Oct 152016



I’m in Oakland, California, this weekend for the second edition of California Deathfest, which began yesterday afternoon (Friday, October 14, 2016) and continues through Sunday. The photo above captures one of the sights that greeted me this morning a few steps from our waterfront hotel. I’m here with my NCS comrades DGR and BadWolf and some other good Seattle friends, enjoying some mild and occasionally drizzly weather while Seattle is getting beat to hell by a weekend windstorm. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Usually when I go to metal festivals I take lots of photos (and more recently videos) and try to write up reports on the performances for the site. This time, before leaving for Oakland, I decided not to do that. I decided I would just devote myself to watching the sets and talking with people and not worry about “work” for NCS. So far I’ve mostly kept to that resolution — but not entirely. Continue reading »

Dec 102015

Rotting Christ-Rituals


The end of the year is fast approaching, but the freight train of metal isn’t slowing down. Here are just a few of the things that caught my eyes and ears over the last 24 hours, sifted from my scanning of the NCS in-box and my daily dive into the interhole.


I’ve probably mentioned somewhere in the dim mists of the past that Rotting Christ were the band whose music first convinced me that I needed to learn more about black metal — my first step along a musical left hand path from which I’ve never turned back. The following announcement, received yesterday, was thus an especially exciting piece of news:

On February 12, Season of Mist will release Rotting Christ’s twelfth studio album, Rituals. In addition, Stereokiller premiered the album’s first advance track, “Elthes Kyrie“, in the U.S. (it also appeared at many other sites around the world). Continue reading »

Sep 112015

Black Breath-Slaves Beyond Death


(Leperkahn steps forward to shoulder round-up duty — and there have been so many noteworthy new songs over the last few days that he’s stepping forward with a three-part post, to which Austin Weber and your humble editor will also be adding a fourth and maybe a fifth before we’re done today.)

I’ve been meaning to get an album review out at some point (don’t have anything written currently, though I will say that you should go and preorder Horrendous’s upcoming album Anareta immediately if you know what’s good for you), but in the meantime an ungodly amount of new tidbits turned up on the web in the last couple days.

Considering that Islander is slaving away in Anchorage for however long his reptilian overlords command him to, I figure I’d take another stab at covering a few of them – and by a few, I mean fifteen. For your sanity (and perhaps mine, though that might be a lost cause), I’ve divided it up into three posts. We’ll go alphabetically, since there’s way too much stuff for me to want to find any other type of pattern. Continue reading »

Aug 212015

Black Breath-Slaves Beyond Death


I’m still trying to catch up on recommending new music I discovered earlier this week. I unloaded a bunch yesterday, I have more today, and I’m hoping to pull together some more this weekend (although I’m leaving town today for a short vacation, and that may interfere with my blog compulsions).


As I reported when I first found out, Seattle’s Black Breath have a new record coming from Southern Lord on September 25. It’s their third, with the title Slaves Beyond Death. Kurt Ballou recorded the album, Brad Boatright mastered it, and Paolo Girardi painted the cover art — and that’s some good help to have.

I thought it would be tough for Black Breath to top their great last album, Sentenced To Life, but based on the title track that premiered at Noisey yesterday I think they just might. Continue reading »

Jul 282015

Black Breath-Slaves Beyond Death


I’m kind of rushed, so I’ll skip the usual preamble and save the words for these things I saw and heard over the last 24 hours that maybe you’ll get as excited about as I have.


I’m beginning to think the day will come when Paolo Girardi will have created at least one painted album cover for every metal band in the world — though that assumes all metal bands have good taste, and of course they don’t. But Seattle’s Black Breath and Southern Lord do, because as I discovered today, they engaged Mr. Girardi to create the cover for Black Breath’s new third album Slaves Beyond Death.

Interestingly, although I did receive a press release with details about the album and a related Black Breath tour, it didn’t include the artwork. I saw that instead for the first time at the Metal-Archives listing for the album, which a friend linked on Facebook today. Very exciting, because in addition to being an obvious fan of Girardi’s artwork, I’m a big fan of this band, too, and am anxious to hear this new album. Continue reading »

Jan 132013

Welcome to the Part 14 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. Each day (almost) until the list is finished, I’m posting at least 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 I’m announcing today, click here.

Most of the song pairings I’ve selected for this series have had something in common — for example, they’ve shared a similar genre affiliation or at least a common nationality. But today’s picks are a complete mismatch, like those last two clean socks you find in your drawer that don’t even remotely go together. But I love both these songs, even though it’s a big stretch to include the second one in the list at all.


This Pacific Northwest band’s 2012 album Sentenced To Life was a big breakout for them. It has received a ton of critical praise and it brought the band a ton of enthusiastic new fans. BadWolf reviewed it for us last March (here), and then later named it to his list of the year’s Top 10 albums (the “no clean singing” version), with these words: “Words do not sufficiently describe how much I love this record’s mix of d-beat, thrash, NWOBHM, and Swedish death metal. . . . [S]eriously, if you have not, go buy this album. Satisfaction guaranteed.” Continue reading »

Apr 182012

There are some places in these continental United States that are farther away from Seattle than Tampa, Florida, but Tampa is pretty fucking far out there. And on June 2, it’s going to be really far out, because that’s the day when Scion is sponsoring this year’s edition of the Scion Rock Fest.

Scion A/V has been doing a lot of very cool things with metal, and I continue to hope they get a few car sales out of it because I believe in people making a buck when they make underground music or help support it. Yesterday, I saw two things that reminded me of the good that Scion is doing for our kinda music. One was a new Scion-funded music video by Black Breath, which we’ll come back to after the jump, and the other was this “rock” fest in Tampa.

Scion has announced that the festival will include 26 bands playing at four different Tampa venues throughout the day. They’ve also released that poster you see up above. Obviously, there aren’t 26 names on there . . . yet. But the ones that are on there make for an excellent line-up: Sleep (holy shit!), Repulsion, Merzbow, Church of Misery, Psychic TV, Oxbow, Decapitated (!!), Terror, Cerebral Ballzy (?), All Pigs Must Die (!!), Idea of Gemini, and Cellgraft.

The other names have been “masked”, but I can see a few letters here and there. The name in the second line on the far right looks a helluva lot like Suffocation. And on the top row, I can almost make out Saint Vitus. Can you make out any other names? I’ll put a bigger image after the jump. Continue reading »

Mar 062012

(BadWolf reviews the new album on the Southern Lord label by Seattle’s own Black Breath.)

One look at that album cover should let you know that this music is going to kick your ass—it functions as a statement of purpose. It’s striking, minimal, and to the point—unlike the muddled cult paraphernalia on the cover of 2010’s Heavy Breathing. It evokes metal classics like Judas Priests’ British Steel, Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, and The Scorpions’ Virgin Killer; even though Black Breath sounds nothing like those bands, they still bring adolescent fury in a way that feels fun, like those bands, while still sounding modern.

Why am I talking about the art? Everyone knows you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Because you used to be able to buy an album based on its art and know you were in for your money’s worth of audio pummeling—that’s true here.  Black Breath evaded the sophomore slump and delivered one burst of white-hot intensity with Sentenced to Life.

Its predecessor, Heavy Breathing, would have been near the top of my favorite albums of 2010 list had I heard it before January 2011. I would rank it alongside Trap Them’s Darker Handcraft and Masakari’s The Prophet Feeds as the finest examples of my favorite current trend, the Crust-Punk-Meets-Old-School-Death music that has come to define post-2010 Southern Lord records (see also: Heartless, All Pigs Must Die, each fucking great). While I give Darker Handcraft a slight edge, Heavy Breathing has an ace up its sleeve: the song “I Am Beyond,” possibly the best mosh riff I have ever heard. Continue reading »

Jan 082011

One thing I like about writing this blog is I can use the word “motherfucker” whenever I want.  I can’t use that word in the writing I do for my day job, much as I’d like to, but I know none of you will take offense. After all, metalheads get called “motherfuckers” all the time — most often by bands they’re paying good money to see at shows.

Pause and reflect for a moment on that phenomenon: There really aren’t many forms of entertainment where the performers routinely call paying members of the audience “motherfuckers”. Maybe that happens at rap concerts, though I wouldn’t know. I do know it happens routinely at metal shows. If I had $100 for every time a frontman for a metal band has called me a motherfucker, I could fucking retire.

I’ll grant you, motherfucker is a great word. Sometimes, no other word will do, like when some motherfucker unexpectedly swerves his car into my lane in heavy traffic. But still, isn’t it a little bit odd to hear a band’s vocalist call all his adoring fans motherfuckers at the top of his lungs?

Last time I got called a motherfucker was at a show I saw in Seattle on the night of December 30. Neurosis was at the top of the bill, with support from Wolves in the Throne Room and a Seattle band called Black Breath. I’d heard a lot about Black Breath but hadn’t yet checked out their 2010 Southern Lord debut, Heavy Breathing, much less seen them in the flesh. They put on a loud, raucous, energetic set of heavily thrash-influenced death metal, including a sweet cover of Sepultura’s “Desperate Cry”, which you can see right after the jump (along with more impressions of that concert). Continue reading »