May 242017


(Andy Synn (and other fiends here at NCS) is attending Maryland Deathfest XV, which begins a bit later this week, and here he names the five bands whose performances are highest on his list.)

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a little event called “Maryland Deathfest” happening this week, and I’m lucky enough to be attending for the second year in a row.

As a result, my contributions to NCS are going to be somewhat… minimal… until next week (though I do have a little something blast-tastic lined up for Friday for you all), while I do my best to develop and nurse a cumulative five-day hangover/bangover.

In recognition of this momentous occasion, however, I thought I’d put together a quick list of the five bands I’m most looking forward to seeing at MDF this year – although thinning it down to only five definitely wasn’t easy! Continue reading »

Apr 052017


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Nightbringer.)

I doubt there are many among our readers (though undoubtedly there will be some) who would disagree when I say that the Black Metal scene today is in rude health.

From those early seeds sown by a small clique of disaffected Norwegian youths the genre has grown and evolved in ways that its progenitors could never have imagined, spreading out to take root in the hearts and souls of like-minded individuals across the globe and spawning new offshoots, new interpretations and new innovations, which have stretched the boundaries of the style beyond all expectations, while still remaining true to that central tenet of “do what thou wilt”.

But for every innovator there are a thousand imitators, and I do sometimes get tired of seeing yet another bunch of earnest amateurs playing dress-up and pantomiming the actions and aesthetics of bigger, better bands, while offering little (if anything) new or inspiring of their own.

Thankfully Nightbringer are, and have always been, a cut above the rest. And every album, every song, every hellish, skin-stripping riff and vile vocal incantation, is delivered with the righteous fury and unwavering conviction of the true believer. Continue reading »

Feb 222017


In January of last year we quickly spread the word about a new song stream that had just appeared by the Greek black metal band Thy Darkened Shade. The song’s name was not disclosed, nor was any information provided about the release on which it might be included.

A couple of months later we learned about a teaser of new music that had been released by the Swedish band Mortuus, and by then word had circulated that Mortuus and Thy Darkened Shade would be participating in a four-way split along with Nightbringer (U.S.) and the Austrian black metal band Abigor.

Now, at long last, that split has been released. Continue reading »

Feb 202017


Over the course of four albums and a handful of split releases since 2001, Nightbringer have established such a prominent presence in the shadow realms of arcane black metal that every new release must now be regarded as an Event, with a capital E. Their fifth full-length is named Terra Damnata, and it’s scheduled to appear via Season of Mist on April 14. We’ve previously praised the first single from the album, “Serpent Sun“, and now it’s our privilege to help premiere the second one — a track named “Misrule“.

Nightbringer described “Serpent Sun” as the “theme for a god, solar soliloquy, incubated to rise for the fall.” That song is a barn-burner — fiery, immense, dramatic, casting an aura of ominous and savage majesty. The sweeping keyboards and sparkling guitar melody are as gripping as the giant boom of the drums and the wild ferocity of the vocals. It’s enough to make normal humans cower like mice beneath the swooping shadow of a great raptor overhead. The newest song also takes no prisoners. Continue reading »

Jan 122017


Two days after promising Part 2 of a round-up, here it is. I’ve been fighting (and losing) a brutal battle with a vicious cold. Between that bloody conflict and other commitments, both related and unrelated to NCS, I got thrown off-track.

Most of the items in this collection were the ones I intended to write about two days ago, but since then I’ve found many other new things to like, including the one that begins this post. I might do another one of these for tomorrow, depending on how the land war in my sinuses goes. Looks like I’ll be living in the recent past for a while.


Season of Mist has revealed details about Nightbringer’s new album, as well as an advance track. The album’s name is Terra Damnata and it’s set for release on April 14. As you can see, the cover art by the talented David Herrerias was also revealed, as well as this comment about the album by the band: Continue reading »

Jun 082016

Nightbringer art


This is the second part of a collection I began yesterday, recommending new song streams and recent album releases from the hallowed realms of black metal. I’ve had a lot of catching up to do after spending most of the last two weeks devoting time to other pursuits, and although I still won’t succeed, I’ve decided to prepare a third installment of this post, collecting a handful of additional song streams and releases. That will probably happen tomorrow, but perhaps today if I have more time than I think I’ll have.


As many of you already know, four tremendously good black metal bands — Thy Darkened Shade, Abigor, Mortuus, and Nightbringer — have joined forces to create an album-length split recording that has been one of my most highly anticipated releases of the year. We began hinting at this release back in January when we premiered an excerpt from Thy Darkened Shade’s offering for the split. Since then, excerpts from each of the other band’s tracks have gradually been revealed. The last one came yesterday when Nightbringer previewed its track, which is named “Tunnels”. Continue reading »

Mar 312015


Naas Alcameth, best known for his work in Nightbringer, has had a separate project since 2009 known as Akhlys, whose second album will be soon released by Debemur Morti Productions. The new Akhlys album is entitled The Dreaming I, and as the title suggests, it was inspired by its creator’s uncommon dreams and the role of such lucid para-somnia experiences in esoteric belief and practice. One track from the album has previously premiered (“Consummation”), and today we have the pleasure of bringing you the debut of another track, the one that opens the album: “Breath and Levitation“.

Dreaming is the thematic subject of the album as well as the source of its inspiration, but we’re not talking about mundane, commonplace dreams — and the music is anything but mundane or commonplace. Clues to what lies within may be found in the name of this project. To quote from a recent interview by Nass Alcameth:

[Akhlys] was said to be the personification of the “death mist”, the clouding over of the eyes upon death, and in turn personified death, misery, despair, and so on. She was also said to have been an original personification of primordial darkness/night that existed before chaos. What we can determine from these fragments is that she was associated to both death and profound darkness, the two of which indicate a crossroads, or an inlet from life into the darkness beyond life. This crossing of the veil has much synchronicity with the crossing that can be experienced via certain lucid dream states and there is much intimacy between these parallels, that of death and of dreams.

Continue reading »

Nov 052014


In my daily searches for news and new music that I think would be worth your time, sometimes I come across so many exciting new discoveries that it feels like the flood gates have been opened, or that I’ve opened Pandora’s box thinking that it was my underwear drawer, or that a pack of wolves have materialized in my skull and started devouring its meager contents.

That happened over the last 24 hours. I found so many new things worth recommending that I’ve split this round-up into two posts. By chance, many of them all involve the same label — Daemon Worship Productions — so I’m collecting those in this first post.  More info about all the releases discussed below and related merch can be found here.


Our last mention of Israthoum on the site occurred almost two years ago when Andy Synn reviewed the band’s second album, Black Poison and Shared Wounds. That is now being followed by a new Israthoum split with the Swedish black metal band Chalice of Blood, which was originally announced at the beginning of this year. Like that preceding album, the split is adorned with spectacular artwork by Held (Ubertragic Art).  (Click the image to view a larger version.) 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 »

Sep 112014


Today we bring you the premiere of a song by Nightbringer from their fourth album Ego Dominus Tuus (I am your Lord).

The song can be understood and appreciated on many levels. Standing alone, as you will hear, it’s tremendously powerful. Yet it’s also the final track (and the longest) on a 10-track album that’s more than 70 minutes in length, the culmination of an intense listening experience that’s not merely powerful but overpowering. It brings to a dramatic close a work whose spiritual intent would be manifest even if you knew nothing of the lyrics: It is prayer, it is worship, it is exaltation. It’s a declaration of belief, a proclamation of fealty, a passionate expression of yearning, and an offering to Lucifer on a pyre of flames.

Ego Dominus Tuus sounds like a majestic black metal opera. It’s grandiose and bombastic, with an orchestral quality created not only by the soul-stirring riffs but also by the effective use of keyboards, and there is a narrative quality in the movement of the songs that bespeaks a story being told (even though the lyrics don’t form a continuous narrative). The enormously expressive vocals sometimes sound like exchanges between different characters, each of them driven by fervent and usually fierce emotions — sometimes to the point of madness — as they are buffeted by the tumult of life-shaking occurrences. The music storms and subsides, as if turning points have been reached as the story moves toward its inevitable climax.

As you listen you can imagine the unfolding of transformative events, from the stately processional of an infernal coronation, to the agonies of torture, to the conflagration of war. At the end, you feel drained and breathless. Continue reading »