Nov 222020
 

 

Today we begin our 12th year of existence, having celebrated our 11th birthday yesterday. It just so happens that we begin the next circle of the Earth around Sol on a Sunday, and an opportunity to blacken the sabbath again.

ONDSKAPT (Sweden)

After doing some searching I was surprised to learn that I’ve never previously written about the music of Ondskapt at our site, though I do see one (very old) mention by a guest contributor in a year-end list. This absence puzzles me. It is definitely more a regrettable oversight than a sign of disinterest. But now, finally, I can check that box, and do so enthusiastically thanks to the song I’ve picked to open today’s playlist. Continue reading »

Nov 152020
 

 

I’m not quite sure what got into me when I began focusing on what to cover in today’s edition of this column. Let’s just say that most of it is off the usual beaten paths. It’s also slightly more compact than what I usually manage, but that’s because I put a lot of time into another column today, which itself includes black metal. Check that one out here if you haven’t yet.

BEHERIT

Two days ago Beherit made a surprise album release — at least it came as a surprise to me, the first new music in 8 years. Bardo Exist is a massive thing, a 37-minute first half consisting of 11 songs and a second half that’s the 23-minute title track. I probably shouldn’t be writing anything about it because I’ve only listened to it once, but I know myself: If I don’t jump on something quickly, I get carried away to other things by the flood-tide of new releases. So here are some immediate reactions: Continue reading »

Nov 082020
 

 

I spent a joyful day yesterday, though I was rooted in front of the TV instead of listening to metal. But the good feeling carried over into this morning as I began listening to things, and in rapid succession found music that just seemed to fit together beautifully for this column. The arc of sounds as I’ve arranged them here was almost exactly the sequence in which I heard them, and I’ve kept it that way even though not everything here qualifies as black metal.

What made the experience even more thrilling was that five of the seven bands here were new to my ears (some of the music comes from debut releases).

STORMKEEP (U.S.)

I don’t have to spend a lot of time formulating words to describe Stormkeep’sGlass Caverns Of Dragon Kings“, because Jon Rosenthal did his usual excellent job in writing about it when Invisible Oranges premiered the track two days ago: Continue reading »

Nov 012020
 

 

This worked out okay. I woke up at 7:00 thinking I’d be late finishing SHADES OF BLACK again, and then realized after my first cup of coffee that I’d forgotten to set the clocks back. Suddenly, I had an extra hour. Fortunately, I also made all of today’s selections yesterday and had even added all the artwork, links, and a few notes. It just remained to create some complete sentences, not enough of them to qualify as careful reviews, but hopefully enough to tantalize you.

Tantalizing is the strategy of the day, because this week’s collection includes three complete albums and a three-track demo, in addition to two singles, and although they all merit the kind of thoughtful and thorough reviews that most other NCS writers manage, it’s beyond what I have time to do, even with an extra hour. So, please become tantalized.

DODENKROCHT

I’m beginning with one of the singles, a lyric video released two days ago for the title track to The Dying All. That’s the fourth album by the Dutch band Dodenkrocht, coming out on November 27th via the Swiss label Auric Records. Continue reading »

Oct 252020
 

 

I got a late start on the day and therefore have had to adjust my plans for this week’s column. Running short on time, I’ve had to postpone brief reviews of some recently released albums that richly deserve attention and instead focus on new singles and advance tracks from forthcoming records. But they richly deserve attention too.

I’ve arranged these tracks in a way that provides a flow that made sense to me, starting off one way, taking a turn in a different direction, and then changing course one more time at the end. Coincidentally, one thing these tracks have in common (and they don’t have a lot in common) is that blast-beats are in short supply.

EXITIUM SUI

The title of the first song, “Eviscerate My Withered Soul“, tells you a lot about the mood of the music. Launched by ritual drums, ominous symphonic swells, and grim, seething chords, it stalks forward in a way that leaves feelings of oppressiveness and despair in its wake. Augmented by bestial growls and withering screams, the music’s intensity mounts, creating tension and tragedy in equal measure. There’s a sense of horrible grandeur in the music, commingled with fever and pain. Continue reading »

Oct 182020
 

 

Although this column is principally devoted to flavors of black metal, sometimes I branch out and include music that’s outside the genre. Usually that happens when it’s something I don’t want to delay recommending, but it’s also usually music that at least to my ears has a “spiritual” kinship to black metal. And by “spiritual” I don’t mean satanic, but rather a kind of pitch-black mood that makes its placement in the playlist suitable (for want of a better word). I’ve done this today with the first two items.

DARK BUDDHA RISING

To begin, I’ve chosen an astonishing video made by Dehn Sora for the song “Sunyaga” by the Finnish dark underlords of psychedelic drone, Dark Buddha Rising. The song is from the band’s forthcoming seventh album, Mathreyata. Continue reading »

Oct 112020
 

 

I don’t have much to say by way of introduction here, other than to urge you to listen to the music in Part 1 of today’s column if you haven’t, in addition to the fine new sounds I’ve chosen for this Part.

IGNIS GEHENNA (Australia)

Sulphur Pit” was first released by this Tasmanian band as part of its 2008 debut demo Ecclesia Diabolus. But the song has been “re-imagined and re-written” for Ignis Gehenna‘s new album Rites of Transvaluation (which is the successor to 2017’s Baleful Scarlet Star) and in fact iit’s the song that opens the new record.

I haven’t heard the earlier version of “Sulphur Pit”, and so I’ve taken this new version just as it comes. It’s quite a striking experience. At more than eight minutes in length, it has room to change and explore. An aura of ritual emanates from the opening ambient tones, but the music becomes a flame-like ecstasy of rippling chords, climbing the scale and descending. In the midst of those quasi-deranged manifestations there are outbursts of ravishing savagery (the teeth-bared roars are always savage), and the music also conveys a kind of poisonous and bombastic grandeur, as well as melodies both bleak and baleful. Continue reading »

Oct 112020
 

 

Many of us have learned the hard way that it’s prudent to keep both eyes on the horizon, looking ahead in case something’s coming that will tear our heads off. Might give us enough time to dodge and only lose an arm. Good peripheral vision is also a plus. Not every peril is straight ahead. These days especially, self-preservation seems like a full-time job. Hard to know what’s coming next, but whatever it is, it probably won’t be good.

I tend to keep my eyes on the horizon when it comes to music too, albeit for different reasons. Something might be coming that will try to tear my head off, but I usually welcome that with open arms. For reasons I’ve never been able to adequately explain, I also welcome music of hopelessness and pain, of poison and the preternatural.

I wasn’t able to write this column the last two Sundays. In the meantime, the music has piled up like drifts of black snow at my back. I’ve missed recommending a lot, but decided the easiest way forward was to look at what’s coming over the horizon, eyes ahead as usual. That made the selection process a little easier, but to make up for lost time I decided to make this post a two-parter. Continue reading »

Sep 202020
 

 

I mentioned in the first Part of today’s column that I overcame the usual brain-freeze brought about by the overwhelming volume of interesting new music by separating the attractions into advance tracks and complete new releases. Today’s earlier post was devoted to advance tracks, and I mentioned that I had an idea for how to handle the new complete releases.

In the early days of NCS I began a recurring series called MISCELLANY, which got up to 78 installments before it died away from neglect. The self-imposed rule for that series was that I would pick bands I’d never heard before and listen to one (or maybe two) songs from something new they’d released, record my immediate impressions, and then leave it to readers to decide whether to explore further. That strategy allowed me to sample from albums and EPs that I didn’t have time to review in full, without knowing in advance how the music would strike me (or you).

And that’s almost the same strategy I’ve used in this post — almost, because some of what you’ll find below came to me via recommendations from people I trust. So it’s not quite the shot-in-the-dark of the old MISCELLANY series.

IN VACUO

To begin I picked “Pavlína Kováříkov“, the lead-off track from this Hungarian band’s just-released third album, Urbain Noir — and man, I love it. The guitar leads have a kind of yowling but spooky and sorcerous sound, and the way in which In Vacuo introduce and then twist the central melody is ingenious. The song as a whole proves to be a twisting (and twisted) experience – heavy and battering, deep and drilling, moody and murmuring, jolting and groaning, thrilling in its maniacally glittering tremolo’d vibrations and blood-curdling in the hostility of its varying vocals. Continue reading »

Sep 202020
 

 

When I began to think about what to include in this week’s column I had the usual brain-freeze brought about by the immense volume of choices. This week I decided to deal with that by herding all the singles and advance tracks from forthcoming albums into one stockade, and filling another one with full-lengths that have already recently been released.

From the first herd I picked the tracks included below. I have an idea about how to deal with the riot in the second group, all viciously clamoring for attention, but I won’t say what that is in case I’m not able to follow through. Onward!

KYRIOS

I would like to create a sub-genre called Queasy Black Metal, reserved for music that roils your guts like food that’s gone bad, and messes with your mind like a demonically conceived hallucinogen. I would put this first song under that heading. Its squirming dissonance, freakish angularity, and unstable rhythms are intestinally upsetting and mentally disorienting. Continue reading »