Jun 112018


We make a valiant effort to write about all or part of as many good new releases as we can each year, but despite our best efforts we’re not able to devote attention to everything we enjoy. Our cadre of regular and irregular writers is small in number, and since NCS is a labor of lust rather than an actual job or business, we must occasionally devote time to distractions such as paying work, loved ones, food, water, trips to the toilet, and sleep. I would say “we’re only human”, but of course you know we’re superhuman, just not yet godlike.

Given the unavoidable constrictions on our time and attention spans, I’ve decided (in my capacity as benevolent dictator in charge of what gets posted at NCS) that we should start sharing what people who toil at other metal forums have to say about releases we’ve neglected. This “Other Voices” series won’t necessarily happen on a regular basis, and perhaps not even weekly, but I do mean to keep it going.

To inaugurate the series I’m turning to a review penned by New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes, who has enriched NCS with his reviews in the past but whose main outlet is his excellent blog Six Noises, where he recently posted a review of the new album by Bridge Burner, which was released on May 31. To read all of it (as you should), go HERE. What follows are excerpts, along with a stream of the music. Continue reading »

Feb 012018


(We welcome back New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises), who brings us this review of the new album by NZ’s Bulletbelt, which was released through Bandcamp just a few days ago.)


Nine Centuries is the latest hard-hitting release from New Zealand black/thrash metallers Bulletbelt. Much like their high-octane pals Midnight, Bulletbelt mine metal’s core aesthetics, and Nine Centuries duly features plenty of battle-vested and spiked-gauntleted oomph. Interestingly, though, the rip-roaring album is also somewhat bittersweet. Because Nine Centuries marks Bulletbelt’s final album with vocalist Jolene Tempest.

Tempest exited Bulletbelt late last year, along with guitarist Seth Jackson, and while singers come and go from bands all the time, Tempest’s leaving is certainly notable because her performance on Nine Centuries is so confident and impassioned. Tempest originally joined Bulletbelt not long before they recorded their second album, 2014’s Rise of the Banshee, and that release showcased the band’s burning ambitions like never before. Continue reading »

Nov 212017


(Our New Zealand compatriot Craig Hayes (Six Noises) brings us this tremendously exciting premiere of a track from the forthcoming debut album of NZ’s Bridge Burner.)


You’d be hard-pressed to put your finger on where New Zealand four-piece Bridge Burner sit on the extreme metal spectrum nowadays –– and that’s no bad thing. Originality counts for a lot with today’s jam-packed roll call of noise-makers. And while Bridge Burner list groups like Botch, Godflesh, and death metal legends Bolt Thrower as influences, you’ll also find that grindcore, crust punk, and even dissonant black metal feature on the band’s latest full-throttle track, “The Blood Never Lies”, which is streaming below.

The Blood Never Lies” is taken from Bridge Burner’s upcoming album, Null Apostle, which is due for release in 2018. In truth, it’s not that much of a surprise that the band display such energetic and multi-hued creativity on “The Blood Never Lies”. For a start, Bridge Burner’s members have also played in a raft of other notable bands, including Graves, Diocletian, Ulcerate, Punished, Witchrist, In Dread Response, and The Mark of Man. Continue reading »

Nov 172017


(Our New Zealand friend Craig Hayes (Six Noises) brings us his review of the new album by NZ’s Stalker, which will be released today by Napalm Records.)

The pressure’s definitely on speed metal trio Stalker to step up and deliver with their first full-length, Shadow of the Sword. The Wellington, New Zealand band have already made a huge impression, selling around 1,000 copies of their neck-wrecking Satanic Panic demo in 2016. That’s obviously a significant achievement for any band in this day and age, let alone one based in a far-flung corner of the world. There’s clearly an audience hungry for Stalker’s music, which explains why Napalm Records snapped the band up. There are a number of reasons why the band have proven to be so popular, and why the expectations for Shadow of the Sword are set so high.

Reason #1: Stalker’s guitarist, Chris Calavrias, once played in (the now defunct) high-speed power metal band Razorwyre. That name might not mean much if you’re a full-time guttural grunt aficionado, and Stalker certainly aren’t Razorwyre under a new guise. But Razorwyre’s blistering full-length debut, Another Dimension, met with a rousing reception at home and struck gold in Europe too.

Stalker also features ex-Razorwyre drummer Nick Oakes, whose meteoric percussion also added substantial power to much-loved NZ metalpunks Numbskull. Joining Calavrias and Oakes is powerhouse vocalist and bassist Daif King. And King’s pummeling bass and soaring Halford-worthy falsetto seals Stalker’s 666% TRVE METAL deal. Continue reading »

Sep 192017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) joins us again with this review of the debut album by NZ’s Methchrist, which has just been digitally released on Bandcamp.)

Methchrist are a belligerent, hate-driven war metal trio from Dunedin, New Zealand. And the band’s Nomadic War Machine debut is the third album from a New Zealand war metal band that I’ve covered here at No Clean Singing in recent times.

To be honest, it’s not the easiest task coming up with fresh ways to unpack more bestial metal from the southern reaches. But that’s not because Nomadic War Machine is uninspiring. The album’s actually a skull-cracking riot –– it’s as fuelled by pure fucking spite as it is any creative ambitions –– but I inevitably feel like I’m repeating myself talking about war metal, because the subgenre’s somewhat of a stylistic cul-de-sac.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a criticism of war metal’s established characteristics. I mean, I love crust punk and d-beat to death, and they’ve got a limited range of musical hallmarks and potential descriptive options too. It’s simply that war metal’s parameters are so resolutely set in stone. There’s only so much you can say about the subgenre before you’re reiterating the same points or uttering the same phrases. Continue reading »

Jul 242017


(Our friend from New Zealand Craig Hayes (Six Noises) brings us this alert about the first excerpt of sound from the new album by NZ’s Bridge Burner.)

Crusty New Zealand death metal band Bridge Burner features members who’ve played in groups like Graves, Diocletian, Ulcerate, Punished, Heresiarch, Witchrist, In Dread Response, and The Mark of Man. That’s an intimidating roll call of bands, but I’d draw your attention to the first name on that list, because the death of turbo-speed Auckland punk/metal band Graves resulted in the birth of Bridge Burner.

Graves released a couple of thoroughly neck-wrecking and nihilistic albums before calling it quits in 2015. And the band’s guitarist, Josh Hughes, went on to compose all the pulverizing music on Bridge Burner’s first EP, Mantras of Self Loathing. That release featured a crushing mix of brute-force punk and death metal, and vocalist/lyricist Ben Read howled with unhinged rage over the vitriolic barrages within. Mantras of Self Loathing’s marriage of intensity to belligerence promised great things, and Bridge Burner have recently stoked the fires of anticipation even more by releasing the preliminary mix of a storming track entitled “Illness & Loathing” from their upcoming full-length debut. Continue reading »

Jul 142017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) joins us again with this review of the new album by NZ’s Vesicant, which is being released today by Iron Bonehead Productions.)


New Zealand black/death metal duo Vesicant have only played a handful of shows, and their 2014 Edict demo was originally released in limited numbers, too. But that hasn’t stopped powerhouse German label Iron Bonehead Productions from stepping in to release the band’s formidable full-length debut, Shadows of Cleansing Iron.

If you’re wondering how an obscure band from the far-flung reaches gets to enjoy Iron Bonehead’s patronage, the answer is twofold. First, and most obviously, Iron Bonehead were clearly impressed by the stockpile of murderous music Vesicant have housed in their armory –– and we’ll get to those battering munitions soon. But it’s also well worth pointing out that Iron Bonehead’s shown a marked interest in NZ’s extreme metal scene over the years. Continue reading »

Jun 272017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) returns to NCS with this review of the new album by his countrymen in Heresiarch, which will be released on July 7 by Dark Descent.)


So here it is, Death Ordinance, the long-awaited full-length debut from New Zealand black/death wrecking machine Heresiarch. It’s no exaggeration to say that Death Ordinance is one of the most anticipated releases in the annals of Antipodean metal, and fans of belligerent and bestial metal the world over have been counting the days until the album’s release. That’s because Heresiarch deliver a singularly brute force audio onslaught –– aka everything you want in an obliterating war metal juggernaut.

Heresiarch are militant, violent, and ruthless; and hell, there’s even a whiff of spurious controversy about them too. All of that’s fuelled the band’s defiant mythos, which Heresiarch reinforce by delivering some of the most remorseless underground metal around. Continue reading »

Feb 022017


(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) returns to NCS with this review of the new album by New Zealand’s Into Orbit, which will be released on February 3 — and we have a just-released full stream of the album as well.)

Countless bands try to grab our attention with an enticing vocal hook. Hell, even in the world of extreme metal, where vocals are frequently an indecipherable blur, words and lyrics still play a crucial role in imparting meaning. At the other end of the spectrum though, instrumental bands seek to convey meaning without any lyrical or vocal cues, and that’s obviously a tougher task. When it all goes well, audiences can decipher meaning from moving songs, and that forges a connection between fans and bands. But when it all goes wrong, because a band is technically proficient but emotionally sterile, instrumental music is simply tedious background noise. Elevator music, at best.

It’s rare to find an instrumental band that manages to transmit its message evocatively. But the music of New Zealand instrumental duo Into Orbit has received rousing applause at home for doing just that. In some ways, Into Orbit are building on a legacy established by New Zealand bands such as Jakob or Kerretta –– both guitar-led instrumental groups with fan bases in Europe and the US. Jakob and Kerretta have gained international recognition because they make truly gripping music, and there’s no question that Into Orbit’s superb new album, Unearthing, is filled with captivating music too. Continue reading »

Nov 072016



(We’re grateful to New Zealand writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) for bringing us this review of the debut album by New Zealand’s Setentia, which will be released on November 11 by the Finnish label Blood Music.)

Setentia are an atmospheric death metal band from New Zealand. They write hard-hitting, complex songs where jagged melodies do battle with tremolo deluges on dissonant soundscapes. The band’s accomplished full-length debut, Darkness Transcend, intertwines gut-felt ferocity with forward-thinking expressiveness. And yes, with those creative hallmarks, Setentia have been compared to New Zealand’s much-lauded death metal behemoth Ulcerate, many times.

That’s an understandable comparison to make. Sonic similarities aside, Setentia and Ulcerate have higher profiles than most other New Zealand death metal bands because they’re signed to international record labels (Finnish label Blood Music, in Setentia’s case). Continue reading »