May 312017


That photo up there shows the sight that greeted my eyes on Monday night while waiting for my ferry boat home after returning to Seattle from Maryland Deathfest 2017, but it also accurately represents my glowing impressions of this year’s fest in Baltimore.

Like many, I was disappointed to learn that MDF would be “downscaling” this year, eliminating the Edison Lot venue and having all the shows indoors at Rams Head Live and Soundstage. I also saw some grumbling on the internet (imagine that! grumbling on the internet!) that the line-up wasn’t as strong as in many past years; on top of that, Nightbringer was a last-minute no-show because of an airport outage in the UK.

Despite those misgivings, my own strongly held view is that this edition of the festival was a rousing success. (Part 2 of this post can be found here.) Continue reading »

May 242017


(Andy Synn (and other fiends here at NCS) is attending Maryland Deathfest XV, which begins a bit later this week, and here he names the five bands whose performances are highest on his list.)

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a little event called “Maryland Deathfest” happening this week, and I’m lucky enough to be attending for the second year in a row.

As a result, my contributions to NCS are going to be somewhat… minimal… until next week (though I do have a little something blast-tastic lined up for Friday for you all), while I do my best to develop and nurse a cumulative five-day hangover/bangover.

In recognition of this momentous occasion, however, I thought I’d put together a quick list of the five bands I’m most looking forward to seeing at MDF this year – although thinning it down to only five definitely wasn’t easy! Continue reading »

Oct 282015

Bone Gnawer – Cannibal Crematorium


(In this post TheMadIsraeli does some catching up, with three reviews of 2015 death metal albums.)

About my absence from NCS: I promise you all, it’s not that I haven’t been listening to music; life has just been rather chaotic. I’ve got a triple review here — one established band you already know are going to be good, and two under-the-surface death metal records I’ve been listening to on and off for a couple of months that I think are definitely worth your time. All three of these albums also have distinctly different sounds.

Bone GnawerCannibal Crematorium

Bone Gnawer has some weight behind its name. With only two full-lengths since 2009, one back then and the one I’m going to talk about now, and mostly EPs to their name, I think these guys deserve to be looked at. I’ve not visited any of the band’s previous material (which included Rogga Johansson in the lineup), I’m only familiar with Cannibal Crematorium, but it’s pretty fucking good. Continue reading »

Sep 192015

Grave-Out of Respect For the Dead


It’s a rare Saturday morning here on my metallic island. My head isn’t hammering and my stomach isn’t heaving. I managed to resist the usual Friday night temptation to celebrate the end of the work week by destroying myself. The feeling is so unusual that I decided to get my head hammered and my stomach heaved this morning with some metal instead of a night of strong drinking. Here’s what I found:


For me, it’s hard to think of a better way to start a weekend of listening than with a new song by Grave, especially when it comes from an album adorned with the artwork of Costin Chioreanu. The album is Out of Respect For the Dead, scheduled for release by Century Media on October 16, and the new song (presented through a lyric video) is “Mass Grave Mass”. Continue reading »

Aug 172015

Grave 2015-2


I have many albums I badly want to review, and I had a fair amount of time this weekend to devote to that. So what did I do? I listened to new songs and EPs instead. I just couldn’t stop myself. The more I bounced around the interhole, the more good new stuff I found. I collected some of it yesterday (here), and there’s a lot more in this post — and with any luck, I might manage to write about some of those EPs I found before the day is out. Presented in alphabetical order by band name:


Okay, okay, I realize this first song isn’t exactly hot off the presses, since it debuted on August 5. But gimme a break, it’s by Grave, and anyone who knows anything about my musical tastes knows there’s no way in hell I’m going to miss writing about new Grave music.

The name of the song is “Redeemed Through Hate” and it will appear on the band’s next album, Out of Respect For the Dead, to be released by Century Media in October. It follows the Morbid Ascent EP in 2013, about which Andy Synn wrote a review in haiku: Continue reading »

Sep 062013

(Here’s the third and final part of Andy Synn’s review of 2013’s edition of the SUMMER BREEZE festival in Germany. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here. Once again, Andy provides video that he filmed at the performances.)

The third, and final, day of the festival was a funny one. It seemed (at the time) that this was going to be the day when I only saw a few bands – particularly as I had a long gap planned at one point to do some shopping and eating and such. But, now that I look back on it, I see that I actually watched a good seven full sets, most of them pretty long, five of them from bands I absolutely adore. So, all in all, actually a very, very good day.


Oddly enough the first band of the day was to be Portugese goth-metal masters Moonspell, a band I’m not really a fan of, per se, but whose stellar performance at Inferno earlier this year definitely made me want to check them out again.

Consummate showmen, with an enviable brace of infectious songs and killer riffs, the group managed to turn a brightly-lit early afternoon slot into something of a gothic mecca, their passionate performance crafting a clear and well-received connection with the crowd before them.

We were also treated to one of those wonderful “festival moments” when current Tristania singer singer Mariangela Demurtas came out to add her vocals to a fantastic run-through of “Raven Claws” (although her awkwardly sexy dancing and casual clothes felt oddly at odds with the song’s darkly seductive vibe). Continue reading »

Jul 102013

The avalanche of new and noteworthy metallic items that’s been going on all week has continued today. I caught a few of today’s new items in an earlier post, but already there are more. So, another fully loaded round-up follows . . .


More details about the new EP (Morbid Ascent) from Sweden’s Grave surfaced today. First, the release date was announced: August 26. Second, we got the tasty cover art by Costin Chioreanu (above). Third, we learned that Autopsy’s Eric Cutler will be contributing guest vocals on one of the two new songs on the EP — “Venial Sin” (the other one being “Morbid Ascent”). The EP will also include a cover of Satyricon’s “Possessed” as well as a remixed version of “Epos” from Risen From the Tomb and a track from Grave’s 1989 Sexual Mutilation demo (“Reality of Life”). Sounds like a very cool collection.

The EP is going to be released as a 12″ vinyl (in multiple colors) as well as a digital download, and Century Media says both formats will be offered for “a fan-friendly price”. Continue reading »

Oct 142012

Just yesterday I was raving about the performance of Sweden’s Grave at the Seattle stop of their current tour with Morbid Angel and Dark Funeral, and what should greet my bloodshot eyes this morning than a video of the band killing it on stage. I’m not sure where this performance was filmed (it’s not from the Seattle show), but it’s damned cool.

Grave bassist Mika Lagrén attached one of those tiny cameras to the head stock of his bass and let it roll. You can see and hear frontman Ola Lindgren in the background and you can hear that nasty snare tone from the drum kit that I was talking about in the Seattle review. You might get a crick in your neck from watching this, but for me it brought back some very sweet recent memories of an awesome night of metal.

This morning, thanks to a message from TheMadIsraeli, I also caught up with the latest official music video from UK juggernauts Xerath, which debuted last week. The song is “Machine Insurgency” from the band’s most recent album, II (reviewed here). That was one of our favorite discs from 2011, and the song is a real ass-kicker. Continue reading »

Oct 132012

On the night of October 10, 2012, I was in metal heaven, and the gods were all on stage: Morbid Angel, Dark Funeral, and Grave.

At times like this, I love living in Seattle even more than usual. The city is just big enough to draw tours like this one, but small enough that they get shoe-horned into venues like El Corazon. I’ve seen reports that El Corazon has a capacity of 750, but that must include the separate room where the main bar is located because there’s no way the room with the stage holds that many. Especially when the bar area in the concert room is blocked off and used for gear storage, as it was for this 21-and-over show, that room doesn’t look like it holds more than about 250 people.

And it wasn’t even packed to capacity for this show. Though the turnout was strong, it was still possible to maneuver pretty close to the stage, as I did, getting within about 10 feet from the front. The only drawback was that I forgot to bring my fucking camera, an oversight for which I will forever beat myself up. My companion took a few pics with her phone, and I’m using a few of the better ones to illustrate this review, but still . . . not the same.


I’ll just be honest and admit up-front that I had trouble maintaining objectivity about each of these bands. Completely separating the feelings of excitement-verging-on-awe that I felt from finally getting to see each of them live from my reactions to what I heard just isn’t possible. Grave, for example, is pretty much a band who can do no wrong in my book. They occupy a central place in metal history as one of the progenitors of Swedish death metal, yet they have not only survived for more than two decades, they continue to put out dependably strong albums, with this year’s Endless Procession of Souls (reviewed here) being no exception. Continue reading »