Feb 222016
 

Yliaster Photo 2

 

Welcome to a new edition of Shades of Black. Today I’ve collected five new songs, one new video, and a snippet from the studio for an eagerly anticipated new album. As I sometimes do with these posts, I’ve included some things that aren’t black metal in the strictest sense of the term (or at all).

YLIASTER

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I first learned of Marcel Polit through his starring role in an excellent video for the song “Notion” by Poland’s Vesania that we premiered in December — which you can and should watch HERE. It turns out that Polit is a musician, too, and he has recorded a debut album with Dariusz ‘Daray’ Brzozowski (Vesania, Dimmu Borgir, ex-Vader). The name of this project is Yliaster, and the album is Soliloquy. Continue reading »

Feb 052016
 

NCS Best of 2015 graphic

 

(Year-end lists… you just can’t kill em’. But Andy Synn has made a habit of crowning our annual LISTMANIA series with one final offering — his selection of the last year’s top songs — and this year is no different.)

Did you REALLY think I was done with lists? Are you really that naive? Oh, how foolish are those who are most willing to be.. umm… fooled. Or something.

Yes, it’s no secret I enjoy making lists, and as such have a particular fondness for the end-of-year period here at NCS, not just because it lets me indulge my numero-erotic list-making proclivities in full (and in public, no less) but also because I sincerely enjoy reading and debating all the other lists we publish and reference and, in the process, discovering bands I’d otherwise overlooked.

The hardest list to pull together though is the list of my favourite songs of the year. Not because of any hard-fought pretence of objectivity (there’s none of that here), but because there’s simply so many options to choose from, with my initial list coming in at well over 100 entries, each drawn from albums across the length and breadth of my Great/Good/Disappointing lists of last year.

But, finally… finally… I managed to whittle it down to the ten selections you’re about to encounter.

I’m not suggesting these are the definitive “Best” songs of the year by any means, they’re just ten tracks which have burrowed their way under my skin and into my brain the deepest.

So, without further ado… Continue reading »

Nov 272015
 

Secrets of the Moon-Sun

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Germany’s Secrets of the Moon.)

Change is a funny thing. Particularly in a genre both as Progressive and as Conservative as Metal can be. We so often crave the thrill of the new, whilst clinging to the comfort and security of the familiar. Sometimes simultaneously. And this isn’t just confined to Metal either. It’s something you can see across listeners of all different genres.

I am painting with something of a wide brush there, though, as Metal fans are a diverse lot, when all is said and done. Some of them love to watch bands grow and develop and change. Others prefer them to stay the same (as long as they keep the quality high). Some even prefer bands to practically regress back to what they consider the “Golden Age” of the genre. But I’d conjecture that most of us (at least here at NCS) tend to take things on a band-by-band basis. After all, some bands can get away with hitting that same sweet spot over and over again, when others quickly fall victim to the law of diminishing returns. And, similarly, some bands can change and transform into monsters (in a good way), while others simply grow too big for their boots.

So the important question here is… how do you handle change?… since the issue of whether you’re open, or averse, to change is going to have a big influence on how you receive this album.

Because, make no mistake about it, Sun showcases a wholly different Secrets of the Moon than the one you’re used to. Continue reading »

Nov 192015
 

At the Gates-photo by Ester Segarra
photo by Ester Segarra

Today we have a two-part round-up of (mostly) new music for you. I put together this selection of new things I spotted over the last 24 hours. A bit later today we’ll bring you another compilation, assembled by Grant Skelton. Here we go:

AT THE GATES

“The Night Eternal” is one of my favorite tracks on At the Gates’ latest album At War With Reality. Honestly, it’s probably my favorite track on the album. So I was excited that the band released an official video for the song a couple of days ago, and even more excited when I realized that the video consisted of an animation by Romanian graphic artist and musician Costin Chioreanu. And it truly is a wonderful creation. Costin wrote this about the video: Continue reading »

Oct 222014
 

 

(Our Nottingham-based writer Andy Synn ventured down to London to catch the Venereal Dawn Tour MMXIV and files this report, with video of the performances.) 

From the moment it was announced, there really was no way I was going to miss this show. Two of my absolute favourite bands, Dark Fortress and Secrets of the Moon, along with one of this year’s best discoveries, the ineffable Schammasch, all on the same bill?

Sold.

The fact that it was down in London, at The Underworld (a venue I’ve always loved) was both a blessing a curse, as it pretty much guaranteed a great sound and atmosphere for the night, but also necessitated leaving work early and making a three-hour (give or take) drive through the irritating London traffic.

Still, totally worth it. Continue reading »

Mar 202012
 

(NCS scribe Andy Synn reviews the new album by Germany’s Secrets of the Moon, which was released on March 16 by Prophecy Productions.)

Perfect pitch black majesty. That pretty much sums this album up.

Yet at only seven songs, each of an extensive length and ambitious, demanding structure, Seven Bells is not designed as an album that is easy to listen to. It is a record that demands the listener’s full attention, one which creates and destroys in equal measure, tearing down preconceptions  while conjuring a massive and relentless groove that brooks no argument or resistance. Artful masters of their Machiavellian craft, the group play with the subtleties of light and shade, dominating heaviness and devastating metallic fury matched with a use of disarming melody and seductive beauty.

Theirs is the way of the serpent and the apple, whispered sedition and howling damnation, luring the unwary in with promises of knowledge and power, corrupting and turning them to the dark side without ever blinking a single, serpentine eye. Continue reading »

Feb 242012
 

Black liquid flowing . . . shamanistic imagery . . . a robed figure with a horned headdress roams the forest . . . a band shrouded in smoke, playing in a darkened space, lit from below by a geometry of candlelight . . . the dark liquid flows, and a a horned raptor of the woodland takes shape . . .

Germany’s Secrets of the Moon will be releasing their new album Seven Bells via Prophecy Productions on March 16, and they’ve now uploaded the official video for a song called “Nyx”. It was directed by Fursy Teyssier and François-Marc Baillet at Viva Emptiness Studios, and it’s engrossing to watch.

The song as it appears on the album is about 11 minutes long, and it’s been cut down for the video, but it’s plenty engrossing at half the length anyway. It has a dreamlike quality, combining gothic melody, doom, and black metal to produce an atmosphere that’s both entrancing and sinister. To see the video, go past the jump. Continue reading »

Feb 042012
 

January ended four days ago, so it’s past time for our usual monthly round-up of news about forthcoming albums. I have to confess that this list is even more spotty and sporadically assembled than usual — which is saying something. Various distractions prevented me from keeping a sharp eye out for news about new releases, so I have no doubt this list is incomplete.

Here’s how this round-up usually works: In these METAL IN THE FORGE posts, I collect news blurbs and press releases I’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like at NCS (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, I cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — THIS ISN’T A CUMULATIVE LIST. If we found out about a new forthcoming album earlier than the last 30 days, we probably wrote about it in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier. For example, on this list you won’t see such notable releases as the forthcoming albums from Meshuggah, Enthroned, Unleashed, Psycroptic, Goatwhore, Asphyx, Naglfar, or Autopsy, because we’ve mentioned them elsewhere. Or at least I think we did.

Having said all that, please feel free to leave Comments and tell all of us what I missed when I put this list together. Let us know about albums on the way that  you’re stoked about, even if you don’t see them here! Continue reading »

Jul 072011
 

OK, time to court some (albeit minor) controversy. To compare and contrast with the “Wintermoon Wednesday” piece on post-millennial black metal by Tr00 Nate (unseen at the time of this writing) over at TheNumberOfTheBlog, I’ve decided to list my own picks for the prize.

I’ve left out the obvious choices, so no Satyricon or 1349 – even though the former have transformed themselves post-2000 very successfully, courting both success and controversy in equal measure, while the latter have pushed their hyper-blast style beyond the breaking point, only to discover a new lease on life through their exploration of gnarled, twisted atmospherics.

No Rotting Christ? Or Samael? Nope. I love both of them, but they both had long pre-millennial careers and spent much of the post-2000 stage of their careers exploring less focussed, less black metal sounds — although both have recently released masterful examples of their own focussed and distinctive brands of black metal.

I have left out records which are perhaps less “purely” black metal — records for which a strong case can be put forward that they belong more as “blackened” examples of another genre — so there’s no place for Altar Of Plagues or Withered, both great bands in their own right. No Akercocke either, the sheer weight of their crushing death metal heft disqualifying them for this list.

I have also by choice left out artists/albums I have covered recently. Therefore, no Iskald (though The Sun I Carried Alone IS one of the best black metal albums of the last ten years), or Elite (see HERE for my thoughts) or The Axis Of Perdition (HERE), even though I’d argue that each of them has at least one example under their belt of near perfect post-millennial black metal.

So who have I chosen? Well look upon my choices dear reader, and despair… Continue reading »

Jun 032011
 

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn is back with his third concert review of the week. This is what we call good living — Andy caught three stellar concerts in four days over the long weekend that just passed. We don’t think he wrote these reviews just to make us jealous, but they’ve had that effect anyway. We forgive him because he writes so well that reading is almost like being there.)

Starting an unbelievably short time after doors opened, Krakow had the unenviable task of warming up an underground black metal show on a rainy Monday night in Nottingham. Thankfully, their grooving take on warp-riding post-black metal was a perfect appetiser, their music providing a surprisingly warm and welcoming way to start off the evening’s entertainment.

Similarities could be drawn with Icelandic progsters Solstafir who ply a similarly post-black metal route through the murky waters of genredom. However, where Solstafir evolved into a post-black mutation from their original Viking-era incarnation – whilst maintaining a cold sense of post-millenial dissociation – Krakow began their lives as the direct offspring of post-black metal parents – they were born this way. These mutant spawn of post-black metal Norway have more in common with the rolling, abstract sounds of Isis and Cult Of Luna than they do with Mayhem or Emperor.

Embracing a free-wheeling, psychedelic rock spirit to offset the bleaker tendencies of their musical DNA, the band had a loose, fiery sound and swagger, mixing aggressive metallic tendencies with a stockier, more muscular riff-based sound and a bedrock of grooving, hammering beats. Bassist/vocalist Frode Kilvik possessed a powerful, primal roar equally as capable of expressing animalistic lust as extolling the twin themes of human misanthropy and apocalyptic decline, tempered with a positive, almost antagonistic fatalism. If doomsday is coming, they’re not going out without a party. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »