Jun 082023

(We were very fortunate that our Denver-based friend Gonzo made the trip to Seattle for the recent fifth edition of NCS-sponsored Northwest Terror Fest, and took it upon himself to report on the experience of all three days. You can find his report on Day 1 here, and below you’ll find his impressions of Day 2, accompanied by photos made by pro photographer extraordinare John Malley, and by our editor islander.)

Despite the transcendent ass-kicking YOB dealt out at the close of the previous night, I woke up feeling like my body had not been put through a cement mixer on Friday morning. This was both a welcome surprise and a relief.

Historically, Fridays at NWTF are always when the party feels like it gets kicked into 12th gear. There’s just more of everything – more people, more intensity, more energy. Even for only two stages in a relatively small venue, this festival always manages to capture lightning in a bottle. Tonight, I felt, would be no exception.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Continue reading »

Jun 062023

(We were very fortunate that our Denver-based friend Gonzo made the trip to Seattle for the recent fifth edition of NCS-sponsored Northwest Terror Fest, and took it upon himself to report on the experience of all three days, beginning with Part 1 today. The accompanying photos were mostly made by pro photographer extraordinare John Malley, and a few by our editor islander.)

It was an unusually warm day in Seattle. The early afternoon sunlight was already bringing out the locals from a months-long hibernation. Pale-skinned locals, thirsting for a free hit of vitamin D to pair with their craft IPAs, were enjoying early happy hours at bars and breweries along the Pine and Pike corridor. Traffic was beginning to thicken down these narrow streets as the five o’clock hour drew nearer. It’s a special kind of claustrophobia that unfurls when Capitol Hill descends into rush-hour gridlock, and I quietly felt relieved that I don’t have to sit through that anymore.

The city was beginning to feel alive again, and after a winter usually fraught with gray clouds and unrelenting rainfall, spring always has a way of injecting new life into the Emerald City.

Through the traffic and the locals being revitalized by the effect of direct sunlight, though, lurked another contingent of people slowly meandering their way up the hill: The festivalgoers eager to catch the savage opening sounds of the fifth edition of Northwest Terror Fest. This was my first time back at the festival since 2019, and it had simply been too long. Familiar faces were waiting as I approached the corner of 10th Ave. and Pike St., and many hugs were exchanged after my four-year absence from what was once a yearly tradition for me.

As with every year, there would be a lot to look forward to this weekend inside Nuemos/Barboza – incredible bands, amazing human beings, and enough beer and food to help me remain in a (somewhat) functional state over the next 72 hours. This lineup had the makings of something truly special. After grabbing my pass from the box office, it was finally time to dive headfirst into this world yet again. Continue reading »

Jun 012023

(With the month of May now behind us, Gonzo reflects on five albums released during the month that got him excited.)

As I type this, I’m sitting at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, haggard as hell after the three-day whirlwind of Northwest Terror Fest. I’m not on speaking terms with my liver just yet, and my ears are still ringing despite having fairly high-quality earplugs in every night.

I’ll have a separate write-up coming soon enough about all that, but here’s a spoiler: It was fucking glorious.

Before we get to all that, there were some seriously noteworthy releases that saw the light of day through this month, and I’d be remiss if I skipped over them in favor of getting right to recapping my 72 hours of complete batshit insanity. Continue reading »

May 052023


(Another month has passed into the moldy history books, and almost like clockwork Gonzo has arrived to spotlight three albums that made a better April for him, and might make a better May for you.)

April came and went, and here I am, sitting around at 5:39 p.m. on a Thursday, trying to figure out what the hell we’ve already covered during that month so I can avoid redundancy on these pages.

And holy shit – we’re just three weeks away from Northwest Terror Fest in Seattle, where I’ll be joining a significant percentage of the NCS staff for a weekend of work and revelry. If you haven’t scored tickets for that one yet, be sure that you do. The lineup this year looks positively ferocious. I’ll be the guy in the “FUCK THE D.E.A.” shirt periodically drunk on hazy IPAs. Come say hi.

Until then, here’s some new music to keep your eardrums occupied. Continue reading »

Apr 032023

(We’ve just barely breached the walls of April, and so our friend Gonzo makes a timely reappearance with a selection of five albums released in March that made a big impact in his listening.)

Before I get to writing this month’s helping of my choice cuts from last month, I gotta get something out of the way first:

I am still absolutely buzzing from last night’s Death to All show here in Denver.

To see the likes of Steve DiGiorgio and Gene Hoglan play music of any kind on stage, in person, is a treat enough by itself, but having them rip through selections from the inimitable Death for almost two hours was an experience that I plan to re-live in perpetuity. Possibly forever. Who knows?

It was an insane spectacle for the eyes as well as the ears, and I’ll get to writing up the entire thing soon enough. If you missed this tour, you have my condolences.

Let’s get to the good stuff from March.

Continue reading »

Mar 072023


(Another month has closed its doors, and Gonzo takes another look through them, this time spotlighting five favored albums released during February 2023.)

I can’t be alone here in saying February is the most useless fucking month on the calendar. More often than not during that godforsaken stretch of time – in its cold, dreary misery – I’m finding myself constantly losing track of time, forgetting what day it is, and scrambling to fit four weeks’ worth of plans into what seems like two.

Priorities, I suppose – that’s what it all comes down to. I’ve managed to listen to an alarming amount of music already, and seeing that we’re only just over two months into 2023, that’s always time well-prioritized.

Here’s the new shit that’s been on my heavy rotation through the last 28 days.

Continue reading »

Feb 012023


(Gonzo has delivered to us another monthly round-up of his favorite releases for the month that just ended.)

And we’re back.

January has already found its way into our rearview mirror, and not a moment too soon. It’s been 6 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver for the past few days and I can’t feel my nuts. No respite seems to be on the way. It’s the land of the ice and snow over here, to be sure, but it also gives me a good reason to sneak a larger-than-usual portion of whiskey into my coffee. Is it coping with being a daytime corporate asshole, or is it a problem?

No one knows.

Moving on!

January is a notoriously shit time for new music, but if the first month of ’23 is any indicator, that trend may very well be on its way out. Whether it’s something in the water or labels just deciding to not take January off for a change, I’m already impressed with some gems I discovered this month – here’s the best of the bunch.

Continue reading »

Dec 282022

(Today Denver-based NCS writer Gonzo presents the second half of his 2022 year-end list, counting down to the Album of the Year spot. If you missed the first Part, it’s here.)

Ah yes, here’s where we get to the good stuff.

Musically speaking, 2022 surprised me in several ways. It seems like every year just before I put this list together, there’s always the proverbial October surprise – that is, one or more albums that surface in late fall that are so damn good they upend my plans for the top 20 I was just about to write. This year, I planned for it, anticipating some absolute bangers that dropped in October and November, and those anticipations quickly bubbled into a reality that well exceeded what I was hoping for.

All told, it’s a good problem to have. Here’s where we get to my top 10 picks of the year. Continue reading »

Dec 272022

(Today our Denver-based writer Gonzo wades into the annual LISTMANIA froth with the first installment of a two-part list of his Top 20 albums of 2022.)

As I write this, it’s -10F outside and I’m still thawing the icicles that formed in my beard on the walk to get coffee. The holidays are upon us, yes, and that means getting a much-needed week off from my day job that seems occasionally hellbent on sapping my energy and grinding it into a fine pink mist.

But I am resistant to such aggressions. Anything’s possible with the right amount of determination and caffeine.

So, with the year quickly winding down to a close, one of my favorite times of the year for music is upon us: Listmania, happening on these very pages.

I don’t think I need to elucidate any further thoughts on any of that – by now, you know what we’re all about. Here are my top 20 album picks from 2022. Continue reading »

Dec 192022

(Last week we published our friend Gonzo‘s report on Day One of the recent Decibel Metal & Beer Fest in Denver, and now we’ve got his write-up on the second day’s performances and beers.)

Day 2 at any festival always comes with a price – exhaustion, overstimulation, tinnitus, alcohol poisoning, IBS… the possible danger is almost limitless. But so is the potential for having a truly amazing time worth writing about.

For the second day of Decibel Metal & Beer Fest in Denver earlier this month, things could’ve easily gone in any direction for this humble scribe. Continue reading »