Dec 302018


Here we are, nearing the end of that strange seven-day period that begins with the Christmas holiday and ends with New Year’s Day, when many of us have more lazy free time than usual but also experience something like sensory overload from an onslaught of family, friends, food, drink, commercialized excess everywhere you turn, and the looming dread of a new year beginning with a return to jobs and no more holiday reprieves on the visible horizon. It can be both a joyous time of year and a depressing one, more of the former than the latter if you’re lucky, but with both conditions defined with greater intensity than the plodding progression of a normal week.

Even as odd and disorienting as this annual occurrence usually is, the one we’re in the midst of now has struck me as even more bewildering, even comically so, from my perspective as an obsessive fan of extreme music with a compulsion to share recommendations. On that front at least, things are supposed to slow down, with fewer albums being released (given the likelihood they’ll be overlooked against the background froth of so many other holiday diversions) and something of a pause in the promotional activity around albums slated for release in the new year, including the debut of new songs. And while that has in fact happened to a degree, it’s been a smaller degree than usual, especially in the genres of music that are the focus of this column. Continue reading »

Dec 262018


(Fallen Empire Records chose this day for the label’s final batch of releases, one of which is the hotly anticipated new album by New Jersey’s Death Fortress — and to coincide with its release we present Andy Synn‘s review.)

One of the things I love most about Metal – about listening to it, creating it, writing about it – is how unpredictable it can be. Every year is different, and you can’t necessarily guess in advance what albums are going to raise the bar, and what artists are going to shit the bed (sometimes spectacularly) over the course of the next twelve months.

But some artists are definitely more reliable than others, which is why I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of the new album by New Jersey Black Metal marauders Death Fortress ever since it was announced. Continue reading »

Jun 152017


(Andy Synn reviews the just-released new album by New Jersey’s Death Fortress.)

Following the release of their debut album, Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable, New Jersey triumvirate Death Fortress quickly became one of my favourite Black Metal acts of the modern era.

Heck, I’d even go so far as to say that they’re one of the very best Black Metal bands ever to come out of the USA at this point.

As a result, my expectations for this, their third full-length album, are practically sky-high, and I’ve been champing at the bit to get my hands on it ever since it was announced.

So, now that the album has finally appeared online (with surprisingly little fanfare), it’s time to see whether the third time is (still) the charm. Continue reading »

Jun 042017


More than a week has passed since the last time I compiled a round-up of new music for our site, the delay mainly caused by my MDF trip to Baltimore. As I look at the over-stuffed schedule of premieres lined up for the coming week, it may be another week before I can do another one.

Needless to say, I have a dramatically large list of new and newly discovered music from which to make selections. There’s not much rhyme or reason to my choices for this round-up, except of course that I like all of them — and hope you will too.


I’ve been a devoted fan of Sólstafir for many years, staying with them as their music has evolved and their fame has grown. Yet we’ve written very little about the band’s new album Berdreyminn. I suspect one reason is that when most of us here decide what to write about, we tend to favor bands who could use a little extra support rather than those who are already getting voluminous amounts of attention from sites with a far broader reach than ours. And Sólstafir are certainly in that category now. Continue reading »

Mar 012017

Dyscarnate in the studio…


(Andy Synn shares a list of his most anticipated releases of 2017… along with musical reminders… and a request for your own most-anticipated releases.)

Somehow, even though it’s only March, I’m already well behind in terms of covering new and upcoming releases. Partially that’s due to how many albums from last year I still had left to catch up on during January/February, but it’s also a testament to the sheer number of killer albums which have been released already in this year.

Now it was around this time last year (in fact, I just checked, and it was almost exactly one year ago) that I published a list of five albums whose impending release had me afroth with anticipation, including two albums (Death Fortress, Khonsu) which ultimately proved to be two of my absolute favourites of the year… although another two, Nidingr and Decrepit Birth, ended up being delayed until 2017, with the latter still not having a confirmed release date even now…

So, in a vain bid to get ahead of the curve a little, here are five six seven upcoming releases which I’m extremely stoked/jacked/hyped to hear this year, starting with… Continue reading »

Jan 312017


Welcome to the 21st — and final — installment in our list of 2016’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. Is the list complete? No, it isn’t. I could easily continue doing this for another month or more, and it pains me to leave so many other infectious songs lingering on my giant list of candidates. But it’s time to shift our focus more intently to what’s coming out this year.

After agonizing over the last 24 hours about what songs to select for this final edition in the series, I cut that Gordian knot in a fairly impulsive way — by simply picking the six songs on a playlist I made for myself in December.

I made that six-track list in December mainly, but not exclusively, because I had just been reading through the year-end list from Panopticon’s Austin Lunn that we were going to publish and was reminded of some addictive tracks I hadn’t listened to in a while. I put those on the playlist along with a couple of others that I wanted to hear again and thought might work well in the flow of the music.

As it happens, before today I hadn’t yet included any of these songs on this Most Infectious list, and so today I decided, why the hell not make all of these into the final Part of this series? They really are all damned infectious, and I do damn well like them. Continue reading »

Apr 072016

Death Fortress-Deathless March


(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new album by New Jersey’s Death Fortress.)

Eons ago… in the cold, dark days of 2014… I stumbled across a certain album. An album absolutely overflowing with raw, visceral power and truly venomous, electrifying energy. That album was Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable, by verbose Black Metal marauders Death Fortress, and it quickly rose in the ranks to become one of my favourite Black Metal albums of the last decade.

I’ll admit though, I was a little late to the party, and the album had been out for some time before I finally got around to reviewing it. This time, however, I’ve been much more on the ball, as the band’s new album, Deathless March of the Unyielding, was only just released earlier this week.

So I guess the big question is, how does it stack up to its predecessor, an album about which I comprehensively struggled to find anything to criticise? Continue reading »

Mar 112016

Death Fortress-Deathless March


(From time to time Andy Synn posts lists of things that come in five’s… and today he writes about five forthcoming albums that have peaked his interest.)

We’re only just over two months into 2016 now, and yet already we’ve seen the release of a host of stellar albums from across the metallic spectrum, including several (Wildernessking and Borknagar, to name but two) which easily ranked amongst my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year.

So now seems like as good a time as any to pick out five other albums which I’ve been waiting on with (not literally) baited breath.

Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list. In fact I’ve specifically left out any upcoming albums I’ve already heard (Cult of Luna, for example) or which we’ve covered here at NCS recently (Mithras, Schammasch, etc), in favour of five selections a little more personal to me. Continue reading »

Dec 312015



I had intended to post most of the new music in this collection on Sunday, hot on the heels of Saturday’s Shades of Black post. However, I was distracted by the sound of a passing car, chased it for a few blocks, and then forgot what I had been thinking by the time I found my way home (I also blame those squirrels for not stopping so I could lick them). Other distractions have materialized since then, including the death of Lemmy Kilmister.

On the bright side, I discovered more excellent new songs as the days have passed since Sunday; in fact, I heard the first three in this collection only after the weekend. The result is a rather humongous assembly of music, but please don’t let the quantity deter you from wading hip-deep into it, because there are a lot of gems to follow. And besides, it’s my last round-up of new music for 2015!

I really do hope you’ll like everything here as much as I have, and I hope you have a great New Year’s Eve too. As is often the case with these Shades of Black posts, I want to thank my Serbian friend “M” for linking me to much of what you’re about to hear. Continue reading »

Dec 302014


(Andy Synn reviews the debut album by New Jersey’s Death Fortress, released in November 2014 by Fallen Empire Records and featuring amazing cover art by Ola Larson.)

Despite our best efforts – and through no fault of our own – we still missed out on covering a lot of albums this year. There’s simply so much music, and so little time, that stuff always slips through the cracks. And, often, that means some real gems get missed.

Case in point, here we have Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable, a visceral slab of pitch-black perfection, with its foundations firmly rooted in the old school, but with a vision fixed firmly on new horizons.

Raw and ravenous, dark and droning… atmospheric, oppressive, and morbidly melodic… it’s six songs of writhing riffs and hypnotic, swirling murk that rattle your bones and scrape your nerves raw with shameless, sadistic pleasure. Continue reading »