Apr 022020
 

 

(We present DGR’s typically detailed review of Obscene Repressed, the new album by the French maulers in Benighted, which will be released by Season of Mist on April 10th.)

It probably doesn’t need to be stated that we’re fans of the French death metal crew Benighted and their brand of frantic mania, especially given that we’ve kept a pretty constant eye on the crew from release to release. Thus, we’ve been patiently waiting for the group’s newest album Obscene Repressed, a thematically twisted concept album that reads part horror story, part Pornhub top video statistics by State chart, and part gleeful exploration of insanity with the music stylings to back it up. Continue reading »

Apr 012020
 

 

(We present DGR’s detailed review of the new album by Canada’s Wake, which was just released on March 27th by Translation Loss Records.)

If you’ve been following the site recently you might’ve spotted the massive review collections fellow NCS writer Andy Synn has kicked out. Among the many groups covered (here) were Seattle black metal newcomers Izthmi and their disc The Arrows Of Our Ways. The Arrows Of Our Ways is a rare album, one amongst a packed genre that somehow manages to encapsulate the entirety of its current scene within its track list. The music presents a perfect snapshot of where their scene was at that exact moment — slight hints towards the future but mostly a perfect picture of the hive of activity and creativity that currently exists within their own spectrum, as if the band had shot an arrow of their own right through the center of it, as if competing in a musical archery event.

There are certain bands who have become masters at performing this specific act, adding to and molding their musical core to often reflect where the band members’ heads are at that exact moment, as well as providing the musical snapshot discussed above. If Izthmi managed to do so for their specific subset of black metal, so too have Canada’s Wake. They have become experts at providing deep musical looks into their world at the specific moments when each of their five albums has been released, including their newest album Devouring Ruin — a disc that captures much of the current crust, grind, and overall underground metal scene by adapting and molding it to their own noisy purposes, and in the process releasing an album almost twice as long as its noise- and grind-heavy predecessor Misery Rites. Continue reading »

Mar 202020
 

 

(Yesterday DGR turned in a double-review, but in his own inimitable fashion he wrote so many words about each of the two albums — one by Berzerker Legion and one by Wombbath — that your humble editor decided to split it in two, and now we present the second one. It may make some sense to read the other review first (here), since these were originally packaged together.)

Over the many years that we’ve spent in our comfortable little corner of the internet, one of the things we’ve learned how to get real good at is identifying genre-fare: the sort of musical red meat where it is clear the crew behind them just want to add to the overall cauldron that is their music of choice. Not necessarily the most ambitious or ‘paradigm changing’ — though the times where a group lands on that sort of lightning-in-a-bottle formula is always great — but music that is enjoyable for what it is, well-executed within the blueprint of its chosen genre.

One of the examples of this which practically fuels this website is the sort of rock-stupid, pulsating thud of death metal that gets by purely by appealing to the early cave-dweller parts of our brain, and another is the type of music that is so predisposed to headbanging guitar work that you can’t help but want to tag along, whether or not you have the long hair for it.

In this case it’s weird that these two albums feel like catching up a bit, since these two projects share a vocalist whom we’ve written about numerous times before and both of them are right in that wheelhouse described above. One is more modern and melody-focused despite its overall insistence on how world-ending it paints its protagonists in the songs, and the other is flavored with apocalyptic flair but with the chainsaw guitar aimed at a more old-school crowd. And thus we find ourselves catching up with Berzerker Legion and a crew more familiar to our site’s readers, Wombbath. Continue reading »

Mar 192020
 

 

(DGR turned in a double-review, but in his own inimitable fashion he wrote so many words about each of the two albums that your humble editor decided to split it in two, and the second review will be posted a bit later today.)

Over the many years that we’ve spent in our comfortable little corner of the internet, one of the things we’ve learned how to get real good at is identifying genre-fare: the sort of musical red meat where it is clear the crew behind them just want to add to the overall cauldron that is their music of choice. Not necessarily the most ambitious or ‘paradigm changing’ — though the times where a group lands on that sort of lightning-in-a-bottle formula is always great — but music that is enjoyable for what it is, well-executed within the blueprint of its chosen genre.

One of the examples of this which practically fuels this website is the sort of rock-stupid, pulsating thud of death metal that gets by purely by appealing to the early cave-dweller parts of our brain, and another is the type of music that is so predisposed to headbanging guitar work that you can’t help but want to tag along, whether or not you have the long hair for it.

In today’s case it’s weird that these two albums feel like catching up a bit, since these two projects share a vocalist whom we’ve written about numerous times before and both of them are right in that wheelhouse described above. One is more modern and melody-focused despite its overall insistence on how world-ending it paints its protagonists in the songs, and the other is flavored with apocalyptic flair but with the chainsaw guitar aimed at a more old-school crowd. And thus we find ourselves catching up with Berzerker Legion and a crew more familiar to our site’s readers, Wombbath. Continue reading »

Mar 042020
 

 

(In this column DGR has combined reviews of two EPs, both of which are out now, one by Napalm Death and a charitable endeavor released by the Greek black metal band Human Serpent.)

 

NAPALM DEATH: “LOGIC RAVAGED BY BRUTE FORCE”

It’s wild to think that we’re a little over five years since the release of Apex Predator – Easy Meat, Napalm Death‘s most recent full-length album, but here we are with something new.

It’s always a bit of a struggle to review a Napalm Death disc. The band have become such a weirdly monolithic cultural force in the grind substratum of heavy metal that at this point you can almost take the band in sight unseen (or rather, sounds unheard) and know that the ever-prolific crew are going to find some way to beat your skull in. Yet across their immensely vast discography there remains a healthy bit of experimentation as the group fling themselves from the now traditional high-speed blasting grind to chunky death metal to songs with a fairly defined sense of groove to the noisier and more industrialized chaos that Apex Predator started to hint at. Continue reading »

Mar 032020
 

 

(DGR prepared this review of the new 13th album by My Dying Bride, which will be released on March 6th by Nuclear Blast.)

 

Releasing “Your Broken Shore” in advance of My Dying Bride‘s newest album The Ghost Of Orion may be one of the shrewdest moves in music history. The “holy shit, they’re onto something with this release” comes early on during The Ghost Of Orion — during the first growled chorus of “Your Broken Shore”. While the shifting dynamic from gothic melodrama to the oppressive heaviness that My Dying Bride conjure during that section of the song may be an easy thing to sketch out musically, denying just how hard that section hits is an exercise in futility.

It’s indisputable just how heavy that moment is, and it grabs you as a listener and basically holds you in place for the rest of the song — making a near-eight-minute journey fly by as the My Dying Bride crew really hammer home why they’ve had a career as long as they’ve had and how they’ve maintained the miserable engine that has kept them going.

It’s also something of a revelation, in that “Your Broken Shore” is so strong a song that you almost wouldn’t believe you’ve got another fifty-or-so minutes of music to dive into after it. You could even say that My Dying Bride started The Ghost Of Orion with a show-stopper — if the band hadn’t left other weapons laying around in The Ghost Of Orion‘s track list. Continue reading »

Dec 202019
 

 

(We have reached the end of DGR’s week-long roll-out of his Top 50 year-end list, with this segment devoted to the Top 10. All the preceding installments can be found behind this link.)

The final ten of this year’s year-end list is special to me. That coud be easily stated for every year, but 2019 is one of those years that just went absolutely crazy — in fits and starts of course, there’s a lot of April and September representation here — and it brought on a massive torrent of metal that not only pushed out the boundaries of the genre but also twisted, mutated, and contorted it into all-new forms. You also had fantastic releases from groups who are already working within well-established blueprints and finding ways to keep things interesting.

While I could go on an endless screed about 2019 as a whole, keep in mind that although I have fifty releases on the list that I particularly enjoyed — an admittedly ridiculous number —  I listened to and generally got a kick out of so many more. A lot of those are popping up at NCS, on other writers’ lists and on users’ lists, and even on the occasional big website list when they’re not seeing just how much prose they can dedicate to Blood Incantation or showing off that they’re hip with the kids by nominating every teenager’s favorite new and hip band Tool (and I love Tool). Continue reading »

Dec 192019
 

 

(We continue a week-long rollout of a 2019 Top 50 list by NCS scribe DGR, counting down in groups of 10 each day. In this fourth installment we’ve got Nos. 20 through 11.)

When you reach the final twenty or so of your year-end list – as ridiculous as it may have gotten *cough* – you start to develop some sort of a mission statement. I can’t really say that I’ve accomplished that this time around, I’ve just continued to notice really small trends within each grouping. Last time I noticed that I wound up bookending the list with black metal and this time I found that the groups at top and bottom were deathgrind bands. In between there was a smattering of all sorts of different genres, including two albums that I can’t quite pin down to any one specific style, other than what could politely be described as “complete madness”.

2019 was an adventure musically, and I think part of that is reflected in some of the longer running times of the albums present on here as well. I discovered I was really open to the idea of exploring a whole bunch of massive soundscapes – which again is hilarious, given that the records at positions 20 and 11 are the punchiest of the no-bullshit style deathgrind bands out there. We’ve also got some of the earliest and some of the latest 2019 releases packed in here, as well as September continuing its hot streak for having been a fantastic month for music.

We’re only one day away now from the super-shiny, absolutely-unfuckwithable, proof that DGR has his finger on the pulse of the world of heavy metal, final ten of the year. So let’s enjoy this latest smattering of bands and see how many of you can still walk after being put through the wringer by this group. Continue reading »

Dec 182019
 

 

(We continue a week-long rollout of a 2019 Top 50 list by NCS scribe DGR, counting down in groups of 10 each day. In this third installment we’ve got Nos. 30 through 21.)

Absent for a little while in this collective, what passes for black metal in my realm makes a return in part three of this year-end adventure. I think that I actually bookended this collection with that very thing this time around, because now is when rankings actually start to crystalize a little bit.

It still applies here, but usually when I do these it isn’t until I hit the final fifteen or so that you actually have a meaningful empirical ranking of shit that I’ve enjoyed this year. Everything else tends to be in flux, with some movements more drastic than others. Like the creation of a planetary system, all of these albums acrete around a solid gravitational pull, but the materials knock into each other all the time and either force each other into new orbits or they merge into new beings. Thus, when you reach thirty or so is when you really start coming across the albums that got a shit-ton of play from me this year.

Some were very late-in-the-year entries and others were so constant that they were the subject of the ‘oh shit did that actually come out this year or has it always been with me‘ existential panic that happens every year with this list. At the very least I haven’t revealed any of the 2020 promos we’ve gotten yet, so I’m going to take my small victories where I can get them.

There’s some fun ones in this collection next to the moodier black metal kids, and I think this one also has the start of a small subset of bands that I think contributed to the feeling that heavy metal lost its goddamned mind in 2019. Or it’s always been in the midst of a manic episode and this is the first year when I really noticed. Continue reading »

Dec 172019
 

 

(We continue a week-long rollout of a 2019 Top 50 list by NCS scribe DGR, counting down in groups of 10 each day, and in this installment we’ve got Nos. 40 through 31.)

By day two it is fun seeing what patterns start to form in these lists. Barring the predictable decay of my writing ability over the course of fifty albums — because seriously, who actually does these at a reasonable pace and doesn’t just procrastinate and do it all at once? — this edition of my year-end archive starts to see the appearances of the hyperblasting death metal crews from Italy, a whole block of tech-death, and even some bands whom I’m normally used to posting much higher by year’s end.

2019 was a wild year for metal. It seemed to move in fits and starts, but each transmission in the heavy metal release schedule seemed to be a massive one. For instance: I started to notice that I have a surprising amount of albums that hit in September on here (this collection includes a small handful of them). Earlier on, there were huge blocks of releases in the last few weeks of January and the opening of February.

On top of all that, I found that this specific subset is also very Europe-oriented. That’s pretty predictable, given Metal’s long-lasting appeal over on that continent, but usually I find they’re spread out more across my list. Maybe it’s because I have two of the death metal blasting crews here? Either way, the rest of these aren’t going to write themselves, and I’m still looking forward to shouting at you about underrated deathgrind discs at some point — as is my custom — so let’s continue this death march through this 2019 collection together. Continue reading »