Aug 262018


I keep coming up with reasons to talk about this band, despite the fact that they haven’t released any new music in more than five years. The last time I found an excuse was almost exactly one year ago, in exactly the same place where I am now (Jackson, Wyoming), after playing the song to exactly the same group of people I was hanging out with last night.

Arkhamin Kirjasto have recorded 19 songs so far, in the eight years they’ve been together, but I continue returning to one song, because it has such tremendous primal attractiveness that it rises up from my memory in a way that few songs do. And it did again last night, and that’s all it took for me to find one more excuse to put the stream on our site. Continue reading »

Aug 262017


I’ve been in this situation more than once, and maybe you have too: I’m hanging out listening to music with people who don’t have much interest in metal and don’t know much about it (though everyone seems to have heard of Metallica), but they’re trying to be polite, so they ask if you’d like to pick something for everyone to listen to, in between whatever they’re playing.

I was in this situation last weekend, which is why I’m thinking about it. It wasn’t the first time, it won’t be the last. I don’t always come up with the same answers. It’s usually whatever pops into my head first. But either consciously or subconsciously, I’m usually thinking about catchy riffs, infectious rhythms, and melodies that people can latch onto fast. It’s usually tempting to steer clear of harsh vocals, but sometimes I just don’t give a fuck about that. Depends on the company I’m keeping and my own mood. Continue reading »

Feb 172017


A couple of nights ago NCS contributor Grant Skelton asked if I knew of any “psychedelic death metal”. He said he’d been hunting for that and was finding the search to be a difficult one. One song in particular leaped to my mind immediately, but I decided to do some further thinking and word-searching through previous posts at NCS. And by coincidence, I also came across an announcement about a new band that seemed relevant.

What I’ve compiled below is the playlist of songs I sent Grant later that night. I’m probably stretching the boundaries of the term “psychedelic death metal”, though it’s not exactly a recognized genre label. But I had fun putting this together and thought I’d share it. But I’d also like to ask you to chime in with ideas of your own in the Comment section.


So I thought I’d start with that announcement about a new band (pictured above), the name of which is John Frum. The announcement caught my eye both because of who’s in the band and because of the source of the band’s name, which is quite interesting. Here’s the explanation: Continue reading »

Jan 012016

Bonfire on Hanalei bay


I don’t know how many actual mothers actually stop here, but we welcome them.  At the same time, what I really wanted to say in the title of this post was…

… “Happy New Year, All You Motherfuckers”, because that’s what Frank the Tank would say. (Hail Suffocation.)

But some small percentage of our visitors will find this post via a status I’ll post on Facebook, and our Facebook overlords get their buttholes in a pucker when you use a word like “motherfucker”, at least if you have even one douchebag follower whose life is so bereft of meaning that they report people who use words that would cause the children they will never have to turn cross-eyed, at least until those fictional children get older and realize the true meaning of the word “motherfuckers” when contemplating their parents. Continue reading »

Mar 012014

“There are two kinds of people in the world…”  That’s the preface to a thousand sentences that end in contrasts usually stated in black and white terms.  Good and bad, happy and sad, fatalistic and optimistic, generous and greedy, self-centered and self-sacrificing, and on and on. But of course most people are not at either end of whatever spectrum you can think of; they’re somewhere along the continuum, and the world is rarely black and white. Except when it comes to music. When it comes to music, there really are two kinds of people in the world. More about that in a minute.


I haven’t been able to blog much lately. I spent the last three days in Los Angeles working the job that pays the bills for our humble site. Over time, I’ve spent an accumulation of days in LA that amounts to years. It’s a maddening, frustrating, upside-down place with fucked up priorities, a place where ambitions and honesty go to die. It’s also a beautiful, vibrant, immensely creative place where hopes flourish and dreams become reality. It truly is a city of angels, even if many of them are fallen. All things considered, I usually love being there, even if I love being home more.

Off and on, it rained like a motherfucker while I was there. That played hell with the traffic, which is godawful even on dry days. But during the hours between the storms, the weather was glorious, and the elevated views to the west from the place where I was working were crystal clear, all the way to the swath of blue that marked the edge of the great Pacific.

When I travel for my fucking day job, I tend to have no time to myself, day or night, which sucks, because I feel cut off from the world of metal. I wasn’t able to listen to music for more than fleeting moments before collapsing into bed late at night. Yesterday morning, I had to wake up at 3:30 am for work, and the only reward was that by 8 am I was on a rocky flight back to Seattle. When I woke up, there was a riff running through my head. Continue reading »

Jun 282013

We’re about to slide right on into the weekend, and I’d like to help grease the skids with a couple of new things from two bands I’ve praised in the past. They are “Exceptions to the Rule” around here, because both include clean singing, but it’s the kind of singing that doesn’t offend me in the least. And “clean” is kind of a relative term anyway.


I fuckin’ love Venomous Maximus. I fuckin’ loved their 2012 album Beg Upon the Light. I really fuckin’ loved the song “Moonchild” from that album, so much so that I included it on my list of 2012’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. This spring the band signed with Napalm Records, who are giving Beg a proper label release in North America on July 2 (as well as in Europe). And to help promote the album to a new audience, Napalm has released an official music video for . . . “Moonchild”! Hell yes.

Rather than work myself up into a new linguistic lather over the song, I’ll just quote again what I’ve previously written about it: “I mean to tell you, the central riff in this song (which slams right out of the gate) is an absolute headbanging killer. Seriously, you’d need a neck brace to keep your skull from bouncing like a basketball. And the surprise (for me) is how much I like the (mostly) clean vocals. They conjure up visions of old-school Ozzy but with some sandpapery grit emerging here and there.” Continue reading »

Jan 022013

This is Part 6 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. Each day until the list is finished, I’m posting two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two we’re announcing today, click here.

I was all set to write the introduction to this installment of our list, and then BadWolf did it for me over at Invisible Oranges: 2012 was the year in which often occult-themed classic rock stylings from the 60s and 70s made a big splash in the metal pool. I don’t mean to suggest that there weren’t bands playing that kind of music before 2012 — to the contrary. But it really seemed to take off last year.

I liked quite a bit of what I heard, but I was most partial to the bands who mixed some vocal ugliness into their hook-filled retro stew (I know, what a shocker). And that leads me to our next two additions to this list. Neither of them really quite fits the profile of the bands BadWolf mentions in his IO piece, but they’re related.


On their 2012 debut album Torches Ablaze (which I reviewed here), the Finnish duo known as Arkhamin Kirjasto pulled off a neat trick: combining throwback heavy metal and rock riffs, death metal vocals, atmospheric guitar touches, and Lovecraftian lyrics in a way that was as interesting as it was (and is) irresistible. Continue reading »

Sep 182012

To operate effectively on your brain stem, extreme metal doesn’t require catchy melodies or viral riffs. You don’t have to find yourself humming the songs in your head hours or days later in order to enjoy the listening experience. In fact, as we all know, music in which the instrumentalists deliver nothing but down-tuned brute-force percussion, especially when accompanied by ravenous howling or bear-like roaring, can strike all the right chords even when you can’t reconstruct the songs in your mind a day later.

Yet I think it’s undeniable that clever melodic hooks and instantly headbangable rhythms are a big part of what makes classic heavy metal “classic”. Those are key ingredients (though not necessarily essential ones) that give songs staying power. Match that up with extremity in the vocal department, and you’ve got something that has the potential for real appeal to listeners (like me) who enjoy a memorable, neck-snapping song but also have a thirst for musical bestiality with a seasoning of the occult. And if you discover a band who do that while also delivering surprising variety and lyrical themes involving Lovecraftian horror, then you’ve got yourself a real winner.

And that’s what I’ve found in Torches Ablaze by the Finnish duo known as Arkhamin Kirjasto. They’ve pulled off a neat trick on their virally infectious debut album: combining throwback heavy metal riffs, death metal vocals, atmospheric guitar touches, and Lovecraftian lyrics in a way that’s as interesting as it is irresistible.

In a nutshell, Arkhamin Kirjasto (“The Library of Arkham”, in Finnish) is the project of Jussi Lehtisalo, who manages the eclectic Ektro Records label and has been involved in numerous other bands (including Circle, Pharoah Overlord, and Split Cranium) and solo artist Samae Koskinen. Lehtisalo brought to the project his interest in extreme experimental music as well as hard rock, glam, and punk, while Koskinen was driven by interests ranging from Maiden-esque heavy metal to early death metal. Continue reading »