Jan 152020


I’ve fallen behind in the rollout of this list, having failed to post installments on the first two days of this week. Rather than spend time detailing the excuses, I’ll use the time instead to catch up. Instead of posting one installment today, I’ll be posting two of them. That won’t completely make up for the lost two days, but I’ll figure out a way to make up for the other lost day.

Death Metal is the order of the day, at least for this Part 7, with two heavyweight songs that became addictions for me in 2019. (In case you’re new to this list, you can discover the preceding six installments here.)


Last May the Swedish band Mordbrand (whose music I’ve been trumpeting for a lot of years) released a fantastic two-track EP named Döden / Efter Doden. The lyrics of each song were taken from poems by Gustaf Fröding, who died in 1911, and is considered “one of the greatest poets of verse that Sweden has ever produced”. In his own life he struggled with alcoholism and mental illness, and according to the same source just quoted, “His poetry combines formal virtuosity with a sympathy for the ordinary, the neglected and the down-trodden, sometimes written with his own dialect. It is highly musical and lends itself to musical setting….” Continue reading »

Dec 022019


It has been a long seven years since the release of Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum, the debut album by the Ukrainian band Rattenfänger (discussed here). Although Rattenfänger was a new name then, its members were not newcomers, having already made their mark through Drudkh, Blood of Kingu, and Old Silver Key. Rattenfänger had become their alternate vehicle for indulging an affinity for certain flavors of old school death metal.

But the band’s name is much older than the era that produced the early works of Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, and Celtic Frost, whose influences (among others) played a significant role in the music. The name Rattenfänger was taken from the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (Rattenfänger von Hameln), who was hired by the folk of that town to rid themselves of the rats that had overrun it. As we know, he was deceived and cheated of his payment, and exacted a dreadful revenge by luring away Hamelin’s children, never to be seen again.

Rattenfänger connected themselves to the Dark Ages in other ways, by writing their lyrics in Latin, in the style of medieval poets, thinkers, and troubadours/minstrels. And now, seven years on, they’re about to release a new album, which we present to you today in its entirety. Continue reading »

Nov 022019


Hope the weekend is treating you right so far, and will continue to do so. As quasi-promised yesterday (when it comes to NCS, most of my promises are quasi) I managed to find time to hurl a few more newly forged chunks of metallic extremity at your head, and made an effort to have them come in differing shapes, even though they’re all heavy and jagged.


In September I included the first advance track from Rattenfänger’s new album (Geisslerlieder) in another one of these round-ups (here), and now there’s another one out in the world. Continue reading »

Sep 292019



I think I’ve figured out what I want to do with today’s usual SHADES OF BLACK column, but before I get to that I couldn’t resist compiling the following stupendous songs by three monstrously good death metal bands. They just seem to belong together. (And because Saturday night carousing led to a slow start to Sunday morning, it may be tomorrow before you’ll see SOB.)


In the Czech language Sněť seems to mean gangrene, and that’s the name chosen by the quintet from Prague whose debut demo I’ve chosen to begin the slaughtering. It was released as a name-your-price download in April, and I finally learned about it (recently) thanks to a recent recommendation from Rennie (starkweather), who continues to be a reliable source of great discoveries.

There’s not a lot of music on the Sněť demo, just two compact tracks, the first of which is an instrumental, but man, do they make a titanic impact. Continue reading »

Aug 262012

Rattenfänger is a new band from Ukraine, but the band’s four members have already established their kvlt cred: They are also the four members of Drudkh and Old Silver Key (along with Neige from Alcest), and three of them are also members of Blood of Kingu. If those band names don’t mean anything to you, then you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

If you are familiar with those other bands, however, I think you’re going to be surprised by what Rattenfänger sounds like. This isn’t black metal or pagan/folk metal or depressive indie rock. This is voracious death metal, of the death/doom variety, and the one song I’ve heard so far is outstanding.  An album’s worth of material, entitled Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum, will be released by the Norwegian label Dark Essence Records in late October/early November of this year.

The band take their name from the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (in German, Rattenfänger von Hameln). You remember that tale, don’t you? The townspeople hire the rat-catcher to rid their town of rats, but then stiff him on the bill after he succeeds, and he then uses his magical pipe to lure the town’s children away, never to be seen again. According to a press release, “the lyrics for Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum are in Latin and are written in style of the medieval poets, the thinkers and the troubadours/minstrels of old.”

Being the curious sort, I did a bit of poking around and discovered via The Font of All Human Knowledge that Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum was “a celebrated collection of satirical Latin letters which appeared in 1515-1519 in Hagenau, Germany . . . mock[ing] the doctrines and modes of living of the scholastics and monks, mainly by pretending to be letters from fanatic Christian theologians discussing whether all Jewish books should be burned as un-Christian or not.” Pope Leo X was not amused and excommunicated the authors, readers, and disseminators of the Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum  in 1517. Continue reading »