Jan 142021


Well, as you may have noticed, I missed two days in a row for the rollout of this list — the first one because I ran out of time before having to turn to my day job and the second one because the Seattle area where I live suffered a ferocious windstorm that killed the power and the internet at my home for what turned out to be 33 hours. So, I have some catching-up to do, and may do that over the coming weekend.

But for today I have three more songs from 2020 that I absolutely loved, and I have again made this particular grouping because of something they share. In this case it’s the use of unusual instrumentation in black metal (and these aren’t the only examples you’ll find in this list before it’s done). And it happens that those instruments are a big part of what makes these tracks so infectious.


Gavranovi (Гавранови) is a Serbian word that seems to mean “ravens”. The band’s frontman is Nefas, who for almost 20 years was the vocalist for the great black metal band The Stone. A second member, Janković, who seems to be the principal instrumentalist, plays the gusle, a traditional horsehair-string instrument that dates back to the 9th century, and their lyrics emulate the form of Serbian medieval epic poetry. There also seem to be three more members, all of whom also perform vocals — Matković (who’s also credited as a guitarist), Sokolović, and Rančić. Continue reading »

Sep 172020


Three years after the epic opus Chaos Philosophorum, the Dutch band Dystopia are returning with a remarkably multi-faceted new album named Geen Weg Uit, which will be released by Wolves of Hades on September 25th. It consists of three songs, two of which are divided into multiple parts.

Trying to sum up the album’s kaleidoscope of musical sensations is a daunting task. At its core, the music is black metal, but the band also incorporate elements of death metal, ethereal ambient music, prog-rock, and psychedelia — and they give a prominent role to a brass section. You might wonder how in the world all these moving parts could be joined together into something that makes sense, but banish any doubts you might have, because they do — with spectacular results. Continue reading »

Aug 232020


We’ve made it to another Sunday, and I had enough time over the last 36 hours to find new blackened music to recommend. I found more than you’ll discover in this post, but I’m staring down the barrel of a fully loaded gun (every chamber loaded with day-job work I need to tackle today), so the odds are against working up a Part 2. Let’s get to it:


Even after the warm reception given to their 2018 self-titled demo (reviewed here), Iceland’s Vonlaus still prefer to remain anonymous, though I see that Metal-Archives has identified two of them as members of Above Aurora (whose new album we premiered and reviewed at great length here). They now have a debut album headed our way next month, and its first single is the song I’ve chosen to lead off today’s collection. Continue reading »

Apr 212017


A long time ago, and for many years, I used to regularly write a feature called EYE-CATCHERS in which I tested the hypothesis that cool album art tends to correlate with cool music. There’s no sense in that proposition, if you think about it, yet the experiments I conducted proved the proposition more often than they disproved it.

Like many other older features here, that one fell by the wayside, for reasons I can’t explain. And I’m not really reviving it on a regular basis today. But it came back to me when I listened to the following songs for the first time last night and this morning.


This first song isn’t really entirely in keeping with the original concept behind EYE-CATCHERS, which was to explore music by bands I knew nothing about based solely on the artwork. In the case of Disbelief‘s new song, I had a recommendation from fellow NCS scribbler Grant Skelton, and so I would have checked it out regardless — but as soon as I saw the artwork by Eliran Kantor, that sealed the deal.

The original piece is above, and even in the final cover with the band’s name and album title visible, it’s still largely un-obscured, which proves that someone had their wits about them: Continue reading »