Aug 092020
 

 

My wife insists that there’s no such thing as “catching up” on sleep, that getting 10 hours of sleep doesn’t really make up for getting 5 hours of sleep the night before. All I know is that today the bags under my eyes look more like satchels than the usual fully packed duffels. But the 10 hours of slumber I got last night produced a late start on this column this morning, and thus a bit of hurrying in both the selections and the writing.

Still, I’m happy with what I chose and hope you will be too. As for the writing, well, it’s of secondary importance after all

0-NUN (Brazil)

The discovery of 0-Nun‘s debut EP The Shamanic Trilogy Part I – Nihility Ascetics proved to be a big bright spot at 2020’s mid-point. As the title suggests, it was the first part of a conceptual work, which 0-Nun describes as follows: “It deals with the notions of inexistence, nothingness, void and all absence of being but in a shamanic way. It is a paradox per se: it portrays what is not from a conscience perspective”. Continue reading »

Aug 022020
 

 

This morning the words from an old soap opera popped into my head: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” One reason might be obvious: The current world is a gigantic shitshow, and we’re being brutally reminded on a daily basis how swiftly and inexorably our lives flow away.

But it might also be because yesterday I read a fascinating article (here) about soap and skin and how Procter & Gamble created that show and many others to build a market for skin care products we probably didn’t need, and in the process invented modern American advertising.

It might also be because I’m rapidly running out of NCS time today, and so will have to be brief in what I write about these songs I’ve chosen to recommend.

LAERE

Tenebrae” is a storm-tossed sea of sound whose heaving melodies are laden with fear and desperation. The song conjures vast panoramas of dark crashing waves and lightning-scarred skies, as well as the hopelessness of abandonment and isolation. Its desolating emotional intensity is heightened by the throat-shredding wretchedness of the vocals, and the gloom of somber spoken words. Continue reading »

Jul 262020
 

 

For Part 1 of today’s column I picked a handful of individual songs and videos that were loaded with head-moving hooks, but still preserved a feeling of sinister menace. In this part I’ve gone in a different direction… though I’ve gone back in the other direction with the last selection. I’ve started with an advance track from a forthcoming album, and then focused on four complete releases, though a shortage of time has driven me to provide mere sketches instead of more thorough-going reviews.

PANZERFAUST

To begin, I’ve chosen “The Snare of the Fowler“, the second single from the new album by this stand-out Canadian band. Grim are the lyrics, ending with the statement: “There is no redemption arc in the records of eternal truths. Just an endless sequence of cross-currents to the terminus of all paradises lost”. But who with eyes to see could possibly deny that bitter arc, or the sentiments expressed in a preceding lyrical passage: Continue reading »

Jul 262020
 

 

The last 10 days have been rough. I mentioned last weekend that the virus had claimed the life of someone I was very close to, and my day job has simultaneously become very demanding. The combined impact has stressed my work at NCS. Just haven’t had the time or mental health necessary to plow through all the new music that is somehow still managing to come out.

For the first time in an unusually long time, I did do some updating of my out-of-control listening list yesterday, and checked out some of the more recent entries that I thought might be suitable for this column. I also re-listened to a few things I’d intended to write about before calamity struck. From those excursions I made selections that I’ve divided into two parts. The way I divided the groupings makes musical sense to me, but who knows if it will make sense to anyone else. Part 1 includes individual songs and videos; there are a bunch of full album streams in Part 2.

ROTTING CHRIST

My memory is spotty at the best of times, but I’m pretty sure that at least once before here at NCS I’ve mentioned that Rotting Christ were the first band who opened my eyes to black metal. That was about 13 years ago. Before that I’d dabbled a bit in the genre but wasn’t hooked, and then I discovered Theogonia, and the rest is history. Speaking of history, after being wowed by Theogonia I traveled further back and listened to some of RC‘s earlier output, including 1994’s Non Serviam, whose opening track was a song named “The Fifth Illusion“. Continue reading »

Jul 212020
 

 

(We failed to post a SHADES OF BLACK column in its usual place on Sunday, and occasional NCS contributor Speelie fills that void with this guest edition.)

NCS readers might be forgiven for thinking I only pay attention to the Black Metal scene in Quebec. In reality, I listen to Black Metal from around the world (Krummholz, anyone?). But Finland has long been one of my favorite countries, for all sorts of Metal.

This year has been full of new releases from the country, including some comebacks by guys who first released music many years ago. One example of this is Ceremony of Darkness, by Orfvs. It’s full of keyboards and atmosphere, but in a way that wouldn’t be out of place 20-plus years ago. Continue reading »

Jul 122020
 

 

Having caught up on a lot of lost sleep overnight, I’m getting a very late start today. Given the lateness of the hour, I’ve made today’s selections from among a short list of things I’ve listened to most recently instead of digging deeper into my ever-burgeoning list of black and blackish releases. A lot of promising new albums are missing from this group (including just-released records by Barghest (Louisiana), Urnscent (Iran), and Moribund Mantras (Germany), to name just a few, because I haven’t had time to completely make my way through them.

KHTHONIIK CERVIIKS

In early May (here) I tried to find the words to describe the first advance track from Æequiizoiikum, the new album by Khthoniik Cerviiks, and ultimately just threw up my hands and called it “a supernova-level musical spectacle, one that’s ingenious in its conception and eye-popping in its technical execution”. Now there’s a second track from the album out in the world, so it’s time to wrestle with words again. Continue reading »

Jul 052020
 

 

Last week wore me out, for a lot of reasons. After sleeping for an alcohol-assisted 11 hours Friday night I decided to take a vacation from NCS yesterday, and a vacation from listening to music of any kind. But I got back into the swing of things this morning, beginning before the sun rose. And from that listening session I picked what you’ll find here. I’m beginning with two bands whose past music I’ve enjoyed and then moving off into previously uncharted waters.

KATAVASIA

We kind of went overboard in our coverage of this Greek black metal band’s 2015 debut album Sacrilegious Testament and their follow-on 2017 EP Daemonic Offering: I count 9 posts we made about those releases, including an interview and a track premiere. If you’d like to get caught up, you’ll find all those articles here.

The band drew all that attention, not just here but elsewhere, in part because of the line-up, which included members of Aenaon, Varathron, Hail Spirit Noir, Agnes Vein, and Melan Selas. The line-up remains mostly intact on the band’s second album, Magnus Venator, which will be released on September 4th via Floga Records. Continue reading »

Jun 282020
 


Cultus Profano

 

The last 24 hours didn’t go as I had planned, but I have no one to blame but myself. I separated myself from most NCS activities after finishing yesterday’s round-up, and then partied a bit too hard with my spouse during one of our rare outings to a local bar and restaurant (which is very serious about social distancing). On the plus side, I slept for 11 hours after that. On the minus side, my brain was in a dense fog after awakening, a fog that’s only now beginning to dissipate.

So, to avoid letting the day pass entirely by without one of these usual Sunday collections, I had to change my plans and limit myself to a handful of individual songs and videos (and one demo), rather than trying to write about some recently released full-lengths that I want to strongly recommend. I’ll have to find some other way to do that.

CULTUS PROFANO (U.S.)

The first selection is “Cursed in Sin, Op. 25“, a song from the upcoming album Accursed Possession by Cultus Profano. We premiered not one but two songs off this Los Angeles-based duo’s debut album Sacramentum Obscurus, which was a terrific first full-length. And I’ve been eager to hear this new one. Continue reading »

Jun 212020
 

 

I had a big block of uninterrupted time to myself yesterday afternoon, with my spouse out of the house at a safe birthday celebration and the cats sleeping. So of course I spent the time digging through my list of new black metal(ish) music in preparation for this column. You see the results: More time means more picks.

NON SERVIAM (France)

I have Cvlt Nation to thank for this first discovery. The introduction to their premiere was brief and didn’t include much detail about the music, but the blaring headline did the job: “Listen To Non Serviam’s Salem – It’s Depraved And Sick! This Band Sounds Like NO OTHER!” I also thought the cover image was fantastic, and so decided to see what was going on with the music. Continue reading »

Jun 142020
 


Gaerea – photo by Catarina Rocha

 

Maybe you know about the “Overflowing Streams” format that we use for especially large collections of new music we want to recommend? The idea is to (regretfully) cut back on words and save the time needed to find, download, and upload cover art, and let the music streams mainly speak for themselves. And that’s the format I’ve resorted to for this week’s Shades of Black column, which is mostly a collection of recently released individual songs from forthcoming records.

GAEREA (Portugal)

The meteoric rise of Gaerea continues. In both its sights and its sounds the new video that begins this collection is extremely powerful. The inner pain they express is mutilating. The music is both crushing and explosive, delirious and despairing, sweeping and scathing. For such intense music, it’s also thoroughly immersive… or perhaps it’s better said that this is an emotional vortex that’s hard to escape. Continue reading »