With three weeks having passed since the last time I was able to compile a Shades of Black post, I’ve accumulated quite a large collection of songs, EPs, and albums that I’d like to recommend. I’ve ambitiously given this post a “Part 1” moniker, signifying the goal of following this with at least one more collection during the coming week. Of course, this ignores the lesson I’ve tried repeatedly to teach myself, i.e., that part-time metal bloggers should never disclose what they think they are going to do, given the high failure rate. Hope springs eternal, I guess.
I’m starting with music from two Icelandic black metal bands. There seem to be an endless supply of them, and they seem to be never less than good, and often are great. I’m also beginning to suspect that all the line-ups are drawn from the same group of about five people.
Endalok is a new Icelandic band whose debut demo Englaryk will be released on CD by Hellthrasher Productions and on cassette and vinyl by Signal Rex. The identity of the member(s) hasn’t been disclosed, but the quality of the first preview track suggests the presence of a person or people who have some experience, as well as impressive talent.
Apart from a rare mid-week edition of this column contributed by our friend Gorger, three weeks have passed since we had a regularly scheduled Rearview Mirror column on a Sunday, mainly due to my absence from home for three weekends in a row. To resume the feature, I’m focusing on a Norwegian black metal band named Ljå and their lone official full-length, Til avsky for livet (2006).
I learned of the album, as I have other subjects for this column, through a recommendation by Dutch musician Jan K. (thank you again!). The album is now 10 years old, with only a 2012 EP (Klar til strid) and a 2008 compilation of earlier material (Vedderbaug) having been released since then.
Happy Hangover Day to one and all. In this Saturday round-up I’ve included one exciting news item and four songs that I discovered over the last 24 hours, which I’ve also found exciting. The first two are older songs. I tend to focus in these round-ups on brand new material, but I’m including these two not only because they’re very good but also because both bands have new albums in the works. The third and fourth songs are more par for the course — just-released advance tracks from forthcoming releases.
We begin with the exciting news item. Our brother Joseph at Invisible Oranges was quick on the trigger yesterday, spreading the news about Khôrada, which is how I found out about the announcement. For those who don’t patronize IO, Khôrada is the name of a new band whose line-up includes the three refugees of Agalloch, whose visionary founding member set them adrift last May.
I’ve developed a habit through years of experience, much like Pavlov’s dog was trained to salivate at the sound of the bell: When I learn that Sweden’s Mordbrand have released new music, I drop what I’m doing and hungrily scamper over to the music player to listen. This happened yesterday when, without advance warning, a new Mordbrand EP popped up on Bandcamp. The name of it is In Nighted Waters.
This new EP is actually the Mordbrand half of a split LP with California’s Gravehill, which will be released in the U.S. by Doomentia and is now available in Sweden via Carnal Records. It includes four original songs and a cover of “Compost Christ” by Bluuurgh… (rearranged by Mordbrand and including guest vocals by Mike Abominator (Necronizer, ex-Gravehill).
Today is the day when a new Ohio label named Gloom Pit will release a split by Dendritic Arbor (about whom we’ve been writing since 2013) and Infinite Waste (who we will be paying close attention to from this moment on). Earlier this week Noisey premiered a full stream of the split — which includes three audio assaults by Dendritic Arbor (one of which is a bonus noise piece) and two by Infinite Waste — and today we have a dual premiere of videos for a song from the split by each band.
Dendritic Arbor recorded their songs with Kurt Ballou at God City Studios (with mastering for maximum impact by Brad Boatright at Audio Siege), while the Infinite Waste tracks were recorded and mastered by Zach Ohren at Castle Ultimate Studios. At the end of this post (after the videos), we’ll include a stream of the entire split, which can be ordered on vinyl, digipack CD, or tape, here:
(Austin Weber introduces our premiere of a song from Man Does Not Give, the debut album of Seputus.)
Ever since Doug Moore of Pyrrhon told me earlier this year that he’d be participating in a new side-project, I’ve been anxiously awaiting it. In the last few months the name of this new group was announced: Seputus. In terms of its roots and definition, “seputus” is a Latin term that means buried, sunk, or immersed. Considering the kind of dark and pummeling music the band Seputus play, this is a very fitting name, which exemplifies the feelings and experience that listening to their music creates.
To back up a little and give you some information on the group’s history, the project first started as a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist (and current Pyrrhon drummer) Stephen Schwegler and Doug Moore way back in 2005. Together, they worked on material that was left unreleased before the project slipped into inactivity around 2009, which was the result of Stephen shipping off into the military.
As I explained yesterday, what you’re reading now was supposed to be Part 2 of a two-part post that we began with a selection of new songs compiled by DGR. Before I could finish this thing, some new tracks by Meshuggah and Asphyx appeared, and I decided to throw those at you right away. (Speaking of big names, a new In Flames song also appeared (here), but it mainly depresses me.)
Before something else happens to cause further delay, let’s get into the following new music and videos from eight bands — five of whom are old favorites, plus three new discoveries. (Yes, this is what happens when a round-up is delayed — it grows like a bramble of thorns.)
In mid-July we premiered the first advance track from Meta, the new album by Thy Catafalque. It was a heavy beast, maybe even a surprisingly heavy beast for those who may have formed their expectations for this album based on last year’s Sgùrr. The surprises don’t end there. For example, I can now share with you another song that premiered elsewhere yesterday: “10^(-20) Ångström“.
(Grant Skelton reviews the new album by the UK band Eye of Solitude and brings us the premiere of a full album stream.)
I’ve truly grown to love sad metal. A prevalent stereotype among the folks who do not understand our beloved genre is that all metal fans are depressed. Yeah, even suicidal. But sorrow, despair, depression, and even suicidal ideation are not unique to metal fans.
In a study published in Frontiers In Psychology, Ai Kawakami intended to find out just why people like sad music. While Kawakami and his fellow researchers used classical pieces for their study, the result is what counts. The participants in the study enjoyed listening to sad music. “Musical emotion,” Kawakami said, “encompasses both the felt emotion that the music induces in the listener and the perceived emotion that the listener judges the music to express.” (Find out more here.)
Certain kinds of metal are for partying and abusing your liver. Other kinds probably give many of us a healthy outlet for aggression so that we don’t wind up in a padded cell. But some metal — and I definitely place London’s Eye Of Solitude in this category — give us something else. I was recently given the pleasure of listening to their latest album Cenotaph. And what exactly does this album give the listener? In a single word, I’d say humanity.
For very good and well-proven reasons, the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft has inspired the music of countless metal bands across a range of different genres, but few have embraced the great man’s writing quite like the Dutch duo SwampCult have. Their new album The Festival — which will be released on October 2 by Transcending Obscurity — is based entirely on a Lovecraft story that bears the same name, and the album traces that story from start to finish, with each song representing a different chapter in the unfolding narrative. In addition, the album will be accompanied by a special story card for each song.
Today we have for you a stream of The Festival’s third chapter, a song called “Al-Azif Necronomicon“, along with a close-up image of the story card accompanying that track:
(Neill Jameson (Krieg) joins us again with another compilation of recommended music, this time focusing on some metal releases that don’t easily fit into established genre definitions. To check out the other playlists Neill has brought us, they’re collected here.)
Listening to the new Urfaust that’s coming out shortly really got me to thinking a bit, which doesn’t happen too often. The subject of the hamster wheel turning in my head was bands that fall outside of a specific subgenre but are still in the metal realm. Outsider metal I suppose. Bands that are still just as dark and carry the same emotional weight but can’t be stuck inside “black” or “death” metal strictly, probably in academic “nerd” terms or whatever you’re calling them in the comments section of popular metal sites you claim not to read. Anyway, a few of them came to mind which I wanted to share, so I’m sitting in my office writing this as a proper way to avoid reality for a bit, much like these bands are also a proper way to accomplish the same thing.