Jan 282018


My NCS time has been constricted by other activities this weekend, so I won’t have time to prepare the usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK column, but to (sort of) make up for that I did decide to focus on black metal in this 15th Part of my Most Infectious Song list. And I also decided to pack five songs into this installment rather than the usual smaller number.

Hope you enjoy these choices, especially because it was so tough for me to pick just one song from each of the albums released by these bands last year. I think they make a pretty damned powerful playlist.


I delivered an impulsive though compact review of Kong Vinter very soon after listening to it for the first time, and proclaimed it one of my favorite albums of 2017. My impression now, two months later, is that it was under-appreciated in the froth of year-end lists, perhaps because it came out so late in the year and was preceded by the release of only one single (“Inntrenger”).

Nov 242017


I saw a meme this morning on Facebook, which read as follows:  “Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” And yes, I suppose it’s so. For some of us, however, the last thing on our minds on this day, a thing to be avoided like the second coming of the black plague, is an excursion to retail outlets of any kind. The stronger impulse is to become even more hermit-like, to hunker down in our bunkers and put the thought of voraciously consuming crowds as far away as possible.

On the other hand, getting trampled is not in itself a bad thing, and can indeed be a very welcome experience, as long as the trampling is inflicted through the earholes, and the resulting visions of turmoil are spawned by the mind rather than observed through the eyes. And so here’s a rare Friday edition of SHADES OF BLACK, probably to be followed by another one in its usual place on Sunday.


Unless I missed something, the release of Taake’s new album, Kong Vinter, was preceded by the release of only one single (“Inntrenger”), and what a fine one it was. But the entire album is now publicly available, having been released yesterday by Dark Essence Records, in physical form and as a Bandcamp download. We failed to prepare a review in advance, and I’m afraid that what I’ve written below may not merit such a word, but I do want to share my enthusiasm, along with the music stream.

Nov 122017


Time once again to blacken the Sabbath. It was another savagely exciting week for the release of advance tracks from forthcoming albums, and five of those are in this post. I also had time to explore a few EPs and albums that came out recently, and I’ve included one of those here, too.

I nearly called this “Part 1”, because I have some other discoveries I’d like to recommend. I hope I’ll soon have time to write about those, too.


A new Taake album is always a welcome event, and the seventh one — Kong Vinter — will be released by Dark Essence on November 24. Last week Taake released the album track “Inntrenger“, which proved (to me at least) to be an interesting surprise. 

Mar 272015


(Responding to my constricted blog time, our Norwegian friend eiterorm has graciously compiled a round-up of new music and news for your entertainment and edification.)

The winds whispered in my ear that Islander has a lot of news to dig through (and a wife to persuade) before he can resume his passionate blog work. Here’s a guest entry to keep you slightly occupied in the meantime.


Because I decided to do this in alphabetical order, the news about Abbath is first out. Some of you may already know that the members of Immortal have been involved in a legal dispute over the band’s name. Due to musical disagreements, the long-running black metallers and weather forecasters have decided to go separate ways. Apparently, Abbath wanted to continue his career under the old monicker, something the rest of the band wouldn’t allow.

Oct 232014


Yesterday brought a flood of new music and announcements that peaked my interest. I didn’t have time to post about any of them yesterday, so I’ve got a lot to cover this morning. Which is why this round-up is divided into two parts, with the second one coming later on.


Wolfheart’s self-released 2013 debut album Winterborn was fantastic. It was exactly the balm needed to salve the wounds that Tuomas Saukkonen temporarily inflicted on fans when he folded all of his other projects (including Before the Dawn and Black Sun Aeon) to start fresh. Yesterday brought the announcement that Spinefarm Records has now signed Wolfheart and will be re-releasing Winterborn on February 3, 2015, with two additional bonus tracks — “Isolation” and “Into the Wild”. This will be the first physical edition of the album to be made available worldwide.

But even more exciting than that was the news that next year Spinefarm will also be releasing Wolfheart’s second album Shadow World, which the band is now in the process of completing. And here’s one more titillating tidbit of Wolfheart news from the same announcement:

Apr 032013

(NCS writer Andy Synn has returned from Oslo’s Inferno Festival, held on March 27-30, 2013, and brings us a multi-part report of what he saw and heard, along with photos. Check out his Opening Day report here.)

Kicking off the festival-proper at the early time of 17:30 Horned Almighty were like a veritable boot to the face of the assembled audience. Nasty, brutal, and brimming with feral punk aggression, the group come across as a bad-boy version of the Misfits, raised on black metal nihilism and death metal misanthropy, and kick up a hell of a racket, with a truly demolition-strength guitar tone. Material from across their four albums bulked out the set, with the strongest focus being on Contaminating The Divine and Necro Spirituals.

Frontman S. didn’t let the fact that the band were opening the festival proper intimidate him, spitting necrosadistic venom at the crowd with his spiteful, belligerent snarl, while the aptly-named Carnage on bass was a stalking, twisting revelation of spindly fingers and malevolent contortions. Give these guys a longer set and a bigger stage someone!

Mar 192013

(Andy Synn delivers another installment of his irregular series of album reviews in haiku. There are two more after the jump.)


Riffs and rage and hate

Twenty years of blasphemy

Flying the black flag

Dec 272012

And here we go again . . . a round-up of things I saw and heard by sifting through the effluent of the internet and my e-mail in-box in search of shiny nuggets.


I learned this: It turns out that 2013 will mark the 20th anniversary of metal musicianship for Hoest, the main man behind Norwegian black metal veterans Taake. The fact that Hoest is still alive and making music of any kind is worth celebrating all by itself. The fact that Taake continue to deliver superb metal is icing on the birthday cake.

Here’s one of the things that’s being done to celebrate the anniversary: On March 1 in Norway and March 4 everywhere else, Dark Essence Records will be releasing a 20-song, 2-CD collection of Taake music entitled Gravkamre, Kroner og Troner (“Burial Chambers, Crowns and Thrones”). The contents are primarily rare and previously unreleased songs, as well as alternative versions and recordings that have previously been available only on vinyl — but the album will also include exclusive new tracks.

Today I saw that Taake have begun streaming one of the tracks from this anniversary album named “Et Pust av Oeyne”. It’s a riff-heavy mosh-trigger of a song, marked by Hoest’s scathing vocal attack and some old-school, hard-rocking rhythms. It also includes a dose of blasting and thrashing, as well as a lengthy, spiraling melodic breakdown.

I’m really digging the variations in the song and hope you will, too.

Nov 142012

Sakis Tolis, laying down a soothing lullaby. 

Once again, your intrepid editor has sifted through the ever flowing stream of metal news and new music to find those gleaming nuggets that will enrich your daily lives.  Actually, I don’t know if you’ll give a shit about any of this, but I do, and that’s what really matters, isn’t it?  No need to answer, that was a rhetorical question.


We’ve already reported that Rotting Christ are at work on their 11th studio album, but today I saw a few more tidbits of news: The album will be entitled Do What Thou Wilt, and it will hit the stores on March 1, 2013. We usually don’t write about such happenings unless we have a bit more juice to go along with it, such as album art or a song premiere. But these Greek maestros are the kind of band whose every move interests me. And I’m particularly interested to see if the new album will be a further step down the path of strongly folk/ethnic-influenced metal exhibited on Aealo.

I also saw today that the French band Necrowretch have finished the recording and mastering of their debut album for Century Media. It was recorded in late August at Blackout Multimedia studios in Brussels by Phorgath of Enthroned and its title will be Putrid Death Sorcery. The cover art is being prepared by Milovan Novakovic from Montenegro, who also created the beastly cover for the band’s last EP, Now You’re In Hell (reviewed here). And if you’re wondering why this news matters, check out some Necrowretch music right after the jump.

Jun 012012

I’ve been doing actual paying work all morning. I took a break not long ago and cast my baleful eye around the interhole and my NCS e-mail box to see what there was to see and hear. And these are things I thought worth passing on.

First, that cover you see above is for a tribute album to Emperor called In Honour of Icon E, which will be released on June 25 by Metal Swamp. It’s a very nice piece of art, created by Wolkogniv of Folkingrimm Art.

It also looks like it will be a very nice album, with Emperor covers by the likes of Demonical, Helheim, Horna, Taake, and Setherial. I’ll give you the full tracklist rundown after the jump, but the news for today is that the album has gone up on Amqzon for pre-order, which means you can hear snippets of each song here.

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