Mar 292020
 

 

After all the listening and writing I’ve done this weekend, honestly I’m out of gas. So let’s just go right to it….

BALMOG

We begin with a track that roams far and wide over its significant length. In the band’s own words, “18 minutes of oppression and mysticism”, but there’s more than that. The music is eerie and crushing, dissonant and disturbed, wailing and delirious, vicious and violent, spectral and sepulchral, swaggering and priapic, bombastic and bruising, grand and glorious — and also home to some head-hooking riffs and spectacular soloing. The vocals are wide-ranging as well, more often than not frighteningly insane, but also spine-tingling when they soar. In its cadences, it stomps, rocks, races, crawls, and drifts away into a rhythm-less ether. Continue reading »

Mar 232020
 

 

Here’s the second part of this week’s column, which I began here yesterday. As usual, I’ve been unable to write about everything I wanted to write about and have had to be (relatively) brief, but that’s because I have a couple of album reviews to finish writing — they will accompany premiere streams today, both of which will be worth your time.

All of the music you’ll find below was created by one-person bands — one from the UK, one from Germany, and two from Portland, Oregon. In these days of the virus, when most people follow the edicts of social distancing, we may come to increasingly rely on such one-person projects for new music. Not all of that will be as good as what you’re about to discover.

ISKALDE MORKET

This is the UK project I mentioned; its creator lives in Norwich. The album, Metaphysics of Mass Murder, was released on March 17th. The band’s thumbnail description of the music on Bandcamp is “Apex Dissonance. Labyrinthine Technical Black Metal”, and that happens to be not only evocative but also accurate — though it doesn’t go quite far enough. Continue reading »

Mar 222020
 

 

Maybe it’s because I’ve become a virus shut-in, but I’m finding even more than the usual quantity of new black metal that is appealing, and even a greater desire to spread it around. I’ve consumed a lot of time over the last 24 hours with those two Overflowing Streams round-ups (here and here), and want to at least make a start on today’s SHADES OF BLACK before I have to do something else (and surely there’s something else I have to do besides blog, though I can’t think what it is). So, I’ve divided it into two Parts. Depending on whether I think of something else I should be doing, it may arrive later today or be deferred until Monday.

PRISON OF MIRRORS

I first encountered this Italian band in 2017, following he release of their second EP, Unstinted, Delirious, Convulsive Oaths, whose sound I described as the feeling of being pursued by wolves in the dead of night: “Across all the changes in tempo, the atmosphere is pitch-black and ice-cold, and traces of dissonance in the hopeless melodies heighten the sense of frightening peril at your heels and sinister, supernatural forces at work on your mind. And the vocals are as ugly as a sin you’ll never purge”. Continue reading »

Mar 152020
 

 

I think I overdid it yesterday. Putting together those two Overflowing Streams posts mentally wore me out. So I didn’t get a head start on this SOB post yesterday, and wound up figuring out what to do with it this morning. One consequence of the delay is that I decided to avoid writing about complete new releases, which is more demanding (even though it might not seem that way when you read my ramblings). Instead, I picked eight new individual tracks (some of them with videos) from six bands.

I’ll forewarn you that I veered a bit off course for this column and included songs that aren’t strictly black metal, but to my ears are close cousins. If you want stuff that’s more in the main line, you’ll find some in those Overflowing Streams columns.

WITCHTHRONE

The first item I selected is a new video for a new song by the Hungarian band Witchthrone, whose music has both post-metal and black-metal elements. Entitled “Shallow“, the song is one of four on their self-titled debut EP, which is set for release on March 20th. Continue reading »

Mar 082020
 

 

For this week’s edition of the column I decided to include five complete releases, four albums and an EP, all but one of them released since late January. But my time is short, and so, with apologies to the bands, the only way I’ve been able to manage this is to pursue a strategy of picking only one song per release to focus on, accompanied by just the most general overview of everything else. With luck, this will be enough to seduce people into exploring each release in greater depth, despite the relative shallowness of my own words.

APOGNOSIS

The Greek black metal band Adaestuo is one of two in today’s feature whose past work I was familiar with, and that past work — a self-titled demo in 2016, the Phase 6 debut album that same year, and the Cult of Human Sacrifices EP in 2018 — has been remarkably impressive. The new release is an album entitled Dominion In Polarity. It came out last September, and I really should have written something about it before now, because it’s tremendous. Continue reading »

Mar 012020
 

 

For this column I originally picked six tracks from forthcoming albums or EPs. I thoroughly enjoyed all these songs, and they have the added benefit of being very different from each other, with highly variable (and sometimes only tenuous) connections to the traditions of black metal (the column is called SHARES OF BLACK for a reason).

At the last minute, however, I also added one new album. I discovered it upon waking up this morning, thanks to a message from Rennie (starkweather). It was an explosive way to wake up, but man, it did wake me the fuck up. So I’m starting this column with it. I also hope I’ll have time to write a few words about some additional full-length releases I want to recommend from the blackened realms. But I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so I’m not daring enough to call this Part 1. Fingers crossed that I’ll get a companion to this column finished at some point during the coming week.

ABYSSFIRE

Yesterday, on Leap Day, the Russian death/black band Abyssfire vomited forth their blasphemous debut album, adorned with hellish artwork by Nether Temple Design. I have listened to it once, so far, and the music is completely in keeping with the album’s title: The Raging Hearts of Hell. Continue reading »

Feb 292020
 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: With just a few modest changes, the following post was an extensive e-mail we received from our valued supporter Speelie, intended as suggestions of black metal we might check out and recommend to others if we liked it. But with his permission we decided to simply pass on his worthy ideas straight from him to you. We’ll have other suggestions for you in the usual SHADES OF BLACK column tomorrow.

While my primary area of historical study is the Second World War, I also study the military campaigns involving Native Americans and the Canadian First Nations. An offshoot of the latter is the colonial history of Quebec.

During the 17th and 18th Centuries, it was a fascinating place. The harsh climate worsened the effects of epidemics and famine from crop failures. The French and the natives generally got along decently, but many natives resisted attempts to Catholicize them. The Jesuits sent reports known as Relations back to France yearly, and these have been preserved. So have many tribal traditions and oral histories.

Both of these sources recount that they saw the other as including dangerous and powerful sorcerers in their ranks. Quebec also faced devastating raids by the Iroquois and invasions by the British. Continue reading »

Feb 162020
 

 

6-6-6. With more NCS time available to me over the last few days than usual, I’ve managed to feature the new music of six bands on each of the last three days. Surely some hellish reward will soon arrive at my door.

For this column I’m beginning and ending with complete streams of recently released debut albums. In between you’ll find advance tracks from forthcoming records, two of them from old favorites of mine and two from new discoveries. I’m very high on everything included here, and have already added tracks from all six bands to my list of candidates for 2020’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

BLACK FLUX

The Russian band Black Flux made a wise choice in setting the third track on their debut album, Black Stream, to play first at the album’s Bandcamp page. That track, “Пепельные Кубки (Ashen Goblets)“, lofts grand waves of slow-moving melody and glimmering ethereal tonalities over hurtling drums and truly vicious vocals. In addition, the band erupt in flurries of savage, electrifying riffage, while transforming the mood of those grand, cascading symphonic melodies into an increasingly tormented sensation that seems to writhe in agony. Through it all, vibrant bass lines rise and fall. The power of the sound is tremendous, as is the music’s emotional impact, which is wrenching. Continue reading »

Feb 092020
 

 

Well, I did manage to complete Part 2 of this column in time to get it on the site before my NCS time ran out today. However, I did have to make a few compromises because of the shortness of time. For one thing, I had planned to present four full releases, but replaced one of those with a couple of tracks from a record that isn’t yet released. For another, I wrote much less about the first release below than I had wanted to. So it’s another case where the music will mainly have to speak for itself, with my role limited to (hopefully) inducing you to listen.

SCÁTH NA DÉITHE

I reviewed this Irish band’s debut EP in 2015, acclaiming it with words such as these:

“Structured with plenty of twists and turns into new regions of a phantasmic soundscape, this EP is never dull despite the length of the two longest songs. The time passes before you know it, you blink yourself out of a doomed reverie, and you wonder where you are.”

Continue reading »

Feb 092020
 

 

I have significant ambitions for this Sunday’s column, but it’s only half-written, and you know how ill-advised it is for me to announce a two-part thing when the second part is just swimming in my head instead of securely captured on a hard-drive. But I never learn, no matter how hard-taught the past lessons, and not just when it comes to blogging (yesterday’s day-long hangover proves that).

Anyway, I can confidently state that Part 1 of this post includes advance tracks from five forthcoming records. Less confidently, I can say that Part 2 will include four complete new releases.

…AND OCEANS

“Well I have to admit to never having heard of …and Oceans before, and also admit to mainly being drawn to listen to this track based on the click-worthy cover art. But I’ll just say this is infectious like the plague.”

That was the message I received from our old pal Booker last week concerning “The Dissolution of Mind and Matter“, an advance track from this Finnish band’s new album, Cosmic World Mother. Somewhere up above that message in our nightmare of an in-box I found the link for our promo of the album, which I will soon explore. Continue reading »