Apr 262021
 

 

In Part 1 of this column yesterday I promised that Part 2 would includes streams of five complete released I’ve recently discovered and want to recommend. But being short on time, I’ve had to leave the fifth one for another day. Due to the same time constraints, I’ve included only some very high-level impressions of each of the other four by way of introduction, rather than attempting to write more thorough reviews.

RIIVAUS (Finland)

Riivaus is the solo endeavor of Hoath Daemnator, who under different pseudonyms is also a member of Sacrificium Carmen, Wömit Angel, and Nôidva (among other groups). Flying the Riivaus banner, he released a debut album in 2017 (Lyöden taudein ja kirouksin), which I haven’t heard, and about 10 days ago released a compact second full-length named Hehkumaton. Continue reading »

Dec 092020
 

 

I’ve been closely following the progress of the Indian band Raat since the 2018 release of the projects’s debut EP (Once). The work of a single Delhi-based creator, S.R., who has been in involved in other solo endeavors, including Nightgrave, Raat’s music has displayed persistent connections to black metal, but without being hemmed in by black metal conventions. And so S.R. has also drawn upon other styles, some of which go beyond the bounds of metal altogether, to better channel the emotions that have inspired the sounds.

The animating emotions seem to vacillate between depressiveness and despair, on the one hand, and hope on the other, and the music is capable of being both intensely ravaging and unnerving as well as beautiful. In all of its changing phases, however, the music, as they say, always wears its heart on its sleeve, in ways that feel genuine and often poignant.

Raat’s latest creation is a new album named Raison D’être, which is set for release by the Italian label Flowing Downward on December 12th. It provides a contrast with Raat’s last album, Déraciné. As S.R. has commented, while that album “was quite distinct and warm sounding, the new album is at once decidedly heavier and darker in its atmosphere. In more ways than one, the sound portrays the present day calamity our world is crushed under. Simultaneously, it also maintains moments of rapture and euphoria.” Continue reading »

Aug 092020
 

 

My wife insists that there’s no such thing as “catching up” on sleep, that getting 10 hours of sleep doesn’t really make up for getting 5 hours of sleep the night before. All I know is that today the bags under my eyes look more like satchels than the usual fully packed duffels. But the 10 hours of slumber I got last night produced a late start on this column this morning, and thus a bit of hurrying in both the selections and the writing.

Still, I’m happy with what I chose and hope you will be too. As for the writing, well, it’s of secondary importance after all

0-NUN (Brazil)

The discovery of 0-Nun‘s debut EP The Shamanic Trilogy Part I – Nihility Ascetics proved to be a big bright spot at 2020’s mid-point. As the title suggests, it was the first part of a conceptual work, which 0-Nun describes as follows: “It deals with the notions of inexistence, nothingness, void and all absence of being but in a shamanic way. It is a paradox per se: it portrays what is not from a conscience perspective”. Continue reading »

Jun 142020
 


Gaerea – photo by Catarina Rocha

 

Maybe you know about the “Overflowing Streams” format that we use for especially large collections of new music we want to recommend? The idea is to (regretfully) cut back on words and save the time needed to find, download, and upload cover art, and let the music streams mainly speak for themselves. And that’s the format I’ve resorted to for this week’s Shades of Black column, which is mostly a collection of recently released individual songs from forthcoming records.

GAEREA (Portugal)

The meteoric rise of Gaerea continues. In both its sights and its sounds the new video that begins this collection is extremely powerful. The inner pain they express is mutilating. The music is both crushing and explosive, delirious and despairing, sweeping and scathing. For such intense music, it’s also thoroughly immersive… or perhaps it’s better said that this is an emotional vortex that’s hard to escape. Continue reading »

Sep 222019
 

 

You’re probably asking yourself, since I can’t hear you, “Why will there be a second Part to this when there’s already seven bands in Part 1?!?” A good question, and a better one than you know, since there are also seven bands in Part 2.

I do have a reason for channeling such a flood of music from the black realms in this SOB installment, but I’ll save the explanation for Part 2. Sadly, I also realize the risk that this is just too much for most normal people to focus on. But I’m fortified by the suspicion that you’re not normal. I’m also deferring Part 2 to Monday morning, for extra fortification.

P.S. There’s some great cover artwork coming your way in this collection, in addition to the fine music.

P.P.S. Yes, I do know about the surprise release of Blut Aus Nord‘s new album. I had been waiting to post my review until everyone else got the promo. Now everyone can hear it, but I’ll share my own thoughts anyway — probably tomorrow. Continue reading »

Jun 232019
 

 

There’s no hope of catching up. The flood of new metal is unrelenting; the torrent certainly did not pause for me while I spent a week in Iceland and then much of the next week trying to get the rest of my life back in order while paying homage to the Iceland experience (and honoring a bunch of premiere commitments I had made before leaving the country). Although I can’t listen to everything that surfaced during those two weeks, much less what had accumulated in the weeks before those, I’m going to attempt a two-part post today, in an effort to cover more rather than less of what I managed to find over the last 48 hours.

Today’s blackened selections are a mix of advance tracks from forthcoming albums, a couple of complete short releases, and a few excerpts from recently released (or re-released) full-lengths. For both Parts, I decided to end them with performances that diverge from the general wildness of everything else.

ARS VENEFICIUM / ULVDALIR

On June 21st Immortal Frost Productions released In Death’s Cold Embrace, a new 7″ vinyl split by two bands whose previous music we’ve praised at NCS. The split is also deserving of praise — and your close attention. Continue reading »

Jan 202019
 

 

Well, here we are at the final segment of today’s extensive column devoted to black and blackened metal. If you’re still with me, I applaud your perseverance and endurance. I’m sure the bands would applaud, too, since I’m about to shower three more with praise. And of course I fervently hope that you’ve found some exciting new discoveries along the way.

VANANIDR

I’m now turning to the first of three bands who’ve pleasingly seized my attention in the past. This one is the Swedish group Vananidr, whose 2018 debut album I briefly reviewed in another one of these Sunday columns (here). Vananidr is essentially a solo project of Anders Eriksson (on the album, he was aided by Karl Thunander for the drum performance). On January 11, Vananidr released a new two-track single entitled Bleak and Desolate. Continue reading »

Jan 202019
 

 

I didn’t divide the music in today’s column evenly between the two Parts that I’d originally planned. There was significantly more in the second Part than in the first one, not only because there were two more bands there but also because many of the items were full releases rather than advance tracks from forthcoming records.

I’m using the past tense, because, as you can see, I’ve decided to divide Part 2 into two parts as well, which means there will be a Part 3 of this Sunday’s column. I hope the total magnitude of what I’m spreading before you today won’t deter you from checking out everything, because everything here is well worth the time.

ÆRA

“At speed, the songs embody cold yet chaotic ferocity. In their slower movements, they reach for haunting grandeur and wintry melancholy. Emotionally evocative and immersive music in an icy Norwegian style that’s well-suited by the drifting mists and ancient forests depicted on the cover.” That was my summing up of this pagan black metal duo’s 2017 debut EP, Of Forsaken Vows. It was a very good beginning, and inclined me to pay attention to their new full-length, The Craving Within. Continue reading »

Sep 262018
 

 

This was hard. I spent more than an hour yesterday just going through all the e-mails that had landed in the NCS e-mail septic tank in-box since I left on vacation last Friday and, from what I found there, adding to the endless list of new music and videos I thought might be worth checking out. And then I started going through what I’d added to the list, listening and watching until I had to make myself stop.

I found a great many dramatically different things I thought would be worth sharing, so many that I picked 10 of them for this post. And that’s not counting such things as Revolver’s exclusive song premiere for Devouring Star, the just-released split by Ragana and Thou, Terror’s new track, or the new track by Minsk that premiered at DECIBEL, among others. (You see what I did there?)

We’ve got three premiere features of our own today that I need to finish, so I’ve got to keep my own commentary in this post a bit briefer than usual.

ZEALOTRY

First up is the title track from At the Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds, the new album by the Boston death metal band Zealotry. It will be released on December 7th through Unspeakable Axe Records. Continue reading »

May 132018
 

 

There’s a mountain of black music in today’s column — five full releases, the shortest of which is more than 20 minutes long. Moreover, one of those releases is a single song that itself tops 20 minutes in length. I don’t expect everyone to make their way through all of this; tastes do vary, as does the amount of time people are prepared to set aside for the exploration of new music. Recognizing that, I’ve provided previews of the music (at least as I hear it), and in the case of the releases other than the two that consist of long-form monoliths, I’ve selected specific songs that I think provide a good test for whether you’ll like the rest of what’s there.

PLAGUESTORM

Eternal Throne is the debut EP by a Swedish black metal band (from Malmö) named Plaguestorm. According to the two labels who are releasing it (Helter Skelter and Blood Harvest), it was recorded in 2015 but is only now being released for the first time due to unspecified “hardships and delays”. Their description of the music peaked my interest:

Eternal Throne, they wrote, “features four tracks in 21 minutes, where all possible aspects of black metal is being mixed into one, big gruesome bowl where everything from the classic guitar leads of Mercyful Fate, and the chaotic mayhem of Katharsis has its righteous place”. Continue reading »