Mar 102018


As I woke up this morning and it hit me that the final edition of Oration Festival was over, I experienced a wave of sadness, coupled with regrets over not having made the trek for the first two years of the event. Oration Fest MMXVIII was, by my lights, an extraordinary experience, one formed by the combination of its setting in Reykjavik (a magical place), the wonderful friends, both old and new, with whom I was able to share the experience, and of course the incredible music.

I’ll have some more perhaps excessively emotional things to say about all that at the end of this post, but the first order of business is to provide photos, videos, and accompanying personal reactions concerning the performances last night by these bands, who appeared in this order: Almyrkvi (Iceland), Inferno (Czech Republic), Misþyrming (Iceland), Svartidauði (Iceland), Vemod (Norway), and Rebirth of Nefast (Ireland/Iceland).

Once again, the high-quality photos you’ll find below were made by my Seattle friend Tanner Ellison; I made the rest of them, and the (sadly mediocre) videos, with my phone.

Jan 142018


There won’t be a SHADES OF BLACK column today. I’ve had a very busy but fun-filled weekend with Ms. Islander, one of her sisters, and my brother-in-law, whooping it up in Las Vegas. Lacking the time to write any more than one post for this Sunday, I felt it would be better not to miss another day on the rollout of this list. I’ll try to do some catching up on new music tomorrow.

But although there won’t be a SHADES OF BLACK column today, I did decide to focus on black metal for this episode of the Most Infectious Song list.


I’ve been a big fan of “Carried By Lucifer’s Wings” since I listened to it the first time before agreeing to premiere the song last August. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s one of eight tracks on Potestas Magicum Diaboli, the debut album by Asagraum, a band whose line-up (as of the time of this recording) consisted of Dutch guitarist/vocalist Obscura and drummer T. Kolsvart, who is Canadian but lives in Norway.

Nov 202017


(It’s our great pleasure to bring you the full streaming premiere of Umbra, the debut album by the Icelandic band Almyrkvi, preceded by Andy Synn’s review of the album as a fitting introduction to what you will hear. Umbra will be released by Ván Records on November 24th.)


Just over a month ago our benevolent overlord Islander, he who bringeth the rains and maketh the sun to rise, published a post entitled “List-Breakers” asking our readers to select some upcoming late-2017 releases that had a very high likelihood of breaking their way into their AOTY lists come December, while also providing some suggestions of his own to bear in mind.

And one of the albums he highlighted was the one which we’re lucky enough to premiere for you all here today.

Oct 292017


Once again I find myself with a small mountain of new music and recent announcements I’d like to share from the fecund gardens of musical nightshade. I had 12 items when I started writing yesterday, some of them advance music from forthcoming releases, some of them full albums or EPs, and one of them just an announcement (but a very exciting one).

I put all 12 in alphabetical order by band name and then divided them into three parts. With a little luck, I’ll get the second part finished and posted today. With a little more luck I’ll finish the third one in time to post on Monday morning. I hope you’ll find some things to like.


In January of 2016 we were lucky to premiere a song from the debut EP (Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom) of an Icelandic black metal band named Almyrkvi, which is the solo project of musician Garðar S Jónsson, who is also a member of the Icelandic band Sinmara. We followed that with Andy Synn’s laudatory review of the EP, which he described as a successful effort “to capture the fearsome cold and endless nothingness of the celestial abyss in five impressively atmospheric and morbidly mesmerising tracks”.

Oct 222017


I took a break from NCS yesterday… sort of. Instead of writing something to post on Saturday, I used the time to get a head-start on a two-part SHADES OF BLACK for today. Both parts are long ones, and could have been even longer. But the first four items in this Part 1 mainly consist of album announcements and artwork rather than any new music. And yes, we’re now getting into announcements of new albums that will be released in 2018.


In the first week of this month the German label AOP Records announced that it would be releasing a new album by Harakiri For the Sky early next year, and then on Thursday of last week it revealed further details, including the cover art (by Striga) that you can see above.

Jul 232017


Listeners who have closely followed Iceland’s burgeoning black metal scene over the last decade know that there has been considerable cross-pollinization among bands in the vanguard of that surging movement. Sinmara is perhaps the best example, with a line-up that includes members of such other groups as Svartidauði, Slidhr, Wormlust, and Almyrkvi. Their 2014 debut album Aphotic Womb (which we had the privilege of premiering) was a gripping display of what such a creative collaboration could produce. Since then, Sinmara have released only one other song, “Ivory Stone”, which appeared on their split with Misþyrming early this year (reviewed here). But Sinmara now return with a new EP, and once again we’re fortunate to host its premiere.

The new EP, consisting of three interconnected songs, is named Within the Weaves of Infinity. It will be released on August 24th by Terratur Possessions on vinyl and CD and by Oration on cassette tape. However, as of today it’s available digitally via Bandcamp. We have the full stream below, along with some impressions of the music and news of a forthcoming Sinmara tour.

Jun 282016

Almyrkvi-Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom


(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Iceland’s Almyrkvi, now available on Bandcamp.)

Black Metal has a long history of dealing with darkness in all its many forms… so it’s not surprising that so many of its adherents eventually turn their eyes towards the vast, vacant heavens and seek inspiration in the bleak emptiness of the void.

And so it is with Iceland’s Almyrkvi, the brainchild of Sinmara guitarist Garðar S. Jónsson, whose debut EP Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom seeks to capture the fearsome cold and endless nothngness of the celestial abyss in five impressively atmospheric and morbidly mesmerising tracks.

Jan 202016



Almyrkvi ­is the name of a new Icelandic black metal project — the solo work of musician Garðar S Jónsson, who is also a member of the great Icelandic band Sinmara. The debut EP of this new project is entitled Pupil Of The Searing Maelstrom and it will be released in February on CD and 12″ vinyl by Ván Records. Today we bring you the premiere of a song from the EP named “Shrouded In Blinding Light“.

Despite its relatively small population, Iceland is already home to many excellent black metal bands, and this song proves that we must now add one more to that already impressive list. In Icelandic, “Almyrkvi” refers to a solar eclipse, but can also be understood as referring to utter darkness.  The title of “Shrouded In Blinding Light” might seem to foreshadow a divergence from the concept embodied in Almyrkvi’s name, and it is indeed a multi-textured song, one that seems to hint at shining alien vistas lying in wait beyond the crushing darkness of a black hole.

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