May 092021
 

 

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve gone off the deep end. Between the new-music round-ups I prepared on Friday and Saturday and the column you’re now staring at, I’ve thrown out 28 advance tracks, EPs, or albums, almost all of which surfaced just within the last week or two. I don’t expect any normal person to pay attention to all of it, and I don’t really know how any normal person would pick and choose among all those tracks. So why have I done this? Don’t know… still waiting on the psychiatric evaluations….

BEASTLOR (U.S.)

I decided to begin with one of the two complete albums in today’s collection. It landed, fully formed and without warning, on the most recent Bandcamp Friday, two days ago. As you can see, I didn’t defer paying attention to it, because the man behind it is Mick Barr (of Krallice and Encenathrakh). Continue reading »

May 032021
 

 

Part 2 of this week’s Shades of Black isn’t as voluminous as Part 1 was. I had two objectives in making it: First, to give some early attention to a four-way split many of us have been eagerly awaiting for a very long time; and second, to follow through in recommending an album I had originally intended to include in Part 2 of last week’s column, but had to cut because I ran out of time.

SAMAELILITH: A CONJUNCTION OF THE FIREBORN

The long-awaited split is SamaeLilith: A Conjunction of the Fireborn, and it combines the prodigious talents of four groups we’ve been writing about with admiration for years: Thy Darkened Shade (Greece), Amestigon (Austria), Inconcessus Lux Lucis (UK), and Shaarimoth (Norway). It will be released on June 30th by W.T.C. Productions.

Each band contributed multiple tracks to the split, ranging from three to five, for a total of more than an hour and a half of music spread across 15 songs. Although I’ve been fortunate to recently receive the complete album, this isn’t something I want to rush into just in order to publish one of the first reviews. Just counting the minutes alone, there’s a lot to take in, and if past is prologue, one hurried listen to what these bands have done here won’t do their efforts justice either. Continue reading »

May 022021
 

 

Part 1 of today’s column is in the vein of the giant round-up I prepared yesterday — a lot of music and not a lot of words. Though the music is of course “in the vein” of black metal, or at least in spiritual/aesthetic kinship with it (according to my own perceptions), you won’t find any two bands here that sound like they were raised in the same litter.

Part 2, which may appear later today or may appear tomorrow (because I haven’t written it yet), is devoted to four songs from a forthcoming (and long-awaited) four-way split, and a frightening album I meant to include in this column last week before I ran out of time.

ANAPILIN (Lithuania)

Rennie (of starkweather) pointed me to the song and lyric video I’ve chosen to lead with. At that time, it was apparent that an album by these gas-masked Lithuanians was on the way, but neither of us could find a name for it or a release date.

Those mysteries were solved this morning when the album just dropped out of the sky, fully formed. But by the time I awakened and saw Rennie’s message about the full release, I didn’t have time enough to listen to it, so I’m sticking with the original plan of focusing just on the one song and video — but including the full stream as well. Continue reading »

Apr 262021
 

 

In Part 1 of this column yesterday I promised that Part 2 would includes streams of five complete released I’ve recently discovered and want to recommend. But being short on time, I’ve had to leave the fifth one for another day. Due to the same time constraints, I’ve included only some very high-level impressions of each of the other four by way of introduction, rather than attempting to write more thorough reviews.

RIIVAUS (Finland)

Riivaus is the solo endeavor of Hoath Daemnator, who under different pseudonyms is also a member of Sacrificium Carmen, Wömit Angel, and Nôidva (among other groups). Flying the Riivaus banner, he released a debut album in 2017 (Lyöden taudein ja kirouksin), which I haven’t heard, and about 10 days ago released a compact second full-length named Hehkumaton. Continue reading »

Apr 252021
 

 

Much like yesterday I got a very late start this morning, having enjoyed a long night of virtual carousing with a big group of co-workers at my fucking day job. Like yesterday I thought I’d just pull together a couple of things for this usual Sunday column so I wouldn’t be too late in posting it — and again reconsidered. Just too much stuff I want to share.

This two-part post thus provides a lot to take in. I’m confident that few people will enjoy everything I’ve chosen — though I’m equally confident you’ll find at least something to enjoy if you at least taste-test everything I’m recommending.

I organized this collection by beginning Part 1 with two singles that I thought were great companions for each other and then following them with a stylistically very different EP. Part 2, which I’ll post tomorrow, will include streams of five complete releases that I will only have time to introduce briefly.

DJEVEL (Norway)

Like the cover art for Djevel’s new album Tanker som rir natten, the second advance track released last week is lunar in its atmosphere, a wintry nightside excursion that’s deeply immersive. In its manifold sensations it’s dreamlike, depressive, menacing, and I’d go so far as to say romantic. But it’s as visceral as it is mesmerizing, thanks to Faust’s gripping drum performance (the vibrant timpani-like booming is an especially nice touch) and the warm companionship of the bass, performed by new member Kvitrim (Vemod, Mare), who also handles the harsh vocals. Continue reading »

Apr 182021
 

 

I miscalculated. I spent time over the last couple of days listening to music and developing a big list of releases to include in this column. I knew that my spouse and I and some friends were supposed to drive over to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington today, but what I didn’t realize was how early the trip was supposed to begin — too early to do all the writing I had planned. And I went to a baseball game last night, so couldn’t get a head-start.

Due to this miscalculation, I’ve had to cut back on the amount of music (though it’s still a lot), but also to shrink the volume of words. No idea when or if I’ll get to everything else that was originally on my mental drawing board, but I hope you’ll enjoy what’s here.

FLAMMENKVLT (Austria)

The following video is intense and moving. It depicts bruised, hollow-eyed, and frantic women who have been beaten by men — hospitalized, driven to the brink of suicide, and worse — as well the suggestion of girls subjected to similar abuse. Intertwined with that are feverish montages of other imagery, both frightening and hallucinatory. The band’s rage over the subject matter comes through most powerfully in the vocals, but not only there. Continue reading »

Apr 112021
 

 

To the extent writing about music matters at all as a form of guidance, it clearly matters more in the case of complete albums or EPs than single tracks. Particularly when a writer is as verbose as I am, it doesn’t take much more time to just listen to a song than to read some goofball’s frothy impressions of it. But it obviously takes a much bigger investment of time for a listener to absorb an album or EP, and so getting some kind of overview can be useful, at least if you trust who’s providing it.

Therefore, the fact that I’m not providing a completely comprehensive overview of the six records collected here (all of them released between late March and last week) is a miserable failure. Much as I hate to be so brief, I’ve still attempted to at least give you a flavor of what each album brings. Given my time constraints, the alternative might be to say nothing about them at all, which I guess might be even worse.

FROSTNATT (Russia)

Frostnatt‘s debut album Det kommer til å bli kaldt, which follows a run of EPs that began in 2019, is a largely instrumental work (with a scattering of vocal samples and a few harsh expulsions) that’s both rugged and scintillating, combining primitive, earthquaking percussive rhythms and brilliantly vibrant ringing melodies of varying moods that stick in the head like hot spikes, plus a well-placed and sublime piano piece. And thus it generates an unusual shamanistic spell, delivering primal, visceral punch as well as ancient and mystical atmosphere, enhanced by moments of poignant beauty and piercing heartache. My favorite track: “Til sydpolplatået“. Continue reading »

Apr 112021
 

 

As I roamed through new music yesterday, searching for what to include in this collection, the following quintet of advance tracks and the EP I’ve put at the end all fell into place naturally. When you hear them, I think you’ll understand why.

As the title of the post suggests, I do plan to include a second installment today — which will be an effort to highlight a selection of complete albums I’ve been meaning to say something about for weeks.

FYRNASK (Germany)

My opening choice is a video that presents a stunning marriage of sights and sounds. The music alone is an intense, almost overwhelming spectacle, one that’s nightmarish and hallucinatory, a seeming manifestation of possession. At first it’s as if Frynask have led us into a chilling realm of anguished wraiths, and from there we become immersed in ravaging turmoil. Continue reading »

Apr 042021
 

 

I explained yesterday that I’m on a weekend vacation. I also wrote that I wasn’t sure if I would prepare this usual Sunday column. Obviously, I have.

But because I’m really trying to make as much room as I can for rest and relaxation (which in my case is like making room for self-mutilation), I’ve limited myself to things I can quickly and impulsively react to — just a scattering of advance tracks and one stand-alone video. It was even easier for me to make these selections because all of them are by bands in whom I already had complete confidence.

I’ve also been listening to some albums this weekend that have also seized my attention. Depending on how the day goes, I might have a second installment devoted to those. Continue reading »

Mar 282021
 

 

We had a rare Sunday premiere earlier today, but fret not, Shades of Black has not been forgotten.

I enjoyed figuring out how to arrange the music I picked for today. The music of the first three bands seemed to complement each other, so I started there — and then made a hair-pin turn in the road with the full album stream that follows them. And, given how chilling and unearthly that album sounds, I decided to follow it with a couple of tracks that will give your adrenaline levels a sharp kick in the ass.

CODE (UK)

As usual, I owe some of today’s picks to reliably tasteful friends. I would have eventually discovered this first one on my own, but listened to it a lot faster because of the enthusiastic message I received from Rennie (starkweather). He called this new song by Code “fantastic”, and possibly his “favorite song of theirs since the first album’s ‘Brass Dogs.'” Continue reading »