Jan 192023

We have made our way up to Part 14 of this year’s Most Infectious Song list, and for the second day in a row I don’t have a coherent organizing principle for why I put these three tracks together, other than the infectiousness of the choices.

I think I can accurately say that these songs are all infectious in the sense of being intensely memorable. They’re so dramatic and often daunting that calling them “catchy” doesn’t seem quite right. But are they the sorts of songs you’d gladly put on a playlist so you can listen to them over and over again as time passes? I think so!

KAMPFAR (Norway)

Some songs are so stunningly dramatic, so vast in their scale, so frightening in their intensity, that they send shivers down the spine no matter how many times you hear them. Kampfar‘s “Urkraft” is one of those songs. Even right after I heard it for the first time early last spring, I wrote: “I haven’t committed to memory all of Kampfar‘s tracks spread across an 8-album discography. I’ll just say that I can’t recall any song in their repertoire that stunned me on a first listen like ‘Urkraft‘ did. Listening to it this morning, I was stunned all over again.” Continue reading »

Sep 202022

(We present DGR‘s review of a new album by the UK’s Strigoi, which will be coming out on September 30th on the Season of Mist label. Photos by Hal Sinden.)

It is a wonder how we always cycle back around to the start musically, isn’t it?

Although at this point Vallenfyre has been a long-retired project, with founding member and mainstay Gregor Mackintosh instead launching Strigoi a year and a half after the previous band’s final album, the group’s influence throughout releases has been hard to deny. For many, Strigoi is a natural continuation of the prior project – mainly another outlet for Greg to unleash his varied tastes for death and doom metal alongside new cohorts, so much so that the line between the two projects is often blurred.

When Vallenfyre‘s debut A Fragile King was released, it was a densely packed and thundering take on the hybrid death-and-doom genre. Vallenfyre‘s later two releases would travel in different directions from that initial launch, adding in a heap of crust punk and grind influence, resulting in a project that got much faster and little bit more traditionally vicious over the course of its three-release career.

Strigoi picked up the baton in that relay, adding even more elements to the fire, and Greg – now joined by Chris Casket – would release a grungier take on those first three albums with 2019’s Abandon All Faith. Which is what makes things interesting for Strigoi‘s sophomore album Viscera – their first for Season Of Mist – because it seems that even though the group is now reinforced with drummer Guido Zima and guitarist Ben Ash, the initial influence of that first solo project release has never fully left. Viscera has cycled back around, and Strigoi once again returns to the realm of dense, slow-crawling dirge, death, and doom. Continue reading »

Aug 182022

The last 24 hours brought forth a deluge of new songs and videos, from names both prominent and obscure. It completely messed up my plan to use today’s column as a way of continuing to catch up with new stuff that emerged over the last week. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to that, but everything in the following collection is hot off the presses.


Prepare for a heaving and stomping death/doom horror of massive proportions that screams, roars, and leaves pain and madness in its wake… and also convulses in outbursts of mindless marauding savagery, all of it accompanied by a suitably chilling video. So deep into their career, Autopsy still know how to make even long-lived metalheads sit up and take notice. Continue reading »

Jul 222022


This was a humongous week for new music, and my head is overflowing with round-up selections, so many that I decided to present them in two Parts today. Beyond those, I also have aspirations to compile another collection for publication on Saturday. Without further ado, here are the first four choices.


In case you might have forgotten, Strigoi is the band formed by Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) after he interred his previous project Vallenfyre. Joined by Vallenfyre bassist Chris Casket, he released a debut Strigoi album named Abandon All Faith in 2019, and we devoted significant attention to it, including a lavish review here by DGR.

It was thus exciting to learn that Strigoi are returning with a follow-up full-length named Viscera, which is set for release by Season of Mist on September 30th. The first advance track from it — “Hollow” — is how we begin today’s round-up. Continue reading »

Jan 242020


I usually try to group songs together in these installments in a way that makes sense at least to me, sometimes grouping by genre but in other ways as well. Today, however, the music is a little more “all over the map”. All three songs come from albums I love (and I think are pretty uniformly liked by my NCS comrades too), and I just want to make sure I honored the music before running up against the end-time for this list. You can find everything that preceded these three tracks here.


Part of the thrill afforded by a new Blut Aus Nord album is the process of discovery, because BAN has rarely followed a straight and steady path from one record to the next, and predicting how their path might twist and turn requires a crystal ball. The music is, as Vindsval has said himself, a “process of perpetual regeneration”. In the case of their new album, Hallucinogen (which I reviewed here), BAN turned to psychedelia, which they transformed through reformulation into a new aesthetic. Continue reading »

Nov 192019


(On November 22nd Nuclear Blast will release the debut album of the British band Strigoi, and today we presentt DGR’s review of the album.)

Gregor Mackintosh‘s newest project Strigoi is an interesting proposition: Even though his previous project Vallenfyre exists no more, having released three excellent albums and then neatly wrapping things up, Strigoi sees Greg Mackintosh once again reuniting with one of his Vallenfyre friends in order to release more doom-infused death metal, fully divorced from the gothic melodrama of Paradise Lost.

Abandon All Faith comes packed with music, weighing in at eleven songs and an intro track and all of it some of the weightiest and sometimes dirtiest death metal that the group could muster. If there were an award for crushing by sonic weight via guitar tone, Strigoi could easily find itself in the running, as the whole album is filled with cacophonous bellowing and hefty guitar riffs that make every song feel astronomically heavier than they otherwise would have been.

Ostensibly launched as a project for the crew to explore more facets of heavy metal music than what they felt they were able to do in Vallenfyre, Strigoi still keeps it pretty close to home on Abandon All Faith. It’s a huge album wherein the experimentation comes largely in the different atmosphere the band try to portray across their twelve songs, and although there is a strain of familiarity that runs throughout Abandon All Faith, hearing the group still manage to create a suffocatingly heavy brick of death metal remains an exciting experience. Continue reading »

Oct 192019


It’s been another messed-up week for yours truly. My usual routines have been flipped upside-down by events in my personal life, and I’m not sure when they’ll be right-side-up again. As with the week before last, new-music round-ups were a casualty. I did manage to find enough free time this morning to compile this one.


Five years after Death Mask, Lord Mantis has revived and recorded a new album named Universal Death Church. The line-up this time consisted of a reunion of vocalist/bassist Charlie Fell and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Markuszewski, joined again by guitarist Ken Sorceron of Abigail Williams, and by new drummer Bryce Butler in place of the late Bill Bumgardner. Continue reading »

Sep 212019


I had originally planned to post most of this collection (all but the opening song) nearly two week ago. I obviously didn’t get it finished then, and other obligations and ideas have kept pushing it side in favor of other posts since then. As the days have passed, a couple hundred other interesting songs have surfaced, from which a more “hot off the presses” round-up might have been assembled. But I decided just to pull this one off the shelf instead, brush off the light coating of dust, and present it on this Saturday.

In different ways, the second through fifth songs in this collection are off the usual beaten paths here at NCS, different in different ways from the kinds of music we usually focus on. The first one, which is more recent, is more in the main line of our usual interests, but I’m so excited by it that I didn’t want to defer recommending it. It’s also surprising, and not completely out of place in a post devoted to deviations from the mean.


It’s not an overstatement, at least among those of us who toil at NCS, that whatever groups Greg Mackintosh becomes involved in (in addition to Paradise Lost) will be worth checking out, sooner rather than later. With Vallenfyre now ended, he has turned to Strigoi, a group he created with the aid of Extreme Noise Terror and Vallenfyre bassist Chris Casket, and so far, no one else aside from drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, who did studio session work on Strigoi’s first album. That band name, we’re told, refers to “the troubled spirits in Romanian mythology who could rise from the grave and assume an entirely different form”. Continue reading »