May 152022
 

I forgot that my spouse planned an outing for us this morning, so I’m hurrying. Thankfully, I had time to make these selections before this morning. I think they will provide a scintillating musical adventure for the adventure-seekers among you. It was definitely an adventure for me, since I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard the music of any of these bands before, and they’re all making their first appearance at our site. Without further ado, let’s go….

HORNS & HOOVES (U.S.)

Brooklyn-based Horns & Hooves will have their debut album I Am the Skel Messiah released on June 17th by Invictus Productions. Not having heard their 2016 demo Consecrate the Marrow or their 2017 EP Morbid Lust, I didn’t know what to expect, and so the album’s first advance track popped my eyes wider and dropped my jaw to the point of unhinging. Continue reading »

May 082022
 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are mothers, and as a reminder to those of you who were born of mothers (versus those who were the result of asexual reproduction). I intended to compile a roundup of new music yesterday, but was feeling under the weather. I’m feeling less incapacitated today, as you can tell from the volume of music in this week’s Shades of Black.

There’s a method to the way I organized the following songs. Words like “grim”, “depressive”, or “poisonous” may come to mind over the course of the first three tracks, and then things begin to turn more chaotic and violently unhinged, leading to a closing twist that’s more difficult to sum up.

DOEDSVANGR (Norway/Finland)

I’m beginning with a video for the song “As the Rivers Bleed Their Blessings” from Doedsvangr‘s newest album, Serpents ov Old, which was released by Debemur Morti last fall. The video was recorded at the band’s release gig for the album, which took place at Røverstaden (Oslo) on March 26th, 2022 (credit to Carl Eek of Necrolust Productions for filming and editing it). Continue reading »

May 012022
 

This week’s Shades of Black falls on May Day, the morning after Walpurgisnacht. That night, which of course has a significance that long pre-dates the German name, falls halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, and in old pagan traditions it was celebrated to mark the changing of the seasons, just as Samhain does six months later. And in the ancient folklore traditions, as on Samhain, the veil between the material world and the spirit world was thought to be at its thinnest.

Of course, in northern Europe the Church co-opted the pagan May Day, turning it into the feast day of Saint Walpurga, a German abbess honored for her success in putting an end to pagan sorcery (among other achievements), and on the night before it — Walpurgisnacht — bonfires were built to ward off witches and evil spirits in her name. Continue reading »

Apr 242022
 

 

This will be much shorter than I expected. Overnight, one of my family members was seriously injured and will need surgery today. I’m now crossing the water from the NCS island headquarters in order to be with him in the hospital. I know everyone here will understand.

I’ll leave you with a new Rotting Christ song, “Holy Mountain,” which features guest vocals by Lars Nedland of Borknagar and Solefald. In turn, Nedland‘s band Black Void released a new song last week that included guest vocals by Sakis Tolis (I wrote about that one on Friday). Continue reading »

Apr 172022
 

Untitled 2022 artwork by Toshiro Egawa

 
Some days it’s harder to get going than others. For me it’s usually the weekends. I wanted to sleep for 10 or 11 hours last night, but only got 8, and maybe it’s true that a lot of sleep can make a person groggier than a small slice. Even after 8 hours I had to mentally whip myself to move, as groggy as a bear coming out of sedation.

I forced that awakening because I felt compelled to write this column, to maintain the Sunday tradition.  But I still slept late enough that there’s not much time before I have to leave the house to rendezvous with some friends. My spouse made the appointment, and set it for mid-morning. She knows about this column, but doesn’t consider it more important than social engagement. Well, she thinks all metal is awful, so that factors in too.

So here I am, stuck in a narrow space between sleep and closing the door behind me on the way out.  This is what I managed to pull together before the door closed. Continue reading »

Apr 102022
 

 

Greetings to all on another Sunday. This time I’ve chosen a mix of advance tracks from two forthcoming releases plus two complete records (a new EP and the reissue of an album-length demo). All but one of the bands are known quantities to me based on the high quality of their previous works, and that new one has made a startling first impression. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this varied excursion into the black metal underground as much as I have.

KRIEG (U.S.)

I’m beginning with songs from a new split by Krieg and Crucifixion Bell that will be released on April 29th by UK-based Death Prayer Records (on CD, cassette tape, and digital formats). The split includes four tracks from Crucifixion Bell and three from Krieg. The first of Krieg‘s songs launched for streaming is “Incantations of Suffering Souls“. Continue reading »

Apr 032022
 


Kampfar

Making choices for this column is always difficult. This week the choosing process was more difficult than most, in part because I wasn’t able to write one of these last Sunday, causing the possible choices to really stack up.

It’s hard to explain why I chose the music of these six bands and not others. It was more a matter of instinct and impulse than careful ranking. The intensity of all the experiences had more than a little to do with that. The vocals alone, from beginning of this collection to the end, were stunning too, significantly contributing to the rush of emotional intensity.

I’ve started with three individual songs and followed those with three complete releases.

KAMPFAR (Norway)

Kampfar have written a new album and recorded it. As they say: “It was created and partially captured at home, in our little refuge, among the trees, below the mountain tops, right there by the river that is never silent”.

The album includes “six parts, six stories, six conflicts, collected under one banner”, but Kampfar haven’t disclosed the name of the album, and they’ve decided to release each song on its own, one-by-one, before releasing the album as a whole. Continue reading »

Mar 202022
 

 

In rooting around among new releases over the past week I got myself into some pretty nasty and gnarly music. Because it’s my habit to impulsively share whatever I happen to be into, I’m sharing some of that with you here. But it’s not just the nastiness that hooked me to these releases. As I hope you’ll agree, the following two albums (and one EP) have other qualities that make them noteworthy.

Fair warning: on the spectrum of black/death metal, most of these lean more in the direction of death. Further fair warning: I haven’t had time to write thorough reviews, just some very broad and possibly superficial impressions, just a come-on for you to do your own listening.

SAVAGE NECROMANCY (U.S.)

The vocalist of this Arizona band has a great pseudonym — Diabolical Fuckwitch Of The Black Flame — and she also has a helluva voice. She opens the band’s debut album Feathers Fall To Flames with a gripping performance in the opening track “Milenio De La Crucifixión”. There she voices a fervent melodic chant in Spanish, though later in the album she also growls like a subterranean hell beast and howls like a rabid wolf. Continue reading »

Mar 202022
 

 

As you can see, I have ambitions for a two-part SOB this Sunday. Part 1 is obviously done, so I can confidently state that it includes singles and advance tracks from forthcoming albums. My plan for Part 2 is to recommend a collection of complete albums that have recently been released, albeit without proper reviews. Let’s get to it:

BLUT AUS NORD (France)

Blut Aus Nord‘s mastermind Vindsval has characterized his creations under that name as a “process of perpetual regeneration”. In introducing BAN‘s last album Hallucinogen, he observed: “Music is a fascinating quest without end… and it would be a mess to express the same range of emotions, a mess to remain frozen in the same aesthetic, the same energy, a mess to compose and release the same thing again and again… and again.” Continue reading »

Mar 132022
 

 

I’m racing to finish the writing of this column so that it won’t appear too late in the day (or night, depending on where you are), so I’ll skip the introduction — other than to say there’s a lot of music here and a lot of variety too.

ANTE-INFERNO (UK)

“The horror and helplessness of the modern world clashes with the ancient past, and we bear witness to Antediluvian Dreamscapes as nightmarish as they are vivid and tortuous. The end of all life and the birth of the world are indistinguishable, and all who listen will be morbidly subjected to the harmonious torment of our writhing souls. The hour is come.”

And that’s how Ante-Inferno introduce their new album Antediluvian Dreamscapes, which follows their formidable 2020 album Fane (reviewed by Mr. Synn here). Continue reading »