Jun 052014

I will never catch up. So many new songs and videos erupted from the underground while I was doing other things over the last week, but I can’t look backward for long because each new day brings more eruptions. The seismic plates of metal are in constant motion, and the skies are always red with fire and black with ash. So I’ll mix and match between the new and the not-quite-as-new — starting with a song that premiered yesterday.


There are some bands about whom I fear I’ve lost my objectivity. I’m so enthralled by everything they’ve done that I expect nothing less than excellence in whatever comes next. Panopticon is one of those bands. I’ve had not only high expectations for Roads To the North but also no doubt that it would prove to be brilliant.

With that confession, I will say that the first advance track from that new album is… brilliant. The song is “Chase the Grain” and it premiered at Stereogum yesterday. Even before hearing it, I was already in agreement with Stereogum writer Michael Nelson’s pronouncement that Panopticon’s Austin Lunn “is one of the few genuine visionaries in American black metal”. If you need more proof, listen to “Chase the Grain”. Continue reading »

May 212014

Were you paying attention yesterday? Did you see the post I wrote about the new, free Hells Headbangers compilation? Did you see that it includes a new track by the band Midnight? Well, if you did, you might have guessed what I’m about to confirm: Today, Hells Headbangers announced that Midnight’s new album No Mercy for Mayhem will be released August 19.

I’ve been waiting for this info because the band’s 2011 debut Satanic Royalty was one of my favorite albums of 2011. It sort of came out of nowhere (except for select people in the underground who already knew what was up with Midnight), and made quite a splash. I have little doubt the new album will get 10 times the exposure. There will probably be a full-album stream on NPR. Album teasers will probably be played in movie theaters before shows. Discount coupons in the newspapers.

Okay, probably some of those things won’t happen once the new Midnight promo shot gets into circulation. This is it: Continue reading »

May 042013

Many of our readers are intimately familiar with Hells Headbangers, but for those who aren’t, it’s an online distro and record label specializing in death, black, thrash, grind, doom, and heavy metal. As a label, Hells Headbangers is home to a tremendous line-up of slaughtering bands, many of whom we’ve featured here at NCS. This morning I discovered that HH has made available a free summer comp of music from many of those bands. The comp consists of 20 tracks and includes brand new songs from forthcoming albums by Midnight, Witch Cross, Profanatica, and Impiety.

The comp also comes with artwork drawn by Antichrist Kramer as an homage to Slayer’s debut album Show No Mercy. The timing is coincidental, but it now seems like a fitting tribute to the late Jeff Hanneman. (There’s a track on the comp listed as a Slayer song . . . but it’s really Vomitor.)

The comp is available as a free digital download on Bandcamp, and HH says a double-LP and a CD version will be coming soon.

I’ve been blasting this shit this morning, and it’s awful strong. Links are after the jump, along with the new tracks and the complete album stream. Continue reading »

Sep 032012

(In this post, BadWolf reviews the forthcoming Hells Headbangers compilation of Midnight’s entire pre-Satanic Royalty back catalogue.)

Midnight came seemingly out of nowhere last year with their debut Satanic Royalty. Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, the album roared out of the gates, dazzled with its compelling mix of old-school black metal, D-beat, and classic cock rock, then ended too quickly. I loved it—as did many others, judging by Midnight’s announced slot at Maryland Deathfest—and if I’d heard it before the holiday season, it would most certainly have wormed into my end-of-year lists. I await tis sequel with bated breath.

But Satanic Royalty was hardly Midnight’s first release. The Cleveland three-peice has been releasing music in splits, demos, singles, and EP’s since 2003, and now all of that early material (minus a Quiet Riot cover) is available in one convenient package: Complete and Total Hell. And while it hardly feels like the rock-solid sequel to Satanic Royalty, it serves as a convenient appetizer—the prequel to the sequel, if you’ll pardon my reference.

Complete and Total Hell flows well as an album, even though it is a compilation. “Funeral Bell” opens with some Bathory-style atmosphere, and then the record pumps out track after track of chunky and distorted riffs. The early tracks sound like they were recorded straight to cassette in a basement over a boombox—which they may have been. The raw recording works in their favor since the songs emerge from simple building blocks. As the record progresses you can actually hear more and more money flow into Midnight’s recording—the guitar solos clear up, the bass rumbles deeper, until the music breaks into jangly boogie rock on “Berlin is Burning,” over an hour later. Yes, an hour; where Satanic Royalty was brief, Complete and Total Hell is overlong. Continue reading »