Jun 172023

The plan as of yesterday was three round-ups in a row, and now I’m two-thirds of the way to success. The way things are looking now, I feel good about the odds of finishing a third one in tomorrow’s Shades of Black collection. Don’t place any bets, however, because there’s a party in my future tonight and possibly a hangover in my future tomorrow morning, but at least there’s no sign of my fucking day job bringing out the whip.

ALKALOID (Germany)

As a rule, news doesn’t get published here unless there’s music to go along with it. But like the rule in our site’s title, we do make occasional exceptions. This is one of those times.

Yes, I’m sorry we don’t yet have any new music from Alkaloid to share, just that album art you’ve been staring at up there — but hell, that’s worth an exception isn’t it?

The album art stopped me in my tracks as I was scrolling social media this morning. The accompanying news is that Season of Mist will be releasing a new Alkaloid album named Numen on September 15. They say it will be another interstellar excursion and that “it’s got some of their most intricate, thought-provoking and insane ideas yet”.

Presumably, the genius lineup will still be Hannes Grossmann, Morean, Linus Klausenitzer, Christian Münzner, and Danny Tunker.

SoM has shared a pre-save link (below), and the band made a FB post saying they’ll release the first of the new songs next week. So we won’t have to wait long to get a taste of the goods…. I think the cover art was made by Christian Martin Weiss.





Now that we’re getting into actual music, I decided to stay close to home and start off with the first advance track off a debut album by Seattle-based Cystic.

The title of the song is “Core of the Maelström“, and you can’t accuse Cystic of false advertising when they chose it. The crack of the snare sounds like the rabid snapping of jaws, and the bass and double-kicks are effective at rumbling the guts, but it’s the writhing riffage that feels like the maelstrom — a building maelstrom of poisonous madness.

From the beginning, those roiling guitar sounds are dismal and foul, and the snarled and screamed vocals are hideous, but the maelstrom doesn’t fully spin up until you’re past the song’s halfway mark, and then things do get even more chaotic and crazed. The sharp clatter of the snare becomes a series of convulsions, and the guitars attack in a frenzied swarm. It’s nice that the bassist was allowed to noticeably continue doing his own interesting things in the midst of such mayhem.

Cystic‘s first full-length is named Palace of Shadows. It’s set for release by the venerable Mexican label Chaos Records on August 11th.





I slotted in this next song right here in part because the chime-like ringing and swirling of its opening guitar instrumental immediately creates such an enticing contrast with the Cystic song above. As that instrumental evolves, it also brings in hints of mystery and melancholy.

Those hints flourish into fullness when scorching vocals arrive to make a shattering impact and the band flood the senses with double-bass turmoil and waves of searing riffage that seems to channel desperation and torment. Though there’s a bit of welcome grit in the gears, the guitars still ring fairly clear as they ethereally shiver and soar, and they dart and cavort between the channels too, creating hints of vibrant joy.

More than anything, the song’s constantly morphing guitar patterns and melodies are mainly what make the song so compelling, straight through to the track’s intense finale, which sounds both frantic and forlorn, both harrowing and mesmerizing, though that’s not intended to diminish the impact of those incinerating vocals or the rhythm section’s own changing expressions.

The song is called “Fallenness“, and it’s the first advance track from this Minneapolis progressive black metal quintet’s new EP Inhuman Flourishing, which is set for release on July 7th. Credit for the intriguing cover art goes to Nipinet Landsem, and Stephen Wilson (Unknown Relic) created the band’s logo.

(Thanks go to Sami Sati (Oak Pantheon) for urging me to check this out. Methinks I made a mistake in overlooking the band’s self-titled debut album from two years ago.)





I would have listened to this next song under any circumstances, because I have such good memories of this Belarusian duo’s previous releases, but I admit that the YouTube thumbnail for the accompanying video, which highlights the voluptuous beauty of the band’s vocalist Nokt Aeon, was an extra inducement.

The lyrics of “Смерць Цалуе Ў Вочы (Death Kisses Your Eyes)” are haunting (they’re in the band’s native tongue but they’re translated to English at YouTube beneath the film), embracing death and counseling not to fear her wings when she appears, with no pity or remorse in her visitation.

The music is also haunting, and the ethereal, crystalline ring of the lead guitar made it seem like a good companion to the previous song in today’s collection. There’s warmth in the bass tone and flickers of vitality in the drumming, but the gasped words portend that dark visitation.

The guitar continues to ring and trill beautifully, but frightening screams, swaths of burning sound, and the accelerated snap of the drums heighten the song’s emotional intensity. There’s a place for angelic singing in the song too, and deeper gothic singing, as well as a beautifully wailing guitar solo and sprightly piano keys. I suppose the overarching mood of the song is depressive, but as it relentlessly ebbs and flows, it swerves into wistful moods and visions of wonder.

The song is from Dymna Lotva‘s new album Зямля Пад Чорнымі Крыламі: Кроў (The Land Under The Black Wings: Blood), which will be released by Prophecy Productions on August 4th. If you’re intrigued by this song, you should check out a previous single (“Пахаваны Жыўцом (Buried Alive)“, which arrived with its own video a month ago. I’ll make that easy for you.




TONGUES (Denmark)

To close today’s collection I felt the need for something more extreme to follow that last song. I also felt the need to begin doing something to help spread the word about yet another mini-storm of new releases announced all at once by one of my favorite labels, I, Voidhanger Records — three new albums all set for release on July 28th. So, I’ve killed two birds with one stone here.

Of those three, I picked an advance track from Formløse Stjerner, the forthcoming second full-length by the Danish band Tongues, which follows their first one by a long six years.

What you’ll encounter first in “Elder Fire” are slow, mysterious droning tones and ghostly radiations that sound like the moan of a bass or cello being bowed. But soon enough the music becomes rudely cacophonous, thanks in part to the gnawing of a gravel-chewing bass. You’ll also notice, however, that in this song (like others today), the guitar sometimes rings like a clarion, even as the drums hammer and bestial vocals intrude.

The music heaves and undulates in low-toned agony too, and it burns like a dangerous fever. Harmonies of despair also claw their way forward over maniacal drumming, hurtling bass lines, and berserk screams. The guitars writhe as well as ring, bringing the music to a summit of fear — where an electrifying extended guitar solo pitches it to an even higher plane, a glorious one.

You might also want to consider what the band have said about the album as a whole:

As the formless star on the cover alludes to, this album deals with the disllusion and despair of the spiritual yearning. Forever chained to the body but grasping towards the unreachable stars – once beacons of hope, they become increasingly obscure and almost mocking in our every effort to reach them. The great drama and inevitable pitfall of thinking in dualism.

That remarkable cover painting is by NN Art.



  1. Oh hell yes, new Alkaloid coming out. Thanks for these features great music today but that Alkaloid news and artwork tops them all.

  2. What’s a “pre-save”, precious?

    • You’re asking the wrong person, dear. All the links lead to streaming services, and I don’t use any of them.

      • Yeah, I clicked through and saw that. I’ve just never heard the term, and while I do use Spotify, it then links to a page that says your Spotify info will be shared with feature.fm, which I’ve also never heard of, so screw that donkey noise.

        Still not clear what is being ‘saved.’ I’m sure once it’s out the stone will be rolled back and salvation will be ours.

        • We get a fair number of press releases that include “pre-save” links, and I usually include them even though I have no idea what any of the links actually accomplish. I assume, without any personal experience, that anyone who “pre-saves” will then get some kind of message when the music is available for streaming. But I also assume that means some kind of registration where you fork over your e-mail or text message address if you’re not already signed up for the streaming service. No interest in doing that myself, even when I don’t have another way of listening.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.