Feb 192017

 

In this Sunday’s SHADES OF BLACK I’ve collected advance tracks from four albums plus two full recent releases, all of which I hope you’ll find are worth your time.

FALLS OF RAUROS

I’ve been immensely enjoying the new Falls of Rauros album, Vigilance Perennial, though berating myself for not yet collecting my thoughts in a review. With luck, I’ll get that done in the coming week. For now I’ll just offer a few words about the first advance track from the album, “White Granite“, which premiered at DECIBEL on Friday.

Mar 282016

HammerHeart Ostarablot flyer

 

(Our guest from the Midwest, Ben Smasher, was fortunate enough to attend the Ostarablot festival organized by HammerHeart Brewing Co. (the brewery and tap house located in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, that’s co-owned by Austin Lunn of Panopticon) and hosted on March 18-19, 2016, at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. Here’s Ben’s review of the festival, along with some photos and videos the editor has scrounged from the internet.)

DAY 1

Hammerheart Brewing Company and the amazing people that comprise it consistently put themselves second to their intentions.  Austin once said to me, “I want to make beer that brings people together.”  So, as it would turn out, if you bring the world’s best beer and music under one roof, the best people in North America will join in a two-day celebration of the vernal equinox.

Though 2014’s Winterblot was a pretty remarkable event for bringing UK’s Wodensthrone to the US shores alongside some of America’s finest bands, Ostarablot brought artists from even further reaches to Minnesota.  Vemod traversed all the way from Norway and Germany’s Waldgeflüster came a long way as well.

Jun 272015

 

In case you missed the announcement last week, I’ve resumed the roll-out of our list of last year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs — a scant five months (ugh) after the last installment in the series. If perchance you don’t know what this list is about, you can find an explanation here.

Today’s two additions to the list are a bit out of the ordinary, because both songs are long. There’s a lot to be said for long-form music, but I would guess that “infectious” isn’t a word that typically springs to mind. In the case of these two songs, however, I think it fits.

FALLS OF RAUROS

Very tough choice, this one. Not the choice to include something from this band’s album Believe In No Coming Shore — that was a given (though the songs on the band’s 2014 split with Panopticon were also strong contenders) — but which song? That was the hard decision.

Sep 302014

 

(Our brother Leperkahn continues to shoulder the burden of rounding up news and new music during my vacation from that task.)

Attempting to do Islander’s job is WAAAAY harder than I ever would’ve thought it to be. Luckily, unlike the last stream dump, this one has a bit of a theme, namely that they’re all full-album streams.

STENCH

The NCS camp in general has expressed widespread approval for Stench’s new album Venture – we even went as far as to premiere a track from it here . It’s now streaming in full at Decibel here. I think at this point we’ve said our part on this one – now it’s your turn to voice your opinion.

The album is slotted to come out October 7th via Agonia Records – look for it at this location.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stench-official/213520935347849

Sep 042014

(In this post, we share guest contributor Ben Smasher’s review of the forthcoming new album by Falls of Rauros. We will post a second review on Monday.)

Album reviews have pretty much become moot these days. It takes less time to go to youtube and listen to any album than it does to read a total stranger’s thoughts on it. So I try to write reviews only when I feel intensely moved to do so, so that I can create something that offers my personal insight into the music and how I relate to it, in the hopes that you can maybe understand it better after reflecting on my perspective. This album is enthralling, among so many other things:

Believe In No Coming Shore seems almost incidental to me. Falls of Rauros have come such a long way as a band since their beginnings, that when realizing the vast and elaborate scope of their progression and direction, this album seems like a mere checkpoint upon their journey to becoming one of the most fascinating and memorable bands that have graced my ears. They already are that in my eyes, but the path that they are paving with each release is one that utterly disregards boundaries, exudes personality, and gently breathes magnificently vivid tapestries that are absolutely unique to Maine’s Falls of Rauros.

Aug 292014

 

Those of you who can’t let a day go by without visiting our humble site, by which of course I mean all of you, have undoubtedly noticed that I haven’t been very good about posting round-ups this week. There are reasons, but I’ll just acknowledge my failure, express my deep regret, ask for God’s forgiveness, and try to turn the page (I got that sentence out of the Official Politicians’ Handbook For What To Say When You’re Caught In Bed With A Dead Girl Or A Live Boy).

Many, many things have happened over the last few days that are worth noting, but I’ll just mention three of them for now.

BYZANTINE

The resurrection of West Virginia’s Byzantine has been all but complete, with the release of a stellar comeback album in 2013 and the commencement of work for a follow-up record (To Release Is To Resolve) now in progress. But one thing has been missing: A Tour!

Well, finally, it appears that’s going to happen, too. Today the band announced the Release To Resolve Tour, which will be their first tour in 7 years. It begins and ends in West Virginia and includes an appearance at the CMJ Showcase in New York City. They will be supported by New York’s IKILLYA and by Thy Will Be Done from Providence, RI. The schedule as it currently exists (with a few specific locations still to be announced) is below:

Aug 152014

Here are a trio of discoveries I made last night and early this morning that I believe will be worth your time.

WINTERFYLLETH

The next album by Britain’s Winterfylleth, The Divination of Antiquity, will be coming our way via Candlelight on October 7 (October 6 in the UK). I’ve been very eager to hear the new music. The first single from the album, “Whisper of the Elements”, was released on August 5, and this morning a lyric video for the song got its premiere.

The music is beautiful, intensely melodic and atmospheric, more so than anything the band have done before, and the nature-cenric lyrics well suit the dramatic emotional power of the sounds. Listen next…

Apr 032014

I first learned that Falls of Rauros and Panopticon would be joining forces for a split release back in December 2013, when Panopticon’s Austin Lunn accepted our invitation to write an article about his favorite releases from 2013. It’s a natural pairing. There is, for example, a deep mutual respect between the two bands. Austin Lunn wrote in that same article that Falls of Rauros are his “favorite current American band” and that their forthcoming 2014 full-length (Believe In No Coming Shore) “may be my favorite record ever”, and Falls of Rauros have called Panopticon’s forthcoming album “absolutely massive and stunning on all levels”.

Beyond the respect they have for each other, both bands have earned the respect of both critics and a dedicated following of fans: they are both quintessential American black metal bands, and not just because they happen to be based in Maine and (at least temporarily) Minnesota, respectively. They have successfully incorporated American folk traditions into their powerful and emotionally resonant music, so much so that you could call them American folk metal bands instead of black metal bands and I wouldn’t argue with you.

Yet you may be surprised by what you hear on the new split, as compared the sounds captured on each of the bands’ last albums and on the albums to come. Panopticon’s tracks are unquestionably an homage to Norwegian black metal traditions, while Falls of Rauros have, if anything, brought even more vibrant life and light into their songs. You’ll get a chance to hear both styles of music on display as we premiere one song by each band from this excellent split.

Mar 072014

Among the names on my mental list of highly anticipated 2014 releases, Falls of Rauros and Panopticon were in the upper reaches. This spring, Bindrune Recordings will be releasing a 12″ split by the two bands. Falls of Rauros contributed two songs — “Unavailing” (at nearly 12 minutes in length) and “The Purity of Isolation” (nearly 7 minutes).  Panopticon contributed four songs, totaling nearly 25 minutes. Having heard the split, I can say that it has more than met my very high expectations.

I had hoped to scribble a review by now, even recognizing that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. But alas, I’m way behind. What I do have, with thanks to DECIBEL magazine, are two of the songs from the split, one from each band. Since I still harbor a feeble hope of writing my own thoughts about the music later, I’ll not say more about the songs now — but simply provide the streams for your listening pleasure.

Feb 112014

2014 has barely begun and it has already delivered a slew of mouthwatering new releases. But few have caused your humble editor to salivate in anticipation quite like the forthcoming 12″ split by Maine’s Falls of Rauros and Kentucky’s Panopticon. Finally, it is has been sent to the pressing plant and is now ready for pre-order. I am here (having wiped the slobber from my face) to deliver many enticing details that were just disclosed this morning — including a nearly 17-minute trailer of music.

Detail No. 1:  That fantastic cover art you see above. Click the image to view a larger version.

Detail No. 2:  The Falls of Rauros side consists of two songs: “Unavailing” (11:53) and “The Purity of Isolation” (6:45). The Panopticon side consists of four songs: “Through Mountains I Wander This Evening” (4:33), Can You Loan Me A Raven?” (7:29), “Gods of Flame” (4:26), and “One Cold Night” (7:56). No need to get out your calculator — the split brings a total of more than 43 minutes of music. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the song titles, the music was inspired by the time that both bands spent in Norway.

Detail No. 3:  Bindrune Recordings, which is releasing the split, describes the Panopticon music (in part) as follows: “The mountains, landscapes, and memories of living and studying in Norway have crept into Austin/Panopticon’s ever evolving and vital sound to embody more of a stripped down and dark Norwegian BM influenced atmosphere for this release which harkens back to Panopticon’s more aggressive and raw S/T album…. The 4 songs on this split embrace the pure essence and influence of the 90′s Norwegian black metal movement in all of its driving, chilling and endlessly atmospheric grimness.”

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