May 242020


As you can see, I’ve managed to complete the second Part of today’s column in time to post it in its usual Sunday space. I hope you’ll find everything here as exciting as I have.


2020 has been a miserable year in most respects, but a great year for the Icelandic/German band Árstíðir lífsins. They contributed a tremendous song to Aldrnari, the tremendous album-length split with Carpe Noctem (reviewed here) that was released in April, and on Friday they digitally released their new album Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir (physical editions will follow from Ván Records). It is (you guessed it) tremendous. Continue reading »

Apr 192020


Earlier today I promised a second installment in this weekly column, and this is it, though it focuses on only a single release — but it’s a big one, album-length in size and featuring the work of two bands who have always made a big and very favorable impression: Carpe Noctem and Árstíðir lífsins.

The name of this new split is Aldrnari and it’s set for release by Ván Records on April 24th. It features cover art by Artem Grigoryev and is said to explore “themes of death and war, fire and life”. Each band contributed one song to the split, each of them more than 22 minutes in length, and both are now up for listening on YouTube. We’ll briefly consider them one at a time. Continue reading »

Mar 242019

Cold Black Suns


I’m assuming everyone knows that Darkthrone will be releasing a new album named Old Star through Peaceville Records on May 31st. Fenriz says that he and Ted will be continuing in the style of Arctic Thunder — “BLACK OLD HEAVY METAL with slow thrash, classic doom and slow death metal” — which is just fine by me. The album is available for pre-order HERE.

With that piece of news out of the way, I’m devoting the rest of this post to things we can hear right now.


Cold Black Suns is the new album by the almighty Enthroned, their 11th full-length in a career that stretches back a quarter-century. Their new label Season of Mist will release it on June 7th. The first song in today’s collection, “Silent Redemption,” comes from that album and premiered a couple days ago at Ghost Cult Magazine. Continue reading »

Apr 042017


(Our super-hero friend Gorger returns — quickly — with the second 2017 installment in his ongoing series providing super-heroic support to our mission by reviewing releases we’ve overlooked.  To find more of his discoveries, type “Gorger” in our search bar or visit Gorger’s Metal.)

In the very first sentence on your average Beneath the NCS radar post, Islander tends to present me as some kind of super-villain who “embarrasses” everyone by holding up whatever gem they’ve “failed” to mention. Although I dream of becoming a super-villain when I’ll never grow up, this might leave you with a somewhat distorted impression. Allow me to clarify.

There’s about a dozen metal albums being released every single day. Counting all kinds of releases, we’re talking 45-50 a day altogether. And that’s just the “tip of the iceberg” that’s being listed on Encyclopaedia Metallum, whose strict policy prevents more alternative forms from gaining an entrance. (I’m all about true metal, and so I agree, but that’s simply a matter of taste because I’m so bloody trve). If we were to look into all kinds of unconventional styles that might appeal to metalheads, whether it’s atmospheric dungeon synth, soaring acoustic tree-hugger hard rock, or DIY slam-punk hardcore grind-screamo, the list of daily musical launches would grow insuperably massive.

No single human would be up for the task of absorbing all this. Just presenting it would mean receiving newsletters from thousands of bands and labels. Just imagine opening your mailbox only to see that you’ve got 263 new mails. For the past hour. Obviously, there’s going to be tons of shit that floats underneath the radar for any one of us, and my inadequate radar often fails at noticing passing jewels too. I also often find myself detecting a gem and grasping for it, but failing to grab a firm grip, I helplessly end up observing it float off into the mist.

I might, in an infallible matter, present you with those hidden gems that the wretchedly flawed NCS-crew fail miserably to cover, but unfortunately, I’m not the super villain/prophet (delete as appropriate) you all visualize. I just do what DGR, Andy Synn, Austin Weber, TheMadIsraeli, Comrade Aleks, KevinP, Wil Cifer, or anyone else writing anything for this putrid site does; giving Islander a hand by chipping in with some precious metallic picks for the perpetually unquenchable masses. Only difference is they present relevant artists and releases, often in advance, whilst I’m always late to the party like some late bloomer. I’m just another enthusiastic metalhead, whose antennas are no more superhuman than anyone else’s. I’m sorry to disappoint you and to rip this revered illusion of yours to shreds.

What? You already knew all this? Oh… Good. I guess… Continue reading »

Apr 142015


(Wil Cifer reviews Aldafǫðr Ok Munka Dróttinn (“Óðinn and the God of the Monks”), the new album by the Icelandic/German pagan metal band Arstidir Lifsins.)

This trio features members of Helrunar and Carpe Noctem, so you know they are going to get at least the Viking parts right.

It starts with a twelve-minute epic, with the first three minutes building up to the metal being introduced. Largely there is a chorus of baritones bellowing out the vocals, but these give way to black metal snarls. The first and second songs run into each another, as if this were a Wagnerian opera. Like opera, the sensual magnitude of the scenes they are creating here is impressive.

At times you might be inclined to refer to the music as blackened folk metal — the third song has some old-school black metal nastiness to it — though the bass playing is raised to an audible level, where many black metal bass players stay submerged beneath the waves. Here the theatrics that take center stage, rather than trying to recreate any pagan folk elements, more often work within the song rather than making it feel overblown, though in some portions of the album they come across more like interludes rather than the style of a band like Negura Bunget, who use those elements more fully as working parts of the song. Continue reading »