Oct 012019



(NCS scribe DGR continues to catch up on reviews after a long hiatus with a multi-part collection, of which this is the third of three parts.)

There’s something to be said for comfort food in music and there’s something to be said for the weird looks I receive when I say that tech-death has become something of a comfort food. I recognize fully that I will always be somewhat wowed by the musical equivalent of dangling shiny keys in front of me, but my god is that a lot of keys and boy howdy, they sure are shiny.

The tech-death explosion over the years has led to a large amorphous mass that can often lean a little too heavy in both the technical or the -core direction, often making bands seem like expert musicians that just jammed a massive ton of breakdowns in between, making the musical adventurism and haughtiness feel somewhat unearned. 2019 has of course seen a massive number of additions to the genre as groups push and pull at its boundaries to see what else they can do with it or find ways to stick out in an increasingly crowded field.

Some of those releases came from some now pretty-established names. Such was the case with the following three, where my familiarity with the groups’ extended discographies led me to have them on constant play — even when the latter two hit in the first half of the year and we’re now at the point where as writers we’re panicking to try and get as many of the groups as we’ve listened to out there, so we can start focusing on the craziness that is the year-end release schedule. Of course, none of this pile-up was helped by what was previously alluded to as real life rearing up and kicking yours truly right in the head — much as this music has done over the past few months. Continue reading »

Aug 292017


(DGR is experiencing the opposite of writer’s block. After a review and a round-up yesterday, he returns with another review. Today the subject is the new album by California death metal band Inanimate Existence, released on August 25 by The Artisan Era.)

Releasing an album a little bit under year after your last disc is a tall order for a lot of bands. There are a handful of prolific artists out there who seemingly have all the time and creativity in the world, able to put out new releases year-over-year; hell, even the ones who manage to do a new release any time under two years since the last one still seem impressive.

Bay Area tech-death group Inanimate Existence recently found themselves at the most difficult version of that challenge yet, recording and releasing their new disc Underneath A Melting Sky (via The Artisen Era) in the year since their last album, Calling From A Dream, came out. On top of that, the band did that despite some lineup shifts taking place, recording Underneath A Melting Sky as a three-piece. Considering that the band had just recently been a complete five-piece group, Inanimate Existence had a tall order ahead of them as a newly slimmed down trio (slimmed down almost to their first album’s core members, with Cameron Porras and Ron Casey being the tenured members still left). Continue reading »

Jul 172017


(DGR takes over round-up duties again, with this collection of new songs and videos from eight bands.)

The end-of-the-week news flood was insane, as we have settled well into summer now and a lot of bands are either gearing up to hit the road or are already out making numerous loops on the festival circuit. Of course, this also means that there are a lot of albums in the hopper, getting ready to come out within weeks, or you’ll start seeing a lot of press for albums set to hit when the first leaves of fall drop.

That’s how you wind up with posts like this SEEN AND HEARD that helped kick off the weekend — not even counting our own fuel that we added to the fire, and the one that you’re reading now, which is basically just a gigantic dragnet for bands that had premieres elsewhere throughout the tail end of last week, or just blasted that thing right out to the world to see.

This episode of SEEN AND HEARD is eight (!) bands deep and skews death-metal heavy, so prepare yourselves for a lot of gigantic grooves, growled vocals, enough blasts to reach gunfire status, and enough chainsaw guitar destruction to fuel the planet. Continue reading »

Sep 152016



The new album by Inanimate Existence is a true musical kaleidoscope, composed of shifting pieces of brilliance that fall into place in unexpected and exciting ways. This won’t come as a shock to people familiar with the band’s first two albums, yet this album is likely to be surprising even to die-hard fans of this Bay Area band.

We have a full stream of the new album at the end of this post. Its title is Calling From A Dream, and it will be released by Unique Leader Records on September 16 — tomorrow. As you’re about to find out, there is truth in this statement from the band about the new album: Continue reading »

Aug 112014


(Guest writer Ty Lowery has assembled a personal list of favorite metal album covers for 2014 to date, divided into two parts. Please feel free to add your own favorites in the Comments.)

Sometime last year, I had planned to showcase some of my favorite album covers. However, as you might imagine, that didn’t happen. So, a bit over halfway through 2014 already, I’ve decided to give it a go again so I don’t have to worry with trying to find everything last minute and become overwhelmed at year-end. I’ve been looking back at some of my favorite album covers, as well as looking at random covers here and there, and I must say, I’ve found a lot more than I expected- so many that I think it’s be best to break this up into a couple of posts.

I’ve actually happened upon some really cool bands this way, too, which isn’t out of the ordinary but worth noting nonetheless. Had it not been for their album art, I might never have found some of the following bands, one of which I simply can’t get enough of. However, to be clear, I’ve done this exercise for the sole purpose of rounding up the nicest looking album art, according to my own tastes. There are a couple of bands in here whose music I can’t stand, and a couple more I’d never heard of before. So to avoid any confusion, I am not necessarily recommending all of the albums featured below. They all just chose wisely for their album art.

Since I began working on this article, I noticed something peculiar: A good number of the album covers correlated in one sense or another with the music on the album. To make sure that I wasn’t just imagining this, I asked my wife (who’s not very big on metal music as a whole) and a friend of mine (who is) to look at the album art and give me their impressions. Some of them were spot-on, others not so much. Here’s what we came up with for the first nine. (Another note, these are in no particular order. They are just listed as I came upon them.)

BelphegorConjuring the Dead

This might be one of the best “photo realistic” album covers I’ve seen so far this year. It’s got the dark, gritty feel washing over it in shoals. The symbolism on the cover speaks of blasphemy, a great deal of death, and more than a smidge of Satanic interplay. When my wife Heather saw it, she immediately guessed that it was death metal, which is a good part of the album, so I’ll give it to her. My friend Adam said the same thing: “This had better be death metal.” Heather also hit the nail on the head about the dark/demonic themes that run throughout many of the songs. That’s a point for the correlation theory, although an easy one. Continue reading »

Jun 262014

(Austin Weber reviews the new second album by Inanimate Existence.)

With their first record, 2012’s Liberation Through Hearing, Santa Cruz-based Inanimate Existence showed themselves to be much more than a technically competent brutal death metal act. A full half of the album was an experimental instrumental affair of great diversity. As a result, the evolution of their sound present on their sophomore follow-up, A Never-Ending Cycle Of Atonement, is not completely surprising. Yet it’s still stunning that they’ve managed to merge their progressive and experimental side with a series of ferociously cutthroat, frenetic death metal songs.

It’s an eloquent feat that works far better than it sounds on paper. Even more, the whole experience is bound to a philosophically rich lyrical focus of cyclical failure, potential redemption, and the eventual return to start the process again.

A Never-Ending Cycle Of Atonement is a worthy sequel to their first album, similar but bolder, more extravagant, and still intent on further branching out from the confines of mere brutal death metal. There is a larger melodic focus this time as well — verging on the sound of both Decrepit Birth and Necrophagist at times. Continue reading »

Nov 282013

(NCS contributor Austin Weber has delivered unto us a three-part introduction to new and forthcoming releases by 7 bands. In this second part, he focuses on Beaten To Death and Inanimate Existence. Part 1 can be found here.)

The end of the year is usually a slower time for new music releases, a time when much alcohol is consumed and countless amounts of money are wasted on bullshit soon forgotten. But fortunately I’ve got plenty of releases and new songs to catch up on and spread the word about.


I first heard about Beaten To Death in the way I have for many a band, by scanning the always handy Metal-Archives.com. I was re-visiting She Said Destroy’s page and noticed that their vocalist Anders was in this group. Intrigued, I bought their 2011 debut, Xes and Strokes. What I got was a no-frills grind record that was killer from start to finish, even if they weren’t doing anything anyone else wasn’t. They just recently dropped their second album, Dødsfest!, and like their last record, it sonically benefits from the raw intensity gained from being recorded live in their practice space. Continue reading »

Mar 082013

I just took a short break from the work grind, flitted around the interhole and the NCS e-mail inbox like a blowfly in search of a raw wound, and came across three items I wanted to pass along. Two are news items, one is new music.


I saw that a new North American tour has just been announced. It begins May 3 and runs through June 1. It made my already bulging eyes bulge further from their sockets, sort of like what happens to frogs when you inflate them with a bicycle pump.

The headliner is Gorod. I could stop there, but the rest of the line-up is cool, too: Inanimate Existence, Kamikabe, and Vale of Pnath.

But that’s not all.  On selected dates, the tour will also be joined by Fallujah, Pyrexia, Applaud, The Impaler, River of Nihil, The Kennedy Veil, Cognitive, and Archspire. Continue reading »

Apr 182012

Blog-time is still short for yours truly, and likely will be until middle of next week. With one very exciting exception tomorrow, about all I can manage at the moment are posts like this one — collecting new music I’ve heard recently that I think is worth spreading around. In today’s round-up, songs from Blodhemn (Norway), Inanimate Existence (California),


Blodhemn started life as a one-man band in 2004, and Invisus (that one man) continues to write the music, provide the vocals, and play all the instruments for Blodhemn’s studio recordings, though he now has a live band recruited from Bergen for stage performances. Blodhemn released an EP in 2010 called Brenn Alle Bruer, and just last week, Blodhemn signed with Indie Recordings for the release of a debut album that has already been recorded.

I’ve heard one song from the forthcoming album, “Djevelen i Menneskeform” (devil in human form), which premiered in late January as a teaser for the album. It’s a style of black metal I’ve really grown to enjoy — a kind of brawling, bottle-throwing, stomp ‘n’ rock music that’s as catchy as it is vicious. I’ve referred to this style of music before as black metal that’s hot instead of cold, though Invisus’ vocals still bring the feel of a searing Nordic ice storm.

Check out “Djevelen i Menneskeform” after the jump and prepare for sore-neck syndrome. Continue reading »