Jul 152018
 

 

The four bands whose music I collected in Part 1 of this post don’t really sound alike, but I found all of the music explosive and emotionally intense, and that had something to do with why I packaged their music together in that opening installment. There’s probably even less connective tissue between the songs in this second installment, and I’m not sure I’ve even succeeded in organizing them in a way that would make for any kind of appealing flow from one to the next. But I really do like everything here a lot… a WHOLE LOT.

SVARTKONST

Devil’s Blood, released on June 29th, is the debut album of the one-man blackened death metal band Svartkonst, the work of Swedish musician Rickard Törnqvist, who mixed and mastered it as well as composing and performing all the music. It hooked me immediately with the opening track “Black Light Burning“, and I stayed hooked for the next nine tracks. Continue reading »

Jul 152018
 

 

It’s always difficult to choose songs for these Sunday columns, not because the pickings are slim but because of the constant abundance of music from the black realms that catch my fancy every week. This week I thought I might have time to make the choosing a bit easier by making more choices. I haven’t written Part 2 yet, and it’s conceivable that I won’t finish it in time for posting today before I have to turn to other activities. But if not today, then you’ll see it on Monday.

DAUÞUZ

Before we turn to the music of this German duo, let’s have a small lesson about the band’s name and its pronunciation. “Dauþuz” is a Proto-Germanic or Norse word for death. In its spelling it includes a letter (þ) from Old Norse called thorn, which (as The Font of All Human Knowledge tells us) originated from a rune found in Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems. That rune is called Þurs in Old Norse (“Thurs”) or Þurisaz (“Thurisaz”) in its Germanic variant, and it appeared in the old rune poems as a name for giants.

The letter thorn (or þorn ) survives in only one modern language — Icelandic — where it’s pronounced something like th as in the English word thick, but not exactly. And so now, when you tell your friends how amazed you are by this band’s music, you’ll be able to do so without mutilating the pronunciation of their name by sticking an unwelcome “P” sound in the middle of it. But you probably knew that already. Continue reading »

Jul 082018
 

 

Sometimes I refer to these collections as playlists, despite the fact that I often include at least brief reviews of complete EPs or albums. But this week’s SHADES OF BLACK really is just a playlist. You’ll find links to full streams of six recent or recently discovered albums or EPs here, but all I’ve done is to pick out one song from each of them as “teasers”. I just don’t have time to do more, much as I wish I did.

And even if you don’t have time to explore everything in depth on your own, I do think it’s a good playlist, with interesting variations of style and mood. If I were on Spotify, I might be able to make an actual playlist of these tracks, but I’m not. Perhaps you’ll do it on your own — after reading all of my words, of course, because they’re so vital as an introduction. (Please stop snickering — it undermines my self-esteem.)

CENOTAFIO

We’re not easing into this playlist, but launching it in harrowing fashion with “Letargo a su posterior hipnosis“, the third track from La Fatídica Excrecencia De La Subtierra, the 2017 debut album by the Chilean band Cenotafio, which was re-released at the end of May 2018 by the Mexican label Throats Productions. Continue reading »

Jul 012018
 

 

This is Part 2 of a post that I began earlier today. As in the first installment, I’m including a group of complete new releases with only brief introductory impressions rather than full reviews. More words would make me feel better, but maybe the words I had time to write will be sufficient inducement for you to explore further on your own.

The surprising new release by Malokarpatan made me feel like I’d entered haunted woods or subterranean caverns populated by creatures that the Brothers Grimm would recognize, and the next two entries in this post pulled me into greater depths of horror — to the point that I felt I had to shake off those shivering sensations in order to face the rest of the day. You’ll see how I did that.

MALOKARPATAN

Perhaps there was some kind of advance notice that the Slovakian band Malokarpatan, who most definitely march (and scamper fiendishly) to the beat of their own drummer, would be releasing a new EP today, but if so, I missed it. My first notice came via a Bandcamp e-mail alert today. What I found was as weird as I’ve come to expect — but the shapes of the band’s strange proclivities never seem to be predictable. Continue reading »

Jul 012018
 

 

My cup runneth over — not really in the sense of the Psalm but more like Fantasia’s rendition of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, in which drowning in a deluge spawned by runaway magic is a serious threat. In other words, I have far more new metal in a black vein to recommend than I know what to do with.

In an attempt to do more rather than less, I’ve compiled a two-part post on this Sunday… and I’ve also wimped out by providing a series of little more than encouragements rather than reviews, especially in the case of the three full albums included in this first Part.

IMMORTAL

My comrade Andy Synn tells me he will soon provide a review of Immortal’s new album, Northern Chaos Gods, which is due for release on July 6th. (Spoiler: he seems quite high on it.) In the meantime, Immortal has revealed a second single from the album, the title of which might lead some to guess (incorrectly) that the new Abbath-less Imnmortal had decided to re-record an earlier song. Continue reading »

Jun 172018
 

 

I’m well aware that a lot of black metal fans out there are hard to please when it comes to new releases. Some of them, yawning or rolling their eyes, find most current black metal bands too slavishly devoted to what has been done before, re-treading riffs and blasts and particular approaches to production rather than attempting or succeeding in creating music that sounds genuinely creative. Others, gnashing their teeth or choking on their own disgust, find a lot of bands unworthy of the name “black metal”, bastardizing the music to the point of fracturing it or acting the part of charlatans without true spirit or devotion.

I, on the other hand, find it very difficult to compile these Sunday posts because every week I have more to like than I have time to write about what I’ve enjoyed. I have this same problem in other genres of metal. Maybe my tastes are too catholic (small “c”), maybe I’m not sufficiently discerning or demanding. At least I can’t legitimately be accused of dishonesty — I truly like the music I recommend to you. And I try to provide variety in these posts because I’m well aware it won’t all appeal to everyone. If you make only one new discovery that you think is worth your time, then it will have been worth my time. And if not, there’s always next week…. Continue reading »

Jun 122018
 

 

This edition of SHADES OF BLACK is brought to you by the letter “I”.

I usually post these columns on Sundays, and didn’t intend to do one for this Tuesday until last night. While listening to candidates for a “Quick Hits” round-up to be posted today, I became enamored of these three new tracks, and since they’re all forms of black metal and coincidentally were created by bands whose names begin with “I”, well, the impulse proved irresistible. With a bit of luck, I may still get that “Quick Hits” post finished today, too.

INCORPOREA

Exorcize the Sun appears to be the first official release by this two-man band from Spain. It appeared in April and I learned of it through a recent invitation from Incorporea. Consisting of two tracks captured on 7″ vinyl, it’s a seductive offering of atmospheric black metal that has depth and power, and an impressive degree of sophistication. Continue reading »

Jun 102018
 

 

As you can see, I’m resuming this column after failing to get it done the last two Sundays due to other commitments. As a result of the hiatus I’m even more awash than usual in new music from the black realms. So much to choose from… and so perhaps there’s an even greater element of randomness in these choices than usual as well.

FUNERAL MIST

This solo project of the man who goes by Arioch here (and Mortuus when he fronts Marduk) has a habit of surprising people. After a trio of demos and an EP between ’95 and ’98, five years passed and then the Salvation debut album appeared — a record that a great many people still swear by. Six more years passed, and then Funeral Mist released Maranatha without warning. As I recall, it garnered a more mixed response than the widespread praise provoked by Salvation, but I’m one of those who thoroughly enjoyed it. And then so many years passed with nothing new that most fans probably concluded, sadly, that Arioch had laid Funeral Mist to rest, permanently.

Surprise! Continue reading »

May 202018
 

 

Black metal isn’t a two-sided coin — it’s more like a tetraplex. Yet I’m still thinking of the music in Part 2 of today’s SOB column as the other side of the coin from what was in Part 1. The music there was more cerebral, more emotionally complex, often more spiritual and atmospheric… and what’s here is more visceral, more violent, more inclined to take no prisoners. Or at least that’s how I think of the distinctions at a very high level.

I happen to like both “sides” of this “coin”; some may prefer one side to the other. Some, in fact, may recoil as the following selections apply a blowtorch to your eardrums.

BLASPHAMAGOATCHRIST

If you were members of Blasphemy, Goatpenis, and Antichrist, and you decided to join forces, what would you call your collective endeavor? Well, duh, you’d call it Blasphamagoatachrist! I mean, Phemypenisanti was probably already taken. Continue reading »

May 202018
 

 

If you haven’t listened to the new songs by Uada (here) and Gaerea (here), you should go do that. That’s all the attention I’ll give them here, because those tracks got plenty of attention when they debuted last week, and we’ll have some more things to say about the albums soon-ish. Today I’m going to focus on some music that could use more attention.

As you can see, I have enough music (and had enough time) to make two parts of SHADES OF BLACK this Sunday. Most of the music in the next part rips and tears, often at roughly 1000 mph (or 1609.34 kph). The music in this part is harder to sum up. Of course I’ll try, one by one, but not in a single introductory sentence.

PHTHISIS

The first item I’ve chosen is a four-song demo that has been buried a long time. The band no longer exists. It’s an example of music that in retrospect sounds ahead of its time, and sounds damned fine here in 2018, too. For reasons unknown to me, one of the members finally decided to share it after roughly 7 years. You never know, maybe some seeds are being watered, maybe something new will bloom. Maybe this post will add a few nutrients to aid the growth. But if not, this demo should still bring pleasure to more than a few ears. Continue reading »