Jan 222019


I got kind of carried away with my own verbiage in the three premieres I wrote earlier today (I know, shocking isn’t it?), and that plus a visit to the dentist has caused the latest installment of this ongoing list to appear later in the day than I would have preferred. But I’m determined to keep this going as a daily habit until I force myself to stop.

As for today’s installment, you might guess that I organized my collection of song candidates for the list in alphabetical order — and you would be right. I do skip around in making choices, but today I’m solidly embedded in the H’s.


We gave quite a lot of attention to the 2018 album by the Norwegian band Horizon Ablaze, The Weight of a Thousand Suns (which was released last February) — most of it penned by Andy Synn. He introduced our premiere of a song from the album, reviewed the whole record, and then put it on both his list of 2018’s Great Albums and his Personal Top 10 list. NCS scribe TheMadIsraeli also put it on his own year-end list posted at our site, and even I got into the act by covering one of the advance album tracks in an edition of SHADES OF BLACK. So, it’s fair to say that we’re VERY HIGH on this record. Continue reading »

Dec 252018


If today is a holiday for you, we hope you’re enjoying it, regardless of whether it has any ecclesiastical meaning to you. If it’s not a holiday for you, we hope it will be a good day for you, too.

We don’t observe any holidays at NCS, not because we’re against them, but because from our first year the goal was to post something every day of the year, a goal we’ve kept with very rare exceptions. I can’t exactly remember why I set that goal (come on, it was 9 years ago!), but probably because I thought our best chance of getting readers was to be out there on days when there was no competition. Now, we keep doing it out of sheer stubbornness.

Since it is Christmas Day, I thought about exclusively going with metal that has some kind of holiday theme, but with a trio of exceptions at the end of this giant new-music round-up, I tossed that idea out the window, unless you count the introductory music from Rotting Christ. And why wouldn’t you?


My NCS colleagues and I seem to be having a disagreement about RC‘s new album The Heretics. One of us, who shall remain unnamed, thinks it’s repetitive and boring, a distillation of the sound of the last three or four albums but lacking in dynamic peaks and troughs. A couple of us (including me) acknowledge that it’s basically Rotting Christ firmly in their established groove, but is nonetheless a whole lot of fun. Continue reading »

May 032018


I discovered the Seattle duo Hoth (David Dees and Eric Peters) through their second album, Oathbreaker, released in 2014. After impetuously listening to just the first track and the last one, I wrote: “Multifaceted, meticulously executed, epic in its ambitions and its achievements, this is really impressive.” I became even more impressed after hearing the whole album, and ultimately chose one track (“Serpentine Whispers”) for our list of 2014’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

Four years later, Hoth are bringing us a new album named Astral Necromancy, which will be released on June 15. They describe it as follows:

“This is a concept album – but one of a somewhat different sort. Oathbreaker was a concept album that lead the listener down a darker and darker path; it was a linear journey. On the other hand, Astral Necromancy already exists in the crushing, unforgiving darkness. There are no paths. There is no light and no hope — just an exploration of cosmic mysteries and black magic – a journey in infinite directions.

“It is a concept album in the sense that there is a common thread through each of the songs that bind them together as each individually explores an aspect of this darkness. The eleven tracks on the album explore themes ranging from corruption of the self to what lies at the end of all time; from journeys through frostbitten wastelands to the acquisition of forbidden knowledge, and more.

“We hesitate to be any more specific than that because the meaning of the album is best expressed through listening to it. The experience itself brings its own meaning to each listener”. Continue reading »

Apr 082018


I’m deep in the heart of Texas today for my fucking day-job, and will be deep in the heart of Philadelphia tomorrow for the same reason, but in the meantime I’ve managed to cobble together some streams of new music from the black realms, and some thoughts about each selection.


It may be my imagination, but it seems that more and more bands who have a devout following are choosing to spring their new releases without much warning or PR assistance. That’s what Leviathan did one week ago, with the release of Unfailing Fall Into Naught through Ascension Monuments Media.

This new album is a compilation of tracks previously released in other formats. It includes Leviathan’s contributions to a 2004 split CD with Xasthur (released by Profound Lore Records) and a 2006 split with Sapthuran (released by Battle Kommand Records, and then later released by Southern Lord in 2007 as a stand-alone Leviathan EP called The Blind Wound). Continue reading »

Jan 042015


Today we present Part 11 in the continuing rollout of our list of 2014′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. For the other songs we’ve previously named to the list, go here.

Today’s additions to the list are both by bands from my neck of the woods, i.e., the Pacific Northwest. One band has become a name known worldwide, the other is one whose name deserves to become much better known.


I’m long past caring about what kind of genre label should now be applied to the music of Agalloch, especially because I’m not sure a genre label has yet been invented that would suit the music on their latest album, The Serpent & The Sphere. It splices together so many strands of disparate music, from folk to prog to black metal to rock to doom, in contrasting and often surprising ways. It’s both complex and simple, both thunderous and sublime, a work that’s both earthy and mystical, and Billy Anderson’s production masterfully brings the band’s songwriting creativity and instrumental skill to vibrant life. Continue reading »

Jun 152014

Welcome to another edition of MISCELLANY. Here’s how this game works: I pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, usually focusing on under-the-radar groups who may have been overlooked by our readers. The selection process is fairly random. In this case I picked a couple bands who were recommended to me by a friend and a couple whose names came from the band themselves or their PR people.

I try to limit my listening to a song or two and then write my impressions, while streaming what I heard so you can form your own opinions. I don’t know in advance whether I’ll like the music, so there’s an element of surprise involved (good or bad) — though in this case I had some reasons for believing the music would be worthwhile. Here we go…


Vit’s 2013 EP The Dry Season came highly recommended from Ryan Schutte of Seattle’s Lb.! (he called it “a masterpiece”). The EP is available on Bandcamp, and upon visiting that page I saw that the EP includes guest appearances by Austin Lunn (Panopticon) on resonator guitar and banjo and Johan Becker on violin.

A little more poking around revealed that Vit’s drummer John Kerr is also a bandmate of Lunn’s in Seidr. And then I saw that the EP was mixed by Topon Das (Fuck the Facts) and mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD) — and after all that my expectations had grown quite high. Continue reading »