Oct 082015

Wouldloper cover


We rarely turn back in time for the metal releases we review at this site, instead spending most of our time focusing on what’s coming in the future. And when I recently began listening to Woudloper’s self-titled demo (which seems to have been originally self-released about a year ago, and then was distributed on cassette by the Dutch label Breathe Plastic Records earlier this year), I didn’t mean to write a review. I thought perhaps I would include a mention of it in one of our Shades of Black round-ups. But this small obsidian gem is so good that I thought it deserved a stand-alone feature.

The band is the solo project of a Dutch musician named Erik B., and this demo consists of two long songs, denominated only by number. If you’re interested in a genre description, the music crosses boundaries, fusing together elements of atmospheric black metal, sludgy doom, and post-metal. It’s staggeringly heavy and manages to be both mesmerizing and frightening.

Oct 052015

Scáth Na Déithe-The Horrors of Old


This is the third of three brief reviews I’ve written today for new or forthcoming short releases. In this one the subject is The Horrors of Old — the debut EP released on October 1 by Scáth Na Déithe, a two-man band from Ireland (Cathal Hughes and Stephen Todd).

The EP consists of two long tracks (in the 10-11 minute range) and two short ones (in the range of 1-2 minutes). It does what all debut demos and EPs ideally should do: It displays in a relatively short span of time the capabilities and ideas of the band in a way that’s impressive, consistent, and coherent. And in this case, the EP does that in a way that furnishes a wholly immersive listening experience.

Oct 052015



This is the second of three brief reviews I’ve written for posting today, giving attention to three new or forthcoming short releases that I’ve really been enjoying. This one covers an EP entitled Beautiful and Damned by a Danish band named Slægt, which will be released next month by NecroShrine Records and Iron Bonehead Productions.

I’ve had the advance copy of this EP sitting in my queue of things to listen to for a while, but when I happened to see that BOTH Metal Sucks AND Stereogum’sThe Black Market” column had praised it, I thought I ought to pay attention to it. Because seriously, how often does that confluence of opinion happen?

Beautiful and Damned is Slægt’s first release since their debut black metal album Ildsvanger, which appeared early this year — though the music is apparently quite different from that album (which I haven’t heard), as is the fleshed-out line-up. Though remnants of black metal still adorn this new music, the band have incorporated a fascinating blend of other styles that makes this EP unusual, and unusually good.

Oct 052015

Infesting Swarm-Desolation Road


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Germany’s Infesting Swarm.)

Some band names… they… just don’t really reflect their musical content. There you go. I said it.

As much as I love Rotting Christ, for example, it still occasionally strikes me as odd to hear that name in conjunction with the martial grandeur of their recent (and, I would argue, best) material. Similarly the name Septic Flesh doesn’t exactly line-up with the gothy symphonic pomp and circumstance that the band deal in exclusively these days (and, I would argue, wasn’t even a great fit for their early years).

Germany’s Infesting Swarm are another band whose name sits ever-so-slightly awkwardly with the sound of their music, with a moniker more suggestive of the blood-and-bile splattered aesthetic of a Brutal Death Metal band (or, at a push, a skittery Tech-Death band) than the gloom-shrouded Post Black Metal that they actually deal in.

Still, a wise man once wrote that “a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet”… so the real question, maybe the only important question, is – how good is the music?

Oct 052015

Ruinebell-Ember's Grave


This is the first of three brief reviews I’ve written for posting today, covering three new or forthcoming short releases that I’ve really been enjoying. The subject of this one is an EP entitled Embers’ Grave by Ruinebell from Finland and Spain (released this month by Doomentia).

Ruinebell caught my eye this past summer when they released the first single from this second of their two EPs to date. The band is a collaboration between Lasse Pyykkö (guitars) and Pekka Koskelo (drums) from Finland’s Hooded Menace, and vocalist Dopi from Spain (ex-Machetazo, ex-Dishammer, now playing in Bodybag). And if those names don’t get you interested in Ruinebell, there may be no hope for you.

Oct 042015

Varathron-The Confessional


With a career that stretches back to 1988 and a panoply of stellar releases over that span of time, Varathron have cemented their place in the pantheon of Greek black metal, despite the fact that vocalist Stefan Necroabyssious has been the only constant in the band’s line-up. And yet, perhaps against the odds, the band have only continued to grow in creativity and power as the years have passed. Their last album, 2014’s Untrodden Corridors of Hades, was a landmark achievement, and while some might expect that their new “EP” The Confessional of the Black Penitents is simply a placeholder in between full-length releases, it is in fact yet another remarkable sign that Varathron are scaling new heights rather than resting on their laurels.

I put the acronym EP in quotes because this release includes roughly 40 minutes of music. It is probably being labeled as such because only three of its seven tracks are new songs, with the others consisting of live performances of songs from previous albums. But don’t think that those live tracks are some kind of filler — they are amazing to hear; they would be worth having even if The Confessional… included no new songs at all. And they make this “EP” a great jumping-off point for new fans who are just discovering the band, providing a musical retrospective on where the band have been as well as an electrifying statement of where they are today.

Oct 022015



Yesterday I began a multi-part collection of new music in a blackened vein. I broke the post into two parts because I had so many new music streams I wanted to recommend. I probably should have broken this post into two parts as well, to make a total of three. But what the hell… As much music as you’ll find here, I hope you’ll find time to at least sample all of it, because it’s all very good and very diverse.


I’ve written before about individual songs on the new self-titled debut album by the French band Maïeutiste (and we premiered one of them), but now the album has been released (by Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions) and all the songs are available for streaming and acquisition on Bandcamp.

Oct 022015

Repulsive Dissection-Church


(Austin Weber reviews the new album by Repulsive Dissection, released yesterday by Sevared Records.)

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of slam-oriented brutal death metal, at all. It’s usually about as cookie-cutter in execution as deathcore is. And the reason I say that is not to bash anyone who personally enjoys slam, but merely to point out that for me the new Repulsive Dissection record is the exception to the rule. Church of the Five Precious Wounds is bizarre unorthodox madness, sort of like a more chaotic take on the kinds of deranged and technical death metal that Malignancy and Origin play. It definitely helps that the slam breaks are sparse, and used to great effect as a force of tension between the relentlessly racing nature and blasting throttle of their music overall.

Church of the Five Precious Wounds really never relents from start to finish, and more importantly, never bores or dips in quality at any point in the record. The songwriting itself is a lot more dense and busier than that of most of their peers. It’s maddening to hear how many different parts each song is composed of.

Oct 012015



Last night and this morning I engaged in an extended bout of metal listening and found not only a lot of new music I’m anxious to share with you but also some fantastic visual art. By chance, much of what I found is in a blackened vein, and so once again I’ve collected these discoveries in an installment of this irregular Shades of Black series. I have a lot to throw your way, and so it will come in at least two parts, with the other(s) headed your way on our site tomorrow.


It’s not an understatement to say that my NCS comrades and I are huge, slobbering fans of this Norwegian band. Okay… I guess I’m probably the only one who actually slobbers… the others just sweat a lot.

Anyway, I’m excited to spread the news that Vreid have now divulged some additional details about their new album and have also today premiered a video for the album’s title track.

Sep 302015

Gustav Dore


(Andy Synn presents a trio of album reviews.)

Now I’m sure you all know by now just how much I love Black Metal, in all its many and varied forms. Whether it’s the grime-soaked grooves of Horned Almighty… the blast-furnace assault of 1349… the harrowing sonic rituals of Enthroned… the grim grandeur of Secrets of the Moon… the riff-packed assault of Nidingr… the mesmerising madness of Dødsengel… the ambient anguish of Leviathan… whether it’s “Old School”, “Second Wave”, “Progressive”, “Post”… to me the very essence of the style is its simple refusal to be restricted or limited by the expectations and pressures of others, and the insistence of those who perform under the black banner on doing things their own way, no matter the consequences.

Of course there are stylistic elements that these bands all share– for all its growth and constant opposition between progressive and regressive forces, Black Metal IS still a distinct (though wide-ranging) genre – and yet there are still bands who seem, on the surface of things, to utilise most of the right sonic elements, but whom I still struggle to really think of as “Black Metal” all the same.

© 2013 NO CLEAN SINGING Banner and background design by groverXIII. Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha