Apr 222017


I’m slow out of the blogging gate today, partly because I overindulged during the usual Friday night blow-out with my co-workers and partly because I had trouble deciding what to write about for this round-up. The problem, as usual, wasn’t too few ideas but too many.

Before moving on to the music I ultimately selected, I’ll mention a handful of news items:

First, you might remember that last August we premiered the full stream for a hell of a good debut album by Portland’s Bewitcher, accompanied by these words (among others): “Bewitcher seem to have discovered a hidden vault filled with pure riff gold. Every song on the album is packed with electrifying guitar work, blending thrash, speed metal, Motörhead-style rock, first-wave black metal, and even elements of the classic NWOBHM in a way that’s as infectious as a rampaging new plague virus without a cure.”

The news is that Graven Earth Records, a small cassette-based label out of Colorado, is releasing a limited-run (200 copies) cassette of Bewitcher’s debut on April 28th. Go here to check that out (the rest of their catalogue looks pretty cool as well). Continue reading »

Mar 312017


(Andy Synn brings us a trio of reviews of new releases by The Darkhorse, Mountains Crave, and Ancient Ascendant.)

Ah yes, it’s finally time for the first in what I hope will be several pieces collecting the best Metal which these fair isles have to offer in 2017.

As always, the three bands I’ve selected each offer a very different take on the metallic fundamentals, from the swaggering stomp of The Darkhorse, or the sweeping blackened grandeur of Mountains Crave, to the rifftastic rampage of Ancient Ascendant, meaning there should be something here for everyone (or, at least, for most people) to really sink their teeth into! Continue reading »

Aug 182014


(Guest writer Ty Lowery has assembled a personal list of favorite metal album covers for 2014 to date, divided into two parts. Part 1 appeared here. Once again, Ty asked his wife Heather (who he says isn’t very big on metal music as a whole) and his friend Adam (who is) to look at the album art and provide guesses about the music. Once again, please feel free to add your own favorites in the Comments.)

Alright, so the first round went pretty well for my two assistants. Where we left off, they were neck-and-neck in our little guessing game. So, time to finish this thing up and see if the trend continues. Lets get right to it, shall we?


There’s just something about the color red with me, for some reason. I really like how while the majority of this artwork is solid red, yet there’s enough variation that you can divine the angel, the demon, the symbols, and the serpents. With that knowledge, Heather was able to correctly suggest that this album was steeped in religious undertones, probably in the vein of black metal, as did Adam. He suggested that it might have something to do with atheism, but changed his mind after seeing the symbols along the bottom.

The cover art is by Valnoir of Metastazis Studio in Paris. NCS reviewed the album here.
http://www.graphic-noise.com/valnoir Continue reading »

Mar 252014

(In this post Andy Synn reviews the forthcoming second album by the UK’s Ancient Ascendant.)

“Raise the crone to burn again!”

So begins the opening track of Ancient Ascendant’s second full-length opus, Echoes and Cinder.

The song in question, “Crones to the Flames,” is a mammoth concoction of dense, tightly welded riffage and scorched-earth vocals, propelled by a series of unerring, martial drum beats and an undercurrent of writhing, prominent bass work.

Cold, calculating, and crushingly heavy, its razor-edged death metal hooks, seething tremolo melodies, and even lithe touches of acoustic harmony all add their poisonous flavour to this bubbling cauldron of pure molten metal.

A savage statement of intent, if ever there was one. Continue reading »

Mar 072014

I intended to get this roundup posted yesterday, but obviously my word is no good. So it comes today


The artwork at the top of this post grabbed my attention. It was created by Aaron Turner (of Isis fame, and a prolific graphic artist) for a 12″ release coming on Record Store Day from A389 Recordings. The title is Bloodlet – Live on WFMU-FM (03.23.95), and as the title suggests it’s a previously unreleased live recording from about 20 years ago that was recently mastered for this release.

Bloodlet is a name I’ve heard before, though I can’t remember if I ever heard their music. They made a name for themselves in the 90s as a metallic hardcore band (long before the “metalcore” label came into currency). They’ve been on hiatus since 2003, but reunited to play the A389 Records X Anniversary Bash in Baltimore on January 18, 2014.  Continue reading »

Feb 192014

I’m still in alliteration mode, though I’m not completely happy with today’s title. Given the bands’ names, I probably should have gone with “The ABCs of Metal”. In alphabetical order, here are six new songs from five forthcoming albums that I discovered over the last 24 hours, all of which come highly recommended.


We’ve been closely following the progression of UK-based Ancient Ascendant, with very positive reviews (by Andy Synn) of both their 2011 debut album The Grim Awakening and their 2012 EP Into the Dark. Last month we reported the very nice news that the band had signed with Candlelight Records for the release of a new album (with Dan Swanö again handling the production). Now we’ve got the album title — Echoes and Cinder — and the album art (above), plus a new song that premiered yesterday.

The song’s name is “Riders”, and you can hear it next. It will give you a hell of a blistering, black-thrashing ride, something like being snagged by a giant red-eyed bat horde flying from their cave for a night on the hunt. Damned infectious, too — you’ll want to limber up your neck muscles before listening because heads will bang. Continue reading »

Jan 222014

The last 24 hours brought news of two new signings by Candlelight Records that I thought were worth some attention.


We’ve been following the progression of UK-based Ancient Ascendant (pictured above) very closely, with very positive reviews (by Andy Synn) of both their 2011 debut album The Grim Awakening and their 2012 EP Into the Dark. With the EP, the band transitioned to a somewhat different style than had been evident on their debut album and the EP that preceded it (The Heathen Throne). To quote Andy:

“The thrashier stylings of The Grim Awakening have been drastically pared back to make room for a more cutting, blackened approach, replacing thrashing vigour with blackened vitriol, while maintaining the monstrous death metal heart of the band. The songs now have more of a cut and thrust to them, slashing and slicing with psychotic precision, where before they were, at times, simply content with a more bludgeoning form of sonic brutality.”

They’ve now written and recorded a new album (with Dan Swanö again handling the production) that Candlelight plans to release later this year, and it’s one we’re very interested to hear. Congratulations to both Candlelight and the band on this promising new partnership! Continue reading »

Nov 222012

(We got pretty excited when we saw the news in August that the UK’s Ancient Ascendant were planning to release a new EP.  Now, Andy Synn gives it the once over in this review.)

Ok, so I’ve had this one on the back-burner for a while now it seems. What have I been doing that’s more important? Fuck you. That’s what.

Anyway, I’ve been busy.

But that has given me the chance to give this EP a thorough listen several times over, and really appreciate every second of the music contained therein.

Into The Dark sees the band making a transition away from the sound they established on their first two releases (The Heathen Throne and The Grim Awakening) but managing to do so in a way that feels utterly natural and fresh – expanding their early death metal palette, rather than abandoning it.

The thrashier stylings of The Grim Awakening have been drastically pared back to make room for a more cutting, blackened approach, replacing thrashing vigour with blackened vitriol, while maintaining the monstrous death metal heart of the band. The songs now have more of a cut and thrust to them, slashing and slicing with psychotic precision, where before they were, at times, simply content with a more bludgeoning form of sonic brutality. Continue reading »

Jul 112012

I’m still catching up with developments in metal that I missed while cut off from the web during my recent mini-vacation. And I saw some things yesterday that also perked my interest. In our last post yesterday, I rounded up some of the recent developments I thought were worth sharing. Here are some of the rest. They involve Sybreed (Switzerland), Ancient Ascendant (UK), Khonsu (Norway), Selfhate (France), Beak (U.S.), and Ensiferum (Finland).


The first item is the revealing of the cover art to Sybreed’s next album, God Is An Automaton. It’s by the very busy and very talented Seth Siro Anton, who is also the front man for Septic Flesh, whose headlining North American tour we posted about yesterday. The album will be released by Listenable on Sept 24 in Europe and on October 2 in North America.

Sybreed have been posting excerpts of songs from the new album, and they’re up to five so far. I don’t really find short song excerpts worth mentioning, except I did it yesterday with respect to the forthcoming Napalm/Converge split, so what the hell. The Sybreed excerpts released to date are collected right after the jump, in reverse order of their appearance. Continue reading »

Jul 052012

(Despite the fact that this week marked the anniversary of America’s declaration of independence from Great Britain, Andy Synn has persisted in writing a review of UK metal every day this week. Today, his subject is the debut album from Ancient Ascendant.)

Greetings again loyal readers, NCS addicts, and new meat. This here is the penultimate entry in what I have dubbed “Unofficial UK Week” for me here at NCS. You’ll already have seen three other reviews on UK bands, and this here is the fourth and final album review of the week. Tomorrow, as my last entry in the series, you’ll be seeing a Synn Report on a brilliant UK act with four full albums to their name, but who have been unfortunately inactive for a while now.

For today though you’re getting a taster of the polished (and, somewhat Polish-ed) death metal assault of Ancient Ascendant!

This UK four-piece may be something of an oddity to some of you. A young(ish) band of ne’er do wells who ply their trade in the murky waters of death metal, there’s nary an ounce of fashionability nor trendiness about them. Yet while The Grim Awakening is an album steeped in the blood of old-school death metal, particularly of the Polish and Floridian varieties (rather than the scrambled buzz-saw attack of the Stockholm scene), it is clearly played and written with an uncompromising modernity and professionalism that updates their influences with a storming sound and youthful vigour. Continue reading »