Jan 042023


Welcome to Part 3. Like yesterday, I was influenced to put these three songs together because of the videos that were paired with them, and because all three are shades of black metal.


Kanonenfieber had a productive year, following up quickly on the brilliance of the band’s 2021 debut album Menschenmühle. Last year they brought forth two EPs, Yankee Division and Der Fusilier, and both of those included songs I put on my list of candidates for this list as soon as I heard them. But it was the standalone single “Stop the War” which won out.

I confess that the subject matter and the video tipped the scales. If there had been no video and I hadn’t known why the song was written I probably would have chosen “Der Fusilier I“, or at least it would have been a harder choice. Continue reading »

Oct 162022

Have you had your daily dose of whining and excuse-making? If not, I can remedy that, free of charge.

I went to a baseball playoff game in Seattle last night, except it unexpectedly turned into two games in one, lasting 18 innings. Arriving at the ballpark at 11:30 a.m., my spouse and I left at 7:30 p.m., hungry and tired and not feeling great about the 1-0 loss our team ultimately suffered. So we stayed in Seattle to eat and drink, and after a dreary ferry trip we didn’t make it back to the NCS island HQ until late.

This morning, which started late, I spent a lot more time going through about 400 previously un-read e-mails lodged in the NCS in-box than I did listening to anything. But although the day is now rapidly getting away from me, and my day job is now intruding, I wanted to do something so I wouldn’t pass through yet another Sunday with no Shades of Black. It’s not a lot, obviously, and I made the choices hurriedly (before getting immersed in historical research), but I think you’ll still be well-pleased, even if not thoroughly sated. Continue reading »

Mar 242022


High intensity is the hallmark of all the new songs and videos I’ve collected in this round-up, even in the one song I’ve included that’s not like any of the others.


The real-world footage compiled in the video for Kanonenfieber‘s new song “Stop the War” is so powerful that it could be accompanied by a child singing a nursery rhyme and it would still be moving. But the song is every bit as powerful as the imagery. Continue reading »

Jan 272022

(Andy Synn takes over SEEN AND HEARD to present a trio of tracks you should pay attention to.)

Sadly Islander has, as is not uncommon, been swamped by the pressures of his day job (being a world-class rocket-sled racer is a high pressure career after all) so it has fallen to me to pull something together for the end of the day.

Thankfully I had two of these recommendations already waiting in the chamber, with the third making an appearance as I was writing it, so there’s still more than enough metallic goodness to go around, even if this particular edition of “Seen and Heard” is a little more abbreviated than normal.

So, without further ado…

Continue reading »

Jan 142022

Welcome to the eighth installment of this expanding list. You’ll find the preceding Parts (and an explanation of what this list is all about) through THIS LINK.

This trio of tracks may seem a bit odd, since it includes something from a band whose name is known by throngs across the globe and then two tracks by bands who are probably known to the average NCS visitor but whose profiles are ant-like in comparison to that of the opening band. In my own addled head, what unites these songs is that all three furnish riveting dramatic intensity, and of course they’re all damned memorable.

GOJIRA (France)

It may surprise some of you to know that we used to write about Gojira a lot. It may also surprise you to learn that the most popular post in the history of this site, based on its 32,074 page views (at last count), is one entitled “Why Gojira is the Best Metal Band in the World“, which was written in August 2010 by one of the people who started NCS with me (but fairly quickly lost interest). As a sign of his devotion, his body sports tattoos of imagery from the Gojira song “Vacuity”. Continue reading »

Jan 062022


(Comrade Aleks delivered to us this interview of the German artist Noise, who is the man behind both Kanonenfieber and Leiþa, and a project named Impious. Due to no fault of Aleks or Noise, we allowed more than a month to go by before publishing it — but reading it now (and listening to the music) makes for a very good way to help begin the New Year.)

Black /death metal one-man band Kanonenfieber, which is focused on themes of World War I, and the depressive black metal project Leiþa have common origins – both are based in Bamberg, Bavaria and both are run by Noise. He launched Kanonenfieber’s first full-length Menschenmühle in February 2021 and Leiþa’s Sisyphus followed it in June 2021. It’s not just cool furious outbursts of anger and desperation but two very different works with very different stories behind them. And I’m glad what we managed to do this interview with Noise, which is here for you to read. Continue reading »

Mar 292021

(Our man Andy Synn has been busy recently, but not too busy to help catch us up with a bevy of new (or new-ish) albums from the first quarter of 2021)

We’re now at the end of March and I can officially say that the stream of new releases, re-releases, and surprise releases, has finally gotten the better of me and I have fallen well behind on my “to review” list.

Sacrifices will, inevitably, have to be made, and some things I intended to write about will either have to wait until an opening appears in my schedule somewhere down the line or, in the worst case scenario, have to be content with appearing in one of my year-end round-ups.

But I’m not going to give in to the inevitable without a fight, which is why, in a desperate effort to provide some interesting coverage, commentary, and – in some cases – criticism about a bunch of records (some dating back to January, some only just about to hit the streets) I’ve decided to pen a few thoughts about six different albums – three Death Metal, three Black Metal – which I’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time.

So, without further ado…

Continue reading »

Feb 282021


I won’t repeat what I wrote yesterday (fucking day job… electrodynamic particle accelerator… last hurrah…). Suffice to say I don’t have much time for NCS at the moment, or for the next couple of weeks, so today’s SOB is briefer than usual. But still good, of course, like a delicious appetizer that a djinn materializes to drop off and then vanishes, leaving you to forage for the rest of the meal yourself.

MONTE PENUMBRA (Portugal/Iceland)

My oh my, how my eyes brightened last week when I saw that Monte Penumbra had returned. I confess I had forgotten to check for news about this project with the passage of time. After all, it has been roughly five years since their last release, a 2016 EP named The Black Realm Vigil, and even longer since their first album, Heirloom of Sullen Fall (2013). But the music isn’t easily forgotten, hence the gleam of brightness in my puffy bloodshot eyes. Continue reading »