Jan 022020


Even before you hear a single note, much of what has been publicly disclosed about Bütcher’s new album displays bone-deep devotion to the ancient deities of evil heavy metal — from Kris Verwimp‘s epic cover art to the album’s name (666 Goats Carry My Chariot), the band’s use of vintage analog gear in the recording of the music, and their stage appearance. But in the music itself, that devotion runs even deeper than you might guess, and crosses a rich soundscape of metal traditions that span decades, far more multifaceted than you might suspect if you’ve only heard of the reputation of these Belgians as a hell-for-leather speed metal band.

As the new album reveals even more vividly (and masterfully) than Bütcher’s previous releases, their music is an ingeniously conceived, carefully crafted, and brazenly executed hybrid. Classic speed metal from Germany and the U.S. shapes the backbone, but the music flourishes through the incorporation of epic heavy metal from the NWOBHM school, blazing black/thrash with roots in both South America and Australia, first-wave black metal, and certain sects of Scandinavian extremity from the ’90s. The results are continuously thrilling — and surprising.

In advance of the new album’s release by Osmose Productions on January 31st, today we’re premiering its title track, which provides an electrifying demonstration of what we’ve just attempted to describe. Continue reading »

Aug 072017


You might have noticed that I didn’t post a SHADES OF BLACK article yesterday — or anything else, for that matter. I was in Wyoming with my spouse from Thursday through Saturday attending a wedding, and spent Sunday getting home. On the airplane rides there and back I plowed through the NCS in-box and did some other web surfing. Found a ton of new stuff I wanted to listen to, and managed to find a couple of hours here and there over the weekend when I did do some listening, just enough to find the selections I’ve collected here, though not enough time to write anything.

The music below is a mix of full new releases and advance tracks from forthcoming albums… and I’ve included one song stream that isn’t black metal… or maybe even metal at all… except in its spirit. But I’m beginning with a news item hot off the presses.


In early July I gleefully reported the news that Jens Bogren had finished mixing and mastering the new 14th studio album by Enslaved, an album that Grutle Kjellson described as “a little re-boot, a fresh start so to speak”. Today the album art (above, hand-painted by the Norwegian artist Truls Espedal) was unveiled, and we received more details about the album, which I’ll quote here from the press release: Continue reading »