Oct 122014

After a two-week hiatus from listening to new songs, watching new videos, and preparing these round-ups, I’m easing back into the gig. I didn’t finish as many reviews during the hiatus as I had hoped, and so I still won’t prepare these round-ups as frequently as before, until I make more headway on some reviews I desperately want to finish. With luck, Leperkahn will continue to pitch in as he did during my break. Speaking of which, how about a big round of applause for Leperkahn?

The good new metal continues to come in a flood: The following offerings are all new things I saw and heard just over the last 24 hours. The bands are presented in alphabetical order. The music is all over the map, both stylistically and geographically.


Iron Bonehead Productions has announced plans to release a new 7″ EP by Houston’s Blaspherian by the end of November. Its name is Upon the Throne… Of Eternal Blasphemous Death. The last time I wrote about Blaspherian (here) was more than three years ago, just before the release of their debut album. The fantastic cover art for the album had caught my eye, and the art for this new EP is certainly eye-catching, too. Continue reading »

Nov 142013

(Here’s DGR’s review of the latest album by one-man phenom Cloudkicker.)

For those of you not in the know, Cloudkicker is a solo guitar project of one Ben Sharp. At this point the project has quite a few releases under its belt and all of them have been available for “name your own price” for some time now. Subsume, which hit this year, is the latest in a long line of excellent releases.

When Cloudkicker released Beacons back in 2010, it was a heavy contender for album of the year. In an explosion of solo basement/bedroom/wherever-they-could-hook-up-their-recording-gear guitarist experiments, Beacon seemed like something different and fresh – even if it bore the same signatures of the scene from which it was born. The whole outbreak of guitarists suddenly showing their skill and technicality seemed amazing, but over time they had all started to blur together, and eventually would feel as if they were coalescing into one big, blob of stuff that took years of practice but had started to matter only to those who also played that style.

Cloudkicker was able to weave into that style a sense for ambiance and mood, using a guitar to paint pictures to go along with long, descriptive song titles (which have now proven to become a signature). Beacons told a story without words, and with every release since then Cloudkicker has sought to accomplish something similar, even when completely shying away from all the technicality, time signatures, and endless scales, and instead sticking with melodic, acoustic pieces that fell way more into the post- and prog circles than they did the metal ones. However, we have proven as a community that we can recognize and appreciate good music regardless of style, and so seeing this project embraced, as one of the fans who got to do so with the zeitgeist around Beacons, has been great.  Continue reading »

Jul 142013

(Better late than never, DGR reviews a single released by Ohio-based Cloudkicker earlier this year.)

Cloudkicker is one of those projects that people really should know more about. At this point, one-man band Ben Sharp has taken this project beyond being interesting for just guitarists and moved into a realm where people who love music generally should have a couple of his releases. Especially when he’s been kind enough to put out his material for free and then offer up some beautiful physical packages later on. He’s also got quite the varied discography at this point, writing music that was technically impressive and then moving into an area that is very ambient and ethereal.

I think he hit a major high point with 2010’s Beacons, which is one of the few instrumental discs I can do front to back without getting bored, and then reached it again with the recent Fade. Both discs represent two different eras in the Cloudkicker history, and way earlier this year he put out a single song called Hello that falls right in line with the mastery he displayed on Fade. Some folks may think it ridiculous that six months out we finally decide to discuss the song, but Hello is a powerful bit of music that travels further into the ambient realm than this project ever has before. On top of that, it contains slight elements of drone to create a warm and inviting song that, cliched as the description is, you can get absolutely lost in and just drift. Continue reading »

Dec 202012

I’m still catching up on new songs from the last few days. Here are two you should hear.


Cloudkicker is the alter ego of Ben Sharp, a one-man instrumental wizard, maybe the king of all the one-man instrumental wizards who have made their mark over the last 2 or 3 years. Today I learned that Cloudkicker has bestowed upon metaldom a Christmas gift, which takes the form of a new song named “Signal/Noise”. The song is a free download on Bandcamp. It is better than most Christmas gifts you will receive, unless you’re expecting someone to give you your own island or a sex slave.

The beats of the song have gotten under my skin, and the distorted guitars have abraded it from the outside. It scampers and pulses and rotates like a burrowing machine as it digs through my head. Merry fucking Christmas. Continue reading »

Aug 022012

Well, hell, that didn’t take long. On July 31 I reported the news from Ben Sharp’s tumblr that a new Cloudkicker album would be released in August, and today it was released. It is August, after all, and who needs to mess with a big, protracted run-up to a release anyway, with teasers and studio reports and singles and hints all over the social media? I mean, other than every metal label and 99% of all metal bands.

Anyway, yes, the album is up on Bandcamp now where it can be downloaded for the unfuckwithable price of $WhateverFeelsRight.

It consists of seven tracks. I’m in such a rush to spread the word about the release than I only paused long enough to listen to one song, because the song is named “Seattle”. I don’t often see a song by a metal band I like that’s named for this beautiful, cool place where I live. Actually, I’ve never seen one.

“Seattle” is more than 10 minutes long. It makes me really curious to hear the rest of this album, because there’s a blackened/doom feel to this song, which I wasn’t expecting. It rolls through phases, the intensity building and subsiding, and I really liked the drum programming on this song, too. Continue reading »

Jul 312012

In case people have forgotten, instrumental metal works just fine at this site, because . . . if there is no singing in the metal, then there can be no clean singing in the metal. Get it?

Over the last few days, I’ve accumulated enough new discoveries to justify this post. The first one is just a news item (no music, unfortunately), but for the rest I have listenings — quite varied listenings, and quite good, and all by solo artists. The subjects are Cloudkicker (U.S.), Alexander Bateman (U.S.), You Big Ox (U.S.), and Gorod guitarist Mathieu Pascal (France).


Cloudkicker is Ohio denizen Ben Sharp. Cloudkicker was the first of the so-called “bedroom guitarist” projects to hit my radar screen, and I fell hard for the music. I was late to the party, of course. I found out about Cloudkicker in 2010 after one of this site’s original co-founders turned me on to Sharp’s 2008 debut album, The Discovery. His 2010 album, Beacons, made many of our 2010 lists of the year’s best albums, and I even picked one of the songs from the album for our list of 2010’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

I subsequently discovered many other then-solo guitar instrumentalists, including Tosin Abasi, Dan Dankmeyer, Keith Merrow, Tre Watson, and Chimp Spanner, but the memory of that first Cloudkicker discovery has stayed with me. So I was excited to see the report on Ben Sharp’s tumblr that he plans to release a new Cloudkicker album called Fade in August. It will go up on the Cloudkicker Bandcamp page, and we’ll report when that happens, as soon as we find out. Continue reading »

Nov 182011

I am very slowly making my way home from vacation today, with limited net access, so I’m writing this in a hurry.  Still, I thought the news was sufficiently interesting that I wanted to get this out there before tomorrow.

Here at NCS, we were latecomers to the musical phenomenon known as Cloudkicker (a/k/a Ben Sharp). But late was better than never, and when we had our eyes opened, they opened wide. NCS co-founder and infrequent contributor IntoTheDarkness put Cloudkicker’s 2010 album, Beacons, at No. 3 on his personal list of the year’s Top 25 releases, calling it “the best instrumental album all year.”

Our more regular contributor BadWolf had it at No. 6 on his list of the year’s best, calling it “one of the first pieces of genuinely brilliant metal-as-art to be released not only outside of the label system but outside of capitalism period.” And one of our guest contributors, The Artist Formerly Known As Dan, assigned it to the No. 8 position on his best-of-2010 list, with these words: “He doesn’t need a label because he can already do everything he needs to by himself.  And he’s beyond talented.” And last, I included a song from Beacons on our list of 2010’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

With that backdrop, you can imagine how interested I was to see an e-mail from MaxR at Metal Bandcamp today with this news: Cloudkicker has just released not one but two new albums — Loop and Let Yourself Be Huge. I’ve turned the album titles into links that will take you to the Cloudkicker Bandcamp pages where each album is available for free download, or any donation you feel is fair. Both albums are streaming here after the jump — and I’ve got a few more observations about the music, too (it’s not metal). Continue reading »

Jan 052011

So far, our list of most infectious songs has been heavily weighted with music from European bands. But today we’re adding selections by two bands from the good old U.S. of A (though the word “band” is a misnomer in the case of one of the artists). And if you happen to be tuning into this series for the first time and wonder what we mean by “most infectious”, read this. To see the 16 songs we named to the list before today, click the Category link over on the right called MOST INFECTIOUS SONGS-2010.


Here at NCS, we were latecomers to the musical phenomenon known as Cloudkicker. But late is better than never, and when we had our eyes opened, they opened wide. NCS co-founder and occasional contributor IntoTheDarkness put Cloudkicker’s 2010 album, Beacons, at No. 3 on his personal list of the year’s Top 25 releases, calling it “the best instrumental album all year.”

Our regular contributor BadWolf had it at No. 6 on his list of the year’s best, calling it “one of the first pieces of genuinely brilliant metal-as-art to be released not only outside of the label system but outside of capitalism period.”

And another of our frequent contributors, The Artist Formerly Known As Dan, assigned it to the No. 8 position on his best-of-2010 list, with these words: “He doesn’t need a label because he can already do everything he needs to by himself.  And he’s beyond talented.”  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Nov 172010

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Our temporarily Australian correspondent The Artist Formerly Known As Dan has another list for you today. He left out a few activities. We sure hope the comments fill in the holes . . .]

If you are like me (read: a nerd) then you tend to categorize everything, especially music.  Whenever I hear something new, I’m very quick to make a judgement about the overall sound and what type of music it is. Only, I’m not filtering it into one of those sub-genres that are constantly argued about on the internet. I’m thinking about if I like the music enough to listen to it again. If the answer is yes, then I think about when I would listen to the music again, and what the associated activity might be (don’t ask me how or why I do this – I probably have a problem).

Anyway, the point is, I think about music as something to augment my life and its associated activities, like some kind of bizarre “soundtrack to life.” For example, I really really enjoy gaming to Dagoba. I’m not positive how it started, but I think I was playing Guild Wars and I played the entirety of Face the Colossus and it was just fucking awesome.

This post is mostly meant to stimulate discussion, so what is your favorite music to xxxxx to?  I’ll list some examples below of some activities and what I like to hear while doing them.  (after the jump . . . including music to hear) Continue reading »

Nov 122010

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s guest post comes to us from Dan, who apparently is now called The Artist Formerly Known As Dan. Dan is an American temporarily transplanted to Adelaide, Australia. He has a list for you.]

So, I realize it’s cliche to make one of these lists (and maybe a bit premature?), but they’re usually useful for several reasons.  Firstly, it allows me to shamelessly plug the bands I like and push my agenda on you.  Secondly, it allows you to post lists of the records I forgot and tell me why my first list was wrong.  I can then subsequently go back to the records I may have forgotten or never owned in the first place.  Everyone should theoretically win here, since there is always music overlooked or forgotten about throughout the year.  So, let’s begin.

10. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza III: The Series of Unfortunate Events

Technical, but so brutal.  A perfect recommendation for someone who listens to too much vanilla-breakdown deathcore (and, for some of you, “too much” implies listening to any deathcore at all).  I highly recommend seeing them in concert; they bring tons of energy.  Yippie-Kay-Yay-Motherfucker.

(more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »