Oct 272016



I’ve been racking up the airline miles lately. I got back to Seattle late last night after a whirlwind trip to New York for my day job, one in which I probably spent as much time in airport security lines and on airplanes as I did in New York. Beautiful time of year to be there, though.

You may also have noticed that we’ve had a flood of premieres this week. Four more are coming today. Between traveling and writing all those premieres, I haven’t had time to pull together round-ups, and man, this has been a week when multiple round-ups would have been justified. With so much to choose from, I’ve impulsively picked these three bands. The plan is to put together more round-ups for tomorrow and Saturday in an effort to catch up.


A few days ago the mighty Swiss juggernaut Bölzer released another song from their new album Hero, which will be released on November 25 through Iron Bonehead Productions. The first song that appeared, “I Am III”, was more than 10 minutes long — a dramatic, majestic, dark, brooding, esoteric, and triumphant piece in which the band moved in some dynamic new directions. The latest track, “Spiritual Athleticism“, is a more compact affair and perhaps more in line with what we were expecting based on Bölzer‘s previous releases. Continue reading »

Sep 122016



When I learned yesterday that Bölzer intended to release a new song today, I had a text discussion with DGR about where the song would premiere. We bandied about the names of certain very large online music sites who in well-calculated fashion sprinkle a few bits of extremity into their large stew of not-metal dreck… as DGR put it, sites that have “massive reach, but massive reach to deaf ears” when it comes to music like this. We had that discussion because Bölzer has become such a critical darling (on the strength of very few songs) that it wouldn’t be surprising to see their new track pop up on one of those behemoth sites, even if only .01% of their readers ever bother to listen to music like this.

We should have known better. None of that happened. Bölzer instead released the song straight to Soundcloud, relying on word of mouth to spread it around. The song is “I AM III“, it comes from the band’s forthcoming album Hero, and it’s hellishly good. Continue reading »

May 162015


We post about metal tours in North America on an exceedingly infrequent and random basis. Usually when we do it, it’s an extensive tour that really is nationwide in scope. If we’re not going to be comprehensive in spreading tour news, it seems like when we do, it ought to be about tours that would be of interest to the largest number of people. But I’m making an exception here, for two selfish reasons.

First, the bands are personal favorites of mine. Second, even though both tours involve a small number of dates, Seattle is on both schedules. This makes me happy, and I know that if I’m happy, that necessarily makes you happy, too.


I haven’t seen an official announcement about this tour by the Swiss band Bölzer and Ritual Necromancy from PDX. All I’ve seen (thanks to a tip by Facebook friend JCB) is the flyer up above, which appeared on Facebook yesterday. Continue reading »

Dec 212014


I suppose this post could be considered Part 2 of a collection I began yesterday (here). It’s a big selection of music I discovered over the last couple of days that in widely varying degrees incorporate elements of black and death metal into the sound. And I do mean “widely varying” — no two of these bands sound alike, but I hope you’ll agree they all sound good.


LVTHN is a Belgian black metal band with three short releases to its credit, all of them appearing in 2014. The first one, Adversarialism, I reviewed here. The next two of those releases came this month — a four-song EP entitled The Grand Uncreation (which includes a cover of a Katharsis song) and a split with Lluvia entitled Illuminantes Tenebrae. Both are worthy of separate reviews, but I’m so pressed for time that I’m afraid I’ll never write them. I decided this short comment is better than nothing.

In a nutshell, these five new LVTHN songs are potent examples of bestial black art — torrential hailstorms of knife-edged riffs undergirded by the distant rumble of percussion and pierced by flesh-rending vocals, with waves of dark, dramatic melody moving through the music like the migration of leviathans. It’s gripping, galvanizing, ravaging music, with just enough well-placed breaks in the onslaught to prevent total sensory overload.  And the Katharsis cover is obliterating. Continue reading »

Aug 262014

Sólstafir’s Addi Tryggvason with Skálmöld at Eistnaflug


(Gemma Alexander is a Seattle-based writer and NCS fan who visited Iceland in the fall of 2012 during the Iceland Airwaves festival and was generous enough to send us interviews with such bands as AngistBeneathKontinuumSólstafirGone Postal, and Skálmöld. In July of this year she returned to Iceland for the Eistnaflug metal and rock festival (“Eistnaflug” being Icelandic for “flying testicles”), and we are once again the beneficiary of her writing. Today we present Part 2 of a three-part report on the festival, illustrated with Gemma’s own photos. Visit her own excellent blog here and check out more of her reporting on the festival at KEXP’s web site. Part 1 of her report for us is here.)


The second day of Eistnaflug began at noon with sets from Pink Street Boys and Oni. I, on the other hand, began less ambitiously, arriving at the venue after 2 p.m. I don’t know anything about the first band, but was sorry to have missed the sludgy, Neskaupstaður-based Oni.



The first band I saw on Friday was In the Company of Men. Billed as mathcore, the effect was individuals doing their own thing in the company of others. But they each went to eleven with it, and maybe my math isn’t very good.



I had heard that Morð (“murder” in Icelandic) was divisive in the local black metal community. In the event, I couldn’t really see what was so unorthodox. Was their corpse paint all wrong, or was it a slight tendency to slip into groove? Whether tr00 or transgressive, Morð put on a good show.

http://morth.bandcamp.com/ Continue reading »

Aug 152014


Here are some things I saw yesterday that opened my eyes wide and increased my flow of drool, requiring an early change-out of the trademarked NCS bib I wear at all times. You may increase the size of some of these images by clicking on them.


Item One appears at the top of this post. It’s a shirt design created by Manuel Tinnemans (Comaworx) for Switzerland’s Bölzer, based on the song “Steppes”. I guess it’s not enough that Bölzer are making lots of people jealous with their music. Now they get shirts like this made for them. Stunning. Here’s the artwork on a black background:



https://www.facebook.com/pages/BÖLZER/108657105834227 Continue reading »

Aug 072014

Jet-setter that I am, I’m on the road again this week in my old hometown of Austin, Texas. Until last night I haven’t had as much time as usual to check out new music or write about it. I missed a lot, and am trying to catch up before having to leave the world of metal for the rest of today.

I discovered so many things I want to bring to your attention that I’ve divided them into three parts, this being the second (Part 1 is here). The first three items in this round-up are mainly visual.


Those long-running Floridian death kings Obituary have a new album named Inked In Blood coming out on October 28 via Relapse Records, and yesterday the cover art was revealed. As you can see, it’s brutal. The art is by Andreas Marschall. I’m hoping for equally brutal music. Continue reading »

Jul 312014

Eno (photo by Richard Burbridge)


Yesterday I read two articles that jarred a few thoughts loose in my head. One was a feature () by Sasha Frere-Jones in The New Yorker about the musician Brian Eno and one was a Q&A (here) between Kim Kelly and Bölzer’s guitarist/vocalist Okoi “KzR” Jones that appeared at Stereogum.

Eno is credited with coining the phrase “ambient music”. He first became visible through his membership in the band Roxy Music and his subsequent solo albums of pop and rock songs that made extensive use of synthesizers. He produced Devo’s debut album, produced and performed on three albums by Talking Heads, produced seven albums for U2, wrote music and performed on three David Bowie albums, collaborated with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp on multiple records, and worked as a producer and/or performer with many other musicians too numerous to mention. On top of that he is a visual artist, and he has continued experimenting in the creation of music to the present day.

When he spoke to Sascha Frere-Jones in 2013, Eno said:

“I think negative ambition is a big part of what motivates artists. It’s the thing you’re pushing against. When I was a kid, my negative ambition was that I didn’t want to get a job.”

Listening to Eno’s music and reading about the evolution of his life as an artist, you get the sense that his “negative ambition” extended beyond not wanting to get a conventional job. As Sasha-Jones wrote of his art, “Eno fights against received wisdom and habit”. Even in his work as a producer, “Eno often works with highly skilled musicians and then asks them to play against their own virtuosity”. Continue reading »

Jul 102014

A deep rumbling noise could be heard rising up from the bowels of the interhole yesterday as the name BÖLZER! was simultaneously growled by reviewers who had just received their advance copies of the band’s new EP Soma. The degree of excitement that had been building in anticipation of the EP was phenomenal, given that before Soma this Swiss band had only released a grand total of six songs — three of them on 2012’s Roman Acupuncture and three on 2013’s Aura. I can’t think of many extreme underground bands who’ve made such a big splash in so little time on the strength of so few tracks. But on the other hand, this Swiss duo really don’t sound like anyone else, and that’s a rare achievement in this day and age.

I’ve admitted before that my attraction to Bölzer has bordered on the unhealthy. I listened to Aura so much that I began to fear an alien entity had taken up residence in my skull. I included “Entranced By the Wolfshook” on my list of 2013’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. After seeing the band at Maryland Deathfest, I waited in line so long to buy a shirt that I missed the next band’s entire set (but seriously, how could you not struggle for the chance to get apparel emblazoned with “THUNDER TONGUE BOLT FIST” on the back?). So yes, I was growling the name yesterday, too.

Well, I have good news and bad news about Soma. The bad news is that it only includes two songs — “Steppes” and “Labyrinthian Graves”. And that’s it for the bad news. Continue reading »

Apr 192014

This is a collection of recommended new music and videos, all of it except one discovered by your humble editor over the last 24 hours. What they have in common, apart from the fact that they’re really good: you will be bludgeoned, gutted, and left for worms.


I had a passion for this Swiss band’s 2013 EP, Aura, that bordered on the unhealthy. I listened to it so much that I became convinced an alien entity had taken up residence in my skull (and lord knows there’s enough space in there for a roommate). I also included “Entranced By the Wolfshook” on my list of 2013’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. I’ve been tremendously eager to hear what Bölzer would do next. Now I know.

Thanks to a tip from KevinP, I discovered this morning that the band had started streaming a new song named “Steppes” on SoundCloud. It is one of two tracks (totaling about 18 minutes) that will appear on a forthcoming EP named Soma. The artwork will again be prepared by Alexander L Brown, and it will be released by Invictus Productions. Continue reading »