Jul 092022


Yesterday I went in search of musical beatings of various kinds. I’m not sure where that impulse came from, maybe the annoyance of being required to do something unpleasant for my fucking day job, or maybe just the surfacing of that constantly lurking desire among metal fans to become embroiled in intensity.

I had no theme in mind when I awoke today, facing the weekend with gummy eyes, and instead just wandered among new songs and videos, like a kid in the candy store aisles. Here’s what filled my hands:


Yesterday this Detroit band dropped a surprise EP named All Will Suffer, along with a video for a song named “Suffer“. Lots of suffering in these words, but you won’t wallow in misery when you listen, though you may need to be hospitalized. Continue reading »

Jun 252020


All devoted fans of black metal well know that it encompasses a broad range of variations, even among bands who maintain links to its earliest days. Even the bands who originated the first and second waves did not all follow the same path in the music they made. Truth be told, despite the rigid dictates of some hidebound fans and the debates we could have about when a band has crossed over into territories that don’t merit the name, the variability of black metal is one of its enduring strengths.

What we’re presenting today is proof of that assertion — a split by two abundantly talented groups who are unmistakably black metal bands but who each have their own distinctive approach. Both of them are capable of mounting hostile, diabolical assaults, to be sure, but each of them brings a lot more to the table than blasting fury, and the differences between those other ingredients makes this new album-length split a great one to pick up.

The bands are Black Altar from Poland and Kirkebrann from Norway. Their split is named Deus Inversus, and all the tracks are new and exclusive to this record. It will be released by Odium Records on June 30th, and today you can hear all of it — preceded by our thoughts about what each band has contributed. Continue reading »

Nov 242017


I saw a meme this morning on Facebook, which read as follows:  “Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” And yes, I suppose it’s so. For some of us, however, the last thing on our minds on this day, a thing to be avoided like the second coming of the black plague, is an excursion to retail outlets of any kind. The stronger impulse is to become even more hermit-like, to hunker down in our bunkers and put the thought of voraciously consuming crowds as far away as possible.

On the other hand, getting trampled is not in itself a bad thing, and can indeed be a very welcome experience, as long as the trampling is inflicted through the earholes, and the resulting visions of turmoil are spawned by the mind rather than observed through the eyes. And so here’s a rare Friday edition of SHADES OF BLACK, probably to be followed by another one in its usual place on Sunday.


Unless I missed something, the release of Taake’s new album, Kong Vinter, was preceded by the release of only one single (“Inntrenger”), and what a fine one it was. But the entire album is now publicly available, having been released yesterday by Dark Essence Records, in physical form and as a Bandcamp download. We failed to prepare a review in advance, and I’m afraid that what I’ve written below may not merit such a word, but I do want to share my enthusiasm, along with the music stream. Continue reading »

Oct 312013

We’ve already delivered quite a flood of posts today, at least measured by our modest standards, but since tonight is the most metal holiday of the year, I couldn’t end our posting day without a round-up of newly discovered music suitable to the occasion. This is a big bag of special treats for your ears, the musical equivalent of those apples embedded with razor blades and worms that I like to keep around in case any neighborhood brats come calling. Just think of it as a big playlist of putridity, and feel to skip my words, as long as you don’t mind the thought of me weeping.


Black Altar are a black metal band from Olsztyn, Poland, with two albums and assorted shorter releases to their credit since 1997. Their latest offering is a five-song EP named Suicidal Salvation. I had never heard Black Altar’s music before, and all I knew about this EP was that it includes songs that were intended for a split with Shining that apparently didn’t come to pass.

I found two streaming examples of the EP’s music — a full track named “The Sentence” and a teaser reel of excerpts from all the songs. I’ve embedded both of them below. But I’m so taken with the band’s music that I also found two of the four tracks that they contributed to a 3-way split (Emissaries of the Darkened Call — Three Nails In the Coffin of Humanity) with Thornspawn (Texas) and Varathron (Greece) that came out at the end of 2012. Those songs are “I’m Demon” and “Nighthunter”. Continue reading »