Mar 132012

(In this post, NCS writer Andy Synn reviews the superb new album by Belgium’s Enthroned.)

I can’t quite tell you exactly why, with the advent of Obisdium, Enthroned have produced their magnum opus, a defining statement of their sound and purpose. It’s a combination of lots of little things, and a culmination of years of work and progression from a band who have always teetered on the edge of producing something great. The songs stand proudly alone, yet united as a furious horde of channelled barbarism, every instrument given prominence and power in a combination both compelling and devastating.

The lethal focus and razor-sharp intent of each and every track is like a scalpel cutting into fragile flesh, clean, quick and precise. Yet this impressive concision and precision does not preclude variety. For all its panzerfaust blasting assault on the senses, the album manages to intelligently vary its pacing and style, from a blizzard of icy tremolo picking to a more death metal stomp and grind, through to rusted, doomy funeral marches of ghastly, shrouded chords. At its fastest, the album absolutely scorches, leaving behind only blackened and gnarled bones, licked by ebon flames. At its slowest, it churns a hideous maelstrom of dragging rip-tides and claustrophobic, choking undercurrents.

For all that Obisidum represents as another salvo in the Satanic war of dominion, it does so with disarming cleverness and subtlety, easing its way under the listeners’ skins to possess them wholly and entirely. Though it never sacrifices sheer, obliterating power, it is the hidden complexities and predatory intelligence of the material’s construction that makes it the most devastating weapon of damnation in Enthroned’s 9-album strong arsenal.

The devil truly is in the details. Continue reading »

Mar 012012

Lots of new music relevant to my interests debuted yesterday. Because it interests me, I presume that it will interest you, because of course if something is interesting to me it will necessarily interest you simply because I find it interesting. If you disagree with that statement, please keep it to yourself so that I can retain my high opinion of myself.

Because this post includes so much music, I will attempt to keep my verbal diarrhea in check by using the patented NCS butt plug, figuratively speaking of course. Not literally. Literally, I’ll limit my song descriptions to two words each.


We previously featured the artwork for this Italian band’s new album. It will be called Sedition and will be released on March 27 in North America, April 2 in the U.K., and April 6 in mainland Europe via Prosthetic Records.

HoP will be following the release of Sedition with a North American tour — their first — which will be headlined by The Black Dahlia Murder and will also include Nile and Skeletonwitch. I already climbed out on a limb and predicted that this will blow up Hour of Penance in North America much as their fellow Romans in Fleshgod Apocalypse blew up through NorthAm touring in the wake of last year’s Agony.

Now we’ve got the first track from Sedition:, which Terrorizer premiered yesterday: Bone splintering. Continue reading »

Feb 102012

Here’s the second of today’s three posts about new song premieres from bands we like.

Last month, we featured the eye-catching cover art created by Olve J. W. l for an album I’m highly anticipating — the new one from Belgian black metal band Enthroned. They recently signed a two-album deal with Agonia Records. Their new album, Obsidium, will be released on March 20 in Europe and on April 10 in North America.

Yesterday, the band debuted the album’s magisterial title track. It’s a charging, plunging animal with claws out and teeth bared, marked by an insistent, needle-like guitar melody that’s already hooked itself in my head. Nornagest’s scraped-throat, mid-range vocals are passionate and powerful, and the brief moment of clean singing behind them works quite well.

This is a jam that I would put on a repeat loop for the morning if I could. It bodes well for the album as a whole. Have a listen after the jump. Continue reading »

Jun 022011

Damn, I’m finally able to go outside without shivering and being beaten about the head and shoulders with high winds and rain blowing sideways. That must mean it’s June in Seattle!  And so it is. A largely dismal May is behind us, the Seattle Mariners are astonishingly only a game and a half out of first place in their division (that’s baseball for you outlanders), and the summer lies ahead.

What else lies ahead? A bunch of new metal, of course. And because it’s the beginning of a new month, we’re bringing you another installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, in which we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — this isn’t a cumulative list. If we found out about a new album during April or preceding months, we wrote about them in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. Continue reading »

Jun 082010

I’ve confessed before that I’m a relative newcomer to the charms of black metal, though I’ve found a lot to like and we’ve written about black-metal releases pretty frequently at this site. When I received a copy of the new release by Enthroned, I decided I really needed to listen to it carefully.

Why? Partly because (with some lineup changes) this Belgian band has been around for 17 years and partly because Enthroned has announced their first U.S. tour in almost a decade — and one of the stops is at our home base of Seattle. (We’ve got the full list of tour dates after the jump.)

So, I’ve been listening to Pentagrammaton — the band’s ninth studio album — and it continues to reverberate in my head even when I’m not consciously thinking about it.  It has become one of my favorite black-metal releases of the year.  I’ll try to explain why, and maybe that will help you decide whether it’s worth checking out.

The first thing that struck me was the production style. Now, to put this in context, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of death metal with “modern” production values — sharp, clear, and with an emphasis in the mix on a powerful low-end, with prominent drums, bass, and hammering rhythm guitar riffage.

Pentagrammaton is a different breed of cat. The production yields a fusion of the instruments in a shifting wall of sound, with a deemphasis on the low end of the register. The bass segment of the sonic spectrum is almost non-existent in every respect. Even in the drumming — which by the way is insanely pyrotechical — the heavy sound of the kick drums and toms are dialed into the background of the mix. Most of the time they sound like the muffled thunder of a distant storm.  (more after the jump, including a song to hear . . .) Continue reading »