Perhaps more so than in other musical genres, nightmares have a strong association with extreme metal, as sources of inspiration and as experiences that artists have tried to represent or foment in their music. The song you’re about to hear, “The Ultimate Nightmare“, would leave little doubt about the wellspring of its own inspiration, even if it had a different title.
The song was created by a mysterious black metal trio who call themselves Useless, and it appears on their debut album Absence of Grace, which will be released by Third Eye Temple on September 2. The band’s members identify themselves only by initials, and I’m not even sure of the country in which they live (though if forced to guess, I would say Poland, which is Third Eye Temple’s home). But they do have a talent for pulling a listener’s mind out of its mundane surroundings and sending it off to a very dark and inhospitable place.
I had a few ideas for a Monday round-up that percolated over the weekend. And then this morning, when I crawled through what had arrived in the NCS in-box since I went to sleep last night, all those ideas were shoved aside and put on the shelf for later retrieval. I do have poor impulse control, and therefore decided I would devote this post to nothing but what I discovered this morning.
Mind you, not everything I found in our in-box was worth spreading around (e.g., news about a new device for preventing snoring), but an unusually high percentage was. And what I especially liked about what I found was the serendipitous fact that the songs were quite varied in their styles of heaviness.
Now there’s quite a lot of music here, and so I’m going to do my best to keep my verbiage to a minimum. I’ve arranged the tracks in alphabetical order by band name, except for the last one… because I think it’s best experienced as a conclusion to this playlist.
Until seeing the wonderful cover art that I put at the top of this post I had forgotten that Dark Tranquillity’s Niklas Sundin was a visual artist as well as a musical one. This creation adorns a new album named Memento Mori by the band Aephanemer from Toulouse, France. It will be released on September 16, but the band have already made one song from the album available for streaming and free download at Bandcamp. Its name is “Unstoppable”.
Creeping through the NCS e-mail in-box this morning while trying to wake up I spied an item that achieved that objective better than coffee: an announcement by Season of Mist that the phenomenal Gorguts will be mounting a North American tour this fall, with support from Intronaut and Brain Tentacles. Called The Pleiades Dust Tour, it begins on October 3 in Brighton, MA, and travels through assorted other U.S. and Canadian locations for the rest of the month, ending in New York City on the 30th.
As usual in perusing such announcements, I had eyes for only one thing: Would there be a stop in Seattle? Having found that, yes, there will be, I ignored all other info in the flyer — until a Texas-based friend expressed sadness that the tour would be stopping in Austin, Arizona, rather than Austin, Texas.
Greetings from Seattle and welcome to another edition of Shades of Black. I wasn’t able to prepare one of these installments last Sunday due to fucking off, so I’ve accumulated an especially large list of recent discoveries that I would like to write about. From that list I’ve selected blackened music from six bands to recommend.
The name Windfaerer will likely be a familiar one to our readers. Last year we premiered two songs from the band’s marvelous second album Tenebrosum and named one of those to our list of 2015’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. What a nice surprise it was to discover that two days ago Windfaerer released more new music.
These new songs (three of them) appear on a three-way split by Windfaerer and two other Northeast bands, WolfCloak, and Dumal. The name of the split is Coniuratio Nigrum Atlantika. So far I’ve only listened to Windfaerer’s tracks, but they are predictably excellent.
(DGR steps in to write this Sunday’s edition of The Rearview Mirror, in which we revisit releases from metal’s past.)
Sometimes I find myself shooting awake with ideas for Rearviewmirrors, lots of which remain half-written. I love this column because it allows me to basically post what I wake up thinking, which is usually along the lines of ‘Holy shit, remember _______?!’ I did that recently with Circle Of Dead Children, a band whose music was not only an ugly reflection of the time in which it was written, but also years later is still able to turn a mirror and announce with utter disdain that absolutely fucking nothing changes.
Of all the bands that would eventually find their way into my early-going CD collection, Pennsylvania’s Circle Of Dead Children were always one of the most extreme ones. I came around to the group late-ish in their career, a few years after Zero Comfort Margin — the group’s 2005 EP that is today’s subject — was released. I actually discovered this EP in early 2008, after reading the lyrics to one of their songs, “Android (120 Ampere Opiate)”, and it closed with the line “Your sound bite slogans can burn with your flags”.
Getting a very slow start on this Saturday. Went to sleep very late last night without having begun writing the post you are now reading, and then slept for 9 hours — and still didn’t want to get out of bed. I can’t remember the last time I slept for 9 hours, or anything close to that. I felt groggy as shit for a couple of hours after waking up. Pretty sure that was sleep grogginess rather than the after-effects of all the wine I consumed last night with my spouse and some friends. Pretty sure.
Either way, I now feel more alert and invigorated, having listened to the music collected in this post. This collection doesn’t really make much of a dent in the long list of new tracks and videos I came across since the last round-up I assembled. As usual, there’s not much rhyme or reason to why I picked these selections rather than others. Austin Weber also contributed one of these items, as you’ll see below.
On July 20, Singapore’s Wormrot announced that they will be releasing a new album named Voices on October 14, and they revealed the great cover art you see above by Zahir Sanosi (aka Kilas). Voices comes five long years since their last album, Dirge. Wormrot made a video to announce the new album, and it includes a new song from the album called “Fallen Into Disuse”.
It’s not a well-kept secret that we here at NCS are ardent fans of Minnesota’s Amiensus. We’ve been closely following all of their releases ever since Andy Synn reviewed their debut album Restoration for us back in January 2013. Their latest album, Ascension, appeared last year (and we reviewed it here), and we premiered a new track named “Reflections” last April.
Since then, Amiensus have signed on with Apathia Records for the release of a new EP in the spring of 2017 and have laid the groundwork for the Dust of the Earth tour with Wisconsin’s Pangaea during September — which we’re now helping to announce. For details about that, plus music from both bands, plus more news updates about both Amiensus and Pangaea, please continue reading….
It’s safe to say that black metal is reaching more listeners than ever before. It’s also safe to say that what people understand by the term “black metal” is more varied than it has ever been — to the point that it’s no longer a terribly useful genre term. It has morphed into a signpost that marks the entrance to a sprawling city with many diverse communities (whose inhabitants don’t always want to have anything to do with their neighbors). So when I say that Hostis Universi Generis is one of the best, most intense, and most powerful black metal albums of the year, that requires some further explanation — perhaps especially for people who couldn’t get into this band’s debut album.
The animating philosophies behind A.M.S.G.’s music don’t appear to have changed significantly since 2013’s Anti-Cosmic Tyranny. The band still worship death. They still view the cosmos in its current incarnation as a failed experiment and yearn for its end, including all life within it; the new album’s title translates roughly to “the enemy of all”. And as their name (Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam) signifies, they still offer their devotion to the greater glory of Satan.
But although the band’s inspirations and objectives may have remained fundamentally the same, the music has changed in important ways. Hostis Universi Generis is not simply a step ahead; it’s more like a giant leap forward. Even for those listeners who recoiled at Anti-Cosmic Tyranny, it’s time to put those memories aside and explore this new album with fresh ears.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Black Crown Initiate from Reading, PA.)
Black Crown Initiate have been something of a favourite of mine (and, if I’m not speaking out of turn here, the majority of the NCS crew in general) for quite some time now and, as such, Selves We Cannot Forgive (released today on eOne), has been sat at the top of my “most anticipated” list for 2016 ever since it was first confirmed.
Thanks to my moonlighting for Terrorizer I’ve been lucky enough to have access to the album for quite a while now, which has allowed me the opportunity to really dig deep into its many layers, as the Pennsylvanian quintet have clearly gone to great lengths to push themselves and their music down an ever-proggier path on their second album.
But… and it’s a surprisingly big but (and I cannot lie)… despite all of its impressively progressive inclinations and some undeniably heroic highlights, it’s hard not to view Selves We Cannot Forgive as the band taking one step backwards for every move forwards they make.
Earlier this month we reviewed an impressive new split by two experienced French bands from the black metal underground — Nirnaeth and Azziard. The split, which includes one exclusive song from each band, will be released on August 12 on 7″ vinyl by Kaotoxin Records — the first 7″ ever released by the label. Now we’re following that review with the premiere of a video for Nirnaeth’s powerful track, along with an interview of the band’s guitarist Mutill.
Nirnaeth, who took their name from the word for “Tears” in the elvish language of Sindarin from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, began their existence roughly 15 years ago. Prior to this split, they released two albums, Thrown Athwart the Darkness in 2006 and Splendour of the Abyss in 2009. Their contribution to the split is a track called “Nihil in Me”, and it was was recorded during the pre-production process for a forthcoming third album.