Jan 152020


Victor Costa‘s cover art for the debut EP of the Portuguese death metal band Innards is a perfect accompaniment for the ghoulish delights the EP holds in store. The music, like the art, is an eruption of cemetery horrors coming right for your throat. In other words, this isn’t lurching, cadaverous death metal, even though it’s decidedly gruesome and rotten to the core. No, Innards (true to their name) are coming for your guts with unhinged relish. The EP’s title is thus similarly appropriate: Back From The Grave, Straight In Your Face.

There are only three songs on the EP, but they make for an explosive first strike. Two of those songs have previously debuted, and today we’ve got the premiere of the third one, an absolutely crazed onslaught wonderfully named “Enlightenment Through Hate“, which features none other than guest vocals by Kam Lee of Massacre and a guitar solo by none other than Frank Blackfire from Sodom. And with all three tracks now out in the world, you have a fully informed basis for picking up the record well in advance of its February 21st release by Transcending Obscurity Records. Continue reading »

Jan 152020


(Here’s Todd Manning‘s review of the new EP by Gnaw, which is set for release on January 31st via Sleeping Giant Glossolalia.)

New York-based Gnaw produce the kind of brutalizing listening experience that just can’t be achieved without coloring outside the lines of genre rules. They’ve been producing their Metal/Industrial/Noise mash-up since 2009, and their latest EP, Barking Orders, shows they definitely have not lost their edge.

For most Metal bands, the music comes first and the vocals often seem to default to the style that best matches what the instruments are doing. This isn’t the case with Gnaw, who are fronted by scene veteran Alan Dubin, whose unique vocal style has been at the forefront of such acts as O.L.D. and Khanate. “Unsettling” doesn’t even begin to describe the brutal screeches, yells, and bellows emanating from him. Perhaps the most notable part of his style, though, is the clarity with which he delivers the lyrics, despite the means he uses to deliver them. With Gnaw, the band seem to construct their sounds to complrment his powerful and unique style, utilizing whatever sort of cacophony best accompanies his voice and the harrowing lyrics it conveys. Continue reading »

Jan 152020


(We’ve held the door open for one more year-end list before closing our LISTMANIA 2019 series, and that final list comes from long-standing NCS writer TheMadIsraeli.)

I feel like metal in 2019 reached an all-time high for expressiveness and creativity in the 2010s. Some of the absolute best collections of music I’ve heard have been 2019 releases, and while I don’t know where such albums would rank in a Top 100 of the decade list, this decade ended VERY strong.

We’re seeing an interesting renaissance that kind of hit its peak last year, in that almost everything seems to be black metal to one degree or another. With the clear exception of thrash, just about every sub-genre of metal was feeling the grim melodies, layered chord-driven guitar work, and more bestial and more “human” approaches to metal that black metal is known for. It’s interesting, and I’m all about it. This wasn’t the case for everybody of course. Certain bands stuck to their guns and unleashed strong follow-ups, very promising debuts, or just stayed the course of their legacy to excellent effect.

I’ve got six categories today, of six albums each. I’ll be doing a little blurb about each list. I used this format back in 2017, and I think this will be my year-end format for the rest of my time writing for this site. Continue reading »

Jan 152020


I’ve fallen behind in the rollout of this list, having failed to post installments on the first two days of this week. Rather than spend time detailing the excuses, I’ll use the time instead to catch up. Instead of posting one installment today, I’ll be posting two of them. That won’t completely make up for the lost two days, but I’ll figure out a way to make up for the other lost day.

Death Metal is the order of the day, at least for this Part 7, with two heavyweight songs that became addictions for me in 2019. (In case you’re new to this list, you can discover the preceding six installments here.)


Last May the Swedish band Mordbrand (whose music I’ve been trumpeting for a lot of years) released a fantastic two-track EP named Döden / Efter Doden. The lyrics of each song were taken from poems by Gustaf Fröding, who died in 1911, and is considered “one of the greatest poets of verse that Sweden has ever produced”. In his own life he struggled with alcoholism and mental illness, and according to the same source just quoted, “His poetry combines formal virtuosity with a sympathy for the ordinary, the neglected and the down-trodden, sometimes written with his own dialect. It is highly musical and lends itself to musical setting….” Continue reading »

Jan 142020


Apologies for not posting a SHADES OF BLACK on Sunday, where it belongs. For reasons related to my day job I had to go to Texas for a long weekend, and spent a big part Sunday getting back to Seattle. While in Texas I had time to pick what I wanted to write about, but not enough time to do the writing. And then Sunday night my home lost power and internet access due to a snowfall, with the problems lasting well into mid-day on Monday, so that trashed my plans to post this yesterday.

In the meantime, of course, a lot more black metal has surfaced, and I decided to include just one of those new songs along with the ones I originally picked for Sunday.


God Knows Why” is the one new song I decided to add. It debuted today along with a fascinating but NSFW video. The song is off the new album by the Polish black metal band Medico Peste, whose music is also fascinating and not safe for work, or for just about anyplace else. Continue reading »

Jan 142020


We all know that “old school death metal” isn’t really a single institution of lower learning (underground, to be clear), or if it is, it’s one with a quite divergent curriculum. And so to say that the music of the Greek band Plague is OSDM leaves questions unanswered. They are forthright in disclosing that they are heavily influenced by death metal’s early beginnings, but which beginnings?

In spreading the word about the forthcoming debut album of these Athenians, who formed Plague in 2011 and released their first work (the Abyssdiver EP) in 2014, Redefining Darkness Records makes reference to the early ’90s American scene — to the likes of early Death, Massacre, Brutality, and Skeletal Remains. And today we have a vivid further sign of Plague’s inspirations (and formidable talents) in the premiere of the new album’s first single, “Portal Into Reality“.

That new album, Portraits of Mind, will be released on February 14th by Redefining Darkness in the U.S. and by Nuclear Winter Records in Europe. And if you couldn’t guess, it’s adorned by the stunning artwork of the maestro Paolo Girardi. Continue reading »

Jan 142020


EDITOR’S NOTE: Beginning with 2014, Semjaza, the main creative force behind the Greek black metal band Thy Darkened Shade, shared with us his year-end lists of favorite metal and non-metal releases. We did not have a 2018 year-end list from him because at that time he had embarked on a much more extensive project that would not be limited to releases from that year, but would encompass recommended music across the significant span of his listening (a significant span both in years and in genres).

This extensive list was completed many months ago, and so although it includes 2019 releases, it doesn’t include all of them that might have been on it. The delays in beginning to post the list were our own, not Semjaza’s. And there have been further delays in our posting of this second part, again our fault. With a bit of good fortune, we will post the remaining Parts much more quickly.

Part 1 included an introduction to this entire series, lists of favored split releases and full-length releases, and a special focus on French black metal. You can find all of that here. Part 2 (here) was devoted to more recent releases that Semjaza listens to most nowadays, and Part 3 was a continuation of that list (here), which focused on releases by Invictus Productions. This Part 4 is a further continuation, focusing on releases by Iron Bonehead and World Terror Committee. Continue reading »

Jan 142020


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Italian band Nero Di Marte, which is set for release on January 24th by Season of Mist.)

As someone who occasionally dabbles in releasing music himself, I’ve often pondered when exactly the “optimum” time to release an album is.

After all, put something out too early in the year and you risk being forgotten about by the time all the December “End of the Year” lists roll around, but put something out too late and you’re probably going to struggle to get yourselves into contention for the summer festival season.

Nero Di Marte clearly have good reasons for deciding to release their new album right at the start of 2020 however, as Immoto is such a dense, intricately layered piece of work that it’s likely to take their audience the rest of the year to fully unpick and unpack everything it has to offer! Continue reading »

Jan 132020


We have been following the activities of the talented one-woman Swedish black metal band Nachtlieder since 2014, commenting on the 2013 self-titled debut (here), 2015’s second album The Female of the Species (here), and the third album Lynx in 2018 (here). Nachtlieder is a prime example of a band that began strong and grew stronger with each successive release.

Now, Nachtlieder has recorded a new EP named Views From the North Vol. I. As its title suggests, the EP is the first in a planned series of EPs with material that Nachtlieder’s Dagny Susanne did not feel was a good fit for the albums. This first volume is a collection of demos from 2009-2016 that were re-recorded and properly produced in 2018.

In advance of the forthcoming EP (which will be released by Nigredo Records in late February and has now become available for pre-order), Nachtlieder has just released a digital single from the EP named Avgrunden, which is paired with a B-side consisting of an acoustic demo recoding of “Autumn Walk“, a song from the band’s second demo that won’t be included on the EP.

Today we present a video for “Avgrunden“, along with some insights about the song and video, and some thoughts about the music. Continue reading »

Jan 132020


Youth In Ribbons, the new album by Revenant Marquis, is shrouded in mystery, not merely in the chilling sensations of its sounds but also in its inspirations. No less mysterious is the source of the music, a prolific yet anonymous Welsh musician, whose idiosyncratic creations confoundingly combine the mind-mutilating assaults of raw black metal with a certain style of wraithlike, hallucinatory melodicism that one might even call elegant. Images of a fine-fingered and well-dressed vampire come to mind, seductive in its allure but lethal in its promise.

When I first discovered the album I was struck by the photograph on its cover and by curiosity about what the album’s title might signify in the context of that image. As I wrote here, after listening to the first advance track, I had my own interpretation: The beauty, the innocence, the aspiration in that face, the brightening of the flowers — it’s as if the band were saying, “Here’s what you might have looked like when your dreams for the future were still bright, and now let us show you what life is really like”.

And hence, I thought of the album title as a reference to youth torn to ribbons, rather than adorned by them. Continue reading »