Mar 052024

(Daniel Barkasi returns with another collection of album reviews and streams today, focusing on records that dropped in February 2024.)

Surprise – we’re back like Legia Warsaw Ultras! What in the hell am I talking about? Quite simply the height of professional level trolling, performed by Polish football Ultras. These groups can be extreme (to put it mildly), but credit is due for a move this epic. Me returning for February can’t come close, but hopefully we’ll be able to leave you with some music that you won’t soon forget.

‘Tis been an excellent month, as you’ve seen by the plethora of quality releases covered here at NCS. The end of winter is slowly approaching, and the release schedule only gets more packed in from here. Counting Hours brought the dim melancholy, Keres crushed us with a death metal onslaught, Borknagar is still soldering on at a high level, and Solbrud put out the musical equivalent of a full marathon (way less physical exertion required).

This month brings quite a sampling that’s a tad heavy on the post-black atmospheric variety, but variety is indeed the spice of metal happiness, so there’s also a mix of progressive, death, black and doom in various forms to gnaw into like a Mackinaw Peach. Just don’t lose your taste buds when they’re in season. Buford’s got your back, though. Continue reading »

Dec 242023

For reasons explained yesterday, this is likely to be the last Shades of Black column until we reach Sunday, January 21st, when I hope I can then resume.

I barely have time for this one before the iron hand of commerce rudely forces my nose down to the grindstone again, even though the nose is already ground down to a nub. So let’s get right to it.

P.S. If you don’t see something here you wish I had included, see yesterday’s explanation and then feel free to mention the release in a comment and share a stream link. Continue reading »

Oct 292019


It has been a long wait, six years now since Obsidian Tongue‘s wonderful second album, A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time, albeit with some great work in evidence through their track “The Lakeside Redemption” on a four-way split in 2015 (Northeastern Hymns). In that time guitarist/vocalist Brendan Hayter has joined forces with a new drummer, the formidable Ray Capizzo of Falls of Rauros (and a live member of Panopticon), and together — at last — they have completed a third full-length, simply entitled Volume III.

Today it’s our great pleasure not only to assist in announcing this Maine band’s new album — which will be released by Bindrune Recordings on January 31, 2020 — but also to premiere a stunning song from the record named “Return to the Fields of Violet“. Continue reading »

Jan 272015


We have the great pleasure of premiering for you a full stream of an extended split release by four very talented northeastern U.S. bands, an album-length work entitled Northeastern Hymns that has quickly become one of my favorite releases of 2015.

Three of the bands — Obsidian Tongue, In Human Form, and Infera Bruo — make their homes in Massachusetts, while the fourth — Autolatry — hail from Connecticut. In each case, these long songs mark the bands’ first recorded output since albums that appeared in 2013. In each case, there is a connection to the genre of black metal, but other musical elements are more dominant. And together, they provide a tremendously multi-faceted and tremendously engaging array of musical creativity and instrumental talent. Continue reading »

Apr 162014

Agalloch – photo by Veleda Thorsson

These are things I noticed over the last 24 hours that I thought you might want to notice as well.


When I found out that Agalloch was going to play a special show at Highline in Seattle on May 17 with YOB and Wounded Giant, I didn’t crow about it on our site. I can be pretty boorish when I want to be, and even when I’m not trying to be, but even I recognized it would be a dick move to express my joy about something I could see but the vast majority of our readers couldn’t. But now, finally, Agalloch has announced an official tour — Serpens In Culmination.

No doubt, the news will still be painful to fans who aren’t within reach of one of the stops, especially people who are also fans of Obsidian Tongue, Vex, and Jex Thoth, because those bands are also appearing at select stops on this tour. But on balance I feel okay about posting this news. Here’s the first part of the schedule, as announced late yesterday by Agalloch and Profound Lore: Continue reading »

Jun 302013

All yall muthafukkers can shoot me later, but I’m playing these songs first. The trigger-finger impulse may come from the fact that not all these songs are metal.

About 10 days ago I found myself in mixed company, getting fucked up in an apartment late at night with some friends and everyone taking turns playing music from YouTube on a big-screen TV. And by mixed company I mean that I and one other person were metalheads and the other two weren’t. But I liked some of the not-metal songs I heard, and they’re in this post. Every other song in here is a metal song I’ve heard recently that I really liked, songs I hadn’t heard before.

Hey, this is what people do when they have a blog. It’s better than telling you what I had for breakfast or about my last bowel movement.

That photo up there has got nothing to do with any of the music. It’s a photo of Canada’s WEAPON. It’s up there because my NCS comrade Andy Synn notified me this morning of the extremely sad, breaking news that Weapon is disbanding. According to a statement on their Facebook page, “There is no drama surrounding this decision: it is time for us collectively, and more importantly, as individuals, to move onwards and upwards towards other paradigms.” Thanks for the metal, dudes.

Let’s start with some metal. The song is “Spectral Visions of Mental Warfare” from the 2011 album of the same name by a German band called NARGAROTH. First song I’d ever heard by them, but I thought it was downright beautiful, and it includes throat singing, which is a rarity and a big plus in my book. Continue reading »