May 242020


As you can see, I’ve managed to complete the second Part of today’s column in time to post it in its usual Sunday space. I hope you’ll find everything here as exciting as I have.


2020 has been a miserable year in most respects, but a great year for the Icelandic/German band Árstíðir lífsins. They contributed a tremendous song to Aldrnari, the tremendous album-length split with Carpe Noctem (reviewed here) that was released in April, and on Friday they digitally released their new album Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir (physical editions will follow from Ván Records). It is (you guessed it) tremendous. Continue reading »

May 242020


At the risk of overwhelming our visitors (a constant risk around here), I have again found so many new songs I’d like to recommend that I thought it best to divide today’s column into two parts, and will do my best not to become too verbose so that I have time to finish Part 2 in time to post it today — because Monday is going to be loaded with new things too.


I haven’t tried to find out how Enslaved’s new single is being received among fans and the metal press. I, for one, think it’s fantastic, and would rather not spoil the feeling by coming across some grim cur who’s sour about it. Not because I actually think anyone is entitled to be sour about it, but metalheads being metalheads, it’s inevitable. Continue reading »

May 172020


Well, it’s already late in the day, so I’ll dispense with introductory blather and just get right to it.


Potencée d’Or” first appeared on this French band’s debut demo T.R.I.A.D.E back in 2008. Along with three other tracks from that demo, it has been “re-imagined” and re-recorded for the band’s new album (and their last one) Initiatio. The album also includes a revised version of “Monumentum” from the Archivum MMV-MMX demo dating to 2010, plus four new compositions, including two ambient numbers recorded live with the help of Frater Stéphane (N.K.R.T., Rosa Crux). Continue reading »

May 142020


This morning I thought I would have time to pull together a round-up of new music to recommend. In sifting through tracks and videos that had hit my radar screen over the last 24 hours, it dawned on me that the songs I most wanted to feature were all variants of black or “blackened” metal. And so, without planning to do so, I have a week-day edition of SHADES OF BLACK for you.


It’s no secret that I’ve been a huge fan of this Portuguese band since their inception, and have really enjoyed watching their profile become more prominent and their fanbase expand so dramatically since the release of their debut EP in 2016. Their new sophomore album, Limbo, has been high on my most-anticipated list for 2020, and at last we have a track to share, along with the fantastic cover art by Eliran Kantor. Continue reading »

May 102020


I spent hours yesterday trying to catch up on listening to new metal. I now have a giant list of things I’d like to recommend, including enough blackened sounds to fill up a four-part SHADES OF BLACK today. I haven’t figured out how to make that happen, and I don’t know how any normal person would be able to digest all of it even if I could. But I’m going to continue pondering how to deal with my desire to put it all out there. In the meantime, here’s the first installment.

I will say that the “shades of black” in this collection are often very faint shades, with other stylistic ingredients much more prominent than black metal. But I think all this stuff is outstanding, and fits very well together, for reasons you’ll figure out as you listen.


“A wild ride full of twists and turns”. That’s how this Portland band describe Adorned In Wrath, a two-track demo that will be released on May 22nd, which they say will serve “to give a glimpse of our forthcoming sophomore full-length”. The first of those two songs, which is streaming now, is definitely a wild ride — in fact, that’s an understatement Continue reading »

May 032020



We’ve now entered the second full month of a government-ordered shutdown here in Washington State, with only minimal re-openings permitted before June, and maybe not even then. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country communities are being encouraged to become human petri dishes by venturing out to movie theaters, gyms, restaurants, beaches, etc. Good luck to them. I’ll be interested to see what grows within their cells, or doesn’t.

Meanwhile I’ll try to suppress my own depression and anxiety over the prospect of another month within these walls, and continue to sift through the great mass of new metal in an effort to make my life, and perhaps yours, a little more harrowing and wretched. To that end, below you will find six individual tracks and one album to stream. I also have a collection of other complete releases I would like to recommend. Maybe tomorrow…. Continue reading »

Apr 262020


This completes today’s two-Part column. This installment includes an advance track from a forthcoming release, a demo single, an EP, and a full-length album, and the sounds are quite diverse.

TOSKA HILL (New Zealand)

If you visit the “About” section of this Auckland band’s Facebook page you’ll see a quote from Vladimir Nabokov about the meaning of the Russian word toska:

“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.” Continue reading »

Apr 262020


I’ve packed a lot of music into this Sunday’s column — four complete albums or EPs, as well as an advance track from a forthcoming record and a demo single. It’s all so new that I haven’t spent much time with the music, and am therefore probably not in the best position to give it well-considered opinions. But the first impressions have been so exciting that I didn’t want to wait. Not for the first time, impulse has again ruled this day.

Because there’s so much music here, I divided the column into two Parts. Part 1 is devoted to two full-length albums.

ELFFOR (Spain)

Unholy Throne of Doom is the latest album by this band from the Basque Country, which began long ago as the solo project of Eöl but seems to have fleshed out into a full line-up, with one of the members performing tambourine, flute, and a traditional Basque instrument called the Alboka. Released on April 22nd, the album consists of four tracks, each of them in the range of ten to thirteen minutes. Continue reading »

Apr 192020


Earlier today I promised a second installment in this weekly column, and this is it, though it focuses on only a single release — but it’s a big one, album-length in size and featuring the work of two bands who have always made a big and very favorable impression: Carpe Noctem and Árstíðir lífsins.

The name of this new split is Aldrnari and it’s set for release by Ván Records on April 24th. It features cover art by Artem Grigoryev and is said to explore “themes of death and war, fire and life”. Each band contributed one song to the split, each of them more than 22 minutes in length, and both are now up for listening on YouTube. We’ll briefly consider them one at a time. Continue reading »

Apr 192020


You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything yesterday, a rare missed Saturday opportunity. I participated in three virtual happy hours on Friday afternoon and evening and somehow didn’t understand that I wasn’t required to drink straight through all of them. Saturday taught me that lesson, brutally.

I’ll try to make up for lost time today with two installments of this usual Sunday column.


Versus All Gods is the ninth full-length by this famous Singapore band, and the first one since 2012’s Revenge & Conquer. In those seven years two new guitarists joined the line-up, and something happened to the song-writing as well — something that seemed to convey rejuvenation, a return to the thermonuclear energies that fueled earlier releases, coupled with the mastery that comes with experience, sort of like a barbarian horde that has learned through decades of successful conquest how to decimate even more powerfully and brutally. Continue reading »