Dec 302021


(Relative NCS newcomer Nathan Ferreira weighs in with a Top 20 year-end list and a healthy group of honorable mentions as well.)

HI NCS readers! In case you haven’t been bombarded by lists enough in the past few weeks, here’s my personal round-up of choice cuts.

This was my first year writing for this website, so I don’t really have the same sort of cred some of the veterans do around here. My taste is not particularly obscure, nor esoteric and unusual. There’s probably some overlap with other lists you’ve seen. I’m a generic metalhead (and proud of it!).

Still, this was the first year in a while I really focused on keeping up with new music, so I’d bet there’s a couple of things in this list you missed – I know I missed a bunch of stuff. Hopefully I can establish myself as more of a regular contributor in 2022 because this website is cool as shit.

Now, on to the thing! Continue reading »

Dec 022021

(NCS contributor Nathan Ferreira prepared the following exhaustive retrospective concerning the work of Turkish musician Mustafa Gürcalioğlu (a current or former member of such bands as Decaying Purity, Burial Invocation, Engulfed, Diabolizer, and Hyperdontia), which includes extensive discussions with the artist.)

I’m back with another way-too-ambitious deep-dive project, inspired by my excursions into The Ruins of Beverast’s body of work earlier this year. I was hoping to get this out in time for the premieres of either or Hyperdontia, but alas, that proved to be too lofty a goal. I may have bit off more than I could chew. Either way, it’s finally ready for all your music nerd-related pleasures, just in time for you to add those two bands to your year-end lists – if they’re not on there already.

The discography of Mustafa Gürcalioğlu was one that I wanted to give in-depth coverage to for a few reasons. One, it’s incredibly consistent – I don’t think the guy’s put out a stinker yet, and even the ones you don’t think you like tend to grow on you over time. Two, it starts out good, slowly gets better, and it sounds like the best is yet to come, since the most recent albums by all four of his projects are the strongest. Three, there are enough small differences between albums and different bands that you can tell them apart, but because of the aforementioned consistency, you’re still guaranteed a solid listen while also getting something new along the way. No one has given his discography the appreciation it deserves – if you didn’t get the hint yet, pound for pound it’s one of the best in metal.

Since Mustafa is a more accessible and/or approachable character than Alexander von Meilenwald proved to be, I was able to flag him down and ask him a ton of questions, so with each venture into one of his bands, I’ve included some information straight from the creator’s mouth (keyboard?) to add extra context and colour. In addition, I’ll kick off the article with some more general questions so you can get to know the man behind the music a bit more before fully taking the plunge. Enjoy! Continue reading »

Jul 282021


(Nathan Ferreira provides this introduction to our premiere of another track off the debut album by Headshrinker, with additional insights into the album as a whole.)

I had been sleeping on the promo materials for Callous Indifference waiting for me in my mailbox, not fully compelled to listen. The album art is subtle and understated, the band logo a plain font, and the “OSDM meets Death/Doom with mathy dissonance” descriptor used in the email title was kinda intriguing but also not unheard of either.

That they feature Havok’s drummer doesn’t move the needle for me (I’m not too familiar with them, and as such don’t know Pete Webber’s style), and I wasn’t acquainted with Polyptych, the more progressive black metal styled group the other three members previously played in. Because of the volume of promotional materials I sift through to find the golden riff nuggets, my brain can become fried by similar descriptors across emails, and Callous Indifference just happened to have surface aesthetics that got lost in the shuffle.

But then, head honcho Islander gave a premiere of “The Burn of Indifference”, first Headshrinker song released to the public. That article was just the push I needed to dive into this band further, and I am very thankful I did. (I was a fan and reader of this site well before I contributed to it, after all). Continue reading »

Jun 172021


(Nathan Ferreira prepared the following introduction to our premiere of another song off the forthcoming debut album by the Turkish death metal band Diabolizer, due for release in early July by Everlasting Spew Records.)

I’m going to drop a name for you: Mustafa Gürcalioğlu.

If mentioning that name made the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you’ve probably already pre-ordered Khalkedonian Death and don’t need to read much more of this article. Good on you for knowing where to find the primo shit.

If that name inspired more confusion and curiosity than it did excitement, you’re exactly the person I wrote this for. To put it boldly, with the possible exception of Phil Tougas, there isn’t anyone else in the game right now who is as versatile and prolific while also maintaining a high quality standard for their music. Any new album from the four major projects he is involved in should be auto-buys (and the stuff he released with Burial Invocation is badass too!), and to make an even bolder claim, Diabolizer may be the best band of the bunch. Continue reading »

Jun 022021


(Nathan Ferreira introduces our premiere of a track off the new album by Denver-based Noctambulist, which will be released by Willowtip Records on July 2nd.)

It’s difficult to stand out in any style of music, but that challenge is heightened for The Barren Form – first impressions of it will bring to mind the claustrophobic fretwork of Portal distilled into the blistering intensity of Hate Eternal. Such overstimulating qualities don’t tend to leave a lot of room for dynamics, and on top of that, Noctambulist like to write slabs of 6+ minutes of chaotic cacophony. The few moments you do get to breathe are barely able to be savored before a song powers into another turbulent assault, highlighted by the mind-boggling speed and stamina of drummer Michael Nolan.

The musicianship on The Barren Form is top-notch, as is expected from a Willowtip Records release, but what is striking about Noctambulist is how much emotion they can inject into a suffocating, abstruse template. A couple of staccato chops at the right time hammers the riffs in deep, and the guitars themselves don’t tend to noodle around the fretboard a lot – either that or it’s muffled amidst the discordance. What then emerges are jagged, unsettling chords that simultaneously release tension as it’s built.

Where contemporaries in this realm of death metal might focus more on snaking subtleties and enhancing the overall creepiness and confusion, Noctambulist are fast, heavy, and fucking loud. It feels like everything is just coming at you all at once, with a roomy, modern production job giving proper balance so no one element is neglected. Continue reading »

May 172021


(In this article Nathan Ferreira reviews The Intimate Earth, the new album by Oregon-based Felled, and introduces our premiere of a song from the album.)

As any self-respecting metalhead should, I keep regular tabs on Transcending Obscurity Records. Their versatility and ear for quality sets the pace for other small-to-medium-sized labels, and I particularly appreciate their willingness to wiggle a little bit outside of their comfort zone in terms of style/genre. You never quite know what you’re going to get from the folks at T.O., you just know it’s gonna be good.

I am also one of those tree-hugging types that is infatuated with Cascadian black metal. Combine these two factors and it becomes easy to see why, when the label announced they were releasing the debut album of Felled, an Oregon-based band that cited some of my all-time favorite artists as influences (early Ulver, Agalloch, Drudkh, Saor), I was already reserving a spot in my AOTY list for it. Continue reading »

May 132021


(Here’s Nathan Ferreira‘s review of the new record by Miami-based Bleeth, set for release by Seeing Red Records on May 28th.)

I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone here. I don’t usually look for sludgy post-metal when I’m bored and unsure of what to listen to. In fact, if it weren’t for the magnificence of The Ocean and my nostalgic appreciation for early Mastodon as a gateway band, I’d probably never listen to this stuff unprovoked.

This makes it even more perplexing that I find myself coming back to Harbinger, the second full-length of Miami-based Bleeth. It is very much entrenched in the modern metal ethos and presentation – if you aren’t into this stuff already, I doubt this will be the album that converts you, because it checks every single box this sub-style is supposed to check. Lots of thick, hazy chords that are memorable more for their simplicity than the actual melody being played, a “less is more” approach to driving rock riffs, big bassy tone, aggressive feminine vocals that straddle the line between signing and atonal yelling (with some more raggedy harsh vocals spliced in as well). Their band name sounds like a nonsensical utterance a baby makes when it’s got a mouthful of food – because this is “artistic” or something? In essence, what I’m saying is if artificial intelligence could generate a post-sludge band, Bleeth is exactly what would come out. Continue reading »

May 062021

Ereb Altor


(Nathan Ferreira wrote the following reviews of four new EPs that are all well worth your time.)

In these pandemic-ridden times, I’ve had online discussions with internet cretins about how EP releases may be a more viable format for artists, especially those that rely on touring as an income source. There’s less time and expense required to record, produce, and promote them, and it allows the artists in question to focus more on moving other projects forward – in theory, anyways.

Plus, how often do you actually make it through all those hour-long albums you own front to back in one sitting? Is there really that much of a difference between 25- and 40-minute runtimes in terms of how complete an album feels? If the music is good enough, probably not.

For the reasons above, and because I’ve been seeing an unusual number of artists both bigger and smaller embrace the EP format recently (a sign of the times, perhaps), I thought it was appropriate to give some attention to some of the more bite-sized musical snacks that have caught my ear in the past couple of months. Mini-albums need love too, you know. Continue reading »

Apr 092021


(We present Nathan Ferreira‘s review of a new album by Canadian melo/prog/death thrashers Cathartic Demise, which is being released today.)

It takes a special thrash album to capture my ears. Quite frankly, it’s the genre of metal I tend to lean towards the least, as much as I do appreciate a few select albums and the overall importance of thrash’s contributions to the greater pantheon. If I had to boil it down to one reason, it would be because of how restrictive the genre is – the formula for the riffs and songwriting set in stone, trapped to the confines of its rock base, despite pushing it to the absolute limit.

The thrash groups I do find myself coming back to are the ones that are heavy and punishing enough to verge on my comfort zone of death metal (early Sepultura, Demolition Hammer, Sadus) or fringe bands that incorporate weird outside influences (Voivod, Skeletonwitch and Atheist). And now, it seems that right up the road from me in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, a new band of up-and-coming youngsters can be added to that short list. Continue reading »

Apr 082021


(Nathan Ferreira brings us this review of the new album by the black metal band Rampancy from London, Ontario, Canada — out now via Mutual Aid Records.)

It’s not often I get the chance to write about music from my neck of the woods, much less black metal – London, Ontario’s got a passionate but small metal scene for a city with a population of almost 400,000, and generally the inhabitants are more partial to thrash, groove and melodic death metal, as is evidenced by most of the bands that come out of here. Some examples of the more widely known ones: Kittie, Baptized in Blood and Thine Eyes Bleed. It’s not known as a well of growth for the more extreme tendrils of the music I crave constantly.

Amidst this nebulous and fragmented landscape, there’s been one constant consistently cranking out noisy, despondent extreme music for almost a decade now: Preston Lobzun, a.k.a. Oculus Tod, the sole curator and musician behind all of the instruments you hear on Rampancy’s third full-length album, Coming Insurrection.

Oculus has a handful of different projects he contributes to, most notably Saudade and Odol, and has piled up dozens of releases to his name, in addition to recording and mixing credits for countless other bands – but Rampancy is his only solo venture, and you could make the case it’s what he saves his most groundbreaking ideas for. Continue reading »