Jul 282021


(DGR compiled the following four reviews to help clear out his backlog.)

The first one of these smaller and shorter review roundups was pretty death metal focused and also well-travelled, taking us all over planet Earth in the quest for the finest gurgles and blastbeats upon which to gorge ourselves. It also helped alleviate some of the guilt of having such a massive collection of bands I’d wanted to write about but was quickly watching the sand dwindle on available time given that we’re slowly crawling towards another likely back half of the year flood.

However, as is always the case, there was still another collection waiting in the wings and this one much more diverse across the musical spectrum, though equally world-traveling. Mileage-wise it may be a little more concentrated, as it’s fairly European-focused but we do reach the outskirts a bit, with this roundup taking us to places like a France/Sweden combo act, all the way to Texas, to the Netherlands, to Greece, to the wild and exotic reaches of Sacramento, California.

If that seems like a wild mess, then let me assure you, this collection of music is also wild, but after this I may be as close to having a clean slate as I’m ever going to get. So, let’s start my second attempt at a ‘shorter’ review roundup and get this ball rolling. Continue reading »

Jul 272021


(We’ve previously published (here and here) two installments of a “dirty black summer” playlist compiled and written by Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood), and now we’re happy that he’s followed that with a third set of recommendations for your summer listening, presented below.)

I hadn’t really planned on revisiting this series quite so soon but there were a few releases I missed last time and a few coming up that I wanted to shed a little light on, so here we are. There’s a few gloomier bits and some hints of the upcoming autumn in here which should help those of you who get a pumpkin spiced hard-on right after the Fourth of July get a bit of a fix in. Continue reading »

Jul 272021


The day may come when we no longer need to identify musicians in metal (or in other artistic genres) as women or men, as black or white, as queer or straight, but simply as performers, whose creative talents will speak for themselves, for better or for worse. But that day is still far away. And so we will note that one of the two people in Modern Rites is a young American black man, Jonny Warren (who is also behind the experimental metal band Kuyashii).

But we make that observation not only because black performers are still a rarity in metal but also because Warren’s personal experience is at the heart of “Black Wolf“, the song we’re premiering today from Modern Rites‘ debut album Monuments in advance of its August 27 release by Debemur Morti Productions. Continue reading »

Jul 272021


Vittorio Sabelli and his changing coterie of comrades in Dawn of A Dark Age are fully capable of donning their blackened armor, brandishing their swords and scythes, and going on the attack — and it’s thrilling when they do. But many heavy metal bands can do that. Very few are capable of surrounding those electrifying charges, as this band does, with such a rich and distinctive sonic pageant of other experiences, and none that we know of make the clarinet such a vital part of the pageantry.

I was late to the theater of Dawn of A Dark Age, having been oblivious until the 2020 album La Tavola Osca, which I reviewed and premiered here last July. But that record was one of those extraordinary musical adventures that makes one a fan for life. It arrived after Sabelli’s completion of a multi-album opus called The Six Elements, and it began a new thematic cycle. Now we have the second installment in the cycle.

This new album, which will be released by Antiq Records on September 24th, is named Le Forche Caudine, and it’s another remarkable achievement. It consists of two “Acts”, two very long compositions that succeed in transporting the listener to a very different age, in a very different world than we know now. Today we present an excerpt from Act I that’s absolutely exhilarating. Continue reading »

Jul 262021


We are told that the Finnish band Moon Oracle was first formed by Sûrya-Ishtara and U after spending years searching for their own sound with previous bands, and that they then asked Harald Mentor to fill the role of vocalist, knowing his abilities from such acts as Ride for Revenge, Incriminated, and Uskonrauha, among many others.

What they’ve accomplished together is the creation of a 26-minute debut record entitled Muse of the Nightside, presenting music that’s equally informed by archaic black metal and eldritch doom. It is a strange and twisted experience, capable of invoking dread and fear but simultaneously proving to be charismatic in its own ghastly and primeval way — as you shall learn for yourselves through our premiere today of the record’s opening track, “The Huntress and the Hunted“, in advance of the full release on August 18th by Signal Rex and Bestial Burst. Continue reading »

Jul 262021


Active since 2013, the Australian doom band Lucifer’s Fall follow in the footsteps of the greats, of Witchfinder General and Saint Vitus, of Pentagram and Reverend Bizarre. And they’re resuming their march with a new third album that’s set for release on August 8th by Sun & Moon Records. Its name is III – From the Deep, and today we bring you a video for the new record’s opening track, the epic “Trident Steel“.

This song alone demonstrates the variations that Lucifer’s Fall bring into their sounds, and the supernatural inspirations of both their lyrics and their music, while remaining true to the traditions of classic doom and heavy metal. And yes, it’s an exception to our porous rule about singing — for good reason. Continue reading »

Jul 262021


(Our contributor Gonzo wrote this review of the new album by Eternal Valley from Portland, Oregon, which was released earlier this month by Northern Silence Productions.)

While I’ve certainly endured plenty of shit over the past year, as I’m sure all of us have to some degree, the right music can capture the mood and makes the grief a little more bearable. There’s a certain comfort in listening to music that’s been written and played by someone who might be experiencing the same thing you are at the time, and when it’s played so intensely and urgently, it can prove to be downright fucking cathartic.

All of this is what I immediately felt the first time I listened to Kingdom of Misery by the Northwest’s one-man master of the morose, Eternal Valley. Continue reading »

Jul 252021


Thankfully I was able to finish the second installment of today’s column before having to turn to other things. But I have to make that turn quickly, so I’ll dispense with any further introduction.


I’ve been meaning to write something in support of this extravagant compilation for the last week, ever since the official announcement of it last Monday, and then it occurred to me that putting it in a SHADES OF BLACK column would be the most fitting way to do that anyway.

The name of the compilation is This Wretched Earth. Presented by Snow Wolf Records, it includes tracks by 16 bands from 14 countries across 6 continents, and adds up to almost an hour and a half of music. It includes a number of groups I’ve written about in other editions of this column, as well as a lot of names that are new to me. It also includes a number of exclusive tracks not available anywhere else; I’ve determined that 10 of them aren’t listed on Metal-Archives. Continue reading »

Jul 252021

I’m taking a chance calling this Part 1, since Part 2 exists only in my head at this point. But we need goals, right?

At least Part 1 is complete. What I chose for it is a collection of four singles from forthcoming releases and one complete album that just surfaced today. A couple of these aren’t black metal, strictly speaking, but I got so excited about them that I didn’t want to wait, and at least from my perspective they don’t seem out of place. My goal for Part 2 is a few more complete recent releases.


Erstwhile NCS contributor KevinP has been banging the drum among friends for this first song, and the song is a banger too. The big rumbling riff that opens the track is an immediate head-snagger, and the song just gets more addictive as the riffing becomes increasingly feverish. Embellished by a nasty tone, the guitars viciously roil, jab, and jolt, backed by viscerally compelling drumwork and bestial bellows and barks. It’s an adrenaline-fueling mix of skull-slugging grooves and boiling chaos…. Continue reading »

Jul 242021


Those of us in the metal trade know that Friday’s have become a dumping ground, or a deluge from above, or a flood tide… pick your metaphor for a day when a ton of new songs and videos drop. Yesterday was in that vein. With help from some other NCS slaves I made a giant list, and did a freestyle kick through it. Found a lot to like, and decided to grab a baker’s dozen of tracks for your entertainment, all of which happened to arrive with videos.

In terms of verbiage, I’m just going to ejaculate my immediate visceral reactions without fully formed sentences or consistent punctuation. Unless I just keep quiet I don’t know how else to manage commentary on so many songs and films, and of course keeping quiet would be sheer torture for moi.

ABORTED (Belgium)

A creepy, horror-drenched intro opens the book on a jolting and blazing calamity that soon goes berserk… despite its title, the song doesn’t really drag you to hell, it fires you into hell with a howitzer… and all the devils are there, ready to rip and ruin… but also to reveal the sweeping, bombastic glory of their awful domain…. Continue reading »