Jan 282018


My NCS time has been constricted by other activities this weekend, so I won’t have time to prepare the usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK column, but to (sort of) make up for that I did decide to focus on black metal in this 15th Part of my Most Infectious Song list. And I also decided to pack five songs into this installment rather than the usual smaller number.

Hope you enjoy these choices, especially because it was so tough for me to pick just one song from each of the albums released by these bands last year. I think they make a pretty damned powerful playlist.


I delivered an impulsive though compact review of Kong Vinter very soon after listening to it for the first time, and proclaimed it one of my favorite albums of 2017. My impression now, two months later, is that it was under-appreciated in the froth of year-end lists, perhaps because it came out so late in the year and was preceded by the release of only one single (“Inntrenger”). Continue reading »

Jul 112017


Yesterday the two-man black metal band Selbst, originally from Venezuela and now based in Chile, released their self-titled debut album through Sun & Moon Records. This follows the band’s striking 2015 EP, An Ominous Landscape, which I briefly reviewed here. The new album is a substantial work, nearly 48 minutes long, and it confirms the considerable promise of the band’s previous shorter releases. More than that, it’s a gleaming ice-blue nova in the midnight vault of 2017 black metal.

Augmented by a spectacularly powerful production, the music is titanically heavy, potent enough to rumble your core, with many of the elaborately textured sounds reverberating as if recorded in a quartzite cavern (because the music shines as well as thunders) — from the spine-rattling drumwork to the penetrating, otherworldly guitar melodies that shimmer, swirl, and soar through blanketing storms of abrasion.

But it’s the kind of album that immaculately marries atmosphere to explosive physicality, and it also achieves a rare, knife-edge balance between the ensnaring repetition of gripping patterns and the head-spinning intricacy of progressive flourishes. The songs are in near-constant motion, in the sense of movement between differing shades of darkness, different tempos, moments of unsettling calm and terrible conflict. Continue reading »

Dec 262015

Satanic statue


I had no Christmas rant this year. Truthfully, I said about all I have to say on the subject five years ago. And if I were even more honest with myself, I’d admit that I’m not quite as big a humbug about the day as that post might suggest. It has its good points, to the extent that it provides an occasion for people who actually do like or love one another to get together and enjoy themselves (and I hope that happened for you).

Now that the day has been interred for another year, it’s time to return to the unearthing of new underground metal. In this collection, and in another one I have planned for tomorrow, I’ve got music to recommend in a blackened vein — not all of it black metal, but all of it pleasingly dark nonetheless.


In July I reviewed a two-song demo by a Spanish death metal band named Altarage, concluding as follows: “This is primitive, poisonous, electrifying music from a band that’s now squarely on my radar screen for the future.” They’ve now made a new appearance on the screen. Continue reading »