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 »

Dec 132022

(Our Denver-based contributor Gonzo was in the right place at the right time for the Denver edition of the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest on December 2-3, and kindly provided us the following glowing report, complete with pairings and tqsting notes.)

Few pairings are quite as fine as loud music and weapons-grade fermented beverages.

And perhaps no publication has a better grasp of that fine tandem than Decibel, one of the few print magazines in heavy music that’s still going strong. Fortunately for those of us in the Rocky Mountains (and a good chunk of intrepid travelers), the good folks at Decibel announced this year that they’d be bringing their celebrated Metal & Beer Fest to Denver for the first time.

After soldiering through a glorious 48 hours of incredible music and outstanding ales, IPAs, stouts, lagers, porters, and everything in between, I can confidently say Decibel found the perfect location to invade for this festival. If only my eardrums and liver would agree. Continue reading »

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 »