Apr 142021


Although there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to the musical parameters of Part 1 of today’s roundup, Part 2 is a little more coherent since it uniformly leans into black metal. However, to suggest that these four songs follow a consistent pattern would be wrong — each one sounds very different from the rest.


My first choice is “Φονικό Φως (Murderous Light)“, which surfaced as a digital single on Bandcamp yesterday. It was originally written for and released as part of Art Against Censorship, a compilation of 36 songs from Greek musicians to protest a law that was intended to target and silence radical political artists.

That comp was released in February of this year as a free download (here), and I managed to overlook it. It obviously includes a ton of music, and most of it is from bands whose names I don’t recognize, so one benefit of Spectral Lore‘s single will be to help draw attention to it. (I’m not surprised to see a Yovel song at the close of the comp.) Continue reading »

Apr 142021


I found time last night to rumble through a lot of new or newly discovered music, and enough time today to stitch together a two-part round-up. There’s not much rhyme or reason as to why I put these first four in Part 1, because the music is kind of all over the map. It would have been even more hard-to-classify if I’d included Mick Jagger‘s new jam with Dave Grohl, which I do like despite the silliness of the lyrics.


Having finally listened to “Gone Sour, Doomed” and watched the video that accompanied it when it debuted in February, I’m even more befuddled about why it took me so long to do that. I can’t pretend to hold all the songs of The Monolith Deathcult in my head, despite how memorable many of them are, but I will still say that this new one is among the most exhilarating they’ve ever concocted. And the video is HIGHLY entertaining, and proof that the band’s renowned sense of humor is still alive and well. Continue reading »

Apr 132021


What we have for you here is a first listen to the entirety of Melancholie Der Engel, the debut album by the Italian atmospheric funeral doom project Shamael in advance of its joint release on April 15th by Satanath Records (Russia) and Negre PlanY (Spain).

In crafting this record (during the pandemic) the solo artist behind Shamael, Raffaele Galasso (a member of Gardenjia and Nightcrush) has not broken any molds, but he didn’t need to. The album is so immaculately executed that it’s a monumental achievement despite its adherence to so many familiar tropes of the genre. In its amalgam of sounds it’s ethereal and pulverizing, mystical and ruinous, haunting and harrowing, shattering and spellbinding. Continue reading »

Apr 102021


I made the choices for this large round-up after a long listening session on Wednesday, with the idea of writing it up and posting it the next day. But we had so many other things to post that day and Friday that I deferred. Of course, in the meantime a lot of other worthy new songs and videos surfaced, but I decided to just stick with these selections rather than go back to the drawing board, which would have taxed my already over-taxed brain.

I couldn’t really figure out a good way to organize these songs, though I think I picked most of them because they have a through-line of being unsettling and mind-bending, albeit in different ways. I did include a bit of a curveball at the end.

INFERNO (Czechia)

As I wrote here only a week ago, I was blown away by the first advance track from Inferno’s new album, Paradeigma (Phosphenes of Aphotic Eternity), which will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on May 7th. Given the prodigious power of this band’s previous output (which now encompasses a quarter-century of releases), I can’t say I was surprised, but I was still bowled over. And now it has happened again. Continue reading »

Apr 072021


Margaret Renkl wrote two days ago in The New York Times, in an essay about poetry: “[I]sn’t our own impermanence the undisputed truth that lurks beneath all our fears and all our sorrows and even all our pleasures?… Carpe diem is the song the poets have ever sung, and it is our song, too”. And then she quotes lines from “The Kingfisher” by the late, great Mary Oliver: “I think this is / the prettiest world — so long as you don’t mind / a little dying.”

Ah, but as Hamlet mused, there’s the rub: There’s always the dying, and we know not what dreams may come in the sleep of death, or if any will. Which brings us to the musings of vocalist Daniel Neagoe that accompany the new album by the funeral doom masters Aphonic Threnody, The All Consuming Void:

“There is darkness everywhere, in the serenity of our thoughts, deep encompassed into our very beings, on the endless canvas of our dreams. There is darkness inside the soil beneath our feet and in the heavens above us. A fading, tenebrous gloom enshrouded in suffering and mist, in the coming of time to pass once more guiltless and ignorant. There is a void, all-consuming and ruthless, an emptiness which expands to the very core of our souls, imploding, thundering and monstrous. An impending prophecy that stands the sands of time.” Continue reading »

Apr 032021


I’m on a short vacation. First time away from the small community where I live in nine months. Along with a group of family and friends, we made the trip yesterday to an AirBnB on the water in a place called Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington, in the Puget Sound. The photo above was one of the sunset views last night from the deck of this rental.

I had originally decided not to do any blogging this weekend, but I was awake this morning so much earlier than anyone else in the house that I started listening to a few new songs, and here I am blogging again. It’s just three new songs, so that’s a compromise of sorts.

I’m not sure if I’ll write a SHADES OF BLACK column for tomorrow. We’ll be headed home on Monday morning. Continue reading »

Apr 012021


This round-up includes seven bands, which is a lot. But except for two, there’s just a single track per band (in the remaining cases there are EPs). I included a curveball at the end.

DORDEDUH (Romania)

Two days ago Dordeduh premiered a beautiful English-subtitled lyric video for “Descânt” (“Disenchantment”), the second single from their new second album Har, which will be released by Prophecy Productions on May 14th. The previously released single is “Desferecat“, which translates to “unchained”. It was accompanied by a fascinating music video of its own. Both songs have a visceral “physicality” but also quicken the imagination as you listen. Here’s what former NCS contributor KevinP wrote me about them: Continue reading »

Mar 272021


In yesterday’s round-up I burrowed deeply into the underground and surfaced with a collection of six songs that I thought were insane and unnerving in different ways. Today I’m on a different tack, leading off with some bigger names and then tunneling into underground depths again.

In addition, all of the following tracks were recommended to me by NCS colleagues and other friends. They didn’t let me down; hopefully you won’t feel let down either. There’s so much genre-spread here that you ought to find at least something that strikes a chord.

(I should mention that my friends didn’t just send me music. They also made me aware of the news that Meshuggah is recording a new album, and that it will feature the return of Fredrik Thordendal, trading places with Per Nilsson. They also passed along an announcement, accompanied by the photo of Peter Tägtgren above, that Hypocrisy’s new album has been completed.) Continue reading »

Mar 262021


As you can see, I had enough time to pull together a round-up of new tracks and videos today. It’s the first time I’ve managed to do this during the work-week in ages, usually having to wait until Saturdays before I can pull it off. As I meandered among things I was interested in checking out, the following six items began to cluster together in my head. Other things I enjoyed didn’t fit in this cluster, so I’ll leave them for tomorrow.

What caused these songs to coalesce in my thinking is because all of them seemed made of madness. For sure, they do have their distinctive thrills, but in varying ways they’re almost all a fracturing of sanity in sound.

KHANDRA (Belarus)

The first song I’ve chosen is the first single from a new album by this black metal band from Belarus, whose past music we’ve gratefully premiered and reviewed on two previous occasions. The name of the song gives you fair warning about what’s coming:  “Irrigating Lethal Acres with Blood“. Continue reading »

Mar 252021

(Andy Synn ventures forth once more into the multiverse of madness to experience the kaleidoscopic thrills and spills of The Beast of Nod, whose new album is out tomorrow in all known dimensions)

One thing I absolutely hate, with the burning passion of a thousand exploding suns, is parody bands.

They’re (almost) never funny, nowhere near as clever as they think they are, and generally just rely on lazy, lowest-common-denominator tropes to get by. Hell, even the best of them barely rise above the level of “children’s entertainers with guitars” a lot of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against bands having fun (as I hope to demonstrate with this review), nor am I ignorant of the fact that, well, Metal (particularly the more OTT and “extreme” forms we all know and love so well) is, frankly… a little bit ridiculous.

I mean, c’mon, a significant number of bands spend most of their time trying out “out-gore” one another with ever more biologically implausible (and borderline indecipherable) lyrics, while another extremely large contingent likes to rant about the evils of organised religion while dressed up like undead wizards!

With that in mind, then, there’s definitely something to be said for bands who, while still taking their craft seriously, are fully aware of the genre’s inherent absurdity (but, then, isn’t all life absurd, really, when you get right down to it?) and don’t try and shy away from it or act like they’re ashamed of it but, instead, choose to openly embrace it in all its shameless, everything-turned-up-to-eleven excess.

And if there was ever a band who exemplified the preposterous potential of Metal, not as a weakness but as a virtue, then it’s those shameless sci-fi Tech-Death troubadours who call themselves The Beast of Nod.

Continue reading »