Jan 162023

(Our old friend Justin Collins returns to NCS with this guest review of a new album by Palace of Worms, which is set for release on February 3rd by Acephale Winter Productions.)

I’m going to say upfront that I’m not going to be able to do full justice to Palace of Worms‘ latest (and possibly last) album, Cabal. That’s because the very act of describing all of the sounds that have gone into it makes it sound slightly insane. Broken down to their component parts, a lot of these songs have no business being as good as they are, but yet, here we are. I wouldn’t be writing this if the album was a haphazard mish-mash.

Palace of Worms has always been roughly categorized as black metal, although that’s as much because we’ve all decided that’s the easiest way to categorize it, in spite of the fact that there’s always been a fair amount of outside influence. Even the last full-length, The Ladder, had a pretty solid core of black and post-black metal, but had plenty of other influences. The album’s very first track started out with a ripping hammered dulcimer riff courtesy of Botanist‘s Otrebor, after all. Continue reading »

Mar 212022

(Our friend Justin Collins rejoins us with the following review of GGGOLDDD‘s new album, which is due for release on April 1st via Toronto-based Artoffact Records.)

The time many of us have spent in isolation during the pandemic has, not surprisingly, had a wide range of psychological effects. I’m kind of a recluse to begin with, so I enjoyed the chance to work from home and more or less be left alone. The downside to that is that whatever emotional weight we might have been carrying around can certainly demand attention, louder than before. The distractions are fewer, allowing more space for any obsessions, regrets, and fears that might have otherwise remained drowned out by the larger world.

Milena Eva, singer of the band GGGOLDDD (formerly known as GOLD–we’re all at the mercy of Googlability at this point), found that she needed an outlet for some of those dark thoughts. She was raped at age 19, and she took the opportunity to try to process that pain in a piece commissioned for the online edition of Roadburn 2021.

I’ve been a long-time fan of this band, and the Roadburn performance–what would become the album This Shame Should Not Be Mine–was revelatory. Not only had the band achieved new artistic heights, but they’d also created a piece that had specific resonance for me. I was sexually assaulted nearly 30 years ago, and perhaps like Eva, I struggled for many years for what to do with that information. I didn’t even manage to tell anyone until 25 years after the fact. Continue reading »

Feb 212022


(Our friend Justin Collins  is the author of the following review of the latest album by the Oregonian band Eight Bells, which is scheduled for release on February 25th by Prophecy Productions.)

It’s been a little while since we’ve been graced with an Eight Bells release. As is probably the case with many people, I’ve lost all sense of time because of the pandemic, but it’s been 6 years since they released Landless. Granted, life sometimes gets in the way. Injuries, lineup changes, and the need to make a living get in the way of artists who make music off the beaten path, but luckily Melynda Jackson, the constant of this group, has soldiered on to create Legacy of Ruin with two new band members, Matt Solis (Cormorant) on bass and vocals, and Brian Burke (Cave Dweller) on drums. Continue reading »

Nov 212016



(We are very fortunate to welcome back our friend Justin Collins (who spends most of his writing time over at Metal Bandcamp) with this guest review of the new album by Oskoreien, accompanied by a very interesting short interview of Oskoreien’s creator, as well as Justin’s equally interesting thoughts about the album’s subject matter.)

It was not even two months ago that we got to reacquaint ourselves with Oskoreien — the excellent but long-quiet black metal project of Jay Valena. Oskoreien contributed two songs to a split with Botanist. (Read my babble about it here.) I, for one, was very pleased to hear Oskoreien again, and was pleasantly surprised to listen to Valena try his hand at a decidedly more electronic sound than what he’d given us on his black-metal-meets-acoustic full-length. So you can imagine my delight when I learned that Oskoreien would be putting out a second album, All Too Human, hot on the heels on that split.

What kind of direction would Valena take this time? My first introduction to the album was a one-sentence description that Islander passed on to me from Valena, stating that, “It’s a concept album about free will inspired by the story of Charles Whitman.” Continue reading »

Sep 302016



EDITOR’S INTRO:  Thanks to rendezvous points such as Maryland Deathfest and Migration Fest, we’ve learned that our allies at Metal Bandcamp are not only great writers with dependably good taste in music, they are also very fine human beings. And so it’s with great pleasure that we’re able to bring you this guest review of a fantastic new split by the California one-man projects Botanist and Oskoreien written by Metal Bandcamp’s Justin Collins. We ardently hope this will not be the last time he graces our pages with his words.


A few days ago, Islander gave us a preview of an Oskoreien song from an upcoming split with Botanist. I’ve made no secret of my enthusiasm for Botanist (see here and here and here ad nauseum), so I’m going to delve into Botanist’s side first, with no disrespect meant to Oskoreien.


Most people probably know about Botanist by now, but I always feel compelled to give a beginner’s course when I talk about new Botanist music, because there’s no easy summing up of this project. (If you know this spiel and want to go all “Choose Your Own Adventure,” skip ahead to paragraph 5 now.) Continue reading »