Jun 122024

Almost two years ago we had the pleasure of premiering Liminal Shroud‘s stunning second album All Virtues Ablaze. In an accompanying review I wrote:

Across four expansive tracks on their new album, the music itself is vast and towering, awe-struck and splendid, but also creates a sense of purging, of a kind of ruthless but necessary scourging, a furious confrontation against what’s dismal and discouraging.

In its changing moods the album at times seems daunted by the seeming futility of human existence, and at times it’s beautiful in its portrayal of melancholy, yet also seems to be a fierce rejection of beleaguered submission and an embrace of the horizon that might lie ahead. Like broken rocks buffeted by surging tides, people can withstand the assaults of life and endure, so it seems to say. Continue reading »

May 052024

I don’t have as many different things to share with you in this week’s edition of SHADES OF BLACK as I usually do, mainly because I’ve devoted most of my time to expressing detailed thoughts about a forthcoming record which I’ve found to be one of the most gripping black metal albums I’ve encountered so far this year.

After that, I’ve included a couple of recent singles that I also hope you’ll enjoy, both of which are fore-runners to eagerly anticipated albums that I haven’t yet heard in full.


We’ll begin with the first two songs you can now hear from Wrath, the forthcoming 12th album by Dødsferd. The album’s title shares the name of the band’s founder and also describes the emotional energy that fuels much of the music. Continue reading »

Aug 012022


Living in a dramatic natural setting can be a double-edged sword. Imagine a place bounded by the vast, untamed Pacific Ocean and the Salish Sea, and indeed by water all around, with a mountain range running through it, encompassed by dense, towering forests and sheltered by skies both daunting and glorious. In a state of despondency, such a place might seem like a calculated reminder of how small, insignificant, fleeting, and unattractive your own existence really is. On the other hand, a place like that can so powerfully overwhelm all ugliness as to provide inspiration and hope.

The place we happen to be talking about is Vancouver Island, officially a part of British Columbia in Canada, but really a kind of world all its own. The largest community on that enormous island is Victoria, and Victoria is home to the black metal band Liminal Shroud. It’s no wonder that their natural surroundings have an influence on their music, in ways both dark and blazing — a carefully chosen word, because their forthcoming second album, which you’re about to hear, is named All Virtues Ablaze. Continue reading »

Jun 192022


After a lapse last week this column re-takes its usual place on the weekly calendar to blacken the sabbath. I’ll quickly confess that I bit off more than I can chew in the writing, and more than most of you will have time to hear in the listening: I’ve picked two complete albums and mixed them together with four new singles. Despite the challenges to myself and to you, I felt so strongly about all these choices that I couldn’t resist.

As is often the case, I haven’t lived with either of the albums long enough to do more than provide scattered notes about them. That’s the consequence of needing to write about something new every day. Settling in gives way to scurrying. But you’ll have a better chance to settle in with these releases, and I hope you will. All the singles sound fantastic too.


Death Siege is the fifth full-length from this talented band, who are charging toward us after a six-year interval following the last album. The new one is 40 minutes long, and the cover art by Abomination Hammer alone would make most people want to find out what’s going on in the music. My friend Andy‘s Synn Report about the band’s discography back in 2016 would provide more reasons.

What Hierophant say about the music is this: “”With Death Siege, we crossed the gateway to the abyss. Nihilism will overcome, when the sky will burn in fire. Death, Chaos, Annihilation.” Continue reading »

Nov 022020


Liminal Shroud from Victoria, BC, made quite a striking impression with their 2018 self-titled demo (which we reviewed here), and are now following that with a debut album that drew the support of the wonderful Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records. That album, Through the False Narrows, will be released on November 20th.

The band’s home is a beautiful place, but its setting in the midst of surging oceans and fog-shrouded coasts, often blanketed in the fall and winter by grey and sodden skies, also tends to bring out darker moods. Drawing inspiration from that natural setting, Liminal Shroud have crafted black metal that is capable of becoming as turbulent as ocean whirlpools and crashing waves, but is also palpably atmospheric, providing channels for despair and fury, for the darkness of grief and the fires of defiance.

There are only three people in the band — Aidan Crossley (guitars and vocals), Rich Taylor (bass and vocals), and Drew Davidson (drums) — and they all play vital roles in an album that’s produced in a way which gives them each an even share of attention. Even in the record’s shortest songs, their compositions display remarkable dynamism, and on the two longest tracks, one of which we’re premiering today — “Lucidity” — they use the extended time to push the dynamism of the music’s energy, spirit, and mood to even greater heights. Continue reading »

Jan 062019


This is the second part of today’s usual column on black metal, which I began here. The first three bands are old favorites; the next three are new discoveries. The focus is still mainly on new tracks from forthcoming records, but I’ve included one brand new single and a full EP that came out near summer’s end.

With more time, I could easily include a third part, but there’s too much on the table for Monday — and I think you’ll want to be here to discover what happens then.


I first came across this Chicago quartet via their En To Pan EP (which I partially reviewed back in July 2014), thanks to a recommendation by Panopticon’s Austin Lunn. Subsequently, Vukari and Panopticon became label-mates: Vukari’s second album Divination was released by Bindrune Recordings in 2016, and I thought it was stunningly good. It appears that the band are now working on a new album, and on January 3rd they released a demo track from it named “Entire Worlds Encased In Ice“. Continue reading »