Oct 092019


(This is the third and final subpart of a fourth installment in DGR’s effort to catch up on reviews of 2019 releases he wants to recommend, with this 3-part fourth post devoted to melodic death metal. Today the subject is the third full-length by the Swedish band To Dust, which was released in March of this year.)


The presence here of To Dust comes courtesy of the random-band button at Metal-Archives, which has provided me with quite a few gems and discoveries over the years. I’ve gained a habit of just slamming on that button while on lunch break at work, with the endless flood of metal bands providing multiple cocked eyebrows in the form of ‘that looks interesting’ to ‘holy shit, are you kidding me? that qualifies here?’. To Dust were very much the former — even though their profile photo on that site is hilariously out of date.

For some reason the title of their latest album, False God Of Death, caught my eye, and the simply stated cover art somewhat sealed the deal, though I’d be bullshitting you if I denied that their being a melodeath band didn’t help give the group a boost. As stated before, although tech-death has become a comfort food, melodeath has become my bread-and-butter genre to enjoy.

False God Of Death was released all the way back at the tail end of March and bears a lot of the hallmarks of the melodeath genre: grand keyboard swells, hefty two-step-driven guitar work, and a snarling vocalist hovering in the mid-high range whose vocal delivery is as percussive as their drummer is. Continue reading »

Oct 072019


(DGR turned in a surprise 4th installment in his effort to catch up with reviews of 2019 releases after a personal hiatus. The first 3 installments are here, here, and here. However, our beleaguered editor (me) decided to cut this 4th installment into 3 parts, focusing on one album per day, beginning with this review of the comeback album by Archons.)

Hey, did you guys catch when the previous collection of these reviews was referred to as part three of three?

Ha. Oops.

In all seriousness this last piece is it. After this, I’m caught up, and for that some thanks are in order. Even though life derailed me hard for a moment and this review archive for the longest time held a title of ‘Review Archive Jan-Feb’, ever-expanding and at one point holding twenty-two releases that I had hoped to look at, I was finally able to get this done thanks in large part to the other writers on this site being understanding enough to pick up some of my slack, including reviewing releases that are pretty firmly in the ‘DGR wheelhouse’.

This collection absorbed releases throughout the year, and thanks to the rest of the crew for picking up on bigger releases that I would’ve wanted to talk about like Wormed or Hate, I was able to knuckle up and tackle these lesser-known bands and finally be done.

Just in time for stuff like In Mourning and Insomnium to hit…whoops. Continue reading »

Oct 012019



(NCS scribe DGR continues to catch up on reviews after a long hiatus with a multi-part collection, of which this is the third of three parts.)

There’s something to be said for comfort food in music and there’s something to be said for the weird looks I receive when I say that tech-death has become something of a comfort food. I recognize fully that I will always be somewhat wowed by the musical equivalent of dangling shiny keys in front of me, but my god is that a lot of keys and boy howdy, they sure are shiny.

The tech-death explosion over the years has led to a large amorphous mass that can often lean a little too heavy in both the technical or the -core direction, often making bands seem like expert musicians that just jammed a massive ton of breakdowns in between, making the musical adventurism and haughtiness feel somewhat unearned. 2019 has of course seen a massive number of additions to the genre as groups push and pull at its boundaries to see what else they can do with it or find ways to stick out in an increasingly crowded field.

Some of those releases came from some now pretty-established names. Such was the case with the following three, where my familiarity with the groups’ extended discographies led me to have them on constant play — even when the latter two hit in the first half of the year and we’re now at the point where as writers we’re panicking to try and get as many of the groups as we’ve listened to out there, so we can start focusing on the craziness that is the year-end release schedule. Of course, none of this pile-up was helped by what was previously alluded to as real life rearing up and kicking yours truly right in the head — much as this music has done over the past few months. Continue reading »

Sep 252019


(NCS scribe DGR is catching up on reviews after a long hiatus with a multi-part collection, of which this is the second of three parts.)

This was not intended to be the Australia segment of this roundup when I started. In fact, as I found myself bouncing around this whole archive of intended reviews, the ones I cut out to send off to the teeth machine that is this website kept lowering these down while I was adding to them, until I had the three resting on top of each other, much in the same way a puzzle game will collapse pieces on top of each other in unplanned fashion.

While I mentioned earlier that this archive has found itself both swelling and shrinking in size as the year has gone by, and even as some other writers were kind enough to pick up some of the releases I had been hoping the site would cover, these three managed to stay pretty firm in their places while we waited for their release dates to hit.

For the most part, they were always on the radar screen. It just so happened that two of them would release in close proximity to one another toward the later part of the year and the third is one of those that is strictly in this writer’s wheelhouse and basically found itself spoken for before anyone else could even get the chance to call it. Continue reading »

Sep 242019

Murder Made God


(NCS scribe DGR is catching up after a long hiatus, with a multi-part collection of reviews of 2019 releases, beginning with this one.)

At one point I half-joked with myself that I’d call this column ‘with apologies’. This is due in part to the happening-more-often-than-not real life occurrences taking over my internet-writing time and resulting in missed self-imposed deadline after self-imposed deadline. In fact what you’re seeing right now is only ‘part one’ of this review roundup rather than everything at once, to protect the sanity of both your beloved writer and our beloved editor.

I keep a long running list of albums I’ve been meaning to review, stuff to look at, stuff I think our readers will find interesting, and so-forth, but as mentioned, there was a whole lot of falling behind as life just seemed to cascade one unfortunate event after another in an attempt to crush me. Long story short, by the end of the crushing I wound up with one fewer pet and became a new homeowner, with a whole bunch of bullshit in between. And so in that sense, I feel like there are apologies due not only for the lateness but also for the multiple re-writes that happened behind the scenes as I attempted to shake the rust off of what was essentially two months of exile.

That doesn’t mean music discovery and listening stopped. In fact that was an ongoing activity, and so this archive in all of its Parts covers a wide swath of the year, from January right up to stuff that came out just a few days ago. The same goes for genres and locations, because if there’s anything I do enjoy it’s traveling the world of heavy metal. The world doesn’t stop and wait for us to play catch-up, though, and right now is just as good a time as any to begin again, so if you’ll indulge me doing much shorter reviews than usual, here we go…. Continue reading »

Sep 192019


(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by the Italian black metal band Darkend, which was released by Dark Essence Records on September 13th.)

This website’s fascination with Italian black metal group Darkend began in 2016 with the release of their cameo-packed third album The Canticle Of Shadows. It made a handful of our year-end lists and even landed a song on the 2016 Most Infectious list when that time came around. Admittedly, we have not been the most up to date with the band as of late, and in fact the last time we really posted about the group’s newly released album Spiritual Resonance was way back in June in a news roundup that included amongst its various bands Blood Red Throne, themselves ahaving received a recent writeup here as well.

The three-year gap between Darkend’s previous album The Canticle Of Shadows and the new one has seen the band gain a few more eyes on them, so Spiritual Resonance arrives with some steam behind it. It’s an interesting disc in comparison to its predecessor, less reliant than before on immediate star-power to grab eyes, and also a shorter disc than before – something that has been a trend for the band, since Canticle itself slimmed down to under an hour versus its older sibling’s hefty hour-and-twelve minutes.

Though one track and about seven minutes shorter than Canticle, Spiritual Resonance retains that previous album’s lofty ambitions (which is clearly a Darkend trademark), with its initially deceiving six tracks each clocking in between six and eight minutes. Wrapped within is a swirling mass of black metal that makes a heavy play for the atmospheric and spiritualistic, while also displaying the group’s knack for grand and sweeping theatrics within each song. Continue reading »

Sep 102019


(After a hiatus due to personal obligations, DGR returns to our devoted cadre with this review of the new album by the UK band Necronautical, which will be released by Candlelight Records on CD and gatefold vinyl on September 30th.)

It’s funny that in total run-time, black metal group Necronautical’s latest album Apotheosis is actually two minutes shorter than its predecessor, The Endurance At Night. There exists a temptation after a few spins, to describe Apotheosis as a much bigger album than its predecessor but in terms of actual time spent that is clearly not the case.

Apotheosis marks Necronautical’s third foray into the black metal void, adding their own cinematic and melodic flourishes along the way. It is also the group’s third album to feature seven songs, re-establishing one of a handful of patterns now recognizable throughout Necronautical’s music. Continue reading »

Jun 072019


(This is DGR’s review of the latest album by the Finnish band Lucidity, which was released in February by Inverse Records.)

It’s interesting that we have never before penned words about Lucidity and their branch of the sad-sack melodeath musical tree, as the Finnish group’s keyboard-laden doom-influenced style seems to be perfectly within this website’s wheelhouse — well, at least in one particular writer’s wheelhouse. But now the time has come.

Lucidity have existed for quite a while now, though only recently appearing to have become a more album-oriented project. Prior to the release of their debut disc The Oblivion Circle in 2015, Lucidity had been putting out a steady stream of demos, totalling around five before the aforementioned debut. Nearly four years later — in the back part of February — the group released their sophomore album Oceanum. Clocking in at nearly fifty minutes across eight songs, Oceanum has some heft to it as it drapes itself in a veil of melancholy while conjuring familiar imagery of forests, lakes, and all things pensive. Continue reading »

Jun 062019


(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by Swedish death-thrashers Carnal Forge, which was released in January of this year by ViciSolum Productions.)

There exists a strange compulsion when it comes to review-writing on this end that has often run counter to how the clear majority of reviews are conducted, which usually focus on the most recent collection of up-coming releases. That approach makes sense, as people are often looking for information on albums right around release time, and afterward the discussion moves on to the more fan-driven “what works for me and what doesn’t” style of discussion. However — and you might have noticed this referenced in the recent write-ups by Andy — late discoveries often wind up backlogged in a weird purgatory state of “maybe I’ll write about this”… in between various games of keeping up with the most recent stuff coming out.

Albums left behind can tend to claw at the back of the mind, though. We find ourselves wanting to talk about some discoveries, regardless of release date. Maybe it will give the band a boost back into the public consciousness, however briefly; maybe it’s just to ease that weird guilt of “I’ve been enjoying this since I was introduced to it, yet have said nothing”; and maybe it’s just that the passage of time helps with the congealing of thoughts. Being able to step away from something only to come back later and see what really stuck with you is a wonderful thing, as hindsight can serve as an excellent guide on how to write about a disc.

Long story short, this is a roundabout way of saying, “Hey, remember the end of January? Feels like an eternity ago doesn’t it? Well I’ve been enjoying a disc by the reactivated Carnal Forge that came out around that time and want to talk about it.” Continue reading »

Jun 052019


(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by Nightrage, which is out now on Despotz Records.)

Every Nightrage album that comes out reinforces the conviction that Nightrage are a band who exist by sheer force of will. Who would’ve guessed that so deep into the band’s career they would finally have a vocalist who would stick around for more than two albums? Yet Nightrage’s Wolf To Man sets that record. Who would’ve guessed that the band’s eighth album kept them to a relatively stable schedule, with a relatively stable lineup, and (as it turns out) a relatively stable formula for music? And on top of all this, that they would manage to finally have a song mentioning the name “Nightrage” within the title? Yet Wolf To Man accomplishes all this.

Nightrage’s career is one that has seen the band go through numerous lineup changes (and even here they wound up changing the rhythm section, with a new bassist and a new drummer, as previous drummer Lawrence Dinamarca found himself busy with a newly revitalized Carnal Forge since 2017’s The Venomous), yet somehow always remain something of a standard-bearer for the mid-2000s melodeath scene, and in some ways its sound. Continue reading »