Feb 062023


(Here’s Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by Ohio-based Sanguisugabogg, released on February 3rd by Century Media Records.)

Normally this brand of death metal is not my thing. Early Cannibal Corpse was once my go-to for this kind of thing, which these days often gets labeled as gore-grind. These guys are clearly tired of being tied to such labels, and aside from the low guttural vocals, they have set themselves apart from being another spawn of Cannibal Corpse’s mutilated womb with their fetish for grooves. There is a pungent whiff of hardcore to some of their riffs, which have the breakdown feel.

Normally when it comes to a band that knocks my headphones back due to the sheer density of their sound, my first concern becomes, can they write songs? The first two here earned a thumbs up in this department. Thus the challenge for a band who lives off brutality for the sake of brutality was to keep interest. Which they did with their evershifting flow of groove-drenched riffs. Continue reading »

Jan 172023

(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by Obituary, just released on January 13th by Relapse Records.)

In 1989 I first heard “Slowly We Rot” on a college radio station that played metal at midnight every Friday night. What struck me about Obituary was the deliberate grind of guitars and John Tardy‘s emotive yowl that separated them from the other death metal and thrash bands at the time. Their sound owed more to Celtic Frost than Slayer or Venom.

Those kinds of Celtic Frost like groove do not play as defining a role in their new album Dying of Everything, however I was also not expecting the thrashing ass-kicking the opening track unleashes. Any concerns regarding this album living up to their established legacy were squashed. The more Slayer-like attack is balanced out by Tardy‘s distinctive voice reminding you that this is Obituary. They bring back the headbanging grooves on “Without a Conscience”, and Tardy‘s sneer is given time to articulate the agony. Continue reading »

Dec 192022

(Long-time NCS contributor Wil Cifer weighs in here with his picks for the favorite Top 20 metal albums of the year.)

Making end of the year lists for me is more than just creating content, it is a celebration of the music that helped me make it through another year. I pound these out for a variety of blogs I write for but this one is close to my heart as it celebrates one of my favorite genres of music… metal. Of course I am always pushing metal to the forefront no matter who I write for, but some publications pigeonhole me as the goth guy or the punk dude, which are both genres I am into and their influence crosses over into some of the albums listed below, but with this list my sole focus is metal.

I am always thankful for Islander for giving me a voice here as my tastes often fall on the fringes of what is normally covered here. My tastes were shaped by growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Ozzy and King Diamond, along with my fetish for post-punk and goth that Cvlt Nation is normally my platform to discuss, though when it comes to metal I normally gravitate to sonically darker and dynamically melodic sounds. .
This year I tightened my definition of metal for this particular list. There might be a few hardcore-leaning albums on here, but they are metallic enough to satisfy the scrutiny of my jaded ears. In doing this I sacrifice albums I was partial to such as the new ones from Messa and Hangman’s Chair, but you can find me giving them praises in other corners of the internet. Similar can be said of albums by bands gracing many other lists on many other blogs . Bands like Chat Pile, Callous Daoboys, Dead Cross, Brutus, KEN Mode, and City of Caterpillar. All made wonderful albums I enjoyed, but they are all noise rock, post-hardcore and screamo, once again not belonging on a METAL list. However if you are into those genres, I highly recommend all of those artists. Continue reading »

Oct 242022

(Here we present Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by the New York City black metal collective Black Anvil, which is due out on November 4th via Season of Mist.)

Not unlike many American Black Metal bands, Black Anvil did not evolve from a LARPing past littered with Manowar cassettes and 20-sided dice, but from the punk scene.

The band’s founding members paid their dues in the hardcore band Kill You Idols. Where many hardcore scensters felt the next cool bandwagon to jump upon would be black metal, whose European counterparts shared a similar DIY aesthetic, for Black Anvil the common ground was aggressive emotional outburst, which the band continue to refine into a sound that is just as legit as any essemblege of Scandinavian headbangers. Continue reading »

Sep 282022

(Detroit’s Acid Witch have a new album headed our way (of course the release day is on Halloween), and in the following review Wil Cifer shares his thoughts about it.)

This morning, I took a break from checking out the updates as to when Hurricane Ian will be coming to rock my neighborhood like the Scorpions, and found the new Acid Witch in my in-box. The anxiety left me when I pressed play. While Ian might rain on my Halloween parade going into the first weekend in October, these guys kept my spirits up.

The bar is set high since these guys are one of my favorite bands. Dressing death metal up like a Spirit Halloween Store on LSD is a beautiful thing that speaks to my soul on every level. The first track is spooky intro with just enough metal to foreshadow what is to come. Continue reading »

Aug 292022


(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by Britain’s Conan, released earlier this month by Napalm Records.)

Conan the Barbarian from Cimmeria is one of my favorite fictional characters, so a band named after him did not sit well, nor would I want a band called Bruce Banner or Frankenstein’s Monster sitting in my iPod. This set my mind against this British band when I checked out their first album. It felt like burly but otherwise nondescript sludge that did not impress me. Now, four albums worth of time has passed and I have put that behind me and was ready to listen to their newest album objectively.

It carries a great deal of thundering thump that resonates with more sonic heaviness than their first album. The vocals are howled with more conviction. Often labelled as doom, rather than a depressed plod, they lunge into an aggressive tempo for “Levitation Hoax” , and have a rawer, more sludged-out apocalyptic darkness to their sound. They even delve into more traditional, almost modern metal, grooves on songs like “Ritual of Anonymity” to create a flowing pulse of menace. “Equilibrium of Mankind” has a heavier weight to its throb. The tempo is less aggressive than the previous song. Continue reading »

Aug 012022


(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the new Chat Pile album, released last Friday, July 29th, by The Flenser.)

Perhaps this band from Oklahoma City once fit within the neat parameters of a metal subgenre. Then marijuana in their fair city was grown much stronger. Sure, aside from “medical use” the groovy green is illegal, but the sounds made on this album have been created by deeply troubled young men who must surely qualify at dispensaries. Even if they do not, metal is still the music of the outsider. An outsider is not just outside of social norms, but the laws of said norms are coughed at as well. Often with a red-eyed grin.

This band embrace their dark side, though from all the pot talk thus far you must imagine them to be on the wavelength of Sleep or Bongzilla. This is not the case. They are more abrasive than either and owe more to Black Flag than Sabbath. They are angry and put those feelings out on their instruments. Continue reading »

Jul 152022

(We present Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by Singaporean grinders Wormrot, which was released by Earache Records on July 8th.)

Grindcore in and of itself is not typically my thing. There are bands like Portrayal of Guilt and Nails that I am a fan of who started as grindcore and evolved past the temper tantrums of their youth to find themselves in a dark space in life that they lashed out at with their instruments in a more variable sonic manner. As for Wormrot, I have heard their previous work, which proves them as being one of the most polished acts in the genre.

My ears have to warm up to what they do on the new album, as the first song and the second song run together before these sounds begin to catch my ears, like the briefly sung vocals on “Broken Maze”. This album finds them embracing a wider range of vocal styles. This is one of the album’s strengths; though this is bittersweet, due to the fact the singer parted ways with the band after this was recorded. Rather than a swan song it feels like they are coming into their own as songwriters here, even if the songs are only a minute long. Continue reading »

Jun 212022


(Here’s Wil Cifer‘s review of a new album by the Los Angeles death metal band Zous, which was released at the end of May by Closed Casket Activities.)

This might seem weird since I am normally the guy who covers the darker more post-punk leaning bands or classic traditional metal. I do like more overtly heavy stuff as well, since during most of my teens I was into hardcore. By hardcore, I mean I saw the Cro-Mags on the “Age of Quarrel” tour while wearing my first pair of combat boots.

This solo project Zous from Nails drummer Taylor Young celebrates various shades of heavy that I love, as they are all nihilistic and dark in their wrathful pummeling. Young wrote, performed, produced, and engineered this entire album. He did enlist his buddies to come in and help out when it is time for the obligatory guitar solo.

This project was intended as old school death metal. It might never chug in the direction of the many Meshuggah worshippers or employ In Flames-inspired guitar harmonies; it does grind and crunch with more of a modern hardcore feel than anything in the zip code of Morbid Angel. Continue reading »

Mar 292022


(Wil Cifer reviews the first new album in a decade by the German post-metal band Sundowning, which is out now via Isolation Records.)

In today’s bleak world I have taken to leaning into that feeling of impending doom. Whatever you resist persists, so in seeking to cocoon myself in sonic darkness as the soundtrack for the road the world is going down I found this German band. Their hymns of hopelessness are a perfect fit.

They meet at the crossroads of doom, sludge and sometimes death metal. Less of the crust-punk recklessness sludge evolved from and a darker, more mournful sound. This sentiment leads them in more of a doom direction most of the time. Guitars weep against the pounding the rest of the band bring, while the vocals stay in more of a hypnotic chant. Though when the instrumentation ebbs back, growled vocals shift the narrative tone. Continue reading »