Dec 132018
 

 

(Andy Synn‘s week-long round-up of metal in 2018 continues with this list of his picks for the year’s ten best albums across a range of metal genres — one of which hasn’t been released yet and is reviewed here.)

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that any attempt to craft a “Top Ten” list that represents the wide variety and near-infinite density of the modern Extreme Metal scene is doomed to failure. There’s simply too much of it, too many different competing styles and sub-genres, for a mere ten albums to cover.

That doesn’t stop me trying every year though, so what you’re about to read is my latest effort to capture a clean snapshot of the very best of the best from the past twelve months.

Interestingly this list seems to differ significantly from the various other sites and zines I’ve been keeping an eye on, though that’s not by conscious design. It also skews in a surprisingly “progressive” direction overall, which is not something I anticipated when I first began trying to piece it together, with a massive 70% of the albums featured here making use of clean vocals in some form or another.

In demographic terms, this year’s list features two entries from the USA, two entries from Germany, one from Portugal, one from Iceland, and three from the UK – which, again, wasn’t by design – as well as one international collective whose members come from all across Europe.

It also runs the gamut of practically the entire twelve-month period, with the “oldest” album on here having been released all the way back in the first week of January, while the “youngest” entry won’t even be out until the 21st of December! Continue reading »

Oct 252018
 

 

“It’s death metal” doesn’t really tell you very much, which is why fans of extreme music long ago began inventing an ever-expanding, increasingly-hyphenated roster of sub-genres. I suppose one of those is “ritualistic death metal”, a kind of phrase that’s difficult to define but you sort of know it when you hear it… sort of. However, my use of the label “Death Rituals” for occasional posts like this one isn’t really intended to describe the style of music, it’s just a short-hand preview of the fact that I’ve decided to devote a round-up of new music to different styles of death metal, and that’s what you’ll find below.

SULPHUR AEON

I’ll go out on a limb and assert that Sulphur Aeon’s Swallowed By the Ocean’s Tide was one of the most explosive death metal debuts of the last 10 years. It didn’t hurt that the cover art by Ola Larsson was equally attention-grabbing. Together, the art and the music vaulted this German band onto the radar screens of fans and critics across the metal-listening parts of the globe in strikingly impressive fashion, and they cemented their reputation with 2015’s Gateway to the Antisphere. Now Sulphur Aeon and Ola Larsson have joined forces again for the band’s third album, The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos. Continue reading »

Mar 162017
 


Cthulhu” by François Baranger

 

(To commemorate the anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s death, Andy Synn has assembled a playlist of great tracks inspired by the great man.)

 

The influence that the work of H. P. Lovecraft has had upon the Metal scene can’t be understated, with everyone from Metallica to Morbid Angel taking lyrical (and musical) inspiration from his work.

Now yesterday just so happened to be the eightieth anniversary of Lovecraft’s death and, in true NCS fashion… we completely failed to acknowledge it.

However, it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon, and what is dead can never truly die, so here are a bunch of songs/albums which pay tribute to the author’s lasting legacy of eldritch, inhuman horror. Continue reading »

Feb 082016
 

Katavasia-Sacrilegious Testament

Welcome to the 20th installment of our list of last year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. We’ll be finished with the rollout of this list next Sunday. To hear the other songs on the list up until now, click this link.

Today we have three diverse pieces of metal, each of them from albums that were the source of multiple candidates for this list.

KATAVASIA

In the early part of last year we devoted quite a lot of attention to this Greek band’s 2015 album Sacrilegious Testament, and still more attention when year-end-list time rolled around — which is not surprising, given who’s in the band: Continue reading »

Jun 032015
 

 

(KevinP brings us this “Get To the Point” interview with “M”, vocalist of Germany’s Sulphur Aeon, whose new album Gateway To the Antisphere has been widely praised as one of the year’s best.)

K:  You kraut eaters have been at this for 5 years now and released 2 monstrous albums.  Do you feel people are finally starting to take notice?

M:  Ah well, I guess people already started to notice when Swallowed… came out. Now, with the release of Gateway…, it kind of got a little over the top… at least if we consider our understanding of “success”. We don’t need much and we don’t aim high, so what we have experienced in the last months may take a while to comprehend entirely. Continue reading »

May 132015
 

(In this post Dan Barkasi continues his monthly series recommending music from the previous month.)

Welcome back to Essential Entries. April has already passed, and it’s hard to believe. It feels like we – at least those unlucky enough to live in areas that deal with winter – were just freezing ourselves stiff, and now the temperatures are in the 80s. Thank goodness. Winter is awful. Thankfully, good music is the antithesis of such, and we’re loaded this month.

Also, my apologies for getting this up a bit late. Yours truly was out of town for over two weeks, and that resulted in a ton of catch-up listening in order to do this right. No way will this column ever be done half-heartedly!

With that out of the way, let’s get to the tunes.

 

Abyss – Heretical Anatomy

Gritty Canadian death metal. Abyss proves that it’s not all maple syrup and politeness up there. Equal parts catchy and punishing, this proves to be a great debut full-length. Continue reading »

Apr 282015
 

 

(We’re nearing the end of the month, and that means it’s time for KevinP to name the releases this month that most impressed him.) 

We’re a quarter of the way through 2015 already.  This month was stacked to the gills with quality releases, the best yet.  Even though they didn’t make my Top 5, I feel obliged to mention Infernal War, Macabre Omen, Tribulation, Haar, and Kommandant, which are all worthy of your time.  But now, on to the creme de la creme.

5.  Abjvration – The Unquenchable Pyre

This was a last-minute entry and pushed one of the bands mentioned above off this list.  Think Portal, if they transformed into a Finnish doomy death metal band.  Sure, that makes no sense.  But does this band being absolutely terrifying and hailing from France make sense?  They are so kvlt, they’re not even listed on Metal Archives and have only a few hundred Facebook likes. Continue reading »

Apr 012015
 

 

It would be sad if Sulphur Aeon’s new album failed to live up to the vivid Lovecraftian power and richly imagined detail of the cover art that Ola Larsson created for it. Thankfully, the sound is more than a match for the imagery: Gateway To the Antisphere is one of the most terrifying, and hands-down one of the best, death metal albums of this year. Today we have the privilege of streaming it for you in full.

Sulphur Aeon have mastered the art of seizing the listener’s imagination and hurling it through an inter-dimensional membrane into a dark place where you feel the writhing presence of monstrous forms. They seem to have a direct channel to R’lyeh and the Outer Gods. At the same time, they are equally adept at crafting immensely powerful and electrifying death metal songs.

On a purely technical level, the instrumental and vocal performances, and the production, are exceptional. The flensing riffs are fleet and savage, the eye-popping drumwork is precise and varied, and the vocals are multi-hued but never less than voracious. The production delivers these combined forces with clarity and galvanizing potency. Continue reading »

Mar 272015
 

 

Before I hit the road for the drive back to Seattle today after almost a month away from home, I thought I’d throw a few new songs your way.

SULPHUR AEON

This German band’s last album cover (for Swallowed By the Ocean’s Tide) was one of the best ever. And now they’ve delivered another astonishingly great piece of art — or rather, Ola Larsson has delivered another one for them. Gaze upon its Lovecraftian loveliness above (and click the image to embiggen it).

The band’s new album is entitled Gateway To The Antisphere, and it’s due for release on April 3 by Van Records and Imperium Productions. Yesterday the fine deviants at CVLT Nation premiered the album’s first advance track, a titan named “Titans”. Continue reading »

Mar 152013
 

(What follows is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Germany’s Sulphur Aeon.)

Let’s keep things short and sweet… this is an awesome album. Ass-crushingly evil death metal, with a bludgeoningly heavy guitar tone, a brooding horror-filled atmosphere, and a penchant for matching bloodthirsty extremity with chilling, epic melodies.

The funny thing is that, in all the reviews I’ve seen of the album, people have been throwing around a large assortment of different comparisons and influences – many of which seem either to be a case of people seeing what they want to see… or people copying what they’ve seen others write.

I won’t deny, for example, that there might well be elements comparable to the steamrollering death metal of Bolt Thrower or aspects of Dissection’s scalpel-sharp black metal fury present here, but I think people are fishing, rather awkwardly, when they speculate that these are primary influences… particularly when there are far closer, and far more accurate, comparisons to be made. It definitely seems like one writer felt like they heard a bit of Bolt Thrower in there, and everyone else has just copied him. Continue reading »