Jul 302022


A couple of updates for you weekend visitors: First, I’ve had to rush today’s roundup, thanks to a late start on the day and way too many new songs and videos to go through in order to make these choices. Due to the rushing, I had to leave lots of good stuff on “the cutting room floor”, despite how many choices I made.

Except in the context of deadly sins and circles of Hell (the violent and bestial one), 7 is a lucky number, so I initially decided to stop there. But I couldn’t help myself, and so pushed it to 10 instead, presented alphabetically by band name.

Second, I’m going to a big party in Seattle tonight. It was originally scheduled to happen in January, but last winter’s covid surge fucked those plans. It will be very late before I get back to the NCS island headquarters, and there’s at least a 50/50 chance I’ll wake up on Sunday with a hangover, and a 100% chance that most of the morning will be gone by the time I open my red eyes. Which means we may not have a Shades of Black column tomorrow.



Prepare for an initial dose of brutal bludgeoning that will leave you a few inches shorter than when it found you, plus throat-ruining expulsions of vocal napalm, whispers of synth eeriness, and brazen chords that give this thuggish song an imperious mien.

The song is “Hourglass“, and it’s from the new album Ritual Violence, which will be released by Candlelight Records on October 7th.




BRUXAX (Brazil)

Prepare for further bludgeoning, and scariness, thanks to “Scream“, which is one of 14 tracks on a horror-themed soundtrack named O Som Do Labirinto that was compiled by the Brazilian label Tormenta for a short film they created for the online edition of Nyege Nyege Festival. The other tracks stylistically range far and wide, so if you’re in the mood for a spine-tingling adventure, listen to them too.





Prepare for music of bleak, disturbing grandeur and wrenching poignancy, deploying scathing black metal and mournful classical strings, haunting ambient swaths and glinting guitar grief.

The song is “Walz” and it comes from Coldworld‘s new album Isolation, which will be out on September 30th via Eisenwald.




CREDIC (Germany)

Prepare for a dose of melodic death metal that’s as vast as the setting in the video, but also pumps like the piston of that classic red convertible Impala the heroine is driving. The song features lots of swirling fretwork (especially in an eye-popping solo) to go along with the thunder-grooves and sweeping magnificence.

P.S. There’s a daunting surprise at the end of the video, but I won’t spoil it. Also, I’ve read that this video is the third in a narrative trilogy for the album, so I have to hunt down the first two. Maybe those who’ve seen them already know about the surprise.

The Mountains Between Us” is from Credic‘s new album Vermillion Oceans, which was released in April by Black Lion Records.




CRUZ (Spain)

Prepare for a wild trip, one that gallops and pumps, whirls like a mad dervish, submerges us in a vat of grim, boiling toxins, wails in misery from an unearthly dimension, and convulses in madness.

This devilish concoction is called “Als Peus de la Creu“. It’s from an album named Confines de la Cordura that will be released on September 26th by Nuclear Winter Records.




ELLENDE (Austria)

Prepare for a gale-force storms of tension and turmoil, anguish and pain, leavened with melodies of remembrance and sorrow. The music also jolts and sweeps, and rings and ripples in mesmerizing fashion. The video is beautifully made, but is a hard one to watch for those of us who have lived through the ruin that advanced age can bring to loved ones.

The song, “Abschied“, is the first single from Ellende‘s new album Ellenbogengesellschaft (I definitely copy/pasted that), to be released by AOP Records on September 30th.




FIRTAN (Germany)

It’s just a coincidence of the alphabet that Firtan follows Ellende, even though both have new albums that will be released by AOP Records, and both of their songs come with cinema-quality videos.

For this one, “Amor Fati“, prepare for darting lightness of sound that suddenly becomes humongous in its heaving and grinding power. Like Ellende‘s song, the vocals in this one are wrenching, and the feelings of confusion and despair in the music become equally so, eventually boiling over in bouts of pummeling drums and jolting and searing riffage. Acoustic guitars reappear to create introspective moods, but this song isn’t intended to soothe, even when it seems to romp and rollick, or when heroic voices soar

The album is Marter, set for release on September 30th,




HADAL MAW (Australia)

Prepare for Hadal Maw‘s fiendishly twisted cover of Cannibal Corpse’s 2012 anthem “Scourge of Iron“, a cover that’s both primitive and ruinous (especially ruinous of headbanging necks), brutalizing and nightmarish, and capped by a weird and woozy guitar solo that becomes a spasm. I mentioned the 7th Circle of Hell in the intro to this round-up. Welcome to it.

The song is a free download at Bandcamp.





Prepare to have all your nerves set on fire by this high-speed, exultant track, which also includes moments of mystery and moodiness. The rhythm section is on fire too, hammering and booming in exhilarating fashion. There’s some high-flown singing, along with screaming and roaring, but it works out okay.

Palengenesis” is taken from The Hirsch Effekt‘s EP Solitaer, which comes out on August 26th.





Prepare to get roughed up and rumbled by these Japanese legends, and to experience healthy doses of guitar shred. Yes of course, it’s another exception to our rule about singing, but “OEOEO” is so damned infectious I couldn’t resist.

It’s from the band’s new album Sunburst — their 29th studio album! — which is out now.



  1. That Ellende song is so powerful. Scathing, sorrowful and emotional. I loved their previous albums. Their music is like a thunderstorm at a funeral.

  2. Goddamn what a hefty post. There’s a lot of good stuff in here. I was excited for new Hadal Maw, and a bit let down to see it was just a cover, and then picked back up again when the cover turned out to be pretty banging.

  3. I just discovered Firtan. Has anyone heard their last album, “Okeanos”? It is just killer, they go from light to
    heavy and back again. Really engaging song writing. I am looking forward to their new album.

    Loudness! I havent heard these guys since the 80s. Good song. Metal never dies.

    • “Okeanos” is indeed killer, and I expect “Marter” will be too. I also kind of lost track of Loudness, probably because of my drift away from “traditional” heavy metal, but this song re-lit the spark. It’s a banger.

      • It relit the spark for me too, and after hearing that new song I listened to their 1985 album “Thunder form the East” and it was awesome (well, mostly). I hadnt heard that since the mid 80s!

  4. Absolutely didn’t expect Loudness. I used to rock out to their Lightning Strikes and Hurricane Eyes albums in the late eighties. Thanks for the memory flood!

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