Oct 122021


(Our Denver-based friend Gonzo had the good fortune to witness a recent performance by the multinational European collective Heilung at the extraordinary Red Rocks amphitheater in Colorado, and he sent us the following impassioned review plus photos that he took.)

There aren’t many words in the English language that describe what it’s like to watch Heilung perform their ritual in a live setting.

Captivating? Yes.

Immersive? Also yes.

Spellbinding? Definitely.

But just as their self-proclaimed moniker of “amplified history” seems to imply, you’d almost have to come up with new expressions to adequately describe their show to someone who’s never seen it, let alone heard of the band at all.

How else could you describe the thunderous booms of massive drums made from deer skin and painted with human blood? The hypnotic throat singing of Kai Uwe-Faust? The piercing siren songs of Maria Franz? And the modern-day portrayal of an ancient Iron Age ritual that features about 15 other performers, dancers, singers, actors, and enough ambience and atmosphere to be one of the most memorable live shows you’ve ever seen?

I have no idea, but it’s more than worth a try. Continue reading »

Oct 012021

Unto Others

(NCS contributor Gonzo returns with another end-of-month roundup of music that caught his ears.)

There are a few bittersweet observations I’ve come to realize in the past month, related both to music and to the endless hellscape that is the human condition:

As of this writing, 2022 is just three months away and I’m still processing whether 2020 was even real. This means that while I survived the endlessly overwhelming shitstorm of that year, it does beg the question of how much worse this planet could get for humans over the next decade.

While live music is back and I’ve been reveling in the joy of sweaty venues and the sleep deprivation that comes with festivals again, I was just notified that Judas Priest is postponing the rest of their tour due to Richie Faulkner’s heart condition.

The next date would’ve been where I would see them (for the first time, no less) here in Denver.


The good news? Sabaton, who opened for Priest on this tour, is still playing a show in Denver, and by the time this piece goes to print, I’ll have seen the show and will post a full review in the coming days.

In the meantime, I’m at least somewhat distracted by the troves of amazing heavy music that keep blasting out of the darkest corners of the netherverse as of late.

Join me as I take you through some unfettered heaviness and savagery that’s emerged in the past month and kept me sane as we descend into 2021’s final few months. This month, I’ve got two albums and three singles for you to delve into. Continue reading »

Sep 222021


(This is Gonzo’s review of the new album by Finland’s Shadecrown, which was released on September 17th by Inverse Records.)

If you’re reading this, I’m not going to tell you anything new by saying Finland is home to some of the world’s darkest, heaviest, and most depressing music. From the booze-drenched misery of Sentenced to the heartbreaking brutality of Insomnium, Finland’s storied history of sonic angst has transcended time and continues to reinvent itself – even with its best-known export in Children of Bodom being no more.

Part of that continuous reinvention is the emergence of up-and-coming heavy hitters, and one band from the tiny village of Viitasaari has just released an album that will most assuredly add them to that list: Shadecrown. Continue reading »

Sep 022021


(We’ve been enjoying the hell out of our friend Gonzo‘s reports on the 2021 edition of Psycho Fest in Las Vegas a couple weekends ago, and hope you have too. Today we present his third and final write-up, concerning his adventures on the fest’s last day.)


“The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Those words from the good doctor rang out in my brain the moment I opened my eyes on Sunday morning. My ears were still ringing in spite of wearing earplugs for the majority of Saturday, but like so much else, Vegas cannot be bothered with your feeble attempts at self-care. Continue reading »

Aug 312021


(Denver-based NCS contributor Gonzo was in Vegas two weekends ago for the 2021 edition of Psycho Fest, and has been sending us some great write-ups of what he witnessed. His journal for Day 1 is here, and this is his report on Day 2.)

Vegas is a devourer of good intentions.

Its only purpose in this existence is to rob you of your sobriety, your bank account, your dignity, and your sanity. It cares nothing for your early-morning lamentations of the bad decisions you made the night before. The endless air-conditioned hallways of cigarette-crusted casinos and overpriced restaurants and tourist traps will be there the next day, waiting for that inevitable moment when you’ve become inebriated enough to shrug and once again say “what the hell, why not.”

The likelihood of you succumbing to this seemingly innocent urge increases with each passing hour on any given point during a weekend in Vegas. I knew from the moment I rose out of bed on day 2 of Psycho Fest that this would be the case, and the day would soon stretch beyond an ordinary festival and into an endurance contest. The schedule of bands we had carefully crafted ahead of time would either prove untenable or test the limits of how hard we could party in one day. Or maybe both.

At around 11 a.m., we left the tranquility of our Excalibur hotel room and sauntered once more into the soulless void. Today’s main attractions? Cannibal Corpse, Poison the Well, Dying Fetus, Cult of Fire, and a whole helluva lot more. Continue reading »

Aug 302021


(Our pal Gonzo took in the 2021 edition of Psycho Fest in Las Vegas and returned to Denver fortunately symptom-free, other than what happened to his head over the three days of the fest, and he has provided a synopsis of the experiences, beginning with the following report on Day 1. We expect reports on the next two days as well)


There is no source of frustration quite like being forcibly stuck in an airport for any length of time longer than absolutely necessary.

I was reminded of this grim reality two Fridays ago when my arrival at Denver International Airport coincided with one of the airport’s underground trains catastrophically breaking down. Ensuing damage and delays had forced the airport to close all but one terminal. The scene was absolute chaos – security queues wrapped around entire terminals, people screaming at TSA agents, confusion, madness, panic… one woman ended up in handcuffs after going into a terrifying rage and sobbing. It was looking like the 10:15 a.m. landing at my final destination, Psycho Fest 2021 in Las Vegas, was slowly slipping out of my grasp.

By the grace of Thor, the one terminal that stayed open ended up being the one we were flying out of. The flight was delayed by an hour or two, but we were somehow able to board and land safely and without any further unexpected pandemonium. Vegas would have plenty of that in the days to come anyway. Continue reading »

Jul 302021


(Gonzo presents another end-of-month roundup spotlighting releases that have attracted his enthusiastic attention.)

I have, and always will be, a voracious consumer of new music. Though nothing may take the place of how much fun it was to trade tapes with other weirdos in dark corners behind every sweaty beer-stained venue in creation, it’s sure as hell convenient to now find the same variety of under-the-radar bands on Bandcamp and Spotify.

With this installment of my monthly Heavy Roundup, I managed to find a list of bands that span the metal spectrum. I think that’s a testament to how insanely diverse and varied extreme music has become. And, seriously, few things bring me more joy in life than making playlists and sharing new music with people.

Hence, this column was born. Here are the albums and EPs I’ve highlighted from the month of July (and technically, one from June that passed me by until now.) Continue reading »

Jul 262021


(Our contributor Gonzo wrote this review of the new album by Eternal Valley from Portland, Oregon, which was released earlier this month by Northern Silence Productions.)

While I’ve certainly endured plenty of shit over the past year, as I’m sure all of us have to some degree, the right music can capture the mood and makes the grief a little more bearable. There’s a certain comfort in listening to music that’s been written and played by someone who might be experiencing the same thing you are at the time, and when it’s played so intensely and urgently, it can prove to be downright fucking cathartic.

All of this is what I immediately felt the first time I listened to Kingdom of Misery by the Northwest’s one-man master of the morose, Eternal Valley. Continue reading »

May 252021


(Our contributor Gonzo returns to us with a trio of reviews, focusing on records released within the last month — by Stone Healer, Dordeduh, and Kataan.)



To say “there’s a lot to unpack here” about the latest album from Connecticut duo (!) Stone Healer would only be touching the very tip of an extremely jagged and angular iceberg.

Practically bursting with trailblazing creativity at every turn, Conquistador is a massively satisfying listen. Brothers Matt and Dave Kaminsky manage to compress three or four albums’ worth of ideas into each of the seven songs here, and absolutely none of it sounds rushed or contrived. Just with opening track “One Whisper,” the brothers flex an incredible amount of musical muscle: They go from a light acoustic intro, segueing into a cowbell-laden alternative rock verse, and seamlessly shift into a punishing blast-beat. And that’s not even half the song length. Continue reading »

Apr 282021


(We present Gonzo’s review of the new album by Bongzilla, which was released on April 20th by Heavy Psych Sounds.)

Unlike a fine wine, weed doesn’t age well. Even if you keep it stored at just the right temperature, it’ll lose its potency and flavor at around six months to a year. This is quite obviously a bummer and just proves you should embrace the moment and roll up that joint you were going to smoke. Do it quick, before you forget what you were gonna d… wait, what were we talking about again?

Ah, right. It’s been 16 years since we’ve heard anything new from stoner metal mainstays Bongzilla, but as they fire up the amps and pack a fresh bowl for Weedsconsin, they’ve proven that they’re far more resilient than the ephemeral shelf-life of their favorite substance. Continue reading »