Sep 252017


I’m a relative latecomer to the music of Golden Bats, a distinctive one-man mauling machine from the vicinity of Brisbane, Australia. The first release I heard was the Falling Sparrows EP that surfaced last spring. It made an impact, something like a grenade going off inside my skull. I’m now keeping a close watch on what Golden Bats is doing.

Today Golden Bats has revealed a new two-song EP named Superplateau, which I had the shivering pleasure of hearing in advance of the release, and I’m helping spread the word about it… because it’s very good.

Sep 212017


Almost  two years on from the release of their debut album Anxiety Never Descending, the Polish death metal band Kult Mogił (whose name translates to “cult of graves”) have surfaced again with a new EP named Portentaque. It is an immaculate rendering of madness, each of its three tracks intricately plotted, constantly changing, persistently fascinating, and deeply unnerving.

The EP will be released by Pagan Records on September 29, and today we’re helping to premiere what has become one of my favorite EPs of 2017.

Sep 182017


I had a busier than usual weekend that left me little time for NCS, and so I wasn’t able to compile a SHADES OF BLACK post yesterday. I did spend some time here and there exploring new music, and it occurred to me that the collection you’re about to hear would make for an interesting playlist to start the week.

I don’t know whether you will find this as interesting as I did, but I chose these songs and the order in which you’ll hear them in order to juxtapose very different sounds, alternating between extremely heavy, harrowing music and music whose emotional effect is more sublime, or more uplifting. (Thanks to Miloš for links that led to most of these discoveries.)


I chose to lead off with the Vancouver sludge/funeral-doom band Sand Witch, because the first song from their new demo (“The Cushion of Roosevelt’s Wheelchair“) itself provides a dramatic contrast that kind of encapsulates what I tried to do in arranging everything in this post. It moves from a slow, reverberating, elegiac guitar instrumental that’s beautiful and mesmerizing… to a shockingly heavy and abrasive apocalypse of sound, also slow, but soul-shuddering in its brute intensity.

Sep 062017


Offered in praise of the Harvester of Worlds, the great Swallower of Suns, the new EP by the Polish band Devil’s Emissary is a stunning amalgam of black and death metal that shocks and seduces in equal measures. It’s due for release on September 9 by Third Eye Temple, but we present a full stream of the EP today. Its name is Demiurge Asceticism.

This new three-song work follows the groups’s second album by two years, and reflects an evolution in sound, one in which staggering doses of heaviness have been blended with spine-shivering eruptions of black fury. The result is a changing pageant of armageddon-like chaos, pestilential doom, and blood-freezing grandeur, a tale of destruction and resurgence.

Sep 062017


(DGR reviews the new EP by Unbeheld from British Columbia, which was released near the end of July.)

Something happened in the three years since their self-titled EP in 2014 that caused Canadian death metal band Unbeheld to develop a nihilistic streak that has spilled over into their music. The group’s latest EP, Dust, features seven songs and not a friendly thought amongst them. The band themselves even explain this upfront on the Bandcamp page for Dust, stating:

Dust is lyrically based on thoughts rooted in depression and anxiety. The sort of feelings that one dealing with such mental conditions goes through on a daily basis. The sense that nothing ever quite feels “right”. The fact that that exists in itself is an absurd phenomena. It also deals with the usual death metal themes of death and violence; but instead of being about the process of these things, it more so deals with the thoughts that go through ones mind during death and or while performing acts of violence as well as a general fear of fading away into nothingness. That is to say that after we die; nothing we did really mattered.

I’m not a gambling man but I’d guess that “friendly” and “approachable” will likely not be the words attached to Unbeheld’s music, and to be fair, the artwork for Dust matches the music within — intense and violent.

Sep 042017


(In this post Andy Synn combines reviews of three recent EPs, with music streams of course.)

Phew, time really flies doesn’t it? I mean, somehow it’s already September and although we still have a huge number of releases to look forward to before the year’s end, I find my mind already turning towards the upcoming Listmania with an equal mix of anticipation and trepidation.

Thankfully that particular furore is still a little way off and, although work is keeping me pretty darn busy at the moment, I should be able to fit in quite a lot of reviews and features before the time comes for our annual wrap-up.

So, without further ado, get ready to wrap your earholes around three short, but succulent morsels of Thrash, Death, and Death-Thrash courtesy of Entombment (USA), Iron Flesh (FR), and Seprevation (UK).

Sep 012017


I finished my work on the U.S. east coast last night, and for reasons I won’t bore you with, it turned into a sucky day. A few stiff drams of the amber bead improved my mood, which improved further as I listened to the music collected here. This was one of those interesting listening sessions where the things I picked to stream just kind of fit together (at least in my addled brain), as if someone had chosen them for a playlist.

I’m going the airport now for the trip home. There’s a premiere coming your way a bit later this morning, but otherwise this will be another short day for posts at our site. Things will get back to (ab)normal around here this weekend and next week.


I discovered All Pigs Must Die for the first time watching them kick the holy bejesus out of an audience at a Seattle club back in August 2011. They were taking part in Southern Lord’s The Power of the Riff tour. The next month they released their debut album, God Is War, which was a hard-to-define amalgam of punk, hardcore, crust, black metal, and death metal that was downright beastly.

Aug 272017


I made a swan dive into a lake of tequila last night at a friend’s birthday party. I surfaced this morning but I’m not swimming very well at the moment. Unfortunately, this means there will be no SHADES OF BLACK column today. I hope I’ll get it finished in time to post tomorrow. But in addition to this morning’s trio of reviews (which I wrote yesterday before the swan dive), I wanted to leave something further with you today.

I guess everything is coming in threes on this Sunday. Here are two videos and one-half of a split that I happened upon yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed. Apart from that coincidence there’s no real rhyme or reason for grouping them together in this post.


National Space Agency is an organization based in Sydney, Australia. The identities of its members are Classified — literally, their names are all “Classified“. They describe their music as “Cinematic Stoner Metal from Outer Space”. Their stated mission is to “regulate alternate timelines and parallel universes to restore the one true reality”. However, their new video fractured my reality. Maybe the pieces are being assembled into some new shape within my head, or what’s left of it. We shall see.

Aug 272017


I spend so much of each day scurrying around to find and write about new songs from forthcoming releases and to prepare introductions for our own premieres that I rarely have time to write my own reviews of full releases, except in the context of introducing our premieres. On a whim I decided to stop scurrying for 24 hours and share at least a few thoughts about three recent releases I’ve been enjoying.


The new Rebel Wizard EP is out now. It’s described as “Four anti-shamanic pre-fetal negative metal anthemic warnings of ‘one'”. You should listen to it. You should especially listen to it if you have a taste for the kind of creativity that turns out music which is off of metal’s most familiar beaten paths — although you could also think of it as music that creates intersections of well-loved pathways that usually diverge.

Jul 262017


By their own account, Minneapolis-based Aziza play “Thunderpunk”, combining “sludge, hardcore, and heavy metal”. “We play buttrock for the thinking man’s metal head,” they say. I get where they’re coming from, but I also think they’re understating the exuberant inventiveness on display in their new EP, Council of Straitjackets, which is being released today — and which we’re premiering in this post.

No doubt, the music is heavy — it’s brawny and bruising, venomous and vicious — but it’s also brain-scrambling and occasionally hallucinatory. I had visions of a brutish thug performing a nimble, bounding floor routine at a gymnastics meet while clubbing the competition and then showing his appreciation for the judges by sinking his teeth into their jugulars.

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