Oct 212018


I slept much later than usual this morning, and to compound the problems that created for my NCS duties, I had barely started writing today’s SHADES OF BLACK column before bedding down for the night, though I had at least finished the job of picking what I wanted to write about. And then when I finally did rouse myself from what seemed like a deep hibernation and had inhaled a gallon of coffee, I decided to take a quick peak at Facebook before turning back to today’s column.

And the first thing I saw was a pair of messages from two generous sources of musical recommendations, starkweather’s Rennie and my Serbian acquaintance Miloš, both of whom were pointing me to a big surprise that did far more to set my nerve endings alight that all that coffee I had poured into myself: Without warning, No Solace released a new Kriegsmaschine album today. Continue reading »

Oct 202018

The subject of this little Saturday round-up of new videos is… happiness


Happiness… happiness is being Accept and performing “Symphony No. 40″ before a bazillion people at Wacken Open Air with your own backing orchestra and conductor, stadium-sized video screens, abundant pyrotechnics, a couple dozen cameras filming the event, and a damned good editor splicing all the footage together. It doesn’t hurt that your lead guitarist (Wolf Hoffmann) looks like Bruce Willis. Continue reading »

Oct 202018


(In this new edition of our series devoted to lyrics in metal, Andy Synn posed his usual questions to James Malone, vocalist/guitarist of Arsis, whose new album Visitant will be released on November 2nd by Nuclear Blast and Agonia Records.)

If memory serves, my introduction to Virginia-based Technical/Melodic Death Metallers Arsis was way back in 2005 when I stumbled across the shamelessly epic, ultra-bombastic title-track from their recently-released EP, A Diamond for Disease.

Unsurprisingly, I was instantly hooked by the band’s mix of scorching intensity, fret-melting technicality, and shameless, scornful swagger – a sound that was part Carcass, part Death, part Motley Crue – and immediately went out to pick up a copy of the EP as well as their debut album, A Celebration of Guilt (which still stands as, arguably, one of the best Technical and/or Melodic Death Metal albums of all time).

In the years since then I’ve followed the band closely through all their ups and downs, watching as they honed their craft across multiple albums, sticking by them through all their struggles with ill health and line-up changes (including a period where it felt like the group was serving like a boot camp for guitarists looking to level-up their skills before joining bigger, more famous bands), and have always felt like they deserved far more critical acclaim and commercial success than they received.

I am therefore extremely pleased, and more than a little proud, to have (somehow) convinced James Malone, the band’s vocalist/guitarist and prime mover, to participate in this edition of Waxing Lyrical, where he talks about his love of King Diamond, the unexpected influence of Catholicism on the band’s early records, and the surprisingly deep emotions underlying their new, Horror-themed album, Visitant. Continue reading »

Oct 192018


Today is the release date (through Solitude Productions) for the debut EP, self-titled, of the German band Voidhaven, whose line-up includes members of Crimson Swan and Ophis — and it proves to be a masterful interweaving of traditional doom metal and doom-death that plumbs depths of hopelessness and misery yet has the capacity to send the heart soaring.

Voidhaven is now available for listening through YouTube and Bandcamp streams that we can share with you. It consists of two songs of approximately nine minutes apiece — long enough to cast powerful and lingering spells, but not too long, never risking a fall into monotony. Continue reading »

Oct 192018


It’s probably a common phenomenon among metal fans to make guesses about a band’s musical genre based on their choice of name. The name Gathering Darkness, for example, might suggest flavors of doom, and when the band first formed 20 years ago, their focus was indeed on a doom-drenched variant of death metal, as reflected in their first demos. But as the years passed, the sound changed, and the suggestion of a dark, atmospheric, doom-centric focus which the name might still convey is no longer reliable.

As the interests of this Spanish band evolved, the focus turned to brutal death metal, but that genre label might itself be a misleading indicator of what the group have created for their new EP, The Inexorable End, which is being released on October 21st in celebration of their 20th anniversary, and which we’re presenting in a full stream today. Continue reading »

Oct 192018


(These are Grant Skelton‘s thoughts about the remarkable new album by the Seattle-based funeral doom band Un, which is out now via Translation Loss Records, along with thoughts by vocalist/guitarist Monte Mccleery.)

In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:

“What have we in common with the rose-bud, which trembleth because a drop of dew hath formed upon it?”

A rose is a floral archetype. For centuries it’s been associated with romance, youth, and sensuality. Furthermore, it represents a paradox — a juxtaposition of beauty and pain. A rose is beautiful to behold with the eye, but painful to hold with the hand. In Nietzsche’s metaphor, the rose trembles. It trembles because it has been acted upon by precipitation. By the vicissitudes of nature. By the weight of something it needs to survive. While precipitation is a source of nourishment, an excess of it can be fatal to the rose. Continue reading »

Oct 192018


I’ve been grappling with words, trying to find the best means of capturing the impact this new song has  made on my impressionable mind, and only an agreed deadline has brought my struggles to a halt. I wonder why I struggle, since you’ll be able to listen for yourselves, but I guess it comes from a need to share my enthusiasm in a way that honors the artists who brought it about. So, here we go…

The song here is the title track from Ambre Gris, the debut album by the French avant-garde black metal band Edremerion. Two EPs preceded this album, but the line-up has changed since those were released, and I confess that I haven’t heard them anyway. Even if I hadn’t learned through experience that the labels responsible for this release dependably make good choices, I would have checked out Ambre Gris based on the labels’ comparative references to the likes of Ved Buens Ende, DHG, Ulver, Fleurety, Virus, and Satyricon. Continue reading »

Oct 182018


I think this must be a first — for five days in a row I’ve had enough time to compile a round-up of new songs. Doesn’t mean I’m anywhere close to catching up with everything I’d like to recommend, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Today, I chose the first four good songs I found when I began scrolling through the morass of e-mails that had arrived at NCS overnight and this morning. Not exactly the most thorough method of making a selection, but it had the coincidental benefit of presenting some pleasing variety, as you’ll see….


Chainsaw Lullaby” is a clever and amusing title, and of course it makes no secret about the meat of the sound. But before we get to this new song off Bloodbath’s forthcoming album, The Arrow of Satan is Drawn, let’s here from Anders ‘Blakkheim’ Nyström about the track: Continue reading »

Oct 182018


After three years of toil, the Russian death metal band Pannychida have completed their new album, Missense Mutation, and it’s now set for release on October 31st by Satanath Records and More Hate Productions. And guess what? We have a song premiere for you, a track off the new album named “Harmonious Mechanism“.

It would be fair to characterize the music as old school death metal, but of what kind? The releasing labels recommend the music for fans of Death, Pestilence, and Suffocation, and that provides some guidance. As for this song, let’s just say that if you’re feeling sleepy when you begin to listen, you won’t feel that way after you finish. Despite a sudden onset of sore-neck syndrome, you might instead feel like careening off the walls in a burst of savage merriment (or at least nodding your head and smiling in evil satisfaction). Continue reading »

Oct 182018


(On October 22nd Memento Mori will release Drowned, the debut album by the French band Barús, and in this post Andy Synn reviews the album and presents our premiere of a track from it named “Dissever“.)

It’s always gratifying to see a band you love grow and evolve, especially if it’s a band you’ve been into right from the very start.

Case in point, we’ve been fans of French Death Metal quartet Barús ever since the release of their self-titled EP back in 2015 (you can read more about that here) and I’m pleased to say that, despite having to wait over three full years, our patience is about to be richly rewarded with the advent of their long-gestating debut album, Drowned. Continue reading »