Dec 232023

I didn’t name this column “Seen And Heard On A Saturday” because it’s not the usual assortment of recommended new songs and videos, though I do have a few of those in here at the end. Mainly I wanted to let people know what’s going on at NCS and what the next few weeks will look like.

We’re still in the midst of our annual Listmania orgy, though nearing the end of its main phases. Our Readers’ Lists (in the comments on this post) are still growing, and the only way that stops growing is when people lose interest in 2023 and wholly give themselves over to 2024. We’ve completed rolling out the lists we traditionally share from bigger platforms than our own. And we’re well along in the rollout of lists from our writers and usual guests.

At this point I have three more of those latter lists to present, in addition to the final two Parts of Neill Jameson‘s 5-part list. I’ll get all of those posted in the coming week after Christmas Day. Another list or two might arrive after I write this, and might spill over into the week after next.

Next week I’ve also got three premieres on the schedule, and then five more for the first week of 2024. But beginning that week, things are going to have to change around here. Continue reading »

Jan 242023

The Swedish solo black metal project Mondocane has been on a heated creative run since the pandemic began (perhaps spawned by the lockdown), starting with a self-titled debut EP in 2021 and continuing through a pair of albums, one that same year (Dvala) and another last year (Gloria, briefly reviewed here), and then a split release last year as well (also reviewed here, along with a premiere).

But despite such a fast and ferocious start, Mondocane isn’t slowing down for a nice nap. There’s already another record named Ultima that will be released sometime in the first part of this new year. We don’t yet have a lot of details about it, but we do have the title track, and it makes us even more grateful that Mondocane have kept the creative fires burning. It’s also further proof that Mondocane’s stylistic influences are more expansive than conventional Scandinavian black metal, and the music is all the better for that. Continue reading »

Sep 012022

Last May I took a blind chance on the music of Mondocane, diving into this Stockholm solo project’s second album Gloria without any previous exposure to Mondocone‘s creations. That turned out to be a winning gamble.

The songs on Gloria range widely in their sensations, and the familiar tropes of black metal play only one role in the musical amalgams. Depending on where you are in the track list (as I wrote then):

“The songs race and they stagger. They slash and they swirl. They brandish a feral, devilish swagger and they weave powerful dark spells. They’re menacing and dismal, cunning and cruel, and they elevate like witches around a bonfire. The riffing is captivating, and the keyboards and electronica are adroitly used. I’m not adept enough to know if the drumming is live or programmed, but their visceral punch, augmented by a heavyweight bass, is magnetic”.

Little wonder, then, that I got excited to discover that Mondocane would be releasing a new EP today. Entitled Enigmata | The Eminent, it includes three new songs (Enigmata), and as a bonus it also includes three songs (The Eminent) first released in 2000 by a band named Goatworship in which Mondocane‘s creator performed drums and keyboards (the band also included two members of Sarcasm). What we have for you today to help spread the word about this split release is the premiere of one of Mondocane‘s new songs, “Hammaren och skäran“. Continue reading »

May 012022

This week’s Shades of Black falls on May Day, the morning after Walpurgisnacht. That night, which of course has a significance that long pre-dates the German name, falls halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, and in old pagan traditions it was celebrated to mark the changing of the seasons, just as Samhain does six months later. And in the ancient folklore traditions, as on Samhain, the veil between the material world and the spirit world was thought to be at its thinnest.

Of course, in northern Europe the Church co-opted the pagan May Day, turning it into the feast day of Saint Walpurga, a German abbess honored for her success in putting an end to pagan sorcery (among other achievements), and on the night before it — Walpurgisnacht — bonfires were built to ward off witches and evil spirits in her name. Continue reading »