Mar 052023


I’m roughly 1,900 miles away from my home. I made the trip last Thursday (an excruciating journey packed with delays), something I needed to do for my job. Since then I haven’t had much time to myself, night or day. My comrade Mr. Synn suggested I just take the weekend off from NCS. As he put it, “The world will keep spinning”.

I’m not so sure about that. What if the world is an incredibly detailed simulation running on the substrate of my mind? What if Mr. Synn is, as I have always suspected, a figment of my imagination? What if music has no objective existence unless someone other than its creator hears it?

I may have become too subsumed by a new sci-fi novel I’m reading, which I shouldn’t name because the idea of a simulation is one of its many surprises.

I did take yesterday off from NCS (actually not a lot of choice in that matter). I was very tempted to take today off too, but I do have a little time to myself before beginning the trip back to Seattle, and whatever airline- and weather-related fuck-ups will plague it. So I snagged just a few new songs to recommend, so you don’t think I had a stroke or a Sunday brunch in jail.




Diablation has a second album named Par de Feu coming out on March 31st via Osmose Productions. That’s news worth spreading, because the band’s first album Allégeance in 2021 was such a formidable first strike. I spilled a few words about it then (well, more than a few), and attempted to sum it up as “an enthralling descent into darkness, a rendition of fealty and frenzy, of torment and pain, of unearthly splendor and diabolical peril.”

I haven’t yet made my way through the new album in its entirety, but the first advance song not surprisingly holds a lot of promise.

Vox Diaboli” does indeed sound like it might be the voices of the Devil. There’s madness in the ringing and writhing riffage and synths, and the high-flying streams of all-enveloping sound create sensations of unearthly glory.

In a contrast with those supernatural and celestial wonders, the band bring to bear very deep and heavy bass lines and drumming that slugs damned hard, which together not only batter the hell out of the listener but get you moving too.

As the voice screams in a scalding fury, the music warps and swirls in sonic visions of unsettling brilliance, intersected by short percussive bursts and fanfare-like chords. The twists and turns of the rhythm section remain an attention-seizing presence throughout, and those vampiric vocals keep coming for your throat. It’s an altogether exhilarating experience.



SCHATTENFALL (Ukraine/Germany)

We’ve given a lot of attention to Schattenfall ever since encountering their 2017 debut album Schatten in Schwarz  And now they’ve just released a new single, roughly timed to coincide with the anniversary uf Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Entitled “Ой у лузі червона калина“, it’s a cover of a well-known Ukrainian folk/military song.

I don’t know the original song, so I’m just taking Schattenfall‘s cover as it comes. What comes is an extremely intense guitar harmony, and detonating drums that lead the music on a grim march. The vocals are also unchained in their raw, screaming intensity.

As the riffing evolves and the snare snaps at your neck, feelings of determination and struggle come through, and there’s no mistaking the visceral strength and depth of the song’s heaving and hurtling grooves. There’s a brief but glorious guitar solo lying in wait, as well as hard-rocking beats and slashing chords.

It’s hard not to be influenced by the events that spawned this cover song, but even so, its moods would still seem grim and beleaguered but also fierce.

Schattenfall says that “part of the money raised from this release will go to proven funds for Ukraine”. It appears that this single is the solo work of Schattenfall member (and former member of White Ward), Vladimir Bauer.




For my third and final choice in this abbreviated round-up of new blackened sounds I picked the first song publicly revealed from Kostnatění‘s new album Úpal (“heatstroke”), which is described as “a story of the human condition as a function of heat”. “Evoking both the searing rays of the desert sun and the melting of one’s sanity, ÚPAL walks the fine line between burning up and burning out.”

That first song, “Nevolnost je vše, čím jsem (Nausea Is All I Am)“, had its premiere at Invisible Oranges. As Jon Rosenthal wrote there, the music is not an easy listen, but it’s quite fascinating.

An immense multitude of guitar tones roil and exult, darting and dancing across the top of rapidly changing drum and bass rhythms and fiendish vocals. A notationally dense and dervish-like escapade, the song sounds authentically exotic, not necessarily in the sense of having been spawned from musical traditions in far-flung areas of the world (though parts of the album were so inspired), but equally in the sense that it might have been hatched during  the revels of djinns and demons.

It’s extravagantly head-spinning – to get alliterative, it’s dizzying, dazzling, and disorienting — and yet I found bits and pieces of it stuck in my head after it ended, and found that it’s very easy to return to.

Úpal will be released by Willowtip Records on May 26.

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