May 292019


(We missed our usual Sunday appointment for the SHADES OF BLACK column, but Andy Synn has stepped in to fill that void with this selection of new releases from the black realms.)

Even though we’ve just come off several days of relative quiet here at NCS (due mostly to a certain Deathfest) we’re already at risk of entering another quiet period as Islander (and various others) gets drawn into the day-to-day running of this year’s edition of Northwest Terror Fest.

However, as luck would have it, I’ve got a massive backlog of artists/albums I’ve been meaning to cover, and so have promised that I’ll deliver something new every day this week so that he doesn’t need to worry about juggling both NCS and NWTF at the same time.

So to kick things off I’ve decided to publish my own version of “Shades of Black” to make up for the lack of one this weekend, featuring short reviews of a bunch of bands, taking in a mix of well-known and (reasonably) obscure names, beginning with… Continue reading »

Oct 312016



As I rapidly reported a few hours ago after receiving a Bandcamp alert, Deathspell Omega jumped the gun on their previously announced November 8 release date for their new album and uncaged The Synarchy of Molten Bones on Samhein night, to the surprise and glee of hordes of costumed and un-costumed fans.

Everyone can listen to it now; vast numbers undoubtedly already have. There is probably no need for myself or anyone else to review it. But I’m sharing some thoughts anyway, because I’ve so eagerly anticipated its release and am now near-bursting with thoughts. Better to get them out than risk an aneurism. Plus, I thought some of you might want to share your own reactions in the Comments.

Upon finishing a first listen (and my only listen as I write this), I was — to quote the title of the second song — famished for breath. Every track is so breathtakingly energetic and so flooded with mind-bending intricacy that hearing them straight through risks completely overloading the capacity of the normal human brain to keep pace, or to manage even a modicum of comprehension. I thought my brain had been unceremoniously teleported into the clutches of a centrifuge that had developed a mind of its own — and then immediately lost its mind. Continue reading »

Oct 312016



Some of you have been rick-rolled in recent days by YouTube streams uploaded by assholes, advertised as tracks from the new Deathspell Omega album, when in fact it was a song by Outré or something else. But about thirty minutes ago on this Samhain evening (or afternoon here in the Pacific Northwest), Deathspell Omega made the full stream of The Synarchy of Molten Bones live on their Bandcamp page for the album, despite the November 8 release date. I learned of this through a Bandcamp alert because I had pre-ordered the album.

I’m anxious to listen, as many of you will be, but have delayed the experience just long enough to type these words… and to embed the stream after the jump. Continue reading »

Jan 252013

Welcome to Part 16 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. In each installment, I’ve been posting at least two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the four I’m announcing today, click here.

Yes, today I’m adding four songs to the list instead of two or three. These four songs have a few things in common (apart from the fact that I’m hooked on them), which is why I’m grouping them together here: All four are forms of black metal; all four are somewhat more challenging listens than the majority of the songs on the list; and all four deliver memorable melodies in songs of often searing power.


I wrote this in my review of this Ukrainian band’s 2012 album: “Wisdom of Centuries tests the limits of genre classification. It combines elements of black metal, progressive metal, ambient music, doom, and to a lesser degree folk metal, producing something that is bleak, beautiful, and often mystical. Distancing themselves from the black metal label, Khors characterize the music as ‘heathen dark metal’. Perhaps that’s as good a shorthand description as any . . . .” Continue reading »

Jul 122012

Deathspell Omega’s new EP, Drought, is this distinctive French band’s first offering of music since Paracletus completed their conceptual trilogy of full-length albums in 2010, and it can be considered a further movement in the direction charted on that last album.

While the music (and perhaps the lyrics) create an aura of approaching catastrophe and convey a sense of freedom from external constraint that link it to the ethos of black metal, little remains of black metal’s most widely known (and most stagnant) musical tropes. There is also nothing on Drought that closely resembles the demon asylum quality of Fas – Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum.

What Drought does offer is an experience that is at times memorably beautiful and at times utterly chaotic but always completely enthralling. The songs are intelligently constructed and performed with a high level of technical panache, and they’re organized in a way that provides an appealing sense of flow through the EP, even though that path is subject to a multitude of twists, turns, and jarring turbulence.

The EP is bookended by “Salowe Vision” and “The Crackled Book of Life”, two largely instrumental songs that are the most melodic offerings on Drought. Stylistically, they share more in common with prog and post-rock than black metal. At the outset of “Salowe Vision”, guitar chords ring like cracked, rusted bells, a slow tolling, as if to announce the isolated melody that follows, which drifts dreamily and buzzes with reverb before the song accelerates and intensifies at the finish. Continue reading »

May 072012

Well, this sure as hell snuck up on me silently and quickly and pounced from behind without warning. Season of Mist has begun taking pre-orders for a new EP titled Drought by Deathspell Omega that’s scheduled for release on June 22. The pre-order page (HERE) says that artwork will be revealed soon, but the image above appears right alongside the order info, and it looks like artwork to me.

Deathspell Omega have no official web site or social media pages, and they don’t talk much, so I suppose that explains why this arrived unheralded and without fanfare. But I have no doubt word will spread quickly. Here’s the verbiage that accompanies the order info at the Season of Mist e-shop:

Drought has the sour taste of the inexorable; it is a musical journey through the last moments before disaster hits. This recording displays some of the most lethal song writing ever witnessed from the band while retaining their unmistakable sound.”

My first exposure to the band was their 2010 album Paracletus, which made me an immediate fan. I suspect we have more than a few equally devoted fans among the readers of this site. This post, therefore, should make your fucking day. And since Deathspell Omega is now uppermost in my mind, I think I’ll play a song for you after the jump. I picked this one because, for those of you not familiar with the band, it happens that Season of Mist is still offering it for free download HERE. Also after the jump is the track list for Drought. Continue reading »

Oct 142010

Thanks to an exuberant Facebook post by The Binary Code‘s Jesper Zuretti, we learned within the last hour that French black metal band Deathspell Omega has just made available a new song from their forthcoming album Paracletus (due for release in the U.S. on November 9). Deathspell Omega is one of those bands we’ve been hearing great things about for a long time, but whose music we somehow have never actually gotten around to hearing.

Amazing, really, since they’ve been playing music since about 1998 and since they have one of the coolest band names in extreme metal. Anyway, that’s all changed now, because the Season of Mist label has made that new song available for free download, and we’ve now heard them. Should have checked out these dudes long ago.

The new song is called “Devouring Famine”. It’s a dense and immense piece of guitar-driven, progressive black metal. To string together some additional adjectives: It’s powerful, caustic, cacophonous, creative, rhythmically diverse, technical, discordant, and compelling. Unless you just can’t stand black metal, this is absolutely worth hearing. So, here it is:

Deathspell Omega: Devouring Famine

By the way, the Season of Mist site has lots of other free downloads available from label artists, including that brand new song from Atheist, “Second To Sun”, that we featured in a post last week, and a song called “Tired Climb” by Kylesa from their forthcoming new album Spiral Shadow. This link will take you to the index of available downloads from Season of Mist.

And if you haven’t already seen Kylesa’s video for that “Tired Climb” song, it’s definitely worth seeing. So here — see it (after the jump). Continue reading »