Aug 012021


This week I decided to devote the column to four complete new releases, three of them albums and one of them an EP. I found all of them to be tremendously gripping in different ways.


It would go too far to call Hornwood Fell chameleons. They do change their musical colors, but not to match and blend in with some background setting (such as what other bands might be doing). They change to capture colors in their own heads, which seem to move like pools of mercury on a subtly shifting sheet of steel, catching different lights. And it’s not just the sounds that shift and re-form. The themes and inspirations change too. Continue reading »

Apr 232020


2020 has been a miserable year for hundreds of millions of people world-wide, but a great year for the Italian black metal duo Hornwood Fell (guitarist/vocalist/bassist Marco Basili and drummer Andrea Basili). On March 3rd they digitally released an 80-minute, two-part concept album named Cursed Thoughts. Since ten it has been picked up by Kadabra Music for a June 26 release in a 4-panel digipak CD edition, and no wonder, because it is a spectacular accomplishment that musically extends well beyond the (continually expanding) boundaries of black metal.

The first part of Cursed Thoughts (tracks 1-6) explores Les Fleurs Du Mal (“The Flowers of Evil”) by Charles Baudelaire, and the second part (tracks 7-13) takes the poems of Edgar Allan Poe as its inspiration. The band have explained: “We were inspired by two great poets who speak of human despair. Inner monsters and ghosts, horror and pain. Two authors with different voices, with whom we have imagined and played with, and made different musical lines with the intent of evoking human and earthly energies.”

We have already reported on the advance release of the song that opens Part 1 of the album (“The Joyous Defunct“), and today we have a lyric video for “The Giantess“, which closes Part 1. Continue reading »

Apr 122020

Emanuele Prandoni, the man behind Anamnesi


After writing this morning’s premiere feature for a song by From the Vastland (which I urge you to hear if you haven’t), I succumbed to a plague. No, not that plague, a plague of laziness. By the time I roused myself out of the stupor, hours had passed. To keep this post from appearing too late in the day, I did some painful cutting back of what I had planned to include. But what’s left here is very, very good.


S’Enna e S’arca“, the second single from a new album by the Italian band Anamnesi, is a magnificent song and a multi-faceted one. Its anchor point is a combination of deep drilling riffs and high swirling ones, the combination creating a feeling of cold cruelty and fevered anguish over heavy drum thunder, slashing cymbals, and scintillating fills. The song includes bestial vocals and a variety of sharp rhythmic breaks that introduce booming and jolting sensations. The music is perpetually accented by riveting drumwork and by morphing guitar emanations that seem increasingly bleak and haunting, but with sounds that also resemble birdsong at one point.

The sharpest break comes near the middle, when the music transforms into mystical keyboard ambience before the drum and bass mount a methodical and magisterial skull-pounding assault, and those glimmering and gouging riffs return. Continue reading »

Apr 092020


Here we go again. I decided not to alphabetize the bands today, but focused instead on structuring this a bit like a playlist of new music, with some ebb and flow and movement among genres as you go through it. I also threw in a curveball, as you’ll see.


Chaotic, violent black/death with mutilating levels of distortion and explosive skull-busting rhythms, coupled with an amalgam of malevolent roars, grotesque growls, unhinged shrieks, and freaked-out, ear-shredding leads. The music also devolves into massive doom stomps saturated by musical misery and accented by gouts of splintering pain. Continue reading »

May 202019

Every song on Hornwood Fell‘s new album Damno Lumina Nocte is named “Vulnera” — the Latin word for “wound” (accompanied by Roman numerals I – VII) — every one of them a projection of “dark landscapes, discomforts, and open wounds of the society we live in”. Every one of them is a cavalcade of disturbances, a mind-warping amalgam of dissonance and derangement that seems to embody mental fracturing and emotional splintering. It is as if the band found Pandora’s Box, and without hesitation opened it, recording the sounds of all the evils within as they escaped in a mad rush of freakish abandon.

This is not easy listening. The music is persistently abrasive and frequently cacophonous. There are twisted melodic motifs and rhythmic patterns that appear often enough to stitch the songs together, often in physically compulsive ways, but things change unpredictably, and veer so sharply and so often that it’s hard for a listener to maintain any balance — like trying to walk a high tightrope that’s being plucked (rapidly) by giant fingers.

It is also, perhaps perversely, an utterly fascinating experience. There is a mad genius at work within these tracks (two of them, actually), and the songs are so weirdly transfixing that the minutes speed by like starlings in flight. Looking away from these deep, festering wounds turns out to be very difficult. Continue reading »

Oct 092017


I did just post a SHADES OF BLACK column on its usual day (Sunday), and I really do listen to other genres of metal. But as I began collecting music for a SEEN AND HEARD post today I found that half the candidates had some connection to black metal, and therefore decided to collect most of them separately from everything else. With luck, I’ll finish writing about the others in time to post that planned SEEN AND HEARD round-up tomorrow.

By the way, when I say that all of the following tracks have “some connection to black metal”, you’ll find that it’s definitely not the same kind of connection. In short, the music here is quite varied, which is one of the reasons I combined all of it here. And the second item (Funeral Hearse) is an exclusive announcement.


In a 2014 year-end list we posted here, one of our former contributors described this experimental Polish band’s last album Earth Ground this way:  “The use of dissonant guitar with face-cringing noise and vocal assaults layered throughout the space in this album gives a chaotic feel reminiscent of recent Deathspell Omega releases, but with more moments of space and resolution (for better or worse): contemplative and explorative.” Continue reading »