Feb 162013

Here are a few of the things I saw and heard yesterday and today that I thought were worth spotlighting. There will be a few more such things tomorrow.


If there is a better metal artist working today than Eliran Kantor, I don’t know who it is — which explains why, every time I see one of his new creations, I’m prone to stick it up on this site post haste.

His latest work is the cover of an album by a UK band named Satan that Listenable Records plans to release on April 29 in Europe and sometime in May in the U.S. I didn’t know much about this band before seeing the stunning, metal-as-fuck album cover, though I surmised that they must have started eons ago to nail down “Satan” as a band name. And so they did: The new album, Life Sentence, is appearing on the 30th anniversary of their first album, Court in the Act.

If the music is half as good as the cover art, the new album will be worth hearing. Continue reading »

Jul 172012

In one of yesterday’s posts I compared a song from Sweden’s King of Asgard to Naglfar and Immortal, and I got questioned about that comparison in one of the comments, suggesting that King of Asgard is a Viking metal band. That caused me to consider, certainly not for the first time, what “Viking metal” really means and whether there really is such a thing as a “Viking metal” genre.

These are questions that have been argued in many other places at many other times. For example, our brother Trollfiend devoted a post to the subject at ALSO, WOLVES last fall, insisting that, yes, it’s a genre and it’s defined by the band’s lyrical themes (though he also implied that, musically, it’s a subset of black metal). Other people contend it isn’t a genre at all, or that if it is, it begins and ends with Bathory and early Enslaved and everyone else can go fuck off. And still other people say it’s a pointless question — you either dig the music or you don’t, and who gives a rat’s ass what you call it.

The fact that there seems to be no consensus about how to define “Viking metal” weighs in favor of the argument that it isn’t a genre. That conclusion is bolstered by the significant diversity in the music of bands who different people classify as “Viking metal” (see, e.g., the bands included in the “Viking metal” tag at Last.fm or the Viking metal genre group at Metal Archives). Genre classifications are usually (though not always) defined by widely accepted hallmarks of the musical style, and if no such consensus exists, or if the sound of the music isn’t really the defining characteristic, can we really say that “Viking metal” is a genre?

Is the lyrical content really enough, especially when much of the time you can’t make out the words in the songs when you hear them? Continue reading »

Feb 012012

An e-mail from NCS reader Black Shuck delivered two nice pieces of news on Sunday concerning two Illinois bands we’ve featured here in the past — The Horde and Awaking Leviathan.

Some dude took us to task in a recent comment for false advertising  —  the name of the site is NO CLEAN SINGING, but we had reviewed an album that did that clean singing like half of the time. I can see why that would be confusing, but the music in this post won’t confuse anyone. Not only is there no clean singing, there’s nothing clean about the music in any respect.


This band’s 2011 album, Thy Blackened Reign, is a hell-ripping cavalcade of Viking black thrash. Thematically, it takes its cues from Norse mythology, and musically it swings some mighty sharp-edged battle-axes. Speed metal and thrash are effectively fused together with elements of death metal and black metal. It delivers a cathartic, fist-pumping experience.

A couple of days ago, the band released a music video for the song “Odin’s Blood”. In someone else’s hands, the gang shouts of the song title and the first-pumping could have become cheesy, but these dudes have such authenticity and so much conviction for what they’re doing that they succeed. And holy shit . . . those riffs! Watch it after the jump. Continue reading »

Sep 152011

The 2011 album from Septic Flesh, The Great Mass, has been one of the year’s high points for several of us here at NCS. Andy Synn opened his detailed review of the album this way: “Equally comfortable playing the roles of death metal behemoths, gothic troubadours and classical composers, Septic Flesh have crafted another deep and rewarding piece of majestic, symphonic metal that carefully navigates the pitfalls and clichés which plague many of their peers. . . . I for one could not imagine these songs without the complex classical arrangements, nor see them existing without the frantic energy provided by the furious drums and guitars.”

Unlike many “symphonic” metal bands who are forced to rely on synthesizers for the addition of orchestral elements, Septic Flesh recorded The Great Mass with the Prague Filmharmonic Orchestra, and the difference in sound is dramatically evident. While it may be difficult to imagine the songs without the fury of the drums and guitars (or the power of Seth Siro Anton’s vocals), we don’t have to exert our imaginations, because Septic Flesh have now made the orchestral version of one song — “Mad Architect” — available for streaming. I had fun this morning listening to the album track first and then the orchestra-only version of this magnificently bombastic song. So I thought I’d give you the chance to do the same, after the jump.

Also after the jump is a song that has been exploding my head from an album called Thy Blackened Reign by an Illinois band called The Horde. The album was released last month by Stormspell Records. I’m so far behind on reviews that I’m worried I may not get around to writing a proper one of this ass-kicking slab of metal — but I’m at least going to include a short one here, while spotlighting that one song as a taste for you of what the record has to offer. More about The Horde and that song after the Septic Flesh tracks. Continue reading »