Sep 202022

Many much-beloved metal albums, both very old and much newer, follow a straight and narrow path, charting a consistent stylistic course and staying in the lane, without much interest shown in the openings that lead off elsewhere into the thorny brambles and dark woods on either side. They work because the bands are so good at what they chose to do, and make their trails wander just enough to keep the eyes and ears of listeners alert.

On the other hand, some bands only seem to have eyes for the paths that twist and turn, the more tangled and unpredictable the better, and they relish the chance to dart off into side-openings whenever the opportunity presents itself. Some of those bands get lost, and lose listeners along the way, but others succeed in making their less-traveled paths more exciting than the straight and narrow.

The Loom of Time‘s new album Grand False Karass is certainly a vivid example of the latter, and an even more surprising one in light of the bamboozling (and dangerous) new adventures it offers by comparison to the band’s debut. Continue reading »

Sep 202022

(We present DGR‘s review of a new album by the UK’s Strigoi, which will be coming out on September 30th on the Season of Mist label. Photos by Hal Sinden.)

It is a wonder how we always cycle back around to the start musically, isn’t it?

Although at this point Vallenfyre has been a long-retired project, with founding member and mainstay Gregor Mackintosh instead launching Strigoi a year and a half after the previous band’s final album, the group’s influence throughout releases has been hard to deny. For many, Strigoi is a natural continuation of the prior project – mainly another outlet for Greg to unleash his varied tastes for death and doom metal alongside new cohorts, so much so that the line between the two projects is often blurred.

When Vallenfyre‘s debut A Fragile King was released, it was a densely packed and thundering take on the hybrid death-and-doom genre. Vallenfyre‘s later two releases would travel in different directions from that initial launch, adding in a heap of crust punk and grind influence, resulting in a project that got much faster and little bit more traditionally vicious over the course of its three-release career.

Strigoi picked up the baton in that relay, adding even more elements to the fire, and Greg – now joined by Chris Casket – would release a grungier take on those first three albums with 2019’s Abandon All Faith. Which is what makes things interesting for Strigoi‘s sophomore album Viscera – their first for Season Of Mist – because it seems that even though the group is now reinforced with drummer Guido Zima and guitarist Ben Ash, the initial influence of that first solo project release has never fully left. Viscera has cycled back around, and Strigoi once again returns to the realm of dense, slow-crawling dirge, death, and doom. Continue reading »

Sep 192022

This was supposed to be “Seen And Heard On A Saturday (Part 3)“. Even when I mentioned the idea for it on this past Saturday I knew in my heart of hearts that the odds of getting it done were vanishingly small. Completing two parts was tough enough. At least this time I didn’t toss the idea in a mental dustbin, never to be recovered.

The idea for this one originated last Friday night, with most of it taking shape during a regular Zoom confab among metal writers that I sometimes drop in on when my spouse is out having fun without me. I can’t exactly reconstruct how all these songs popped into my head during that conversation. Free-flowing gin might have had something to do with that, both the surfacing of the songs and my inability to explain how it all happened.

I’m also not sure this assemblage of music is going to connect with anyone else (it begins with some new things but then tunnels far back in time), but fuck it, worth a try. Continue reading »

Sep 192022

(We’re joined today by a new NCS contributor, Rob Tamplin, with his review of a new album by Texas-based Gonemage, set for release on September 30th.)

With Handheld Demise, Garry Brents, emerging master of high-concept narrative genre-spanning almost-metal, rounds off a trilogy of albums which started with 2021’s Mythical Extraction.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the eye of Brents’ particular musical hurricane, the nucleus seems to be Phase Out, Cara Neir’s ongoing trilogy of 8-bit black metal homages to RPGs. The Phase Out cycle is a trilogy of loosely-narrative albums inspired by dungeon crawler games like Neverwinter Nights, Pools of Darkness and Death Knights of Krynn, in which the listener ‘experience[s] a range of bits, bleeps, beats, and buzzing sounds you might hear from 90’s dungeon crawlers and JRPG’s.’

Like its parent project, Handheld Demise presents an entrancing medley of metal and geek culture (the cassette version of Sudden Deluge, the trilogy’s middle-child, came with its own custom printed Magic: The Gathering card). So, If Cara Neir is the main show, then Gonemage is the spin off. Continue reading »

Sep 192022

If you’re not fluent in Italian and feel the urge to resort to google translate, we’ll save you that step: Un feto schiacciato senza tre falangi, the name of Scheletro‘s new album, means “A crushed fetus without three phalanges”.

That’s a grim and gruesome image to contemplate, but it’s just a hint of the traumatic nature of the album concept as a whole, which is described as a narrative “in which rebellion against patriarchy ends in suicide, social emancipation is humiliated by sexual blackmail, revenge is swept away by repression, and perversion is sublimated into necrophilia”.

How Scheletro tell this harrowing tale through their music is a tale all its own, one in which the group bring together ingredients of traditional Italian old-school hardcore, D-beat crust punk, and strands of old school death metal and thrash. The results are bleak, punishing, and emotionally moving, but also explosively wild and exhilarating. Continue reading »

Sep 192022

(Earlier this month Bloodbath released their sixth album, and their first on Napalm Records, and today DGR has some thoughts to share with you about it.)

The thing reiterated with Bloodbath time and time again is how the group have always existed as partial tribute act, partial throwback, and definite lovers of the phrase “playing for the cheap seats”.

They were formed in a time when the wave of death metal throwback wasn’t yet even a cogent idea to a lot of people, with some of the groups that Bloodbath sought to emulate only just hanging their hats up to go quiet for a decade or so — only to return as the old school death metal revival hit full swing. At the time it made logical sense since they became a bastion of old school chainsaw guitar and ethos, likely exposing waves of people to the genre for the first time, boosted by the popularity of its various members’ other projects. It would feel like a lie to say that the gateway to Bloodbath at that time for a lot of people wasn’t a starting point with Opeth and Katatonia.

What’s been interesting for Bloodbath is that they’re in a weird spot now, as the revival and throwback movements have now long been factors within the genre, which means they’ve no longer the flag-bearers for a style that has waned in popularity. Instead, they’re now at the forefront of an active movement within death metal and one that often asks the question, “well how hard can you throw us backward in time?” Continue reading »

Sep 182022

To save time (yours and mine), I’ll dispense with the usual windy introduction and say only that some of the choices I made this week stretch the admittedly elastic musical bounds of this column, and eventually wind up completely outside them… but that doesn’t happen right away, as you’ll soon see.

GEVURAH (Canada)

Gevurah probably need no introduction to our visitors, or to anyone else who wants to feel consumed by fire when listening to black metal. As I’ve observed both in the case of their 2016 debut album Hallelujah! (which we premiered and reviewed here) and their 2018 EP Sulphur Soul (discussed here), Gevurah are devoted to the fierce power of chaos, and the unrelenting intensity of their music can be overwhelming. Based on the first song from their forthcoming second album, they’ve not moderated their stance. Continue reading »

Sep 172022

Lo and behold I got Part 2 of today’s round-up finished, so I didn’t completely embarrass myself. I may still be embarrassed if I can’t complete Part 3 before having to turn to personal chores and begin thinking about tomorrow’s Shades of Black column. I guess it will be like having my pants part-way down but not showing the full plumber’s crack in all its hideous glory.


In a time when metal re-births seem increasingly common, the resurrection of Maceration still seems worth an extra measure of attention, in part because for their new album Dan Swanö has again stepped in to fill the session vocal role, as he did under the name Day Disyraa for Maceration‘s first album 30 years ago.

Original guitarists Jakob Schultz and Lars Bangsholt are also back, together with bassist Robert Tengs and drummer Rasmus Schmidt (Illdisposed, ex-Myrkur). Continue reading »

Sep 172022

Eternal Helcaraxe

Oh shit look what I’ve done. I learned the hard way that I should never call one of these weekend round-ups “Part 1” when Part 2 is still just an idea. Too many times in the past, I never got around to writing Part 2, even when I was damn sure I could. So I vowed to myself I’d stop doing the Parts thing. If I got another Part done, it would just be a surprise instead of the culmination of an announced plan.

You know what makes the situation even riskier (i.e., stupider) today? I have ideas not just for Part 2 but also for Part 3! I could spell out those ideas right now. But there’s  a limit to how dumb I’m willing to be. I’ll just say that if they come to pass they won’t both be a continuation of choices from among fairly recent songs and videos. Continue reading »

Sep 162022

As you can tell from the title of this feature, we’re about to premiere a video for a new song by the French technical death metal band Catalyst — one that they call “the fastest and most savage song” of their repertoire. It’s from their forthcoming second album, with the intriguing title A Different Painting for a New World. We have lots of interesting details to share about the band and the new record, but this is one of those times when we’re going to cut to the chase first.

What we’re chasing (or more accurately, what’s chasing us like a Formula One car with the agility of a cheetah) is the song “Worms and Locusts“. When we get to the details, you’ll learn that the song is part of an album-length conceptual narrative, and in the tale of this track a world is purified by apocalypse. Continue reading »