Mar 282021


We had a rare Sunday premiere earlier today, but fret not, Shades of Black has not been forgotten.

I enjoyed figuring out how to arrange the music I picked for today. The music of the first three bands seemed to complement each other, so I started there — and then made a hair-pin turn in the road with the full album stream that follows them. And, given how chilling and unearthly that album sounds, I decided to follow it with a couple of tracks that will give your adrenaline levels a sharp kick in the ass.


As usual, I owe some of today’s picks to reliably tasteful friends. I would have eventually discovered this first one on my own, but listened to it a lot faster because of the enthusiastic message I received from Rennie (starkweather). He called this new song by Code “fantastic”, and possibly his “favorite song of theirs since the first album’s ‘Brass Dogs.'” Continue reading »

May 112020


The mysterious French black metal entity Esoctrilihum, whose sole member goes by the name Asthâghul, has been prolific by common standards, releasing four albums from 2017 through 2019, and with a fifth one now due for arrival in this plague year of 2020. And yet listening to these albums reveals continual change. Rather than conscious exploration or experimentation, the albums seem more likely to be a reflection of the creator’s mental and emotional states as they existed at each moment, and the inspirations and impulses that then flowered. But regardless of the explanation, listening to the evolution across the course of these records has been fascinating.

The new album, Eternity of Shaog, is no less fascinating than its predecessors. It represents a distinct entity with its own atmosphere, and more pronounced melodic elements, presented through violins, piano, kantele, and synths. In its many accomplishments, it reaches a creative zenith in Esoctrilihum’s recordings — but only so far, because this project can’t help but foster increasing intrigue and increasingly elevated expectations, rather than any surmise that the next release will be “more of the same”.

With two pre-release tracks out in the world already, we are now in the fortunate position of adding to those insights about the music by presenting today the title track in advance of the album’s release by I, Voidhanger Records on May 22nd. Continue reading »

Mar 262020


If you’re okay with this, I’m just going to continue pulling together big batches of new songs, with only brief introductions. Not that I would know one way or the other what you think. But please trust me — I’m not having to bend over backwards to find so many songs and videos to recommend. As it always is, even when I’m including more rather than less, you’re still seeing only a fraction of the new music that fires me up.

I did make one exception to my usual rule of not publishing news if it’s not accompanied by music, because Enslaved is always in a special category. After that, the bands are listed in alphabetical order. There are a couple of exceptions to another rule in here too.


The news is that Enslaved have completed a new album named Utgard, but that they and their label Nuclear Blast have decided to postpone the release until the coming fall. The first single, and an accompanying video (filmed in Iceland), will be released on May 22nd. Continue reading »

Sep 202018


(Our friend Conchobar has prepared the following guest review of the new album by the French project Esoctrilihum, which will be released by I, Voidhanger Records on October 19th with cover art by Jef Whitehead — and we are also presenting the premiere of a track from the album named “Exhortathyon Od Saths Scriptum“.)

There looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced. Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects. A certainty protects it from the shameful—a certainty of which it is proud holds on to it. But simultaneously, just the same, that impetus, that spasm, that leap is drawn toward an elsewhere as tempting as it is condemned. Unflaggingly, like an inescapable boomerang, a vortex of summons and repulsion places the one haunted by it literally beside himself.

Kristeva, Powers of Horror

Abjection is an appropriate sign under which this reaction to Esoctrilihum’s album, Inhüma, should be convened. The work represents a threat — a breakdown of the apparently clear strapping and structures of a consensus reality. The violence of the occult-agrarian, the protohistory of sacrifice, of bloodied fields, serve as auspex: this is a harrowing; a threshing through which preconceived meaning is grist for the machinations of the ritualist — it is taken apart, buried in the soil, and grown into things that horrify and make reality itself alien and other. Continue reading »

Feb 222018


The yearning for death on a mass scale horrifies most people, and these days that yearning is for most people probably associated with the kind of psychosis that leads to the detonation of suicide vests, the use of delivery trucks as guided missiles plowing through packed bodies out for an evening stroll, the massacre of children in their schools with easily bought weapons of war. We can, of course, remember instances of human slaughter on unimaginably larger scales; it’s probably happening again somewhere on earth right now.

But the desire for death made real in instances such as these pales in their scope when compared to the extinction-scale invocations of anti-cosmic extreme metal. Only a tiny sliver of humanity outside such circles would comprehend the attraction of such philosophies. The fraction is probably only slightly larger even within the ranks of metaldom. Yet the concept of vast, terrifying forces entering our dimension from nightmarish shadow realms and consuming all life — and being invited to do so — has animated powerful forms of death and black metal, challenging their creators to attempt to capture such daunting conceptions in sound, with results that have attracted the allegiance of many thousands of listeners. Continue reading »