Aug 262018
 

 

The thick blanket of smoke that’s fallen over the part of Wyoming where I’m currently vacationing has diminished the attractiveness of outdoor activity, and that in turn led me to do what I usually do on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings — listen to recent offerings of music from the darkest realms.

Strong winds seem to be creating some clearing in the noxious fog from burning forests, so I probably won’t be writing a second part for this column, though I have more than enough new songs and full releases to justify it. I’ll have to content myself with the following five selections.

MEPHORASH

Last week brought us the second single from the fourth album, Shem Ha Mephorash, by the Swedish band Mephorash. The first single, “777: Third Woe“, was released way back in November of 2017, and it prompted me to marvel at its pitch-black devotion — music that was reverential, grandiose, and fearsome in its conjuring of majestic and sinister power (and also quite memorable). Continue reading »

Aug 192018
 

 

This weekend I had the time to double the size of the usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK column. And while I recognize the risks of recommending more music than you’ll have time to check out, I do hope you’ll explore the excellent selections I included in Part 1, as well as what I’ve picked for Part 2. As in the earlier installment, I’ve again included two full recent releases and advance samples of music from two others that are set for release this fall.

ULTHA

I somehow missed the original 2015 release of the debut album (Pain Cleanses Every Doubt) by this enormously talented German band, but rectified the oversight when the album was reissued by Translation Loss in April 2016, helping to spread the word through an interview of the band and a stream of one of the songs from that fine debut. And since then I’ve been following their activities closely, writing about their 2016 EP, Dismal Ruins; their 2016 split with Morast (a tribute to Bathory); their 2017 live recording, Woe Over Roadburn; their 2017 split with Paramnesia; and their 2018 EP Dismal Ruins Pt II. Meanwhile, Andy Synn reviewed their 2016 album Converging Sins.

In other words, as prolific as Ultha have been, we’ve devoted attention to everything they’ve done so far. Why stop now? Continue reading »

Aug 202016
 

Grand Tetons-Jackson Wyoming-2

 

That stunning vista above these words is what greeted my eyes this morning. I’m on a short vacation in the presence of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. I’m not telling you that to be a dick, but only because I know how vitally interested you are in my every movement, except perhaps for bowel movements.

I did tear myself away from awestruck gazing at the horizon long enough to listen to four new songs, one of which comes with a video. I thought all four were good enough that they would make a nice collection for this Saturday morning, saving me the agony of trying to sift through all the other good stuff that came out since my last round-up.

The first two songs are exceptions to our oft-violated Rule, and the last two open up the extremity throttle in very different ways. Continue reading »