Oct 082022

Last weekend I was able to compile and write about a typhoon of new songs and videos, but this weekend will be different. The Seattle Mariners baseball club made the major league playoffs for the first time in 21 years, and won the first game of their first playoff series yesterday in Toronto. The second game is this afternoon, and I’ll be glued to the TV watching that with friends.

Afterward will be a dinner party in Seattle that will likely go late, and that won’t bode well for Sunday morning work on Shades of Black whenever I get back to my island home. Also ominous is the fact that I’ve got to do shit for my fucking day job tomorrow, which makes tomorrow’s usual column even more unlikely. So don’t be surprised if I have to skip it this week.

I’ve got to make my way to Seattle pretty soon for that ballgame, so I’ll have to make the following collection short, but hopefully sweet. I wish I could have done more, and really wish I could have done it yesterday when there was an extra incentive for fans to spend money on Bandcamp, but my job hammered me then too. So it goes. Continue reading »

Apr 172022

Untitled 2022 artwork by Toshiro Egawa

Some days it’s harder to get going than others. For me it’s usually the weekends. I wanted to sleep for 10 or 11 hours last night, but only got 8, and maybe it’s true that a lot of sleep can make a person groggier than a small slice. Even after 8 hours I had to mentally whip myself to move, as groggy as a bear coming out of sedation.

I forced that awakening because I felt compelled to write this column, to maintain the Sunday tradition.  But I still slept late enough that there’s not much time before I have to leave the house to rendezvous with some friends. My spouse made the appointment, and set it for mid-morning. She knows about this column, but doesn’t consider it more important than social engagement. Well, she thinks all metal is awful, so that factors in too.

So here I am, stuck in a narrow space between sleep and closing the door behind me on the way out.  This is what I managed to pull together before the door closed. Continue reading »

Jan 302021


I picked a half-dozen songs for today’s round-up, most of which I paid attention to based on friends’ recommendations. It was easy to do that because I was already a fan of every group included here. If you don’t immediately recognize all the names, I’ll forewarn you that there’s a lot of whiplash in this playlist, which is to say that the music diverges sharply from song to song. On the other hand, the variety increases the odds that you’ll find something to like.


I was so excited to find out that Aetherian would be releasing a new song and video yesterday. For a band that only have one EP and one album to their credit since the release of their first single in 2014 we’ve written about them literally a dozen times, including reviews of that EP and album. They earned all that attention because their brand of melodic death metal is so very good. Their melodies (which tend to lean on the melancholy side of things) are beautifully crafted and moving; when they charge hard, they’ll give your pulse rate a swift kick in the ass; and they always seem to have a few surprises up their sleeves as well. Continue reading »

Mar 232020


About six weeks ago, when the world was a very different place than today, we had the privilege of premiering a song from En Ergô Einai, the remarkable new album by the unconventional Swiss black metal band AARA. Some of what we wrote then bears repeating today, when we now get to bring you a stream of the entire album in advance of its April 3 release by Debemur Morti Productions.

In the first place, the album draws inspiration from the Age of Enlightenment in 18th-century Europe, and “serves as a tribute to the duality in man’s pursuit of perfection and the futility found therein.” With the album’s opening song “Arkanum” as the immediate context at the time of our previous premiere, we shared these words from the band: Continue reading »

Feb 062020


The best music doesn’t all succeed in the same way. Some of it induces contemplation, setting your mind free to rediscover long-lost memories or to imagine what you might become. Some of it produces a physical reflex so compulsive that it’s irresistible (and you don’t want to resist). Sometimes it provokes such a powerful emotional response that it banishes whatever you were feeling before and transports you, without volition, into intense new feelings that last beyond the minutes of the music.

The song you’re about to hear by the Swiss black metal band AARA succeeds in all of those ways.

That song, “Arkanum“, opens their new album En Ergô Einai, which will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on the 3rd of April, and it’s also the first glimpse of the music that the public will have. As early glimpses go, this one is a stunner, and it happens to include an introduction created by Vindsval of Blut aus Nord. Continue reading »