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.
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’s “The 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.
(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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
(Andy Synn brings us a trio of reviews.)
I must admit, 2015 is the first year since I’ve been writing for the site where I’ve truly felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of music out there. I know of so many bands and albums that have slipped through the cracks over the last nine months or so, simply because there’s not enough time in the day/week to cover everything we want to.
As you undoubtedly know already, the ethos here at NCS is to cover and offer exposure to as many bands as we can, informed by a slight preference towards writing about less well-exposed bands over some of the more famous names.
This isn’t down to any form of “elitism”, and we’re not the sort of people who declare that a band has “sold-out” just because they’ve finally managed to make a name for themselves outside of the toilet circuit. It’s simply that, when it comes right down to it, the bigger bands are going to sell their albums regardless of whether we cover them or not… whereas the smaller bands will probably benefit far more from us writing about them. As such we’d rather target our limited support towards where it can do the most good!
(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Deafheaven.)
Deafheaven are not the first black metal band to inject elements of post-rock and shoe-gaze into the mix, things that bands like Amesoeurs and Agalloch are praised for. Deafheaven did this without the use of clean singing as well. They became a point of contention with their 2013 album Sunbather. It was praised by the more mainstream press and found the band bringing their brand of so-called black metal to such questionable audiences as Bonnaroo. Accusations of the band being “Hipster Metal” flew on message boards everywhere.
Then there are those who could not put Sunbather on enough top ten lists and listed this new one as one of the most anticipated albums of 2015, before the band stepped into the studio. Can this album live up to the hype?