Sep 212022
 

(Andy Synn takes a look behind the mask with Gaerea‘s new album, Mirage, out on Friday)

What’s in a name, anyway?

Well, according to some people… not a lot. And according to others… a great deal. Especially when it comes to genres.

Case in point, there are some people – by no means a majority, I should point out right away, though often the loudest and/or most obnoxious – who would balk at the very suggestion that Gaerea are a “true” (or “trve”) Black Metal band due to the fact that their sound is too “polished”, their visual aesthetic too “clean”, and so on.

And yet, for every one of them (I think of them as the Black Metal equivalent of the Amish – zealously convinced that a certain time period was the only “righteous” one, and that any progress beyond that should be shunned) there’s at least a dozen more for whom the very idea of questioning the band’s right to “belong” to the genre (of which they are so clearly and obviously a part) is patently ridiculous.

But the thing is… while much digital ink (and the occasional bit of non-digital blood) has been spilled over this argument, and many like it over the years… it’s obvious that Gaerea themselves don’t really care what you call them. They know who they are. And it’s the music, and not the labels which others put on it, which defines them.

Continue reading »

Jul 122022
 

 

In the dozen years of this site’s existence we’ve had fewer than a dozen days (including weekends and holidays) when we posted nothing new. Yesterday was one of those. I’ll spare you the excuses, which were numerous, but I still felt guilty about it. So I’m trying to make up for that void today.

In gazing upon my long list of songs I wanted to recommend, it occurred to me that most of them were variations of black and blackened metal, so I decided to focus on those and leave other genre variants for another day.

There’s a lot here, all of them tracks from forthcoming releases, and so I’ve truncated the introductions and mostly omitted the usual artwork. I begin with bigger names and then drift into more obscure ones. Continue reading »

Feb 012021
 

 

This is the day on which I originally planned to end the rollout of this 2020 list, but I’ve revised my plans, mainly because I wasn’t able to make a new installment on a daily basis during January. The days I missed have left me with too many songs that I still want to include.

The 2019 edition of this list included 60 songs, which was a lower number than in the preceding three years. If you’ve been counting, you know that this year I’ve only made it to 42 so far (including today’s two tracks), so I really feel compelled to keep going. When will I stop? I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.

…AND OCEANS

…And Oceans‘ 2020 record Cosmic World Mother was a comeback album, the group’s first full-length release since 2002. As my friend DGR wrote in his review, it was also one of the more blistering releases to come out last year, a symphonic black metal assault that was “absolute hellfire in song form”. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t contagious. Continue reading »

Oct 092020
 

 

This is pretty much a DGR round-up, since it was he who urged the first three new songs and videos in this collection. They’re all from bands who’ve been around for a long time, from 14 years to more than 30 years (but are still kicking ass). To justify my own existence, I picked two more, one from a more obscure band than those first three but whose name is rising fast, and a second from an even more obscure name that I suspect will soon become better-known.

I have approximately 53 other new songs I’d also like to share with you. Maybe later. There’s a fly that’s making the rounds on the morning news interviews, so I need to check that out.

NECROPHOBIC

Devil’s Spawn Attack” is the closing track on Necrophobic’s new album, Dawn of the Damned. I smell a review simmering in the NCS mess hall that questions the wisdom of that choice — not a question about the quality of the song (which is damned good), but about its position in the running order. But I’ll let that writer speak for himself in due course; maybe he’ll change his mind. Meanwhile, I’ll speak my own mind. Continue reading »

Jul 222020
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Portuguese band Gaerea, which is set for release by Season of Mist on July 24th.)

Isn’t it funny how the human brain unconsciously and involuntarily makes connections between things?

Case in point, I can’t think about, or listen to, Portuguese powerhouse Gaerea without also thinking about their cousins in Selbst and White Ward.

The connections between the latter two are quite obvious, as both bands released their debut albums within one month of another back in 2017, meaning they’re always going to be inextricably linked in my mind.

But Gaerea didn’t release their first album, Unsettling Whispers, until almost a full year later, making their relationship to the other two a lot more tenuous and complex.

Perhaps what it comes down to is the fact that, to me at least, these bands, both collectively and individually, are potential new standard bearers for Black Metal, both cognisant of the genre’s roots and rich history, but not limited by established traditions or old boundaries.

White Ward, of course, have already proven themselves with the release of Love Exchange Failure just last year, and the new Selbst album (set for release in a few weeks) looks set to do the same for them.

What then should we expect from Gaerea’s new album? Sophomore slump, or soaring new standard? Continue reading »

Jun 142020
 


Gaerea – photo by Catarina Rocha

 

Maybe you know about the “Overflowing Streams” format that we use for especially large collections of new music we want to recommend? The idea is to (regretfully) cut back on words and save the time needed to find, download, and upload cover art, and let the music streams mainly speak for themselves. And that’s the format I’ve resorted to for this week’s Shades of Black column, which is mostly a collection of recently released individual songs from forthcoming records.

GAEREA (Portugal)

The meteoric rise of Gaerea continues. In both its sights and its sounds the new video that begins this collection is extremely powerful. The inner pain they express is mutilating. The music is both crushing and explosive, delirious and despairing, sweeping and scathing. For such intense music, it’s also thoroughly immersive… or perhaps it’s better said that this is an emotional vortex that’s hard to escape. Continue reading »

Jan 172019
 

 

As forecast yesterday, I’ve decided to stay in blackened realms for this next installment of songs for the 2018 list. The following three tracks are very dark in more ways than one, and they all made a big emotional impact when I first heard them. They’ve stayed with me since then, and although you could easily pick other tracks from each album for the list, the vivid memories of those first experiences have inclined me toward these.

GAEREA

In the run-up to the release of this Portuguese band’s debut album, Unsettling Whispers, I wrote about no fewer than five of the tracks as they were made available for public listening, ultimately trying to capture what the band had done on the songs in these words: Continue reading »

Jun 102018
 

 

As you can see, I’m resuming this column after failing to get it done the last two Sundays due to other commitments. As a result of the hiatus I’m even more awash than usual in new music from the black realms. So much to choose from… and so perhaps there’s an even greater element of randomness in these choices than usual as well.

FUNERAL MIST

This solo project of the man who goes by Arioch here (and Mortuus when he fronts Marduk) has a habit of surprising people. After a trio of demos and an EP between ’95 and ’98, five years passed and then the Salvation debut album appeared — a record that a great many people still swear by. Six more years passed, and then Funeral Mist released Maranatha without warning. As I recall, it garnered a more mixed response than the widespread praise provoked by Salvation, but I’m one of those who thoroughly enjoyed it. And then so many years passed with nothing new that most fans probably concluded, sadly, that Arioch had laid Funeral Mist to rest, permanently.

Surprise! Continue reading »

Apr 152018
 

 

As you can see, I’m going to attempt a two-part Shades of Black this week, because there are so many recent discoveries I want to recommend (not including the new Ghost song and video, which I actually do enjoy, but there’s a limit on how far I’m willing to stretch the musical boundaries of this column).

The second part of this thing’s not finished yet, and the rest of my Sunday is looking kind of crowded with non-blog activities, so I can’t promise Part 2 will go up today. I also can’t promise I’ll be alive tomorrow, but hope springs eternal.

GAEREA

If you follow this column regularly, you’ll have already heard the first single (“Whispers”) from Unsettling Whispers, the debut album by the Portuguese band Gaerea. You’ll also have realized that the band’s music tends to bring out the poet in me, or at least I pretend to be one in an effort to capture sensations I have a tough time satisfactorily describing in more prosaic terms. And I’m afraid it’s about to happen again, because a second single from the album has now appeared. Continue reading »

Apr 012018
 

 

As usual, I had a rough time trying to decide which songs to pick for today’s SHADES OF BLACK column; as usual, there was a lot to choose from. If I’d known when I made the selection that (as announced here) this would be the last NCS post after 8 1/2 years of effort, it would have been a whole lot rougher.

GAEREA

I thought the self-titled debut release by the Portuguese black metal band Gaerea was one of 2016’s best EPs.. We featured music from it repeatedly at our site, both before and after its release (including a post in which we named “Void of Numbness” to our list of the year’s “Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs“, and our premiere of a bonus track that appeared on the vinyl edition).

Not surprisingly in light of all that, I have very high hopes for Gaerea’s follow-on release, a debut full-length named Unsettling Whispers. Based on the first single from the album, it seems likely those hopes will be fulfilled. Continue reading »