Jul 072022

photo by Piotr Jóźwiak

Even ears and minds that have been hardened by extensive exposure to the most extreme ravages of blackened death metal are still capable of being stunned by the music of the Irish band Coscradh. (Even the toughest callouses can be scraped raw and split open.) The eye-popping impact of their slaughtering talents was made evident from their first (self-titled) demo in 2016, and was renewed and reinforced through a pair of subsequent EPs (Of Death and Delirium and Mesradh Machae), all of them released by Invictus Productions. And now Coscradh‘s debut album is on the way, like a terrorizing, earth-shaking upheaval.

The name of this first full-length (41 minutes long), which the same Invictus Productions has set for release on August 5th, is Nahanagan Stadial. We are told that the title is an old Irish term for the rapid onset of a glacial period 10,000 years ago, which rendered life extinct: “A massive rise in oceans blocked out the sun, and coronal mass ejections and sunbursts hit the planet, overturning civilization, which brought a new ice age upon the island of Ireland”.

That choice of title is in keeping with the band’s entire aesthetic, both their devotion to the old language and history of Ireland and the summoning of catastrophe in their music. The band’s Irish Gaelic name itself (which we’ve learned is pronounced coss-kraa or cuss-kraa depending on the dialect) refers to slaughter or massacre, but such decimating visions would come to mind from the music alone, as you’ll discover from the album track we’re premiering today if you don’t already know. Continue reading »

Oct 312021

from a painting by George Cruikshank (1792–1878)


This year Halloween falls on a Sunday, and thus lines up nicely with our weekly effort to blacken the Sabbath. It also provides an occasion for a brief reminder about how Halloween came to be, though I’m sure many of you already know it. The following sketch is drawn from this article, which appeared in this morning’s Washington Post.

In a nutshell, the holiday traces its roots to a celebration called Samhain (pronounced “SOW-in”) that was observed by Irish Celts for thousands of years before the arrival of Christianity in the 6th century CE. Literally translated, it means “summer’s end,” and was thus a new year’s celebration. It was a time when they thought the veil between worlds was at its thinnest, and that all kinds of things could cross over on that night.

After Christian missionaries arrived in Ireland they eventually did what they did all over the world — they attempted to co-opt existing pagan traditions for their own purposes, to aid in converting the “heathens”. Continue reading »

Mar 072021


I want to thank those of you who have left comments or sent messages expressing sympathy and support for my current day-job misery. I was also surprised, and admittedly a bit disappointed, that a lot of people checked in on yesterday’s post even though I didn’t have the time to write about any of the music — or even listen to it! So I thought, what the hell, let’s do that again.

This column is usually devoted to black metal, and so I’ve started that way but also diverted from it. But yesterday one of our supporters (rodney) left a comment with some recommendations, and I thought I would include some of those here at the end, because he included some enticing descriptions of the bands and their music. Some of that music would seem to fit SHADES OF BLACK and some might not, which is true of my own choices

I again haven’t listened to any of this. As was true yesterday, I’m gambling, but these all seem like good bets. Continue reading »

May 222016

Sxuperion-Cosmic Void


I continue my efforts to char your weekend to a crisp with this second part of a two-part post I started yesterday, collecting music in a blackened vein that I’d like to recommend. This collection is heavy on blackened death metal rather than unadulterated black metal, with a couple of other twists and turns thrown in. Yesterday’s offerings were mostly on the melodic side of the extremity scale. We’ll eventually get to something like that today, but not until the end. In the meantime, prepare for some monstrous, apocalyptic experiences.


I discovered Sxuperion only this past January through the band’s split release with a Nebraska black metal band named Verräter (discussed here), although Sxuperion had preceded that split with two full-length albums and an array of shorter releases. For those who might not be familiar with Sxuperion, it’s the solo project of the drummer (Matthew) for two other excellent bands, Valdur and Weverin. Continue reading »