Jan 202019
 

 

Well, here we are at the final segment of today’s extensive column devoted to black and blackened metal. If you’re still with me, I applaud your perseverance and endurance. I’m sure the bands would applaud, too, since I’m about to shower three more with praise. And of course I fervently hope that you’ve found some exciting new discoveries along the way.

VANANIDR

I’m now turning to the first of three bands who’ve pleasingly seized my attention in the past. This one is the Swedish group Vananidr, whose 2018 debut album I briefly reviewed in another one of these Sunday columns (here). Vananidr is essentially a solo project of Anders Eriksson (on the album, he was aided by Karl Thunander for the drum performance). On January 11, Vananidr released a new two-track single entitled Bleak and Desolate. Continue reading »

Jan 202019
 

 

I didn’t divide the music in today’s column evenly between the two Parts that I’d originally planned. There was significantly more in the second Part than in the first one, not only because there were two more bands there but also because many of the items were full releases rather than advance tracks from forthcoming records.

I’m using the past tense, because, as you can see, I’ve decided to divide Part 2 into two parts as well, which means there will be a Part 3 of this Sunday’s column. I hope the total magnitude of what I’m spreading before you today won’t deter you from checking out everything, because everything here is well worth the time.

ÆRA

“At speed, the songs embody cold yet chaotic ferocity. In their slower movements, they reach for haunting grandeur and wintry melancholy. Emotionally evocative and immersive music in an icy Norwegian style that’s well-suited by the drifting mists and ancient forests depicted on the cover.” That was my summing up of this pagan black metal duo’s 2017 debut EP, Of Forsaken Vows. It was a very good beginning, and inclined me to pay attention to their new full-length, The Craving Within. Continue reading »

Jan 202019
 

 

As you can see, I again had enough time this weekend to round up, and write up, enough recommendations to justify a two-part column. I’ll dispense with further introductory comments and get right to it. (P.S. – I’ve added all four of the following tracks to my list of candidates for our 2019 edition of Most Infectious Songs.)

1349

This opening song (which has an interesting background story) took me by surprise twice. First, I had no idea it was coming when it surfaced to considerable fanfare five days ago; it comes a long five years after 1349‘s last album (Massive Cauldron of Chaos). And second, the music itself is a surprise. Continue reading »

Jan 132019
 

 

In this second Part of this Sunday’s SHADES OF BLACK column I’ve changed course away from the predominantly atmospheric and sometimes folk-inflected music that dominated Part 1 in moody, mystical, and magnificent strains of sound. The selections in this Part are less easily categorized with broad brush strokes, but I guess I’d venture to say they are mainly more “muscular” and savage than what you’ll find in Part 1.

BLODHEMN

I’ve been deplorably late in catching up to the third album by this one-man band based in the black metal hot-bed of Bergen, Norway, but under persistent prodding by my Norwegian friend eiterorm, I finally have. That third album, Mot Ein Evig Ruin, will be released on February 16th by the Dutch label Soulseller Records, and now there are two tracks out in the world — “Dra Te’ Helvete“, which surfaced in October, and more recently “Det Gjekk Ein Faen“. Continue reading »

Jan 132019
 

 

This weekend has been similar to the last one. I didn’t try to write anything for yesterday, and that left me free to focus on choices for today. With so much time, I found many things to recommend, so many that I’m again dividing this post into two parts (shocking, I know). And it made sense to put these particular selections together int Part 1.

SAOR

Roughly two years after the release of Guardians, the Caledonian metal band Saor are returning with a new record named Forgotten Paths. Along with another group of session musicians supporting him, Saor’s visionary Andy Marshall is also aided this time by Neige from Alcest (on the album’s title track, which opens the record).

Of the four songs on the new album, three are quite long, including the edited version of the track that debuted in recent days through a beautiful and mysterious music video that includes jaw-dropping vistas of the Scottish highlands (as well as appearances by Mr. Marshall and what seems to be a pair of twin witches). Continue reading »

Jan 062019
 

 

This is the second part of today’s usual column on black metal, which I began here. The first three bands are old favorites; the next three are new discoveries. The focus is still mainly on new tracks from forthcoming records, but I’ve included one brand new single and a full EP that came out near summer’s end.

With more time, I could easily include a third part, but there’s too much on the table for Monday — and I think you’ll want to be here to discover what happens then.

VUKARI

I first came across this Chicago quartet via their En To Pan EP (which I partially reviewed back in July 2014), thanks to a recommendation by Panopticon’s Austin Lunn. Subsequently, Vukari and Panopticon became label-mates: Vukari’s second album Divination was released by Bindrune Recordings in 2016, and I thought it was stunningly good. It appears that the band are now working on a new album, and on January 3rd they released a demo track from it named “Entire Worlds Encased In Ice“. Continue reading »

Jan 062019
 

 

I got a slow start on the day yesterday, and by the time I got my head in gear it was too late to put together a post of new music. So I decided to focus on what I might recommend today.

I listened a lot to things I’d spotted over the last week or two, focusing mainly on advance tracks from forthcoming releases, and found so much I enjoyed that I’ve had to split this SHADES OF BLACK installment into two parts. Look for the other one later today.

MO’YNOQ

If North Carolina’s Mo’ynoq still aren’t on your radar screen, it’s time you put them there, dead center. Their debut album, Dreaming In A Dead Language, is coming out on January 11th. I premiered a song from it called “The Collector” last month, and now there’s a second one I can share with you, which premiered at Antihero on Friday. Continue reading »

Dec 302018
 

 

Here we are, nearing the end of that strange seven-day period that begins with the Christmas holiday and ends with New Year’s Day, when many of us have more lazy free time than usual but also experience something like sensory overload from an onslaught of family, friends, food, drink, commercialized excess everywhere you turn, and the looming dread of a new year beginning with a return to jobs and no more holiday reprieves on the visible horizon. It can be both a joyous time of year and a depressing one, more of the former than the latter if you’re lucky, but with both conditions defined with greater intensity than the plodding progression of a normal week.

Even as odd and disorienting as this annual occurrence usually is, the one we’re in the midst of now has struck me as even more bewildering, even comically so, from my perspective as an obsessive fan of extreme music with a compulsion to share recommendations. On that front at least, things are supposed to slow down, with fewer albums being released (given the likelihood they’ll be overlooked against the background froth of so many other holiday diversions) and something of a pause in the promotional activity around albums slated for release in the new year, including the debut of new songs. And while that has in fact happened to a degree, it’s been a smaller degree than usual, especially in the genres of music that are the focus of this column. Continue reading »

Dec 242018
 

 

I need my head examined, but what else is new? Here we are on Christmas Eve, when fewer people than usual browse metal sites such as ours, but even after already raining a heavy deluge of blackened metal upon your heads in Part 1 and Part 2 of this column, I’m still not content to finish. It is undoubtedly an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but undoubtedly untreatable. So here we are.

As mentioned in Part 2, my plan was to use the third part of this column to round up a few more full releases from late 2018 that I wanted to recommend before the year ends. The four I’ve focused on here in these brief reviews don’t exhaust everything I’d like to mention, but perhaps you can figure out why I decided to combine these four (hint: today’s the 8th day before the year ends). Maybe I’ll get to more later — after all, we do have 7 more days before 2018 expires.

HELFRÓ

Of the four records in this post two of them come from bands I’ve written about before and two are newcomers, including this first one, a new Icelandic black/death metal project organized by members of Ophidian I. Their self-titled album, released on December 21st, was recorded in part by Studio Emissary’s Stephen Lockhart and was mixed and mastered by him, and that’s why I paid attention to it. Glad I did. Continue reading »

Dec 232018
 

 

In Part 1 of today’s regular black metal column I mentioned I had a plan. Since it’s now two-thirds complete, I’m safer in explaining it: In Part 1 I focused on two remarkable albums that came out last week, which I wanted to be sure I said something about before getting carried away by the rest of my life. The second part of the plan, now finished, was to assemble a collection of attractive advance tracks from albums scheduled for arrival in early 2019.

Part 3, as originally conceived but conceivably could still be left unfinished if life interferes, is intended to present a variety of other late-year full releases that shouldn’t be overlooked before the year ends. If fortune smiles upon me, I’ll have it finished in time to post tomorrow, in time to darken Christmas Eve.

DROTTNAR

The first song in this collection isn’t exactly new, since it previously appeared in the first of this Norwegian band’s three-part sequence of EPs entitled Monolith, which were released between November 2017 and May of this year, but now “Funeral of Funerals” has become the subject of a new video, which accompanied the news that an album collecting the music of the three EPs, and what seem to be three new tracks (which would make a fourth), will be released on February 8th. The album’s name is also Monolith. Continue reading »