Dec 112013

(Today we begin our 2013 Listmania series, in which the NCS staff and a variety of esteemed guests name their favorite albums of the year. And to kick things off, we’re stoked to present this piece by Chris Ojeda, the main man of two bands who are big favorites around here — Byzantine and Black Cap Miner.)

Hello, my name is Chris. My music friends call me OJ. I front the heavy metal band Byzantine. Been doing that since 2000. I’ve been a die-hard metal fan since 1989. I have been asked by the fine people at No Clean Singing if I would give my $0.02 on my favorite musical releases of 2013. With that offer, I have compiled for you a very short list of fantastic albums that came out this year. I have limited it to metal and/or heavy music since that’s what we dig here.

I must preface this piece by mentioning a few things. 1. I am not a music reviewer and have no prior experience writing such pieces. I am just a music lover who happens to have the opportunity to write a piece such as this. Any typos or musical poor judgments can be filed in the “fuck you” file. 2. Even though I operate in the metal community, my band is on the fringes of said community, and therefore I can freely speak my mind about what sucks and who sucks, in my opinion. I won’t be getting a nasty call from our booking agent, manager, or record label, since I have none of these.

So… Here we go! My faves of 2013. Continue reading »

Nov 272013

(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album of Black Cap Miner, the solo project of Byzantine’s Chris Ojeda — and some notable friends.)

Respecting your elders IS important, even in metal.  A lot of venerable bands had a creative spark that a lot of modern bands seem to lack.  Whether this was due to them leading the first wave of something important or simply being in the right place at the right time, the sounds of legacy musicians warrant frequent revisits.  It’s for the better of the music that we do this, otherwise we lose sight of who we are.

No one knows this better than Byzantine’s Chris Ojeda.  Numerous conversations with the man about music, bands we love, and whether they made favorable or distasteful evolutions, have given me pretty good insight into how he thinks.  Ojeda’s a man of the old school for sure. While he definitely investigates what’s on the scene in the here and now (it seems he pays far more attention than most metal musicians his age), he still has a grasp on his musical roots that verges on zealotry.  As a consequence, it really makes sense that Ojeda decided to pay rich tribute to the music that made him who he is as a musician.  Black Cap Miner is Ojeda’s battle cry to revisit the days of old, and The Formative Years is his testimony as to why. Continue reading »

Jul 252013

Just a few new things in between reviews to help kick-start this Thursday.


Let’s see, where shall we start? How about some death metal? Yes, death metal is always a good place to start, especially death metal inspired by John Carpenter’s 1981 classic, The Thing. And that’s what Howling gave us last night when they released “Shape-Shifting Enemy” on Bandcamp.

Howling, for those who need to catch up, is the horror-themed project of vocalist Vanessa Nocera (Skeletal Spectre, Scaremaker, Wooden Stake), guitarist/bassist Tony Proffer (Beyond Hell), and drummer Elektrokutioner (Encoffination, Father Befouled, many others). This new single comes from the band’s next album, Tear the Screams from Your Throat, which is due out in October 2013. I have high hopes for that album, because the band’s debut, A Beast Conceived, was so fuckin’ good (I explained why I think so at this location).

“Shape-Shifting Enemy” provides even more reason to anticipate the new album with relish. If you’re expecting old-school gore/death, you’ll be surprised. The mainly slow-paced song contrasts Proffer’s melodic guitar leads (and a writhing solo) with Nocera’s carnivorous growls, book-ended by unexpected guitar instrumentals. And for variety’s sake, you’ll encounter a couple of thrashing romps along the way. Continue reading »

Jul 062013

In this post I’m pulling together new music from four bands that I heard yesterday which made quite an impression. All of them are tracks from forthcoming releases, and all of them succeed in building interest for what’s coming. None of them sounds remotely like the others.


Over the space of four albums released from 2006 to 2011, Sweden’s Lifelover built a large and intense following, and many people have credited them with being an important influence in the development of depressive black metal as a recognizable sub-genre. However, 2011’s Sjukdom proved to be the band’s last album. In September 2011, Lifelover’s principal songwriter Jonas “B” Bergqvist died of what was reported to be an overdose of prescription medication, and the remaining members decided to end the band.

However, about a year later, word surfaced that three of Lifelover’s former members — vocalist/guitarist “( )” (Kim Carlsson), guitarist “H” (Henrik Huldtgren), and bassplayer Fix — had decided to start a new band. The band’s name is Kall (Swedish for “cold”), and yesterday I discovered that Kall has released a song from a forthcoming EP. The song’s name is “Då, nu – Jag och Du”, which according to Google Translate means “Then, Now — Me and You”. Continue reading »

Jul 022013

Here’s a collection of selected items your humble editor witnessed and heard while stumbling around the interhole yesterday. As usual, the stuff is all over the musical map.


Black Cap Miner is the side project of West Virginia vocalist/guitarist Chris Ojeda of the mighty Byzantine (whose 2013 release ought to get some kind of award for comeback album of the year). The objective of the project is to get you to headbang like it’s 1988. To be more precise, OJ and friends are recording covers of some old school thrash songs. But not just any songs, and not just any friends. Check out his list of guest performers:

GREG BURGESS (Allegaeon)
JAY HANNON (Gizmachi)
KYLE THOMAS (Exhorder, Trouble)
CHUCK BILLY (Testament)

I think a robust HOLY SHIT! is in order, don’t you?  I mean, not to take even one little thing away from Chris Ojeda, but that’s a mighty fine group of comrades to assemble for the recording of some thrash. Continue reading »