Oct 112020


I don’t have much to say by way of introduction here, other than to urge you to listen to the music in Part 1 of today’s column if you haven’t, in addition to the fine new sounds I’ve chosen for this Part.


Sulphur Pit” was first released by this Tasmanian band as part of its 2008 debut demo Ecclesia Diabolus. But the song has been “re-imagined and re-written” for Ignis Gehenna‘s new album Rites of Transvaluation (which is the successor to 2017’s Baleful Scarlet Star) and in fact iit’s the song that opens the new record.

I haven’t heard the earlier version of “Sulphur Pit”, and so I’ve taken this new version just as it comes. It’s quite a striking experience. At more than eight minutes in length, it has room to change and explore. An aura of ritual emanates from the opening ambient tones, but the music becomes a flame-like ecstasy of rippling chords, climbing the scale and descending. In the midst of those quasi-deranged manifestations there are outbursts of ravishing savagery (the teeth-bared roars are always savage), and the music also conveys a kind of poisonous and bombastic grandeur, as well as melodies both bleak and baleful. Continue reading »

Dec 142016



Much of metaldom is swimming in year-end lists and either reflecting upon or exploring the glorious flood of music that engulfed our heads in 2016, but there are already plenty of signs that the flood will only continue in 2017. Our calendar for January is already marked with hotly anticipated releases, and one of those (circled twice in red) is the debut album by the Australian project Ignis Gehenna. The album’s name is Baleful Scarlet Star, and it’s scheduled for release on January 9 by the Australian label Séance Records.

During the first week in October I came upon the opening song on the album, “Serpent Oracle”, and wrote about it in a Shades of Black post at our site. I was initially drawn to the music by the fantastic album cover created by Vhan Artworks, and then the song turned out to have an equally striking effect. The intro is mid-paced and dramatic, and it remains grand and bombastic even after the eruption comes. There’s magnetic bass work in the song, as well as extravagant vocal viciousness, and the savage riffing is heart-swelling stuff with a triumphant, panoramic sweep. The fallen angel rises in terrible glory through this track.

Today we’re fortunate to bring you the album’s title song, which immediately follows “Serpent Oracle” in the album’s running order. It’s just as powerful and multifaceted as its predecessor. Continue reading »

Oct 092016



Over the last week, as I sporadically checked our e-mails and scanned my Facebook feed, I made a growing list of new black metal songs and a few full releases that I wanted to check out this weekend as candidates for this Shades of Black series. As seems to happen fairly often, I found so many excellent tracks when I worked through the list that I couldn’t bring myself to leave many of them behind. And so I’ve got another two-part Shades of Black for you. It’s a grey, dank day outside here in the Pacific Northwest, so the odds are that I’ll be able to get Part 2 written and posted later today.


Four years on from their last album Cold of Ages, California’s Ash Borer (whose members have also kept themselves busy with many other musical projects) now have a third one on the way. The new one is The Irrepassable Gate and it’s set for release by Profound Lore on December 2, adorned by excellent cover art created by Glyn Smyth (Stag & Serpent). Continue reading »