Mar 122021
 

 

(In this post our contributor Gonzo reviews two wolfish records which were released one week ago — and this dual review would have been published one week ago except for our editor (me) having been brutally distracted by his day job.)

I feel like the onslaught of high-quality albums we’re already seeing in 2021 is a promising sign. Either that or everyone’s going out of their fucking minds without shows, travel, and the requisite level of creative outlets. (Hopefully not for very much longer.) Whatever it is, it’s already March and this month is chock-full of music that sounds urgent as hell, commanding your attention when the rest of the world continues to unfurl from its unending corridor of suck.

Last week, though, we saw the release of new music from Wolf King and Wolfheart. If the old legends are true and there are in fact two wolves that live inside of us all, existing in a perpetual state of conflict over which one gets to wrest control of our collective psyche in some kind of moral struggle for the ages, then… I dunno, maybe they were just really into wolves? My metaphor game is leaving some serious shit to be desired today.

Fortunately, the music released by both wolves today is anything but lacking. Continue reading »

Mar 032021
 

 

(Here’s Gonzo’s review of the new album by the Toronto-based band Sarin, which is out now on Prosthetic Records.)

If you want to consider the future of “post-metal” as a genre, you won’t have to look very far to find the trailblazers showing us the way.

You could look as far back as the mid-’90s, when Neurosis began their transformation from sludgy hardcore into a subgenre-defining behemoth.

You could look at the glory days of ISIS circa 2005, when Aaron Turner and co. dished out slabs of ethereal heaviness that defied explanation.

And now, you can look at bands like Toronto-based Sarin, whose nasty, emotive brand of sonic vitriol is poised to bring post-metal into the present – with a vengeance. Continue reading »

Feb 022021
 

 

(Here’s Gonzo’s review of the unexpected new album by Arizona’s Gatecreeper, which was discharged by Closed Casket Activities on January 13th.)

From the endlessly bizarre timeline in which it’s being released to the sheer out-of-nowhere, smack-you-upside-the-head-and-run surprise of the release itself, I think it’s safe to say nobody saw this album coming.

And maybe that’s the point. After all, bands like Gatecreeper don’t really entertain much in the way of being subtle. Their bludgeoning songwriting, pounding rhythm section, and Chase Mason’s unearthly howl have solidified the band’s sound as instantly recognizable in the death metal underground.

And even though those elements are as present as ever on An Unexpected Reality, this sonic blowtorch falls a little short of the decimation it wants to inflict. Continue reading »

Jan 012021
 

 

(This is Part II of a “Top 20 of 2020” year-end list compiled by NCS writer Gonzo. It counts down from No. 10 through No. 1. You can find Part I here.)

 

As I’m writing this, there’s less than 12 hours left in 2020, and the existential dread of how fucked up life might be through the first half of 2021 is slowly beginning to creep in. If it wasn’t for music and legal weed, I don’t know where the hell I’d be mentally right now.

But, enough of that. We’re here for the music. My top 10 albums of the year did a damn fine job of lifting my spirits when I needed it and were also malleable enough to wallow in grief and despair with me when appropriate.

While we collectively light a match and throw it into the five-alarm dumpster fire of 2020 without even so much as turning back to look at the explosion, may I present to you my soundtrack of choice for the occasion. Continue reading »

Dec 302020
 

 

(This is Part I of a “Top 20 of 2020” year-end list compiled by NCS writer Gonzo. It counts down from No. 20 through No. 11, and in Part II we’ll have the top ten.)

If nothing else, 2020 has proven to us that there’s no force in hell or on earth that can stop the gods and lesser idols of metal from cranking out quality material.

Musically speaking, 2020 surprised the shit out of me. When the world came to a grinding halt in March, I was all but certain that creating a “Top 20” or “Top Anything” list come December would be a depressing exercise. Bands were going to stop touring. Gigs were canceled worldwide. And with everything looking so grim and uncertain, I was bracing myself for a down year in metal.

In this case, I was happy to be wrong: Apparently, quarantine lent itself to creativity in brutality. Paired with the litany of political and socioeconomic issues that dominated headlines during this hellish 12 months, it seems plenty of bands drew from a vast pool of inspiration to churn out some seriously impressive work.

Like everyone else here, I didn’t get a chance to listen to everything I probably should have, but here’s the first half of my top 20 picks from the best of a very weird year. Continue reading »

Dec 042020
 

 

(NCS writer Gonzo turns in a glorious review of a pretty fuckin’ glorious album by Texas-based Eternal Champion, which was released in late November by No Remorse Records.)

I know, I know – we’re all busy making our best-of-2020 lists and doing our best to not lose our collective shit as a result of staying inside all day. But, before the year’s end, I wanted to squeeze another review in, and it’s one that we somehow missed mentioning up to this point.

Sharpen your fucking swords, kids, because if you haven’t heard the marauding onslaught of old-school metallic warfare that Eternal Champion cooked up on Ravening Iron, gather ‘round.

One of the things I love about metal is its unending propensity to not take itself too seriously. To quote a friend from long ago who’s also the vocalist for Orange County outfit Bleed the Sky, “what most people don’t understand about metal is that it’s basically goofy dudes drinking beer and making stupid faces a lot.”

“You know, he’s right,” I remember thinking to myself while sitting in his garage at 3 a.m. drunk off my face on the vile combination of Jager and Rockstar. Oh, to be 23 again.

Those words from my friend echoed in my head when I first saw the artwork for Ravening Iron and read a little about the band in a Decibel interview. I concluded that the band was probably a latter-day incarnation of Manowar. Probably a good listen for a nostalgic chuckle or two, but nothing I’d take seriously. The over-the-top artwork and the fact that vocalist Jason Tarpey forges his own swords (while inherently badass) told me that maybe this is a pet project that was more glam than hammer.

By the might of Thor, was I wrong. Continue reading »

Nov 232020
 


Moonspell

 

(For the second (or is it the third?) time, our editor (that would be me) screwed up and didn’t get Gonzo’s Friday music round-up posted before having to turn to non-NCS work, but we’ll just pretend again that Monday is the new Friday. Hope you have a good weekend on Tuesday.)

Doing what you love for a living can often be the ultimate study in double-edged swords, in the sense that getting paid to do it all day makes doing it for fun… somewhat less fun.

In this case, I’m talking about writing. The past month has seen me doing a lot of it, and unfortunately, the bulk of that has gone towards my new day job instead of describing the dark and devastating tones found here at NCS.

Today is Friday, though, and my chronic addiction to loud music is overtaking any professional obligations. For now.

Join me as I blast out some words about some new shit you can crank up and bang your head to. Continue reading »

Oct 232020
 

 

(Another work-week is ending, and Gonzo again helps usher it out with a selection of new songs and videos from forthcoming or just-released records.)

It only dawned on me this morning that we’re a week away from November, and given that most of this year has felt like floating in some nebulous void in an endlessly dystopian universe, that was a weird thought.

Even as snow falls just south of my Colorado home as I type this, wildfires continue to burn just north and west of me. It’s a confounding juxtaposition of fire and ice that’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Just another day in 2020, I suppose. With any luck, the plummeting temperatures and prevailing snowfall will help extinguish the flames that have been turning the sky into an unsettling shade of apocalyptic as of late.

All that being said, here’s a few bangers this Friday to make you forget how fucked up the world is right now. Continue reading »

Oct 212020
 

 

(Here’s Gonzo’s imaginative review of the new album by Colorado’s Wayfarer, which was released last week by Profound Lore Records.)

In this writer’s humble opinion, there are two hallmarks of truly breathtaking music: 1) It gets better with every listen, and 2) it elucidates vivid imagery when listening to it with your eyes closed.

There are, of course, other criteria for evaluating the quality of music, but when talking about A Romance with Violence, the newest dust-covered output from Denver post-black metal crew Wayfarer, those two items are the perfect place to start. Continue reading »

Oct 162020
 


Benediction (photo by Karen Rew)

 

(Another Friday has arrived, and that means another selection of new songs and videos chosen and introduced by our contributor Gonzo.)

It’s always fun when I wake up on Friday mornings and discover new music I never saw coming, especially when it’s from bands I’ve loved for 20+ years. It reminds me of simpler times. For me, though, nothing beats the old feeling of walking into a record store and browsing through new releases for hours at a time.

Alas, the modern conveniences of having gigabytes of new shit funneled into your ears simply by opening your phone these days is nice, but this week’s new music is a trip into a universe of nostalgia for me. Why? I’ve bought CDs from all four of the bands I’ve included this week – some of which I still have in a giant binder that I don’t open very much anymore. Maybe I’ll go revisit that now.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these tracks as much as I do. Continue reading »