Sep 172023

Code (December 2022)

Today’s collection will be somewhat shorter than usual. I have a mid-morning appointment for some cosmetic work. The forked tail keeps growing back and needs to be cropped again, and the cloven hooves need trimming. The price one must pay for wearing pants and shoes.

Of course that’s not true, but I do have a mid-morning appointment and the work is analogous. I hope the following selections will ruin your day, in the best ways. I’ve presented the choices in alphabetical order by band name.


Last Friday Code (a favorite among the denizens of our putrid site) released a two-track single named Hunting For Caesar, “two brand new tracks of bile and intrigue”, another way to help fill the space between their last album and their next one. Continue reading »

Sep 102023

I hope this Sunday finds all of you well, and ready to have your heads bounced around like tennis balls in a spinning dryer. Which is a way of saying that the music I picked for today’s collection careens around, not staying in one musical place for very long and ending with a curveball that swerves outside the black(ish) metal strike zone.


We latched on pretty hard to the music of Night Crowned, beginning with our premiere of a song from their 2018 debut EP, Humanity Will Echo Out, continuing through our premiere of a song from their 2019 debut album Impius Viam, and moving on from there with a lot of enthusiastic commentary about their second album Hädanfärd in 2021.

And so we’re already relishing the release of their third album Tales, now set for release by the Noble Demon label on November 10th. Continue reading »

Sep 032023

Here in the U.S. we’re in the middle of a holiday that sprawls over the weekend and through Monday. Because of the nature of the celebration (Labor Day), not working is an even more central part of the holiday than it is for others. The event is also generally regarded here as marking “the end of the summer” (for reasons that have nothing to do with weather forecasting).

Probably more so on this holiday weekend than any other, I feel the urge to fuck off. Although I did sleep long and late overnight, you can see that the old NCS tradition of observing no weekends or holidays still won out today, as it will tomorrow (two Monday posts are already scheduled, and there might be a third).

The first three selections below were already on my list of things to check out in preparation for this column, but links to all three also arrived in one fell swoop yesterday from my internet friend Miloš, which eased the always-difficult process of choosing.

After those, I’ve gone off in other directions. The combined volume of the music here should give you lots of ways to fill your holiday time. If there’s one word I think applies equally to all of it, that word is “breathtaking”. Continue reading »

Aug 272023

I have a vague memory that when “blogging” began in the late ’90s most of them were personal diaries, presumptuously based on the notion that other people cared what you ate for breakfast or what you read while falling asleep or the great laxative you just discovered. Or what you thought about some music you’d listened to.

It’s obvious that on the weekends I regress to those early days, because no one can stop me. Like yesterday, when I complained about how early I woke up, or today, when I’m revealing that I made up for that by sleeping really late. I’m still writing thoughts about music I just listened to, just not as much today because… I slept really late.


I’m happy to have been an “early adopter” of the “cosmic black metal” of Lightlorn, which is another way of saying that I raved repeatedly about the songs on their independently released 2022 debut EP These Nameless Worlds, which was then picked up for a physical release earlier this year by Black Lion Records.

I’m also very happy to see that Lightlorn will now be releasing a debut album, especially because the first two advance tracks from it are so damned good. Continue reading »

Aug 202023

Pro tip: When you know the wind is shifting and it’s going to blow a mass of wildfire smoke into your area overnight, remember to close the windows in your bedroom so you don’t wake up with watering eyes and clogged lungs.

Of course I forgot to do that. To compound the idiocy I still went outside on my deck today for the usual morning coffee… and cigarettes… while watching a rising sun turned the color of Hell.

I suppose there’s a fitting synchronicity in listening to black metal while feeling nasty and thinking about Hell. I’m obviously trying to find the silver lining… or at least a lining that looks like fire and ash.

ASAGRAUM (Netherlands)

Of course, given the conditions described above, it felt completely natural to begin today’s column with a song called “Impure Fire“. The choice seemed even more natural based on the heated and harrowing nature of the music. Continue reading »

Aug 132023

Sorry for whining about my damn cold yesterday. I did feel better as the day rolled on, good enough to spend a lot of time listening to music. This morning was better still, so I kept at it. Maybe all the sleep has helped.

Feeling hopeful that maybe this nasty bug is finally on the run, maybe I’ve also bitten off more than I can chew for today’s selections. There’s a lot here, and some of it is a bit outside the usual black metal boundaries, but to be fair, those boundaries have always been fluid, hence the name of this column.


This first album isn’t outside the usual boundaries, but it’s an unusual pick for a different reason: Rather than a forthcoming record or one that was very recently released, it’s been out since early May (on the Eisenwald label). Like so many other albums, I had it on a long list of things to check out and never found time to get to it. But a friend happened to remind me of it yesterday. Continue reading »

Aug 062023

I don’t feel great, thanks for asking. Within an hour after finishing yesterday’s roundup it became evident that I was coming down with a cold. (My spouse brought it home with her last week, so I don’t blame yesterday’s bands.) By dinnertime last night I felt like fresh shit, and didn’t sleep worth a shit either. I don’t think it’s much worse this morning but it’s not any better either. One of the few things that makes me look backward with fondness on covid is that I went two years without a cold. Staying away from human germ-carriers was a big silver lining.

I was tempted to just blow off this usual Sunday column and instead wallow in misery. Didn’t seem quite fair to share my thoroughly clogged and befogged headspace with innocent bands, or to interrupt their performances with ugly hacking and explosive blasts of sneezing, even though I was able to re-listen to the parts that were interrupted with rail-gun blasts of snot.

Well, but the world is not a fair place. It brings colds and music writers who don’t know when to shut up, and I thought forging ahead with this column might temporarily take my mind off my miseries. So it did.


Black Birch describe themselves as an “Atmospheric Black Metal duo from Southern Sweden” (the two of them are Gina Wiklund and Ulf Blomberg), with an ethos that is “Antifascist & vegan”. I see on their Bandcamp page that they’ve been releasing a sequence of seven singles since January of this year, and on September 1st they’re going to release a self-titled EP on vinyl and digital formats that includes two of those previous singles and two new songs. Continue reading »

Jul 232023


Why would any sane person wake up at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, which is what I did today? Was it too hot to sleep in our un-air-conditioned bedroom? Not at all — it was a delicious 55°F (12.7°C) outside (eat your hearts out all you hell-dwellers in the rest of the sun-broiled world). It may have been that I limited my Saturday-night intoxicants to one ice-cold martini. Possibly I was subconsciously anxious because I had made no start on the writing of this column yesterday.

I don’t recommend this kind of behavior. I see no evidence that the early bird gets the worm. Instead, it turns the brain wormy… or at least very foggy. I went in search of music to function as a pesticide (the more forever chemicals, the better) and a bitter wind to blow away the fog. Here’s what I found:

NIDARE (Germany)

Late last year we premiered a song from Von Wegen, the then-forthcoming debut album by this German post-black metal band, and it pulled me headlong all the way into that album. It’s a very good thing, then, that we haven’t had to wait long for a follow-up, which hit the streets on July 12th in the form of a stunning EP named Naehe und Flackern (via Through Love Records). Continue reading »

Jul 172023

Yesterday I had ambitions to make the Shades of Black column a two-parter, but in a rare display of wisdom I didn’t call it that, because I wasn’t sure I would have time to finish the second part. But I did, even though I didn’t finish Part 2 in time to post it Sunday. Here it is now.

Yesterday’s first installment was devoted mainly to advance tracks from forthcoming records. Today’s just focuses on two recent albums.


Imperceptum is one of those bands I’ve been eagerly following and writing about for a long time, beginning with this Bremen-based project’s debut album Collapse of Existence, released in early 2016. Two EPs and four more albums have come out since then, the latest of which (until now) was 2020’s Entity of Undead Stars (reviewed here). Eight days ago we got another full-length, and you’ll find the stream below. I found it extraordinary. Continue reading »

Jul 162023

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 100 times (probably closer to 200): I have another job whose demands are very unpredictable. It interfered with my ability to prepare a roundup yesterday, unexpectedly so for me — because I just fucking forgot about a big online meeting that had been scheduled for months (rude surprises have many causes). It started early and went on for 2 1/2 hours (come on, it takes time to coordinate production of pocket-sized fusion reactors!).

I thought about just pretending that today was Saturday and proceeding with a cross-genre roundup, but then thought again, and decided to stick with the usual plan and focus on the blacker arts today. Still, your creaky wagon won’t get stuck in any ruts – these selections will cause it to careen all over the en-thorned dirt road (or so I hope).


I decided to start with a quintet of songs from forthcoming releases and then turn to just one recent EP. The first of the advance tracks comes from the ninth album by the long-running Spanish band Dantalion (which my addled brain always tries to read as “dandelion”, though there’s nothing about their music that connects with such an image, unless the flower is dead). Continue reading »