Nov 252018


For reasons that I’ll explain in a subsequent post today — reasons that will also probably diminish the volume of content at our site over the next two weeks — I’ve written this week’s edition of SHADES OF BLACK hurriedly. As is always true, I picked this week’s selections because I really like them and believe most of you will too, but today I don’t have as much time to explain why. The bands, however, convincingly speak for themselves through their music.


This German death metal band established themselves as a force to be reckoned with through their first two albums, Summoning Black Gods (2012) and The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art (2015). Their new album, …And As We Have Seen The Storm, We Have Embraced The Eye, will only elevate their already-respected status. Continue reading »

Nov 182018


I can already tell that I’m not going to follow through on the plan I announced in Part I of today’s column. The plan was for a three-part post, but time is running out on me, and I’m going to have to stop here.


I’ve decided to introduce the first item in this collection, which is a full stream of the new album, VYR, by the Ukrainian group Sectorial, with a quote from the band: “Capricious and unpredictable streams of life, violent waves and the hypnotic blue of the the universe’s depths… an element that can withstand anything that will happen on the way… a bottomless stellar sky, reflected on a calm mirrored surface that in an instant turns into an incredible dance of the wind and drops, and spins in a gigantic powerful VYR.” Continue reading »

Nov 182018


I’m not sure how many Parts I’ll finish for this Sunday’s column. I have three in mind, even though that may amount to overload for most readers.


There may be some explanation out there in the interhole about how to pronounce this band’s name, but because I’m hurrying I haven’t looked. As I read it, it resembles the sound I make when clearing my throat upon awakening after a night of too many cigarettes and too much booze. Fortunately, the music on the band’s debut album sounds much better. In fact, it’s so good that it’s startling, and often stunning. Continue reading »

Nov 122018


Yesterday didn’t work out like I planned. Without going into the gory details, I was out all Saturday night — and I do mean all night. I didn’t go to sleep until about 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. By the time I woke up four hours later, it was too late to make a start on the usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK column (on top of which I felt like hell).

I’d also planned a two-part post because I’d collected so much black or blackened metal that I wanted to recommend, but with so much else to do for this Monday, that’s not going to happen. This will have to do for now.


After releasing a debut EP in 2014 (Zweifel) the Munich band Kultist turned their attention to work on an album. As they explained on November 2nd, their efforts to find a label willing to back the album failed, leaving them “marrowless” and “cast down”, and thus they released it themselves as a last resort. I can understand their frustrations — because Aurora is very, very good. Continue reading »

Nov 082018


This is a long-delayed episode of our usual Sunday column, one that I originally intended to finish writing and post two-and-a-half weeks ago. I won’t bore you with a re-hash of the reasons for the delay. Suffice to say that because it’s late, we’re now dealing with a couple of releases that have been been out for a little while rather than hot off the presses, and a couple more that are on the eve of release. No matter, they’re all still worth your time.


Eternal Khan came to life in Providence, Rhode Island, about eight years ago. By 2012 they had released a two-song demo and then followed that in 2013 with an EP entitled A Primitive History, which appeared on several year-end lists posted on our site, including this one from our friend SurgicalBrute (another one of our contributors, KevinP, wrote about it for Metal Bandcamp here). Continue reading »

Nov 042018


I’m racing against the clock to finish the second part of today’s SHADES OF BLACK column, because I’m going to join about 65,000 other loud drunks watching a bunch of grown men engage in feats of athletic derring-do (and beating the crap out of each other) at Seattle’s Century Link Field. Fortunately, I have an hour more than I thought I would have to finish today’s two-parter because I forgot about that ridiculous thing I was supposed to do with my clock last night. Still, if this comes off as a bit hurried, now you know why.


I ended Part 1 of today’s column by writing about a band I hadn’t heard of (Andeis) before listening to a track off their new album that was included on a great Fallen Empire sampler released in mid-October. And now I’m beginning Part 2 in a similar way.
Continue reading »

Nov 042018


Two Sundays ago I had planned a giant edition of this column that included a trio of advance tracks and a trio of full albums, and then Kriegsmaschine‘s new surprise album diverted me. After writing about it I only had time to devote a second feature to the three advance tracks, and put off writing about those three full-lengths. I didn’t get to them last Sunday either, because a short vacation didn’t allow me the time I needed. And I’m not doing it this Sunday either.

This is the way things work in my defective brain. As you can see, this will be a two-part collection of new music (a very large one), but it’s all stuff I’ve discovered in the last two weeks. Those three albums that fell by the way-side two Sundays ago are still in the back of the room with their hands up, waiting to be noticed. I’ve promised myself I’m going to get to them, even if it means preparing a week-day edition of this thing. But for now, let’s get to the newer stuff.


As I hope you know by now, and certainly would know if you regularly hang around our putrid neighborhood, the Icelandic band Svartidauði will be releasing a new album named Revelations of the Red Sword via Ván Records on December 3rd, six years to the day after the advent of their debut album Flesh Cathedral. In mid-October the band provided a stream of a terrifying new song called “Burning Worlds of Excrement”, and now you can listen to a second one. Continue reading »

Oct 282018


I’m in the midst of a 4-day vacation in Las Vegas with my spouse and her sister and sister’s husband. Blogging has not been on the menu of activities. Getting more than about 4 hours of sleep a night hasn’t been on the menu either.

I did manage to extricate myself from one outing this morning, but spent an hour on the phone with internet support trying to get good enough wi-fi in the hotel room to stream music. Long story short: my time alone is now about to run out, and so this edition of SHADES OF BLACK is going to be shorter than usual.


In April of this year I came across a spellbinder of a song from the debut album of this Ukrainian black metal band, and quickly showered it with praise. Later, I discovered that the album as a whole (Plague for the Empires: Time) was also really powerful. And now Ezkaton will soon be releasing a new EP. Continue reading »

Oct 232018


As explained on Sunday, the surprise release of the new Kriegsmaschine album de-railed my plans for the regular SHADES OF BLACK column, causing me to move the music I’d originally picked into the second part of what had suddenly become a two-part post. And for other reasons I won’t both you with, I couldn’t finish Part 2 on Sunday. Once the whirlwind of Monday began, I couldn’t finish it for yesterday either.

There was a lot of new music I had planned for Part 2, including three full releases — and I still haven’t finished writing about those, given the volume of premieres I’ve been writing about yesterday and today. Rather than delay further, I’m just going to include the individual tracks and videos from Part 2 here and come back to the full albums as soon as I can.


My interest in folk metal, which many years ago was once eager, became nearly moribund when I felt like I was hearing very similar Celtic melodies over and over again, regardless of what country they were coming from. Granted, the original Celts spread their culture over a wide swath of Europe, from what we’d now call “The British Isles” to what we now call Turkey. Still, the sameness of the music began to grow tiresome, or maybe I just wasn’t exploring as much as I should have. I still prize ethnic melodies when they’re less familiar to my ears, but in general I’m at the point when I’m hard to win over. Continue reading »

Oct 212018


I slept much later than usual this morning, and to compound the problems that created for my NCS duties, I had barely started writing today’s SHADES OF BLACK column before bedding down for the night, though I had at least finished the job of picking what I wanted to write about. And then when I finally did rouse myself from what seemed like a deep hibernation and had inhaled a gallon of coffee, I decided to take a quick peak at Facebook before turning back to today’s column.

And the first thing I saw was a pair of messages from two generous sources of musical recommendations, starkweather’s Rennie and my Serbian acquaintance Miloš, both of whom were pointing me to a big surprise that did far more to set my nerve endings alight that all that coffee I had poured into myself: Without warning, No Solace released a new Kriegsmaschine album today. Continue reading »