Jun 242022


(Today is the day when Massacre Records releases a new album by the Swedish band Darkane, and to celebrate the occasion long-time NCS writer TheMadIsraeli has returned from a long hiatus with the following review.)

Metal, in its current form, from where I observe it, is dealing with an arms-race problem.  Specifically, a technicality problem.  Obviously, I’m not saying that technicality is bad, or compromises the music, or is indecipherable, but THERE IS a trend with modern bands toward what is straight-up a lack of capacity to write an actual song with twists, turns, peaks, valleys, crescendo and climax.

I find myself being kind of stuck between what feel like two extremes.  We’re dealing with the excessively technical to the detriment of everything else, while on the opposite end exists boring commercially line-straddling pseudo prog that barely qualifies under any semblance of the term or the philosophy of progressive style composition.

I had my phase of liking djent, and I certainly have my moments where I like Beneath The Massacre or Braindrill as much as anybody else, but as I’ve grown older I’ve realized the extreme metal that sits with me the best is a sort that has achieved this lunatic fringe, arguably near impossible, perfect symmetry of element and frame.  If you asked me to name my top ten bands of all time up to the point of writing this, without any form of hierarchy intended here, it’d be Byzantine, Meshuggah, Textures, Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Vader, Kreator, Sepultura, Dark Fortress, and last and most relevant, Darkane. Continue reading »

Mar 032022

(In late February Metal Blade Records released a new album by Colorado-based Allegaeon, and our old friend TheMadIsraeli has re-surfaced with the following review.)

I’ve been taking a sizable break from NCS to recover from the holidays, to the point where I decided not to submit year-end lists or any of the usual annual stuff you see from us here, and… I’m glad I took the break.  To be real for a second, sometimes it can just get exhausting to keep up with the constant barrage of new shit. Sometimes you want to just listen to old stuff, sometimes you don’t want to listen at all. At the peak of my NCS output I legit listened to 300 albums a month guaranteed.  ALL while juggling college and family that needed taking care of to some degree or another.

However, that doesn’t mean I still don’t get a rush out of hearing the new stuff, whether that’s from underdogs or reliable all-stars.  Allegaeon’s Damnum was always my album from the start as a way to come back to the site reviewing. It was the first thing I had knowledge of that I was truly excited about coming into 2022.  Also, it just felt fortuitous that it came out the same day as Elden Ring if I’m being honest. Continue reading »

Nov 022021


(TheMadIsraeli has re-surfaced with this review because Obscura‘s new album left him no choice. It’s set for release on November 19th by Nuclear Blast.)

I’ve been keeping a low profile as of late and probably won’t be submitting a year-end list for NCS or doing any more reviews for the year. Many things have brought this about, just personal life things and trying to get my shit in some vague semblance of an order going into next year. I might even change the alias I use for this website, and I feel like in the spirit of that I’d do my last review for the year and talk about Obscura.

It’s funny, because in the same “different face, same presentation” manner that I’m thinking of changing my writing alias for this website, so too has Obscura decided to do the same regarding their sonic identity with A Valediction. Obscura is one of my favorite bands of all time, although I didn’t used to feel that way. I was that guy who in the case of Cosmogenesis was was using unimaginative, uneducated language like “boring”, “pretentious”, and “wanky”to describe what was in reality some of the most mature guitar-centric progressive and technical death metal produced aside from Necrophagist. Continue reading »

Jul 232021


(This is TheMadIsraeli‘s review of the third album by the Dutch death metal band Sepiroth, which was released earlier this month via the Petrichor label.)

I’ve had a tough time finding death metal that appeals to me these days. I’ve found it so difficult to locate anything that isn’t drowned in gimmicks of rudimentary slam or isn’t consumed with trying to write shit that would’ve felt dated in 1995.  I may take some heat for this, but at least from my perspective it feels like right now this is the main sub-genre of extreme metal that’s really lagging behind in 2021, and it’s REALLY lagging behind.

Death metal requires riffs, actual composition, and song-writing dynamics to work well.  Especially when its vocal approach is typically not diverse, the music consequently has to do a lot around it to avoid monotony.

Well, I present to you today a death metal band that aren’t living in ’95, don’t waste your time with vapid slam and brutal death metal’s purposefully shit production, and actually sound like they’ve kept up with the genre past the year 2000. Continue reading »

Jul 122021


(We present TheMadIsraeli‘s review of the seventh studio album by At the Gates, released earlier this month by Century Media.)

Watching how your favorite musical artists deal with the inevitability of getting older, slower, and weaker is one of the more fascinating aspects of this media consumption thing we all do. That’s especially true of metal, which is a genre that’s often predicated on physical ability. It’s all technicality and endurance, coupled with demands on the performers to be emotionally resonant, to still maintain that human element that makes music touch our souls and make life just that little bit better.

It’s commonplace for a lot of long-running bands to slow down, dial back the technical aspects of their music a bit and try to compensate for their age in other ways. Sometime they try to make their songwriting better, and to try less mechanically demanding ideas. Sure, here and there they can still write a barnburner that’s on a crash course with a brick wall at two hundred miles per hour, but it’s tough to play a whole album of that anymore. Continue reading »

Jul 092021


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new ninth album by Pestilence, which is out now on Agonia Records.)

Patrick Mameli is a musician in the extreme metal music space I’m often conflicted about.

One one hand, I think he is an absolute genius. What he’s created with Pestilence and continues to do under the Pestilence banner never has been replicated convincingly, and probably cannot be replicated.  He has an unparalled command and mastery, both as a guitarist and as a songwriter of dissonance and chaos.  Pestilence is one of the few bands out there (and the only band that does it the way they do it) who completely shun away from conventional melody while using a jazz bent to create a twisted brand of death metal that I can only say sounds like what it feels like to experience real and severe mental illness and terror.  There is a pathos to Pestilence that is undeniable. Continue reading »

Jun 212021


(TheMadIsraeli steps forward with this review of the latest album by Poland’s Terrordome.)

Terrordome is one of those bands I’d wish I’d known about sooner. They boast an impressively long career while going under the radar for a great many people. Around since 2007, the pissed off as fuck politically blackpilled Polish militants have been making some of the best crossover thrash in the entirety of the genre’s history, and I was somehow too ignorant and stupid to know of them.

I heard two singles off of today’s review subject, Straight Outta Smogtown, and was instantly hooked and felt the need to check out the rest of their output. I listened to the band’s first two records, We’ll Show You Mosh, Bitch! and Machete Justice and reveled in the fact I’d just discovered such a sick new band. I turned my attention after to Straight Outta Smogtown. Continue reading »

Jun 012021


(TheMadIsraeli reviews the latest album by the UK band Evile, which was released in April by Napalm Records.)

I think the story going on with this album and band right now is pretty cool: Matt Drake stepping down from Evile due to health issues, only for his brother, who’d left the band previously to pursue other endeavors, to come back and keep the band going.

Matt and Ol Drake both worked hard on this band. Evile is undoubtedly at the absolute top of the thrash resurgence hierarchy if ever a band deserved it. Their immaculately calculated mix of technicality, precision, speed, melody, chaos, and brutality is something a lot of their contemporaries just lack in some form or another, Moreover, Matt and Ol Drake are one of the most comprehensively synergistic guitar duos in modern metal. Ol Drake is, frankly, probably the only shredder in the modern thrash metal space worth paying attention to right now.

So, considering what just happened — the Evile we knew didn’t unify; it just changed forms again with only half of the core that defined the band still present — what do they do from here?

They write the best thrash metal record of 2021, past, present, or future. Continue reading »

Apr 292021


(TheMadIsraeli returns to NCS with the following recommendation of a new album released by Chocobo Band from Italy.)

I’ve been working on a big project for the website (hence the lack of activity, but trust that I’ve been keeping up with the music), and I’ve been gaming a lot, so I had a real excuse to just sit down and listen to music. I’m currently replaying through Blasphemous (great game btw) while I check out all the albums I personally give a shit about. I wrote an article this year about the relationship and instances where video games and metal intersect, but I was covering it from the perspective of the video games including the metal and not vice versa.

Todays subject of review, Tales From Other Worlds by Chocobo Band, is the inverse. This is a group of metalheads wanting to express their love for one of the most important landmark gaming franchises of all time, and to pay fitting tribute to Nobuo Uematsu, one of music’s greatest compositional virtuosos of ALL TIME.

A proper attempt by people who understand metal covering Final Fantasy music has rarely been attempted, especially this convincingly. Sure there’s one-man cover guys on YouTube, but it’s just never the same. There is always a disconnect between Westerners’ understanding of metal and translating Japanese works into it that feels like the one covering the music just doesn’t quite “get” it. Continue reading »

Feb 152021


(We’ve already published one review of Nervosa’s new album (here), but now take the unusual step of presenting another one by long-time NCS writer TheMadIsraeli, who has pursued an unusually exhaustive approach to assessing it.)

This year I’ve decided to take an unorthodox approach to reviewing.  Any album you see me review this year, for the most part, will have been bought for money with me basing my purchase decision purely on the available singles, even when we have promos.  So far I am enjoying this odd “put my money where my curiosity is” approach to checking out music in a critical perspective on 2021. It’s also allowing me to approach metal I otherwise might not take a second glance at.

I am also trying to make a commitment to upping the quality of my writing.  A benefit to reviewing Perpetual Chaos long after it was released is it gave me the ability to assemble a full spread of materials to consume surrounding the album.  Just for this review I listened to the album ten times in a row, not counting listening in the car or as background during gaming sessions and the like.  That’s 44:30 x 10, which comes out to four hours and forty-three minutes.  I also consumed the band’s entire track-by-track video (here) and watched all four parts of the Perpetual Chaos recording documentary.

I also did a once-over pass-through of the band’s previous work, that being 2014‘s Victim Of Yourself, 2016‘s Agony, and 2018‘s Downfall Of Mankind.  I further used my sense of perfect pitch and my skills as a guitarist to learn to play every song on Perpetual Chaos so as to become immersed in the composition approach and riffing mindset of guitarist and founder Prika Amaral.  I recommend watching all of the aforementioned videos before reading my review in full.  The record also contains two surprising left-field but fantastically implemented guest appearances, with “Genocidal Command” featuring Destruction’s iconic banshee wailer Schmier, as well as Flotsam And Jetsam‘s Eric A.K. on the track “Rebel Soul”. Continue reading »