May 182023

(Andy Synn presents a double-header of heaviness courtesy of The Acacia Strain)

So here’s the thing… for the longest time I wasn’t really a fan of The Acacia Strain.

I didn’t actively dislike them by any means – I could appreciate their brutish heaviness and understood why people liked them, no question – but they just didn’t do it for me.

But then the oddest thing started to happen. The more popular they got (and there’s no denying they’re pretty damn popular these days) the less populist they seemed to become.

And so I started to pay more attention (I think this was around the time they released Gravebloom, but I may be wrong). And as they began to spend less and less time “playing to the cheap seats” (for want of a better term) the more and more I liked what I was hearing.

Even then, they weren’t always a band I was running to check out on release day – you’ll notice that this is actually my first time writing about them at any length, although I originally intended to drop some words about Slow Decay back in 2020 – but one whom I still had a growing appreciation for all the same.

And now it’s time to put my proverbial money where my metaphorical mouth is and give their recently released double-album, Step Into the LightFailure Will Follow, some proper attention.

Continue reading »

Mar 082016

Katatonia 2016


If you recall yesterday’s “Seen and Heard” round-up, I explained that I had fallen so far behind that I had a list of 30 new tracks from over the last week that I thought were worth exploring. And sure enough, the list has only grown, because so many other good new things popped up in the last 24 hours. So I’m starting with the four newest items and concluding with four from last week.


Yesterday brought details about the next Katatonia album, as well as a very brief teaser video. This will be their tenth studio full-length, with the title of The Fall of Hearts. It’s set for a May 20 release by Peaceville Records. Here’s the artwork (by Travis Smith, of course): Continue reading »

Sep 082014


(In this post Andy Synn reviews a live performance from September 3 in Derby, England.)

I kind of knew already this was going to be a good night, even before setting foot out the door.  For one thing I have never, ever, seen a bad Unearth show — the Massachusetts maulers always bring it hard and hit that sweet spot between metal and core every time. Plus The Hairy Dog is a great venue, both sound and layout wise (and the fact that I wasn’t driving, so could enjoy a few beers, definitely helped too!).

But what would really make the evening special, and a tad bittersweet, was the fact that this would be potentially my last chance to see Shadows Fall live, as the band have announced they are going on an extended hiatus from touring. And, you see, Shadows Fall have been one of my favourite bands ever since I caught them supporting Kittie in Manchester back in February 2002, long before the release of The Art of Balance brought them to the attention of the metal-loving public at large, so this show really would mark, in many ways, the end of an era for me. Continue reading »

Aug 132014


Here’s Part 2 of today’s effort to catch up on news and new music I think are worth your attention. I had planned a third part, but that will have to wait until tomorrow (fucking day job).


I’ve made no bones about my lukewarm reaction to much of what passes for “traditional” thrash — perhaps primarily because of the genre’s vocal style. But the new song (“Final Journey”) that NPR premiered today from Accept’s 14th album Blind Rage has knocked my socks off, not least because it includes a guitar melody lifted from Edvard Grieg’s “Morning Mood” as an unexpected accent near the song’s end.

But that’s only part of the attraction. The riffs and the solo are absolutely galvanizing, the melody is heart-pumping, and I actually like the vocals by Mark Tornillo as well. Check out the new lyric video next. The album can be ordered here from Nuclear Blast. Continue reading »

Nov 282012

In my daily ramble through the interhole yesterday probably nothing made my eyes bug out quite as much as the sight of The Acacia Strain’s overturned van, which will force them to pull out of their tour with Veil of Maya but fortunately (and amazingly) left the band with only minor injuries. But a couple of other items were close seconds in the eye-popping competition. I’m including those in this post — new album art for the next releases by Vreid (Norway) and The Botanist (U.S.). I’ve also got for you a brand new song from Vreid and a new song by Maveth (Finland) from their forthcoming album.


Vreid’s last album, V, was extremely good. It made a number of the year-end lists we posted at the close of 2011, including our own Andy Synn’s list of “The Great Albums of 2011”. Summing up his thoughts, Andy called V “a stunningly dynamic series of songs that filter the thrashy energy and classical aspirations of Ride The Lightning-era Metallica through a blackened prism of primal fury.”

So my eyes went wide yesterday when I saw the album art for Vreid’s sixth album, Welcome Farewell, and the news that it will be released by Indie Recordings on February 26 in Europe, February 22 in Germany/Austria, and March 5 in North America. Yesterday Terrorizer also premiered a track from the new album named “The Reap”. I gotta be honest — it surprised me. Continue reading »

Jun 022011

Damn, I’m finally able to go outside without shivering and being beaten about the head and shoulders with high winds and rain blowing sideways. That must mean it’s June in Seattle!  And so it is. A largely dismal May is behind us, the Seattle Mariners are astonishingly only a game and a half out of first place in their division (that’s baseball for you outlanders), and the summer lies ahead.

What else lies ahead? A bunch of new metal, of course. And because it’s the beginning of a new month, we’re bringing you another installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, in which we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — this isn’t a cumulative list. If we found out about a new album during April or preceding months, we wrote about them in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. Continue reading »

Nov 222010

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we have another guest post from our Midwestern correspondent, BadWolf. This one has the potential to ignite some heated commentary, pro or con, so don’t hold back. After all, “ignition” is our middle name (or one of them). So please let us hear from you!]

I feel a great deal of the time bloggers put an excessive premium on the music itself as art.

This makes sense, we are music bloggers, after all. But there’s more to metal than just the song or the album; there is the all-important live experience. Maybe bloggers sometimes ignore the live aspect of metal because it’s more difficult to share via the internet, or maybe because it’s just plain expensive at times.

Regardless, the live arena is where metal was born and what keeps artists afloat. It’s where the musicians we love get the money to make the music we love. And it’s also where metal as a community subculture congregates. Today I want to talk about those two aspects of metal.

But first, let’s talk about hypocrisy for a minute. Not the band, the phenomenon.

Pretty not-metal, right? A professor of mine once told me the first adjective she associated with metal music was honesty. Black metal purists clamor on and on about ‘trve’-ness. We, as a community, put a premium on truth (this has something to do with the endless sub-genre debate, methinks).

So what do live shows, the metal community, and hypocrisy have in common? Straight-edge. That’s what they have in common.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

Jul 262010

Earlier today we posted an album review without naming the band or any of the songs. Standing alone, that was a pretty useless act. What good is a review if readers don’t know who the fuck we’re talking about? But we did have a reason.

The band whose album we reviewed is Impending Doom, and some people tend to love them or dismiss them not because of the music but because they’re a Christian metal band — not just a band whose members happen to be Christians, but a band whose songs are inspired by their faith and who tour in order to spread the message.

The consequence is that you can’t read a review of their music without half the review being about the fact that they’re an unabashed Christian metal band — which is probably just fine with them.

But here at NCS, we don’t love em or detest ’em because of that fact. We focus on the music and the performances, and we happen to dig both. So we thought, just for the hell of it, we’d see what kind of reactions you had from our review without having those reactions influenced by the fact that this is Impending Doom.

Now that the mystery has been resolved, we’ll run our review again with all the camouflage removed. If you read the earlier review with the identity concealed and aren’t interested in reading it again, even with some details revealed, we’ve added something new at the end of the post (after the jump) under the heading “NEW STUFF”.  As always, feel free to flame or praise or yawn in the comments . . . Continue reading »

Jun 012010

We’re now five months into 2010, and it’s time for another monthly update to the list of forthcoming new albums we first posted on January 1. (All the other updates can be found via the “Forthcoming Albums” category link on the right side of our pages.)  Below is a list of still more projected new releases we didn’t know about at the time of our previous updates, or updated info about some of the previously noted releases.

Once again, we’ve cobbled together news blurbs about bands whose past work we’ve liked, or who look interesting for other reasons. Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway), these are bands that mostly fit the profile of music we cover on this site.

So, in alphabetical order, here’s our list of cut-and-pasted blurbs from various sources since our last update about forthcoming new releases. Look for the bands you like and put reminders on your calendar. Or if you’re old school like us, just get ’em tattooed someplace you can see without a mirror (because reading stuff backwards is hard).

THE ACACIA STRAIN: “Western Massachusetts’ chuggernauts The Acacia Strain, have completed work on their new album, which will be released July 20th in North American and August 2nd in Europe via Prosthetic Records.”

ATHEIST: “Reactivated seminal technical metal pioneers ATHEIST will enter LedBelly studios in Atlanta, Georgia on July 5 to begin recording their long-awaited, as-yet-untitled fourth album. Engineering the session will be Matt Washburn. Additionally, the band has secured the services of one of metal’s most significant talents of the past decade, Jason Suecof (TRIVIUM, CHIMAIRA, DEVILDRIVER), to handle the mixing of what promises to be a modern classic from the pioneers of technical metal. . . . ATHEIST‘s forthcoming album is tentatively scheduled for a late 2010 release and will be followed by a world tour in 2011.”   (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »