May 132013

If you’re a regular NCS stalker, you’ve seen this cover before. Twice before, actually, because I keep looking for new excuses to stick it on the site. It’s the hellaciously eye-catching gatefold artwork for Bloodlines, the new Relapse Records album by Rhode Island’s Howl — which is also hellaciously good, by the way. To see an even larger image of the artwork, click the pic above.

The artist who created the cover is Ryan Begley, and this is his third record cover for Howl (the other two are also killer). Today we have the pleasure of giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how the Bloodlines artwork came into existence, including the rough and final pencil sketches that evolved into the finished inked-and-colored piece you’re looking at. As Ryan explains:

All the visuals were inspired by lyrical content and both the band and I wanted to have an image with a lot of elements that would take time for the viewer to soak in. I tried to have all the characters and elements interacting and overlapping as much as possible.  The blood was one of the more difficult but fun elements to draw for the cover. Figuring out how it would flow and move throughout the frame and around the characters took a while to sketch out.

The band wanted a bright and vibrant cover and I thought it would translate best if we kept the colors in the same family. Once I settled on a specific red for the blood the rest of the palette was pulled from that.

Continue reading »

May 062013

What do you do when you get flooded with tantalizing news and new music over the span of 24 hours, and it’s all too much to cover in your usual long-winded style of prose (I don’t mean your long-winded style, I mean mine)? You swallow all those words and you do this . . . really short blurbs about many items . . . from Howl, The Resistance, Strychnia, The Absence, Darkane, Mordbrand, and After the Burial. Whew!


Today, Rhode Island’s Howl premiered a new official music video for “Demonic”, a song off their new album Bloodlines, which is out now and which features some incredibly eye-catching cover art. “Demonic” is a cross between scorching and crushing. Scorshing? It’s catchy, too. The video comes next . . . Continue reading »

Apr 232013

Within the last few days (and mostly today), seven albums I’m very high on (and have written about here) have begun streaming in full on various web sites. They shouldn’t be missed — it’s a great chance to check out the music before deciding whether to plunk down money for them.

Each of the sites where these streams are now available includes info on how to order or pre-order the albums, so I’m not going to take time to repeat that info here. I’m also not going to take the time to write about the music (though we do plan to review some of these albums) because . . . you can hear them right now! The relevant links are below, in alphabetical order.


Apr 222013

There’s a theme to this post. Can you guess what it is?


I’m so far behind in listening to new albums that I’ve given up home of ever catching up. The new one named Bloodlines from Howl is one I really want to hear. But so far all I’ve heard are two tracks, both of which are publicly streaming. I thought today would be a good day to mention them because today I saw the complete album art for Bloodlines. Kicks ass, don’t it?

The two tracks you can hear at moment are “Your Hell Begins”, which premiered at Loudwire but is now on Soundcloud, and “Attrition”, which is now on YouTube and Bandcamp. The former is a diseased death/doom juggernaut that will throw you for a loop before it finishes, and the latter (also diseased) is an up-tempo number that jabs like a prize-fighter, but with a lot of sludgy, low-end weight. I like both of them. Continue reading »

Dec 072011

(The METAL SUCKFEST that took place in NYC on Nov 4 and 5 was a milestone event — the first U.S. metal festival organized and co-sponsored by a metal blog, and Metal Sucks pulled together a fucktastic line-up to boot. So, NCS decided to document the event up-close and personal by sending two emissaries — NCS writer BadWolf and photographer Nicholas Vechery.  They returned intact, and this is BadWolf’s report of the festival’s first day, along with Nick’s photos. BadWolf’s Day Two report will be tomorrow, and we’ll have interviews to come after that.)

Blogs will control the entertainment industry within our lifetimes (if the industry lasts our lifetimes). TMZ will overtake Entertainment Tonight. In some ways, Pitchfork has already taken Rolling Stone’s place.  Case in point: MetalSucks just threw the first (to my knowledge) blog-driven extreme music festival on US soil, Suckfest, and NCS was there to cover it.

On November 4, 2011, suckalos—yours truly included—flocked to the Grammercy Theater in Manhattan for seven hours of thrash. NCS photographer Nicholas Vechery and I rolled in sleep-deprived and sore after a 20+ hour bus trip from Ohio. The venue –the Grammercy Theater—was indeed a theater once and remains dark and sparse.

Initially, I thought the Grammercy would be too small to fit a decent crowd, but the first day was poorly attended.  Attendees shouted “Occupy Grammercy!” between songs, but otherwise behaved themselves too well by my standards. New York headbangers seem more reluctant to mosh than when I lived in the Big Apple. I smelled a division between lineup and audience—the first day’s bands all shared a background in hardcore punk, but in general MetalSucks caters to a more technical/progressive metal loving audience. The lineup was strong, but perhaps suited for a more intimate venue. After all, who wants to see Magrudergrind behind a security barrier?

Audience aside, the first day’s bands exploded over the lower-east side with white-knuckle intensity. Continue reading »

Jan 202011

This will be quick because my fucking day job calls.

“Heavy” is a word we apply to some forms of metal but not others. Howl is heavy. Very fucking heavy. Up above is video evidence of that fact. It’s high-quality footage of the band playing at SXSW. There are three songs on this video: “Heavenless”, “Oma”, and “Horns of Steel”.  If you’re interested in more info about this band, you can check out our review of their 2010 album Full of Hell here.

UPDATE: The fucking embed code to that Roxwel video doesn’t appear to work. You should still watch the video, though I almost hate to send you to the Roxwel site because they pretend to give you an embed code, but it doesn’t fucking work. But I like HOWL well enough to provide the link anyway. Here it is.

But wait, there’s more. After the jump, we’ve got a just-released song from Finland’s Rotten Sound off their forthcoming new album Cursed. Listen to it and let us know what you think.  Gotta go now. Continue reading »

May 162010

We like five things about the new Relapse Records release from a Rhode Island band called Howl: the album cover, the name of the album, the name of the band, the lyrics. Oh yeah, we like the music, too.

First things first — the album cover.

Now, we can hear some of you saying, who gives a shit about the cover art if the music sucks? Well, you’re entitled to your fucking opinion. But in our fucking opinion, this band could sound like a garbage truck backing up and this album cover would still stand the test of time. Plus, we saw the album cover before we heard the music, so it comes first.

Just gaze upon that sucker at the top of this post. It’s really only half of the full image. To see the full thing in all its hellish glory, you need the CD insert to unfold.  Looks like this:

The artwork is by Ryan Begley. He’s done artwork for Pelican, Clouds, Ruiner, Doomriders, and other bands, but we gotta say he’s outdone himself with this one. Skulls, flames, skeletal hand, glowing triangle, and plenty of eyeballs (you can never have too many eyeballs) — all rendered in appropriately hell-hot colors. And it meshes beautifully with one of those other things we like — the album title (Full of Hell). OK, now for the music: It’s devilishly good. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »