Mar 262023

Here are the rest of the selections I made for this week’s column devoted to black and blackened metal. And because daylight is burning (or it would be if it weren’t hidden behind grey Pacific Northwest clouds, I’ll just get right to the music.

HYL (Italy/Poland)

To lead off I’ve chosen the video for “Endless Illusions“, the latest single from Hyl‘s debut EP, Where Emptiness Is All. I was drawn to it after reading that the band is a collaboration among vocalist Shadow (from Black Altar and Ofermod), guitarist/bassist Rick Costantino (from Schizo and Krigere Wolf), and drummer Krzysztof Klingbein (ex-Vader, Belphegor live). I was also intrigued by the label’s description of the music as “atmospheric black metal, which should appeal to fans of Ruins of Beverast, Vemod or Mgła“. Continue reading »

Mar 262023

Into Darkness – photo by Nicolette A. Radoi

As I began making my way through my list of new music I might want to recommend for this Sunday’s column I had one mental WOW! after another. Some actual exclamatory sounds might have escaped my mouth, but the headphones were clamped on too tight for me to tell. After realizing that I’d already found more than enough to occupy this installment I had to make myself stop listening, even with lots of things left to check out,

Maybe I didn’t stop soon enough. There’s a lot here — four advance tracks from forthcoming records, two complete EPs, and one complete albums. To make all this a little more accessiblke, I’ve divided the recommendations into two Parts. I hope you’ll find time to delve into all of it instead of feeling overwhelmed, and that you get a few WOW‘s yourself.


After experiencing the weirdness of time seeming to slow down during the depths of pandemic lockdowns, it now seems that it’s speeding ahead faster than ever. That includes the release of new music, which whizzes by so fast that it almost becomes a blur. That makes it easy to overlook things, and I confess that as a result I missed the release of a new Into Darkness EP about 10 days ago. It certainly wasn’t for lack of interest, since I’ve written enthusiastically about every release by this Italian band since their first demo in 2012. Continue reading »

Mar 192023

Old Forest

I often rely on the recommendations of friends in deciding how to spend my listening time, and then deciding what to recommend to you. I like rooting around myself, like a truffle-sniffing pig, but after pouring a fair amount of time into yesterday’s big roundup I wasn’t left with a lot of sniffing and rooting time, and therefore took my lead from friends for much of what’s coming below. They didn’t let me down, and hopefully I won’t let you down with these choices either.


I had to start today’s collection with a new song by Old Forest because I found it so immediately captivating. I’m not steeped in the band’s extensive discography (seven albums and a bunch of shorter releases going back to 1998), but Neill Jameson is, and he introduced Decibel’s premiere of the song last week with a brief history.

The new track, “Master of Arachnids”, is from a forthcoming album named Sutwyke, which Neill lauded as “easily the band’s best full length since their phantasmagoric re-materialization” in 2008 following a long hiatus: “Taking elements from all eras of their discography (including the clean vocals, though somewhat more subdued) this is also their most jet-black record showing that there is still plenty of (un)life in these bones”.

Well, that was more than enough temptation to dive into “Master of Arachnids”. Continue reading »

Mar 122023

Guess who forgot to jump the clocks ahead one hour before bedtime last night? Yeah, that would be me. Thought I was getting a good head-start on the day when I crawled from the covers at 6:30 a.m., and then took my sweet time making coffee, catching up on all the dismal news, shaving more minutes off my life with smokes, stretching and rubbing eyes, and then suddenly realizing it was 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 and I hadn’t done shit on this column.

Well, who would care but me? I’m not sure, but all that really matters is that I care, and the only way to avoid feeling like a failure today was to rush ahead with a few things I had in mind, or that were messing with my mind. The hour-late clock is ticking, and other chores plus a lunch with family and friends lie ahead, so like yesterday’s roundup this one must be brief. But it’s all really good!


Hard to resist checking out this first song, since Hardiesse is the project of Hyver (from Véhémence, Hanternoz, Régiment, Grylle, and more), and includes Wÿntër Ärvn (from Aorlhac) on bass and some of the vocals and Torve (from Ascète) doing the drum programming and the mix/master. Continue reading »

Mar 052023


I’m roughly 1,900 miles away from my home. I made the trip last Thursday (an excruciating journey packed with delays), something I needed to do for my job. Since then I haven’t had much time to myself, night or day. My comrade Mr. Synn suggested I just take the weekend off from NCS. As he put it, “The world will keep spinning”.

I’m not so sure about that. What if the world is an incredibly detailed simulation running on the substrate of my mind? What if Mr. Synn is, as I have always suspected, a figment of my imagination? What if music has no objective existence unless someone other than its creator hears it?

I may have become too subsumed by a new sci-fi novel I’m reading, which I shouldn’t name because the idea of a simulation is one of its many surprises.

I did take yesterday off from NCS (actually not a lot of choice in that matter). I was very tempted to take today off too, but I do have a little time to myself before beginning the trip back to Seattle, and whatever airline- and weather-related fuck-ups will plague it. So I snagged just a few new songs to recommend, so you don’t think I had a stroke or a Sunday brunch in jail. Continue reading »

Feb 262023


I read an article about sleep this morning, It reinforced the idea that I’m doing the right thing sleeping 8-10 hours a night on the weekends, a fairly recent development for me. It also helped explain why I have such vivid dreams in the last phase of sleeping right before waking up, even if they’re like ghosts that tend to vanish within minutes of waking. The article may be pay-walled, but you might find it interesting too (it’s here), or maybe you already know the details.

On the downside, sleeping late makes for a slow start on my weekend NCS posts, especially when I don’t get a head start on the selections the night before. Fortunately there’s someone out there who may have a different sleep cycle, in addition to being in a different time zone, and what he finished very late last night in his time zone was waiting for me in my in-box this morning.

Is it stealing for me to just copy/paste a few things from his collection right into this post to make up for my late start? If so, I confess to theft. At least I won’t pass it off as my own. But I do have a few of my own choices to lead the way in blackening the sabbath. Continue reading »

Feb 192023

I didn’t oversleep today, so there’s a lot here. And I don’t just mean the volume of music, but the stylistic range of it too. Black metal has become a vast canvass, but I’ve often gone off the edge of the canvass too. And I’ll add that there are more variants of doom in this mix than usual.


To begin today, I’ve chosen At Night I See Demons, the head-spinning debut EP released last month by the Swedish black metal band Mylingen, a collaboration between multi-instrumentalist V.J. (from Apathy Noir) and vocalist G.C. According to Metal Archives, their name is based on the word “myling“, which in Scandinavian folklore was “the phantasmal incarnations of the souls of unwanted children killed by their mothers and forced to roam the Earth until they could persuade someone to bury them properly.” Continue reading »

Feb 122023

Obviously, I had time to pull together a lot of music for this Sunday’s column. I pushed at the usual boundaries by including bands that wouldn’t get a black metal label, but in different ways they’re close enough to blur the borders.

I ordered these seven offerings to create pendulum swings. One of them happens when you reach Lux Sine Lumine, and another happens at the end, with Lesath. In between those two are firestorms. I also thought the flow of the first three worked well, but you’ll be the judge of that.


RÄUM (Belgium)

Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions tell us that Räum was founded in Liege, Belgium during the first pandemic year, and perhaps they were influenced by those times. On the debut record’s Bandcamp page you’ll find this description of the music on these four tracks:

“It reveals the vacuity and the auto-destructive nature of the human soul, leading to an endless movement of rise and fall. Like a demon, it needs to burn our world to the ground to [be[ reborn again.” Continue reading »

Feb 052023

I hope this Sunday is treating you well. Or maybe you’re landing here on Monday… or Tuesday… or (heaven forfend) on Hump Day (what a lot of time those people have been wasting).

My Sunday is off to a slow start, thanks for asking. I had a riot of a Saturday night. Splattered on the couch with the cats, binge-watching a fantastic series I don’t need to name (it was Slow Horses) until way late. So I was late to rise and feeling very groggy. But there’s nothing like plunging into a lake of black and black-adjacent metal (sometimes only barely black-adjacent) to kick-start your heart. Here’s what I surfaced with today: Continue reading »

Jan 222023

Tulus – photo by Morten Syreng

Well I slept late again today. But unlike yesterday it wasn’t really a luxury this time. Did some partying last night and didn’t succumb to sleep until after midnight, so the sleeping late was just an effort to be barely functional today, with not a lot of hours of rest to show for it. The day is now pretty far along, and there are NFL playoff games rapidly approaching, so I’ll have to cut back on some of my own words here and there (I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth).

Prepare for a very twisty and turny trip that sometimes stretches the limits of this column’s usual focus in unusual ways.

TULUS (Norway)

From 1993 through 1999 this Norwegian group released three demos and three full-length albums, after which Tulus became dormant. Two of its members (Sarke and Blodstrup) went on to form Khold and recorded six albums under that name from 2001 through 2014 (the last of which in that period was Til endes).

When Khold temporarily went on hold in 2006, Sarke and Blodstrup revived Tulus and released Biography Obscene in 2007, as well as Olm og bitter in 2012, even after Khold itself had been resurrected. They were joined in both Khold and Tulus by bassist Crowbel. Continue reading »