May 052024

I don’t have as many different things to share with you in this week’s edition of SHADES OF BLACK as I usually do, mainly because I’ve devoted most of my time to expressing detailed thoughts about a forthcoming record which I’ve found to be one of the most gripping black metal albums I’ve encountered so far this year.

After that, I’ve included a couple of recent singles that I also hope you’ll enjoy, both of which are fore-runners to eagerly anticipated albums that I haven’t yet heard in full.


We’ll begin with the first two songs you can now hear from Wrath, the forthcoming 12th album by Dødsferd. The album’s title shares the name of the band’s founder and also describes the emotional energy that fuels much of the music. Continue reading »

Apr 282024

Once again I had enough free time this weekend to make today’s collection from the black spheres a large one. I picked two recently released albums, preceded by one new video and songs from three more full-lengths that are on the way.

As you’ll discover, there’s considerable variation in the music today, but there is a through-line as I perceive it, a pervasive eeriness, a feeling that we’ve left this world and are communing with dangerous, daunting, and deceptive entities in the chilling and incendiary realms they call home.


A painfully long seven years have staggered by since the last album from Inconcessus Lux Lucis, so long that the news of a new album was startling, but a very welcome development for sure.

The new album, Temples Colliding In Fire, is one of three set for release on June 7th that I, Voidhanger Records announced in one fell swoop last week (I wrote about another one, the debut of Thanatotherion, yesterday). And along with the announcement, I, Voidhanger published the album’s title track. Continue reading »

Apr 212024

I got a late start on the day and my NCS time is rapidly running out, so I’ll skip the usual long-winded introduction and just quickly summarize what I’ve picked to recommend below:

This collection includes startling new songs from forthcoming records by four bands whose past releases I’ve enjoyed, and one recently released album from an equally startlng newcomer to these ears.


To begin, I have a song from a new EP by the Saint Petersburg black metal band Veter Daemonaz, whose previous music I’ve commented about repeatedly in the posts collected here. The song is “На Север (первое видение)” (which means in English, according to Google Translate, “To the North (first vision)”). Continue reading »

Apr 142024

Well, though I feared that partying last night might make today a wasteland for me, an incipient cold kept me away from the party. The only silver lining from missing that birthday party is that I had a clear enough head to pull together this column, which includes reviews and streams of two new albums and two new songs from full-lengths that are on the way — the theme of which is that “Variety is the spice of life!”

HERESIARCH (New Zealand)

Heresiarch‘s new album puts me in mind of a stunning mountain that seizes attention from far away, looming by itself like a daunting edifice above mundane surroundings, like a Rainier or a Fuji or a Kilimanjaro. Only as you get closer do the details begin to stand out too.

Edifice is indeed the new album’s name, and we’re drawn to it initially from far away, the distance being the seven years that separate us in time from their first album, Death Ordinance, which still looms in the memory. Unlike the mountains named above, however, this one is erupting, and through its vulcanism is re-configuring as the explosions occur, the earth shakes, and the lava flows. In that way, new details take shape in the harsh crags, to leave new memories. Continue reading »

Apr 072024

Last week I came across a verse from American poet and novelist Charles Bukowski that begins this way: “our public hell creates a / private hell and / there is no hell / except on / earth.”

Hell is a realm that exists in human imagination and belief too — a place in parallel to earthly existence or what comes after life. That is one way it exists on earth, even if it has no other existence, in addition to the public and private hells Bukowski wrote about — the hells that human beings make for others and for themselves.

I’m thinking about all these hells today, the realms of demons and the realms of human depravity and anguish, because I happened upon a sequence of new black metal songs and videos that I can only think of as hellish in one or more of those ways. Those songs fill up a lot of today’s collection.

But I only quoted part of Bukowski‘s verse. After positing that there is no hell except on earth he wrote: Continue reading »

Mar 312024

It is a good thing to be tolerant of people who are different from you, including people who believe things you think are ridiculous. But tolerance is sorely tested by people who are hypocrites and con-men, whose professions of faith are a cover for corruption, hatefulness, and abuse of others.

Having those people in mind today, and all the people who have fought back against them (with a kind thought also for the sweet people who humbly try to follow the precepts of such passages as Matthew 7:12 and 25:35-40), I picked the following five songs from forthcoming records and two complete releases to recommend to you on this Easter Sunday.


Rotting Christ, but of course I’m starting with them today. Their new album ΠΡΟ ΧΡΙΣΤΟU (Pro Xristou) — “Before Christ” — “serves as a fervent tribute to the last Pagan kings who resisted the onslaught of Christianity, guarding their ancient values and knowledge”. Continue reading »

Mar 242024

Scarcity — photo by Caroline Harrison

Today’s selection of black and blackened metal was partly the result of coincidence and partly by design. Coincidentally, out of all the worthy songs I listened to in searching for selections, many of them were by bands whose names begin with “S”. By design, I limited this column to those bands. Chalk it up to some need for order out of chaos.

Also coincidentally, two of these songs were accompanied by videos that are among the best I’ve seen this year in any genre, and by arranging this column alphabetically by band name, they come first. Continue reading »

Mar 172024

Yesterday I read that in the annual St. Patrick’s Day parades in the Irish Channel of New Orleans, float riders toss cabbages and potatoes to the people on the street, a unique twist on the Mardi Gras practice of throwing strings of beads to revelers.

Although a flurry of cabbages would be entertaining, I’ll have to aim some other things at your head on this Paddy’s Day — spiky obsidian things dipped in poison or hallucinogens, some red with heat and some freezing.

Of course, I felt compelled to lead with music from a couple of Irish bands before crossing the waters east and west.

P.S. This column is late-appearing because I can’t hold my Saturday night Jameson shots and Guinness back like I used to. and my spouse and friends kept me up way past my bedtime. Continue reading »

Mar 102024

What the hell happened? This collection of new black metal is appearing an hour later than it should have. I finished it at 10:00 and then I looked at an electronic clock and suddenly it was 11:00, without anything happening during that hour.

My first thought was that the music I picked had skewed space-time. The music, as you will see (or rather, hear), is certainly epic enough to cause such an upheaval. But then I discovered the reason was much more stupidly mundane. I gather that on a Sunday next November this column will appear an hour earlier than when I finish it. I look forward to being surprised again. Incipient dementia has its rewards.

AUSTERE (Australia)

Yes, “epic” is an overused and often poorly used word, but even worn-out words still mean something and sometimes are still better than the less-abused alternatives. And yes, “Cold Cerecloth” is epic. It’s also epically infectious. Continue reading »

Mar 032024

Here’s the way today’s collection of music goes: The first four choices include two albums and two singles that I thought fit well together. The music by all four bands is unmistakably harsh and hostile, but it’s also adventurously inventive and head-twisting, laced with the kind of unpredictable and unexpected elaborations that might invoke in some people’s minds the amorphous label “avant-garde”, or at least the term “unorthodox”.

After that I’ve included four other individual songs as bonuses. Later I’ll explain why I used that word to explain their presence here, if you make it that far (and you damn well should). Continue reading »