Jul 292019


I couldn’t get this post finished in time to occupy its usual place on Sunday. So, as promised yesterday, I’m posting it now to make your Monday more miserable.

I divided this into two parts, which gives me more time to finish it and might also make all the music easier to digest. There IS a lot to digest here — taking these two Parts together, you’ll find five advance tracks and three full albums.


I missed this Quebec black metal band’s 2018 debut album, Dush agh Golnauk. Their second one, A Battle in the Dark Lands of the Eye…, will be coming out via Naturmacht Productions on August 31st. The cover art alone — a creation by Canadian artist Ted Nasmith called “The Shadow of Sauron” — is so fantastic that checking out the music was an irresistible choice. (Nasmith’s cover art for this band’s debut album — here — is also fantastic, but I must not have seen it.)

Ted Nasmith is a noted illustrator of Tolkein’s works, and Keys of Orthanc have similarly based their work on Tolkein’s tales; Orthanc itself, for example, is the name of Saruman’s black tower in The Lord of the Rings. Naturmacht describes their new album as one that’s “all about the war of man and orc, between light and darkness in the gloomy lands of Mordor”. Continue reading »

Jun 092019


My mind is on Iceland today. Soon my body will be too. Ascension Festival looms ahead this week, set to begin on June 13th in Mosfellbær. Anticipating that event, I’ve drawn a few connections with Iceland in today’s SHADES OF BLACK selections. My selections are numerous enough that I’ve divided them into two Parts. Part 1 includes advance tracks from forthcoming albums. What I have in mind for Part 2 are three or four full releases. If I can’t finish writing Part 2 in time to post it today, you’ll see it first thing Monday morning.

However, I’m doubtful you’ll see a SHADES OF BLACK here next Sunday, which will be the day after Ascension concludes. Maybe I’ll be able to scrawl a few words about the just-concluded festival, but probably won’t be able to prepare another one of these columns. For Part 1 of today’s column, the organizing principle is subjective impressions first, objective info second.


Despite the imposing wintriness of the cover art, this first song has the ebullient mood of a thronged carnival in full swing. The reverberating notes sparkle and dance, soar and swirl. The music grows more frenzied, ever-bursting with extravagant drumwork, and darkness creeps into the atmosphere even before the manic exuberance briefly abates, and moodiness descends. Continue reading »