Aug 022020


This morning the words from an old soap opera popped into my head: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” One reason might be obvious: The current world is a gigantic shitshow, and we’re being brutally reminded on a daily basis how swiftly and inexorably our lives flow away.

But it might also be because yesterday I read a fascinating article (here) about soap and skin and how Procter & Gamble created that show and many others to build a market for skin care products we probably didn’t need, and in the process invented modern American advertising.

It might also be because I’m rapidly running out of NCS time today, and so will have to be brief in what I write about these songs I’ve chosen to recommend.


Tenebrae” is a storm-tossed sea of sound whose heaving melodies are laden with fear and desperation. The song conjures vast panoramas of dark crashing waves and lightning-scarred skies, as well as the hopelessness of abandonment and isolation. Its desolating emotional intensity is heightened by the throat-shredding wretchedness of the vocals, and the gloom of somber spoken words.



Reliquiae” is perhaps even more steeped in anguish and despair. It builds in intensity until the feeling becomes a delirium. In both songs, there’s pleasing heaviness in the low end, and the riffing sears, shines, and wails, and in this second one the pairing of vibrant bass notes and sweeping, distraught melody near the end is riveting.

These two songs make up Solve, the debut EP by the German band Laere. It will be released on August 10th. The lyrical concept deals with “the indifference of existence and the subsequent path of suffering and transcendence”. The cover art was made by Business For Satan, and the emblem above by Adrian Baxter.

(Thanks to Rennie for pointing me to these tracks.)










Totalitarian Regime” turns out to be more multi-faceted than you might expect at first. It has a thumping, thrusting, carnal quality. It sends streamers of glorious melody soaring above jet-speed drum battering. It becomes unhinged in its ecstasy, stalks with a menacing mien, hammers with cruel intent, and takes flight high above the earth. The vocals are insane.

Holy Ash” is a crazed dervish of sound, in which the music matches the unhinged madness of the vocals. But here too, the music ascends in sky-high spectacles of grandeur.

If I have a complaint, it’s that the drums are so far forward in the mix that they become dominating and distracting. Granted, it’s hard to believe that any human being can go this fast, and yes, there is a human doing this.

These songs are from Döden Nalkas, the new album by the Swedish band Horde of Hel. This was originally the solo project of John Odhinn Sandin (Odhinn, In Battle) but on this album he was joined by drummer Nils “Dominator” Fjellström (The Wretched End, Nordjevel, Odium, ex-Oghinn, ex-In Battle) and vocalist Sanctvs (also of Nordjevel). Horde of Hel‘s sound has changed with each album, and has changed again here. It will be released on September 30th by Blooddawn Productions (distributed and marketed by Regain Records).










Leviathan is the latest album by the multi-talented Russian formation Second To Sun. Both songs that have been revealed so far are breathtaking.

The first of the two preview tracks is “I Psychoanalyze My Ghosts“, and it’s a huge head-mover. Hell, its powerful rhythms and jolting riffs will make your whole body want to move. Make no mistake, it’s hellishly sinister, and the shrieking vocals threaten to raise welts on your face, but it has a damned potent effect on the reptile part of the brain, especially when it embarks on a bout of industrialized  pile-driving. The flickering and gleaming melodic accents in the song add to its appeal, and the brilliance of the sweeping keyboard melody in the crescendo makes it even more spectacular.

The second preview track, “Leviathan“, creates perhaps a similarly attractive blending of of ingredients. It will hammer you senseless, catch you up in cyclones of breathtaking intensity, send you cresting across celestial seas, and pull at your heartstrings with swirls of melancholy melody. I should mention that the drumming on both songs is stunning.










This fall the Finnish band Cynabare Urne will release a debut album, which follows two EPs, 2016’s Fire the Torches and 2018’s In the Cremation Ground. The album’s name is Obsidian Daggers and Cinnabar Skulls.

The first advance track, “Erida Evoken“, tells the tale of an ancient Achaean line driven mad by divine rage, drenched in the blood of warfare and doomed to die. It’s more death metal than black metal but I couldn’t resist including it here because I like it so much. Dismal and oppressive at first, it spurts into riotous motion. The doomed aspect of the opening reappears through backing keyboard elements and dirge-like chords, but the rapid-fire riffing, the feverish leads, the obliterating drumwork, and the utter savagery of the growls also create an atmosphere of madness and carnage.

The album will be released on October 16th by Helter Skelter, Blood Harvest, Regain, and Shadow Records.

(not yet)









Ostatnia Gwiazdaz” is the next track I’ve chosen to share with you. The shivering and sensuous melodic riffing in the song gets its hooks in the head very fast. It has an intensely perilous feeling, but is very seductive. As it changes, it becomes both majestic and scorching, both grief-stricken and demented. Those immersive and intensely affecting guitar performances are wrapped around a powerful bass-and-drum attack, and the vocals are ruinously intense (even when they segue into a soaring song of pain near the end). It’s easy to be swallowed whole by the song, which is simultaneously electrifying and emotionally punishing.

The song is the first one revealed from an album named Morbus Animus by the Polish “funeral black metal” band Martwa Aura. It’s their second full-length and comes five years after the first one. It will be released on September 4th.

(Thanks to Miloš for linking me to this one.)










Corridors inside a glacier” is the first advance track from Hadal, the second album by the Polish band Over the Voids…. I’ve never been within the corridors of a glacier, but I suspect it’s a magical environment. The glittering, trilling, and sinuous guitar harmonies in the song are also magical. With pneumatic drum rhythms and the occasional booming detonations beneath them, the riffing creates an entrancing effect. The feeling is one of melancholy — of yearning for things lost or beyond reach, but not so far gone as to extinguish hope.

When the drumming slows, the feeling becomes gloomier, and that sensation of gloom remains a balance against the intensity of those grasping guitar moods. Notwithstanding all the dark moods, the song is a wonderful tapestry of sound, and I’ve found myself coming back to it a lot this weekend.

Hadal will be released by Nordvis on August 28th. It includes guest vocals by A. of Armagedda and Stilla.










Sadly, I really am out of time now, and so I’ll just say a few words about one song from an album that was released on July 10th and can be streamed in full below. That song, “The Gift of Death“, is the fourth track on the album but the first one set to play in the Bandcamp stream.

Loosen your neck for this one, because it hammers like the pistons in a big freight engine. In between those episodes of massive neck ruination, it creates panoramas of uneasy and often grief-stricken melody with a near-cinematic sweep. Meanwhile, the vicious snarling vocals raise specters of demonism ascendant. Near the end, when the song’s cadence slows, the rippling lead guitar creates a wondrous, otherworldly sensation — though it’s really just bringing to the fore an aspect of the music that was already present.

The album’s title is Vacarme, and the band is Seventh from Québec City, Québec. The cover art, which I quite like, is by Philippe D’Amours.

P.S. The rest of the album, which in genre terms could be thought of as a blend of atmospheric black metal and post-metal, is also well worth your time, so don’t stop with “The Gift of Death“.





  1. Nice little collection! Never seen a pike on a cover before—Or, I think it is….

  2. Cynabare Urne and Seventh are my favorites from this awesome list.

  3. Wait, that’s where soap opera comes from – selling soap! Well bugger me, I’ve learnt something today.

    I picked up Second To Sun’s first album (The First Chapter) back when they were an instrumental band – after seeing it on NCS. Great album and sadly I haven’t kept up with their more recent material, but this sounds like they’ve come a long way. Killer stuff.

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