Feb 282021
 

 

I won’t repeat what I wrote yesterday (fucking day job… electrodynamic particle accelerator… last hurrah…). Suffice to say I don’t have much time for NCS at the moment, or for the next couple of weeks, so today’s SOB is briefer than usual. But still good, of course, like a delicious appetizer that a djinn materializes to drop off and then vanishes, leaving you to forage for the rest of the meal yourself.

MONTE PENUMBRA (Portugal/Iceland)

My oh my, how my eyes brightened last week when I saw that Monte Penumbra had returned. I confess I had forgotten to check for news about this project with the passage of time. After all, it has been roughly five years since their last release, a 2016 EP named The Black Realm Vigil, and even longer since their first album, Heirloom of Sullen Fall (2013). But the music isn’t easily forgotten, hence the gleam of brightness in my puffy bloodshot eyes. Continue reading »

Feb 212021
 

 

In exploring what I might choose for today’s column I wound up going down a weird rabbit hole. By chance, the first few tracks I picked put me in a chilling frame of mind, and in sorting through others I decided to just stay there, immersed in a mood of cold, frightening eeriness. However, I did decide to pick a couple of more carnal (for want of a better word) selections to finish off this compilation, to shake off those other moods like a wet dog shedding water.

There’s obviously a lot of music here, but maybe not as much as you might guess because until the very end these are all advance tracks rather than full releases. So don’t be daunted… dive all the way in….

PALUS SOMNI (UK/US)

I’m beginning with “Unholy Cosmic Quintessence“, the first advance song from the debut album of Palus Somni, a trio that combines (to quote the label) “the twisted dissonant riffs of Stroda (known for this work on U.K. based Industrial / Black Metal act Decoherence), the thundering vicious percussions of Eoghan (known for his work on U.S. Black Metal bands Akhlys and Aoratos) and the distant cold icy screams of Imber (from U.S. based record label Noxial)”. Continue reading »

Feb 142021
 

 

Someone (besides Andy Synn) must have noticed that yesterday I posted a round-up of new songs and videos that I named “Seen and Heard on Valentine’s Day“, when in fact yesterday was not Valentine’s Day. I conceived of various justifications for this, including the assertion that I live in the future. But the truth is that what I did was probably dictated by my subconscious mind: Sundays here are for Shades of Black, even a Valentine’s Day Sunday, and I sure as hell couldn’t call this “Valentine’s Day Shades of Black”.

Let’s face it, black metal is not about love, even when it’s the kind of more modern blackened metal that wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s more about bitterness, hate, and hopelessness. When it becomes celebratory, it’s usually envisioning the savage triumph of the Fallen Angel over the deluded sheep of humanity and the institutions that have herded them, or the death of the cosmos itself.

Well, those observations may not cover the entire spectrum of black metal, especially in the modern era, but you know what I mean. Generally speaking, black metal isn’t about hearts and flowers unless the hearts have been freshly ripped from chest cavities and the flowers bloom at night and are poisonous. So, I’m just going to continue pretending that yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and we’ll say nothing more about it today.

As usual, I’ve struggled to make the following selections because so much worthy new music surfaced over the last week. There was a lot of other news as well, including the announcement that the long-running Serbian band The Stone will have a new album named Kosturnice coming out in late March, and that Necros Christos have announced their permanent disbanding. Nevertheless I did my best with these choices, and of course you should feel free to use the Comment section to point out other new black metal that I should have paid attention to in print. Continue reading »

Feb 072021
 

 

I’ll be so bold as to say that lovers of black metal, or at least those whose tastes aren’t rigidly hemmed in by convention, are in the midst of a musical Renaissance. I don’t mean to say that every band and every variant are worth our time or our devotion — as in all art, there is wheat and there is chaff to be separated. But there are giant bushelfuls of wheat to fall into!

Sadly, out of the many noteworthy releases I discovered during the last week, the timing of which perhaps had something to do with Bandcamp Friday, I only have time to feature a couple, and I chose these two. Even with just these two, time prevents me from going into great depth about them

MISOTHEIST

I’ve been impatiently waiting for a new Misotheist album ever since coming across a preliminary version of a new song named “Benefactor of Wounds” in the spring of 2019. I had thought that Terratur Possessions would release the album that year, but the year passed, and so did 2020, and we continued to wait — though the debut of the album version of that same song last November did bring with it the news that the album would finally arrive this month. And so it has. In a word, it’s stunning. Continue reading »

Feb 072021
 


Spire

 

These columns are always difficult to put together. There are just so many worthy candidates to choose from. But this weekend seemed even more difficult than usual. In an effort to call attention to as much new music as I could, I’ve made this a two-parter. To get things started, I chose advance tracks from four forthcoming records and sandwiched in a new video for a song we’ve praised before. Part 2 will be devoted to a few complete new releases.

SPIRE (Australia)

First up are a pair of stunning advance tracks from Temple of Khronos, the second album by Australia’s Spire. “Harbinger” is an immediate storm of reality-rending chaos, a conflagration of blasting drums, massed, maniacally swirling guitars, and a choir of vocalists who seem to be in the throes of a mind-scarring out-of-body experience. The intensity will suck the wind from your lungs, but the glimmering, otherworldly melodies, which become stricken with grief and despair when the momentum slows, and the ominous chanting, which adds an element of solemn and haunting grandeur, make the song even more compelling. Continue reading »

Jan 312021
 

 

As promised in Part 1 of this column, Part 2 is devoted to a group of complete new albums that were just released during the last 10 days, most of them unusually unsettling but also fascinating. With apologies to the bands, and maybe to you if you usually bother to read rather than just listen, I’ve resorted to a time-saving strategy of just picking one track from each album to write about in detail, and then adding only the most cursory preview of everything else.

For the first two records I’m again indebted to Rennie (starkweather) for making me aware of them.

MUKA (Croatia)

Patologija Poniznosti is a new EP by this band from Zagreb that just came out today, so I obviously haven’t spent much time with it. But I’ve spent enough time to learn that Muka have become no more merciful than they were on their 2017 EP, Sveta Stoka, which I briefly reviewed here. Continue reading »

Jan 312021
 

 

What you have before you is a selection of advance tracks from forthcoming releases and, at the end, the stream of a new EP. If that weren’t enough to occupy you (and it probably is), I have in mind a second part to this column that includes a bunch of complete new releases, most of which I found stupendously unsettling but also fascinating. Since I haven’t put that Part together yet, I can’t confidently say when you’ll see it, but by tomorrow at the latest.

WESENWILLE (Netherlands)

The first track I’ve picked, “The Descent“, exhibits some favorable developments as compared to this Utrecht duo’s first album, which caught our attention in 2018 and is still worth your time. The new song is a scorcher but also adventurous, creating moods that are dismal and twisted, as well as maniacally glorious and chillingly hallucinatory. The tempos and riffing are in constant flux, while the vocals are perpetually unhinged in their fury. The blazing yet bleak finale is downright breathtaking. Continue reading »

Jan 242021
 

 

I may have bitten off more than you can chew in this collection of recommended black metal. It’s certainly more than I can masticate with adequate words. I’ve started with a collection of individual songs from forthcoming albums by five bands, and then followed that with a complete album and two full EPs. To make this manageable for me, if not for you, for the full releases I’ve only hinted at what you’ll find within them and then left you to browse for yourselves.

SARKRISTA (Germany)

The first song in today’s collection, “The Beast Reborn“, is a teaser for the third album to be released by these Finnish Satanists (who dwell in Germany). It rips and ravages, batters and scampers, but soars in a way that’s both glorious and desperately beleaguered, and the trilling leads channel a heart-felt yearning that might seem at odds with the completely unhinged, flamethrowing vocals. Continue reading »

Jan 172021
 

 

I’ve gone off on a tangent in this week’s column. Nothing here will strike you as conventional black metal, and in many of the songs the black metal ingredients are dwarfed by others (among other things, rock beats dominate over blast-beats). But all this music struck a chord with me (many of them, in fact), and I also thought they made a pretty good playlist all joined together like this.

OTHRS / BURDEN MAN (Australia)

I have Rennie of starkweather to thank for spending time with the songs that are now streaming from this new split named Grievance, two songs by each band.

The first two are from a band named OTHRS, which is a project of Melbourne-based M.R, known for his work in Spire. Here is he joined by vocalist V.S., also a member of Spire as well as Void Stare. Continue reading »

Jan 102021
 

 

I had more time this Sunday morning than I did yesterday to check out new music, focusing as I usually do on the blackened arts. Unfortunately for me, if not for you, I still didn’t have time to write as much as I would like about what I’ve selected for this column. For much of it I resorted to fragmentary impressions rather than more complete reviews, or even complete sentences. But I bet you’ll enjoy the music anyway.

MALIST (Russia)

…blazing and boisterous… thrusting and thunderous… moody, melancholy, and mysterious at times, but mainly explosive and exhilarating (and highly addictive)… Continue reading »