May 232023

Everyone above a certain age is well aware of the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent viciously stabs a spike loaded with adrenaline right into Mia’s heart to bring her back from a heroin overdose. Immediately, the adrenaline makes her explode back to life.

That scene popped to mind in listening to the Orchid’s Curse song “Dead Idols” that we’re about to premiere — specifically, the way the song begins. There’s no warning, no introductory pause, just a sudden furious injection of scorching screams, hammering drums, and maniacally pulsating riffage.

And then the song becomes even more explosively unhinged, thanks to a turbocharged percussive eruption and a blizzard of tremolo’d chords. If you’re not bolt-upright and pop-eyed awake after that, it’s probably too late to call emergency services. Continue reading »

May 232023

Old School Death Metal continues to age, but enough time has passed for anyone who’s been paying attention to predict confidently that its appeal is ageless. It’s not merely that a lot of the old death metal records from the late ’80s and early ’90s still light a fire under listeners, it’s that the influence of the music continues to fuel vibrant new bands around the globe.

A prime case in point is the Milanese trio Reaping Flesh. They’re unabashed in proclaiming both their inspiration by bands like Autopsy, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Death, and Massacre, and the object of their mission: to play no-frills, straight-forward Death Metal in line with the heritage of those groups.

Reaping Flesh have already been delivering their music on stage, and now they’ll be able to share it everywhere because their debut EP Abyss of Existence is now set for release by Redefining Darkness Records on June 16th. One gruesome and grisly episode of sonic slaughtering from the EP (“Self Incarnation“) is already out in the world, and today we’re helping launch the second one — “Elements of Life” — presented through a music video Continue reading »

May 232023

(Late last week Non Serviam Records released a new album by the Norwegian blackened death machine Nexorum, which our writer DGR reviewed here today, and now we also present Comrade Aleks‘ interview of the band.)

The essence of pure primordial evil shines from Trondheim’s underground. Nexorum is a tight extreme unit formed in 2019 by Vidar Lehmann (drums), Wizziac (bass), Roger Isaksen (guitars), Frank Løberg (guitars), and Terje Olsen (vocals). The four of Nexorum had honed their blasphemous skills for years in local bands, including a few pretty famous names. They were absolutely focused, and naturally the first full-length album Death Unchained appeared in 2020 on Non Serviam Records.

The bond and understanding between the band and the label were tight and the sophomore album Tongue of Thorns was set for release by Non Serviam Records on the 19th of May. “Cult of the Monolith”, “Eldritch Abominations”, “Mother of Ghouls”! Why wouldn’t we support the band like this? And here we go. Continue reading »

May 232023

(We present DGR‘s review of the second album by Norway’s Nexorum, just released late last week by Non Serviam Records.)

If you’d asked how long ago it had been since the last time we dove into Nexorum‘s black metal world with their first album Death Unchained, the knee-jerk response would’ve been not that long ago. It couldn’t have been right? Yet a gentle tap on the shoulder and much belly-aching later we’re reminded that the time compression of the past few years has struck once again. It has in fact been three years since we stumbled into the world of Nexorum (alongside Centinex‘s 2020 release at the time as well) for their debut album, Hell.

Any band that has put a out a release through the past few years has been put through the fucking wringer. Every release since then has felt like a soft restart for those groups whether they want it to be or not. Any group would be forgiven for choosing to hang it up after dealing with the shape of the world and its touring situation since then, so its a glorious thing to see Nexorum returning with a follow-up album, one that maintains the hellfire and ferocity of that first full-length while stretching their wings just a little bit further in Tongue Of Thorns.

Tongue Of Thorns was released on May 19th of this year – an eternity ago, we know – and further refines upon its older sibling while adding about five more minutes of run time to the overall length, whilst also managing to trim the actual song numbers down by one. Bigger songs, angrier guitars, and the same throat-scarring vocal work that made the debut an impressive listen, why would you not want to leap in head-first again? Continue reading »

May 222023

In past years we’ve written extensively about the music of the Belfast-based solo black metal project Dratna, following their course across four EPs and a 2022 debut album (Fear Gorta & Tales of the Undead) since the first release in 2018. It has been a remarkable excursion, and one that has fueled increasingly high expectations for each new release.

We didn’t expect another Dratna album so soon, but that is what we have — a new full-length named Fom​óraigh that will be released on May 26th by the distinctive NY label Fiadh Productions. Maybe expectations were a bit tempered given the relative speed of this follow-up, but that trepidation only made the new record even more astonishing to hear.

In its inspirations and themes the new album draws on Irish mythology and the landscape of The Mourne Mountians. In its music, to use the rudest form of summing up, it interweaves atmospheric and raw black metal with folk music performed on a wide array of instruments, rich symphonic overlays, and hints of doom. It unfolds like a head-spinning, eye-popping musical pageant, one that seems to have one foot in an age lost to the millennia and another in the hear-and-now. Continue reading »

May 222023

(On Friday of last week Pelagic Records released a new album by The Ocean. DGR has thoughts about it. Many thoughts about it. Most of them are included in the review below, which unfolds as a journey through more than a decade of time.)

May 10th, 2010 – Walking through the park nearby my house, attempting to distract myself from an ongoing period where the only thing in life that isn’t going sideways is work. In an attempt to expand my musical horizons and thanks to MetalSucks posting about them consistently, I have picked up on The Ocean and their album Heliocentric. It has been the soundtrack to multiple walks like this in an attempt to understand why it seems to appeal to so many people, which is difficult to explain to a guy whose previous musical experience has been either in the -core scene or very Euro-centric melodeath until one day “Swallowed By The Earth” hits just right and we’re off to the races.

November 9th, 2010Anthropocentric has been released as part of the group’s continual pattern of pairing albums together. In the six-month gap the band have become an obsession and I wind up reviewing the album for The Number Of The Blog – the first website I’ve written for and at this point was basically co-editor. I enjoy it and its more up-front aggression and metallic atmospheres than Heliocentric, but the pairing etches itself into my brain. Continue reading »

May 222023

(Andy Synn dissects the excellent new album from A Constant Knowledge of Death, out this Friday)

There are several cultures in the world who have a similar tradition, wherein their younger members are given a chance to go out and explore the world, to experience different cultures and ways of living, before they have to settle down.

And I can’t help but think that Massachusetts metallers A Constant Knowledge of Death have been on a similar journey over the course of their career so far, having experimented with (in no particular order) poignant Post-Hardcore, poppy Prog-Rock, moody Post-Metal, subtly blackened Sludge, and electronica-inflected dissonance as the years have gone by.

But while the band’s progressive pilgrimage from one genre to the next has certainly produced some fascinating creative results, it was clear (or, at least, it’s clear in hindsight) that they were always searching for something… a sound of their own, and a place to call home… that was always just out of reach.

Which is why I’m so happy to be able to say that on Dissecting a One-Winged Bird it feels like the group have finally, and fully, found themselves.

Continue reading »

May 222023

The fifth edition of Northwest Terror Fest will take place in Seattle on Thursday through Saturday of this week (May 25-27), preceded by a pre-fest show on Wednesday night. No Clean Singing is the principal sponsor, and three of us here (Andy Synn, DGR, and myself) will be on-site working the fest. Rumor has it that another one of us (Gonzo) will be in the audience.

This means there will be a few adjustments in our usual weekly NCS routine. Since I write almost all of our premieres, there will be none of those on the festival days this week, and it’s extremely unlikely there will be a Saturday roundup or a Shades of Black post next weekend, or any other roundups of new songs and videos this week.

However, this doesn’t mean we’re going to be short on content. In anticipation of the festival work ahead, Andy has already completed two reviews and might get a third one done before he boards his flight from the UK tomorrow. Not to be outdone, DGR has already sent in 25 reviews (I’m joking, he only sent in 11 reviews), and I’ve got one in the queue from our friend Grover too. On top of that we have four interviews available from Comrade Aleks, and Todd Manning has already written a premiere feature.

As for the festival itself, I doubt we’ll be writing any coverage during the event. Based on our past experience working the first four editions, it’s a whirlwind of craziness, with a lot of very late nights and bleary-eyed mornings, and grabbing every fleeting second available to catch parts of the sets. Speaking of which, here’s the lineup, day by day: Continue reading »

May 212023

This Sunday’s tour through the black arts is shorter than usual. Unexpected conflicts have arisen in my day. The confliction in the music was planned.

DUSK CULT (Australia)

Behold, our revelation statement
Bow down, before a dying sun
Yielding, to midnight manifesto
We’ve only just begun

Those words are some of the lyrics to “Black Cloud Worship“, a new song that this Australian band presented two days ago through a dramatic video wherein revelations occur on a rocky, wave-drenched shoreline. I had some idea what to expect from this duo (who are members of Be’lakor and Rainshadow), based on the manifold strengths of their 2021 debut album Embrace the Lunar Age, but the music still left my heart pounding hard. Continue reading »

May 202023


I began this morning like I’ve begun every morning since the start of the pandemic: sitting on the deck of my home in the forest drinking a triple-espresso, smoking cigarettes, and reading the local, national, and international news on my phone.

It’s not something I can recommend in good conscience. Smoking is bad for you and the news is almost invariably depressing. But today the birds around me were in full song and the news included a story about a woman who had a “loud and full body orgasm” during the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony as performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The article where I learned about this included a link to a list of “The 10 Best Orgasm Symphonies”, compiled by British music journalist Norman Lebrecht in celebration of the woman’s scream. The article also quoted opera soprano Renée Fleming: “Let’s not forget that the word ‘climax’ is a common musical term. It has to do with musical tension and its release.”

With this in mind, I started making my way through my gigantic list of new songs and videos from the past week or two, listening for climaxes. If you get one while listening to what follows, just keep that to yourself. (Joking of course — I want to hear all about it!) Continue reading »