Aug 222023

A rare day with no premieres on our calendar, which means I had time to whip up a roundup of new songs and videos.

Lots of things to choose from, as usual, and in making those choices I decided to give you a musical carnival ride, one of those things that’s spinning in several directions at once and leaves you stumbling with vertigo by the end.

ALKALOID (Germany)

My comrade DGR alerted us to this first song, which he pithily described as “one of the more batshit songs from Numen,” Numen being the name of Alkaloid‘s new album. Saying that anything on an Alkaloid release is more batshit than others is really saying something, since everything tends to be in the batshit crazy category. But sure enough…. Continue reading »

Mar 082018


(An NCS fan who we’ll call Barbarian Mike turned in this guest review of the presentation of DECIBEL Magazine’s 2018 tour in Seattle, Washington, on March 6, 2018.)

Whether you consider yourself a fan or not, it’s impossible to deny the status and reverence Enslaved has earned within the community of heavy music. Over a span of 27-years and 14 studio albums – barring live-show DVD’s, splits, and demos – it’s hard to imagine any band as capable as this one in maintaining a passionate fan base and consistently sold-out live performances.

In spite of this success, Enslaved are a band who don’t rest on their laurels, or coast on their hits of yesteryear. In fact, they appear to be continually invigorated by the challenge of creating something new, to pursue new ideas and sounds. It only makes sense that they would headline one of the bigger tours within heavy music – the DECIBEL Magazine 2018 Tour. Needless to say, I was excited to attend the event at Seattle’s own El Corazon. Continue reading »

Jun 302017


I began writing this post on Tuesday, intending to finish and publish it the next day. Events conspired against that plan, and I was defeated again yesterday by technical problems ironically created by malfunctioning software installed in our web-host server by the company we pay to armor us against malware.

I’ve resisted the temptation to make this burly collection even bigger by including more new music I’ve spotted in the days since I started it. I also resisted the temptation to just shove this column into its usual place on Sunday, especially because I’ve taken a few liberties with the usual configuration of SHADES OF BLACK. Posting it today will also me to harness different new audio assaults to char the coming Sabbath.


I stay away from metal message boards for fear of losing IQ points, which as you well know are meager enough already. But I could guess that the people who think they are the trve keepers of the holy black flame are gnashing their teeth all over again because Myrkur has released a new song and soon enough will release a new album. Based on experience, I presume that the readers of this site will take the music as it comes and assess it on its own merits, which is what I’ve done — and I do like what I hear. Continue reading »

Jan 122016

Blasfemia Amerika tour


This should be interesting — a North American tour headlined by Behemoth with support from Myrkur, and a traveling exhibition featuring the creations of Sharon ToxicBehemoth has never failed to disappoint in the 3 (or 4?) times I’ve seen them. It’s always powerful entertainment. And I confess I’m curious to see Myrkur live. It’s a moot point for me, however, since the tour won’t reach the Pacific Northwest, but maybe it will land in your vicinity.

Because I’m in a bit of a hurry, I’m going to excerpt a few passages from the press release we received, followed by a list of all the dates: Continue reading »

Nov 242015



Every year there seem to be one or two metal albums that become particular lightning rods of controversy. This year Myrkur’s debut album M was one of those. On the one hand, it has drawn praise — for example, it has just appeared in the Number 28 spot on DECIBEL magazine’s list of the Top 40 Albums of 2015, described as “a collage of icy vibes”, “haunted by demons and angels alike”, “true extreme metal, not intended for the weak, -hearted or -minded”. On the other hand, it has been the target of unpleasant assaults by various devotees of underground black metal who seem upset to the point of resentment by the attention it has garnered.

Well, the point of this feature really isn’t to rekindle that debate, it’s to share a video that’s an example of the positive interactions that can happen between musicians and their fans — a kind of feedback loop in which each inspires the other. It’s far from the only example, of course, but it seemed to me one worth spreading around. Continue reading »

Aug 182015



(Andy Synn reviews the debut album by Myrkur.)

Let’s get this out of the way nice and early shall we? Yes, controversy (some groundless, some deserved) has certaintly dogged the name Myrkur since it first appeared on everyone’s radar last year. Barbs were thrown, aspersions were cast… mistakes were made. By both sides.

But honestly, I really don’t care about that. I’m not here to question or criticise anyone’s marketing strategy, nor am I prepared to wade into the sticky mire of “he said/she said” that made up a large amount of the internet’s reaction to the inevitable reveal.

No, all I’m interested in is whether Amalie Bruun, the head and heart and the soul of Myrkur, truly grasps the essence of Black Metal or not, and whether she has the vision and the execution to match her ambition.

Spoiler alert – she does. Continue reading »

Jun 032015


Once again I find myself awash in new music discovered over the last 24 hours that I want to share with you. I’ve picked three new songs to feature in this collection, and you know I must really like them since I have to send you to other sites to hear two of them.


Every death metal fan worth his or her salt has to be salivating over the prospect of a new Hate Eternal album — and that’s what we’re about to get. The new record is named Infernus and it’s set for North American release by Season of Mist on August 21. In addition to the fact that it will contain Hate Eternal music, it’s also adorned with painted cover art by the masterful Eliran Kantor. And now we also have a new song to hear. Continue reading »

Sep 232014


I sometimes play fast and loose with that “Shades of Black” title, but this time it genuinely fits the music I’ve collected here. The song streams represent many different shades and phases of black metal, and regardless of your preferences within the genre, I suspect you will find something to like before you reach the end. Of course, I like all of it.


The long-running Greek black metal band Varathron will be releasing their fifth album, Untrodden Corridors of Hades, later this fall.  It comes five years after their last full-length, but based on the strength of the new album’s first advance track, this is one of those cases where I’m inclined to say, “It was worth the wait!”

“Realm of the Obscure” is thoroughly galvanizing, a non-stop rush of multi-faceted riffs that writhe like serpents, stab like knives, and hammer like mallet blows. The acrobatic and often pyrotechnic drumwork is equally varied and matches up beautifully with the varied movements of this long song, and the vocals are thoroughly ravenous. It’s the kind of music that’s voracious and malignant but with a highly seductive melody and an aura of imperial might. Really excellent. Continue reading »

Aug 062014


I wrote a feature about this supposedly one-woman Danish black metal band a month ago after discovering a song named “Nattens Barn” (“Night’s Child”) from the band’s forthcoming debut EP on Relapse Records. At the time, I knew very little about the woman in question, but yesterday, through the help of a few readers, I learned a lot of info — conflicting info — plus discovered another new Myrkur song — “Latvian Fegurð”.

The music speaks for itself — and I think it’s quite good; you’ll find the new song at the end of this post. As for the woman behind Myrkur, Relapse released a video in which she speaks (in Danish) of the motivations behind her music, her face mainly obscured behind a mop of pale hair while “Nattens Barn” plays in the background: Continue reading »

Jul 162014

I suppose that among our regular writers it may seem that I have a more pronounced weakness for the kind of metal that tries to claw your guts out and eat the gall bladder (because it thrives on bile, yes it does). But you can relax — somewhat — before you listen to the four songs collected in this post. There is beauty in this collection (along with the clawing).


Myrkur is the name of a one-woman black metal band from Denmark (it reportedly means “darkness” in Icelandic). You probably haven’t heard of Myrkur before, but I’m highly confident this won’t be the last time you hear the name — partly because Relapse Records is now behind the band and partly because the music is strikingly good. Despite the fact that Myrkur has released no music before a self-titled EP that Relapse now plans to release in September — and has done nothing to publicize her existence as far as I can tell — both Pitchfork and Stereogum were lavishing praise on her yesterday, and it won’t stop there. I know this because I’m about to do the same thing right now.

One of the seven songs on the EP became available for streaming yesterday and its name is “Nattens Barn” (“Night’s Child” in Danish). Myrkur’s pure a cappella voice, layered to create the sound of a choir, is immediately arresting, and so are the wolfish, ripping howls that come forth later. The powerful waves of dark guitar melody that roll in like a storm front are hugely appealing, and so is the combination of jagged, jabbing riffs and rippling tremolo streamers that shimmer above them like an aurora borealis. Continue reading »