Jan 152020


(We’ve held the door open for one more year-end list before closing our LISTMANIA 2019 series, and that final list comes from long-standing NCS writer TheMadIsraeli.)

I feel like metal in 2019 reached an all-time high for expressiveness and creativity in the 2010s. Some of the absolute best collections of music I’ve heard have been 2019 releases, and while I don’t know where such albums would rank in a Top 100 of the decade list, this decade ended VERY strong.

We’re seeing an interesting renaissance that kind of hit its peak last year, in that almost everything seems to be black metal to one degree or another. With the clear exception of thrash, just about every sub-genre of metal was feeling the grim melodies, layered chord-driven guitar work, and more bestial and more “human” approaches to metal that black metal is known for. It’s interesting, and I’m all about it. This wasn’t the case for everybody of course. Certain bands stuck to their guns and unleashed strong follow-ups, very promising debuts, or just stayed the course of their legacy to excellent effect.

I’ve got six categories today, of six albums each. I’ll be doing a little blurb about each list. I used this format back in 2017, and I think this will be my year-end format for the rest of my time writing for this site. Continue reading »

Dec 022019


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album (released on November 29th) by the German band Aeons Confer.)

Sometimes you have to… not temper your expectations, but when it comes to artists you love and the output they produce you have to learn how to divorce yourself from your own nostalgia-based bias.  I’ve never been a fan of nostalgia, and I’m someone who is always eager to try and avoid the pitfalls of it as much as possible.  I was confronted with this resolution when listening to Aeons Confer’s new record Zero Elysium.

I LOVE this band’s debut Symphonies Of Saturnus, which I reviewed here nearly six years ago.  Since 2013 I’ve actually listened to it AT LEAST once a week.  I never got over that album, so it’s expected maybe that someone like me might feel a bit cold when encountering a sophomore record that didn’t deliver on an assumed promise of “first album, part two”. Continue reading »

Nov 142019


(TheMadIsraeli wrote the following review of the new album by the Polish band Pedophile Priests, which was released on November 8th by Metal Scrap Records.)

I reviewed Anti-Catholic avant-garde/progressive death metal band Pedophile Priest’s excellent debut Dark Transgression Of The Soul back in 2016 and have been kind of in love with them ever since.  I feel like back then my review didn’t do this band proper justice.  I wholeheartedly believe Pedophile Priests are one of the best, most important bands in the modern death metal landscape.  Their combination of every style of death metal mixed with black metal mixed with a unique vocal style and the particular things they do with their genre bents results in a band I can 100% safely say NOBODY sounds like.  Nobody else even comes close as far as I’m aware (and I listen to a lot of fucking music). Continue reading »

Nov 112019


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Mayhem, which is out now via Century Media Records.)

Mayhem is one of Black Metal’s most storied names.  They were pioneers — a lot of modern stylistic conventions of black metal are owed to them, and you can hear their influence even today in much of what you listen to.  A lot of my personal favorite black metal is definitely influenced by Mayhem in significant ways, and I’m a huge fan of the band’s diverse yet admittedly hit-or-miss discography.

Although not all of their albums have hit the mark, they’ve never failed to live up to the inherently rebellious ethos of black metal, always trying something different and attempting (sometimes desperately) not to pander to expectations from release to release.  Mayhem have also often displayed a leaning toward more eccentric quirks, and kind of a flare for technical guitar work before a lot of other bands of their era did that.

So it may seem peculiar that my two favorite Mayhem records are Grand Declaration Of War and Esoteric Warfare, both which pursued really weird or chaotic tangents from black metal convention.  Grand Declaration… was almost a spoken-word recording with black metal accompaniment, and Esoteric Warfare seems to explore every extreme metal style in a black metal framework with a lot of interesting noise elements, and it really spoke to me. Continue reading »

Oct 102019


(TheMadIsraeli introduces our premiere of the new EP by the Norwegian band Fleshmeadow, which will be released via Bandcamp on October 11th.)

I try to avoid hyperbolic statements about how a new or new-ish band to the scene are paving the way for their style or how they’re the sickest fucking thing I’ve heard in forever, but Fleshmeadow are one of those bands to me.

I reviewed and we premiered the band’s debut album Umbra back in 2016‘s final days, and it was one of my favorite records that came out that year.  Their uncanny mastery of technical black metal mixed with touches of ritualistic death metal and a bit of deathgrind really hit a note in my soul that screamed with feral ecstasy.  I’ve listened to Umbra regularly since I discovered it and have eagerly awaited what I would hear next from these blasphemous Norwegian carnage mongers. Continue reading »

Oct 032019


(Accompanied by a full stream of the album, this is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by the Swedish band In Mourning, which will be released on October 4th by Agonia Records.)

I’m kind of in a strange place when it comes to In Mourning. As far as melodic death metal goes, they are one of the genre’s best exports and one of the best bands of the style in a modern era extremely lacking in such. However, I feel that with the band’s last record, Afterglow, they started to make a very deliberate departure from what defined them and revealed an interest in expanding their horizons. I loved Afterglow, but it became impossible not to notice the band engaging in a little more ’70s prog death, and adopting some black metal and more post-y elements into their sound. In Mourning aren’t what I first looked to them for any more, not that that’s at all a bad thing, but the new path they are treading feels like it’s a work in progress.

That isn’t to say the band’s new album Garden Of Storms isn’t good. It’s fantastic, and it’s a super step up from Afterglow in just about every way, but it also definitively signifies that the band are done with their take on the doom-driven melodic death metal style and want to be more of an amorphous progressive band with a death metal foundation. Continue reading »

Oct 032019


(In the penultimate installment of a series devoted to a retrospective chronological analysis of the discography of Slayer, today TheMadIsraeli addresses the band’s last album, 2015’s Repentless. Links to all preceding segments of the series are at the end of the writing.)

After the absolute disappointment of World Painted Blood, Slayer would undergo a massive tectonic shift upon the death of founding member, guitarist, and key song-writer Jeff Hanneman.

This was a tragedy to be sure. Hanneman was responsible for many of the band’s best songs and he was a half ‘n’ half of a song-writing duo with Kerry King.  There were obviously concerns among fans that any future material would be heavily impacted by his absence. A lot of people at the time claimed Slayer should just hang it up, with a solid enough catalogue to go out on, and despite my feelings on World Painted Blood I agreed at the time.

I think on some level though, they knew World Painted Blood was a bad move, because the band’s final album Repentless may be unapologetic in its core message as a record, but it is definite repentance for the album that came before it. Continue reading »

Oct 022019


(TheMadIsraeli has reached an ugly point in his chronological series on the discography of Slayer, with the subject now being the band’s 2009 album World Painted Blood. Links to previous installments in the series are at the end of this post.)

World Painted Blood was heavily marketed as a “return to form”, a throwback album to Slayer’s glory days, and the fanbase seemed to eat the PR campaign for this album the fuck up.  Lots of music journos at the time heaped endless praise onto this album. I was excited for this record, because while I had enjoyed Slayer’s more modern direction I had faith the band could reproduce something as good as Reign In Blood or South Of Heaven.  I pre-ordered the album, received my copy, popped it in and began listening.

I wish I could get that money and time back. Continue reading »

Oct 012019


(TheMadIsraeli continues his retrospective chronological analysis of the discography of Slayer, moving into the band’s 2006 album Christ Illusion, which saw the return of Dave Lombardo.)

So after two albums that proved rather controversial, I think a lot of the fans displeased with Diabolus In Musica and God Hates Us All suspected the band would go back to doing the old sound that they were attached to.  But I think those people were in a minority, especially naysayers of God Hates Us All, where we can see in hindsight that quite a big swath of the Slayer fanbase likes the album.  And in any event Christ Illusion was Slayer digging their heels into their new thrash-meets-metallic-hardcore direction with renewed vigor, but with a dialing back of the modernity in favor of something much more ’80s and ’90s slanted.

Christ Illusion is one of my favorite Slayer albums, and I think it’s the last great album the band made. Continue reading »

Sep 302019


(Forging ahead with a series devoted to a retrospective chronological analysis of the discography of Slayer, today TheMadIsraeli has made his way to the band’s 2001 album God Hates Us All. Links to all preceding segments of the series are at the end of the writing.)

God Hates Us All is a great album.  If you disagree, you’re wrong.  If you are the type to make assertions that it’s nu-metal or Slipknot-esque, wrong again.  If you disagree that this is the most brutal and unrelenting Slayer have been in their entire career (yes really) you are wrong one more time.

You can dislike the more personally grounded lyrics and the degree of profanity, sure, but no sane person who likes metal should dislike the music itself, and if you once did, maybe it’s time to revisit and reconsider.  God Hates Us All is about the most bitter, belligerent, and intense album the band have ever written.  It certainly isn’t their best, but it’s a fantastic record with an uncompromising dedication to being as violent and oppressive as possible, and I love it for that.  Tom Araya has never sounded better than on this album, and it includes some of the band’s best material, period. Continue reading »