Sep 192017


The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good.

There is a staggering sense of desolation and hopelessness in those words. It’s not surprising that the international funeral doom band Aphonic Threnody have associated those words with the sorceries of sorrow that make up their new album, Of Loss and Grief, nor any surprise in the releasing label’s own formulation of the music’s atmosphere: “No sun shines here, nor happiness or hope … just grey, insurmountable walls”.

The album will be released on October 9 by Terror From Hell Records, and today we present the debut of, not one, but two tracks from the album, “Life Stabbed Me Once Again” and “All I’ve Loved“.

Sep 182017


(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Chelsea Wolfe, which will be released by Sargent House on September 22.)

With a Burzum cover early in her career Chelsea Wolfe gained a solid following in the metal community. Her brand of gloomy folk rock was dark enough to keep them listening. Gradually this darkness grew denser and began to cross over into a more metal-influenced sound on Abyss. Her newest album takes it even a step further into metal.

On her last album the bass was fuzzed enough to give it a doom-like heft. Now the guitar is assuming a more metallic role. Production-wise, this recalls her older work, in the sense that her voice is mixed with ghostly effects against the guitar. Tempo-wise, it is very much in a doom/sludge direction.

“16 Psyche” finds the guitars kicking the door down, then backing off for her to sing, then it comes back around to the verses. “Vex” summons up more intensity in the drive of the song and finds Aaron Turner’s growled vocals coming into the background toward the end of the song.

Sep 152017


What a great piece of cover art that is! It catches the eye and holds it. And it turns out that the music behind the artwork catches the ears and holds them, too. And for that matter, it has its way with your entire autonomic nervous system… as I’ll explain momentarily.

That cover art (by Cesar Adrian at Soulasphyx Arts) adorns Sealed In Blood, the debut album by the Vancouver, BC band Meridius, which is being released today on a pay-what-you-want basis via Bandcamp. It includes 10 tracks and almost 50 minutes of music, and it’s one hell of an electrifying rush.

Sep 082017


Time to confuse people… again. I’m speaking mainly of newcomers who take our site’s name literally and view divergences from it as some kind of fraud or traitorous misconduct, when in fact we’ve always disclosed that we would make exceptions to our rule, rare though they may be, when they’re well-earned. And Mindkult is a well-earned exception.

This band, the alter ego of a Virginia solo artist whose moniker is Fowst, first grabbed my attention more than a year ago when I heard (and wrote about) a single named “Witch’s Oath” that later became part of an EP bearing the same name. Later that same year Mindkult released an excellent two-track single consisting of Misfits covers, but all of this proved to be prelude to the main show — a debut album named Lucifer’s Dream, which Transcending Obscurity Records will release on September 20.

Aug 292017


“The Cares of a Family Man” is a short story written between 1914 and 1917 by Franz Kafka about a creature called Odradek. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge, “The creature has drawn the attention of many philosophers and literary critics, who have all attempted to interpret its meaning”.

At first glance the creature appears to be “only a broken-down remnant”, “old, broken-off bits of thread, knotted and tangled together” but with odd wooden crossbars that allow it to “stand upright as if on two legs”. Yet although “the whole thing looks senseless enough”, it is “in its own way perfectly finished”. When it laughs, “it is only the kind of laughter that has no lungs behind it”, with a sound “rather like the rustling of fallen leaves”. To the narrator, “the idea that he is likely to survive me I find almost painful”.

It is from that perplexing story, and that word Odradek of uncertain origin, that the Ukrainian band Odradek Room chose their own name, a vehicle for creating progressive metal with a foundation of doom. Hypnotic Dirge released their debut album Bardo. Relative Reality in 2013, and on October 10 they will release the band’s second album, A Man of Silt, in conjunction with BadMoodMan Music (a side label of Solitude Productions). What we have for you today is the premiere of a song from the new album named “Mirror Labyrinth“.

Aug 232017


Here’s the second part of a column delayed from Sunday. I began it yesterday with a news item and then new music from four bands, and continue it today with new music and a new video from five more. From yesterday through today, these items are organized in alphabetical order by band name.


Kadaverdisciplin is a newish band of Swedish black metal slaughterers whose line-up includes a core trio of musicians from Västervik, Sweden (who include members of Zombified and Blodsrit) plus drummer extraordinaire Fredrik Widigs (Marduk, The Ugly). After a couple of digital singles, they have finished a debut album appropriately named Death Supremacy that will be released by Hammerheart Records on October 20.

Aug 152017


Non-blog life is rapidly encroaching on me, so I’m forced to make this round-up short. But it’s sweet. It’s short but sweet. I just made that up… pretty good expression, don’t you think?


For me and many others, The Grim Muse by Poland’s In Twilight’s Embrace was one of 2015’s highlights — a multifaceted and uniformly strong melodic death metal album loaded with fantastic riffs, memorable lead-guitar melodies and solos, powerful performances by the rhythm section, and absolutely ferocious vocals. We had the privilege of premiering the full album stream, and then last year we also debuted a full stream of their next release, an EP named Trembling that also consisted of tracks from the recording session for The Grim Muse.

Today I was excited to learn through an announcement at DECIBEL that the band’s fourth album, Vanitas, will be released on September 22 (through their longstanding label partner Arachnophobia Records). At the same time, DECIBEL premiered a track from the album named “The Hell of Mediocrity“.

Aug 072017


You might have noticed that I didn’t post a SHADES OF BLACK article yesterday — or anything else, for that matter. I was in Wyoming with my spouse from Thursday through Saturday attending a wedding, and spent Sunday getting home. On the airplane rides there and back I plowed through the NCS in-box and did some other web surfing. Found a ton of new stuff I wanted to listen to, and managed to find a couple of hours here and there over the weekend when I did do some listening, just enough to find the selections I’ve collected here, though not enough time to write anything.

The music below is a mix of full new releases and advance tracks from forthcoming albums… and I’ve included one song stream that isn’t black metal… or maybe even metal at all… except in its spirit. But I’m beginning with a news item hot off the presses.


In early July I gleefully reported the news that Jens Bogren had finished mixing and mastering the new 14th studio album by Enslaved, an album that Grutle Kjellson described as “a little re-boot, a fresh start so to speak”. Today the album art (above, hand-painted by the Norwegian artist Truls Espedal) was unveiled, and we received more details about the album, which I’ll quote here from the press release:

Aug 042017


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the Scottish band DVNE, released on July 28 by Wasted State Records.)

You know what really grinds my gears?

Seeing/hearing people bleat on about how “there’s just no good new music out there anymore”, when, in truth, it’s never been simpler or easier to find something that caters to your specific tastes.

It’s a particularly frustrating attitude when you consider that the discovery of new music, whether on purpose or by accident, can be one of life’s great joys, and seeing people make such sweeping, and ill-informed statements – blithely dismissing, through their own ignorance/arrogance the absolute wealth of impressive, imaginative, and downright inspiring artists and albums out there – just pisses me off no end.

Of course I can kind of understand it if you’re used to simply passively consuming whatever you’re spoonfed by tv or radio – there’s only so much of the same shit that you can swallow after all, and only so many times you can regurgitate the same pre-chewed “opinions” before you actually make yourself sick – but the fact remains that it only takes about five minutes these days to find something new and exciting online.

Heck, sometimes it’s not even that hard. Sometimes you just stumble upon something that blows you away entirely by accident. Like I did a few months ago when I came across DVNE.

Jul 222017


I started working on this post a month ago, but kept shoving it off to the side due to more urgent commitments. As time passed, I found a few more tracks to include. But still, I haven’t had time to write what I intended to write about each of the releases included here, and I’m not sure when that time would come. So I’ve decided to let the music mainly speak for itself, and I’ve picked out only one song from each release for this playlist, though in most cases you’ll be able to hear the full release if you’re interested.

All of the releases in this compilation are crushers — doom crushers, to be precise. But they’re not all cut from the same cloth. Some are apocalyptic, some are narcotic, some have harsh vocals, some have clean singing, and one has no singing at all. So get ready to travel in the low and slow lane, and if you have an eggshell skull it might be better to strap on a protective helmet.


The first track I’ve chosen comes from the second album by Morbid Evils, a Finnish band that includes vocalist Keijo Niinimaa of Rotten Sound. Entitled Deceases, it examines the subject of death from various perspectives, blending elements of sludge, doom, drone, and black metal. The album will be released on August 25 by Svart Records.

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