Jun 072022


(With another month now in the history books, we welcome back Gonzo, who again has recommendations for you of wide-ranging albums released in the preceding month – somewhat delayed only because our editor completely lost track of time while at Maryland Deathfest.)

When doing the legwork that goes into these monthly columns, there are some months when I have to reach deep into the metal underbelly to extract whatever hidden gems I stumble across, and there are others where the onslaught of new releases just looks downright overwhelming and perhaps menacing.

May turned out to be the latter. I actually had to trim this one down from what I had originally planned out, if for no other reason than the fact that I’m disappearing into the mountains for most of the weekend without many plans to be in front of a computer. Fuck that nonsense, I say. I get enough of that during my 9-5 job, and any excuse to hit the road for an escape is a good one.

Read on and prepare to abuse your eardrums with the best of what I stumbled into through May. Continue reading »

Sep 092018


The music I’ve picked for this week’s column is among the shades of black that shade into death metal, or vice-verse, depending on the stylistic ingredients that you think are more dominant. But while “blackened death metal” might be a suitable description for some of this music, that label doesn’t fit all of it, at least as I think most listeners interpret the term.

All but one of the bands in this collection are old favorites of mine who are returning with new music, sometimes after extended absences; one is a new discovery. I’ll add that this weekend has been a busy one for me (busy with non-NCS activities), so I’m hurrying to get this done before I have to turn again to other stuff. Which means I’m having to cut short my usual rhetorical embellishments, and mainly let the music sell itself.


After two powerful previous releases, the MMXIII demo in 2013 and the stellar 2015 EP Below the Hengiform (which we had the privilege of premiering), the Irish black/death band Malthusian will at last release a full-length this year. Across Deaths is set for release on September 28th by Dark Descent Records and Invictus Productions Continue reading »

Apr 292018


Welcome to another installment of my Sunday series on metal drawn from a black vein. Some of what’s here are carry-overs from the column I planned for last Sunday but failed to finish in time, and some are discoveries I’ve made since then. I had to make hard choices, as usual, and made them in an effort to put your head through a lot of twists and turns in the ever-expanding landscape of black and “blackened” metal. I hope to find future places for the releases I put to one side in making these choices.


After two powerful previous releases, the MMXIII demo in 2013 and the stellar 2015 EP Below the Hengiform (which we got the privilege of premiering), the Irish black/death band Malthusian will at last release a full-length this year. Across Deaths is set for release on September 7th by Dark Descent Records and Invictus Productions. I guess it’s unusual to see the appearance of an advance track almost five months before an album release date, but only a churlish bastard would complain about the wait, and I’m not the churlish kind of bastard. Continue reading »

Apr 132015


Reviews are useful, but there is no substitute for listening. Six days ago I gave very high marks to Below the Hengiform, the stunning new EP by Malthusian, and although I’m going to remind you of why I’m so enthusiastic about this release, the main purpose of this post is to give you the chance to hear all of it for yourselves.

First, the reminder: Below the Hengiform represents a large step forward for a band who had already made a striking debut with their 2013 demo. In addition to creating a powerful atmosphere of imminent catastrophe and generating overwhelming maelstroms of violent sound, Malthusian are doing what few practitioners of blackened death metal are able to do:  They are crafting memorable songs. Continue reading »

Apr 072015


Malthusian’s debut demo MMXIII (touched upon here at our site) was an auspicious start to their career, but they have taken significant strides forward on their new EP Below the Hengiform. It would not be hyperbole to say that it now places this Irish band among the elite ranks of blackened death metal practitioners on a global stage.

According to this recent interview of the band’s guitarist/vocalist, the “hengiform” referred to in the EP’s title was an Iron Age enclosure, a “ring fort” in which there is archaeological evidence that ritual sacrifices were performed, “like a gateway between the worlds of the living and the dead”. With that obscure yet evocative reference as the banner above this new recording, Malthusian have created a listening experience that suits the title: The music is obscure, ritualistic, and supernatural in its aura, and it introduces something new to the lexicon of extreme metal.

From the beginning, Malthusian have blended elements of doom into the formulas of chaos that are typically found in the blackened death sub-genre, and they continue to do so here. The music has a massive, distorted low end, filled with dissonant down-tuned riffs, deep grinding/groaning bass lines, and a percussive mix that’s heavy on the toms and the kick drum, and the band have a penchant for dropping into a staggering pace with repeating musical motifs that exude a thick atmosphere of imminent catastrophe. Continue reading »

Mar 032015

This is another one of those new-music round-ups that I would normally label “Seen and Heard”, but it happens that everything I’ve collected here is so heavy and dark that “Shades of Black” seemed more fitting, even though the music isn’t exclusively black metal. Perhaps needless to say, I’m really high on everything collected here.


Yesterday, Maryland-based Unholy Anarchy Records released a stunning digital compilation of songs via Bandcamp. It’s a free download, but I’m sure that throwing a few bucks their way would be very much appreciated — and this thing is so damned good that a contribution would also be well-deserved. Continue reading »

Oct 142013

We all have our own recipes for dealing with the grimness of Mondays, even if those recipes simply involve falling into a state of clinical depression or foul surliness. My own recipe today was to go in search of fearsome new metal, the kind that would put a shot of adrenaline into the old brainstem or open a door into the pitiless void. The search proved to be highly successful, as you shall see. Here are four new songs from forthcoming releases that brightened up my Monday (and by “brightened” I mean “darkened”).


Soul Remnants make their home in the Boston area, and their second album Black and Blood is slated for release on October 31 by a Philadelphia label named Horror Pain Gore Death Productions (by coincidence, this band is the first of two in this post whose new releases are being handled by that label). This morning I listened to two recently unveiled advance tracks from the album that are worth your time — “Incinerator” and “No Afterlife”.

The music is a hot shot of adrenaline straight into the bloodstream, a burst of ripping riffage and furious drumming, segmented by powerful pneumatic grooves and fleet-fingered soloing and flavored with seductive melodies. The caustic harsh vocals are aces too, and the production gives the music the sharp edge of scalpels at work. It’s a bracing brew of melodic death metal, tech-death, and even black metal stylings. Very nice. Continue reading »