Jan 262023


(Hope Gould returns to NCS with the following review of a new album by the Montréal extreme metal band Profane Order, which is due for release tomorrow.)

Look, I get it. Some genres aren’t exactly known for their ingenuity. Whether to you it’s called war metal, bestial black metal, or it’s just some grind-black-death bastardization, this style is often written off as ‘uninspired noise’ by even the most extreme metal connoisseurs. Reliably cacophonous, always chaotic and peppered with pick-scrapes aplenty, I find it most effective to approach new releases in the genre with criteria of how memorable the full listen really is. While Profane Order certainly don’t give a fuck what you think, their second full-length is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

One Nightmare Unto Another is set for release for tomorrow, January 27th. The aptly titled sophomore album ushers in an entirely new nightmare featuring the Montreal duo’s most uncompromising work yet, full of spastic nuances you’re not going to hear on “just another war metal record.” Illusory and Olcadóir whet their blades on the old school death metal edge they really cut their teeth on in 2019’s well-received Slave Morality. Their first full-length was a bit of a shift from the straight-ahead bestial assault on the preceding EP but called back the grinding crust punk structures of their 2016 demo. (Seriously, it’s worth visiting every nightmare the band has cooked up). Material this ruthless often works best in small but heavy hits; even Slayer’s immortal Reign in Blood clocks in just shy of twenty-nine minutes. Profane Order tap into the same dark ancient magick, opening the throttle on a twenty-five minute wholly satisfying hellride. Continue reading »

Oct 082019


The channeling of fury and violence, boiling over into chaos, has been a strain of extreme metal for decades, reaching its apotheosis in sectors that combine “the cold and malefic grimness of black metal with the most bludgeoning strains of death metal and the blind terror of grindcore” (to quote from the press materials for the debut album that’s the source of the following premiere). At its most unhinged, these black/death abominations of sound become such willfully abrasive, brutally distorted assaults on the senses that sometimes they seem to have no objective other than winning an arms race for who can abuse listeners most sadistically.

Well, one person’s poison is another person’s meat. The musical rendition of large-scale violence, whether spawned by imaginings of biblical apocalypse or nuclear holocaust, or the mutilations of more conventional weaponry, can be thrilling. Whether it comes from the cathartic exorcism of our own violent impulses or the fight-or-flight adrenaline kick that comes from being in a war zone, even if your own life isn’t at risk, the excitement can be undeniable, despite (or because of) all the storming ugliness.

But when a band are capable of producing apocalyptic levels of violence AND doing that with actual riffs AND with melodies you can actually detect and remember (in a genre where “melody” is a dirty word), that makes them stand out. And that brings us to Montréal’s Profane Order. Continue reading »

Aug 072017


You might have noticed that I didn’t post a SHADES OF BLACK article yesterday — or anything else, for that matter. I was in Wyoming with my spouse from Thursday through Saturday attending a wedding, and spent Sunday getting home. On the airplane rides there and back I plowed through the NCS in-box and did some other web surfing. Found a ton of new stuff I wanted to listen to, and managed to find a couple of hours here and there over the weekend when I did do some listening, just enough to find the selections I’ve collected here, though not enough time to write anything.

The music below is a mix of full new releases and advance tracks from forthcoming albums… and I’ve included one song stream that isn’t black metal… or maybe even metal at all… except in its spirit. But I’m beginning with a news item hot off the presses.


In early July I gleefully reported the news that Jens Bogren had finished mixing and mastering the new 14th studio album by Enslaved, an album that Grutle Kjellson described as “a little re-boot, a fresh start so to speak”. Today the album art (above, hand-painted by the Norwegian artist Truls Espedal) was unveiled, and we received more details about the album, which I’ll quote here from the press release: Continue reading »