Mar 102019
 

 

I didn’t lose an hour of sleep last night. I just feel less moronic because I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning instead of 3:30 a.m. Thank you Daylight Savings Time.

Of course, I’ll still feel like shit when it hits me around mid-afternoon that I only got 5 1/2 hours of sleep on one of the few nights of the week when I could have gotten 8 or 9. On the other hand, being awake so early does mean that I have extra time for this Sunday column, enough extra time that I can write a two-parter before having to deal with the rest of my life. Hopefully, my moronic misery becomes your savage pleasure.

DEIPHAGO

Deiphago describe their music as “Experimental Hyper-speed Satanic Bestial Metal” — and every word of that is true. As I’ve written before, their music doesn’t sound like anything else you’re likely to find in the realms of black metal or black/death. It viciously shoves us out of our musical comfort zones; it’s likely to leave most listeners bewildered and bedazzled (or at least severely unbalanced). Continue reading »

Mar 042019
 

 

As explained in Part 1 of this post yesterday, I made some especially difficult choices about what to cover this week because I had found so much I wanted to recommend. Splitting the column into two parts in order to include more music helped some, but wasn’t a complete solution. The task was further complicated when I discovered even more yesterday. The first selection below is one of those late discoveries, but it turns out that it fits very well with the music of the first three bands I’d originally chosen to begin this Part 2, and that now comes after it.

MEPHORASH

Yesterday Mephorash released an official video for the third track to surface so far from their fourth opus, the 74-minute Shem Ha Mephorash, which is based on the Kabbalistic 72-fold explicit name of God and now has a release date of April 18th. Before yesterday the band had revealed “777: Third Woe“, which was released as a single last year, and “King of King, Lord of Lords“, which was disclosed last August. We’ve provided reactions to both of those, and now to this new third piece. Continue reading »

Mar 032019
 

 

Man, this was tough, trying to decide what to write about in this Sunday’s SOB. I mean, it’s always tough, but harder than usual this week. Maybe it was because I didn’t have time to prepare a round-up of new songs last week, which might have shaved a few black metal entries off my lists. Yesterday I narrowed it down to 18 choices (you see what I mean?).

Clearly, I needed to make this a two-parter, but still had to make hard choices. For example, I decided not to include the new album by Popiół (here), or the new Aoratos song (here), because I’ve written about both bands in other posts recently, and although I’ve been very impressed with the new releases by Aara (here), Ancient Flame (here), and Herzegovinian (here), I haven’t spent enough time with them to write even half-assed introductions.

I’m still wrestling with some other decisions I’ll need to make in order to keep Part 2 from becoming bloated. Whether I succeed or fail, you’ll see Part 2 at NCS first thing on Monday.

NORDJEVEL

The following video begins with a rape, followed later by the victim’s delivery of the horrid fruits of her violation. Much other nastiness ensues, all of it filmed and edited with skilled hands (by Grupa 13 Production). It has the look and feel of a mythic saga, but I haven’t recognized which saga it might be, nor have I found any info about the origins of the story in press materials we’ve received. Whatever is going on here, the visuals are riveting (and NSFW). So is the music. Continue reading »

Feb 242019
 

 

This week I’ve chosen advance tracks from three forthcoming albums, two tracks from a recent split, and one complete album that’s just been made available for streaming in advance of a March 1 release (and it’s one of the best of the year so far). And with that, let’s just go right into the music.

KULL

Bal-Sagoth won’t need an introduction for many of you, but for others, it was a UK band conceived in 1989 by Byron Roberts in an attempt to form what he called “a sublimely symphonic black/death metal band swathed in a concept of dark fantasy & science fiction, inspired by the celebrated style of the grand pulp horror and fantasy literature of the 1930’s”.

He was eventually joined by the brothers Chris and Jonny Maudling to form the core songwriting group, and Bal-Sagoth released their first demo in 1993. They followed that with six albums, three on Cacophonous Records and three on Nuclear Blast. The last of those was The Chthonic Chronicles in 2006. Continue reading »

Feb 172019
 

 

I think I was overly ambitious about what I thought I could accomplish today. I did enjoy spending time with, and writing about, the music I collected in today’s first post, but that exercise wound up leaving me with too little time to write about all the black metal I’d chosen for today’s SHADES OF BLACK column. Originally conceived as either one giant post or a two-part collection, I’ve had to cut it back: The music of four bands is featured here, instead of eight.

Maybe I’ll find the time to write about the other four in time to do a second SOB post tomorrow before the turbulence of the work week and the resumed flood of more new music inundates me, but that’s tough to predict at this moment. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these four selections as much as I have (two of the bands old favorites, and two are recent discoveries).

SARASTUS

Having spent time with Enter the Necropolis, released on February 8th by the Finnish black metal band Sarastus, I’m feeling foolish for failing to explore the previous releases of this duo (composer and multi-instrumentalist Vardøger and vocalist/lyricist Revenant) — which include a debut demo (I) from 2015 and a debut album (II-Toinen Tuleminen) released in 2016 — because this new album is a real thrill. Continue reading »

Feb 102019
 

 

Part 1 of today’s recommendations of black metal consisted of “singles” from three albums due for release later this year. In this second Part are streams of four full releases that surfaced in the last week. For reasons explained in Part 1, my words will be hurried, but the music here is so good that I hope, in your listening, you won’t be as rushed as I am in my writing.

ZLOSLUT

Sahar, the third album by this Serbian band (whose name roughly translates as “ominous”), and the first since it expanded from the solo project of Agnarion into a full line-up, is an interesting and very effective interweaving of stylistic ingredients, made with a blazing loom. Continue reading »

Feb 102019
 


photo by Jørn Veberg

 

The conditions were correct for frostbitten music yesterday, when the Seattle area received more snow in 24 hours than it usually gets in a year. Granted, it was a laughably small amount by the standards of people who live in truly wintry climes (8 inches at the airport, and greater or lesser amounts around the area), but enough to paralyze the region and knock out the power (and internet service) in the forest where I live from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. We’re obviously not really set up to deal with snow very well.

The absence of power and net access put a crimp in my usual Saturday surveying of new black metal; I spent more time feeding the wood-burning stove to stay warm. I did catch up a bit this morning, but also relied on listening I’d done during last week before the weather turned hostile. There’s enough here to justify dividing the group into two parts. But I’m kind of hurrying through the words since more snow is expected today, and I’ve got to make preparations.

Part 1 consists of advance tracks from three forthcoming albums. Part 2 is devoted to recent full releases.

GAAHLS WYRD

The presence of Gaahl (Kristian Espedal) at the front of this formation will guarantee attention for their debut album, GastiR – Ghosts Invited. But for that recording he had some impressive talent around him, too — Ole Walaunet (The Batallion, God Seed, Grimfist), Frode Kilvik (Krakow, Aeternus), and Kevin Kvåle (Horizon Ablaze). Continue reading »

Feb 032019
 


Ellende

There’s quite a lot of new music I’m recommending in this Sunday’s column — three full EP streams (one of which is an EP-length single composition), plus advance tracks from three forthcoming albums. Coincidentally, four of the featured bands are essentially solo projects.

As usual, I picked these selections in part to provide some listening variety, though there’s certainly more than a fair share of melancholy and grandeur to be found herein, along with a fair share of ripping and tearing. I also positioned one selection to provide a bit of a diversionary interlude through its interweaving of Neo-Folk elements (and clean singing) among heavier sounds.

ELLENDE

I discovered this Austrian atmospheric/post-black metal band through a 2016 video of the title track from their 2014 EP, Weltennacht. I couldn’t get the song out of my head, and the video was hard to forget, too, since it included film of the 1987 public suicide of a Pennsylvania politician (Budd Dwyer) at a press conference he conducted the day before he was to be sentenced to prison following a conviction for bribery. Continue reading »

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 »