Apr 212019


As you can see, the game plan for this Sunday is to throw more than one installment of this column at you. I’m sticking my neck out because I haven’t started writing Part 2, and will be racing to get it done before I run out of time. In my head, I actually have a line-up for a Part 3 because I’ve found so much black metal over the last week or two that I’d like to recommend, but the odds of getting that done are really intimidating.

For Part 1 I picked advance tracks from forthcoming albums, and one single that will surprise you. For Part 2 I picked some recent full releases.


We begin with music by a new group composed of known names — Swedish veteran Swartadaupuz of Bekëth Nexëhmü plus Chaos Moon members Alex Poole and Jack and Steven Blackburn, joined by vocalist Glömd. A song from their debut album named “Of Crimson Eyes” debuted in February, and the album’s title track — “Slit Throat Requiem” — surfaced more recently. Continue reading »

Sep 162018


Unlike most of the music I chose for Part 1 of today’s collection, black metal isn’t the dominant ingredient in everything I’ve included in this second Part, though it always plays a role. I’ve segmented these five choices by design, with some connections I hear between the first two, and some different connections between the last two, and some HelCarpathian Black Metal in the middle.


Ulthar‘s 2016 debut demo made quite a vivid impression on me, which I likened to “the musical equivalent of rabid wolves in a feeding frenzy”. Of that demo I further wrote: “The focal core of Ulthar’s music is corrosive, distorted, head-ramming, d-beat crust, but they spread out from there, incorporating bestial death bellows and deranged shrieking along with massive, spine-shattering chugs, violent blackened riff swarms, and melodically dismal and alien slower passages”. Continue reading »

Apr 022018


It seems that more and more bands (though still a small number) have been springing their albums by surprise, with little advance notice and no preview tracks, and the Ukrainian powerhouse Kroda did that at midnight last night, launching a new album named Selbstwelt on Bandcamp (though I confess that I was given an opportunity to hear the album in advance of that release).

Selbstwelt (The Land of Selbst) is Kroda’s seventh full-length studio album and joins a discography that also includes EPs, live recordings, and compilations. It follows a live album, Kälte Aurora – Live In Lemberg II, and is the band’s first studio release since 2015’s Навій схрон (Navij Skhron) (reviewed here), which was a significant departure from most previous Kroda releases, consisting of six ghostly and chilling ambient-music tracks and three black metal songs (including an electrifying cover of a song by Kroda’s countrymen Nokturnal Mortum), each different from the others and all still different in some ways from the pulse of Kroda’s past music.

Selbstwelt can be understood as both a return to earlier times and as a culmnation up of the band’s career so far. In Kroda’s own words: Continue reading »

Nov 172017


I didn’t do a very good job keeping up with e-mails or occurrences in the interhole the last few days, so I crawled through those fetid swamps last night and came up with a big list of intriguing new songs and videos to add to my previous big list. And then I began exploring what I found. I have a little time this morning to round-up a few of the good things I discovered in my listening, with more to come soon.

I have to fly to Texas this morning (for a high school reunion rather than my fucking day job), but I do plan to finish a further SEEN AND HEARD for Saturday. And unless the reunion crushes too many brain cells (or my soul), there will be a SHADES OF BLACK feature on Sunday before I fly home.


This first item will be regrettably brief — regrettable only in the sense that I have failed to write a review of the new Aosoth album prior to its full streaming debut, which happened yesterday. And so all I can do now (and maybe ever) is to give you a strong push to listen to V: The Inside Scriptures as soon as you can. You won’t regret that decision. The stream is below; the album is being released today (November 17). Continue reading »

May 082016

Profanatica-The Curling Flame of Blasphemy


As I explained yesterday, I’ve been off my game for yet another week, with less time than usual to collect new music worth hearing. In a (futile) effort to play catch-up, I collected some new things yesterday and a lot more in this post, which is again devoted to metal in a blackened vein.


New York’s Profanatica have deep roots in the underground, with a string of short releases beginning in 1990. The band dissolved in about 1992 before releasing an album, but re-formed in 2001, though the first album still wouldn’t appear until 2007. Their fourth album, The Curling Flame of Blasphemy, is now set for release on July 22 by Hells Headbangers, the music prepared by the band’s two core members, drummer/vocalist Paul Ledney and bassist/guitarist John Gelso.

The album’s first track, “Ordained in Bile”, appeared recently, and I really can’t get enough of it. The atmosphere is primitive and predatory, and its primal power owes much to its production (especially the drum tone, which you can feel right in your gut). Continue reading »

Oct 312015

KRODA-Navij Skhron


We wish all of you a glorious Samhain. It is the most metal of festival nights, the ancient day marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, a day for the remembrance of the dead, a day when the veil between this world and the realm of death is as thin as tissue, and for many the first day of a spiritual new year.

In our den of thieves there was some loose talk about compiling a Halloween play list for the site, but this talk came to naught. It matters not, because we have something better. We have a stream of the new album by HelCarpathian Kroda, just released via Bandcamp on this blessed day — and like nothing you’ve heard from Kroda before.

I’m only human. When I have intensely strong feelings for the past creations of an artist, I tend to be predisposed to admire whatever comes next, to the point of overlooking flaws and focusing on the gifts when necessary. But most of the music on this new Kroda album, Navij Skhron, turned my expectations upside down, as if someone erased almost everything familiar on the chalkboard and began writing a new verse. Continue reading »

May 012015


Within the last hour, the brilliant new album from Ukraine’s Kroda, GinnungaGap-GinnungaGaldr-GinnungaKaos, became available for streaming and download on Bandcamp. Our own Andy Synn reviewed the album two weeks ago, summing it up as  a collection of music that “brims with a vitality and unabashed creative energy that’s simply unmatched”:

“Pulse-raising in its undeniable passion, and surprisingly life-affirming in its boundless energy and vigour, Ginnungagap… is Kroda at their very best, marrying power and pathos, might and majesty, primal fury and grand, storytelling ambition, in a display of absolutely stunning harmony and balance.”

We’re damned happy to now give you a chance to hear the album for yourselves. Continue reading »

Apr 152015


(Andy Synn reviews the forthcoming sixth studio album from the Ukrainian band KrodaGinnungaGap-GinnungaGaldr-GinnungaKaos — and we also have for you the premiere of the album’s fourth track, “Чорні Хребти Карпат” (Carpathian Black Spines).

There are some albums you just never really get on with. Not that they’re necessarily bad, but albums you just don’t “click” with, for whatever reason. Where the pieces just don’t seem to line up properly and the overall package just seems lacking.

Then there are albums that you fall in love with instantly, where even their tiniest flaws seem to have a necessary place in the grand scheme of things.

This is one of those albums. Continue reading »

Apr 032015


I’m woefully far behind in compiling round-ups of new music. This week at our site has been loaded with premieres, and unlike some places that just say, “Here’s something. Listen to it”, I feel compelled to write about the music, even if few people care what I think other than (perhaps) the bands themselves.

Anyway, as welcome as they are, the premieres take time and tend to cut into other activities. But although I have a very long list of things I’d like to throw your way, I’m going to include only three items in this post. Two of them are teasers of new albums from bands I’ve been avidly following for a long time. The third is a new discovery and concerns the reissue of previously released albums. All three of the bands are based in Ukraine.


More than three years have passed since the release of Schwarzpfad, the last studio album by Ukraine’s Kroda, which remains one of my all-time favorite pagan/black metal albums. The year 2012 brought us a live album (Live Under Hexenhammer: Heil Ragnarok!) and in 2013 Kroda released a compilation (Varulven) that included several departures in style, including two cover songs. And now, finally, Kroda is preparing for the release of a new full-length under the title GinnungaGap-GinnungaGaldr-GinnungaKaos. Continue reading »

Dec 252014


I used to write an annual Christmas rant at this site. The first one I wrote, creatively entitled “FUCK CHRISTMAS”, still gets a few hundred new page views around this time every year despite the fact that it’s now more than four years old. I haven’t changed my mind about what I wrote four years ago, but I also don’t really have anything new to say. I guess I’ve also mellowed — somewhat — and now spend more time focusing on things that genuinely are worth celebrating during this season instead of things that turn my stomach. And so it will be today.

In an early display of marketing acumen (to be repeated in many other ways, both before and since), the Church created the festival of Christmas by co-opting and incorporating many of the traditions of various pagan celebrations that had occurred around the time of the winter solstice for many centuries before the birth of Christ. Celebrations of the birth of the Sun, for example, became celebrations of the birth of the Son. And in our time, of course, commerce has successfully co-opted the celebration of the Son, drowning it in an orgy of gift-giving.

But putting all that history to one side, we still have things worth celebrating today that have nothing to do with the traditional trappings and calculated origins of Christmas — time spent with family and friends, and of course, metal! And for me, it seems appropriate to celebrate with some excellent pagan metal, plus a compilation of Anti-Christmas music that costs nothing. Continue reading »