Jan 012017

Partied hard, smiling big.


Happy New Year to one and all. I hope you survived whatever you did last night, intact and with only a modicum of blood loss and brain-cell death. I would tell you in detail what I did but I’m not sure you could stand the excitement. Even I was so drained after both putting down the robot uprising and preventing the savagery of the loris horde’s celebration from overflowing their compound, armed with nothing but a few blow darts, that I was asleep by 10:30, stone cold sober and vomit-free.

I’m beginning the new year at NCS the way I ended the old one (here), by assembling a giant batch of the new music I heard in recent days that I thought would be worth your time, plus one older release I came across only recently.

As a trained medical professional (ha!), I’ll warn you that if you did suffer more than a modicum of blood loss or neuronal cell death, you might want to wait another day before exploring what awaits you below. It won’t help your recovery, and it’s no sane person’s idea of a hangover cure. Damned good metal, though.

I’ll also mention that because this post takes the place of my usual Sunday Shades of Black feature, the music is mainly in a blackened vein, though not entirely.

Jan 072016

Spectral Lore-GnosisSpectral Lore-Voyager


We again invited Ayloss, the man behind the Greek band Spectral Lore, to share with us his list of favorite 2015 releases. As expected, it’s a wide-ranging and distinctive collection of music, much like the music of Spectral Lore itself.

Speaking of the music of Spectral Lore, 2015 saw the release of two experimental EPs (the covers of which are above) — Gnosis and Voyager — and the third of those planned releases is expected later this month. And now, here is the list and the comments of Ayloss about the music:


A Forest of Stars-Beware the Sword

A Forest of Stars – Beware the Sword You Cannot See

This band has gone far. I admit that while I was intrigued by their first two albums (actually even before, anyone remember their old first website?), Ι found something missing in them, maybe a bit more solid song-writing to hold together the long compositions and high lyrical concepts. Well, enter “Drawing Down the Rain”, possibly the best song I’ve heard in this year, a song which seems to contain everything I like the most in music. When you kick-start your album like that, you just can’t fail and Beware… holds many other shining gems as well. A vast, ambitious, multi-faceted album, the surface of which after numerous listens I feel I’ve only scraped.

Dec 172015

Akhenaten - Incantations Through the Gates of Irkalla


(Here’s the last of KevinP’s monthly selections for 2015, naming his Top 5 favorite albums released or scheduled for release during December.)

Since I’ve had plenty of time with this month’s releases to formulate my list, along with the fact that things start to get slow once Xmas week arrives, you’re getting this a little earlier than normal.  Also, my Top 25 Albums and Top 5 EP’s of the Year will be posted the first week of January.  Nothing else profound to say, so let’s get on with it.

Aug 262015

Spectral Lore-Gnosis


The remarkable one-man Greek band Spectral Lore has recorded a new EP named Gnosis that will be mastered by Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts) and released around November by the tasteful I, Voidhanger label.

Though Spectral Lore calls Gnosis an EP, it will be close to 40 minutes in length. It is the second of at least three EPs that Spectral Lore has planned for 2015, the first one being Voyager, which was released in May (and there may be a fourth before the year draws to a close).

Dec 212014


I suppose this post could be considered Part 2 of a collection I began yesterday (here). It’s a big selection of music I discovered over the last couple of days that in widely varying degrees incorporate elements of black and death metal into the sound. And I do mean “widely varying” — no two of these bands sound alike, but I hope you’ll agree they all sound good.


LVTHN is a Belgian black metal band with three short releases to its credit, all of them appearing in 2014. The first one, Adversarialism, I reviewed here. The next two of those releases came this month — a four-song EP entitled The Grand Uncreation (which includes a cover of a Katharsis song) and a split with Lluvia entitled Illuminantes Tenebrae. Both are worthy of separate reviews, but I’m so pressed for time that I’m afraid I’ll never write them. I decided this short comment is better than nothing.

In a nutshell, these five new LVTHN songs are potent examples of bestial black art — torrential hailstorms of knife-edged riffs undergirded by the distant rumble of percussion and pierced by flesh-rending vocals, with waves of dark, dramatic melody moving through the music like the migration of leviathans. It’s gripping, galvanizing, ravaging music, with just enough well-placed breaks in the onslaught to prevent total sensory overload.  And the Katharsis cover is obliterating.

Dec 032014


(Near the end of every year your humble editor humbly invites selected musicians to contribute lists of their favorite releases as part of our year-end Listmania series. This year I asked Ayloss, the man behind Spectral Lore from Greece and the creator of one of my favorite releases of 2014 (reviewed here), to share his recommendations — because I had a strong feeling it would be very interesting, and so it is.)


I don’t usually listen to a lot of music in the year it comes out, as not having the free time I used to have, I prefer to wait until the mediocre stuff gets weeded out and the good remains. When Islander asked me to compile a 2014 list, I realized that my selection was without much character, most likely the exact same stuff you’ll see in many other lists for this year. So I took this as an opportunity to dive back into the underground and do some research.

Yet, I still feel like I haven’t listened to enough music for this year, so this is absolutely not a “best of” list, just some albums that I can certainly attest to being great. In the spirit of discovery, I will mention the “top” stuff below (absolutely check them out if you haven’t already) and then proceed to talk about the stuff that deserves more exposure.

Nov 102014

On January 20, 2015, Bindrune and Eihwaz Recordings will release an unusual and unusually good split LP by a group of very talented composers and musicians — P.H. and U.K. of Germany’s Nachtreich and Ayloss of Spectral Lore from Greece — under the title The Quivering Lights. Today we bring you the premiere of one of the Spectral Lore tracks, “Quivering”.

The split is unusual because it is a genuine collaboration between the two bands rather than a mere compilation of independent recordings by each one. Each band recorded three songs, but the tracks are interwoven, with Nachtreich’s “Light” opening the album followed by the Spectral Lore song we’re premiering today. Two more Nachtreich tracks then follow (an instrumental piece named “Greyness”, and “Ghost Light”), followed by the last two Spectral Lore tracks (“Vanishing” and a final instrumental work, “Reflection”).

Jul 062014


The new album by Spectral Lore (III) has more facets than a passion-cut diamond, and it shines just as brilliantly. So much care and craftsmanship have been devoted to its creation that it’s one of those rare metal albums that rises to the level of a work of art — except it’s only partially a metal album. And therein lies much of its appeal.

With a run-time of almost 90 minutes, it’s the longest album I’ve listened to in years, which is one reason why this review comes later than I had originally planned. It’s also not an album that can be fully appreciated by listening to a track here and a track there, as time permits. It’s best heard as a whole (at least as I hear it — I have no inside knowledge about the artist’s intentions). Each song brings its own rich rewards individually — indeed, most songs are themselves dramatic sagas in sound — but when you listen without interruption from start to finish, you feel as if you’ve discovered secrets hidden from the eyes we use to observe our daily lives, as if the surface layers of our routine existence are being peeled back to reveal something more profound. The music seeks transcendence, an escape from the crushing weight of the world and its manifold tyrannies, and it comes very close to finding it.

The album is divided into two parts, denominated “Singularity” and “Eternity”, with four songs in Part I and three in Part II. With the exception of the album’s first song “Omphalos” (which is “only” 7 1/2 minutes long), the individual pieces are epic-length works ranging from roughly 11 minutes to more than 16.

Both within and across the songs, the music ranges from the vast and panoramic to the introspective and intimate. It moves from passages of disorienting dissonance to explosions of well-choregraphed mayhem, from warlike gallops to moments of shining benevolence and the glow of hopefulness. But whether the music is storming like a maelstrom, with blasting drums and ravaging waves of guitar distortion, or shimmering like a sun-lit stream, it’s almost always dense and richly textured, often to the point of being senses-flooding in the richness of its construction.

May 022014

This is one of those days when the old fuckin’ day job is going to wipe out my blog time.  So this will likely be our last post of this Friday.  What I’ve done — hurriedly — is to feature a handful of things I heard last night that I think you should hear, too.


Burial Ground — the new album by the long-running French band Loudblast — is one I’ve been anxiously awaiting. In late March I featured the album’s first advance track, “Ascending Straight In Circles”, and yesterday DECIBEL premiered an official video for the same song. As I’ve written before, the music is part thrash, part death, part doom — and as catchy as it is decimating (with thoroughly ravaging vocals).

It appears the album will now be released on June 10, by Listenable Records. It can be pre-ordered here. Check out the video next.

Oct 142013

We all have our own recipes for dealing with the grimness of Mondays, even if those recipes simply involve falling into a state of clinical depression or foul surliness. My own recipe today was to go in search of fearsome new metal, the kind that would put a shot of adrenaline into the old brainstem or open a door into the pitiless void. The search proved to be highly successful, as you shall see. Here are four new songs from forthcoming releases that brightened up my Monday (and by “brightened” I mean “darkened”).


Soul Remnants make their home in the Boston area, and their second album Black and Blood is slated for release on October 31 by a Philadelphia label named Horror Pain Gore Death Productions (by coincidence, this band is the first of two in this post whose new releases are being handled by that label). This morning I listened to two recently unveiled advance tracks from the album that are worth your time — “Incinerator” and “No Afterlife”.

The music is a hot shot of adrenaline straight into the bloodstream, a burst of ripping riffage and furious drumming, segmented by powerful pneumatic grooves and fleet-fingered soloing and flavored with seductive melodies. The caustic harsh vocals are aces too, and the production gives the music the sharp edge of scalpels at work. It’s a bracing brew of melodic death metal, tech-death, and even black metal stylings. Very nice.

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