Oct 222018


A twenty-year gestation produces an unusually long wait for a new musical offspring, but in the case of Forbidden Rites it has produced some unusually good new music, rooted in the era when the early seed was planted but benefitting from the passage of time as well.

Under a different name, the band was first begun in 1996 by Mexican guitarists Carlos Martinez and Raúl Campos and drummer Hugo Olivos (Vomitile, ex-Inhearted), but two decades would pass before the band came back to life, this time joined by longtime friend Vlad Marin (ex-Xiuhtecuhtli) on vocals and bass. The results of their collaboration are encompassed by a debut album of black/death metal named Pantheon Arcanum, and in the run-up to its release by GrimmDistribution on November 7th, we’re premiering a track named “Judgement“. Continue reading »

Oct 222018


Instrumental metal, perhaps more so than metal with vocals, is a risky endeavor with mixed results. In addition to the risks of mediocrity (which are certainly not unique to solely instrumental performances), there’s the further risk that even when the music is excellent, it can seem to cry out for a voice (at least in the reception of listeners). You can expect to hear the unique dimensions of sound that vocals might add, and be disappointed when they remain absent.

The Detroit-based instrumental death metal band Thoren avoid these risks, not only because the music is so astonishingly good, but also because it’s impossible to imagine what vocals might add, or perhaps more to the point, how anyone could perform vocals over these bewildering sonic creations that would fit in any coherent or satisfying way. As proof, we offer “Daleb Dath“. Continue reading »

Oct 222018


(Andy Synn has packaged two reviews into this post, addressing the new albums of Beyond Creation, released by Season of Mist on October 12th, and of Gorod, which was released on October 19th through OverPowered Records.)

When I initially wrote and published “A Tale of Two Albums”, comparing and contrasting the most recent Arsis and Revocation records, I had absolutely no intention of ever writing a sequel or follow-up.

However, in conversation with my friends/bandmates recently we got to chatting about the new Beyond Creation and Gorod releases, and I realised that these two would also make great fodder for a co-feature of their own, not only because both bands are going to be on tour together very soon, but also because both Algorythm and Aethra find their respective creators making an effort to expand and redefine their sound… although one of the two albums is certainly more successful than the other in this regard. Continue reading »

Oct 222018


Our world is dying. With each sunset the planet draws closer to its inescapable extinction. It will of course survive our own lives, but what we collectively do may hasten its demise as a hospitable home for our kind and our co-inhabitants long before it becomes a barren cinder. Humankind so often seems determined to make a misery out of the wonders around us, and a ruin of our own best creations.

In seeming contemplation, and condemnation, of a bleak future, the new album of the Greek black metal band Dødsferd is named Diseased Remnants of A Dying World. The album’s title track is the record’s centerpiece in more ways than one. Set dead center in the running order, it’s also the album’s longest track and perhaps its most ambitious as well. In the ebb and flow of its powerful, mood-changing sounds it could be experienced as a far-sighted panorama painted in tones, a foretelling of human blindness, lost glories, and the pain of avoidable but uncorrected failures.

It’s our pleasure to present this immersive, emotionally gripping title song today in advance of the album’s release by Transcending Obscurity Records on December 14th. Continue reading »

Oct 222018


Hallucinogens alter perceptions, thoughts, and moods by interfering with normal brain chemistry interactions, creating sensations and visions that may seem real though they are not — or perhaps instead revealing aspects of true reality that are hidden by the illusions of daily life. But the ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs and plant extracts isn’t the only way to become disconnected from your body and from what passes for reality, and to become more susceptible to visions. You could, for example, just listen to the music of Abigorum.

Abigorum is the name of a project from Saint Petersburg, Russia, that produces alchemical reactions using ingredients drawn from ambient music, black metal, and doom. It’s the creation of Aleksey Korolyov, who is also the label boss of Satanath Records and the founder of the ambient formation Satanath. Abigorum’s newest output, which is set for release on November 6th, is a split named Spectral Shadows with the long-running Australian project Striborg, whose music has evolved over time and now merits the label “blackwave”. From that split we present the premiere of “The Darkness of Aeon“. Continue reading »

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 »