Aug 172014


This is a collection of new (or newish) songs I heard yesterday that I wanted to recommend. The music is quite diverse, yet each song contains elements of black metal — hence the “Shade of Black” title. Lots of creativity on display in what you’re about to hear — and a few things that will hit you like a semi-truck with the pedal all the way down.


San Antonio’s HOD will release their new album Book of the Worm, on September 9 via Arctic Music. The cover art, which I like a lot, was created by Jon Zig. Earlier this week Revolver (Revolver???) premiered a song from the album, and I finally caught up with it — or more accurately, it caught up with me and rode me down into the mud.

The song is “Where Are the Demons”, and the answer is — right here, in this song. It’s one of the best things I believe I’ve ever heard from HOD  — a slashing, galloping, ravaging powerhouse assault, loaded with writhing, head-whipping riffs, frenzied chord progressions, and blistering percussion. It’s a hellish inferno with tremendous surging power, but a very interesting and technically impressive  song at the same time. And the vocals will bring the grizzlies down from the hills.

The album can be pre-ordered here. A previously released track can be heard at this location. And this is where the demons are: Continue reading »

Aug 072013

Metal has a weird streak a mile wide. If you’re honest with yourself, that’ s a big reason you like it so much. But yesterday I saw a new level of oddity. It was a premiere of a new song by Dream Theater. That’s a band I’ve never gotten into, so the news about the premiere of a new Dream Theater song wouldn’t have made me pause — except for where it premiered. If you didn’t already see the news, I could give you 100 guesses, and I’d bet a stack of money the height of your colon, if unraveled and nailed to a telephone pole, that you couldn’t pick the right answer.

Don’t waste your time. I’m telling you, you’d lose, even if you guessed the Kazakhstan Death Metal Observer and Livestock Market Journal. “The Enemy Inside” premiered at USA Today.

That’s right, that full-color organ of shallow American journalism made for people who don’t like to read much, found in printed form in motel rooms and airplane seat-backs across the length and breadth of Our Great Land. This is the same underground publication whose last story about metal was a report about a Black Sabbath concert in Bristow, Virginia, that began with this lively prose:

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees (Class of 2006) took the stage here to flashing red lights and the sound of sirens, thundering drums and a devilish laugh — “Ha, ha, ha!” — emitted unmistakably by frontman Ozzy Osbourne.”

Ha, ha, ha! Yes, the kind of sound that only Ozzy Osborne could make unmistakably, that’s the sound I made when I thought about what this means. Continue reading »

Apr 062013

San Antonio’s HOD have been rumbling in the underground since 2007. Their 2009 album Serpent was a vicious debut that marked them in my book as a band to watch. More eyes should be drawn to them as a result of their new demo The Uncreated, in part because two of its three songs recently premiered on the likes of Invisible Oranges and DECIBEL’s online site, but mainly because the music is awfully damned impressive.

The three songs on The Uncreated are multi-layered. At one level, they discharge an electrifying display of heat lightning, powered by blackened, flesh-charring thrash riffs and blasts of machine-gun drumming. The croaking, poison-spitting, mid-range vocals are no less venomous than the instrumentals. At this level, the songs rake flesh like a whirlwind of razors while triggering the headbang reflex quite effectively.

At another level, however, a group of very talented musicians are showing off their technical chops in ways that make this music interesting and mentally engaging as well as physically galvanizing. Rhythms and tempos change frequently. Fret-jumping guitar leads move up and down and all around in an array of alien-sounding arpeggios. The drummer keeps things interesting with a changing array of beats and percussive progressions.  Continue reading »