Nov 302015

Awe artwork


(Here’s KevinP’s list of favorite releases during the month of November.)

Last month this column was posted on October 28th, three days before the end of the month. I had a reader and then a friend of mine on Facebook ask me how I could create my list when the month didn’t even ended yet (since there were a plethora of releases due on October 30th).  So I realized maybe what I thought was common knowledge (advance promos) wasn’t as common as I thought?  For instance, as I type this now, I already have four albums on my iPhone that are due in February.

One of the perks for this labor of love we do here is getting to hear albums from a few weeks to many months prior to release. Record labels and PR companies know websites/magazines need lead time to prepare stuff. As flattering as it may be for some to think so, I would not be able to hear an album on the release date (say October 30th), make an accurate assessment of it, write a column, send it off to Islander, and get it posted the same day.

And now for a few housekeeping items before we get to this month’s releases.  This is the first year I’ve done a monthly column. I will still be doing a Best of 2015 list, but will have that ready in early January as to give it some separation from December’s releases.  You’re the Best Around, Nothing’s Gonna Keep You Down will be ready next week (where I go over all the OTHER best stuff of the year). Continue reading »

Nov 162015

Affliction Gate-Dying Alone


(KevinP provides the following introduction to our premiere of a song from the new EP by Affliction Gate.)

One normally doesn’t associate France with death metal.  Sure, you have standouts such as Massacra (RIP) and Loudblast.  But most people think of black metal bands like Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, and Alcest.  So Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s Affliction Gate either have a lot to live up to or a golden opportunity to fill a void.

Formed in 2006, this old-school-inspired death metal outfit have two EPs and one full-length under their belt.  January 2016 will mark the release of their new Dying Alone EP through Transcending Obscurity Productions.  We are proud to premiere a track off this EP, entitled “Devising Our Own Chains”. Continue reading »

Nov 122015



(Last Friday we had the pleasure of premiering a full stream of Providentia, the superb debut album by a mysterious Greek entity named AWE. Now, KevinP brings us a new installment in his short-interview series, in which he quizzes an anonymous member of the band.)

K:  So you don’t disclose who is in the band or what roles they play. Why is that? And what can you tell us?

It is really irrelevant who is in the band or what the contribution is of each member. You have to perceive AWE as an autonomous entity or as a vessel through which we can manifest our artistic desires.  It is for the above reason that we didn’t create fake personas with fancy nick-names in order to please our egos.  So, the important thing for us is for the listener to be patient, dive into our music, and grasp what we want to communicate through AWE. Continue reading »

Oct 282015



(Here’s the latest installment of KevinP’s series in which he runs down his list of the best releases from the month that’s about to end.)

It’s been 10 months now that I’ve worked on this column and I always wondered how others kept track of what was released each month.  I simply take a notebook, write down a month on each page, and then when I get a promo, I download it and hand-write it in the release month.  That’s as low-tech as you can be (and sometimes semi-dangerous if the baby gets her hands on it and goes to town).  So does anyone have any better suggestions?  What do you do?

Anyways, we are fast approaching the end of the year and October has been quite the eclectic month, probably the most so far, as you’ll see from my selections.  Let us know what else wet your whistle in the comments below. Continue reading »

Oct 262015

jacek grecki


(KevinP brings us another installment of his brief-interview series, this time posing questions to Jacek Grecki, vocalist/guitarist of Poland’s mighty Lost Soul, whose powerful new album Atlantis: The New Beginning we premiered last week.)

K: People who have not heard about you before might instantly jump to the “it’s a Polish band that sounds like Behemoth” mantra. This may be a good or bad thing (depending upon the person). And while I’ll admit certain countries may have a “sound” that permeates through multiple bands, Lost Soul started in 1990 as a death metal band and gravitated to technical (sorta) death metal over the years, while Behemoth started in 1991 as a black metal band, then moved to black/death, and now to modern death metal with theatrics. So I think the facts speak for themselves on that particular issue.

J: You know, Lost Soul isn’t such a popular band as Behemoth is. People rarely double-check historical facts about one of the lesser known representatives of the music scene. I think it’s natural to compare one band to the other, better known to the less known in this case. As they say: no matter whether it’s good or bad, what matters is people speak about the band. Continue reading »

Sep 282015

My Dying Bride-Feel the Misery


(Here’s the latest installment of KevinP’s series in which he runs down his list of the best releases from the preceding month.)

I screwed up last month.  And not just a minor oversight, but in a fairly big way.  It wasn’t until after August’s column was posted that fellow contributor/friend Dan Barkasi messaged me that he was surprised I didn’t have Wolfheart on my list.  My response was, “the album comes out in September”.  Then I checked and realized I was wrong.  URGH.  I’m gonna assign partial blame to Mr. Saukkonen though, since he sent me a copy of the album many months in advance and mentioned September as the release date.  Assuming his infallibility (based on his musical pedigree), I never bothered to double-check and learn that the label would change it.

So how do I address this grave misdeed?  I was going to include it as part of this month’s Top 5, but that really wouldn’t make sense or be fair to the other releases.  I’ll simply say this:  Shadow World eclipses the debut.  It’s another masterstroke in the arsenal of Tuomas the Finnish Freeballer who simply seems to be able to mine the same well and keep extracting new and exciting sounds from it.  Would it have been the Number 1 album last month?  It certainly would have been a toss-up between that and Majestic Downfall. Continue reading »

Sep 082015

Andrew Craighan


(KevinP brings us another installment of his short-interview series, and this time he talks with Andrew Craighan, co-founder/guitarist/composer of My Dying Bride, whose new album Feel the Misery is set for release by Peaceville Records on September 18 — and reviewed here on our site.)

K: One of the things that struck me last time we spoke (right after A Line of Deathless Kings was released in 2006) was how you would write all the music, then give it to Aaron, and he would lock himself away for a week or so with some wine and candles and just spit forth all the lyrics.  He wasn’t privy to hearing the music beforehand.  Has anything fundamentally changed in that regard over the years? 

A: It was more or less the same on this one. I wrote at home and would send out odd and sods when I thought I had something of use. The band, Aaron included, would get used to them or learn the riffs in anticipation of needing to play it later. The full songs were then arranged again alone by me initially. Then, when in a playable state, we would rehearse them live at Voltage and re-arrange or write anything new there that fit or was needed. Again, completely developed without any vocals or lyrics by everyone in the band but Aaron. He doesn’t ever come to those parts of the process but has “demo” versions sent to him. What he does with them no one knows as he always seems “surprised by music” at the studio and on this one I got a bit more involved on the vocal melodies too, which was cool. Continue reading »

Aug 312015

Majestic Downfall--When Dead


(Here’s the latest installment of KevinP’s series in which he runs down his list of the best releases from the preceding month.)

August was been absolutely stacked with quality releases, which caused me to make a few hard choices (i.e., cuts).  A few albums worth your time that didn’t make the list were from:  Krisiun, Ogotay, and Sources of I.   Also, I went back and forth on the ranking between numbers 2-5, and really, depending on my mood, I could change them up, that’s how much I enjoyed all of them.  This month’s numero uno though was head and shoulders above the rest, and released by a perennial NCS favorite.


5.  CreepingRevenant

This is the third full-length by this New Zealand trio and the first one I’ve heard by them.  Why exactly are these kiwis not more well known?  That kinda baffles me.  Black doom with a healthy dose of death metal goodness thrown into the mixture.  It’s grimy, it’s dark, and it’s just a visciously good album. Continue reading »

Aug 282015

Jacobo Córdova-1


(KevinP rejoins us with another edition of his short-interview series, and this time he talks with Jacobo Córdova, the man behind one of our favorite bands — Majestic Downfall, whose stunning new album is out now and can be heard at the end of the interview.)


K:  So this is the third year in a row with a full-length album worth of material.  How have you been able to pull this off?

J:  I guess the reason why the band is so active is that I really like writing music and I do it as a very disciplined thing. It is a one-man job where I can decide when to do things, however I want to, without anyone on my back. I do have to say, that this time it was a bit harder than previously, since I incorporated a lot of new sounds into the music without caring or giving importance to where they came from.


K:   If you found it harder to write this time around BUT you didn’t worry about what you incorporated, wouldn’t that actually make it easier, being free of restrictions?

J:  Yes and no.Yes in the creative department, where as long as it sounded good I would work with it and incorporate it into the songs. No in the aspect of making such different ideas flow together in a smooth and cohesive way. That is what made me struggle more. I hate pasting riffs together without any relation. Continue reading »

Aug 172015

Paolo Girardi & Manilla Road
Paolo and Manilla Road

(KevinP brings us another installment in his ongoing series of short interviews, talking this time with one of our favorite metal artists, Italy’s Paolo Girardi.)

K:  So how did you get your start being one of the “go to” guys for metal album covers?

P:  I already had done some local metal demo and CD covers here in my small town and villages around the ’90s and early 2000s.  But then my friends Blasphemophagher wanted something for their first album, then second, then third and the most recent one.  This gave me more popularity in metal.  After that I did Diocletian, Tyrants Blood, In League with Satan, etc.

Three years ago (almost four maybe), I reached the point when I could live by painting alone, working all over the world. No more need to work in country, as frescos restorer, carpenter, or other occasional work. I was so glad ’cause I’ve never quit painting, even when I had to work 11 hours per day.  After that, my daily wrestling training, then painting ’til after midnight.  I’ve always believed at every cost.  Obsession, passion, love, stubbornness, madness.  Now, I still work hard to do my best for my respectful clients, bands, and labels. Continue reading »