Dec 022022


(Our friend Gonzo returns to NCS with another monthly round-up of recommended albums, this one focusing on releases during November.)

Well, here I go, slacking off again.

Truth be told, it’s been a busier than usual time in the life of this NCS contributor, with frequent travel and a day job that seems intent on demanding all my attention. It doesn’t help that that job is also in writing, so writing about a subject I’m more passionate about (heavy music, in case you’re new here) can be draining when it should be pleasurable.

There’s lots to look forward to in the coming months, though – Decibel Metal and Beer Fest, Denver starts this weekend (Dec 2-3) and I’ll be there for all of it, and Amon Amarth will be stomping into town a few days after that. And then, of course, there’s our favorite time of year here at NCS with Listmania.

So, my friends, this will be my final monthly roundup of 2022, but the releases I cover here are some of the best I’ve written about all year. Join me, won’t you? Continue reading »

Oct 202022

Photo Credit – Kenji Tsunami

(Drugs, Nile, touring, addiction, serial killers, Netflix, and narcissism? No topic was off-limits when NCS’s Gonzo recently caught up with guitarist, vocalist, and founder Dallas Toler-Wade and drummer Joe Howard from South Carolina-based death metal act Narcotic Wasteland on the Denver stop of their tour with Accept.)


How is touring with Accept going so far?

Dallas Toler-Wade: Good, man. It’s been an opportunity for us to get in front of more people. [Accept] packs houses, I mean – we’ve had like two sold-out shows this week. The Whisky was really close, too. I think there were like ten tickets left.


Has this been your biggest tour as a band? Have you felt like you’ve reached that “holy shit, we’re making it” moment?

Joe Howard: A lot of people still just kind of don’t know about us yet, but that’s changing. It’s just been great to see the exposure. At most shows, I’ll know at least five or six people. But these are some big crowds.

DTW: These are definitely some of the biggest crowds we’ve had so far. We did another tour with Malevolent Creation earlier this year and those were some packed houses on that, on their 30 Years of Retribution tour, so that was fun. Continue reading »

Oct 042022


(Our friend Gonzo rejoins us with a collection of reviews and music streams for albums released in September that got him enthusiastic.)

Confession time: A lot of the music I was going to feature in this month’s column was already covered by our own Andy Synn and DGR. Such is the nature of contributing to a blog that runs on well-intentioned chaos, but let me tell you – even though seeing my byline is less common these days, I wouldn’t have it any other way here.

Anyway, I could sit here pontificating about life or personal updates or the change of seasons or the fact that we may be closer to armed nuclear conflict than any of us would care to admit, but I’d like to just make this month’s post about the music. Besides, I’m about to see Meshuggah on a live stage for the first time in way too long and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Here’s some of the September releases I put together that Mr. Synn and DGR didn’t cover – and let me tell you, that took some digging. Continue reading »

Sep 082022


(Our Denver-based friend Gonzo has brought us the second installment in a round-up of new albums that emerged this summer which caught his attention and kindled his enthusiasm. See check out Part 1, go here.)

When I’m doing these columns, there comes a point at which I just have to stop agonizing over what I’m going to include and decide on something. I guess this speaks to the quality of what’s come out since June.

That being said, here we go. And I’d be lying if I said this list looks exactly like I thought it would a week ago. Continue reading »

Sep 012022

Final Light

(Our Denver-based friend Gonzo has brought us the first installment in a round-up of new albums that emerged this summer which caught his attention and kindled his enthusiasm.)

Look, I know it’s customary to open these kinds of seasonally themed posts with some quip about “WOW, THE SUMMER REALLY FLEW BY, DIDN’T IT?” but frankly, that sort of cheekiness is an abomination I simply won’t fucking stand for, let alone perpetuate.

What I will say is that this summer delivered. It was the sort of long-overdue event that saw yours truly being able to travel to some US-based festivals, which was something I’d been longing for. Fire in the Mountain was by far the highlight. I also managed to hit an average of two shows a week during all of this, mostly around Denver. On top of all this, I pulled a requisite turn-and-burn in Vegas earlier this month for a single night of Psycho, in which I finally saw Emperor take the stage and proceed to blast my face into another dimension. To say it was worth the 22-year wait would be the understatement of the year.

The point of me saying all this is during all of the above, I was a bad NCS writer and couldn’t quite keep up my monthly tradition of yelling at the internet about the new music I’ve been listening to. So, consider this me making up for lost time:

This is part one of my end-of-summer new music roundup, with albums spanning from June to August. Continue reading »

Aug 102022

(Today our friend Gonzo brings us his third and final report on the recent Fire in the Mountains festival in Wyoming, along with a few of his own photos. You can find the first two installments here and here.)

Day three of any festival hits different. It’s no longer a matter of going balls-to-the-wall for 12 consecutive hours. It’s an endurance contest. It’s a marathon you’re running against yourself. One minute you’re staring bleary-eyed at the roof of your tent before the sun comes up, and the next, you’re chugging espresso you made in the back of a Subaru Outback in desperate hopes of being able to slog your way through the rest of the weekend.

And that’s just the first two hours.

But never mind that. No point in wasting any time lamenting your mental condition, I thought to myself as I threw some extra clothes into my backpack. Today would first be spent outside the confines of our beloved festival, and into the mountain range that we’d only been able to admire from afar. Before any music, we’d be taking a side quest to Grand Teton National Park. Continue reading »

Aug 052022

(Our friend Gonzo has brought us the second installment of his commentary on the 2022 edition of the Fire in the Mountains festival, which took place in Wyoming in late July. To check out the first installment, go here.)

Saturday morning came before I was ready for it. The sunrise roused me from an intoxicated slumber, and my bladder was quick to remind me of the choices I’d made the night before. “Balls,” I muttered as I put pants on, preparing to leave the warm confines of my tent and head towards the port-a-potties near the entrance to camp.

I unzipped the tent and stepped out into the frigid morning air. The temperature had dropped by almost half of what it’d been during the day. A layer of frost had accumulated on the top of the tent. I was grateful I’d kept my Amorphis hoodie on before going to sleep, even if I had no memory of doing it. So far, the running score of this weekend was FITM: 1, Gonzo: 0. Expecting anything else would’ve been ridiculous of me.

Walking along the makeshift footpath through camp, the stunning peaks of the Tetons were looming through the morning mist. This land, this festival – there was something different about it, something almost tangible. It’s not every day you find yourself immersed in nature, surrounded by wildlife, refreshingly out of range of any cell phone service, and have eight hours of amazing music to look forward to, but that was exactly what this day would hold for the lucky 1,200 of us who made the trek to this festival. Continue reading »

Aug 022022

(Our Denver-based contributor Gonzo was fortunate enough to be at the 2022 edition of Fire In the Mountains, which took place in the shadow of the glorious Teton Range in Wyoming. Today we present the first of his reports about the festival.)

I stepped out of the car and gently shut the door. Raising my arms over my head and interlocking my fingers, palms facing skyward, I stretched my body as if I’d never stood up on my own two feet before. Sitting on my ass for over 7 hours in a Subaru Outback through desolate landscapes and wide-open highways with barely another soul in sight for miles does tend to drain you after a while. And looking around now, it was almost fair to wonder if we’d driven through a portal to another dimension.

That otherworldly dimension, for our purposes, was known as Fire in the Mountains, a deeply unique festival experience that was just about to kick off its first occurrence in three years. Set deep within the Wyoming wilderness just outside of Grand Teton National Park, this gathering of metalheads, artists, hippies, weirdos, psychonauts, and anyone in between had gained a lot of buzz throughout the US festival circuit. Some called past incarnations of it “loose as goose shit,” while others described it simply as the best weekend they’d ever experienced in their lives. High praise for a festival that attracts just over a thousand people each year in a setting that requires you to pack in your own water.

Now that we’d arrived, the anticipation that had been building since 2020 was palpable, like a thunderstorm slowly looming over the mountaintops in the distance. More cars were slowly beginning to pull in, sporting license plates from as far as Canada, Ohio, Florida, California, Minnesota, and more. It was clear this was a destination for many. It was time to set up camp and let this experience take us wherever it would lead us. Continue reading »

Jun 072022


(With another month now in the history books, we welcome back Gonzo, who again has recommendations for you of wide-ranging albums released in the preceding month – somewhat delayed only because our editor completely lost track of time while at Maryland Deathfest.)

When doing the legwork that goes into these monthly columns, there are some months when I have to reach deep into the metal underbelly to extract whatever hidden gems I stumble across, and there are others where the onslaught of new releases just looks downright overwhelming and perhaps menacing.

May turned out to be the latter. I actually had to trim this one down from what I had originally planned out, if for no other reason than the fact that I’m disappearing into the mountains for most of the weekend without many plans to be in front of a computer. Fuck that nonsense, I say. I get enough of that during my 9-5 job, and any excuse to hit the road for an escape is a good one.

Read on and prepare to abuse your eardrums with the best of what I stumbled into through May. Continue reading »

May 032022

Somali Yacht Club – photo by May Lee

(April 2022 is in the history books, and our man Gonzo follows its end with a selection of albums released during the month that brightened his days, and we hope will brighten yours.)

If only my fucking day job made it easier to listen to all the music I wanted to. Pipe dreams, man. Pipe dreams.

The past month saw me venturing out to several shows, though; Archspire in particular ripped my face off for an hour straight while grinning maniacally the whole time. Amorphis and Uada were amazing as well, and I’ve got Behemoth and Arch Enemy lined up for this coming Wednesday. (I’ll likely be at that show by the time you read this column.)

All that being said, none of the bands I cover here are anything I saw live recently, but god damn does it feel good to be getting back into my pre-pandemic cadence of live music again.

As usual, here’s a smattering of new shit I found worthy of writing about this month. Continue reading »