Jun 012023

Not so long ago we wrote here that while many musical extremists add new layers of brick and mortar to old walls surrounding well-established genre structures, the anonymous Parisian duo Non Serviam take a wrecking ball to genre walls. Their music is about catharsis and confrontation, and to extend the alliteration, it can be confounding — because it goes where the creators’ passions and wild inmventiveness take it, outward into the world from a burning inner core of rage.

You would conclude that the music on their new album Death Ataraxia is confrontational even if you didn’t know what inspires it. It has the effect of getting in the face of listeners and shoving them out of comfort zones and off-balance, teetering but fueled. But what inspires the music is also confrontational, an anarchist and antifascist ethos that condemns the abuses of capitalism and hate-mongering directed against the least powerful among us.

Yet it would go to far to brand the music, or what inspires it, as nihilistic, even if sometimes it sounds ruinous or hopeless. In the midst of superheated resistance there seem to be goals beyond not surrendering or becoming complacent, beyond furiously swinging the wrecking ball at what confines our bodies and minds. Goals like embracing those who need support when we can, (furiously) seizing the opportunities for rapture when they present themselves (no matter how fleeting), or just letting your head spin away from the ugliness of the real into the very un-real.

Another way to put it is that in listening to Death Ataraxia you’ll find times when you might want to sway and bounce, or to let your mind wander in intriguing but dangerous dreamscapes, but plenty of other times that might make you want to put your head back and howl, or hurl yourself like a missile into violent collisions, or feel your brain spin (dazzled) through a kaleidoscopic sonic collage where nightmares thrive. Continue reading »

Apr 282023

Many musical extremists add new layers of brick and mortar to old walls surrounding well-established genre structures, and some of them are such good crafts-people that they still deserve applause for their renewal of the fortifications. On the other hand, the anonymous Parisian collective Non Serviam take a wrecking ball to genre walls.

No doubt, what they do with their noise scandalizes some listeners, but as their name suggests, they’re dedicated to being confrontational — conventions be damned — and their confrontational nature extends to the anarchist and antifascist convictions that inspire their music. We have a prime example of all this in the video we’re presenting today for the furious Non Serviam tirade called “Apocalyptic Lust”. Continue reading »

Apr 162023

Moribund Mantras

Humans continue sending cameras into the deepest waters on Earth and continue seeing strange creatures that live there. If those creatures have minds, they may be thinking we should mind our own goddamned business, especially the two snailfish that were physically caught in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench last September at a depth of 8.022 meters (just under five miles below sea level). Even the snailfish that were only videoed at a depth of 8,336 meters, making them the deepest fish ever captured on film, might have felt annoyed. (The film was released earlier this month, reported here.)

But the snailfish aren’t the deepest sea creatures discovered so far. There’s an octopus that’s been found at an estimated 9,800 meters below sea level in the Marianas Trench. And the deepest part of the Marianas Trench measured so far (the deepest surveyed point of all the Earth’s oceans) is 10,971 meters (6.817 miles) below the water’s surface. There’s probably life down there too — we just don’t yet have the technology to go look.

Why the hell am I sharing this info here? It’s because I’ve been thinking about the allure of oddities (for want of a better term). Life-forms found at depths once thought unsurvivable bear resemblances to creatures that dwell far closer to the surface, but their appearance has been twisted in unusual and often frightening ways as they adapted through evolution in their epochal descents. Their strange fascinations lead us to keep searching for them, and to attempt to comprehend how they have survived.

Some (but not all) of today’s music bears resemblances to more familiar forms of black and blackened metal, but it is also twisted into unusual and sometimes frightening shapes. Searching for such oddities is one of our pastimes, because the results can be fascinating. (The risk of operating in a blog where there’s no one telling you what to do is that it permits strained analogies that consume a lot of space.) Continue reading »

Jun 182022


A Friday night spent carousing followed by a lazy Saturday morning doesn’t make a good predicate for a Saturday music roundup. And yes, I was languid this morning, rather than hungover, after exercising rare restraint on the alcohol last night. But though functional today, I wasn’t feeling motivated. The cool, gray, damp weather outside may have had something to do with that. While the rest of the country seems to be an oven, I was luxuriating in a Pacific Northwest gift.

And then, and then, I still spent an hour and a half flitting through a list of new songs and videos I’d made in as the week went by. Finally, I made these picks.

MANTAR (U.S./Germany)

Mantar have a new look, at least for the video you’re about to see, and new stylistic ingredients in the music too, but they haven’t forsaken their visceral intensity. It pours out through the vocals, which reach shattering zeniths (and also bring Kurt Cobain to mind at times), and through the angst-ridden but soaring riffs and keys, and the booming and battering drums. It’s also damned difficult to get out of the head once you’ve heard it. Continue reading »

May 212022


In yesterday’s roundup of new music and videos I explained that I had pushed forward by one day a lot of choices I originally intended to spread around yesterday. I did that to make room for some even more-late-breaking stuff, But now, as promised, I’m circling back to those original picks — and of course I added a couple.

What lies ahead of you is in some instances off the usual beaten paths, especially in the first two tracks and the last two. The very last track represents the biggest divergence of them all, but might just be the most brilliant offering of everything here. And now that I’ve (hopefully) teased you into staying with me to the end, let’s begin….

AZTLAN (Mexico)

I begin with two songs that I suppose could crudely be summed up as “folk metal”, but I don’t mean folk metal in the vein of this new song by Schandmaul. Both are much more interesting (though that Schandmaul song definitely is a toe-tapper). Continue reading »

May 172022

I have the freedom to do whatever the hell I want with these round-ups, which should mean an absence of any pressure but somehow doesn’t work out that way. No one tells me to pick this song or that song, no one will live or die (or succeed or fail) depending on what I pick, and I guess the only “wrong” choice is one that no one else likes. So where does the pressure come from?

Damned if I know. Some gremlin in my head that gnaws at the wiring and gibbers “You could have done better! You could have done more!” Begone you devil, I’d rather forget about you and listen to these devils instead:


Not too long ago I, Voidhanger Records launched a flurry of new album announcements and advance tracks from each of them. Eventually I hope to touch on all of them. Today I’ll touch on Deima Panikon, the debut album from Ornæmental Shrine, an avant-garde U.S. quintet that includes members of Uada and Black Hate. Continue reading »

Dec 292021


A baker’s dozen of new songs and videos is a lot to take in, but that’s what I’ve compiled here, and since we’re in the middle of Dead Week it seems entirely fitting for me to throw it your way now.

This 13-band round-up is the result of me going deep down a music-listening rabbit hole last night, a topsy-turvy underground descent in which I didn’t encounter any metal bands other than relatively obscure ones. My head was spinning by the end, and I hope yours will be too.

I did attempt to arrange the following items into “blocks”, but I make no promise that the arrangements will always make sense to you. Sometimes they barely made sense to me. I do promise you a real musical roller-coaster ride, and hope you’ll not jump out before you get to the end. And of course I had to pitch a curveball at the end.

P.S. I picked up the name “Dead Week” from this recent essay in The Atlantic, which perfectly sums up the oddities and attractions of this blank space that stretches between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

NIHIL KAOS (International)

While I think the entire journey through today’s round-up will prove to be head-spinning, I’ve chosen to lead with a trio of songs that are within themselves head-spinning. And I’ve begun with the track that for me had the most jaw-dropping, eye-popping impact of them all. Continue reading »

Sep 122021

After completing the humongous two-part roundup of new songs and videos that I posted earlier today I nearly gave up on the idea of making this regular Sunday column. Just not much gas left in the tank, and the first Seahawks football game of the season is already under way. But I know some people come here on Sundays for this column, and I don’t want to completely disappoint.

So, I did here what I did with those previous roundups — skimping on the artwork and links, and abbreviating my own commentary, in the hope that mainly tossing out the music is better than nothing at all. And so, with apologies to the bands and to people who actually enjoy the usual format, here we go… presented alphabetically by band name.


This first song is a frightening yet entrancing one. It reveals eerie, preternatural keyboards that seem to ring from fracturing heavens, and combines those with viscerally powerful rhythms, terrorizing vocal battalions, and racing storms of searing riffage and rampantly hurtling bass and drums. The effect is nightmarish yet intoxicating, menacingly magisterial and marauding. Continue reading »

Jun 212020


I had a big block of uninterrupted time to myself yesterday afternoon, with my spouse out of the house at a safe birthday celebration and the cats sleeping. So of course I spent the time digging through my list of new black metal(ish) music in preparation for this column. You see the results: More time means more picks.


I have Cvlt Nation to thank for this first discovery. The introduction to their premiere was brief and didn’t include much detail about the music, but the blaring headline did the job: “Listen To Non Serviam’s Salem – It’s Depraved And Sick! This Band Sounds Like NO OTHER!” I also thought the cover image was fantastic, and so decided to see what was going on with the music. Continue reading »