Jan 032022


(For the 11th (!) year in a row, we asked our old friend SurgicalBrute to weigh in with his year-end list of favorite albums and/or EPs. As expected, his list adds many names that haven’t appeared before in our 2021 Listmania series, and this year there’s perhaps even more variety on offer than usual, though the prose is just as curmudgeonly as ever.)

Given the amount of time it took me to get my act together and actually write something up, I have a feeling I’m going to be the poor schlub who gets to close out this year’s Listamania [not quite]. That means the only people probably reading this are the completionists, the perpetually bored, and that one guy who claims to actually enjoy my list each year (I see you back there Deckard). You know what though…that’s fine. Everyone knows they always save the best shit for last, and that’s exactly what this is, the best goddamn metal list you’re going to find this year. Why is that? Because, you casual, my taste is objectively superior to everyone else. Now, if there are no other stupid questions, let’s go over the ground rules.

First, this is my top 25 releases for the year… plus a whole lot of honorable mentions. No compilations and I don’t do split albums… man, do I not like split albums. Second, descriptions are going to be short and to the point. If you want to read poorly worded music dissertations, Metal-Archives is that way. As it is, I’m already late enough turning this in, and I sincerely doubt you all have any interest in watching me struggle to come up with 25 different synonyms for “vicious” and “crushing”. Finally, yes… I did indeed fail to include that overproduced tech/prog/melodic bore-core album that you had in the number one position of your own list. No, it was not great. Yes, you should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting it to me.

Everyone got all that?

Good… then let’s get on with the music \m/ Continue reading »

Dec 292020


(For the 10th (!) year in a row, we asked our old friend SurgicalBrute to weigh in with his year-end list of favorite albums and/or EPs. As expected, his list adds many names that haven’t appeared before in our 2020 Listmania series, and this year there’s a definite lean into black metal.)

If 2020 had a face, I’d punch it.

Yes…deeply profound, I know, but what do you really expect me to say here? There’s really no point in sugar-coating things, because this year has been an absolute trash fire and we all know it. We’re all tired, we’re all pissed off, and we’re all just hoping that when that ball finally drops on December 31st a message doesn’t appear in the sky saying: “Tutorial completed…prepare for level one”.

Despite everything, or maybe because of it, one of the far-too-few few bright points to come out of this whole mess was the huge number of great metal albums that got released… something I’d say was especially true if you’re a black metal fan. That’s not to say there weren’t great albums coming out across all the various subgenres. I found more than enough from everywhere to make me happy, but as a genre that thrives on expressing negative feelings and emotions, black metal was tailor-made for a year like this and I can only assume the artists who create it must have noticed, because they seemed to have stepped up their game accordingly.

As a result, probably more than any other year-end list I’ve done for NCS, I’m going to end up favoring one subgenre more strongly over all the other styles I tend to enjoy… and I’m still only scratching the surface of the stuff from this year that I’d recommend tracking down.

Now with all that out of the way, same rules as always. No tech, no -core, no prog. Production values are optional, and my taste will always be better than yours… so kick back and enjoy the music. \m/ Continue reading »

Dec 302019

(For the 9th year in a row, we asked our old friend SurgicalBrute to weigh in with his year-end list of favorite albums and/or EPs. As expected, his list adds many names of some especially savage underground releases that haven’t appeared before in our 2019 Listmania series.)

By the time you read this, the year, and the decade, will be just about over, Listmania will be in full swing, and if you’re anything like me you’ll probably be ready to shove an icepick into your eye if you have to read one more list showing the same 10 albums you’ve seen on a dozen other websites.

Yes, Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation put out really good albums, but unless you’ve been living under a rock you already know that… no one wants to see the same names again and again. So, with that in mind, Islander has once again turned to me to save you out-of-touch causals from the boredom of the mainstream by giving you a brief glimpse into the metal underground. Grab your bullet belts and corpse paint, because only the grim and trve are allowed beyond this point …enjoy the music \m/ Continue reading »

Jan 072019


(For the 8th year in a row, we asked our old friend SurgicalBrute to weigh in with his year-end list of favorite albums and/or EPs. As expected, his list adds many names of some especially savage underground releases that haven’t appeared before in our 2018 Listmania series.)

I know you all have been waiting with bated breath, wondering when my list would arrive… because this is MY list we’re talking about, and why wouldn’t you? Unfortunately the delay just couldn’t be helped. Between going back to school, and an unusually busy Christmas season, there wasn’t a whole lot of spare time to go around this year for me to do any writing. Things have finally eased up a bit for me though, so it’s time to get this ball rolling.

Now I’d originally intended this to be a much longer list, as I have listened to a lot of music this year… and I mean a lot… but I was expressly asked not to for fear that I would make the other authors look bad. So being the kind and gracious person that I am, I took pity on everyone else, followed the rules…mostly… and still, without a doubt, created the most metal list of the year. So kick back, open your favorite beer, and turn the volume up as high as it will go, because it’s once again time to separate the casuals from the grim and kvlt…Enjoy the music \m/* Continue reading »

Dec 272017


(For the 7th year in a row, I asked our old pal SurgicalBrute to weigh in with his year-end list of favorite albums and EPs. As expected, his list (presented in alphabetical order) adds names of underground releases that haven’t appeared before in our 2017 Listmania series, including some that (gasp!) include clean singing.)


What to say?….What to say?…What to say? I mean, was it a good year for metal…of course it was…that observation is trite and tired. It’s not 1996 any more, we’re not stuck using dial-up and getting our heavy metal information exclusively from magazines. There is a constant stream of new music to be found at your fingertips if you want it, and the chances of us ever seeing another year like 2002 (one of the weakest I can remember) are extremely unlikely.

How good was it, though? Well that depends. If you were looking for something new and unique, you were probably let down a bit, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s not what makes or breaks a year. I’m not looking for anything genre-defining, I just want to kick back and listen to some killer music, and by that measure I can’t find a single thing to be disappointed about.

So, with that said, let’s get on with the list….Enjoy! \m/ Continue reading »

Jan 022017


(For the 6th year in a row, I asked our old pal SurgicalBrute to weigh in with his year-end list of favorite albums and EPs. As expected, he names a lot of underground releases that haven’t appeared before in our 2016 Listmania series.)

When I was asked once again to do my year-end list (something I’m growing to suspect, more and more, is a way for Islander to get back at me for being a loudmouth in the comment section the other eleven months of the year), I honestly wasn’t sure if I would have anything to contribute. When I write a list, I don’t want it to be just about which albums I liked, I like for it to be interesting, to hopefully show people a bunch of stuff they either forgot about or haven’t heard before.

Now, for whatever reason, my interests have been all over the place this year, and it seemed to me like I wasn’t giving metal my usual level of attention… until I sat down to really look over the music I discovered this year. At this point I can only conclude that, even distracted, I’m still more metal than 99% of the planet, because the amount of music I ended up wading through was beyond ridiculous. The act of narrowing down this list would have sent the untrve among you running for the nearest door, but fear not… I’m a professional.

So, now that we’ve gotten that rambling bit of egotistical back-patting out of the way… here’s my list of the best metal albums for 2016… enjoy \m/ Continue reading »

Jul 172016

Rearview Mirror


(While your lazy editor is away partying, our old friend and guest contributor SurgicalBrute steps up to make sure our Rearview Mirror series continues for another week.)

As I’m sure you all have heard by now, Islander has decided to skip out on doing actual important things this weekend, like entertaining us with new music, so he can spend time hanging out and partying. That means that you readers get the distinct honor of having me host this week’s installment of The Rearview Mirror.

Now, this is a good-news/bad-news sort of situation for you guys. The good news, for those who don’t know me, is that digging up bands is kind of my thing. I’m always on the lookout for stuff that’s been overlooked or forgotten. The bad news is, I’m not much of a writer, even on my best days, and since I’m basically speed-writing this late Saturday evening, we can safely say it isn’t going to be one of my best days… So just bear with me as we look back on Hazael. Continue reading »

Dec 212015

NCS Best of 2015 graphic


(For yet another year, our old friend SurgicalBrute has delivered into our greedy hands another year-end list of favorite releases, and one of the most extreme underground collections we will post this year.)

I listen to too much damn music, that’s all there is to it. All year long I feel this constant desire to dig through as much metal as possible because there’s always something new and enjoyable to discover and I want to hear it all. It’s one of the reasons I’ll never understand people who say things like “it was a bad year for metal”, because as far as Im concerned, its never a bad year for metal (hell, as I type this out, there are less than 30 days left in the year and I’m still finding great new bands).

Of course, everything has a downside… December has rolled around once again and now I have to figure out how to narrow this massive list down to something far more reasonable. Fortunately, using my scientific method of cheap Scotch and a dart board, I came up with twenty albums (as well as five EP’s) that should be on any metal fan’s year-end list (and just in case you don’t notice, these are in alphabetical order). Continue reading »

Dec 222014


(For the fourth year in a row our old friend SurgicalBrute weighs in with his list of the year’s best metal.)

Okay, let’s be honest… When it comes to end of the year lists, no one really cares about these intro paragraphs. They’re usually some anecdote about how this was a such great year in metal, and truthfully, we all know I could be writing erotic hobbit fan fiction up here and most of you wouldn’t notice… You’re going to skip right to the music. So I’m just going to make a couple of quick points

First, I don’t know if it was the abnormally grim and frosty weather that we got last winter, but this past year seemed to be a particularly strong one for black metal… at least for me.

Second, this was probably the hardest list I’ve written. Lots of good albums came out this year, but there wasn’t a whole lot that actually stood head and shoulders above the rest. It just seemed like a year full of very solid, enjoyable releases.

So, with that out of the way, on to the important stuff (…and no, there’s no particular order to this). Continue reading »