Aug 182020


(Andy Synn combines two reviews in this post, one each for the latest two releases by the Australian band Mesarthim.)

If you want to upset a wide swathe of the Metal and Metal-adjacent public, just play them something by Atmo-Black Trance duo Mesarthim.

Too spacey and synth-driven for most of the Black Metal scene, too upbeat and dancey for the Dungeon Synth crowd, and too abrasive for the Synthwave crew, the duo’s (incredibly prolific) output has proven to be exceptionally divisive over the years, even as it has also attracted an incredibly dedicated fanbase who can’t seem to get enough of the band’s signature blend of bleeps, bloops, and blasts.

That being said, I know I’m not the only one who felt like the group’s most recent works – most notably 2018’s Coma Wall EP and last year’s Ghost Condensate album – didn’t quite achieve the same sense of balance and equilibirum between the various disparate elements of their sound (although not for lack of trying) which helped define the band’s earlier works.

Which makes the recent surprise release of The Degenerate Era, the fifth full-length Mesarthim album in five years, an opportunity to reset and reassess things… for both the band and their fans. Continue reading »

May 192019


(NCS reader, commenter, and frequent source of musical recommendations, HGD, has graciously stepped in to prepare this week’s SHADES OF BLACK column, as he has done before, given that our regular columnist (that would be me) is again unable to do so because of interference from the job that pays the bills around here.)

With Islander being swarmed with work over the last few weeks, I felt the need to step up and do my part to relieve his burden, if only a little. I’m pleased to present today’s Shades of Black column and hope all our regular and not so regular readers find something here that warms their blackened hearts. — HGD Continue reading »

Jul 132018


This is obviously a big end-of-week round-up. Today the size of the round-up will be in inverse proportion to the volume of words in my descriptions of the music, because I have three premieres to write and there would have been more except I exercised some rare restraint and started saying No.

What is it about this day that makes it so popular for premieres and releases? Could it be that there is only one other Friday in 2018 like it (and that one occurred three months ago)?

I arranged the music in alphabetical order by band name because I couldn’t think of a more logical way to stitch these sounds together.


This time Bonehunter chose to keep the rampaging bear’s penis less prominent on the magnificent cover of their new album (rendered by Joe Petagno), to the disappointment of some and the relief of others (as long as they don’t look to closely at that tongue). But how does the music on Children of the Atom compare to the tunes on this Finnish band’s more prominently erect last record, Sexual Panic Human Machine? Continue reading »

Apr 272017


(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new EPs by Mantar, Maré, and Mesarthim.)

So I’ve officially now reached a point where I am so far behind in my writing that the balance has fully shifted into the negative, with more new albums and EPs being added to my review queue – almost on a daily basis – than are being scratched off of it.

What to do, what to do…?

Well, the only answer, it seems, is to hammer out a bunch of quick reviews, and try to make some sort of dent in the ever-growing pile of streams and promos currently clogging up my inbox/mp3 player.

So, without further ado, here’s three great EPs, two from bands we’ve covered before, and one from an entirely new discovery of mine. Continue reading »

Dec 122016



There are more total minutes of new music in this round-up than usual, and that’s because this compilation includes five EPs, one of which is a single 21-minute track. There are two individual songs in here, too. I thought I’d make up for the fact that my meager weekend posts included a grand total of one song. On the other hand, there’s so much music in this collection that I decided to divide it into two parts, with Part 2 coming a bit later today.

Sadly, I don’t have time to write decent reviews of those five EPs and will only froth at the mouth about them briefly, hopefully just enough to induce you to listen to them for yourself. But before getting to those, let’s start with the first of those two individual songs.


Skadi is the name of the new sixth album by Colorado’s genre-bending The Flight of Sleipnir. It will be released on January 20 by Eisenwald. The first advance song from the album was released a couple of days ago, and its name is “Awaken”. Continue reading »

Sep 192016

Reviews in Haikus


(Andy Synn brings us a new installment in his series of album reviews in haiku. Three reviews of three lines each come after the jump. With music, of course.)

Despite what I’ve seen suggested by certain slightly ill-informed commenters recently, Metal’s obsession with space and the vast potential and possibilities of the great beyond is nothing new.

Let’s be honest for a second – a bunch of the genre’s progenitors were massive nerds who stole took inspiration from some of sci-fi’s biggest (and some not so big) names to feed their lyrics and concepts, and this basically laid the groundwork for everyone from Agalloch to Obscura to Wormed to draw their own inspirations from the same deep well, be it the pulpiest of science fiction or the hardest of science fact. Sometimes both.

So for the latest edition of this column I’ve selected three fantastic albums which, to date, haven’t been covered properly here on NCS, each of which firmly and confidently puts its own spin on the great interstellar enigma and our place as insignificant motes of fleeting life within the vast and unending void. Continue reading »

Mar 162016



(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Australia’s Mesarthim.)

Space is… really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. And being so big, so infinitely, unendingly big, it’s really no surprise how much it continues to fascinate, captivate, and inspire humanity in its many artistic endeavours.

And yes, while at times it can seem like the sheer infinity of time and space is on the verge of filling up with dime-a-dozen Tech Death bands, they certainly don’t have a monopoly on all things cosmic, as there’s a whole host of acts operating within the (dyson) sphere of Black Metal who take their primary inspiration from the endless wonder and grandeur of the great beyond.

This is particularly evident of course on the Atmospheric/Ambient side of the genre, with acts like Darkspace, Mare Cogitum, and Progenie Terrestre Pura rejecting the darkness of the brimstone abyss in favour of the vastness of the shining void, although even bands like Agalloch and Enslaved (to name but two) have done more than their fair share of stargazing over the years.

Australian astronometallers Mesarthim are one of the latest, and brightest, stars to join this ebon constellation of bands, with the release of their debut album Isolate in July of last year. And now they’re back once again with their new EP, Pillars. Continue reading »

Sep 052015

Dead To A Dying World-Litany


I have some round-ups of new and newly discovered music to send your way today and tomorrow. By coincidence, much of what I found yesterday that hit me hard were songs that in very different ways lay the mantle of doom upon your shoulders, and those are all collected here. The music pulls you in, and draws you under; the light recedes while the surface grows more distant. There’s a lot of heaviness (and wretchedness) in what follows, and a lot of sublime beauty as well. The final song in the collection, while not metal except perhaps in spirit, may be the most beautiful of all.


I’m not sure how we reached the 5th day of September, 2015, without ever previously featuring Dead To A Dying World on this site. We hang our heads in shame. It’s time to make amends.

Four years after their debut album, this seven-piece Dallas band have a new full-length named Litany that will be released on October 16 by Gilead Media and Tofu Carnage Records in the U.S. and by Alerta Antifascista in Europe. It features cover art by the talented Sera Timms.

Yesterday, Decibel premiered a 16 1/2 minute song named “Beneath the Loam”, and the title tells you something about the atmosphere of the music — but far from everything. Continue reading »