Apr 112019


(DGR reviews, in great depth, the new album by Seattle’s Theories, which will be released by Corpse Flower Records tomorrow — April 12th.)

It’s always a surprise when an album’s art manages to perfectly encapsulate the music within. We’re big fans of awesome album artwork around here, but the times when the art manages to leap past just being an awesome picture and adds to the listening experience are truly special.

I raise this observation in part because the album artwork for Seattle deathgrind group Theories‘ sophomore album Vessel manages to do just that, capturing both the spirit of the album and the production and atmosphere surrounding it.

After a spin of Vessel it’s not hard to imagine that this album was recorded in the same miserable underground dwellings that the album art portrays as the residence of that unfortunate victim. It could also very well be the chaotic soundtrack to what is going on in that individual’s head, as Vessel is a dark and brooding follow-up to its predecessor, 2015’s Regression, and one that finds the band deciding not to go with a straightforward successor in style, but creating an entirely different beast in its own right. Continue reading »

Apr 032019


(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by the Italian extreme metal band Hiss From the Moat, which was released by Salem Rose Music and M-Theory Audio on February 22nd, and features cover artwork by Stefano Bonora.)

The family tree of the hyper-blasting death metal groups from Italy is a densely populated series of branches that seem to spiral every outwards with a tremendous number of offshoots and tied-together snarls that could make fractal patterns jealous.

This specific region and genre have found more musicians crossing paths than might even be initially obvious. Hiss From The Moat‘s branch of the tree has always been a strange outlier, taking their genre’s penchant for near-relentless and precise brutal death metal and combining it with the heavy atmospherics and low-tuned guitar batterings of blackened death metal — like a latter day Hour Of Penance crashing headlong into Apostasy/Evangelion-era Behemoth. Continue reading »

Apr 022019


(Here’s DGR’s review of the new EP by Sweden’s Axis of Despair, which was released in February.)

While a lot of reviews so far this year have been the result of my waiting to see how an album sits with me post-release, or the more common reason of playing desperate catch-up with all the stuff I want to write about, the release of Axis Of Despair‘s latest EP And The Machine Rolls On — with Selfmadegod handling black and pink vinyls of the release — is one that legitimately just flew under our radar.

Released in early February, And The Machine Rolls On contains another six songs of the musical spasm that Axis Of Despair call their branch of grind. The group recorded it during the sessions for last year’s Contempt For Man release, and it runs about nine minutes in length. Continue reading »

Apr 012019


(This is DGR‘s review of the new album by the German death metal band Deserted Fear, which was released by Century Media in February.)

Deserted Fear sound absolutely massive on their fourth album, Drowned By Humanity. Having released discs at a fairly steady clip – one every two years for the most part – the Deserted Fear crew have had plenty of opportunities to iterate and expand upon their sound – and also to keep to the black-and-white-skulls motif that makes up a majority of their album artwork.

They have found themselves lying somewhere in the realm of a slightly more melodeath-leaning Kataklysm, with an album (to repeat) written to sound massive. Drowned By Humanity is built around big riffs, big grooves, and big hooks, making its forty-some-odd minutes feel like a hell of a lot longer. Continue reading »

Mar 222019


(This is DGR’s review of the new album by the Finnish icons Children of Bodom, which was released on March 8th by Nuclear Blast.)

Fathoming what a “return to form” by Children Of Bodom would sound like is an exceedingly difficult task. It seems that every new album from the Bodom crew is referred to as a “return to form”, and yet what “form” the group are returning to is never fully explained.

If anything, for better or worse, Children Of Bodom have been one of those groups who have been the very hallmark of consistency. You could throw on any of the group’s ten main albums (including their latest, the one discussed here) plus a few of their EPs and have a generally good time with the guitar-shred and keyboard-cheese therein. Yet within that consistent discography there have absolutely been different eras of Children Of Bodom songwriting.

You can begin with the thrashier form of Something Wild, then move to the neo-classical hybrid that the band would become in the Hatebreeder/Follow The Reaper/Hatecrew Deathroll era that is a high-point of the group’s career (which one would guess is the “form” people are often saying they’re returning to), to the chunkier and Americanized-groove of Are You Dead Yet? and Blooddrunk, and on to the group’s most recent three, which have been all over the place stylistically. Continue reading »

Mar 192019


(DGR catches up to the debut EP by Tribe of Pazuzu, which was released in February this year.)

It’s not hard to imagine why the announcement of Tribe Of Pazuzu and their debut EP release Heretical Uprising turned some heads on first notice: It’s not often you get a group that unites musicians with credits to their name like Cryptopsy, Incantation, Soulstorm, and Pestilence. Yet that’s what this hybrid Canadian/American death metal band does, combining the forces of bassist/vocalist Nick Sagias, guitarists Randy Harris and John McEntee, and drummer Flo Mounier. Together they’ve recorded five songs and just over fourteen minutes of high speed death metal that is surprisingly straightforward, bludgeoning, and clear-sounding from a collective of musicians whose previous groups have alternated between sounding like cavernous whirlwind maws of death metal and sheer technical chaos.

Tribe Of Pazuzu‘s somewhat thrashier offering moves quickly, with a take-no-prisoners approach, and is so surgical about it that after its fourteen minutes wrap up, you’ll likely be a couple of spins into Heretical Uprising before you can even sort your thoughts from the first run-through. Continue reading »

Mar 062019


(This is DGR’s very enthusiastic review of the new EP by the Russian band Moro Moro Land, which was released on February 20.)

I enjoyed the hell out of the Russian group Moro Moro Land‘s 2015 EP Through. The combination of dark atmospherics, the smoke-tinged reverb-haze that seemed to surround the band, and the metallic-hardcore with which the band built that EP really struck a chord with me. To this day, Through remains a constant listen. While the “Something In The Way” cover plays it relatively straight, it also does a fantastic job of demonstrating the filter through which Moro Moro Land put their music. If you’re familiar with the original then you’ll hear how the songs prior to it were formed and then “painted ugly”, just to add a fine layer of dinge to an already heavy experience.

Which is why learning through our very own web site about the group’s followup Smirenie, four years after its predecessor, put me in two very distinct moods. I felt like an utter dipshit for learning through our own news about a band I had gotten used to regularly checking up on myself, and I was also incredibly excited — because if the Moro Moro Land crew could inch anywhere close to Through again, then the Smirenie EP was going to be something that would be very easy to recommend.

At a little over twenty minutes in length, if the question is whether you should give Moro Moro Land‘s new EP a shot, then the answer is relatively simple: Absolutely yes. Continue reading »

Mar 052019


(DGR reviews the newest album by Finland’s Swallow the Sun, which was released on January 25th. All photos accompanying this review were made by Jussi Ratilainen.)

Of all the reviews that are currently piling up on this end of the internet spectrum — and every year there will always be a handful in this situation — Swallow The Sun‘s latest album When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light (released at the tail end of January) is one of those which has taken the longest to write — and not because you’re viewing the result of a drunken bet to see how many words we can fit onto a page.

There’s a whole swath of reasons for that: Continue reading »

Feb 272019


(This is DGR’s review of the new album by the French symphonic death metal band Gorgon, which was released by Dusktone on January 18, 2019.)

In the mental picture of our pretend NCS office that I keep in my head — when there isn’t somehow a gigantic fire in the corner that no one can explain — I often imagine the handful of us as having desks, as if we were respectable, upright citizens. So when I often say that a promo was “slid across my desk”, I’m projecting what I know of my fellow writers onto the surmised reasons why they may have sent a certain disc my way as they strolled by. This does happen, in the virtual world if not in a world of desks, as we are often determined to find music that we can share with each other, as well as all of you.

The arrival of France’s Gorgon and their latest album Elegy at the NCS office was one of those moments, where I felt as if I could sense the album slowly sliding my way, especially as more and more details of the group were revealed — as if it had become sentient itself and our meeting was an inevitability. Continue reading »

Feb 152019


(DGR reviews the new album by the now-larger-than-life Greek black metal band Rotting Christ, which is being released today by Season of Mist.)

If at this point in their career Rotting Christ have decided to be the AC/DC of anti-religious heavy metal then I am all for it, even if it just boils down to me having an easier time explaining why I enjoy the songcraft that the band have been up to for so many years now.

To say that they’ve found a sound would be putting it politely; Rotting Christ not only found a sound, but they also basically defined it and then later let it define them. Especially in more recent years they have basically shifted from being a fire-fueled black metal nightmare into an almost Hollywood-esque war-drums-and-all hybrid of martial rhythms, ’70s prog guitar influences, and the straightforward guitar stomp and lead work that has made them so insanely catchy over the years. The group’s latest disc, The Heretics, is a giant block of that specific sound. Continue reading »