My trip to Alaska for my fucking day job proved to be a quick one. I got back home to Seattle late last night, about 36 hours after I left. If I’d had any sense, I would have gone right to bed. Instead, I spent time listening to new music, following up on links that friends sent me. And now here I am, five hours of sleep later, pecking on my keyboard about what I heard. By chance, what I enjoyed the most were songs in the vein of black metal, and so we have another Shades of Black collection. As usual, the music is quite diverse.
My friend and NCS contributor Leperkahn messaged me about the promo of a new album by a band named All Hell that he had just received, with these words: “Trust me when I say stop whatever you’re doing and listen to it, or at least the track at this link, immediately”.
In its original incarnation, Manes was one of the primordial Norwegian black metal bands, a two-man group consisting of instrumentalist Cernunnus and vocalist Sargatanas who released their first three demos in 1993-1995, followed by their 1999 debut album Under Ein Blodraud Maane. As the years passed, Sargatanas parted company with the band and Manes transformed into a very different musical entity, as manifested on 2003’s Vilosophe, 2007’s How the World Came To An End, and last year’s Be All End All.
Yet while Manes followed its own course into avant garde and electronica territory, Sargatanas and Cernunnus reunited to form the band Manni, which released their debut album Kolaps in 2013. Manni have been at work on a second full-length that’s projected for release in a few months, but in the meantime Debemur Morti Productions has just released (yesterday) a new Manii EP entitled Skuggeheimen — and it is a return to Manes’ black metal roots in more ways than one.
One reason I’m perpetually far behind in my planned reviews is a tendency to unexpectedly and impulsively get caught up and carried away by new music. That’s what happened this afternoon.
I was just about to start writing something I’ve been meaning to write for a long time when I noticed that a friend had sent me a link to a stream of a forthcoming EP entitled Pedicabo Mundi by a band from Providence, Rhode Island, named Sangus. I decided to delay my other project just long enough to listen to the EP’s first song. I mean, that first track was less than three minutes long — how could that hurt?
Man, that first song hit me like a lightning bolt, and with all my nerve endings twitching like mad, I damned well couldn’t turn away, now could I? And so I listened to the rest of the EP, and then listened again, and then began flailing away at this write-up.
Paroxysm is the name of the new EP by Plague Rider. The Oxford English Dictionary, which seems like the appropriate reference source since Plague Rider hail from the former mother ship, alternately defines “paroxysm” as “a sudden strong feeling or expression of an emotion that cannot be controlled” and “a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity”. With a name like that as an EP title, you don’t expect ambient drone. And as you’re about to find out, the EP lives up to its name.
You will find out, because today we’re premiering a full stream of all four songs on Paroxysm. Like the EP’s name, the song titles are also suggestive — “Retrovirus”, “Occidite”, “Hydrophobe”, and “Prion”, most of them referring to infectious, lethal agents. In a word, all the songs are remarkable (as well as lethal).
(In this post DGR reviews the new release by Chicago’s Mechina.)
Mechina are a band whom I’ve learned to stop trying to figure out. They’ve somehow evolved into superhuman musicians who can seemingy do no wrong when it comes to putting out quality music. They’ve consistently kept to a yearly release schedule, and recently have even added a single release mid-way through the year — and those have become huge efforts in their own right. I keep waiting for them to slip, but it seems that somehow the people behind Mechina are absolutely tireless as well as immensely talented.
The Mechina singles are some of the longest songs the band have written and are the musican’s equivelent of a short story — which is odd to say when it comes to music, but given that the band have created their own universe and continually add to it, it isn’t hard to see the band’s brand of symphonic/industrial/groove/death metal starting to become like sitting down with a storyteller and letting them entrance you with another tale.
Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a one-of-a-kind town in a remarkably beautiful location. I’ve been fortunate to visit there three or four times over the span of my ancient life, but I couldn’t recall coming across any Santa Fe metal bands until I was introduced to Dysphotic about a month ago. What I heard then was a single called “All Consuming” that the band had released in advance of their debut EP, Chaos Terrain, and I really enjoyed it. And that led to this:
On August 29, Dysphotic will officially release Chaos Terrain, and we’re now giving you the chance to hear it in advance through our full stream of all the songs. And you really should make time to listen. Here’s why:
Back in May of this year we premiered a full stream of the first release by a new label named Redefining Darkness Records — an excellent EP by Vintage Warlords — and today we’re bringing you a full stream of the label’s second release. This one is a self-titled monster by the Cleveland band From the Hellmouth, which is set for release on August 28.
You have to hand it to this group for coming up with a band name that so accurately represents their sound. They also made wise moves in both illustrating the album with the masterful art of Zdzisław Beksiński and also having Alan Cassidy of The Black Dahlia Murder record the drums on this debut EP. Cassidy’s performance is absolutely decimating — a machine-precise, turbocharged, eye-popping percussive demolition project.
But the songs really demanded someone of Cassidy’s skill to complement all of the other head-spinning, utterly savage performances on the EP. The songs generally fly hard and fast, one blast after another of pugilistic riffs mixed with grisly tremolo-picked swarms, segmented by booming grooves that will both get your head moving (and loosen it from your spine).
This is one of those extremely rare occasions when I’m writing about a new release without being able to include a stream of any of the music. This leaves you without the vital safety net of your own ears, wholly dependent on my own gibberish as a guide. While I really hate putting you in that position, I really have to froth about this release now. If and when a music stream surfaces, I’ll try to remember to add it. But since my memory is no more reliable than my verbiage, maybe you should just order this tasty little split for yourselves.
The partners in crime on this two-song release are Cleveland’s Midnight and Detroit’s Shitfucker, and it will be discharged by Hells Headbangers on 7″ vinyl on September 4.
Midnight’s track is “Sadist Sodomystic Seducer”, and it’s their first new music since 2014’s stupendous No Mercy For Mayhem. It’s only 2:13 long, but man it’s good.
I spent a couple of hours yesterday listening to new songs and a few recent short releases. As usual, I found a lot to like, and the music I’ve collected here comes from various widely dispersed corners of the black metal soundscape.
I discovered this Lithuania-based band only a few weeks ago and wrote enthusiastically about some of the songs from their last release (2013’s Stotis) in a previous edition of Shades of Black (here). As I mentioned in that previous post, Luctus have now finished recording a new concept album entitled Ryšys (which means “connection”), and finally a song from the album has just become available for streaming.
(Austin Weber reviews the comeback EP by Sweden’s Theory In Practice.)
Theory In Practice are in many people’s estimations one of the finest progressive-minded technical death metal acts ever to exist. Between the late ’90s and 2002 they put out three highly influential, ahead-of-their-time records. Then the band sort of went poof sometime shortly after releasing 2002’s Colonizing The Sun and have been listed as “on hold” ever since.
Only a mere two days ago a friend and I were dorking out about our desire for Theory In Practice to return and grace us with something new. Well, the wait is finally fucking over, as yesterday the band dropped a new two-song, nine-minute EP called Evolving Transhumanism. I was lucky enough to see a band I follow post about it, otherwise I wouldn’t even have known myself!