Jan 192021


Take a good look at the cover art for Grabunhold’s debut album Heldentod, because it provides a few pertinent clues to the music. In elaborate fashion, the drawing depicts a blending of the supernatural and the medieval. A castle looms in the distance, banners flying in a cloud-cloaked mountain fastness. In the foreground a hellish king, surrounded by ghastly creatures emerging from the earth, gazes over long columns of dread warriors marching toward that distant fortress. And above it all, a crossed sword and mace adorn the ornate lettering of Grabunhold’s name.

Like the fantastical cover art, Grabunhold’s formulation of black metal is itself a blending of the supernatural and the medieval. It is itself cloud-cloaked and majestic, warlike and elaborate. It often rings with the resonance of ancient music, and it reaches spectacular heights, but it is also persistently shadowed by dread and sorrow. It merits the well-worn term “epic”, but there is an earnestness and sense of devotion in the music that prevents it from sounding calculated or “cheesy”. And its multiple facets are so memorable that it’s likely to have staying power over years to come.

Thus it’s with considerable pleasure that we present a full stream of the album in advance of its January 22nd release by Iron Bonehead Productions — preceded (of course) by a bushel of additional words. Continue reading »

Oct 252020


I got a late start on the day and therefore have had to adjust my plans for this week’s column. Running short on time, I’ve had to postpone brief reviews of some recently released albums that richly deserve attention and instead focus on new singles and advance tracks from forthcoming records. But they richly deserve attention too.

I’ve arranged these tracks in a way that provides a flow that made sense to me, starting off one way, taking a turn in a different direction, and then changing course one more time at the end. Coincidentally, one thing these tracks have in common (and they don’t have a lot in common) is that blast-beats are in short supply.


The title of the first song, “Eviscerate My Withered Soul“, tells you a lot about the mood of the music. Launched by ritual drums, ominous symphonic swells, and grim, seething chords, it stalks forward in a way that leaves feelings of oppressiveness and despair in its wake. Augmented by bestial growls and withering screams, the music’s intensity mounts, creating tension and tragedy in equal measure. There’s a sense of horrible grandeur in the music, commingled with fever and pain. Continue reading »