Sep 022018


This Sunday’s collection of music validates the title of the series: No two of the songs are very much alike, and they display quite different degrees of “blackening”. If you’re like me, you’ll like all of it; even if you’re not, there’s enough diversity in the music that you’re bound to discover something of interest.

As you can see, there will be a second Part of what I’ve pulled together this week. But the odds are I won’t finish it in time to post it today, and you’ll see it tomorrow instead.


The first single from A Forest of Stars‘ new album (“Precipice Pirouette”) was a glorious extravagance, a 10 1/2-minute pageant capable of carrying the listener away like a leaf in a gale. I said so, and so it must be true. And now we have a second single, with the delightfully loony yet carefully calculated title “Decomposing Deity Dance Hall“. Continue reading »

Aug 052018


My whirlwind trip to New Mexico is about to end, with a pair of long flights that will get me back to Seattle looming ahead today. I found a little time last night and this morning to sample some of the new black and blackened metal that has surfaced in recent days, and picked three new tracks to recommend. All of them are from forthcoming albums I’ve been eagerly awaiting. And at the last minute, I added an EP originally released in May, but more recently made available on Bandcamp.


Vanitas Vanitatvm is the name of the new album by the German band Helrunar. September 28th is the date selected by Prophecy Productions for its release, roughly three and a half years following the  excellent Niederkunfft.

Stylistically, frontman M.D. places it between Niederkunfft and that album’s predecessor,  the massive Sól. He says: “The songs are more compact and mature, also mostly faster, and again, more black metal. Apart from that, there have been influences you might call nostalgic.” Continue reading »

Mar 162015


(In this post Dan Barkasi continues his monthly series recommending music from the month just ended.)

Here we go for round two of Essential Entries. You guessed it – we’re covering February this time. Yeah, yeah, suspense isn’t this guy’s strong point.

January gave us genius like Desolate Shrine and Agos, which is just what was needed to start things off right. How does February measure up? To quote one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time, “Great Scott!” If you don’t get that, I bestow upon you great shame. But yeah, February did bring the noise (no Public Enemy included). Here’s the proof, in no particular order.

A Forest of StarsBeware the Sword You Cannot See

Self-described as a secret society from Victorian-era 1895, A Forest of Stars compose music that’s as intricate and unique as their theming. Black metal with a lot of psychedelic elements is the most basic description, but really, their music is so much more. It’s a continuing story, and their latest chapter is awe-inspiring. Invest the time, as there’s a lot of layers, with the payoff being oh so worth it. Continue reading »

Jun 292012

A Forest of Stars (or more precisely The Gentlemen’s Club of A Forest of Stars) is a 7-person UK band whose music I haven’t previously explored, though their name is wonderful. My ignorance about them vanished rapidly today. They’ve collaborated in the creation of a new music video that’s probably the best one I’ve seen this year. I have a difficult time imagining that it will be surpassed.

The video is for a nearly 10-minute song called “Gatherer of the Pure”, which is drawn from the band’s new concept album A Shadowplay For Yesterdays. The album is scheduled for release on August 13 by Lupus Lounge / Prophecy Productions.

The music is a kind of very eccentric black metal. In keeping with the Victorian garb of the band members and their archaic names (e.g., “Mister Curse”, “The Gentleman”, “Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts”, “Mr John “The Resurrectionist” Bishop”), the song sounds like history re-imagined — an occult conflation of the old (and odd) and the new.

The music is sometimes symphonically bombastic, sometimes waltzing, sometimes skin-scaping, and much else besides. It tells a story. I don’t know that from the lyrics, much of which I can’t make out, but the mere progression of the music makes that undeniable.

The animated video tells a story, too — a very dark and dramatic one. Visually, it’s stunning — no other word for it. It’s like watching the Indonesian shadow puppet theater called wayang kulit set against a backdrop of Victorian London and seeing it through a 19th-century stereopticon (don’t ask me where I pick up all this trivia). The visuals are so amazing that they almost overshadow the music, though I think that’s because what you see and what you hear mesh so seamlessly. Continue reading »