Jan 272021


Like all the best-laid plans of mice and men, my goals for the rollout of this list have obviously gone seriously awry. With Part 10 having gone up on January 18th, I’ve missed six weekdays. That’s six missing installments of the list that will be very difficult to make up if I stick to my plan of finishing the rollout by the end of January. Which means I will probably have to change that drop-dead date, because I’d really like to load the list with more tracks than the remaining days of this month will allow, and I’m still busy enough with other things that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to double-up the installments every day.

Anyway, on we go…


Necrophobic’s 2020 album Dawn of the Damned was one of those records that was home to multiple candidates for this list, and as I considered them, no one track clearly stood out above the others. In an effort to settle on just one song, I sought the input of Andy Synn. As usual, he was very little help. He suggested it would be a choice between “Mirror Black”, “Dawn of the Damned”, and “As the Fire Burns”, which simply confirmed my own selection of candidates — though I also had “The Infernal Depths of Eternity” in that group. Continue reading »

Oct 092020


This is pretty much a DGR round-up, since it was he who urged the first three new songs and videos in this collection. They’re all from bands who’ve been around for a long time, from 14 years to more than 30 years (but are still kicking ass). To justify my own existence, I picked two more, one from a more obscure band than those first three but whose name is rising fast, and a second from an even more obscure name that I suspect will soon become better-known.

I have approximately 53 other new songs I’d also like to share with you. Maybe later. There’s a fly that’s making the rounds on the morning news interviews, so I need to check that out.


Devil’s Spawn Attack” is the closing track on Necrophobic’s new album, Dawn of the Damned. I smell a review simmering in the NCS mess hall that questions the wisdom of that choice — not a question about the quality of the song (which is damned good), but about its position in the running order. But I’ll let that writer speak for himself in due course; maybe he’ll change his mind. Meanwhile, I’ll speak my own mind. Continue reading »

Aug 302020



I used to joke around here that I made my living as a drug mule, or as a secret adviser to world leaders who were flummoxed about how to solve shattering problems, or as a caretaker for a loris horde that would threaten human survival if I didn’t keep a close watch on their compound near the NCS headquarters. The truth is much more mundane (though I still suspect that covid was hatched in the loris lab). Not that I’m going to advertise the truth, because I still don’t think what I do here would be healthy for me in the world where I collect my paychecks.

Even a few months ago I thought my day job had settled into a long-lasting somnolence, leaving me an abundance of time to spend at NCS. But it has come roaring back. Not a completely shocking development, because the job has always varied among shifting states of intensity, but still a surprise. Last week was particularly demanding, and I fell way behind in paying attention to new metal. Thankfully, I was able to ignore it all day yesterday and spent the hours immersed in music.

Having surfed the tides of metal from near sun-up to sundown, I created the beginnings of half a dozen NCS posts, with four of them devoted to black and “blackened” metal. Most of those will probably remain little more than mind games once the new work week begins, but at least I’ve completed this two-part SHADES OF BLACK, which I hope you’ll enjoy. Continue reading »

Jan 082019


Well, my fine feathered fiends, here we go again: For the 10th straight year we present our list of the preceding year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

I’m going to dispense with repeating the operative definition of what I think makes a song “infectious”; if you’re encountering this series for the first time, go here to see that. But I will remind you what I do to compile the list, and why I currently have no idea how long it will be or precisely when the rollout will end.

The universe of songs I’ve considered includes a list of candidates that I began at the start of 2018 and continued expanding as the year progressed. It also includes recommendations from my colleague DGR (he’s the only staff writer who makes suggestions each year, bless his pointy long-haired head). And it includes every suggestion made by our readers in response to my invitation, in the comments to this post. When you add it all up, that universe of candidates that’s now sitting in front of me includes nearly 600 songs. Continue reading »

Jan 032019


(Here’s the fourth installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music. The concluding Top 10 will appear tomorrow.)

A confession: For a long time the only words in this whole writeup prior to me breaking the whole thing into five parts and actually listing the bands was just a whole bunch of swear words. Even though I’ve been doing this for nine years now I still will occasionally try things I learned in writing classes over the years or even some things I’ve read about since then. Stream-of-consciousness writing is one of those, but the only thing I’ve learned from doing that in the context of talking about albums of the year is that I’ve assembled a pretty neat collection of permutations of the word ‘fuck’ that I’ve gathered from popular culture over the years.

It was at this point that I began going back through our review archives so that I could even remember what came out this year. Metal-Archives is also a tremendous help in that regard, since I often can’t remember what I talked about in January unless I’ve listened to it since then. It’s also one of my favorite things to do because I get to have a laugh at how far back I have to go in the segment tagged ‘Reviews’ on the site. I know that we’ve missed more than a few albums, but as it stands now,  our first review of something from 2018 is about forty pages back. And there can be anywhere between five to fifteen albums per page of results — depending on how we grouped them for each article.

I know that’s just reflective of the ‘relentless march of hashtag content’ that the internet has become, but it still makes me smile. If I ever need a reminder that heavy metal is — somehow, despite all the odds and all the editorials about rock music dying — a lively as all hell genre, that’s enough for me. I guess there will always be room for cathartic release via loud instruments, or the various experimentations outside of the tradional music sphere to which this genre loans itself. Continue reading »

Dec 142018


(Andy Synn concludes his week-long round-up of metal in 2018 with this list of his ten personal favorites among the year’s great and good albums.)

So, after all the stress and struggle involved in putting together all my various lists which preceded this one, now it’s time to relax and turn my attention to those albums, whether “Great” or “Good”, that make up my personal favourites of 2018.

Once again I decided that I wouldn’t include any “Honourable Mentions” this year, as to do so would essentially mean reproducing a good 60-70% of my previous lists (although, that being said… do try and give Agrypnie, Disassembled, Hundred Year Old Man, The Agony Scene and Void Ritual a listen if you get chance) and instead decided to focus solely on the ten albums which I’ve listened to the most and/or which have made the biggest impact on me this year.

Funnily enough, while the actual process of working out which ten records best represented my listening habits over the last twelve months was as complicated as ever, the write-up was much easier than I expected it to be, as it just so happens that I was responsible for reviewing almost all of them! Continue reading »

Feb 192018


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Sweden’s Necrophobic, which will be released by Century Media on February 23, 2018.)


There was a time, way back in 2009, when the constant kvetching and complaining about what constituted “real” Black Metal – mostly fuelled by a bunch of obnoxious elitists online desperately trying to portray themselves as the true heirs to a half-baked ideology cooked up by a bunch of disaffected Norwegian teenagers – started to take a real toll on my ability to appreciate it.

More and more it seemed that, despite being long associated (in my mind at least) with creative freedom and primal emotion, the Black Metal scene was becoming just as ignorant, insular, and cluttered with impotent keyboard warriors and perpetual adolescents, as any other.

Thank God Satan for Necrophobic then, who swept in at just the right time to help reignite my passion for the genre. Continue reading »

Feb 052018

(This is the second part of a new-music round-up compiled by DGR. You can find Part 1 at this location.)


The Kennedy Veil – Bloodletting North America Full Set Live

We ended the first part of this collection with a live music video from Rotting Christ, and speaking of live shows, let’s check in with a Sacramento death metal crew who also wound up with a recorded live show in 2017. This one is courtesy of The Kennedy Veil, whose label Unique Leader recently uploaded the twenty-some-odd-minute full set from when the band were on opening tour duties for the tech-death-packed Bloodletting North America tour, which saw them playing alongside the likes of Origin, Archspire, Dyscarnate, and Defeated Sanity. Continue reading »

Dec 102017


I didn’t expect I would be able to prepare this round-up. I’m still on vacation (through December 15), and have been pretty faithful to the promise I made to She Who Must Be Obeyed that I would not blog (much) during this trip. For example, we had nothing on the site yesterday, which is a rarity.

But, I had a small amount of time to myself this morning, and there didn’t seem to be any harm in checking out some new music. I’ve barely glanced at the NCS e-mail box during the last week, so I decided to start making my way through the mail that arrived over just the last two days (more than that would have devoured my limited blog time this morning). What you will hear in this round-up is the result of that limited and hurried survey.

First, however, I want to share a piece of news that I had missed until Andy Synn indirectly led me to it.


On Friday I posted Andy’s list of his favorite 2017 EPs. One of his choices was inadvertently omitted from the text he originally sent me for posting, and when he caught the error, he sent me some further text, and the omission happened to be a 7″ EP called Pesta that Necrophobic distributed during a tour. Continue reading »

Feb 072016

Rearview Mirror


Sweden’s Necrophobic was formed in 1989 by drummer Joakim Sterner and guitarist David Parland (who left the band in 1995 to concentrate on Dark Funeral and took his own life in 2013). Their debut album, The Nocturnal Silence, was recorded with Tomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studios and was released by Black Mark Productions in 1993. It really has not aged in 23 years; it’s still a great album. Six more albums followed, the most recent of which is 2013’s Womb of Lilithu, and it’s a very impressive discography, with a sound that blends ingredients from black metal and death metal while incorporating memorable melodies into a framework of undeniable savagery.

Not surprisingly given the band’s longevity, there have been many line-up changes over the years, with Sterner being the only constant member. In recent years the band has included guitarist Fredrik Folkare (Unleashed, Firespawn) and bassist Alex Friberg (Firespawn).

One of the most recent changes was the ouster of long-time vocalist Tobias Sidegård in 2013 on the eve of Womb of Lilithu’s release after being convicted of domestic violence and sentenced to prison. He has been replaced by none other than Anders Strokirk — the man who was Necrophobic’s vocalist when they recorded The Nocturnal Silence but left the band not long after its release. Continue reading »