Sep 052016

Diego Rivera-Detroit Industry mural


I checked the store of data about our putrid site at Google Analytics today and learned that over the last year 41.32% of our visitors were located in the United States, which means that 58.68% came to us from other lands. Which means that on average, most of you reading this won’t be observing a holiday today. It is, however, a holiday here in the U.S. Which means that I’m just lying around in two-day-old underwear enjoying the pleasures of doing not a goddamned thing. This is how we celebrate Labor Day — by not laboring.

The Labor Day holiday was created by an act of Congress on June 28, 1894. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (of course), the holiday “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” Continue reading »

Jan 122012

This is Part 18 of our list of the most infectious extreme metal songs released this year. 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 Introduction via this link. To see the selections that preceded this one, click the Category link on the right side of the page called MOST INFECTIOUS SONGS-2011.

I am willing to confess here publicly that I do have certain primal urges. Just to be clear, those urges do not include tentacle porn or donkey dicks. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has urges for such things. Okay, to be brutally honest, which of course is the only kind of honest we know how to be here at NCS, I do know one person who has such urges. But we’re not talking about him, we’re talking about me, myself, and pay no attention to those who say I have a fractured personality.

No, my primal urges include the kind of base needs satisfied by today’s two additions to this list. Yes, I am base, and all your base belong to me, and I belong to Byfrost and Bury Your Dead. And this is my list, and therefore my will is yours. (goddamn, am I full of shit or what?)


When I first heard Byfrost’s 2010 debut album, Black Earth, I thought most of the tracks sounded like marching songs and battle music for orcs — the inexorable stomp, the headlong charge, the baring of oily teeth, the spiked maces held high. I included a song from that monster of an album on the MOST INFECTIOUS list last year — in fact it was the first song. And 2011 brought another Byfrost album, and it also brought another Byfrost song for this year’s list. Continue reading »

Aug 202011


Bloodstock Festival, Walton-upon-Trent, England

August 10, 2011

“Horns To the [Fucking] Sky”

Looks like it’s going to be a beer-for-breakfast kind of day at the NCS Island.

P.S. I’ve decided I need to gaze at Byfrost’s album art while I savor my breakfast beer and contemplate the primal appeal of black battle metal, Byfrost-style: Continue reading »

Jun 292011

Black Earth, the 2010 debut album from Bergen, Norway’s Byfrost, was one of my favorite albums of last year (reviewed here). The song “Desire” from that album was the first song we named to our list of 2010’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. One year has passed since the release of Black Earth, and Byfrost is back with their second album, Of Death. No sophomore jinx here — Byfrost have stretched their wings (giant, scaly, and clawed, no doubt) to produce an album that’s at least the equal of their killer debut.

Two albums into their discography, Byfrost have already established a signature sound — the kind of distinctive musical identity that makes the music of bands like Amon Amarth and Behemoth so immediately recognizable. Like those bands, Byfrost has created music that’s “accessible” without losing the qualities that also make it heavy, dark, and menacing. Of course, Byfrost hasn’t yet taken the world by storm, as those bands have, but with time, persistence, and a bit of luck, their audience will surely continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

Byfrost is a three-man band, and their songwriting, for the most part, is designed to be played by only three instruments. As you might expect, the music has a primal, stripped-down quality, but the relative simplicity of the songs is deceptive. All three musicians are superb at what they do, and their execution is super-tight. Weaving through the truly massive riffs and skull-crushing drums are a variety of grim melodies that sink their hooks deeply into your memory. On top of that, the musical variety of the eight songs on the album makes it worth hearing from start to finish and a fucking blast to come back to for repeat listening.

Still less than six months into 2011, and I’ve already heard what will no doubt be on my short list of personal favorites when the year closes.  (more after the jump, including a song . . .) Continue reading »

May 182011

As we were reminded by the new THOR movie, in Norse mythology, Bifröst is the name of the burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard (the world) and Asgard, the realm of the gods. The phonetically identical word BYFROST is the name of a Norwegian metal band that has become one of our supreme favorites, providing a burning bridge between our humble reality and an under-realm of primal, massive, blackened death metal ruled by the almighty riff.

When we reviewed their debut album Black Earth last July, we explained that listening produces “the sensation of being shaken like a rag doll by giant, clawed hands in time to a hellish beat.” Not only was Black Earth one of our favorite albums of 2010, we also named a track from the album (“Desire”) as the first entry on our list of 2010’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs (here).

We knew the band was at work on a follow-up album for release at some point this year, but this morning we got details from the awesome publicist/manager Patricia Thomas that lit up our faces like those of children in a candy store. For example, we now know the album title — Of Death — and we now have the awesome cover art by Christian Sloan Hall (above), and we now know that the album was co-produced by Herbrand Larsen and Ice Dale of Enslaved (Larsen also makes a guest appearance on two tracks). And even better, we got the actual candy, too: The sound of two new tracks from that forthcoming album — “Of Death” and “Buried Alive”.

Stay with us after the jump for more details about the album plus a first listen to those two new songs (which, by the way, will send horns to the fucking sky). Continue reading »

Feb 012011

The first month of the year has come and gone. January brought those of us in Seattle some typically ass-sucking winter weather, though it wasn’t nearly as bad as the brutality dished out by the weather gods on our metal brothers and sisters in the Midwest and Northeast of the U.S. And of course, our readers ins places like Russia, and Finland, and Sweden are probably laughing their asses off reading our complaints about our winter weather. So, we’ll just shut up about that.

Besides, January brought all sorts of great new metal to our tender ears, so who gives a shit about the weather anyway? And you know what else January brought? It brought news of still more metal goodness on the way — great bursts of audio sunshine in our collective futures that will part these winter clouds and leave them whimpering in cloudy tatters.

Okay, maybe we should leave poetry to the poets and just get on with this next monthly installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, where we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last 30 days about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like, or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know them yet. And in this post, we’ve cut and pasted the announcements and compiled them in alphabetical order. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones:

AJATARRA: “AJATTARA — the Finnish band featuring former AMORPHIS frontman Pasi Koskinen (a.k.a. Itse Ruoja Suruntuoj) — will release its seventh album, Murhat (“Murders”) on February 2 via Osasto-A Records. Murhat is available for streaming in its entirety on the AJATTARA Facebook page.”  (much more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 282010

We didn’t prepare our own official NCS list of 2010’s best metal albums. That was too damned much work, and we’re too damned half-assed to do it. Fortunately, we had a lot of other contributors and readers who were willing to do it for us. And to all of them, we offer our heart-felt thanks for all the fascinating lists to which we devoted most of last week’s posts.

Although we didn’t distill our own list of the year’s best albums, we do have a list. It’s our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. For a full explanation of what we mean by “most infectious”, read this.

In a nutshell, we compiled a list, in no particular order, of the catchiest songs from a wide range of extreme metal sub-genres — not necessarily the best metal of the year (though lots of these songs would qualify for that kind of list), but the ones that most effectively got our heads and other parts of our bodies moving, and then continued to ring in our tiny brains even after they ended.

Today we’re rolling out the first two entries. This is NO CLEAN SINGING, and so we’re starting our list with some old-school death metal, or maybe you’d call one of the songs blackened death metal.

Anyone who says death metal isn’t catchy, isn’t infectious, isn’t memorable — well, all you’ve got to do is listen to these two songs and wise up. These songs make us proud to be metalheads. To quote NCS reader Bob MacBobbob — he of the beer can Christmas tree — “We’re as proud as men who have just busted a shit that won’t flush!” Have a listen after the jump . . . Continue reading »

Jul 252010

Time for another installment of this Twitter-ish log in which I presume you’re interested in how I spent my morning, skipping over such vital details as what I ate for breakfast, what I’m wearing, and where my cat is licking himself right now.

Have no fear, this is just a log of the metal I listened to and watched in my latest internet browsing session — following up on press releases, MySpace add requests, and e-mail recommendations, and just some general fucking around. In all cases (with one exception), I had no previous exposure to the bands, and so no real clue whether what I found would be good, bad, or indifferent.

So, here’s what I did, in order of doing it, with no filtering and no guarantees that any of this will be worth your time — though I’m guessing most of what I found will be as new to you as it was to me. The bands I checked out are: Hellish Outcast (Norway); Citi (California); Episode 13 (Turkey); Darkness Dynamite (France); The Forrest Gump Mile High Marathon (Mars); and the one exception mentioned above, Bloodbath (Sweden).


I started off by exploring the music of Hellish Outcast, which is from that historical hot-bed of black metal, Bergen, Norway. We’d received a press release announcing the news that Thebon, frontman for the awesome Keep of Kalessin, would be joining Hellish Outcast as its new vocalist. (Have no fear KOK fans, Thebon hasn’t left that band, he’s just pulling double-duty). And then I found out that one of Hellish Outcast’s founders and its current drummer is Mads Lillevedt, who’s a member of the also-awesome Bergen band Byfrost. (We reviewed the latest albums by KOK and Byfrost here and here.)

That was more than enough incentive to visit the band’s MySpace page (here) and listen to some tunes from their 2008 EP, with the inviting title, Raping – Killing – Murder. And I’ll tell you what I thought — after the jump. Continue reading »

Jul 062010

For the most part, Bergen, Norway’s Byfrost plays marching songs and battle music for orcs. There are exceptions, which we’ll come to, but their recently released debut album Black Earth is mainly about the inexorable stomp, the headlong charge, the baring of oily teeth, the spiked maces held high. Or at least, those are the images that come to our orc-brained minds as we listen to this riff-tastic new release.

Byfrost is a three-piece band, and as befits this stripped-down ensemble, the music is bare-boned and primal. It lives and dies by the almighty riff, and Black Earth is loaded with them, from both guitar and bass. The pacing and the mood change within the album, but those dissonant hammerblows are a constant.

From the blackened thrash of “Horns to the Sky” and “Wings of the Angel of Death” to the lurching, stutter-stepped march of the title track, to the doom-influenced interlude within “Desire,” Byfrost builds their songs in a verse-chorus-verse structure around deceptively simple chords and rhythms, and then propels them forward in massively powerful repeating loops. The hooks are so sharp and deep that it’s easy to get caught up by them.

The remorseless martial stomp of the music is relieved by guitar solos that vary from soulful arpeggios to heated gouts of pure shred and by down-shifted variations in the pacing. But throughout is the sensation of being shaken like a rag doll by giant, clawed hands in time to a hellish beat.  (more after the jump, including some tracks to stream . . .) Continue reading »