Jan 112021
 

 

(TheMadIsraeli wrote the following essay, which connects two of his favorite pasttimes.)

Besides being a devoutly obsessive-compulsive audio consumer of the style of metal and all of its extremities I’m also an obsessive-compulsive consumer of interactive video games.  I have been all my life, and in a lot of the same ways as metal, video games are just as responsible for saving me from struggles with mental health issues and helping me cope with life.  I find this funny, because if one really breaks down and examines video games, especially modern ones, at their cores…

They are essentially just interactive metal. Continue reading »

Dec 312020
 

 

(Along with Andy Synn and DGR, TheMadIsraeli has been on the NCS staff the longest, and although a tough year reduced his writing, he didn’t stop listening, and here we have his 2020 year-end lists.)

This year was a tough one for me personally.  Quarantine sending the flow of time into a perpetual state of flux, my father passing away this year, and struggling against some tough times that have faced many of us, including threats of eviction, not being able to make bills, etc, this year was a brutal one to say the least.  Metal got me through it as always, but I will admit that this year I wasn’t able to be as tuned into the musical landscape as I’d have liked to be.  I still managed to encounter some releases though, and I still listened to (by my count) 170+ albums this year, although trust me when I say that for me, Andy, DGR, and Islander, that’s honestly child’s play numbers.

This will, I THINK, change going into 2021.  Things have stabilized and I honestly found a refreshed vigor in my life of heavy music with how it helped me survive this year.  I have some more ambitious projects planned or in progress, including a new Higher Criticism series set to arrive approximately by late January/early February.  Enough about all that though, let’s get to my picks this year. Continue reading »

Sep 222020
 

 

(TheMadIsraeli wrote and packaged together this series of mini-reviews of 2020 albums he wants to recommend.)

So many albums I’m trying to catch up on and reviews I’m still trying to pump out, but I figured in the meantime I’d offer this collection of mini-reviews of albums I recommend.

STATIC-X

Static-X I think are a pretty niche band, but I personally loved their brand of dance groove industrial metal.  I thought Wayne Static was a great vocalist, and except for a couple of questionable albums, their discography was always reliably good, assuming you liked the premise of their sound.  Project: Regeneration Vol.1 is the first in a series of two albums that Wayne Static had started demo-ing prior to his death in 2014.  Helmed by the band’s OG lineup of bassist Tony Campos, guitarist Koichi Fukuda, and drummer Ken Jay, the band decided they’d try to pay tribute to their departed friend and bandmate while doing something for the fans, and finish what he started. Continue reading »

Sep 212020
 

 

(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the debut album by the Icelandic band Cult of Lilith, which was released on September 4 by Metal Blade Records.)

It’s rare any more that modern attempts at technical death metal impress.  A lot of the bands who are producing good stuff were around at least five years ago, if not longer.  So when a band come around who are complete newbies, absolute new blood, and they come out swinging with a debut that crushes the status quo of the hum-drum of bad Beneath The Massacre worship, I have to give credit where credit is due.

The thing about technical death metal that a lot of the zoomers (for lack of a better term) don’t get, is that it’s about demonstrating instrumental virtuosity while still maintaining compelling songwriting chops.  Suffocation has this, Necrophagist had this, Exocrine has this, you get the idea.  It’s hard to find technical death metal bands nowadays who write real songs with definitive elements of progression and logical structure and cohesion while also writing crazy complicated riffs or sections that push both technical skill and endurance.

That brings me to today’s subject, Icelandic upstarts Cult Of Lilith. Continue reading »

Sep 172020
 

 

(In this writeup TheMadIsraeli provides an enthusiastic recommendation of the new album by the Swedish band LIK, which will be released by Metal Blade Records on September 25th.)

For a good decade now old school Swedish death metal throwback bands have been milking a long beaten-to-death style and aesthetic until it was stripped of the ferocity and angst that gave it have its appeal to begin. Very few of these bands are good.  The style has become victimized by a corporatized sort of nostalgia aping. Instead of bands trying to do things with the style that are forward-thinking or… dare I suggest it… trying to write actually captivating songs full of killer riffs, killer melodies, and a powerful unhinged vocal front, a lot of the music just feels really cynical and pandering.

LIK aren’t one of those bands.  As a matter of fact, I would tell you that since their debut Mass Funeral Invocation in 2015, they have become one of the very few old school Swedish death metal bands that are worth your time.  They have passion, brutality, technicality, drama, and a deep respect for the roots of their sound that so many bands that do this shit just do not have. Continue reading »

Sep 162020
 

 

(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the forthcoming third album by the Swedish band Repuked, set for release on October 9th by Soulseller Records.)

One of my favorite death metal bands of all time are Austrian grime lords Pungent Stench.  They were a band who were all about writing some of the most grotesque, shamelessly filthy, and perverse death metal possible from both a lyrical and sonic standpoint.  They had a sound that was really all their own. Bands tried to imitate them, but no one has ever quite reaped their influence and managed to make it work well.  I always felt they were kind of the next step up from legendary death masters Autopsy, an evolution.

Repuked is the equivalent to that in relation to Pungent Stench.  A lot of things about their sound line up the same way.  Super-grimy, sludgy, yet buzzsaw guitars, a dedication to a mixture of doom, D-beat and atonal fast-as-fuck viciousness combined with a love of absolutely perverse over-the-top lyrical subject matter.  They offer a kind of death metal that is pretty hard to come by nowadays, the shit that is all about reveling in the darkest aspects of the genre.  Dawn Of Reintoxication, the band’s upcoming record, is quite possibly the most disgustingly impactful brutal death metal record of the whole year. Continue reading »

Sep 102020
 

 

(In this post TheMadIsraeli provides a detailed review of the new album by Baltimore-based Exist, which was released on August 28th by Prosthetic Records.)

You ever hear a band that has remarkably talented musicians, some definite top-tier songwriting chops, and unique sound elements to distinguish them, but you felt like they themselves were their own worst enemy in achieving the pinnacle of what they could do?

That was Exist for me.

Exist’s last full-length So True, So Bound was a good album, but I found this band extremely difficult to talk about or even quantify and I found that record, while good, to be inconsistent.  This mainly came down to Exist getting stuck in a rut, in too much of a focus on atmospherics and passive sorts of grooves.  These guys really want to be Cynic 3.0 in the worst way, and that’s not meant to be a knock in any way shape or form.  Except unlike Cynic, they don’t forget their death metal roots, which leads to a progressive experience that kind of mixes the best aspects of newer Cynic combined with the primal emotion and intensity of albums like Focus, Death’s latter-era work, or even Atheist’s commitment to discernable nonsense. Continue reading »

Sep 022020
 

 

(TheMadIsraeli prepared this review of the latest album by the long-running Australian band Alarum, which was released in June by Dinner For Wolves.)

The very idea of progressive metal in modern metal is trapped in a weird state of limbo.  We have a problem lately with labeling things progressive that are, frankly, not at all.  They meet none of the requirements for the style, but the songs are over seven minutes long so we think surely that’s the qualifier.  As someone who appreciates the eccentricity in progressive metal of any sort enthralling, it’s a bit insulting to me that “our” standard has dropped so low that we consider bands like Black Crown Initiate to be progressive.  They are, no doubt, an excellent band, one of modern extreme metal’s best current acts, and fantastic musicians, but their music is not progressive.

When I think of metal that is progressive, I think envelope-pushing, I think weird fusion ideas or the ability to write a comprehensively diverse album that hits an insanely wide array of peaks and valleys while maintaining a cohesive core sound.  A group could do this based on a “gimmick”, of course, and could have an objective, perhaps oriented around jazz for example, and that’s fair as long as the music you’re writing actually tries to push and incorporate jazz into your metal in such a way that the spirit of jazz is in no way diluted. Continue reading »

Aug 282020
 

 

(Here’s TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new fourth album by the Swedish band Nonexist, which is being released today – August 28th – by Mighty Music.)

By my measure, Nonexist are one of the most criminally underrepresented European death metal bands in the entirety of the genre metal.  They are so criminally overlooked I’d wager that ignorance of them should count as a human rights violation.  The project, spearheaded by longtime Swedish scene vet Johan Reinholdz of Skyfire and Andromeda fame, has been one of metal’s best kept secrets since 2000.  Originally a two-piece band consisting of Johan and ex-Arch Enemy vocalist Johan Liiva, the project has been consistently dedicated to preserving an image of melodic death metal at its most pure and un-compromised.

What do I mean by that?  Well… Continue reading »

Jul 202020
 

 

(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the debut album by Forlorn World, the side project of Bloodshot Dawn‘s Josh McMorran.)

I’m a rabid fan of Bloodshot Dawn and have been since their self-titled debut.  I own all their releases physically, I still listen to all three of their albums to date at least once a month, and I think in general, in a current era where melodic death metal has really fallen off the map, they have somehow managed to inject some needed life into an otherwise dormant sub-genre of extreme metal that was beloved by many.  Mostly this was done through an elevation of the technicality of riff writing combined with an EXTREME emphasis on guitar virtuosity.  Their formula works, and it’s some of the most consistently compelling metal you can listen to right now.

I was therefore quite intrigued when I learned that Bloodshot Dawn founder and frontman Josh McMorran was using this quarantine time to record a solo album as kind of an aside to Bloodshot Dawn, maybe to just hone his musical chops a bit more or to prepare for the fourth Bloodshot Dawn album, but I was curious nonetheless.  This project, the subject of today’s review, is called Forlorn World, and I mean… it’s pretty fucking good. Continue reading »