Apr 202018


(Andy Synn returns to his irregular series devoted to things that come in five’s, the focus of this one being metal album art.)

The phrase “never judge a book by its cover” was obviously uttered by someone who’d never found themselves stranded in a busy bookshop and frozen by indecision over which of the many, many options to spend their hard-earned cash on.

Of course while I agree with the sentiment in principle – style is no substitute for substance after all, and a shiny package is no guarantee of superior contents – the truth is that human beings are very visual creatures, and an eye-catching cover, one which hints at the themes and manifest delights contained within, can be the difference between finding a new reader and being consigned to the bottom of the bargain bin at the end of the month.

The same obviously applies when we’re talking about albums too. Yes, the move towards a primarily digital market has had an impact on the means and methodology behind how new albums are accessed and presented (though apparently physical sales have been rebounding quite a bit recently), but the importance of good album art still shouldn’t be understated. Continue reading »

May 252016

Wildernessking 2015-photo by Eckardt Kasselman
photo by Eckardt Kasselman

(We present Andy Synn’s interview of Keenan Nathan Oakes, vocalist for South Africa’s Wildernessking, whose new album Andy reviewed here.)

Spoiler alert: Mystical Future, the second album by South Africa’s most majestic of Metal exports, Wildernessking, is likely to feature very prominently on either my Critical or Personal lists of favourite albums at the end of the year (if not both). I’ve loved this album since the first time I heard it, and I was lucky enough to hear it far earlier than most.

I’ve also been lucky enough to grab the band’s vocalist Keenan Nathan Oakes for this interview, where we get to go deeper into the motivation and inspirations behind Mystical Future, as well as a bunch of other topics which I’m sure you’ll find most illuminating! Continue reading »

Apr 032016

Lathspell-Thorn Cold Void


In my musical explorations over the last week I came across a lot of new black metal that I wanted to recommend. To make the rollout of the music a little more easily digestible, I divided the collection into two parts, with the music listed in alphabetical order by band name, continuing from Part 1 (here) into this second part. As usual for these posts, there are some significant stylistic differences in the sounds, despite the connections (either spiritual or otherwise) that all the music has to the ever-expanding genre of black metal.


Part 1 of this collection included new music by Havukruunu, and we return to Finland for this next song, which will appear on the forthcoming fifth album by Lathspell. Entitled Thorn Cold Void, it’s due for release later this month by Wolfspell Records and Patologian Laboratorio Productions. Though Lathspell have been in existence for almost two decades, this song is the first piece of their music that I’ve heard, so I can’t give you a comparison to their previous works. But just considering it as a stand-alone song, it’s powerful stuff. Continue reading »

Nov 092015

Wildernessking-Mystical Future Cover


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by South Africa’s Wildernessking.)

South Africa’s Wildernessking are a band we’ve been following closely here at NCS ever since we discovered them way back in the hallowed year two thousand and twelve, monitoring their steady growth and development with the ever-watchful eye of a proud father (or, at least, a creepy uncle).

From their humble beginnings (though I still contend that The Writing of Gods in the Sand is one of the finest debut albums I’ve heard in the last ten years or so) the quartet have demonstrated a frankly fearless and irresistible urge to progress, continually expanding their creative palette, whilst also showcasing an impressive ability to write songs that are as effortlessly memorable as they are cleverly unpredictable.

And although there will be those who refer to Mystical Future (the band’s second full-length following a series of intriguing, invigorating EPs and split-releases) as a “Post Black Metal” album – with all the associated baggage and braggadocio that entails – the idea of attributing this term to the band seems, to me at least, to be less about them adhering to the vague tenets of this still somewhat ill-defined sub-genre, and more of an acknowledgement that the band are entering a new phase of existence… their “Post” Black Metal years, if you will.
Continue reading »

Oct 092015

Wildernessking-Mystical Future Cover


We’ve closely followed the upward trajectory of South Africa’s Wildernessking since 2012, spilling many words over everything they have released, from their 2012 debut album The Writing of Gods In the Sand, to their two EPs (…and the Night Swept Us Away and The Devil Within), to their track on one of the Elemental Nightmares splits (“Kings”), to the song “Soundless Longing” (included on a split released early this year by Secret Ceremonies). Now the band have completed work on their second full-length — Mystical Future — and today we’re honored to bring you the first full song from the album: “With Arms Like Wands“.

Beginning with their debut album, Wildernessking have demonstrated a talent for achieving an inventive balance between light and darkness, between moving, atmospheric passages and bursts of intense ferocity, between complex progressive tendencies and hook-filled melodies. And over the course of the shorter releases that followed The Writing of Gods…, they’ve also demonstrated growth and increased maturity in their song-writing, though their debut was so damned good that finding room for improvement might have seemed like looking for a needle in a haystack.

“With Arms Like Wands” is yet another example of the band’s skill at integrating different styles of music within a framework of black metal — and it’s also as intense and intensely moving as anything they’ve done to date. Continue reading »

Jul 032015

photo by Eckardt Kasselman

The remarkable Wildernessking from Cape Town, South Africa, have today announced that their eagerly awaited second album, Mystical Future, will be released in November 2015 by Germany’s Sick Man Getting Sick Records, whose roster of releases has included works by Alda and Sun Worship, among many others.

Three years have passed since Wildernessking burst upon the global metal scene with their critically praised debut album The Writing of Gods In the Sand. The band have not been idle since then, releasing two well-received EPs – …And the Night Swept Us Away (2012) and The Devil Within (2014) – as well as tracks for split releases in 2014 and early 2015. But based on some advance listening we’ve been lucky to experience, Mystical Future represents their most accomplished and powerful music yet.

More cohesive, more dynamic in its scope, and more personal in its lyrical focus, the album represents a significant step ahead for a band who have already made a big impact in a short space of time. Continue reading »

Nov 272014

To those of you who will be celebrating Thanksgiving today, Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for a deep and restful tryptophan coma (though data show that dining on sea lion kidney would get you a bigger dose of tryptophan than turkey). For those who treat this as just another day, Happy Just Another Day.

We’re not planning a lot of posts today, just the premiere we launched a bit earlier and this round-up of new sightings and hearings from my interhole excursions over the last 24 hours. Here we go…


In mid-October we reported that Poland’s Hate will be releasing a new album named Crusade: Zero on January 15, 2015, via Napalm Records. I was excited about that news even before hearing a note of the music. Now that I have heard many notes, I’m even more eager for the album. You shall hear those same notes in this teaser reel, which excerpts parts of several new songs: Continue reading »

Nov 262014


For four days I’ve been on the other side of the country from my home in the Seattle area, and I’ll be working here for 10 more days. It’s one of those projects that engulfs me periodically, a night-and-day kind of thing that squeezes my blog time down to acorn size. I did make room late last night for some exploring and found the following new music I thought you might like. I sure as fuck did. Presented in alphabetical order by band name.


The German black metal band Dysangelium have a new album on the way from W.T.C. Productions. The title is Thánatos Áskēsis, it’s due for release on December 24, and it’s available for order here. I haven’t yet listened to the entire album, but I did catch Decibel’s premiere of one of the new songs yesterday, and have really been enjoying it. Continue reading »

Aug 022014


To pick up where my last post left off, the aircraft that I boarded yesterday in Seattle did in fact land in Denver, where I and my personal security detail spent the evening drinking beer, eating pizza, and air-guitaring at the Black Sky Brewery in preparation for the sonic holocaust that will begin today (otherwise know as the Denver Black Sky fest).

Because time is short (or more accurately, the time not spent drinking, eating, jawing, and sleeping), this little round-up will be less fulsome than I would like — but still worthwhile, I hope.


We’ve been writing about the Elemental Nightmares project since early days, and it is now a reality. Today Elemental Nightmares released the first of seven 10″ vinyl splits for digital download; the physical copies will start shipping on August 7 or 8.

The first split includes songs by Wildernessking (South Africa), Oak Pantheon (Minnesota), Kess’khtak (Switzerland) Liber Necris (UK), and it features that stunning artwork you see at the top of this post (all of the individual pieces of art for the seven splits, when placed next to each other, will eventually flow together to form one large piece of art). The work was created by Düsseldorf artist Alexander Leybovich (whose web site is here). Continue reading »

Jan 232014

I haven’t written a review in almost a month. The list of releases I want to write about has now grown so long that I know I’ll never succeed in completing all of them. And yet when I saw that Wildernessking released The Devil Within yesterday, I immediately bought a download of the EP, listened to it repeatedly, and wrote what you’re about to read.

I suppose this impulsiveness derived in part from the soft spot I have for bands located in places far from the biggest global markets for metal, and so remote that touring beyond a few cities is almost impossible for most bands. Cape Town, South Africa, is one such place. But mainly it’s because I had such high expectations for the music based on what Wildernessking have done before.

First came their 2012 debut album, The Writing of Gods In the Sand (which became the source of one of our Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs of 2012). To steal words from my own review, it bound together styles from a variety of genres (including black metal, post-metal, and Enslaved-style prog) to create “a uniquely effective expression of power and emotion, a blending of light and dark, soft and hard, beauty and voraciousness.” Continue reading »