Oct 122020


(Norway-based contributor Karina Noctum brings us this interview with drummer Kevin Kvåle, whose career includes performances with Gaahls Wyrd, Horizon Ablaze, and Svartelder, among other groups.)

I’ve been following Kevin Kvåle’s musical career for many years now. I remember when I got Horizon Ablaze‘s Dødsverk and since I like Pantheon I a lot, I knew it was going to be good before even listening to it. The music’s variety, technicality, and progression, without sacrificing the dark and cold Norwegian sound, appealed a lot to me.

I remember I met Kevin years ago in Bergen at a festival — Oh! the golden days of old when I took live shows for granted — and got to congratulate him upon hearing he was going to play together with Gaahl. I was not surprised — he was a natural choice. I enjoyed many of the live shows both in Norway and abroad and became a fan, so I was pretty happy when Gaahls Wyrd won the Spellemannprisen (the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammy). For all the aforementioned reasons I included him in my list of drummer interviews. Continue reading »

Jan 222019


I got kind of carried away with my own verbiage in the three premieres I wrote earlier today (I know, shocking isn’t it?), and that plus a visit to the dentist has caused the latest installment of this ongoing list to appear later in the day than I would have preferred. But I’m determined to keep this going as a daily habit until I force myself to stop.

As for today’s installment, you might guess that I organized my collection of song candidates for the list in alphabetical order — and you would be right. I do skip around in making choices, but today I’m solidly embedded in the H’s.


We gave quite a lot of attention to the 2018 album by the Norwegian band Horizon Ablaze, The Weight of a Thousand Suns (which was released last February) — most of it penned by Andy Synn. He introduced our premiere of a song from the album, reviewed the whole record, and then put it on both his list of 2018’s Great Albums and his Personal Top 10 list. NCS scribe TheMadIsraeli also put it on his own year-end list posted at our site, and even I got into the act by covering one of the advance album tracks in an edition of SHADES OF BLACK. So, it’s fair to say that we’re VERY HIGH on this record. Continue reading »

Dec 142018


(Andy Synn concludes his week-long round-up of metal in 2018 with this list of his ten personal favorites among the year’s great and good albums.)

So, after all the stress and struggle involved in putting together all my various lists which preceded this one, now it’s time to relax and turn my attention to those albums, whether “Great” or “Good”, that make up my personal favourites of 2018.

Once again I decided that I wouldn’t include any “Honourable Mentions” this year, as to do so would essentially mean reproducing a good 60-70% of my previous lists (although, that being said… do try and give Agrypnie, Disassembled, Hundred Year Old Man, The Agony Scene and Void Ritual a listen if you get chance) and instead decided to focus solely on the ten albums which I’ve listened to the most and/or which have made the biggest impact on me this year.

Funnily enough, while the actual process of working out which ten records best represented my listening habits over the last twelve months was as complicated as ever, the write-up was much easier than I expected it to be, as it just so happens that I was responsible for reviewing almost all of them! Continue reading »

Feb 022018


(Andy Synn introduces our premiere of a song from the new album by Horizon Ablaze, which is set for release on February 17.)


When I was asked to select a song from the fantastic new Horizon Ablaze album, The Weight of a Thousand Suns (out Feb 17th), to premiere here at NCS, I really did have to think long and hard about it, as literally every single one of the record’s eight tracks is worthy of celebrating.

However, seeing as how the band chose to lead off with “Insidious” – the album’s proggy, moodily melodic final track – as the album’s first single/video, it only seemed to make sense (not to mention appeal to my love of poetic symmetry) to pick the album’s blistering opener as our gift to you all today. Continue reading »

Jan 152018


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Norway’s Horizon Ablaze, which will be released on February 17th by Leviatan/Diger.)

Ever since Emperor first semi-reformed for their ongoing series of reunion shows people have been asking them about the possibility of a new album. And while this, in itself, isn’t all that surprising, the band’s forthright comments about how that’s never going to happen have been rather refreshing.

As Ihsahn himself has said multiple times, any new album would have to be a product of both his and Samoth’s different writing styles, and the two of them have since diverged so much – one leaning more and more towards pure Prog, the other delving ever deeper into more deathly waters – that finding some sort of consensus or common ground that still actually represented the Emperor sound, would be almost impossible.

But… if they ever did produce a sequel to Prometheus I would imagine it wouldn’t sound a million miles away from the extravagant, expressive extremity of The Weight of a Thousand Suns. Continue reading »

Oct 292017


This is Part 2 of a three-part SHADES OF BLACK feature for this week. As I explained in Part 1, I assembled a dozen items, all but one of them consisting of new music. I arranged them in alphabetical order by band name and then divided the list into three parts. I’m going to try to finish Part 3 in time to post it on Monday morning.


James Fogarty has a long and impressive list of bands and solo projects on his resume, including The Meads of Asphodel, Old Forest, Svartelder, and In the Woods…. But his longest-running project, the one that came first, is Ewigkeit. The first album under that name was Battle Furies, released in November 1997 by the Eldethorn label, and now it’s being released again — but this isn’t a mere reissue. Continue reading »

Apr 072014

(In one fell swoop, Andy Synn reviews three superb new albums — by Enthroned, Infestus, and Horizon Ablaze — and we bring you the streaming premiere of a song from Horizon Ablaze.)

It may only be early April but 2014 has already produced numerous candidates for my own personal End of Year list/s. And it looks like it’s going to be a very bleak, blackened year indeed.

So, to highlight the wealth of majestic misanthropy that has already appeared this year, I’ve selected three examples of Black Metal at its finest, three albums that richly deserve to be feared and worshipped in their own right, three artists who may yet lay claim to the crooked crown.

Each one has its own allure, its own character, from the uncompromising, to the unknowable, to the unorthodox. Each one has its own voice and style, from the demonic, to the despairing, to the deranged. Yet each one is united by an undercurrent of remorseless passion and refusal to follow the path of others. Each one a visceral, violent, dissonantly melodic and brutally infectious example of blackened musical magick. Continue reading »

Jan 162014

Earlier today I posted a delayed round-up of new music and newsy things that I intended to post yesterday. This round-up is somewhat more timely, and collects three songs and related news that I just discovered today and that I heartily commend to your attention, in alphabetical order.


Alterbeast (formerly comically known as the Gary Busey Amber Alert) are a Sacramento band I first heard about through my NCS comrade DGR (who wrote this review of one of their live shows last October). They are now among the Unique Leader stable of artists, and this spring Unique Leader plans to release their debut album Immortal.

Yesterday we got a first look at the album’s striking cover art by the talented Raymond Swanland (click the image above to see it in its full glory), and we also got a premiere of the album’s first track, “Flesh Bound Text”. You may momentarily be lulled by the piano and violin intro, but you will be jolted fully upright by the tech-death onslaught that follows. It flies like a highly accelerated horde of bats awakened from their slumber by a grenade detonation. But as jet-fueled and acrobatic as the instrumental performances are, what makes the song even more noteworthy are the start-stop dynamics and the deft incorporation of a swirling guitar melody. Awful damned impressive. Continue reading »