Mar 112021

(Find out what our man DGR thought of the new album from San Francisco’s Ominous Ruin, out now on Willowtip Records.)

Ominous Ruin‘s first full length album – after a string of demo’s and EPs throughout the late aughts – Amidst Voices That Echo In Stone starts in a very different spot from where it ends up.

The band’s sound is one of multiple extreme genres in all-out combat with each other, fully unloading from the hyperactive Tech Death scene even as it drains the arsenal from a very Brutal Death inspired segment as well.

It’s an ambitious album for sure, but not one that feels intentionally crafted to become a journey – more that it just wound up that way as songs morphed over time, from that previously mentioned superspeed blast festival into something weirdly proggy, incredibly dense, and all too willing to dive headlong into some profoundly (and joyously) dumb caveman chug all over the course of nine songs.

If it seems like the Bay Area crew are one of those amorphous bands able to reach tentacles into a variety of places and drag down so much of it back into their maw by that descriptor, you wouldn’t be too far off, but the fact that they make it work here…now that’s worth talking about.

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Mar 102021

(DGR jumps back into action once again with a pair of short but sweet EP reviews)

Three months in and although the review slate so far has been oddly stop-start – understandable given the shitshow we’re slowly crawling out of, especially when we can start complaining about being buried by our day jobs again – we’ve had some very choice releases so far.

So I figured after a bunch of long ass reviews I’d try to pick a couple of EPs to keep things shorter for you all, even as I keep on digging through everything else as it’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Right now I present to you some very much up-my-alley style of music though, one Grind release that I’m convinced I have spelled wrong every time it appears (despite the fact that I copy and paste it off of the bandcamp every time) and one so firmly implanted in the Brutal Death concrete that using a jackhammer to get them out would just be added instrumentation for atmosphere.

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Mar 082021


(DGR catches up with the new record by Canada’s Fractal Generator, which was released in January by Everlasting Spew Records.)

You’ll likely be reading this one way out of chronological order given the tendency I’ve developed with this album to want to dive back in, write a little, crawl back out, and then dive back in again.

As a result, there’s been multiple discs from the moment this review started that have coasted into and out of my purview.

But, needless to say, as of recent I have been absolutely buried in a wall of incredibly dense Death Metal.

And while I’m talking about multiple albums one could also ascribe that feeling to Fractal Generator‘s newest album Macrocosmos all on its own.

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Feb 192021


(We present the fourth and final installment from an avalanche of reviews that DGR delivered unto us earlier this week, and today’s edition focuses on the newest album by Australia’s The Amenta, which is being released today by Debemur Morti Productions.)

It’s been a good bit of time since we last heard from the Australian amorphous extreme metal genre-hoppers The Amenta. Their sound has expanded widely over the years, with releases that range from a blackened death metal vein, to industrialized monstrosities, and even some straightforward noise and black metal collisions for fun. I’ve even seen them granted the genre-descriptor of ‘terminator metal’ a few times, given their favoring of distorted electronic backings that can often sound like failing machinery.

By the time of 2013’s Flesh Is Heir the group’s sound was firmly planted in a vast maelstrom of industrial noise and blackened death metal, and it is a release that we have yelled about for a long time – largely my fault – at this here site. The eight years since then, though, have been relatively quiet and have seen The Amenta‘s various musicians spread far and wide. It seemed for a little while that the group would be slowly shadowed out – that is, until the announcement of the group’s newest album Revelator. Continue reading »

Feb 182021


(We present the third installment from an avalanche of four reviews that DGR delivered unto us earlier this week, and today’s edition focuses on the newest album by Illinois-based Mechina, which was released on January 1st.)

I did not review Mechina’s 2019 album Telesterion for this here website. This is something that bothered me for a lot longer than I expected. All the way into mid-2020 I was swearing up and down I would do a 2019 archive of stuff I had come to super-late, but truth be told that was always only part of the reason why it never got a deep-dive here, despite my continued insistence of enjoying nearly everything the band have done.

The main driver behind that decision actually came down to the simple fact that Telesterion is a completely different style of album from previous Mechina works, and in some ways that disc served as a foray into newer sounds for them. It’s the first time when the project fully leaned into its conceptual side and you had vocalists playing characters within songs, and thus the characters sang about certain of the events being described. Continue reading »

Feb 162021


(We present the second installment from an avalanche of four reviews that DGR delivered unto us yesterday, and this one focuses on a solo album by the Swedish musician Jari Lindholm that was released on February 12.)

Early 2021 did not seem like it would be the sort of release slate that would involve covering a few instrumental releases right out of the gate but here we are, inching our way further into February, and as we slowly hack away at our early-year backlogs and anticipate upcoming downpours we find ourselves at the doorstep of musician Jari Lindholm.

You may recall him from projects like Enshine, Exgenesis, and Atoma – which have received a fair bit of coverage here for their gorgeous takes on a melancholically minded doom genre. So while the initial reveal of a seven-song instrumental journey was unexpected, the combination of international musicians coming along for the ride and the fact that, well, we generally enjoyed most of Jari’s work up to this point, made it a little easier to justify the hard swings from albums chock-full of clean singing despite our site title to something that contains absolutely no singing.

Sometimes, I feel like a parent threatening to pull this car over and make you all walk home when we get to do that. Continue reading »

Feb 152021


(We present the first NCS review of 2021 by DGR. Even though we’re already six weeks into the new year without hearing from him, he has been busy listening and writing — witness the fact that we suddenly have an archive of four reviews, divided into four parts, of which this is the first. The others will follow over the next three days.)


We’ve been hammering the drum for Greek black metal group Human Serpent for a little while now – at least your dear writer has – so the announcement last year of a full-length followup to the group’s scorcher of a 2018 album For I, The Misanthropist (after a series of intervening EPs and singles) was exciting. While the singles and EPs proved to be a lot of fun, if only as a small slice of just how surgically dangerous the band have become, a new full-length blasting from the group’s furnace was obviously going to be a lot more exciting.

And thus with the closing of January do we find ourselves at the feet of the group’s latest release Heirlooms Eternal, an album self-described by the band like this: “It is the most aggressive, soul-suffocating and mind-destructive Human Serpent album/It is a physical manifestation of a life-walking private hell.”

For one: The album is certainly the most visually colorful, given the group’s excellent choice of red and black for the cover art (we may be biased toward that combo) vs their usual muted blacks, greys, and sepia tones. But also, when you have a song with a title like “Memories Are Rooms Of Pain”, you can’t help but think that maybe the band might be on to something when they describe their own music as “soul-suffocating”. Continue reading »

Dec 262020


(Morbidly worrying whether the combined tonnage of words and music might finally sink the site, today we publish the fifth and final Part of DGR’s 2020 year-end list, counting down his personal Top 10 albums, and then adding some “not heavy” favorites and some EPs to wrap things up.)

We made it to the end. I can’t believe it. They haven’t kicked me off the site yet and somehow my hands haven’t fallen off at the wrist. In my best Richard Attenborough voice, “Welcome, to the final ten”….”and a whole bunch of other shit”.

We close out the final ten by going on what I would deem an absolute adventure. There’s no real throughline here, just impressive album after impressive album, all of which come highly recommended. You’ll note a handful of bigger names but there were some serious surprises that hijacked my listening this year and I felt it right that they be rewarded thusly. I really do hope that if you’ve never heard some of these bands before that you’ll check them out, because the final five or so are an absolute cacophony and I loved every second of it.

As usual, because this is the finale of my personal year-end archive and once again there’s no space left in the site’s budget for fireworks, I’ve once again gathered together all of the EPs as well as the ‘not metal’ releases – I elaborate further there – in the hopes that if you’ve made it this far, then some shorter or some more out-of-left-field stuff might be worthy of looking into as well.

If you have made it this far, thank you so much for reading all of this. I say this every year because I both love and hate myself for doing it, but I truly do treasure the ability to just look back at the year and then splatter a tremendous amount of albums on the wall for me to then write about. The final ten await and I hope some surprises sit there for all of you as well. Let’s journey on. Continue reading »

Dec 252020


(Today we arrive at Part 4 of the 5-part countdown for DGR’s 2020 year-end list, with the albums he ranked 20-11.)

So, here’s the thing about day four of my personal list (not the site’s list, of which there’s no such thing): This is one of those days where there are some gigantic albums. Not big in brand name, but big in terms of musical stature. This was a year where I was drawn to the ambition of certain groups. If they were making music that seemed much further-reaching than their lineup would suggest, then I was probably there with bells on for a bit.

I think thematically in this installment you have some of the most cerebral and refined acts that I listened to this year. I could also imagine that for a lot of you this segment of my list might resemble a good chunk of your own top tens. I understand that completely because these are albums I was absolutely impressed by, ones I felt proud to have heard and ones I often had to prepare to listen to. There are multiple hour-plus releases in this section, and if you like your ‘variations on a theme’ style of death metal, then except for a couple of oddballs this section of the list makes a grand tour through those styles.

We do go to warp speed for a bit, and I actually had a few black metal releases land with me here, which was a pleasant surprise given how most of the time I feel like I include two or three total in my year-end lists. Number eleven – I think – will feel like a given to a lot of people, but I really do think they earned it.

As I have every day during the rollout of this personal archive, I highly recommend you take the time and give all of these a listen if you get the chance. I’m sure you’ll find something to love here. Continue reading »

Dec 232020


(We’ve now reached Part 3 of the 5-part countdown for DGR’s 2020 year-end list, with the albums he ranked 30-21.)

After the blistering as hell way I sent out the previous edition of this, I felt that a change of musical pace would be nice. It’s right about at this specific grouping that I think my year-end list can be considered a little more formalized. I tend to refer to everything in the higher numbers as being very fluid and kind of anarchic with rankings popping in and out of existence at random. That’s because I enjoy all of those releases, but it isn’t until you hit the lower numbers that we really land on the albums I was listening to constantly.

Hilarious, given that today marks the first appearance – of a handful – of what I refer to as “Abrasive block”, which is the collection of albums that when all grouped together will likely sand your face down to a very smooth surface by the time you’re done listening to them. On top of that, I found room for some real hopeless and melancholy-filled doom, as well as a little black metal and some impressively tight death metal acts.

I even close things out with one of the few releases I genuinely considered ‘fun’ this year, if only to break up the absolute hammering you’re going to absorb by the time you reach twenty-four through twenty-two. You’ll even catch an appearance by albums that made Andy’s “Great” list so I can pretend to be some sort of refined critic instead of my usual surfing the web lookng for a decent big red honking nose that’ll fit my head.

We’ve only got a few days left and, reliably, things will only get nuttier and the writing more navel-gazy from here on out. Continue reading »