May 232017


We have a double-premiere for you in this post, both of which have stirred excitement here at the NCS metallic island. The first of these is the stream of a powerful new two-song EP by the Norwegian melodic black metal band Vinterbris, set for release on June 6th, the title of which is Ad Absurdum. And the second, which was inspired by the first, is a time-lapse video of the wonderful Norwegian artist Kim Holm that depicts his creation of the EP’s evocative wrap-around cover art.

In 2014 we wrote repeatedly about Vinterbris‘ superb second album Solace. What first drew our attention to the album even before hearing the music was the artwork that Kim Holm created for that album. In addition to a cover piece, Holm created separate illustrations for each song on the album (which we collected in one place here). Having been lured into the album by this artwork, we found the music to be a treasure as well. We even included a song from Solace on our list of 2014’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

And now we will face the challenge of deciding which of these two new songs to pick for the 2017 edition of that list — because both songs surge with infectious energy, both of them immediately appealing at the first listen, and both of them persistently boiling in the listener’s mind long after they end. Continue reading »

Jun 122014

Here are some new things I found over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth sharing around. I’m doing my best to finish a review, so I’m going to atypically attempt to be brief. I know this will cause mass depression among readers, but that’s just the way it has to be.


As previously reported, the next album by Iceland’s Sólstafir is named Ótta and will be released by Season of Mist on August 29 in Europe and September 2 in North America. Today the album became available for pre-order in triple-LP format (here) and the cover art was disclosed (above). I don’t know what thinking is behind the use of this photo or how it relates to the music and/or lyrics, but I like it — such a dramatic setting, and such a fascinating face. Bought it.

Also today Stereogum premiered the new album’s title track. You may not be prepared for it. You may not even think it’s metal. But I think it’s goddamned awesome. It’s icy and adrift, bleak and beautiful, melancholy and memorable. But it has a harsh edge as well, it rocks in its own way, and the soaring of the vocals into a howl near the end are very cool. And is that an electrified mandolin I’m hearing, along with the synth and strings? (Answer:  Nope, it’s a banjo!)

Go HERE to listen.


I’ve written before about the Relapse reissue of the one and only album by Sweden’s God Macabre — a band who’ve frequently been on my mind ever since seeing their magnificent set at Maryland Deathfest XII last month. One of my friends who was there with me surprised the hell out of me a few days ago with a gift of the special MDF edition of the LP. And then yesterday I noticed that the digital version of The Winterlong reissue is now available on Bandcamp. If you haven’t heard it, you should. It has lost nothing in the two decades since its original release. Here it is: Continue reading »

Jun 122014

If you look on the right side of this page under the heading of “Categories” you’ll see a link to something called “Eye-Catchers”. It was an irregular series of posts I started a very long time ago and then sort of forgot about. The original idea was to pick music to write about based solely on the cover art, as a way of testing the hypothesis that cool album art tends to correlate with cool music. I still often check out new music in just that way — because the artwork catches my eye — but writing about what I’ve found in that way as a test of the “Eye-Catchers” hypothesis has fallen by the wayside. I’m going to try to do more of that.

I’ve already written (twice) about music from the forthcoming album (Solace) by Norway’s Vinterbris, and I first paid attention to it precisely because of the cover art, which was created by an artist I’ve praised frequently at NCS: Kim Holm. The last time I wrote about this partnership was after the release of a video showing Kim Holm’s creation of a drawing for the album with the song “Dysphoria” as musical accompaniment. I’m going to embed that video again at the end of this post in case you missed it. But the main reason for the post is to collect in one place all the other pieces that Holm created for Solace — because he created separate pieces for each song on the album (just as he did for Sólstafir’s Svartir Sandar — that art is collected here.)

Solace will be released on June 16 by Nordavind Records. You can order it now on CD either here or here, and that second link will take you to a Bandcamp page where digital downloads can also be pre-ordered. But of course one reason to spring for the CD (which is what I’ve done) is to get the booklet with the art you’re about to see (a CD pre-order gets you immediate download of two songs). Continue reading »

Sep 182013

Collected here are a large handful of items of interest that I came across today and yesterday while crawling through the underground. The last four items consist of pairings that work. You’ll see what I mean.


German black metal band Endstille, they take no prisoners. They have a new album named Kapitulation 2013 that Season of Mist plans to release in NorthAm on November 12 (November 8 worldwide). I remembered their name somewhat fearfully from the last album, which is now on Bandcamp, so I was interested to hear the new song that debuted today — “The Refined Nation”.

I find it very difficult to be very refined in writing about music like this. In my case, the capacity for careful dissection and articulate analysis go up in a mushroom cloud of obliteration, and Endstille don’t strike me as a band who care terribly much about refined criticism anyway. The song is a black metal detonation that fills the air with shrapnel and the screams of the dismembered (or that may be Endstille’s vocalist, it’s hard to be sure). Continue reading »

Oct 292011

Over the last two weeks we’ve had a couple of posts about an Icelandic band called Sólstafir and their new album on Season of Mist, Svartir Sandar. The most recent post (here) included a great video of the band performing a song from the album called “Fjara” on Icelandic television. Sólstafir has also nearly finished filming an official music video for the same song. I have no doubt we’ll be posting that at NCS as soon as it premieres. But for today, we’re focusing on album art instead of Sólstafir’s music.

Svartir Sandar is a two-CD album. The first disc is called “Andvari” and the second is titled “Gola”, and each of them includes six songs — 12 in total. I don’t yet have a physical copy of the album, but it apparently includes a booklet with artwork for each of the 12 songs. One at a time, Sólstafir has been adding the art for each song to their Facebook albums, and today they uploaded the last one.

I’ve been watching as these pieces of art have gone up on Facebook, and now that they’re all there, I’ve collected them in this post. For reasons I doubt I could articulate, they suit the music. Even standing alone without the amazing music, they’re very cool. All the art is by a Norwegian cartoonist named Kim Holm. Take a look at all 12 creations after the jump (and listen to a Sólstafir song while you’re doing that). Continue reading »