Jan 262022


Welcome to the 16th installment of this list. To see what the first 15 parts include, go HERE.

Those of you who’ve been following the rollout of the list will have noticed that this one includes four songs, while all the others were limited to three. I’m already feeling the anxiety that comes from nearing the end of the list, knowing that I won’t get as many songs on it as I would wish, and today I had enough time to add one to the usual threesome.Doesn’t eliminate the anxiety but makes it a tad more bearable.

Musically, this Part is all over the musical map. There’s no stylistic union represented here. Just four infectious tunes from four very good 2021 releases. Continue reading »

Sep 152021

(Andy Synn sits down to do “the work” with the new album from Rivers of Nihil, scheduled for release on September 24)

There’s a certain type of person – hell, for all I know it may just be the same individual over and over again – who responds to any article about Rivers of Nihil with the cut-and-paste comment “Death Metal’s Pink Floyd!”.

And while I can appreciate their enthusiasm (to a point) not only is it getting a bit tiresome (and also suggests that the commenter(s) in question don’t really know much about Pink Floyd) but it totally misunderstands what the band are trying to do.

Because the Pennsylvania quintet aren’t trying to be “Death Metal’s Pink Floyd”, or even “Death Metal’s King Crimson” (which would, arguably, be slightly more accurate, though still not right).

They’re just trying to be Rivers of Nihil. And each and every album they create is another opportunity for them to further define, refine, and redefine, exactly what that means.

Continue reading »

Jan 042019

(At last, we reach the fifth and final installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music. It includes his Top 10 albums, plus a list of EPs, and one final non-metal entry.)

Here we go into the final installment. One last grouping of albums and one last collection of thudding riffs, heavy guitars, and enough drumwork to leave one’s head spinning by the time it wraps up.

This final ten is all over the place, in terms of both genre and location. My lists tend to be pretty international always, but the consistent bouncing back and forth that is happening in this part has proven to be entertaining in its own right.

This group also reveals just how much of 2018 turned out to be the year of cathartic release for me. Alongside all the genre-bending, all the experimentation, and all of the well-executed groove, I found that every once in a while this year a disc would hit that would just boil down to a half-hour-plus of yelling, and I would relish every single second of it. I’m sure we could credit that to the wider situation of the world these days but I’ve also always been a sucker for turning music into an instrument of release, and for some reason that approach won me over hard this year.

So let’s begin with the final ten, and then a grouping of EPs I enjoyed this year, my final non-metal (ish) release recommendation, and a small (ish) closing paragraph… because why would I ever stop typing after just finishing the final ten?

That’s for crazy people. Continue reading »

Dec 192018


(Andy Synn continues his campaign to make many of us jealous over the shows he’s getting to see in the UK, this time witnessing a duo of American tech stalwarts, a Canadian one, and a Swedish one, and documenting the event with video.)

Looking back over the last twelve months I can see that I’ve been lucky enough to attend a number of awesome shows, festivals, etc, this year, with the last couple of months in particular being an incredibly busy (not to mention fun) period, especially where frantic, fret-melting technicality is concerned.

Just in the last few weeks I’ve got the chance to catch Beyond Creation/Gorod prog out and Aborted/Cryptopsy blast faces, and two nights ago saw things get kicked up yet another notch with the fatal four-way of Revocation, Archspire, Soreption, and Rivers of Nihil at Mama Roux’s in Birmingham. Continue reading »

Jul 272018

Climate Reanalyzer Global Weather Map – July 27, 2018


(Andy Synn has compiled a collection of songs from seven bands suitable for the hell we find ourselves in.)

Depending on where you are right now in the world, there’s a good chance you’re enjoying/enduring (delete as appropriate) the same sweltering heat and blazing sunshine which is currently scorching us here in the UK, and perhaps you find yourself wondering, as the earth around you slowly returns to its molten, primordial state… what albums provide the best soundtrack to my current situation?

After all, while a lot of Stoner Rock/Metal bands have built a career out of an association with lazy, sun-kissed vibes and hazy, weed-fuelled riffs, the majority of the more Extreme/Underground bands we cover here at NCS tend to be more associated with darkness and shadow… heck, about 50% of all the world’s Black Metal bands are obsessed with snow and ice, regardless of where they actually hail from… and there’s a reason we so often use words like “dank” and “cavernous”, “chilling” and “frostbitten, to describe their music – it just fits!

As a result I had to think long and hard about what albums truly capture the sensation of being trapped and tormented by the oppressive weight of the burning sun in all its torrid and terrible glory, before finally settling on the handful of suggestions you’ll find below. Continue reading »

Mar 122018


(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Rivers of Nihil, which will be released by Metal Blade on March 16th.)

For all that we try to always pursue a positive approach to reviewing here at NCS, there’s still something to be said for maintaining a certain amount of critical distance from your subject. After all, there’s a surprisingly thin line preventing a positive critique from becoming what is, essentially, an unpaid press release and, if you’re not very careful, it’s easy to accidentally cross over from one to the other.

Case in point, if you’ve been paying attention to the profusion of hyperbole and half-baked philosophising which has preceded the release of this album you might well have come away with the impression that Where Owls Know My Name is something akin to a cross between the second coming of Jesus and the splitting of the atom.

And while it’s definitely a very good record, statements describing it as “a paradigm shift in Death Metal” or “a watershed moment in the history of the genre” have a tendency to come across as, at best, ingratiatingly insincere or, at worst, shamelessly sycophantic, and often say a lot more about the wilful ignorance or parochial listening habits of the writer than they do about the album itself.

But although the much-vaunted “new” elements on this album aren’t strictly “new” to Death/Extreme Metal – the use of saxophone may be uncommon, but it’s far from unheard of, while Rivers of Nihil are far from the first band to incorporate proggy clean vocals and atmospheric touches into their sound in this manner – what’s most important to focus on here is what these elements represent, which is a band clearly intent on pushing forward and evolving no matter what. Continue reading »

Mar 052018


(This is the third and final part of DGR’s round-up of selected new songs and videos that appeared over the last couple of weeks. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.)


Venom Prison – Devoid (Live)

The last time we checked in with Venom Prison was in late January, to spread the news of the February 23rd Prosthetic Records re-release of their 2016 album, Animus, and the group’s music video for the song “Immanetize Eschaton”. That deluxe edition of Animus is now out with five live songs added to it as a bonus disc, and the group unveiled a live-shot video for one of those songs, “Devoid“, right around that time. Continue reading »

Feb 062018


I’m continuing to parcel out new and newly discovered music as time permits today, almost all of it displaying cyclonic ferocity in different ways, hence my decision to give the “SEEN AND HEARD” title a rest in favor of something more connected to the sounds.


We’ve been writing about Pennsylvania’s Rivers of Nihil since January 2012. I count 14 posts featuring them since then, including album reviews, song premieres, and live concert reviews. I guess you could say we’re fans. And now they’ve given us a reason to add Post No. 15 to the list.

On March 16, the band will release a new album entitled Where Owls Know My Name, and today the first advance track from the album appeared on Bandcamp. “The Silent Life” is the song’s name, but it isn’t a quiet and contemplative piece of music… though surely no one would have expected that anyway. Continue reading »

Oct 272016



(Andy Synn turns in this review of the live performances by Obscura, Revocation, Beyond Creation, and Rivers of Nihil in Sheffield, England, on October 24, 2016 — along with videos of the performances.)

Our readers in the UK who play guitar or bass will probably have noticed something rather peculiar over the last couple of days. Riffs that they used to be able to play turning into a mangled, lumpen soup of glitches and errors… Fluid solos that they used to rip out with ease skittering away from stumbling fingers… even, in the most extreme cases, a complete inability to even lift their instrument anymore, as if they were no longer “worthy” to wield its power.

And I know why.

You see on Monday night I was there when Obscura, Revocation, Beyond Creation, and Rivers of Nihil selfishly used-up the entire country’s supply of notes and riffs, leading to a crisis of near biblical proportions amongst the string-slinging section of the UK metal community.

Thankfully, however, I’ve been informed that a fresh shipment is being piped in from the mainland, and so normal proceedings should be resumed by the weekend or thereabouts. Continue reading »

Feb 102016



It’s conceivable that there are people out there who actually noticed that notwithstanding my earlier promise about posting one of these installments every day this week, I failed to do that yesterday. In between other posts that were more urgent and interference from my fucking day job, I just couldn’t manage it. So, to keep on schedule, I’m posting two installments today!

In case anyone happens to stumble on this post with no idea what I’m talking about, this is my year-end list of 2015’s “Most Infectious Metal Songs”, which will come to an end on Sunday, and there are 20 previous installments you can inspect via this link.


I am so damned happy that Khemmis‘ 2015 album has been so damned successful. Lots of people knew how good they were before I had my first taste of their music at the 2014 Denver Black Sky festival, but I still like to think I was at least hanging around the launching pad before the rocket took off. Continue reading »