Aug 302020
 


Necrophobic

 

I used to joke around here that I made my living as a drug mule, or as a secret adviser to world leaders who were flummoxed about how to solve shattering problems, or as a caretaker for a loris horde that would threaten human survival if I didn’t keep a close watch on their compound near the NCS headquarters. The truth is much more mundane (though I still suspect that covid was hatched in the loris lab). Not that I’m going to advertise the truth, because I still don’t think what I do here would be healthy for me in the world where I collect my paychecks.

Even a few months ago I thought my day job had settled into a long-lasting somnolence, leaving me an abundance of time to spend at NCS. But it has come roaring back. Not a completely shocking development, because the job has always varied among shifting states of intensity, but still a surprise. Last week was particularly demanding, and I fell way behind in paying attention to new metal. Thankfully, I was able to ignore it all day yesterday and spent the hours immersed in music.

Having surfed the tides of metal from near sun-up to sundown, I created the beginnings of half a dozen NCS posts, with four of them devoted to black and “blackened” metal. Most of those will probably remain little more than mind games once the new work week begins, but at least I’ve completed this two-part SHADES OF BLACK, which I hope you’ll enjoy. Continue reading »

Aug 232020
 

 

We’ve made it to another Sunday, and I had enough time over the last 36 hours to find new blackened music to recommend. I found more than you’ll discover in this post, but I’m staring down the barrel of a fully loaded gun (every chamber loaded with day-job work I need to tackle today), so the odds are against working up a Part 2. Let’s get to it:

VONLAUS

Even after the warm reception given to their 2018 self-titled demo (reviewed here), Iceland’s Vonlaus still prefer to remain anonymous, though I see that Metal-Archives has identified two of them as members of Above Aurora (whose new album we premiered and reviewed at great length here). They now have a debut album headed our way next month, and its first single is the song I’ve chosen to lead off today’s collection. Continue reading »

Aug 162020
 

 

Here’s the second Part of today’s column about newly discovered black and blackish metal. If you’ve been following my observations about my vacation, I was waylaid in finishing this Part because the golfers returned.

Thankfully, they seemed none the worse for wear despite the heat (which turned out not to be quite as punishing as predicted), though they did give up after 14 holes. Thankfully, they told very few war stories, but did share some spectacular photos of mountain-and-forest vistas from the course (I’ve left one at the end of this column), and then we tucked into lunch and some mid-day whisky, and then I got back to this writing while they immediately began napping.

Anyway, that explains the odd timing of this post.

PATHWAY (Russia)

You may have noticed that I have a weakness for black metal that incorporates unusual instruments, whether it be woodwinds, brass, horsehair fiddles, or medieval lutes. And thus I was probably predisposed to like the music of the Russian horde Путь (Pathway), because the band incorporate the accordion into their distinctive rendering of atmospheric black metal. Continue reading »

Aug 162020
 

 

I passed a cognitive test this morning. It was even easier than “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.” I turned down the offer to ride around in a golf cart and watch four of my idiot friends embarrass themselves in heat that’s expected to hit 100°F before they finish.

Instead I stayed behind in the place we rented for this mini-vacation with another person who also passed the test, surrounded by vistas of forest and mountains. And I listened to a lot of new black metal, and I wrote this post, which comes in two parts.

SKYBORNE REVERIES (Australia)

The first song in this collection is a fiery storm of sound – synths gloriously burning high overhead, the riffing flowing in scintillating waves and flickering in a mad boil, the vocals a mix of a larynx-lacerating torment and ravaged roars. Continue reading »

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 »