This is a rather super-sized edition of Shades of Black, collecting new and recently discovered music in a blackened vein. But believe me, this could have been much bigger still, because I’m sitting on a ton of other releases I’d like to include. I’ll put them in the fridge so they don’t spoil and defrost them later (though of course they’ll never completely de-frost).
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of this Belgian band’s previous releases, and have managed to write about most of them (collected behind this link). And before I get to a brand new LVTHN song, I’ll mention that the band have recently made their 2014 compilation release The Grand Uncreation available for “name your price” download on Bandcamp (here).
I’d like to recommend a new split release by a Japanese band named Ithaqua and an Australian band named BØG. I don’t know much about either band, and I’ve already now forgotten how I came across this split, but this thing has cleaved my head right in two.
The Ithaqua tracks feature truly mountainous bass-level riffs paired with creepy guitar excretions and banshee-shreiked vocals that contrast with the stupefying low-end weight. I’ll warn you that when the first track “Ghost” really starts to move, it hits a bulldozing groove capable of producing serious neck sprain.
The last couple of minutes in particular are just fucking ridiculous — a mix of unstoppable riff magic and deranged guitar psychedelia.
Some weekends are a whirlwind, a flurry of unexpected events hitting from all points of the compass. Others are a soporific quagmire of sloth and malaise. Somehow, for me this weekend was an odd combination of the two. I rejoice that I’m still alive.
I also rejoice in the music I heard. And I heard so much good metal that I’m going to share it in two posts, the first of which is this one, which combines three album reviews. The music collected in this two-parter is mainly, but not entirely, black metal, so I’m taking slight liberties to anoint the two posts with the Shades of Black banner. Part Two will appear today or tomorrow.
Divine Blasphemy carry on the rich tradition of Greek black metal with their debut album Beyond the Portal. I heard the first song, and I felt elevated. “Where did these people come from?”, I wondered. And then I heard the rest of the album and realized that the first song was not a fluke. This is a wonderful ride on a red-eyed black steed — it tries to buck you off, but you hang on because the chaos is so exhilarating.
This just-released debut EP by a new band from Philadelphia really is one that must be heard all the way through, from start to finish. Yes, you can randomly pick any one of the four tracks and still find yourself rooted in place, taking it in and finding your emotional state altered by what you hear. But the cumulative impact of the four in sequence is pulverizing.
God Root is organized with an introduction (“Spirits Rise”) coming first, followed by a long song called “Of Habit”, a comparatively brief interlude (“Bog Ascending”), and another long song named “Of Control” to finish the sequence.
“Spirits Rise” sets the stage for this dismal pageant with the reverberation of ritual drumbeats, a solemn tribal rhythm backed by the shimmer of unsettling ambient tones and shamanistic wailing.
(This is Part 6 of our Norwegian friend Gorger’s continuing feature on bands we seem to have overlooked at NCS. And be sure to check out Gorger’s Metal.)
Cheers anew, and a headbanging new year. The past has been revisited a bit lately on NSC, a site that typically holds a firm stare into the crystal ball. I have, after hours arguing with myself, decided not to spend days arranging a 2015-favorites list. Thus, at least I can spend some time presenting some infectious releases from the year that kicked the bucket on its own birthday. I hope you’ll find something you’ll pursue and enjoy.
You may have already guessed from the title of the post that it includes a shitload of new music — and I still haven’t exhausted the new discoveries that I want to write about, not by a long shot.
The last few days have indeed brought a typhoon of new metal that’s intensely good. In this post I’ve collected recommended new songs that are especially dire and destructive, which is why I’ve chosen a different title than the usual “Seen and Heard”. At some point this weekend I’ll bring another post that gathers together the rest of what’s been kicking me in the teeth.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the new album (Wildfire) by these Australian marauders, and at last we now have a song to stream, fittingly titled “Live and Burn”.
What follows are delayed reviews of three short releases that I’ve enjoyed, two of which are available for free. And by “delayed”, I mean that I started writing this post in November, put it aside, got caught up in other things — and forgot to finish it! Better late than never, I hope.
In the middle of November a Dallas band named Maldevera released a new three-song EP entitled Incarceration Plague via Bandcamp. According to Metal-Archives, this is the fourth demo they’ve released since 2012 — and this one is awesome.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new 20th anniversary EP by Belgium’s Aborted.)
I fucking love Aborted, especially their last two albums. It’s no secret that here at NCS we were foaming at the mouth like a horde of ravenous hyenas and cackling as we ripped apart the carcasses of Global Flatline and The Necrotic Manifesto when they came our way. To my ears, The Necrotic Manifesto, compared to Global Flatline, signified a departure from the sound the band had always been semi-attached to. Until then, every Aborted record had included the more technical, more tempo-dynamic flare reflected on Global Flatline, although I think most would agree that Global Flatline was their sound taken about as far as you were going to get.
The Necrotic Manifesto was even more aggro than any Aborted release before it. It was streamlined, grindier, noisier, faster, and more belligerent, while largely ditching the more dynamic song-writing of previous Aborted albums. And in between those two albums, Aborted had acquired guitarist Mendel bij de Leij, whose solo project we have covered before (along with his and vocalist Sven’s side project, System Divide — which appears to have transformed into the band Oracles).
So where does that leave Termination Redux? When it comes to EPs, I see them as serving one or more of three specific purposes nowadays: You use them to introduce your craft; you use them to tide people over with some goodies before the next big release; or you use them to plant the flag — to sow the seeds of a new direction and sound in a digestible format, or sometimes to make a defiant statement of said new direction and sound.
I do believe that Termination Redux is the third of those types of EPs, signifying an interesting evolution in the band’s music, capped off by the gesture of re-recording the opening song of one of their most praised early records, Engineering the Dead.
I had intended to post most of the new music in this collection on Sunday, hot on the heels of Saturday’s Shades of Black post. However, I was distracted by the sound of a passing car, chased it for a few blocks, and then forgot what I had been thinking by the time I found my way home (I also blame those squirrels for not stopping so I could lick them). Other distractions have materialized since then, including the death of Lemmy Kilmister.
On the bright side, I discovered more excellent new songs as the days have passed since Sunday; in fact, I heard the first three in this collection only after the weekend. The result is a rather humongous assembly of music, but please don’t let the quantity deter you from wading hip-deep into it, because there are a lot of gems to follow. And besides, it’s my last round-up of new music for 2015!
I really do hope you’ll like everything here as much as I have, and I hope you have a great New Year’s Eve too. As is often the case with these Shades of Black posts, I want to thank my Serbian friend “M” for linking me to much of what you’re about to hear.
(Grant Skelton reviews the new EP by The Five Hundred from Nottingham, England.)
I initially caught wind of Nottingham, England’s The Five Hundred after hearing a demo of the song“Winters.” That track introduced me to the band’s particular brand of aggressive, but melodic metal. It also serves as the title track to The Five Hundred’s new self-released EP. “Winters” was produced by Justin Hill, vocalist of the recently reactivated Sikth.
I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of djent by any means. While I recognize the influence of the djent sound attributed to bands like Sikth and Meshuggah, I am not as familiar with it as I am with other genres. Notwithstanding, here at NCS we don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves by treating genres as immutable. Music is fluid, as are our personal proclivities for what music we do and don’t enjoy. That being said, if you are one who has drawn a proverbial line in the sand regarding anything djent-influenced, I submit The Five Hundred’s Winters EP for your consideration.