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 »

Jan 042019
 

(At last, we reach the fifth and final installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music. It includes his Top 10 albums, plus a list of EPs, and one final non-metal entry.)

Here we go into the final installment. One last grouping of albums and one last collection of thudding riffs, heavy guitars, and enough drumwork to leave one’s head spinning by the time it wraps up.

This final ten is all over the place, in terms of both genre and location. My lists tend to be pretty international always, but the consistent bouncing back and forth that is happening in this part has proven to be entertaining in its own right.

This group also reveals just how much of 2018 turned out to be the year of cathartic release for me. Alongside all the genre-bending, all the experimentation, and all of the well-executed groove, I found that every once in a while this year a disc would hit that would just boil down to a half-hour-plus of yelling, and I would relish every single second of it. I’m sure we could credit that to the wider situation of the world these days but I’ve also always been a sucker for turning music into an instrument of release, and for some reason that approach won me over hard this year.

So let’s begin with the final ten, and then a grouping of EPs I enjoyed this year, my final non-metal (ish) release recommendation, and a small (ish) closing paragraph… because why would I ever stop typing after just finishing the final ten?

That’s for crazy people. Continue reading »

Jan 032019
 

 

(Here’s the fourth installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music. The concluding Top 10 will appear tomorrow.)

A confession: For a long time the only words in this whole writeup prior to me breaking the whole thing into five parts and actually listing the bands was just a whole bunch of swear words. Even though I’ve been doing this for nine years now I still will occasionally try things I learned in writing classes over the years or even some things I’ve read about since then. Stream-of-consciousness writing is one of those, but the only thing I’ve learned from doing that in the context of talking about albums of the year is that I’ve assembled a pretty neat collection of permutations of the word ‘fuck’ that I’ve gathered from popular culture over the years.

It was at this point that I began going back through our review archives so that I could even remember what came out this year. Metal-Archives is also a tremendous help in that regard, since I often can’t remember what I talked about in January unless I’ve listened to it since then. It’s also one of my favorite things to do because I get to have a laugh at how far back I have to go in the segment tagged ‘Reviews’ on the site. I know that we’ve missed more than a few albums, but as it stands now,  our first review of something from 2018 is about forty pages back. And there can be anywhere between five to fifteen albums per page of results — depending on how we grouped them for each article.

I know that’s just reflective of the ‘relentless march of hashtag content’ that the internet has become, but it still makes me smile. If I ever need a reminder that heavy metal is — somehow, despite all the odds and all the editorials about rock music dying — a lively as all hell genre, that’s enough for me. I guess there will always be room for cathartic release via loud instruments, or the various experimentations outside of the tradional music sphere to which this genre loans itself. Continue reading »

Jan 022019
 

 

(Here’s the third installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music.)

Now that I’ve broken it out from the tremendous bulk of the rest of my year-end collective, I’m amused by how much world traveling this specific subset of the list does. It spends a surprising amount of time in France (which has done very well for itself these past few years), some time in the States, some time in Australia, and even manages to touch base with both Canada and Sweden for a few. It is also probably the most varied intsallment so far — the tech-death crews make a strong play here, but you’ll also start seeing some of the prefix-core resurgence that happened recently, as well as some ugly-as-fuck grind (on two fronts). And then there’s however in the hell Author & Punisher might be described.

Oh, did I spoil that Author & Punisher is making an appearance here? Whoops. Well too bad, Beastland is fucking killer but if you want to know why you’ll have to read on and see just where the San Diego noise-engineer found himself. There’s still a lot of list left to go, and knowing me, at least two-thousand more words of intro paragraph left to be written somewhere so let’s get the third chunk of this motherfucker going. Continue reading »

Jan 012019
 

 

(Here’s the second installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music.)

This segment has some interesting patterns in it. The grindcore power hour makes its appearance here, as I’m a sucker for a whole lot of high-speed songwriting over blasting drums, and there’s still some spill-over from the veterans who remained fairly consistent (which you’ll note, defined a lot of part one). As we reach the bottom of the list you’ll start to see some new faces, stunning debuts and incredible full-lengths, and from here the list only gets more and more wild.

As of this writing I’m not sure how to describe the next few segments, but you’ll note that the albums tend to get a little bit more heartfelt, vicious, and a whole lot more passionate as we get further and further into this list. If anything I’d say the immediate thing I’m noting is that the high-twenties of this affair fully sell me out as having had a giant tech-death party. But right now, let us enjoy this current batch of madness as we bounce around from the worlds of grind, to high speed death metal, to a pleasant prog-death and sludge metal break, only to finally close things out with a tremendous crushing of skulls. Continue reading »

Dec 312018
 

 

(DGR is actually turning NCS into a coffee table book, but slowly, one day at a time, from now through Friday.)

About halfway through the year I actually thought I was going to make it through the year-end with a solid Top 30 list and nothing more. For a good chunk of the year, 2018 seemed to move in fits and starts — there would be large batches of album releases and then a couple of quiet weeks, then another small collection, and so on. A lot of the more consistent older guard were on something of an “off year” too, so at first I wasn’t expecting to see a large cast of repeats from two years ago making themselves known. I’ve gotten used to a two-to-three year album cycle, so I half-expected stuff to start pointing towards a real loaded front-half of 2019.

But alas, instead the back-half of 2018 turned out to a be a flood. Not just in bands that I’ve consistently enjoyed either, but a whole bunch of new faces that have either been hammering it out over the years and put out some genuine surprises, or people with some absolutely stunning first-time exposures on my end. Not only that, but who would’ve expected an actually pretty solid -core resurgence, with a lot of groups that had thought to hang it up deciding 2018 would be a good year to resurface and put out some stunningly good releases (at least in some cases).

As a result, 2018 proved to be an absolutely massive year. In some ways I think people’s year-end lists are reflecting just how vibrant the year was for our specific subsection of the musical sphere. While people lament that rock ‘n’ roll is dying or has become lame, heavy metal seems perfectly content to just be the constantly angry and forever roiling collective of music — as if it has found a sort of equilibrium in comparison to the mainstream world outside. Which is how you wind up with stupid shit like this, where I once again have FIFTY (warning ahead of time: if you think this introduction is getting verbose, do I have a surprise for you) albums to talk about in wrapping up this tire fire of a year. Continue reading »