Apr 072019


This edition of SHADES OF BLACK is different from most, in two respects. First, my paying job (i.e., not NCS) has been crushing me lately, including this weekend, and I don’t have time to accompany what I’ve chosen with my usual impressions and links. Second, there’s not as much music in this post as you might guess from the title of the post. I’ve made the rare decision to include three album announcements at the end of the column even though there’s no music available for streaming yet. I did that because I’m so excited about those announcements.


The first item I’ve chosen is Rotting Christ‘s new video for “In the Name of God“, one of the tracks on their latest album, The Heretics, which was released in mid-February and reviewed here by DGR. As he wrote, The Heretics follows what the band have established as their “blueprint” — a “sort of larger-than-life, titanic paradigm of martial prowess turned black metal.” It doesn’t push the genre or the band’s music forward as much as it represents a summing-up of their career so far, playing to their most familiar strengths. “In the Name of God” is but one example of that. Continue reading »

Nov 252016



(Andy Synn prepared this trio of reviews for new albums by three German bands.)

Synchronicity can be a strange thing indeed. Case in point, coming hot on the heels of my recent (and surprisingly well-received) column on “Black Metal” here we have a triple-header feature on three bands who all sit somewhere under the big black umbrella, but whose actual adherence to the term “Black Metal” varies pretty drastically.

Not only that, but they all just happen to be German in origin, which means I can collect all three groups under the “Best of German” banner which I first used (here) back in May, and pretend like this whole thing was part of some grand plan of mine, rather than a completely random sequence of events that just happens to have lined up in a way that appears to be thematically significant.

But I’ll take what I can get, because these three albums are all absolutely hervorragend Continue reading »

Nov 182016



I have quite a lot of new music I’d like to recommend, but am short on time in what’s left of my blogging day, so I’ll just throw the following three items your way and save the rest for this weekend. Enjoy….


I learned about this first video through a Facebook post by a Scandinavian musician friend, who introduced it this way: “This is how you thrash… not the sorry excuse of music Metallica just released.” Well, I must confess that made me smile. Putting to one side whether the slap at Metallica is warranted, Kreator’s new song is definitely a scorcher, with a made-to-shout-along chorus and a solo that ought to get lots of clawed fingers thrust toward the sky. Continue reading »

Oct 292016



Hey there, happy Saturday to one and all. I kept a list over the last week of (mostly) new music I enjoyed. With the aid of an abacus, I counted how many songs, EPs, and albums were on that list. They added up to 39 (!). I moved some of them into the list of candidates for tomorrow’s Shades of Black post. I then picked the following nine for this playlist. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to the selections, though I did aim to provide wide genre variety. I hope you find something to like — I liked all this stuff a lot.


This year the influential German band Bethlehem are celebrating their 25th anniversary by releasing a self-titled album (their eighth overall) on December 2 via Prophecy Productions. The album features a new vocalist, i.e., Onielar, from the German black metal band Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, and a new Russian guitarist known as Karzov, who participated significantly in the songwriting.I think it’s worth including this quote from Marcus Losen, Bethlehem‘s drummer in the early years:

“Apparently somebody in this f*cking universe answered my longstanding wish at last. These 10 tracks have the spirit and the balls I missed in Bethlehem for more than 18 years!”

Continue reading »

Sep 272014


As explained here, I’m taking a 10-day hiatus from searching for and writing about new song and video premieres, in order to make time for reviewing some albums I absolutely need to say something about. Before doing that, however, here’s one last batch of new things I found over the last couple of days that I thought were worth sharing.


Germany’s Bethlehem, whose debut album may or may not be responsible for that amorphous genre label “dark metal”, have a new song up for streaming, the name of which is “Ein Kettenwolf greint 13:11-18”. All I really have to say about this depressive ballad is that I’d listen to more rock music if it sounded like this. Warning: clean singing to come…

The song will appear on the band’s sixth album Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (fear of the number 666), which is their first in about five years. It will be released by Prophecy Productions on Oct 10 (Oct 14 in the U.S.) and is available for order here. Continue reading »

Mar 082013

I just took a short break from the work grind, flitted around the interhole and the NCS e-mail inbox like a blowfly in search of a raw wound, and came across three items I wanted to pass along. Two are news items, one is new music.


I saw that a new North American tour has just been announced. It begins May 3 and runs through June 1. It made my already bulging eyes bulge further from their sockets, sort of like what happens to frogs when you inflate them with a bicycle pump.

The headliner is Gorod. I could stop there, but the rest of the line-up is cool, too: Inanimate Existence, Kamikabe, and Vale of Pnath.

But that’s not all.  On selected dates, the tour will also be joined by Fallujah, Pyrexia, Applaud, The Impaler, River of Nihil, The Kennedy Veil, Cognitive, and Archspire. Continue reading »