Oct 092017


I did just post a SHADES OF BLACK column on its usual day (Sunday), and I really do listen to other genres of metal. But as I began collecting music for a SEEN AND HEARD post today I found that half the candidates had some connection to black metal, and therefore decided to collect most of them separately from everything else. With luck, I’ll finish writing about the others in time to post that planned SEEN AND HEARD round-up tomorrow.

By the way, when I say that all of the following tracks have “some connection to black metal”, you’ll find that it’s definitely not the same kind of connection. In short, the music here is quite varied, which is one of the reasons I combined all of it here. And the second item (Funeral Hearse) is an exclusive announcement.


In a 2014 year-end list we posted here, one of our former contributors described this experimental Polish band’s last album Earth Ground this way:  “The use of dissonant guitar with face-cringing noise and vocal assaults layered throughout the space in this album gives a chaotic feel reminiscent of recent Deathspell Omega releases, but with more moments of space and resolution (for better or worse): contemplative and explorative.”



Now Thaw have a new album named Grains coming our way (set for a December 8 release by Agonia Records). The first excerpt released today, in video form, is a track called “The Brigand“.

In the early phase, the drums are a thundering flurry, but they slow, underscoring the main riff, which is immense and ponderous. The lead guitar delivers an alien shimmer and the vocals are a scorching torture. In time, when the drum and the voice disappear, an already ominous atmosphere becomes apocalyptic.

The video, which is riveting, was made by Chariot Of Black Moth. The album’s cover painting, also eye-catching, was created by Furia’s Sars.



Chariot of the Black Moth:










I don’t know how I missed this Singaporean band’s debut EP, Heralding the Deathwinds, when it was released in May of this year, but I’m damned glad I finally found it. And what led me to find it is the news we’re announcing today:

On November 10th, Redefining Darkness Records will release a new Funeral Hearse EP named The Fist. The Spit, The Sword, both digitally and limited-edition cassette tape — and the cassette edition will include Heralding the Deathwinds on the B side. I have further details below, as well as a teaser video for the new EP.



The Fist. The Spit, The Sword includes three tracks written by the band’s multi-instrumentalist, Azrael, and its vocalist/ lyricist, Deadwax. It was mixed and mastered by Vinod Vaskaran (guitarist of one of our favorite metal bands, Rudra). The genesis of the new EP has been explained in this way by Azrael:

“I had this idea for THE FIST. THE SPIT. THE SWORD. after watching a documentary about sins and how diffrerent religions have different acts to redeem your sins such as confession and/ or cleansing yourself in water. The idea that you commit a sin and the ease of which you are forgiven, means that one who sins can be forgiven to commit more sins in the future. I found that preposterous.”

“I immediately explain my idea to DEADWAX, and he jumped onboard immediately, and in less than 04 months, we finished writing and recording the whole album.”

Below you’ll find not only the trailer for the new EP but also a stream of Heralding the Deathwinds, which can be purchased now via the first link below.

That previous EP is a black metal bonfire, a ferocious ravager that has some obvious punk influence mixed in with obsidian-dark melodies and ripping drumwork. But one aspect of the music that especially makes it stand out are the vocals — which are utterly unhinged and frighteningly wild.



Funeral Hearse:

Redefining Darkness Records:











As I’ve confessed before, we didn’t give enough attention to Vredehammer’s excellent 2016 album Violator. I wrote about its first advance track (“Spawn Tyrant”), and we published Karina Noctum’s interview of the band’s main creative force Per Valla, though even that focused more on his time as a session guitarist with Abbath and his personal Valla project than it did on Vredehammer. I did try to make amends by including the title track on our list of 2016’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

I’ve been aware that Vredehammer is at work on a third album, and just noticed the recent release of a single named “Suffocate All Light“. I have a vague recollection that a track by that name surfaced about a year ago under the name of another Per Valla project — Valla — which included drumwork by Kevin Foley, who also played a (masked) role in Abbath for a time.

I’m not sure if the new single is the same track or a re-worked version, but I really like it. It has a powerful, surging energy (and equally powerful vocal ferocity), propelled by highly addictive riffing and turbocharged percussion — but also accented by bits of pulsing electronica and by stately chords that resemble a grim and grand melodic fanfare.













This next track is a tough one to pin down. Heaving and sludgy at first, it begins to twist and turn. The lead guitar melody that comes in is an immediate hook; the vibrating riff that follows is a bleak and vicious presence; the warping notes that surface begin to twist the tension; and then the music latches into a hammering groove… and hammers harder and harder. You’re almost halfway through before the high, tormented, ear-abrading shrieks make their appearance.

Things eventually descend, in slow giant steps, into a black pit of desolation before the rhythm begins a head-nodding bounce while the guitars buzz and whirr in a kind of mad ecstasy. But that proves to be just a temporary diversion along the descent.

The song is “Unnatural Causes” and it comes from a 34-minute EP named Thole, which will be released by Babylon Doom Cult Records on October 27 (CD) and in January 2018 (vinyl). The artwork is by François Van Damme.

The band, Witch Trail, are from Ghent, Belgium.












Different things happen at different speeds in this final song. In the beginning the drums are going at 500 mph (give or take), backed by a shroud of slowly cascading, heavily hazed guitar chords and clean vocal pronouncements that also seem slow and deliberate by contrast to the percussive fusillade. But the vocals and the chiming lead-guitar notes have a tensioning air of incipient derangement in their tones.

By way of further contrast, the torrential propulsion unexpectedly stops in places — paving the way for dismal, spectral instrumental interludes that are mesmerizing, albeit chilling, and for something that resembles a monastic chant. In retrospect, the whole song seems like a hallucination.

The song here is “Her Name” by the Italian duo Hornwood Fell. It will appear on the band’s new album My Body, My Time, which will be released by Avantgarde Music on November 7. I gather that this music is dramatically different from what you’ll find on their previous releases.


Preorders will start on Saturday, October 14th.





  1. Great shades of black edition! Personal favorite was Hornwood Fell, thanks for introducing them to me! I super dig their blackened stoner doom sound!

  2. Really digging the “Unnatural Caresses”. Like you say, very tough to pin down but very nice nonetheless!

  3. That Vredehammer song is on point, gotta check out their last album. Thanks for doing Shades of Black as its introduced me to some of my favorite bands. NCS remains the best place to find new music.

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