Jan 042017


This is Part 3 of our continuing list of 2016’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. To see the first two installments and an explanation of the criteria for making the selections, go here.


Anyone who saw my review of List won’t be surprised to find a song from the album on this list. I came close to embarrassing myself with how effusively I praised it. Hands down, it’s one of my favorite releases in an incredibly strong year for metal. Continue reading »

Dec 152016



(Andy Synn’s week-long series of year-end lists continues with his personal list of The Critical Top Ten for 2016. Click these links to see his lists of the year’s Great Albums, the Good Albums, and the Disappointments.)

For those of you unfamiliar with how this works, I always wind-up my week-long retrospective with two lists, the “Critical Top Ten” and the “Personal Top Ten”.

Now the second one is probably pretty self-explanatory, in that it’s just a list of the ten albums I’ve loved, lived with, and listened to the most this year. It’s really just a snapshot of my personal listening habits/tastes over the last twelve months.

The idea behind this one possible needs some explaining though.

You see the “Critical Top Ten” is where I try (as best I can) to remove my own personal biases and downplay any favouritism and instead attempt to name the ten albums (unranked) which I feel honestly represent the best of the best from the last year in Metal. Continue reading »

Oct 152016



I’m in Oakland, California, this weekend for the second edition of California Deathfest, which began yesterday afternoon (Friday, October 14, 2016) and continues through Sunday. The photo above captures one of the sights that greeted me this morning a few steps from our waterfront hotel. I’m here with my NCS comrades DGR and BadWolf and some other good Seattle friends, enjoying some mild and occasionally drizzly weather while Seattle is getting beat to hell by a weekend windstorm. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Usually when I go to metal festivals I take lots of photos (and more recently videos) and try to write up reports on the performances for the site. This time, before leaving for Oakland, I decided not to do that. I decided I would just devote myself to watching the sets and talking with people and not worry about “work” for NCS. So far I’ve mostly kept to that resolution — but not entirely. Continue reading »

Mar 252016

Mantar-Ode To the Flame


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Germany’s Mantar, coming next month from Nuclear Blast.)

When I say that Ode to the Flame, the second album by German blackened sludgemeisters Mantar, is one badass motherfucker, you’d best believe that I mean it.

Fuelled by rage and empowered by the divine spirit of “the riff”, practically every aspect of it – from its punishing, stone-cold grooves, snarling, punked-up hooks, and monstrously heavy guitar sound – is a huge step up from the band’s debut, with Messrs. Hanno (vocals/guitars) and Erinc (drums/vocals) upping their game on pretty much every level.

Bristling with barely restrained aggression, and gifted with a brash, belligerent swagger and a malicious streak a mile wide, it’s also the first album in a long, long time, to fill that twisted, Nachtmystium-shaped hole in my heart, though its tar-soaked and sludge-encrusted underbelly and downright surly demeanour mean that the final product offers up a much different experience than Judd and co’s self-loathing anthems. Continue reading »

Mar 192016

Ashcloud-Children of the Chainsaw


Last week was another one in which I noticed lots of new songs and videos but didn’t have time to round them up, in part because I was writing about a flood of new songs that we were premiering ourselves. So now I’m doing what I failed to do earlier — but because I waited, the round-up has become jumbo-sized. Consequently, I’ve kept my introductions to the music brief and haven’t taken the time to consistently add album art or links as I usually do. When I did something like this last weekend (except with even fewer words), I said I didn’t intend to make a habit of it. I still don’t.

For those who pay attention to such things, I also failed to post Part 3 of the Shades of Black series I began at the start of the week. But I will do that tomorrow. Now, presented in alphabetical order, here are new songs and videos from 17 bands.


On May 1, Xtreem Music will release the new album by Sweden’s Ashcloud. The album’s title tells you a lot of what you need to know about the music: Children of the Chainsaw. Here’s the title track — smoking, tree-felling, crusty Swedish death metal that’s awfully damned sweet. Continue reading »

Feb 152016

Mantar-Ode To the Flame


I had originally planned to post this yesterday, to make the Sabbath blacker, but didn’t quite get it finished. I’ve collected five new songs from forthcoming albums and a brief review of an EP released last month. The songs are stylistically diverse — in fact, this is one of those installments of this column where not all of the music is even going to fit the broadest definitions of black metal — yet there is a shared “depressive” quality among many of the songs (and I use the term in a genre sense). And of course I found everything very good and very memorable and hope you’ll enjoy it, too.


As I’ve previously written, Mantar’s new album Ode To the Flame is one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of 2016, both because I thoroughly enjoyed their debut album Death By Burning and because I was so blown away by their live performance at last year’s Maryland Deathfest. A few days ago we got our first full glimpse of the new album via the premiere of a song called “Era Borealis“. Continue reading »

Feb 042016

Mantar-Ode To the Flame


Those who set their clocks by the appearance of our first morning posts are going to be late all day today, because we’re getting a late start on this Thursday. In fact, I’m still not finished with what I had planned for our first post. But to tide us over until I’m finished, I have something else of great interest to share:

The German band Mantar have completed a new album named Ode To the Flame that will be released by their new label Nuclear Blast on April 15. As you can see, they decided to go in a very simple direction with the cover art, especially by comparison with the eye-catching and indelibly memorable cover art for their debut album Death By Burning. They do have an explanation for that: Continue reading »

Dec 282014


Today we bring you Part 5 of our list of 2014′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. For the other songs we’ve previously named to the list, go here.

Up to now, every song on the list has come from an album that we reviewed at this site. Today’s entries come from two albums we failed to review, though they are both excellent. However, we did write about individual songs from both albums, so we’re not complete failures. And I thought both songs would make for a nice pairing because of certain stylistic similarities in the music — but you be the judge of that.


Wolvhammer is one of those few bands who made a striking start with their debut album (The Obsidian Plains) and then just continued to make strong and steady progress with each successive release. Their third album, 2014’s Clawing Into Black Sun, is not only their high-water mark, it was also one of my favorite albums of this year. Continue reading »

Feb 112014

Culled here from the ever-flowing effluent of the interhole are four new ear- and eye-pleasing treats, with a bit of impressionistic verbiage. The songs have nothing in common, except my liking for them.


Mantar (above) are a new two-piece band, half German and half Turkish, whose debut album Death By Burning is scheduled for North American release by Svart Records on February 25. I previously wrote about one advance song, “Spit”. Today DECIBEL delivered the premiere of a music video for a second one, “White Nights”.

Men at work, wolves at work, strobes in the studio, shadows in the forest (and something else in the forest), amps and pines. The squeal of feedback, the squall of a fuzz-bombed guitar, riffs that open wounds, vocals that cauterize them, drum strikes that will bring you to your knees. Stripped-down and flesh-stripping, obliterating and head-nodding. Continue reading »

Jan 282014

I was going to post this yesterday, but we had so many other things to do yesterday that I ran out of time. But although a day late, the five songs collected here are still fairly new. All of them premiered since last Friday and all of them caught my ears in a vice-like grip and shook my head like a maraca, producing a similar rattling sound with the small object inside my skull. As usual for these collections, the styles of metal are different, but it’s all good. The bands are presented in alphabetical order.


Mantar are a new two-piece band, half German and half Turkish, whose debut album Death By Burning is scheduled for release by Svart Records, on February 7. I hadn’t heard any of their music before, but the strange cover art drew me into CVLT Nation’s debut of a new track named “Spit”.

Interestingly, the only instruments used on the album are guitar and drums (no bass), but “Spit” is still plenty heavy. Comparisons have been drawn to the likes of Melvins, Motorhead, and Darkthrone. “Spit” is a black, hammering rocker with a boatload of fat, distorted riffs and a drum attack that seems bent on dismantling skulls. It’s catchy as fuck, and Mantar’s vocalist has the kind of raw, scarring tone that leaves faces in shreds. Excellent nastiness. Continue reading »