Jul 292019
 

 

I couldn’t get this post finished in time to occupy its usual place on Sunday. So, as promised yesterday, I’m posting it now to make your Monday more miserable.

I divided this into two parts, which gives me more time to finish it and might also make all the music easier to digest. There IS a lot to digest here — taking these two Parts together, you’ll find five advance tracks and three full albums.

KEYS OF ORTHANC

I missed this Quebec black metal band’s 2018 debut album, Dush agh Golnauk. Their second one, A Battle in the Dark Lands of the Eye…, will be coming out via Naturmacht Productions on August 31st. The cover art alone — a creation by Canadian artist Ted Nasmith called “The Shadow of Sauron” — is so fantastic that checking out the music was an irresistible choice. (Nasmith’s cover art for this band’s debut album — here — is also fantastic, but I must not have seen it.)

Ted Nasmith is a noted illustrator of Tolkein’s works, and Keys of Orthanc have similarly based their work on Tolkein’s tales; Orthanc itself, for example, is the name of Saruman’s black tower in The Lord of the Rings. Naturmacht describes their new album as one that’s “all about the war of man and orc, between light and darkness in the gloomy lands of Mordor”. Continue reading »

Dec 302018
 

 

Here we are, nearing the end of that strange seven-day period that begins with the Christmas holiday and ends with New Year’s Day, when many of us have more lazy free time than usual but also experience something like sensory overload from an onslaught of family, friends, food, drink, commercialized excess everywhere you turn, and the looming dread of a new year beginning with a return to jobs and no more holiday reprieves on the visible horizon. It can be both a joyous time of year and a depressing one, more of the former than the latter if you’re lucky, but with both conditions defined with greater intensity than the plodding progression of a normal week.

Even as odd and disorienting as this annual occurrence usually is, the one we’re in the midst of now has struck me as even more bewildering, even comically so, from my perspective as an obsessive fan of extreme music with a compulsion to share recommendations. On that front at least, things are supposed to slow down, with fewer albums being released (given the likelihood they’ll be overlooked against the background froth of so many other holiday diversions) and something of a pause in the promotional activity around albums slated for release in the new year, including the debut of new songs. And while that has in fact happened to a degree, it’s been a smaller degree than usual, especially in the genres of music that are the focus of this column. Continue reading »

Oct 142018
 

 

Four months ago Fallen Empire Records announced that it would be shutting down, marching blissfully to its demise at some point before the end of this year. For those of us who had greatly respected the musical choices of this Portland, Oregon label and enjoyed so many of its releases over the last seven years of its existence, this was sad news indeed. But Fallen Empire isn’t moving toward self-extinction with a whimper, but in something akin to a blaze of glory.

Based on a Fallen Empire announcement two days ago, I count 6 albums and one EP scheduled for release later this month (plus a Triumvir Foul release by Vrasubatlat that FE will be distributing), another seven releases in November, and six more in December. Most of these will be physical releases made-to-order based on however many copies are pre-ordered. Some will be digital releases by Fallen Empire, with physical editions provided by Amor Fati Productions, and some will also be released on cassette tape.

Along with that announcement, Fallen Empire launched a sampler of music from eight of these forthcoming releases on Bandcamp — the ones that FE will be handling exclusively — and the music is fantastic. Along with those eight song streams, the label also revealed the artwork for all but one of them, and the cover art is also quite good. In fact, let’s start with the artwork, which I’ve annotated with the name of the band whose album it will accompany: Continue reading »

Aug 122017
 

 

Yesterday I launched the first two parts of a week-ending round-up (here and here). As promised (every now and then I do keep a promise), I’m continuing the flood of new music today with Part 3. There’s more to come tomorrow, but the remaining songs I picked out will be packaged in our usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK feature.

Some of what you’ll find below are full album streams, though I’m just sketching out some brief thoughts about them and hoping you’ll be intrigued enough to dive deeper into the releases. Wish I had time for more complete reviews, but in the words of American clergyman Robert Schuller, “Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.”

CAUSTIC

I admit that my current mood (fairly black and pissed off) may have influenced the first three picks in this Saturday collection. It certainly influenced my decision to listen to Caustic’s new two-track single… because it’s named Murder the World. Continue reading »