Sep 162023

I had such sprawling ambitions for this Saturday roundup before I went to sleep last night, because the past week seemed even more extravagant than usual in terms of new music releases. But then, even though I opened my eyes at 5 a.m. and then again at 6 a.m., I couldn’t make myself leave the comfortable tomb of my bed until much later. Big sigh.

So, as I sit here now, I know that if I wrote about everything that got me excited in my music-surfing the last few days I wouldn’t finish until a really late hour for a big segment of the people who typically visit us. On top of that I have to do some things for my fucking day job today (and tomorrow as well), or the start of the next work week will be sheer Hell.

I made a compromise with myself, giving fairly close attention to just five new songs and videos, focusing on lesser-known bands instead of the many big names who surfaced with new stuff last week, and then including more music (also from lesser-known names) without much commentary. I’ll have tomorrow to build on this with shades of new black metal. Continue reading »

Jul 272021


Vittorio Sabelli and his changing coterie of comrades in Dawn of A Dark Age are fully capable of donning their blackened armor, brandishing their swords and scythes, and going on the attack — and it’s thrilling when they do. But many heavy metal bands can do that. Very few are capable of surrounding those electrifying charges, as this band does, with such a rich and distinctive sonic pageant of other experiences, and none that we know of make the clarinet such a vital part of the pageantry.

I was late to the theater of Dawn of A Dark Age, having been oblivious until the 2020 album La Tavola Osca, which I reviewed and premiered here last July. But that record was one of those extraordinary musical adventures that makes one a fan for life. It arrived after Sabelli’s completion of a multi-album opus called The Six Elements, and it began a new thematic cycle. Now we have the second installment in the cycle.

This new album, which will be released by Antiq Records on September 24th, is named Le Forche Caudine, and it’s another remarkable achievement. It consists of two “Acts”, two very long compositions that succeed in transporting the listener to a very different age, in a very different world than we know now. Today we present an excerpt from Act I that’s absolutely exhilarating. Continue reading »

Jan 152021


In Part 7 of this list yesterday I focused on black metal songs that featured unusual instrumentation, and I mentioned that those wouldn’t be the last songs on the list that were distinguished in that way. In fact, I’m including two more songs in this eighth part of the list that could be grouped with the ones in Part 7. And although the first track below doesn’t completely fit the bill, it still always comes to mind when I think of the other tracks I’ve added to the list yesterday and today. They all make for a great playlist.


The first song in today’s installment by this Dutch black metal band may not include unusual instrumentation, but it is unusual in other ways — especially in what happens at about three minutes in. I became well and truly hooked by it the first time I heard it, and I’ve stayed hooked. I get a thrill every time I hear it, really just as big a thrill as the first time. I spilled a lot of words about “Schemerzever” in a SHADES OF BLACK column, and I’ll repeat them here: Continue reading »

Jul 082020


Over time every music fan, including those of us who nourish our needs with extreme metal, discover our strongest preferences. We find what’s most appealing and we tend to stay with it, and we learn what sounds sour to our own ears and avoid it. Each of us also has different degrees of tolerance for musical adventurousness. It might be true that in the genres we love best that tolerance is more limited than in other genres where we usually have only a modest interest, if any at all.

Yet except for the most hidebound listeners, the prospect of discovering music that’s exploratory, that goes off the well-trod paths and introduces us to new terrains, is at least intriguing. And when the adventure succeeds, the discovery can become an even greater thrill than listening to music that satisfies our pre-existing and well-defined individual tastes.

That is precisely what happened to this listener while participating in the adventure of La Tavola Osca, the latest album by the Italian band Dawn Of A Dark Age. It proved to be a thrilling discovery for me, and thus the opportunity to share it with you today is also exciting. Continue reading »

Jul 032020

Ars Magna Umbrae


This is a great day for metal fans to support bands with their money. It’s a harrowing day for metal bloggers like myself.

It’s a great day because Bandcamp is again waiving its share of revenues from sales on its site, which means more money generated from purchases and donations goes directly to bands and labels, some of whom are in turn donating proceeds to charitable causes.

It’s a harrowing day because bands and labels have been releasing a HUMONGOUS AMOUNT OF MUSIC to take advantage of the occasion. Beginning yesterday and continuing today, my in-box has exploded with Bandcamp alerts and press releases, and that’s on top of the usual flood of other new music appearing earlier in the week. There’s no way I can sample all of it. But I’ve sampled some of it, and you see the results in this post — or at least some of them.

What I’ve done here is to collect individual songs and videos for new releases (and a few older ones), arranged in alphabetical order by band name. Many of those releases, but not all, can be purchased or pre-ordered on Bandcamp to take advantage of the revenue-share waiver. In Part 2 I’ll quickly throw out recommendations for complete new releases that would also be good candidates for your Bandcamp purchases. Continue reading »