Mar 142018


We were told that the Canadian band Witchtrip includes all the members of Winnipeg’s Occvlt Hand other than the vocalist — so, basically the same band with a different singer. That was reason enough to check out the two tracks on Witchtrip’s debut EP, Cosmic Cauldron, because we were big fans of Occvlt Hand’s 2017 album, Not Everyone Deserves A Happy Ending. We gleefully premiered a track from that album, and put that same track on our list of 2017’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

Now, one would expect that Witchtrip’s music would be different from Occvlt Hand’s, despite the significant overlap in members. Otherwise, why choose a different name? And in fact, the music is quite different. And perhaps it should also come as no surprise that the music is nevertheless really, really good — as you’re about to discover for yourselves through our premiere of Cosmic Cauldron in advance of its release on March 16th by Possessed Records.

Mar 032018


If the two songs on this new split aren’t a perfect match, I don’t know what is. It’s not that they’re twins, not even fraternal twins. It’s that they complement each other so beautifully. I don’t know to what extent the artists shared their ideas before completing the compositions, but the experience of listening to the two songs together is so enthralling that you might think they were working together through a Vulcan mind meld.

Entitled Alone Among Mirrors, the split consists of one song by Black Mare, the solo project of L.A. musician Sera Timms (Ides of Gemini, Black Math Horseman), and one song by Offret, the solo project of Russian musician Andrey Prokofiev. It was released just yesterday on 7″ vinyl and digitally by Dark Operative.

Feb 232018


(In this post Andy Synn reviews three 2017 releases, by Coraxo (Finland), Deadspace (Australia), and Succumb To Demise (Kentucky).)


Despite the fact that I’m already overwhelmed by new and upcoming releases – next week alone I have Slugdge, Ancst, and Rites of Thy Degringolade lined up to review – I’ve decided to take some time out of my busy schedule to catch up on three albums which were released late last year and which, as a result, didn’t necessarily receive the coverage they deserved.

Feb 202018


The first track on the new Rebel Wizard EP, “The sickness of all knowledge“, begins with an excerpt from a recording of a public talk given in 1981 in Amsterdam by the philosopher, speaker, and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti (b.1895 – d.1986). It reads as follows:

So knowledge has become all important
but knowledge is never complete.
Knowledge about anything is still incomplete,
will always be incomplete.
Therefore knowledge always goes with ignorance,
knowledge always lives within the shadow of ignorance.

Except you never make it to the final word “ignorance” at the opening of this EP. The word is cut off by a shocking explosion of sound. It’s as if you were calmly unlocking the door to your home while thinking deep thoughts, and becoming immolated by a blast furnace upon opening it.

Feb 182018

Wiegedood – photo by Stefaan Temmerman


Saturdays and Sunday mornings have become challenging times for me in the thinking I allocate to these SHADES OF BLACK posts. Having listened off and on to a lot of new black metal during the preceding week, I think I’ve figured out by mid-day Saturday what to include, and then, by coincidence or cunning, a whole bunch of new stuff lands in my lap.

Yesterday was a prime example. Having narrowed my choices, they suddenly ballooned again, thanks to late-breaking recommendations from friends and readers, and e-mails from bands and labels. The flood of communications into our chaotic command center usually dwindles dramatically on Saturdays, but those that persist tend to focus on music from the black realms, and I tend to pay attention to them more quickly because everything else has kind of cleared out.

What to do? Well, one thing I did was to expand the volume of music in today’s post. And given my renewed resolution to cut down on the number of premieres I agree to write during the week, another option will be to collect more new music in a blackened vein for a week-day edition of this series.


I do my best not to read comments about music on the internet (or comments about almost anything else) unless they were written by friends or respected musicians, or unless they appear at NCS. I can guess that if I made an exception to that resolution in the case of Wiegedood’s new song and video, the majority of them would be juvenilia about penises.

Feb 112018


Welcome to the regular Sunday edition of this column, which follows the irregular one I posted yesterday after failing to complete it earlier as planned. I’ve divided it into two parts because there’s quite a lot of music in today’s post, with six bands and four complete releases in addition to advance tracks from two others that are on the way.

On top of that, the first three of the complete releases include “long-form” songs. All of them are examples of emotionally powerful atmospheric black metal. But after those three I decided to make a sharp stylistic turn (actually, several sharp turns).

P.S.: I’m rarely cool, calm, and collected when writing about music; I only write about what I like and tend to let the words reflect the excitement… and I really like what you’re about to hear.


Two years ago I reviewed and premiered a wonderful album named Waves of Degradation by the Texas folk-influenced atmospheric black metal band Krigsgrav. It was the band’s fourth album but my first serious exposure to their music, and it was a hell of a discovery.

Krigsgrav are far along in their work on a new album, but their former bassist Wes Radvansky, who seems to have parted ways with the band since the last Krigsgrav album, has his own solo project, the name of which is Midnartiis.

Feb 102018


Impure Sounds is an appropriately named independent label and recording studio based in Melbourne, Australia. Their past releases have included works I’ve written about at NCS, including a split by Graveir and Mar Mortuum, and the debut album by Dødknell. Impure Sounds now has two new releases on the way, one of which can now be streamed and downloaded in full and the other of which has an advance track up for listening — and both are very good.



Sydney’s Golgothan Remains launched their first demo two years ago and are now following that with a full-length record through Impure Sounds named Perverse Offerings To the Void. A digital version of the album is available now, and a 12″ vinyl is scheduled for April 20.

Vehemence (Through Pain Divine)” opens the album in stunning fashion, with titanic rumbling and booming in the low end, bursts of freakish, swarming guitar dissonance in the upper reaches, and grim grinding in the mid-range, like a bone saw scything through gangrenous limbs. The destructive barrage of sound is segmented by slower cascades of pile-driving brutality. A heartless roaring monstrosity has somehow seized the microphone, venting a tyrannical tirade in the midst of this war zone.

Feb 102018


It will come as no surprise to anyone who has visited us more than once that I enjoy doing premieres of new music. Sometimes, however, I lose my head: For example, over the last two days we did eight of them. I believe in the worth of each one of those, but they shoved everything else out of the way, including this post, which I started writing last Wednesday and couldn’t finish.

Posting this on Saturday runs it right up against the usual spot for this SHADES OF BLACK series on Sunday, but so be it. I’ll still post another one of these installments tomorrow, and then try to figure out how to catch up on Monday with everything else I’ve neglected over the last two days.


In December we premiered a song from a then-forthcoming EP named Pvrvsha by the Spanish black metal band Mystagos. That song alone (“Drowning In the Sea of Unconsciousness”) was enough to land the EP on my own “most anticipated” list for the early months of 2018. And on February 1, Pvrvsha was released by BlackSeed Productions. It’s available now through Bandcamp, and if you haven’t heard it, you really should give it your full attention.

Feb 082018


(We present the premiere of a new two-song EP by the Serbian duo All My Sins, which is now available on Bandcamp, preceded by a review of the release by Andy Synn.)


There are some people out there who would have you believe that there are only really two types of bands – “innovators” and “imitators”.

But this is a vast, and misleading, over-simplification of how things really are.

The truth of the matter is that most bands will never be the next Mayhem/Opeth/Meshuggah… or whoever… but that doesn’t mean their music doesn’t have value.

In fact I’d contend that it’s more important to be distinctive, rather than “innovative”, in your chosen field, and that the willingness and ability to truly pour your heart and soul into your music, to twist and tweak established facets and features into something that truly represents your vision, is the most vital thing of all.

Feb 052018


After releasing a debut demo in 2011 (In Life We Trust), a debut album in 2012 (Surrounded By Pain), and a single the following year (“Edges of Insanity“), the Belarusian metal band Victim Path are returning at last with a new two-song EP. Entitled Faceless Nameless, it will be released tomorrow via Bandcamp, but we have a stream of both tracks for you today.

The band’s lyrical focus, as they explain it, is on themes of “misanthropy, pain, the loneliness of a human being who is deprived of a right to be god’s creation,” and “the denial of religious postulates, rules and dogmas of everyday life”. And beyond the lyrics, the music on this new EP is itself an expression of grief and pain, one that draws upon the stylistic tools of black metal but employs other musical styles as well. And so perhaps resorting to the more vague but more encompassing term “dark metal” could be appropriate.

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