May 142014

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Devin Townsend.)

When it comes to Exceptions To The Rule here at NCS, there’s one man who’s clearly the most exceptional of all. And it’s a damn good thing too, because the music on Casualties of Cool is simultaneously fantastic, rewarding, and thoroughly outside of the usual NCS ethos.

In fact if I had to describe this one in simple terms, I’d call it “Canadian Space Country”.

Wait, come back…!

It’s really, really good! Continue reading »

Jul 242013

I’m still in catch-up mode on new things I haven’t been able to write about over the last few days. So, despite the fact that I already posted one round-up today, here’s another one, collecting three recommended new videos and one new song. As usual, the music is quite diverse.


On October 27 of last year Devin Townsend put on a tour-de-force live musical retrospective at The Roundhouse in London, which he called “The Retinal Circus”. Our own Andy Synn was there and wrote an evocative review, which we illustrated with photos and video clips. The performance was recorded for later release on both DVD and Blu-ray (via InsideOut Music).

Almost one week ago, DT released a clip from the DVD, the performance of “Grace” that closed the show (but for the encore), but I missed it until this morning. If you’ve seen any of the video clips of the show that previously surfaced, then you know this was a visual extravaganza. But the DVD excerpt of “Grace” is a taste of the pro-shot, multi-cam rendition that the DVD will deliver, and it’s awesome.

I’ve loved this song from the first time I heard it, and I got chills all over again when it transitioned from Anneke Van Giersbergen’s opening vocals into the hevy. I got more chills later. Is it too emo for me to say that? Well fuck it, I’m just being honest. The video is next.

Continue reading »

Oct 292012

(UK-based NCS writer Andy Synn delivers these thoughts on “The Retinal Circus”, Devin Townsend’s tour de force show on October 27 at the Roundhouse in London, with video clips at the end — including a high-quality stream of the entire show.)

Steve Vai. Metaphysical musings. Harold. A gospel choir. Anneke Van Giersbergen. A white suit and top hat. Sexy cat-people. Angry monkey men. Religion, War. Flame-throwers and angle grinders. Ziltoid. The 6th Dimensional Planet Smasher (and his hot slave girl).  Mrs Ziltoid. Giant green vaginas. Baby Ziltoid!!! Vampires, drink, and drugs. Clown-midgets. Aliens!!!

[Takes a breath]

Unexpected acoustic ballads. Shameless hippy sing-alongs. Lighters in the air, arms-waving stadium-rock. Steve Vai’s abusive, talking skull. Jed Motherfucking Simon. STRAPPING YOUNG LAD.

Cherry blossom trees and proposals of marriage. Life. A wedding soundtracked by an utterly stunning rendition of “Kingdom”. Devin’s inner demons. Aerial acrobatics. Love? Fan-waving and pole dancers. Torrents of confetti. Going from Heavy to Big. Glorious “Grace”. A down-home finale with couches, bearded ladies, and a miniature marching band like some sort of off-the-wall take on the end of Lord of The Rings.

That was The Retinal Circus. Continue reading »

May 302012

Ihsahn’s fourth solo album, Eremita, is scheduled for release on June 19.  Almost a month ago, I received from Candlelight Records a link that allows me to stream the album, but not download it. I know the label isn’t singling me out or implying that NCS is untrustworthy, but I have a hard time listening to an album when I have to be tethered to my computer to do it. I’m constantly moving between safe houses, and so I need to be able to listen on my music player. Consequently, I still haven’t heard Eremita.

But I’m no less interested in the album, in part because it’s Ihsahn and in part because of the line-up of guest artists: drummer Tobias Ornes Andersen (Leprous), saxophonist Jorgen Munkeby (Shining – Norway), guitarist Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore), and vocalists Devin Townsend, Einar Solberg (Leprous), and Heidi S. Tveitan (Star of Ash).

Yesterday, Guitar World began streaming a song from the album called “Introspection”, which features guest vocals by Devin Townsend. I heard it for the first time through that stream (see above re moving between safe houses). I have mixed feelings about the song. Continue reading »

Mar 062012

I bet the title of that post got your fuckin attention. The news sure as hell got mine.

Last May, Gojira released a song called “Of Blood and Salt” from the still-missing-in-action Sea Shepherd EP. It included guest vocals by that Renaissance man of metal Devin Townsend and a guest appearance on guitar by Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thordendal. At the time, it produced a worldwide mass ejaculation not seen since . . . uh . . . some other mass ejaculatory event (my metaphor machine failed me there, sorry).

Yesterday (March 5), at the Soundwave Festival in Perth, Australia, Gojira performed the song live in what I think was the world premiere live performance of the song. And wonder of wonders, guess who joined them on stage for the song? Yep — Devin Townsend on vocals and Fredrik Thordendal on guitar.

I’ve found two different fan-filmed clips of this thing on YouTube. Neither of them are great, unfortunately, but given what was being filmed, I’m sure as fuck going to put them up here on NCS — right after the jump. Continue reading »

Jan 072012

This is Part 13 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 guess maybe my trolling earlier today on a phony Part 13 of this list was a bit too subtle.  IT. WAS. A. FUCKING. JOKE.  A joke!  Not serious!  (and apparently not very funny either)  So, onward to the real Part 13 of this list . . .

The inclusion of today’s two bands will come as no surprise to regular readers — you could see this coming from a mile off, because they’re particular favorites of most of us who write here regularly. They also released very strong albums in 2011 — albums that included multiple candidates for this list.


Apart from the fact that Andy Synn’s review of Deconstruction is the most popular piece we’ve ever run at NCS (due in no small part to Devin Townsend’s posting about the review on his Facebook page), we would love this album anyway. It made many of the Best of 2011 lists we published over the last month, including those from Gaia, groverXIII, Stephen Parker, and of course Andy Synn. I shared the sentiments expressed by both groverXIII and Andy:

“Just when I think we’ve plumbed the depths of Devin Townsend’s demented mind, he reaches down and pulls out something else that is completely unexpected. Deconstruction was not the return to Strapping Young Lad that people may have been hoping for, but it was still a massive, chaotic album in its own way. Even now, having heard the album numerous times, I still discover something new every time I listen to it. Staggering.” – groverXIII

“At its heart this record is an expression of one man’s humanity in all its beauty and ugliness. Though its flaws are writ large, in bold, colourful writing, it’s hard to name another artist out there truly willing to go this far and be this open.” – Andy Synn

Continue reading »

Dec 062011

Yesterday, in a post called “Humbled”, I expressed dismay and confusion over the fact that a post I wrote nearly two years ago as a joke — an insignificant piece of news about Elize Ryd, Amaranthe, and Kamelot — has turned out to be the third most popular post we’ve ever run at NCS, measured by page hits on that post, proving that completely lame-ass bullshit sometimes drives traffic.

This prompted some of you to ask which posts hold the No. 1 and No. 2 ranking in popularity at this site since we started the thing. Here’s the answer:

The most popular post — with nearly 11,000 page views, and counting — is Andy Synn’s review of Deconstruction by The Devin Townsend Project. In fact, if you google “devin townsend deconstruction review” today, you’ll see Andy’s post as the No. 6 search result.

A few things about this are interesting. First, this piece only appeared less than seven months ago, so it’s built up quite a following in a relatively short amount of time. Second, it’s one of the longest posts we’ve ever published, but that hasn’t seemed to deter readers from checking it out (though, to be brutally honest, I have no good way of knowing how many people have actually read the whole thing). Third, the hits on Andy’s review continue to roll in. I remember there was a big surge shortly after the review appeared, because Devin Townsend posted about it on his Twitter feed and on Facebook, but even over the last 30 days it ranks No. 20 in terms of page views at NCS. And fourth, this tends to prove that not only does completely lame-ass bullshit drive traffic, quality drives traffic, too.

Ironically, although Deconstruction is one of the year’s best albums in the estimation of nearly all of us who write regularly for NCS, I haven’t yet seen it appear on a single “Best of 2011” list published by the bigger blogs that cover metal.

Now, on to our second most popular post ever . . . Continue reading »

Nov 162011

(Andy Synn was on hand when Devin Townsend played ULU in London on November 11, and he provides this report of the show. This was one of four DT shows in London last week, each one devoted to the performance of a single Devin Townsend Project album from start to finish.)

Surprisingly, the venue for tonight’s epic extravaganza (epstravaganza?) was smaller than I would have anticipated, however still a decent size, with a large stage, high ceiling and spacious standing room for the sold-out capacity crowd. With more than a few Ziltoid puppets (mine remained behind to guard my car against interlopers) already waving in the air, it fell to Manchester prog-rock quartet Amplifier to warm up the already very receptive crowd with their brand of Brit-rock Tool-esque musical expressionism. Indeed, the band clearly had a reasonable fan-base of their own in attendance, judging by the impressively loud and clear response they received from those gathered in the front rows.

However, tonight was really about one man, or one band, depending on where one draws the already blurred lines between the two entities. As the crowd finally swelled to its full, massive throng, we were treated to an array of comical images and video stills superimposing Devin’s distorted face onto a series of film posters and movie montages, which kept everyone entertained during the inevitable lull in musical activity as the stage was torn down and set back up again for the night’s headline act. As things began to take shape we were “treated” (inverted commas to imply sarcasm there folks) to the joys of Ziltoid Radio, playing all the most terrifying and chipmunk-esque pop trash that could be mustered to prime the already expectant crowd. Continue reading »

Oct 222011

Because of work-related travel and longer hours than usual this week, I didn’t have time for my usual daily interhole browsing for metal news and new music. So I did that this morning, while listening to the last piece of music in this post. I found a half-dozen items that I thought were well worth sharing, and they’re collected in this post. Almost all of them are new videos, and there’s tremendous diversity in the music. The subjects are Vallenfyre, King Conquer, Devin Townsend (with a new song), Shining, Decapitated, and finally, William Basinski.

And yeah, the meerkats are still secretly controlling the world, according to the NCS lorises. They think they’ve identified the kingpin. I don’t buy this nonsense for a minute, of course, because, really, this one looks way too young to be the kingpin.


In our continuing coverage of Vallenfyre (UK) and their forthcoming album, The Fragile King (due for release on Oct 31 in Europe and Nov 1 in North America), I found a video preview that surfaced yesterday on Metal Injection. It was filmed during the making of a music video for a song from the album called “Cathedrals of Dread” and features comments from each of the band’s members about how this “supergroup” came together and about the genesis of the music. It also includes snippets of the song, which provide further confirmation (though none is needed here) that this album will be a must-hear release.

Our most recent previous posts about Vallenfyre can be found here and here. The video preview is right after the jump. Continue reading »

May 262011

I’m in a hurry, so no words, other than to say my new hero (and occasional NCS writer) Siddharth Darbha just e-mailed me a link to this, which purports to be a new Gojira song from their long-awaited EP, The Sea Shepherd, and that it purports to include guest participation by Devin Townsend and Fredrik Thordendal (Meshuggah).  I have to go change my underoos now.