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 »

Apr 202022

(We present Gonzo‘s review of the latest album by the French band Lux Incerta, which was released on April 8th.)

When it comes to storytelling, the ubiquity of dark-versus-light is just about the most repackaged theme in human history. It’s everywhere. It’s the hero’s journey, the struggle of inner turmoil, the journey to the self, good triumphing over evil, and otherwise present in just about every other archetypal tale you’ve ever seen or heard.

When it comes to making art, though, none of that shit matters as long as you can tell the same story well. In music, this is particularly hard to pull off – especially in a modern-day metal scene that’s rife with saturation and subgenres. (And saturated subgenres, now that we’re going there.)

But bands like France’s Lux Incerta don’t give a fuck how many times you’ve seen, read, or listened to stories that revolve around the dark/light duality. Roughly translated from Latin, the band’s name refers to the apex of the light-versus-dark battle, when light is about to succumb to the dark. And their stylistic crossroads of death, doom, and prog metal reinforces how well the band lives up to that moniker. Continue reading »

Apr 012022

Falls of Rauros

(We’ve reached the end of another month, and thus Gonzo has surfaced with another edition of this column, focusing here on five releases from March 2022.)

I recently made the somewhat ill-advised decision to take a road trip to my old stompin’ grounds of Seattle from my Denver abode. For those not familiar with the length of the trek, it’s about 21 hours by car. Flying out was definitely an option, but there’s always something uniquely appealing about pointing your car in one direction and flooring it for hours on end. If we’re speaking honestly, it’s downright therapeutic.

The “ill-advised” part of the equation came into account when driving through northern Wyoming and Montana. March is not what you’d call a calm month in terms of weather, and there were a couple of parts along desolate highways in which I was white knuckling my way through a snowstorm. There was madness in every direction. Unfettered chaos was all there was for hundreds of miles; one Subaru was a drop in the bucket amid endless 18-wheelers and highway patrol cars.

The good part about all this? I got plenty of time to delve into every album I’d been putting off for a while, and even got surprised by some other stuff I stumbled into. Continue reading »

Mar 022022

(Our friend Gonzo has shown up with reviews and streams of four February 2022 releases that hit the spot for him.)

February. What a dull, useless month.

That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway, to justify the fact that the end of this month ambushed me, causing this column to be late. As long as we’re assigning blame, my day job is also a culprit.

Enough of that, though. This month saw the release of some albums I can’t stop listening to. And many of them were a complete surprise. Continue reading »

Feb 212022


(Our Denver-based contributor Gonzo had the good fortune of seeing live performances by Dark Tranquillity, Kataklysm, and Nailed To Obscurity about 10 days ago, and he sent us the following report along with some of his photos.)

I’m sure this is the case with pretty much everyone who’s going to read this, but I’m pretty fucking sick of talking about the pandemic, what “normal” looks like, how long it’s been since we saw X band at X venue, and everything in between.

But in the case of the tour that rolled through The O Theater in Denver last Thursday night, I’d be remiss not to frame it against the backdrop of the aforementioned frustrations. Three incredible metal bands – Dark Tranquility, Kataklysm, and Nailed to Obscurity – are touring the US right now and none of them are native to this country. I don’t know when the last time that happened, so that alone is worth celebrating.

It certainly didn’t hurt that all three bands put on shows that made it seem like they – as well as tours featuring international acts in general – were never gone. Continue reading »

Feb 082022

(We present Gonzo‘s review of the new album by Sweden’s Mass Worship, which was just released by Century Media.)

If there’s an award somewhere out there for “best music to listen to while using an industrial-strength sandblaster,” then I think the new album Portal Tombs from Stockholm’s Mass Worship would be a top contender. Continue reading »

Jan 262022



(Gonzo returns with his first 2022 end-of-month group of recommended new releases.)

With the craze of Listmania 2021 now in our rearview mirrors and January already on its way out, this edition of my monthly roundup took me by complete surprise for a few reasons:

  1. The unstoppable storm of amazing music we saw in ’21 has not slowed down a single bit
  2. January by itself has blindsided me with a slew of unexpectedly awesome new releases
  3. I was going to do a “things I wish I included in my top 20 of ‘21” post, but the above reasons compelled me to change my plans.

I could’ve made this post way longer, but in the interests of not droning on into a rambling ocean of incoherent enthusiasm, here are five albums that should be on your radar as we jump into a new year of metal. Continue reading »

Dec 302021


(In this essay NCS contributor Gonzo brings his 3-part YE lists to a close with a Top 10 ranking of favorite albums.)

I could write an intro here, but with this being my third and final installment into this series, the thought of being so redundant fills me with untold amounts of existential dread.

In the interests of avoiding that (because there’s already enough existential dread in this godforsaken world), this list is #1 to 10 of my favorite releases from 2021. Continue reading »

Dec 292021


(Yesterday we posted Gonzo‘s year-end list of Top 10 EPs and album honorable mentions, and today we begin his list of Top 20 albums for 2021, divided into two parts.)

Now that I’ve gotten the EPs and honorable album mentions out of the way, it’s time to start cranking out a list that I’ve spent far too much time organizing (and agonizing over) in my head: My top 20 full-length releases of 2021.

Before we get into this, can we just take a second to stare in complete awe at the towering monolith of head-spinning amazement that was heavy music in 2021? Just off the top of my head, it was a banner year for subgenres like tech-death, sludge, post-metal, and seemingly everything in between. It was also a great time for labels like 20 Buck Spin and Relapse. Some of this was the injection of new blood into the mix, as there were some truly noteworthy debuts and breakouts. The old guard showed up in force, too, with some surprising out-of-nowhere returns to form. And my personal favorite: Getting my fucking subatomic particles rearranged by discovering a new band that simply blows my doors off.

All of that happened this year and then some. Even with the inclusion of my honorable mentions, the actual list of releases I enjoyed this year is way more than what I’ll be talking about here. But in the interests of brevity (as well as staying on top of my day job), here’s the first half of the vaunted top 20. Continue reading »