May 092022

One week from today the German pagan black metal band Horn will release Verzet, its ninth album in a musical career that now spans nearly two decades. As ever, Verzet is the vision and solo work of Niklas, aided by a few talented guest performers.

The album’s name is Dutch for “resistance”, and three of the tracks (“Galgenblech”, “Aufstand”, and “Verzet”) deal with the topic of rebellion, while others concern the importance of perseverance and principles (“A Hill To Die On”) and the concept of agency and the lack thereof (“Protektor”). But the song that Horn chose as the lead “single”, which was accompanied by a beautiful video, was “Alpenrekorder”, and it manifested a reawakening of the classic Horn style, with its roots in folkloric traditions and a reverence for nature. Continue reading »

Jan 022022


Dead Week is dead and so is the old year. With a turn of the calendar page we’ve started another 365-day march into the unknown even though everything feels just as familiar as yesterday. Tomorrow will be more work or more school and definitely more covid, which is why I’ve always felt the first Monday of a new year is kind of depressing: What’s on the horizon that’s worth looking forward to?

Well, hopefully you can find something, perhaps some new music. I have some of that to share with you today, in this first Shades of Black for 2022 — which is more abbreviated than usual and probably more strange than usual too.

HORN (Germany)

Horn‘s new single “Alpenrekorder” is as majestic and as desolate as the alpine vistas in the accompanying video. The music is both uplifting and deeply melancholy, and carries a feeling of reverence in both of those aspects. It benefits from a guest cello performance and from Horn‘s own performance on another old instrument, which seems to be an hourglass-style mountain dulcimer (based on my own internet browsing). Continue reading »

May 122020


Over the extravagant span of eight albums, the most recent of which we’re streaming in full today, the German band Horn has marched forward on an increasingly distinctive path, diverging from where it began and now blazing a trail of its own through the tangled forests of black metal and entering a clearing in which Horn stands alone. That may sound like an overstatement, but the new album, Mohngang, is a stunning accomplishment that in all its variations and in the richness of its musical textures really is difficult to classify as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with many (or maybe any) other bands.

We’ll provide some further thoughts (and feeble attempts at descriptive verbiage), just to give you some clues as to whether Mohngang is going to strike a chord with you, but there will be no adequate substitute for simply listening to it now, just days before its release by Iron Bonehead Productions on May 15th. Continue reading »

Apr 152020


For today’s mega round-up of new songs and videos I decided not to alphabetize everything as I’ve been doing. Instead, I’ve created five pairs of songs. By sheer good fortune, as I continued to hack my way through an ever-burgeoning listening list, I not only discovered these 10 things but found that they could be organized in this way. The songs in each pair aren’t completely similar to each other by any means, but they do share certain qualities that made them fit together nicely (at least to my addled mind).


Felicitously, I discovered quotations from others about this new EP by the Texas band Oil Spill that seemed quite fitting, and they had the side benefit of saving me a bit of work in coming up with my own verbiage. These two are from commenters on the EP’s Bandcamp page: Continue reading »

Jan 232017


Turm am Hang is the new album by Germany’s Horn and it’s a unique experience. “Unique” is an overused and misused word, but here it’s not hyperbole. The album is so distinctive that it defies comparisons — as you’re about to discover for yourselves, because we’re presenting the premiere of a full album stream in advance of the record’s release on January 27.

The work of Horn’s lone creator Nerrath, Turm am Hang is Horn’s seventh album and, among the ones I’ve heard, the most successful. It was inspired by a variety of historical subjects, as well as by an appreciation for ancient valor and an animating spirit of tribalism. Continue reading »

Nov 082016



One day I will learn not to forecast when I’m going to post things, because experience proves I’ve only got about a 50-50 chance of hitting the mark. This post, for example, I said I planned to post on Sunday notwithstanding the amount of time I spent on the revival of our “THAT’S METAL!” series that day. That didn’t work out, and yesterday we had too many other things scheduled for the day, and time ran out.

And so, two days late, here’s a small alliteratively named collection of diverse black metal that I’ve been enjoying recently, with all the songs drawn from forthcoming albums. I have more new music in this vein I’d like to share, and maybe I’ll get another small Shades of Black installment finished and posted before next Sunday’s large collection.


I finally discovered this German one-man band’s music through last year’s wonderful Feldpost album — even though five other albums preceded it. And now (because Horn has never allowed much grass to grow between releases), a new album is already on the way. This one is named Turm am Hang, and while Northern Silence has released the last two albums, Iron Bonehead will be releasing this one. Continue reading »

Sep 192015

Grave-Out of Respect For the Dead


It’s a rare Saturday morning here on my metallic island. My head isn’t hammering and my stomach isn’t heaving. I managed to resist the usual Friday night temptation to celebrate the end of the work week by destroying myself. The feeling is so unusual that I decided to get my head hammered and my stomach heaved this morning with some metal instead of a night of strong drinking. Here’s what I found:


For me, it’s hard to think of a better way to start a weekend of listening than with a new song by Grave, especially when it comes from an album adorned with the artwork of Costin Chioreanu. The album is Out of Respect For the Dead, scheduled for release by Century Media on October 16, and the new song (presented through a lyric video) is “Mass Grave Mass”. Continue reading »