Oct 142014


Here’s a rather large selection of new songs and videos released in the last few days that I decided were worth your time — and who better than me to decide how you should spend your time?  Exactly.

I’ve arranged these offerings in alphabetical order by band name. It’s quite a varied selection, so I’m hoping everyone will find something to like.


We’re now two songs into the ramp-up for one of the most highly anticipated extreme metal releases of the year — Grand Morbid Funeral, the first album by Bloodbath since 2008. The second song, “Famine of God’s Word”, was revealed yesterday through a lyric video. I’m of two minds about the song.

On the one hand, the instrumental music is just downright vicious — a brutally heavy, galloping, squalling, skin-flaying, gut-punching romp, with an eerie lead guitar melody that floats through the song like a phantasm. Continue reading »

Sep 072014


I spent a chunk of yesterday catching up on new music premieres and teasers from last week. I’ve collected four of the best in this post, representing a range of metal styles.


Portland’s genre-bending Atriarch are preparing for the release of their third album, An Unending Pathway, via Relapse Records on October 27. It’s available for pre-order here. Last week one of the new album tracks had its premiere. The title is “Collapse”.

This new song is well-named — it sounds like both a physical and an emotional collapse, the kind from which there won’t be a rebuilding. The rumbling drums and sour guitar melody dominate the song, with the vocal mix of horrific growls and psychedelic wails giving it the air of a ritualistic chant. Before it ends, all hell breaks loose; the drums become spine-shattering, the vocals turn to ghastly shrieks, the bass and guitars become an explosive wall of sound. Doom on… Continue reading »

Sep 062012

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn made the trek to Germany for this year’s edition of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, and provided us with a review of the bands whose performances he witnessed.  We’ve divided the review into two parts. In this post, Andy covers the festival’s first two days, and tomorrow we’ll have his impressions of Day 3. We’ve also collected videos of many of the performances at the end of the post.)

So… German festivals go Thursday – Saturday, not Friday – Sunday… who knew? Well apparently everyone else in the world except for us, when we booked an overnight stay in Cologne on the Wednesday night! Still, Cologne was awesome, and only a mere four hours drive away…

Anyway, on reaching the site (after a desperate last minute rush to the petrol station – seriously, make sure you fill up before you reach the Dinkelsbuhl exit guys and gals!) we joined a surprising, infuriating, queue of cars, followed by an interminable security check… time was ticking away and Be’lakor (one of my primary reasons for going to the festival) would soon be taking the stage! So with some slightly rushed stunt driving (I’m pretty certain I went down that grass verge as much sideways as I did forwards) and a breathless scramble… we made it. Just.


Justifying our desperate, occasionally slightly risky, efforts to get to the festival on time, Be’lakor were undeniably awesome. Live, the Agallochian overtones of the music come through a lot more, a melding of misty melancholy with swells of oceanic heaviness giving the band a more distinctive and individual live presence. The group’s image is a little difficult to reconcile with the music though, encompassing a host of short haircuts, laid-back Australian accents, and inappropriate t-shirts! Shame on you guys!

The next band I was dying to see also happened to be one of my favourites, my loyalty to Darkest Hour forcing me to choose them in an unfortunate clash with Glorior Belli. And though it pained me to do so, I’m glad I did. Darkest Hour never disappoint, their punky, hyper-energetic take on melodic death metal fitting perfectly with the blazing sunshine and free-wheeling atmosphere of the festival. Plus, I was still yet to see them live with either the new material or the new line-up, and both absolutely killed it live. Continue reading »

Dec 172011

Gee whiz, it’s been almost 24 hours since we last talked about a Finnish band here at NCS, and even though Andy Synn listed two of them yesterday as his top 2 picks for favorite albums of 2011, the loris horde at the NCS Compound is starting to get restless, so we’d better do something about that.

Bone5 is a band from Jyväskylä who released their debut album in 2010 — Dead City Tales. Earlier this month, they released their second album, From the Ashes. What caught my eye was the news announced in late November that Pasi Pasanen had joined the band as its new drummer. Pasi Passanen was the drummer for Swallow the Sun for almost the first decade of that fine band’s existence (2000 – 2009). In addition, along with Bone5’s vocalist Tony Kaikkonen (Code of Silence) and a couple of dudes from Ghost Brigade (among others), he’s also a member of a fairly new band called Sons of Aeon, who we featured with high praise in this post last spring.

When I saw the news about Pasanen joining Bone5, the band had just released a music video for a track off From the Ashes called “Rain”. I liked the song a lot, but deferred writing about it until I could try to learn a bit more about the band. With the help of fireangel, who’s a Finland-based creator of the Night Elves site and whose year-end list of songs we published recently (here), I was able to get in touch with Pasi Pasanen, and he was nice enough to answer a few of my questions.

After the jump, check out the cool video for “Rain”, and you can also read our mini-interview with Pasi Pasanen. Continue reading »

Dec 162011

(This is the last installment in Andy Synn’s week-long series of posts looking back at albums released this year. Andy previously provided his lists of the year’s Great albumsthe Good ones, and the most Disappointing ones, as well as his list of “The Critical Top 10″. For more explanation of what all this means, plus Andy’s picks for the year’s best EPs, visit this location.)

So here we are, the last list of Andy Synn Week (maybe not the official title, but give me something here guys). Here you will find the ten albums that have made the biggest impact on me personally, the ones which make the most frequent appearance on my playlist. Rarely a day goes by without me listening to at least one of these albums, often several times.

You will note that, in contrast to last year, all my favourite albums this year are drawn from my “Great” list. For once, this is definitely coincidental; it just so happens that as I was paring down my overall list of favourite albums to a mere ten entries, I was left solely with albums that I believe are personally, as well as critically, my absolute favourites. It also covers a whole spectrum of albums, some released right back at the very beginning of the year, reaching all the way up to extremely recent releases, so it also serves as a reasonably comprehensive list in terms of the time-frame it covers!

There’s some minor cross-over with yesterday’s list, as some albums were always bound to be both critically and personally fulfilling, but largely you’ll find here a cross-section of my musical preferences from the year. Each album comes with a short explanation of why I love it; not necessarily why it’s the “Best” album of the year, but just why it clicks with me personally. Continue reading »

Dec 152011

(This is the fourth in Andy Synn’s week-long series of posts looking back at albums released this year. Andy previously provided his lists of the year’s Great albumsthe Good ones, and the most Disappointing ones, and tomorrow we’ll have his Personal Top 10. Today, we have his list of “The Critical Top 10”. For more explanation of what all this means, plus Andy’s picks for the year’s best EPs, visit this location.)

So here’s the penultimate list of the week, the first of two ranked top-tens. This list will include the albums that I think are the very best of the best, the ones that best combine creativity, artistic ambition, song-writing, and performance. Regardless of my personal feelings and preferences, these are the albums that I think are critically superior to others. Though the ranking of them was difficult (as it always is when trying to compare artists and albums across metallic sub-genres), I’ve tried my best to give a sense about the critical and objective factors that led to each record earning its respective position on this list.

Although the potential candidates for the list were unavoidably influenced by my own listening tastes — I do, after all, only really tend to select the albums that I feel best qualified and most inspired to review – I have done my best to keep personal preference as far away from these judgements as possible, something that I hope will become clear when you see tomorrow how different the list of my top ten “favourite” albums of the year is from today’s list.

So here are the ten releases I think best represent the year critically. The ten that, ultimately, would be my choices to represent the year in metal music for posterity. Some of them have appeared quite commonly on other lists, albeit perhaps weighted differently, while others have largely been ignored by other sources thus far. Enjoy . . . Continue reading »

Aug 292011

(Andy Synn reviews the latest album from Finland’s Ghost Brigade, and after that we’ve got the new official video for “Clawmaster”.)

Finnish gloom-merchants Ghost Brigade return with their third album, Until Fear No Longer Defines Us. Befitting its beautiful artwork, the album has a full and evocative sound; lush, melancholy melodies shimmering like starlight atop mountains of heaving, Neurosis-esque riffage, while subtle keyboard embellishments (provided once again by Swallow The Sun’s Aleksi Munter) provide unobtrusive, yet unashamedly progressive undercurrents.

Compared to its predecessors, this record is more exposed and more wide-open, less claustrophobic and confined, yet in many ways just as oppressive in its heavy, dark atmosphere. Colder and more sombre than the albums that came before it, it is as if, stepping outside of their self-imposed isolation, the architects have become aware of the vastness of the sky above them and of the oppressive, stupefying insignificance of themselves in the grander scheme of things.

Opening with the acoustic ode to woe that is “In The Woods”, the album throws a curveball right from the off, skilfully adept fingers plucking out elegant melodies from weeping nylon strings as vocalist Manne Ikonen breathes life into a tale of sorrow and broken dreams with his clear and sophisticated vocals. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jul 012011

June is behind us, July lies ahead. Here in the U.S., we’re about to start the long weekend leading up to Independence Day, when Americans celebrate the birth of the nation by buying explosive ordinance wherever fine explosive ordinance is sold and lighting up the night sky (in addition to blowing the shit out of objects and sometimes themselves). People will also be exposing unsightly parts of their bodies wherever sun can be found and eating large quantities of health food prepared on outdoor grills. Our Founding Fathers would be proud of what they wrought!

Because the last month has ended, that means it’s time for 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 May 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. And feel free to tell us about how we fucked up by omitting releases that we overlooked. Continue reading »

Jul 012011

Today we begin a new month with a long weekend. Though it’s awfully tempting to take a short break from blogging, we’re still OCD enough to continue forging ahead so’s we can keep our record intact (at least one new post every fucking day since we started this site). And we do have some things cooking for the three-day weekend that we hope will be fun.

But to kick off the new month and the long weekend in the right style, go past the jump and enjoy these bits of new metal awesomeness: First, a stage-view video of Poland’s Vader performing “Lead Us” at Death Feast Open Air 2011 in Germany on June 25. The video quality is good, the perspective is fun, and the sound is quality enough to be . . . crushing. Nuclear Blast is preparing to begin streaming the first song from Vader’s next album, Welcome To The Morbid Reich, beginning on July 15. We’ll remind you when that day arrives.

After that, enjoy the first song — “Clawmaster” — to be released from the next album by Finland’s Ghost Brigade. This song does include some clean singing, but it most definitely qualifies as an Exception to the Rule. It achieves a successful marriage of beastly power and sweeping, melancholy beauty. I’m on my sixth listen to the song as I type this. More listens lie ahead. Ghost Brigade’s third album, Until Fear No Longer Defines Us, will hit the streets on August 19 in Europe and on August 23 in NorthAm via Season of Mist.

Last, but not least, watch Dissection performing the song “Night’s Blood” in Stockholm (in 2006, I think). The video quality is excellent, the song is matchless, and the performance . . . to quote one of the comments on YouTube, “it’s so fucking epic, you can’t breathe anymore”. Credit to Andy Synn for this item.

In another hour or so, we’ll have our next edition of MORE 2011 SICKNESS, with a round-up of forthcoming albums projected for release in the months ahead. Until then, watch and listen to Vader, Ghost Brigade, and Dissection  . . . Continue reading »

Jun 252011

In this EYE-CATCHERS series we usually pick music to sample from bands we’ve never heard before based solely on their album art. It’s an ongoing experiment, testing the illogical hypothesis that if the artwork is cool, the music will be, too. Today, we’re continuing that experiment with three bands — Trials (U.S.), Minushuman (France), and The Cleansing (Denmark) — all of whom have new albums on the way.

But we just couldn’t resist also featuring eye-catching artwork from forthcoming albums by two bands we already know and like very much — Fleshgod Apocalypse and Ghost Brigade. We don’t yet have any new music from those albums to toss your way, so we’ll play some older tunes from both bands as a reminder about why we care about what they’re up to. Yes, lots of bands to be covered in this post — so we’ll keep the verbiage short and focus on the art and the music.


You knew we were going to feature the album art for FA’s next release, Agony, which is due on August 9 from Nuclear Blast. Along with Bury Your Dead (whose 2009 line-up change spurred the start of this site), they’ve sort of become the unofficial NCS “house band” (which means we wished they lived at our house so they could play for us all the time). The only reason we’re a couple days late in posting about it was so we could finish up the rest of this long EYE-CATCHERS installment. It’s a hell of an album cover, don’t you think? Credit goes to the very talented Marco Hassman. Continue reading »