauty to be found in the music, and passages of epic yet bleak grandeur, but this is an album that will dash your fondest hopes and smother your budding joys in their crib. 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 »

Jul 262018


(DGR delivered a tome of reviews so massive that we decided to serialize it throughout the week so as to avoid fracturing your spine beneath its weight. This is the 4th and final part of the series.)

On occasion we find ourselves backlogged with albums that we want to write about but seem never able to find the time to do so. Sometimes this results in multiple review ideas getting tossed and never revisited, and at other times you get posts like this one as we deseperately try to hammer out a whole bunch of reviews about EVERYTHING that we’ve been listening to.

In this case that means 13 different releases, unsorted by genre and from all varying walks of all things heavy. So, with the floodgates now fully open, let us wade further forth into the rushing waters of heavy metal to recommend some stuff that perhaps might have flown by you.

Jack Ketch – Ashes Of Vesuvius

You may have caught it in the opening of my Light This City review, but a lot of bands who’ve been silent for the better part of a decade have decided that 2018 would be a good time to come back. Maybe it’s just the general sense that the world is on fire right now, but a bunch of groups are now putting stuff out as if they’ll never get another chance to do so. Among the increasing number that are returning to us are two local Sacramento acts, one of which released a new album I reviewed yesterday (Journal) and the other of which is Jack Ketch, whose new EP The Ashes Of Vesuvius is a stunning turn of events from the band’s previous material. Continue reading »

Feb 132018


In 2015 we devoted significant attention to the Saskatchewan band Altars of Grief, premiering a track from their superb split with fellow Canadians Nachtterror, publishing an interview by Comrade Aleks with Altars guitarist Evan Paulson, and naming that same song from the split (“In Dying Light”) to our list of that year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

Now, roughly three years later, Altars of Grief will be releasing their second album, Iris, through Hypnotic Dirge Records, and it’s our pleasure to bring you the stream of an album track called “Desolation“. Continue reading »

Dec 282015

Altars of Grief Side B


Welcome to Part 5 of our list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs for this year, as selected by me and only me from the massive list of candidates received from numerous sources, as well as my own notes haphazardly created as the year rolled along. To learn about the selection criteria and to discover the songs that have already been named to the list, go HERE.

For each of the first four installments in this series I included three songs, grouped together because they seemed to go well together. And I’ve done the same thing with this installment, though beginning tomorrow I plan to drop down to two songs per post.


In June we had the pleasure of premiering for you a fantastic track named “In Dying Light” by the Canadian band Altars of Grief. It appeared on a split release entitled Of Ash and Dying Light that also included excellent tracks by the band Nachtterror. I’ve been a huge fan of the song ever since and never had any doubt about including it on this list. Continue reading »

Jul 062015



(Comrade Aleks brings us this interview with Evan Paulson of Saskatchewan’s Altars of Grief, whose fantastic new song from their split with Nachtterror we premiered here not long ago.)

The official press-release of Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records announces with justified enthusiasm: “This summer, Altars of Grief and Nachtterror — two Saskatchewan-based Blackened Doom bands — will collaborate on a new split vinyl with new material from each band. The vinyl split, entitled Of Ash and Dying Light is set to be released worldwide in a limited edition 10″ vinyl, as well as digital, on Hypnotic Dirge Records in early August!”

Well, I have not too much to add – you already heard a song from this split as Islander shared it with NCS readers a few days ago through “An NCS premiere” section, so I’ll just give a floor to Evan Paulson, Altars of Grief’s guitarist. Continue reading »

Jun 252015


Exactly one week ago we had the pleasure of premiering for you a fantastic track by the band Nachtterror from their forthcoming split on the Hypnotic Dirge label with fellow Canadians Altars of Grief — and today we’re equally happy to stream for you one of the songs by Altars of Grief — “In Dying Light”.

Entitled Of Ash and Dying Light, the vinyl version of the split includes two songs by each band, and the digital version will also come with a bonus track by Altars of Grief and two bonus tracks from Nachtterror.

“In Dying Light” is a thoroughly engrossing piece of music, from the isolated opening guitar notes to the huge wave of sound that soon follows it, from the sweeping, exalted melody to the rippling, finger-tapped bass notes and gunshot drum beats, from the anguished snarls to the sombre clean vocals. Continue reading »

Jun 182015


In July 2015, Hypnotic Dirge Records will release a split album by two Saskatchewan-based blackened doom metal bands — Nachtterror and Altars of Grief — which becomes available for pre-order today. The album is entitled Of Ash and Dying Light, and we’re giving you a taste of what it holds in store through our premiere of a Nachtterror track named “The Breath of the World Ablaze“.

Established in 2004, Nachtterror have previously released two EPs, 2008’s The Funeral of Man and 2012’s Beneath the Crimson Moon, and they’re currently at work on a debut album named Judgement. The vinyl version of this new split includes two songs by the band — the one we’re premiering today plus “Upon Ashen Shores”. In addition, the digital version of the album includes two bonus Nachtterror tracks (all vinyl orders will receive an automatic e-mail with the bonus tracks). Continue reading »

Aug 122014

I know I’m displaying masochistic tendencies by looking at how long it’s been since I posted an installment of the MISCELLANY series, but the answer is approximately two months, which is pathetic even by my own hard-to-beat standards of patheticness. Pathiticity? Pathneticism?

Anyway, because it has been so long, here’s a refresher on the rules of this game: I randomly pick unheralded bands whose music I’ve never heard; I listen to one or two songs; I write my immediate impressions; I stream what I heard so you can make up your own minds. I don’t know what the music will sound like going in, or whether I’ll like it. Here we go:


I guess it’s obvious why I picked this band’s new release to sample: Sam Nelson cover art. I follow his work very closely and yet I don’t think I had seen this piece before my comrade DGR linked me to it yesterday — it’s stunning. The debut album’s name is This Shameful Burden and it was released by a band named Altars of Grief from Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. Continue reading »