Sep 232014


I sometimes play fast and loose with that “Shades of Black” title, but this time it genuinely fits the music I’ve collected here. The song streams represent many different shades and phases of black metal, and regardless of your preferences within the genre, I suspect you will find something to like before you reach the end. Of course, I like all of it.


The long-running Greek black metal band Varathron will be releasing their fifth album, Untrodden Corridors of Hades, later this fall.  It comes five years after their last full-length, but based on the strength of the new album’s first advance track, this is one of those cases where I’m inclined to say, “It was worth the wait!”

“Realm of the Obscure” is thoroughly galvanizing, a non-stop rush of multi-faceted riffs that writhe like serpents, stab like knives, and hammer like mallet blows. The acrobatic and often pyrotechnic drumwork is equally varied and matches up beautifully with the varied movements of this long song, and the vocals are thoroughly ravenous. It’s the kind of music that’s voracious and malignant but with a highly seductive melody and an aura of imperial might. Really excellent.

Untrodden Corridors of Hades will be released by Agonia Records on November 21 in Europe and December 9 in North America. It can be pre-ordered here.








I don’t have anything more to say about the stunning new album by Nightbringer (Ego Dominus Tuus) that I didn’t say in my review of the album (here). What I do have to say is that you can now listen to the entire album, because yesterday Decibel premiered a full stream along with an interview of the band’s Naas Alcameth. Listen and read here (the album will be released September 30 by Season of Mist):





We’ve written quote a lot about Massive Cauldron of Chaos, the new album by Norway’s 1349 — I think we’ve featured every advance track that has appeared from the album so far, and I believe we’ll have a review as well. But as in the case of Nightbringer, all I really want to do now is tell you that the entire album became available for streaming today. It’s really good, and you should check it out if you’re a fan of thrashing black metal. Here’s where you can do that:





In the case of this one-woman band, I’ve been guilty of doing something we almost never do at NCS — engaging in gossip and speculation about the person behind the band instead of just focusing on the music. It doesn’t matter that in that early August post, we happened to accurately report the then-undisclosed identity of the Danish woman who is Myrkur. At least at this site, we should be reflecting on the music, and whether it is good, instead of whether the music’s creator has sufficient kvlt credentials to be making black metal.

If someone pretends to be something they’re not (such as people who pretend to be genuine satanists when it’s all really for show), I guess that makes them fair game for internet tirades, but that doesn’t seem to be what happened here. Granted, from a PR perspective it might have been better to be upfront about who she was from the outset — though I suspect the kvlt police would have jumped on her just as vehemently.

But none of this controversy changes what we hear on Myrkur’s debut album. And what I hear is something I really enjoy. The latest reminder of the music came yesterday through the premiere of a music video for the song “Nattens Barn”(“Night’s Child”). I’ve already written about the song:

 Myrkur’s pure a cappella voice, layered to create the sound of a choir, is immediately arresting, and so are the wolfish, ripping howls that come forth later. The powerful waves of dark guitar melody that roll in like a storm front are hugely appealing, and so is the combination of jagged, jabbing riffs and rippling tremolo streamers that shimmer above them like an aurora borealis.

The video was shot in Nordsjælland, Denmark, and it suits the inspiration that Myrkur says drove her to create the music. You can watch it below.









Ashes is a UK band that appears to have begun as a one-man project of a man named Davidian, and now again consists of Davidian alone after a period in which another person carried on the Ashes name. The new Ashes album (the fourth one) is named Hrēow (old English for grief, sadness), and it was released yesterday by Candlelight Records. I was unfamiliar with the band’s previous releases and so far have only managed to listen to two songs from the new album — the opening track, “Shifting Mountains”, and the second one, “Stone Spiral” (these are the only songs that are streaming at the moment) — but those two are very good, and reason enough to check out the entire album.

The music is dark, atmospheric, and quite beautiful in its own bleak way. Moving dynamically from crashing waves of passionate melody to soft, rain-drenched acoustic interludes to grinding riffs and agonized shrieks, the songs are emotionally intense and highly memorable. It’s a listening experience that’s quite capable of taking you out of yourself and plunging you into another world, where storm-swept vistas of forest and mountains wait around every turn of the path.

Hrēow is available on Bandcamp, and you can stream the two songs below.








Videmur are a two-man band consisting of Andreas Stieglitz (Belgium), who performs all the instruments, and vocalist/lyricist Brandon Solis (Puerto Rico). They released their debut album, Finality, last month and I found out about it yesterday through a recommendation from Sean Golyer. Especially after catching a glimpse of Finality’s glorious cover art by Lord Hellfire, I decided to put aside what I was doing and start listening.

As in the case of the Ashes album discussed above, I’ve only managed to listen to the album’s first two tracks, “Whispers From A Time Forgotten” and “The Sound of Emptiness”, both of which top the 10-minute mark. And as in the case of Ashes, these songs are so appealing that the entire album deserves a close listen.

The absolutely wretched, throat-scraping shrieks and howls of the vocalist contrast with instrumental music that’s quite attractive, though quite melancholy in its emotional resonance — with only brief moments of raking riffs and blasting drums. Mainly slow and atmospheric, the songs make a virtue of sorrow and depression.

Finality (which includes a cover of “Baptized In Flames” by Skeletonwitch) is a “name your price” download on Bandcamp




  1. Really looking forward to Varathron

    Nightbringer makes really solid black metal, but damn do they need to knock it off with those 7, 8, and 9 minute long songs. They really starts to drag after awhile

    1349 continues to play very average black metal

    Are people actually worried that the woman in Myrkur isnt kvlt enough? ..thats too funny, because the music is good.

    Ashes is band Id completely forgotten about..didnt realize the project was still going, let alone had a new album

    Videmur’s new to me, but I like what I heard

    • Yes, I’m afraid I’ve seen a fair amount of slashing and burning directed at Myrkur because she’s done some modeling, is a singer-songwriter of not-metal music, performs in a pop duo, etc.

      • Funny, on a personal level, I think Id be more likely to dismiss this if it was someone who played for something like Winds of Plague or Disturbed..or something tangibly related to metal trying to make a bid for legitimacy. Someone from outside the genre giving it a try dosnt seem to offend my sensibilities as much.

        I assume she was keeping quiet about who she was for this exact reason…that makes sense to me, try to limit the bias and let the music speak for itself

      • Yep. It’s deafheaven redux from the scene police, all of whom sprang fully formed from the womb wearing corpsepaint and spiked leather.

        I think the problem with Myrkur is that the music is ultimately pretty forgettable, not that the woman who makes it happens to be a pretty model.

        Also pretty forgettable are the songs released so far from the new 1349, though being scene veterans instead of suspected dilettantes, they’re less likely to incur the wrath of the internet. Or maybe they already did that with _Revelations of the Black Flame_.

        • I liked Revelations…

          I also like …Cauldron. It’s surprisingly thrashy. In a good way.

          • I think I like _Revelations_ better than what I’ve heard so far from the new record. For all its faults, I like that the former took chances; to my ears at least, the new stuff doesn’t seem to have that something that would distinguish it from the glut of similar-sounding black metal. I’ll give the whole album a listen though now that it’s available. Could be a grower. Plus, that cover they did of Voivod’s “Tornado” was really fun.

            • Quick sneak peek at my review… but if you think of it in these terms it makes a weird sort of sense… after Hellfire they couldn’t do the same thing again… so they went ambient with Revelations… more Death Metal and/or Technical with Demonoir, and now Thrash with …Cauldron.

              They just seem to be enjoying doing different things.

        • If anything, her music might act as a gateway for people who otherwise would not have listened to black metal, which I think Relapse is banking on. But really, I don’t hear anything new or exciting going on with her songs. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t great. I’ll keep waiting for that next Black Table album to come out for my female fronted black metal fix.

  2. the Myrkur song is really good. i’ve missed all the news about her identity so i’m out of the loop on the scandal or whatever it is, but i have a feeling it’s really not that important

  3. Loving Varathon and Ashes. Myrkur and 1349 continue to kill it too.

  4. I’ve listened to the 1349 stream two or three times over the past couple days, and I can’t get into it as much as I would like to. This saddens me. The Nightbringer album is amazing, though.

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