Jan 262020


I’m writing this on Saturday, to make sure I’m able to post it on Sunday — because there’s a more than even chance that my head won’t be functioning very well on Sunday morning. I’m going to an annual party tonight (to celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns), and based on past experience I’ll drink way more single malt whisky and sleep less than is conducive to the formation of sentences the next day.

For the same reason, the odds are high that I don’t get a SHADES OF BLACK column written for Sunday (I also do remember that I never finished Part 2 of last Sunday’s column). So, to partially make up for that, the songs I grouped together in this Part 17 of the list fall into the categories of black or “blackened” metal.


In the 2018 edition of this list (here) I included the title track from Sargeist’s brilliant last album, Unbound. Given that the band have established about a four-year cycle on their albums, I figured it would be 2022 before we got more new music from them. But at the beginning of the last week of 2019 they dropped a surprise EP named Death Veneration. Continue reading »

Jan 252020


If past is prologue, some newcomer will see this post and go, “LOL — there’s clean singing in these songs!”, ignorant of the fact that from the very beginning of the site more than 10 years ago we’ve made exceptions to the “rule” in the site’s title where the exception is well-earned — and these three songs earn it.

Know-it-all newcomers may also point out, as if I didn’t know, that these songs aren’t really “extreme metal” either. But as these annual lists have gone on, also for 10 years, I’ve allowed myself some flexibility in my adherence to the title I chose for the them, in part as a way of providing a bit more breadth in the scope of the list as a vehicle for remembering all the good things that the preceding year brought us.

Of course I’ll quickly add that this Part of the list is just that — an exception in both respects, as you’ll understand if you check out all the preceding Parts (which you’ll find collected here). I’ll further add that it probably won’t be the last exception before I finish the list this year.

And with those observations behind me, let’s venture forth into the grand halls of doom…. Continue reading »

Jan 242020


I usually try to group songs together in these installments in a way that makes sense at least to me, sometimes grouping by genre but in other ways as well. Today, however, the music is a little more “all over the map”. All three songs come from albums I love (and I think are pretty uniformly liked by my NCS comrades too), and I just want to make sure I honored the music before running up against the end-time for this list. You can find everything that preceded these three tracks here.


Part of the thrill afforded by a new Blut Aus Nord album is the process of discovery, because BAN has rarely followed a straight and steady path from one record to the next, and predicting how their path might twist and turn requires a crystal ball. The music is, as Vindsval has said himself, a “process of perpetual regeneration”. In the case of their new album, Hallucinogen (which I reviewed here), BAN turned to psychedelia, which they transformed through reformulation into a new aesthetic. Continue reading »

Jan 242020


During the early morning hours of July 23, 2019, a fiery inferno engulfed and consumed a warehouse on Jarvis Avenue in Winnipeg, Canada. By the time the sun rose that day, according to this report, there was nothing left of the building but some skeletal exterior walls. The flames devastated more than the structure itself. The three-story warehouse had been home to the work of some of the city’s most distinguished artists, and it also housed the jam space of Witchtrip, a metal band whose membership significantly overlaps with Occvlt Hand and whose debut EP (Cosmic Cauldron) we premiered in 2018. Lost in that conflagration were thousands of dollars of the band’s instruments, gear, band merchandise, and other possessions, all of it uninsured.

Sometimes even disasters like that one have a silver lining, and in this instance it spurred Witchtrip to record a new two-track EP, their first music to be released since Cosmic Cauldron, as a means of trying to raise money to replace what they lost. Fittingly, and perhaps with a rueful smile, Witchtrip named the EP A Burnt Offering, and we’re premiering it today in advance of its official release on February 1st. Continue reading »

Jan 242020


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the performances by Cannabis Corpse, Withered, and Violated Flesh in Birmingham, England, on January 22, 2020, with video highlights.)

One of my resolutions for this year has been to go to more gigs. In fact I’ve already got several booked in for February and March, and another one to attend next week.

Sadly, however, the twin constraints of money and time mean I can’t go to every single show I’d like to, which is why I was forced to miss the Darkest Hour/Fallujah show in Manchester this week.

Thankfully, however, I’d already made firm plans to hit the Birmingham date of the Cannabis Corpse/Withered tour, which definitely helped ease the pain somewhat, especially since this would be my first time seeing Withered since way back in 2005! Continue reading »

Jan 242020


I’ve been following the activities of the Greek solo project Primeval Mass since having my eyes opened wide by Karmazid‘s cover art for the band’s third album, To Empyrean Thrones, in 2016. After hearing only one song I described the music there as “a treasure chest of riffs, one jewel after another”: ” When the music accelerates into a white-hot fury, it’s a mainline injection of pure adrenaline, but its’s just as gripping when it courses like shimmering streamers of lights. The inflamed vocals — a combination of demonic barking and head-back howls — are a perfect match to the molten, cyclonic surging of the music.”

In a subsequent review accompanying our premiere of a full stream of that album I summed up its atmosphere as “one of chaos made manifest in sound”, yet observed that “within these thrashing maelstroms lurk tantalizing melodies, booming grooves, white-hot solos, and well-timed changes of pace”, as well as surprising diversions and digressions that made the album fascinating and also highly infectious.

Now, Primeval Mass is returning with a fourth album, Nine Altars (with equally stunning cover art by Martin from LGN Art), that’s set for release on February 21st by Katoptron IX Records, and today we get the chance to share a track from it, fittingly named “Burning Sorcery“. Continue reading »

Jan 242020


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Sylosis, which will be released on February 7th by Nuclear Blast.)

Sylosis are one of Britain’s all-time great metal exports, and in my mind are undeniably one of the most important metal bands of the 2000’s, the 2010’s, and now. Nevertheless, these guys seem to get a lot of what I see as undue shit from a lot of people. They are often maligned for being boring (whatever that means) and for not doing anything essentially original (not essentially true), and somehow are accused of writing uninteresting riffs despite Josh Middleton, Sylosis’ founder and composer, being one of the post-2000‘s greatest riff writers. He blends an interesting approach to thrash metal and the heyday of pedal-point-riff-driven melodic death metal with the emotive, bruising nature of early metalcore, and further combines that with a post-y sense of ambience and atmosphere that sounds like no one else.

I guess for me, Sylosis has been metal at its most emotionally honest. It’s powerful, melancholy, angry, and arresting, and since the band’s debut, Conclusion Of An Age. I’ve just been unable to stop listening. They combine the technical aspects and the speed of styles of metal dear to me while also being provocatively emotive, which is a hard line to straddle and make it work. I am a fan, to say the least, with a view of their past catalogue as flawless, a band who’ve never written a record that includes a single throwaway song and who’ve always tried to evolve and refine their sound, never staying in quite the same place. They are modern song-writers still attracted to the past, a sort of approach to metal that I admittedly will eat up like candy if the passion is there. Continue reading »

Jan 232020


Yesterday’s Part of this list was pretty blackened. Today I decided to become enshrouded by death (metal). The first band is now up to their third album, but the other two made their debut releases last year (though one of those has a veteran line-up whose members are attached to a much more well-known band, who themselves released a new album in 2019 that may also make an appearance before I finish this list).


As in the case of yesterday’s list, I’m beginning with a band whose discography was the subject of a SYNN REPORT last fall (here). That band is the UK group Vacivus, whose work Andy recommended to fans of Incantation, Teitanblood, and Sulphur Aeon. But he mentioned some other names as reference points as well. He wrote: Continue reading »

Jan 232020


(Our old friend Professor D. Grover the XIIIth returns to NCS with this review of the new album by one of our favorite bands, Thy Catafalque, which will be released by Season of Mist on January 24th.)

Greetings and salutations, friends. I am here today because we have been blessed once again with a new Thy Catafalque album, a wonderfully common occurrence in the last few years (with new albums being released every year-and-a-half to two years). For those unfamiliar with my love affair with the work of Tamás Kátai, I first discovered Thy Catafalque in the olden days of The Number Of The Blog thanks to an old contributor, Tr00 Nate (if you’re out there somewhere, yes, I’m still giving you the credit you deserve). The album Róka Hasa Rádió was an eye-opener for me, providing a portal through which I could immerse myself in something utterly distinctive and unlike anything I had ever heard.

Since then, Thy Catafalque’s catalog has reached nine full-length albums (plus the Cor Cordium demo), and each album is a masterwork in varied songcraft. I lack any real grasp of music theory, and so I’d imagine that there is someone out there more learned than I who could probably explain it, but there is something about Kátai’s music that makes it immediately recognizable as his work, regardless of the song’s composition. Given how much variety there is in your average Thy Catafalque song, much less an entire album, this musical identity is simply staggering to me. Continue reading »

Jan 232020


Mental Casket first crawled forth from some stinking grave in Warsaw, Poland, in 2018, inspired by the early works of Chuck Schuldiner and other fore-runners of Floridian death metal, with an affinity for the likes of Autopsy and Pestilence as well, plus newer bands like Gruesome. Last year they released their debut demo, and today their second one is making its grotesque appearance. We’re fiendishly happy to help spread the word through this premiere of its three tracks.

Mental Casket proudly wear their influences on their ragged and rotting sleeves, but while their chosen formulations of death metal may be quite familiar, they’re so good at composing and executing their sonic monstrosities that it’s still a thrill to hear what they do. Sometimes you don’t need to break any molds in order to put a charge into a listener’s brain stem, and Mental Casket definitely do that. Continue reading »