Most of the music in this Shades of Black series comes from the realms of black metal, but not all of it. Music can be black for other reasons as well, as demonstrated by the first of the four bands featured here.
This is a collection of songs that have been keeping me company in recent dark days. Until I decided to add the fourth band, I was going to call this Shades of Black — Long-Form Edition, because the songs by the first three bands are indeed much longer than average. They convincingly earn the extra minutes, and I hope you’ll carve out some space for them.
SEA OF BONES
As far as these selfish ears are concerned, far too much time has passed since New Haven’s Sea of Bones released their last album, The Earth Wants Us Dead. At last, we have something new.
On April 29, the New York label Broken Limbs will release a 7″ vinyl split by two stunningly powerful bands — Fister from St. Louis, Missouri, and California’s TEETH — and at the bottom of this post you’ll have a chance to stream all of it.
I wouldn’t blame you if you just skip to the end and start listening, but in case you want some idea about what you’re in for, continue reading.
Wasteland is the name of the debut EP by New York’s False Gods, and it’s a well-chosen title because this massively heavy, staggeringly bleak, and frequently hallucinatory EP seems like a musical survey of life’s wreckage.
The five songs on the EP aren’t all in the same vein musically. You may think you know where they’re going after the first very catchy song (or even two), but as you move ahead you eventually realize you’re on your way into a descent, and there’s a soul-destroying pit of despair at the end of the fall.
So much music, so little time. In this post I’ve collected some recent black (or blackened) metal releases, and a few songs from forthcoming ones, that I’ve been enjoying, plus one other excerpt of a release that isn’t black metal but is pretty fuckin’ black anyway. Hope you find some things to like in here.
I’ll begin with two Icelandic bands I’ve written about frequently, because their music is so exceptional. The first is Naðra, whose debut album Allir vegir til glötunar was released in January of this year (reviewed here) and whose line-up includes members of other notable Icelandic bands, including Carpe Noctem, Ophidian I, and Misþyrming.
Early last week the band released a new two-song EP named Form via Bandcamp. The first track includes guest vocals by Eirikur Hauksson, a well-known vocalist in Iceland in both pop music and heavy metal.
I’ve collected in this post reviews of two EPs that I’ve been enjoying lately and would like to recommend.
The Finnish band Khanus first released their debut EP, Rites of Fire, in February of this year as a digital download, and also made it available on a small number of cassette tapes.
I learned about the EP through the recent announcement that I, Voidhanger Records will be releasing it in a limited edition of digipack CDs on May 6 — and that the band are now working on a debut full-length that will also be released by I, Voidhanger; the line-up for the new recording will include drummer Lordt of Code (a band that was the subject of Andy Synn’s most recent SYNN REPORT).
I was drawn to this debut release by the eye-catching cover art of the Chilean artist Daniel Hermosilla (Nox Fragor Art), which I posted on our FB page not long ago (where it received an enthusiastic response).
The two musical artists (Sulphur and Balrog) who have taken the name Concatenatus are also from Chile, and their first EP, Aeonic Dissonances Beyond Light’s Consumption, was released via Bandcamp on April 5 (tape, CD, and vinyl editions will be forthcoming from Totenmusik and Ván Records).
Last weekend I came across a pair of songs from a forthcoming self-titled EP by a mysterious Norwegian black metal band named Gjendød, and the songs were so immediately gripping that I wasted no time throwing them your way in one of our Shades of Black posts. One thing led to another, and now I’m very happy to bring you a streaming premiere of the entire EP.
I still don’t know anything more about the band than I did last weekend. They prefer to keep their identities secret and let the music speak for itself — and it does that quite powerfully.
(Austin Weber reviews the new EP by NY’s Imperial Triumphant — who just released another new song from the EP.)
Watching Imperial Triumphant grow and morph in so many odd directions over the years has been pretty interesting. I first started covering these guys back in 2012 when Abominamentvm dropped, and even then I correctly foresaw them as being a group focused on deconstructing black metal into an otherworldly force of disturbing imagination and horror. True to form, they’ve really been giving it their all ever since then. First there was the two-song crushing blow of Goliath in 2013. Then came another phenomenal full-length just last year called Abyssal Gods. I’m still reeling from the experience that record delivered, yet the band is already back with a four-song EP named Inceste that comes out pretty soon — on April 15th.
After a release as batshit crazy and eclectic as Abyssal Gods, I was excited to hear what new realms of misery they cooked up this time. And damn, Inceste does not disappoint at all. It traps and delivers all their many forms of sonic tinkering and dissonant filth, with a healthy round of guests aiding in their eerie quest to musically hit rock bottom and become purely chaotic noise. At least this time they were kind enough to brace us for the coming storm with “Libertine” as a subdued opener. But as soon as track two, “Kaleidescopic Orgies”, unfurls its queasy, almost Gorguts-like off-kilter opening rhythm, and then seesaws between dark swirling chaos and surreal sensory overload, you know this ride will be just as wild as any the band have given us before. If there is one sensation that comes to mind when I sit through this, nausea would be it. Imperial Triumphant continue to deliver frantic odes to death that never rest and endlessly rage into fits of madness.
By all accounts, and from photos and films I’ve seen, Venice is one of the world’s most unique and beautiful cities, a magical place that seems to inspire art that is likewise not entirely of this world — though the art inspired by the city can take dark, supernatural shapes as well as sunlit ones. And that brings us to The Path To Absence, the debut EP by the Venetian black metal band Askesis — which we are premiering for you today.
The slow, morbid chords and banshee wails that begin “Prayer To the Void” begin to spread the cloak of darkness immediately, and the sense of ravaging pestilence only mounts as the band accelerate the pace. You’ll quickly notice that the music has a heavy, thundering low-end sound and that the jolting drum progressions not only move the rhythms and pacing in differing directions as the song progresses, but will also rattle your teeth. Meanwhile, the swarming tremolo chords and predatory growls deepen the sense of malignancy that those doom-shrouded opening chords announce.
In my musical explorations over the last week I came across a lot of new black metal that I wanted to recommend. To make the rollout of the music a little more easily digestible, I divided the collection into two parts, with the music listed in alphabetical order by band name, continuing from Part 1 (here) into this second part. As usual for these posts, there are some significant stylistic differences in the sounds, despite the connections (either spiritual or otherwise) that all the music has to the ever-expanding genre of black metal.
Part 1 of this collection included new music by Havukruunu, and we return to Finland for this next song, which will appear on the forthcoming fifth album by Lathspell. Entitled Thorn Cold Void, it’s due for release later this month by Wolfspell Records and Patologian Laboratorio Productions. Though Lathspell have been in existence for almost two decades, this song is the first piece of their music that I’ve heard, so I can’t give you a comparison to their previous works. But just considering it as a stand-alone song, it’s powerful stuff.