May 042020


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Hong Kong’s Karmacipher, which was released on April 30 by Infree Records.)

Before we go any further, please indulge me for a moment, if you will (or just skip on down to the “Continue reading” button) while I go off on a little bit of a tangent.

It’s undeniable that a lot of Metal writing/reviewing tends to focus on bands from Europe and North America. Sure, South America gets an occasional look-in, while isolated outliers like Iceland and Australia have been punching well above their weight over the last couple of years, but generally speaking bands from Africa and/or Asia in particular still tend to struggle to get wider coverage.

Heck, even when they do, they’re often either treated with patronising condescension or exoticised for having some sort of cultural “gimmick” (see every band who’s been given a 10/10 review just because they use native instruments or sing in a language other than English), and it’s always struck me as a little bit off  the way certain sections of the Metal media seem to insist that bands need to sound authentically “foreign” or “exotic” enough before they’ll cover them.

The truth is that great music, great Metal, can come from anywhere. And it doesn’t/shouldn’t have to fit into some preconceived notion of what music from a certain place “should” sound like.

Case in point, there’s nothing about the sublime second album from this Hong Kong trio which ties it to a specific location, nationality or culture. But that doesn’t matter. Because the only culture it’s trying to represent is Death Metal, and it does that phenomenally. Continue reading »

Apr 102020



I wondered whether the words “pandemic” and “pandemonium” were linguistically related. So I did some research.

Pandemic“, a word that originated in the 1660s in reference to disease, means “incident to a whole people or region” and derives from the Late Latin word pandemus, and in turn from the Greek pandemos, meaning to “pertain to all people; public, common” (from pan– “all” and dēmos “people”).

On the other hand, “pandemonium” was coined by John Milton in 1667 in Paradise Lost (though he spelled it “Pandæmonium”) as the name of the palace built in the middle of Hell, “the high capital of Satan and all his peers,” and the abode of all the demons. He built the name from the Greek pan– “all” and the Late Latin daemonium (“evil spirit”), which in turn derived from the Greek daimonion (“inferior divine power”) and daimōn “lesser god”.

So, although pandemics often produce pandemonium, as we’re witnessing, the words aren’t very closely related.

Now that we’re finished with your home-schooling for the day, let’s move on to the musical pandemonium I selected for this round-up. By coincidence, all the music comes from bands who are established favorites of our site. Continue reading »

Dec 312017


As you can see, I have ambitions… ambitions for a SHADES OF BLACK post that carries over, one that’s both the last SHADES OF BLACK of the old year and the first of the new year. Of course, those ambitions depend on my being able to write Part 2 tomorrow and your ability to read it. Since my New Year’s Eve will probably consist of a quiet evening at home with Ms. Islander and a bottle of champagne, I’ll probably be able to give a decent account of myself come the dawn. I wish I could be more hopeful about you. If you wake up in a pool of your own urine with the taste of vomit in your mouth, please don’t send photos.

I’ve divided my selections this week as follows: In Part 1 I’ve included a few recent EPs and advance tracks from forthcoming albums.  In Part 2 I’ve collected some complete 2017 albums that I’d like to call attention to, not all of which are brand new.

JANUARY 1 UPDATE:  That prediction about New Year’s Eve being a placid, well-behaved time for yours truly turned out to be load of horseshit. The extent of my suffering today is of epic proportions. Part 2 will be delayed until January 2.


I’m indebted to my friend Miloš for recommending this first two-song EP. Entitled Вопль о Земле, it was released via Bandcamp by the Russian black metal band Varnak on December 28th (the cover art is at the top of this post). I processed the Russian lyrics through Google Translate, and although the results are a bit garbled, I found them fascinating — just as I did the music. Continue reading »

Nov 162016



(Austin Weber brings us this premiere of the title track to a new album by Karmacipher from Hong Kong.)

As of late, it seems the growing influence of groups such as Gorguts and Ulcerate is bringing about a new wave of death metal fixated on twisted ugliness and immersive sorrow. This year alone, many groups have proven how much room there is to explore beyond (or without) solely copying their influences. Today’s premiere from the Hong Kong-based group Karmacipher is yet another fine new addition to this terrifying modern take on death metal.

From what I can tell, the band’s upcoming full-length, Necroracle, will be their first release. But given the quality of the music on today’s single of the title track, these guys aren’t amateurs by any means. Punishing drumming and super-heavy  and nasty riffing immediately kick off the song, though it continues to shift into a more off-kilter rhythmic place as the track progresses. Ultimately, it leaves the listener feeling like a helpless subject within a massive, world-destroying, meat-grinder apparatus. Continue reading »