Apr 292016



We’ve been closely following all the releases of Minnesota’s Amiensus ever since Andy Synn reviewed their debut album Restoration for us back in January 2013. Their latest album, Ascension, appeared last year (and we reviewed it here). The band wrote a song named “Reflections” that was originally intended for that album, and although they eventually decided not to include it there, they have now recorded it as a stand-alone single that’s being released today — and we have the premiere of “Reflections” for you right here.

The song digs its hooks in almost immediately with an opening riff that pulsates over thundering drums, and the band drive the hooks in even harder with a clean vocal chorus, balanced against the harsh abrasion in the verses. But perhaps the most gripping part of the song is still yet to come at the 3:00 mark, when the lyrical sequence “I am devoid of…” begins. Continue reading »

Feb 082016

Amiensus art


As regular NCS readers know full well, we’ve been following and supporting Minnesota’s Amiensus for years, because they’ve been consistently delivering such fine music. Last year they released their second album Ascension (reviewed here), but they will have even more new music for us in 2016, and we’re giving you some tantalizing tastes of it below.

The band tell us that they have plans to release a new split in the first part of the year, then an EP in September, followed by another split in December — and in the player below you can check out excerpts from three of the new songs, with music that ranges from jolting, to majestic, to mystical. Continue reading »

Jan 052016



We have been steadfast fans of Minnesota’s Amiensus for years, and so we are very pleased to bring you year-end lists from four of the band’s members.

These lists include metal, of course, but also albums from other genres as well , and two of the members have also listed some favorite individual songs.

If you haven’t heard the music of Amiensus before, go HERE and get acquainted (they’re on Facebook at this location). Continue reading »

Jun 302015


We’ve known there was something special about Amiensus ever since my co-writer Andy Synn brought the band to our attention through his vivid review of their 2013 debut album Restoration. In the years since then, the band have released a small number of individual songs that proved to be equally impressive, but I still don’t think even that track record of excellent releases could have fully prepared us for the band’s new album Ascension — which will be released tomorrow. In a word, it’s astonishing.

Attempting to capture the tremendously multi-hued character of the music in mere words is probably a fruitless goal. It’s true of most music, but undeniable in the case of this album, that there is no substitute for experiencing it yourself. It’s ambitious, it takes risks, it lays bare the emotional intensity of the musicians and vocalists, and it vividly reflects the creativity of their songwriting ideas. They should all be immensely proud of what they’ve accomplished.

Ascension is a folk-tinged, genre-crossing amalgam of black metal, melodic death metal, and progressive rock. It’s sweepingly atmospheric and it’s warlike. It’s massively heavy and as fragile as snowflakes. It’s doomed and it’s defiant. It’s drenched in sorrow, it’s explosive in its ferocity, it’s panoramic in its epic reach, and it’s often sublimely mystical. And frequently, it’s all of those things within the space of a single song. Continue reading »

Jun 292015


I was outside all day yesterday, untethered from my computer, and astonishingly did not spontaneously combust as do most vampires exposed to the sun. I had some plans for today’s first post that I intended to execute this morning, but those plans did go up in a burst of flames when I awoke to discover three new songs by three favorite bands that premiered over the last 24 hours. Here they are:


Sweden’s Just Before Dawn, who have been a fixture at our site since the band’s first release, have just delivered a new single named “Graves Without Crosses“. For this new song, JBD mastermind Anders Biazzi (guitars, bass) is joined by vocalist Jonny Petterson (Wombbath, Ashcloud, Skineater, Syn:drom) — who also mixed and mastered the track — and drummer Fredrijk Van Daaten (Ashcloud), with a finishing guitar solo contributed by Håkan Stuvemark (Wombbath, Skineater). As expressed in Jonny Petterson’s lyrics, the song is dedicated to the heroes of war — “not the ones mentioned in the history books”, but

“the forgotten souls that fight side by side in a rain of fire, the ones to defy a hail of bullets, to give their life, not for the cause or the country, but for their brothers in arms!!” Continue reading »

Jun 232015


In the wake of Amiensus‘ excellent 2013 debut album Restoration, their split that same year with Oak Pantheon entitled Gathering, and their cover of Forefather’s “Wolfhead’s Tree” last fall, the band’s new album Ascension has become one of our most highly anticipated of 2015.  In May we had the pleasure of bringing you the premiere of the album’s first single (“What Worlds Create”) and today we bring you a second one: “One In Spirit” — and an update about the band’s forthcoming tour.

“One In Spirit” displays the band’s talent for uniting sublime melodies with hammering riffs and rhythms that get the blood pumping fast and hard. The pairing of clean, soaring vocals and harsh growls symbolizes that joinder of beauty and the beast, as does the integration of an acoustic interlude side-by-side with a charging gallop of jolting riffs and driving percussion, and the contrast of a mesmerizing guitar solo gliding over heavy, booming bass notes. Continue reading »

May 152015


We’ve been following Minnesota’s Amiensus very closely, from their excellent 2013 debut album Restoration (reviewed here), to their split that same year with Oak Pantheon, entitled Gathering (reviewed here), to the release of their cover of Forefather’sWolfhead’s Tree” last fall, which we had the privilege of premiering (here). And now we’re delighted to bring you a stream of the first advance track from the band’s new album Ascension — plus we’re announcing an NCS-sponsored Amiensus tour with Wisconsin’s Warseid. First, the music…


The new Amiensus song is “What Words Create”, the third track in order on Ascension. It’s a dynamic, multifaceted song — dramatic, atmospheric, sweepingly melodic, and also charged with hard-driving energy. And it gets stuck in your head very quickly. Continue reading »

Oct 012014


Minnesota’s Amiensus are a band we’ve followed closely, from their excellent 2013 debut album Restoration (reviewed here) to their split last year with Oak Pantheon, entitled Gathering (reviewed here). The band are now recording their second album, Ascension, but to keep fans at bay until it’s completed they’ve released a new free single that we have the pleasure of sharing with you today.

The song is named “Wolfhead’s Tree”, and it was originally recorded by the British duo known as Forefather for their 2008 album Steadfast. I wasn’t familiar with the song before listening to the Amiensus cover, but it’s really a perfect choice for the band, and they more than do it justice.

“Wolfhead’s Tree” is a dramatic and highly memorable pagan metal song, and it showcases both Amiensus’ aggressive side and their talent for performing grand and emotionally affecting melody. They stay close to Forefather’s original template, delivering both warlike black metal and folk metal that’s soul-stirring and sombre, while effectively adding keyboards in a way that enhances the mythic atmosphere of the music. Fitting the demands of the original, the vocals are an impassioned mix of jagged howls and strong, clean vocal harmonies. Continue reading »

Jun 282014

Happy Saturday to one and all, and if you happen not to be happy on this Saturday, we offer our condolences. Perhaps some of the new sounds in the following collection will cheer you up. They sure as hell put a smile on my face.


A couple days ago Candlelight Records announced that it will release the third album by UK-based Xerath on September 16 in North American (September 15 for Europe). The title is III, and it was produced by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Epica). The album is a mammoth one, with 14 songs and a run time of almost 70 minutes, and the cover art was again created by Colin Marks. The album also marks the appearance of new guitarist Conor McGouran, who has replaced the formidable Owain Williams. Also appearing on the album will be a live string quartet and classically trained alto and soprano vocalists.

I really enjoyed this band’s first two albums and have had high hopes for the new one. We got a first taste of the album in late April when Candlelight released a sampler that I wrote about here. The sampler included a previously unreleased Xerath song named “Sentinels”, and although I didn’t know it at the time, that turns out to be the seventh track on III. And then two days ago, a teaser of additional new music appeared on YouTube. Continue reading »

Apr 022014

My close friends and family members will tell you that I’m one of the most gullible people you could ever encounter. I prefer to think of it as an innately trusting nature, but my history of being duped is so long and rich that I can’t really quarrel with their judgment. Even on April 1, when I try to be on guard, I still get suckered like a carnival rube.

There were lots of metal-oriented pranks yesterday that were funny even though they were obvious — such as the 50 reviews that suddenly materialized on Metal-Archives for the ingeniously named Penis Metal by Hades Archer. At least I think that was a prank. Sometimes gullibility can work in reverse.

One prank I fell for, hook, line, and sinker, appears at the top of this post. I have such a hard-on for Oak Pantheon and Amiensus, and their 2013 split Gathering, that I took one look at that flyer — and the appearance of a Seattle date — and started marking my calendar and exclaiming enthusiastically about it on Facebook. I didn’t dwell on the logistical difficulty of a tour that would start on the US East Coast, jump to a bunch of European capitols, and then pick up on the US West Coast, all within the space of a month. I also completely missed the two tiny words in the lower right-hand corner of the flyer. Continue reading »