Oct 102022


If you haven’t yet tumbled to the marvelous talents of the Italian one-man band Xanathar, today is a good day to do that. Prior to today Xanathar had released two EPs (Darkmoon and The Towers), both of them emerging last year, but today there’s a third one and it’s an eye-opener too.

What made the two previous EPs such great experiences was Xanathar‘s skill in interweaving classic ’80s doom and epic heavy metal with raw black metal and dungeon synth. It was quite evident from those releases that Xanathar really loves all those divergent stylistic influences. But just because you love a bunch of disparate kinds of music doesn’t mean they’ll work together well if you try to mash ’em up or even stand them side-by-side. Making it work requires a lot more than affection.

Xanathar made it work in those first two outings, so much so that I included a song named “The Test of Fate” on my list of 2021’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. And as you’ll discover through our premiere stream today, it works again on Gold, Black and Crimson. Continue reading »

Oct 082022

Last weekend I was able to compile and write about a typhoon of new songs and videos, but this weekend will be different. The Seattle Mariners baseball club made the major league playoffs for the first time in 21 years, and won the first game of their first playoff series yesterday in Toronto. The second game is this afternoon, and I’ll be glued to the TV watching that with friends.

Afterward will be a dinner party in Seattle that will likely go late, and that won’t bode well for Sunday morning work on Shades of Black whenever I get back to my island home. Also ominous is the fact that I’ve got to do shit for my fucking day job tomorrow, which makes tomorrow’s usual column even more unlikely. So don’t be surprised if I have to skip it this week.

I’ve got to make my way to Seattle pretty soon for that ballgame, so I’ll have to make the following collection short, but hopefully sweet. I wish I could have done more, and really wish I could have done it yesterday when there was an extra incentive for fans to spend money on Bandcamp, but my job hammered me then too. So it goes. Continue reading »

Oct 062022

The image of a golden heart amidst black roses which welcomes listeners to the new EP by the Quebec-based death metal band Upon Your Grave isn’t just appropriate for the EP’s title — Gold & Decay — it also meshes with some of the music’s manifold ingredients. There’s head-spinning brilliance in these five songs, but also a surrounding yet alluring darkness in some of the melodies.

But the cover doesn’t clue you in to all of the ingredients, most prominently the fact that in this EP Upon Your Grave routinely inflict the kind of brutally obliterating beatings and unchained demolition work that spawns images of shattered bones and buildings reduced to rubble. And while there are moments that are mesmerizing, the main probable effect of the EP will be to leave people hyperventilated and gasping. Continue reading »

Oct 022022


I failed to get one of these columns done last Sunday, so I decided to go big today. I was able to spend hours yesterday listening, making choices, and beginning to write. From the windows, it looked like a beautiful day outside my home, but that’s as close as I got to it.

I made 13 choices, and 6 of them are in Part 1. Thirteen selections of music seems like too much to lay on anyone in a single day, particularly a weekend day, so I’m saving Part 2 for tomorrow. But I’ll give you a quick explanation about how I divided the choices:

Until you get to the last song, Part 1 is basically an inferno; the music in Part 2 goes off in a number of unusual directions that probably won’t please the trve and kvlt among you, but may intrigue others. 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 142022

(We welcome the return of NCS contributor Hope Gould and her review a new EP by the Oregonian black/death band Diabolic Oath, out now on the Sentient Ruin label.)

Something evil haunts the Pacific Northwest. Beneath the quaintness of the moss and ferns lies a sickly, insidious rot. In recent years, the PNW’s underground has siphoned the contaminated soil of its foul minerals and tirelessly cultivates some seriously evil metal – and the soil is rich. This year alone has seen evil, grimy releases from the likes of Triumvir Foul, Hissing and Grave Infestation to name a few. Portland’s Diabolic Oath were cultivated from the very same soil, festered in it, and have again proven themselves to be a most odious force with their new EP, Aischrolatreia.

Diabolic Oath emerged conspicuously from the Oregon mire with their first full-length, 2020’s Profane Death Exodus. Setting them apart was their masterful use of fretless guitar and fretless bass to craft a warped soundscape over unconventional compositions. Aischrolatreia revisits this sound but takes on an even more hostile and raw approach. Bestial devotees are likely to find themselves being sucked into the aural filth while others who have not yet heard the call may find it a jarring journey. Continue reading »

Sep 142022

(Andy Synn offers up three bite-sized yet blistering chunks of British Metal)

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I’ve not written about many EPs so far this year, instead choosing to focus my increasingly limited time on getting as many full-length albums written about as possible each month (and, even then, I’ve still fallen woefully behind on my “to do” list).

It’s a real shame, as the humble EP so often gets overlooked already, despite the fact that the format is where a lot of bands do their best work.

Today, however, I get to make up for this oversight – at least a little bit – while also adding yet another string of excellent releases to my ongoing “Best of British” series in the form of a triptych of terrific EPs from Grief RitualIron Tomb, and Peasant.

Continue reading »

Sep 132022

Here on the unlucky 13th day of September the Canadian two-man wrecking machine known as Deformatory have returned to visit new death metal ruination on a pathetic world with a new EP named Harbinger. To help announce the EP, Deformatory are presenting it in its entirety as a music video that we have the ghastly pleasure of premiering down below.

This makes the fourth premiere we’ve hosted on behalf of Deformatory going back to 2015, including the video for a song off their mind-mauling 2021 album Inversion of The Unseen Horizon. We’ll crib some of our words from that premiere feature, because they’re still relevant as a harbinger of Harbinger: Continue reading »

Sep 052022

In our never-ending mission to drown people in heavy music we have another roundup to start the new week. We’re doing this even though today is a national holiday here in the U.S., and the culmination of a 3-day holiday weekend. Canada also celebrates the same holiday today, the first Monday in September. Much of the rest of the world observes a similar celebration, but does it on May 1st.

The holiday is generically in honor of “workers”, but really began as a celebration of the labor movement (or “labour”, as they spell it in Canada). “Union” has become something of a dirty word in the U.S. over the last 40 years (in that time the percentage of American workers who belong to a union has fallen by half), though labor organization seems to be experiencing at least a modest resurgence in places like Starbucks shops, Amazon warehouses, and Google’s cafeterias. More power to them.

The holiday has really become just another excuse to have a 3-day weekend of sleeping, eating, drinking, and hanging out with friends. Here in the U.S., tradition also has it that you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, since it unofficially marks the end of summer. But you probably don’t wash your underwear very often anyway, so you’re good. And who wears white band shirts, I mean other than Andy Synn?

Where was I?

Oh yeah… drowning visitors in heavy music. That mission goes on, ’cause we don’t observe holidays at this clinically obsessive place (as if you couldn’t tell from the three posts that preceded this one today). Continue reading »

Sep 042022

For this Sunday’s column I’ve included three complete releases and one from a forthcoming album. I venture to say that you’ll find the first two releases formidably frightening and the third one more head-hooking and heart-exploding, while the advance track is an amalgam that’s fiery, feral, and defiant.

ADAESTUO (International)

I’ve written with admiration about all three of Adaestuo’s previous releases — the 2016 debut EP Tacent Semitae and the band’s two albums, Krew za krew (2018) and Manalan virrat (2020). So there was no chance I wouldn’t make the dive into Purge of the Night Cloak, a new EP they released just last week, but which seems to consist of recordings conceived in 2016 and first made in 2020. They describe it as an effort “to bring the intrepid beholder into a more Faustian Gnosis”. Continue reading »