Feb 132015

Presented below, for your entertainment and edification, is a collection of songs and videos I discovered this morning. All but one are new. All are recommended. No two of them sound alike.


Within the last couple of days Noisey published an interview of Leviathan’s Jef Whitehead by Drew Millard, preceded by Millard’s thoughts about the subject of the interview (“Whitehead’s a scary guy”). If you want to read that, the link is below. But the main point of attraction to me was an accompanying premiere of a new song from Leviathan’s forthcoming album, Scar Sighted (due for release by Profound Lore on March 3). Below, I’ve included the Soundcloud stream for that, too. Continue reading »

Dec 182014


Five days have passed since I compiled the last round-up of news and new music. I’ve seen and heard many things I would have preferred to write about as they were appearing, but I’ve been otherwise occupied with year-end lists — not writing them myself, of course, but doing the much more important work of embedding album art and song streams and currecting typoz. This takes time, and after doing it for more than a hundred different albums over the space of five days, my brain now has the consistency of porridge.

So, to give my brain a chance to gel again, I’ve taken a break from my immensely important editorial duties and collected the following items for your entertainment (and mine). Though these notices are not all timely, I believe they are all worthy of attention.


What you see above is the gatefold album art for Epistemology, the new album by Norway’s Keep of Kalessin, which will be released on February 16 by Indie Recordings. The artwork was chosen by the band based on a contest in which more than a hundred artists submitted designs. Continue reading »

Apr 092013

Over the last week Norway’s Keep of Kalessin began another mysterious countdown on their Facebook page, similar to the countdown that led to release of the band’s official video for a hot new song named “Introspection”. Today the new countdown ended, and what came at the end was the release of a new digital EP by the same name — Introspection. The EP is now available at the following online digital services (the iTunes link below is to the Norwegian site — it’s not yet available on iTunes U.S. or Amazon U.S., but the band say that will happen soon):

iTunes      Spotify      WiMP

The band have  also announced today that Introspection is the first of several new EP’s and singles that they plan to release throughout the year, leading up to a new album that’s projected for October 2013.

In addition to the new single “Introspection”, the EP includes another new song, “Flight of the Hatchling” (the band’s first instrumental-only recording), and what KoK call “an extreme version of ‘The Dragontower'”. Here’s a more complete statement by KoK’s songwriter, guitarist, and new frontman Obsidian C: Continue reading »

Apr 032013

While the band drama surrounding Norway’s Keep of Kalessin continues to unfold, Sunday brought cheerier news from the camp of another NCS favorite, Hellish Outcast.

The background: As our wandering metalhead Andy Synn reported from Oslo just as the news was breaking, and discussed at greater length in his own subsequent post about Opening Day at the Inferno Festival, Keep of Kalessin have disclosed that their talented frontman Thebon is out, and their founder, songwriter, and guitarist Obsidian Claw has taken his place behind the mic.

At first KoK reported, with tongue in cheek, that Thebon had disappeared into the wilds of South Africa with his girlfriend, leaving the band no choice but to record their next album without him.

Thebon then surfaced with a somewhat peeved rejoinder. As these things go, KoK then responded with a lengthy, less tongue-in-cheek explanation for Thebon’s ouster. The recriminations will probably continue, because that’s the way band drama works.

But I don’t really enjoy reading about band drama. I much prefer reading about the other news that’s the subject of this post. While Thebon’s days with KoK may be over, he’s still a fixture in Hellish Outcast, and Hellish Outcast will soon be entering the studio to record a new album, tentatively entitled Stay of Execution. Continue reading »

Apr 022013

(NCS writer Andy Synn has returned from Oslo’s Inferno Festival and brings us a multi-part report of what he saw and heard, beginning with this post. More will follow in the days to come.)

So here’s how Inferno Festival works… though the event itself is a three-day affair situated at Rockefeller/John Dee, there’s an opening day on the Wednesday featuring an array of bands performing at a series of different venues around the city.

For the first time this year I was officially accredited as “Press” for the event, meaning I was invited to the Opening Party at the Rockefeller lounge, which kicked things off just before the various bars and clubs started the evening’s festivities. I have to say that I definitely appreciated the free beer (a rather bitter, but ultimately rather nice, Norwegian brown ale called Nøgne Ø) and free food on offer, as well as the opportunity to mingle with other attendees (hello to Liz and Lewis, if you’re reading this) and stalk various band members.

The party itself also had a couple of presentations explaining and extolling the history of Inferno and its connections with the Oslo metal scene and with the Indian metal scene with which it has steadily been building a relationship. Continue reading »

Mar 282013

(photo credit: Astrid Gjersøe Skåtterød)

Andy Synn, beloved NCS writer and intrepid foreign correspondent, is currently attending the Inferno Festival in Oslo, Norway (damn his eyes). Late yesterday afternoon your humble editor received a message from Andy with a couple of scoops about one of our favorite bands, Keep of Kalessin.

First, Andy reported that KoK had debuted a new song and video — “Introspection” — at Inferno. This explains the meaning of the cryptic countdown that has been going on for the last week at KoK’s Facebook page (more about that in a minute). Andy described it thusly: “Epic song. Epic video. Crushing drum sound. Awesome riffs and melodies.”

Second, Andy relayed that KoK’s vocalist Thebon has parted ways with the band and that the man pictured above — KoK’s guitarist, songwriter, and composer Arnt “Obsidian C” Gronbech — has stepped up to become the new vocalist and frontman. Continue reading »

Aug 312012

(In this post Andy Synn reviews the just-released debut album on Season of Mist by Norway’s Khonsu.)

There’s something incredibly exotic, even erotic, about the darker side of music.

Whether you believe that music (and art) creates some sort of spiritual or emotional connection, or whether you see it merely as a stimulus for strange, internal chemical reactions, the fact remains that ever since Sabbath struck their first doom-laden chord there has been an inherent darkness to our music that touches something within us far different from what the rest of the world experiences.

The hybrid black metal sound of Khonsu absolutely revels in this darkness, wrapping its post-industrial, post-apocalyptic (but never post-metal) sound in a shroud of shade and shadow, while taking the audacious (and risky) step of using the keyboards as a leading instrument, utilising this expanded sonic palette to great effect to realise both extroverted concepts and introverted neuroses in equal measure.

Always a dangerous choice, in the wrong hands this often results in nothing but pompous farce or overblown, soulless theatrics. But Anomalia bucks this trend – instead of simply filling out the sound in a passive fashion, the ever-present synth lines and haunting keyboard refrains actively control and direct the direction of the music and have been given the necessary time and care that they need to realise their potential. Rather than being treated as an afterthought, a mere parlor trick or cynical attempt to expand the sound, the synth work here is an integral part of each song’s foundation, granting each one a thematic breadth and depth outside and beyond the confines of black metal’s traditionally guitar-based aesthetic.

Progressive in intent and ambition, the structures of all the songs, which you may have gathered are all of a somewhat significant length, are complex without being convoluted, intelligent without being impenetrable, and though each track is a singular contained chapter, they all contribute, individually and as a collective, to the overall direction of the album.

This is pure Blade Runner black metal, born and raised in Perdition City under the hazy glare of neon lights, where the blood of the dragon meets the sprawling sound of tomorrow. Continue reading »

Sep 172011

As a public service, I thought I’d let you know about two North American tours I just noticed yesterday, plus two others announced earlier but not previously mentioned at NCS. The first of the newer ones is advertised by the poster above. What caught my eye, in addition to the name Korpiklaani, was the fact that Russia’s Arkona is on this tour. Arkona is a recent discovery for us here at NCS, thanks to our friend Trollfiend, who provided a guest review of the band’s new album Slovo. Also included on the tour are Polkadot Cadaver and Forged in Flame. I don’t yet know anything about those two bands, but I’m very tempted to see this show simply because of Arkona (though I like Korpiklaani, too), especially because the Seattle stop will be at a relatively small club.

The second tour is the 2011 edition of Thrash and Burn. This has been a summer tour since its inception, but it was a no-show in the summer just past and now appears to have emerged as a re-branding of Winds of Plague’s fall headlining tour. Following in the footsteps of Summer Slaughter, Winds of Plague and the promoters of this tour nominated a group of bands to fill the last tour slot and let fans vote for a winner. A couple days ago, the winner was announced, and it’s Volumes. Interestingly, Volumes was also one of the nominated bands on the Summer Slaughter ballot, but didn’t make the cut that time and instead were included on the Slaughter Survivors Tour. Volumes has a new album called Via that’s getting some buzz, though I haven’t heard it yet.

The rest of the bands on this version of Thrash and Burn are Chelsea Grin, As Blood Runs Black, For the Fallen Dreams, Upon A Burning Body, In the Midst of Lions, and Like Moths to Flames. In other words, the tour should be renamed Deathcore and Burn. No tour schedule has yet been announced.

I must admit that among the fall tours we haven’t yet mentioned at this site, I’m personally more interested in the Mastodon/Dillinger Escape Plan/Red Fang tour and the Mayhem/Keep Of Kalessin/Hate/Abigail Williams tour (which will be joined by Woe on 13 dates not yet specified). The schedules for the Korpiklaani tour and those others I just mentioned are after the jump. Continue reading »

Jan 162011

I had way too much fun last night. This morning, I feel like I’m being punished in a circle of Hell far worse than anything Dante imagined in The Inferno. But despite a hangover of galactic proportions, I’ve got something for you. Two somethings, actually. They served as a reminder that no matter how much I want to kill myself today, there are reasons to Keep . . . Living.

When we rolled out our list of 2010’s most infectious extreme metal songs, Part 2 of the series paired up songs from two of our favorite bands, Keep of Kalessin and Living Sacrifice. By coincidence, yesterday I saw two brand new performance videos that feature both bands, and they’re both good.


Last year, Keep of Kalessin made their debut in the Eurovision contest, riding the song “Dragontower” to a third-place finish in the Norwegian finals.  Even though “Dragontower” was the most accessible song on Reptilian, KoK’s third-place finish in the national contest was further proof that Norway and the U.S. are so different that they might not really be co-existing in the same universe.

But yesterday, there was more proof. KoK made a guest appearance on the nationally televised semifinal round of the 2011 Norwegian Eurovision song contest, performing another song from Reptilian — in a duet with Alexander Rybak. I tried to think of a U.S. parallel, and the first thing that popped into my head was Immolation showing up on American Idol to perform with Justin Bieber.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Dec 292010

Today we have the next two entries on our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs.  For a full explanation of what we mean by “most infectious”, read this.

In a nutshell, we compiled a list, in no particular order, of the catchiest songs from a wide range of extreme metal sub-genres — not necessarily the best metal of the year (though lots of these songs would qualify for that kind of list), but the ones that most effectively got our heads and other parts of our bodies moving, and then continued to ring in our tiny brains even after they ended.

Yesterday we began the rollout with some old-school death and black/death metal. Today we have two diverse entries that in quite different ways show once again how aggressive metal can light up your life like genital electrodes — except in a good way.


Norway’s Keep of Kalessin made a big mark on 2010 with the release of Reptilian. When we reviewed it in June (here), we noted its stylistic diversity and praised it as an album full of gems, organized in homage to the terrible majesty of the dragon.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »