Feb 052023

I hope this Sunday is treating you well. Or maybe you’re landing here on Monday… or Tuesday… or (heaven forfend) on Hump Day (what a lot of time those people have been wasting).

My Sunday is off to a slow start, thanks for asking. I had a riot of a Saturday night. Splattered on the couch with the cats, binge-watching a fantastic series I don’t need to name (it was Slow Horses) until way late. So I was late to rise and feeling very groggy. But there’s nothing like plunging into a lake of black and black-adjacent metal (sometimes only barely black-adjacent) to kick-start your heart. Here’s what I surfaced with today: Continue reading »

May 222022

Among the many little tortures that afflict those of us who write for NCS (and no doubt other metal writers, or at least those who don’t work by assignment) is the failure to cover all the releases we really enjoy. Despite our most ardent intentions, we just don’t always follow through. Time is scarce and time is fleeting, and sometimes the impulse to keep moving forward to the next new thing means that we leave something else behind.

You’ll notice that some of us find ways to play catch-up, at least briefly turning our gaze away from the future horizons to recommend records that have been out in the world for a while. Sometimes those are records we overlooked, but sometimes they’re records we meant to write about and for whatever reason failed to do so.

And so I decided to play a bit of catch-up today, focusing on two DIY records released in March (one an album and the other a split) that I meant to write about much earlier. At least in the case of the first record, I took some significant liberties with the usual focus of this Shades of Black column, though I think our usual Sunday visitors will still leave feeling satisfied.


The name of Aerial Ruin‘s latest album forecasts the moods of the music. It moves in the shadows of sorrow, in search of fires or rays of sun that will light the way. It seems to provide encouragement in that quest, but also seems to acknowledge that desire is fragile and that fires will burn as well as provide illumination. Arrows and wings may arc upward, but their arc inevitably will descend. Continue reading »

Apr 052020


I nearly called this SHADES OF BLACK-PART 1, because I have a few albums I want to recommend and briefly review, in addition to the individual tracks and EPs I’ve collected here. I’m going to try to do that, but in looking at other things that are already in the works I’m not sure I can push myself to do it quickly. So we’ll see, but in the meantime I hope you’ll enjoy what follows. I believe that each of these six bands are making their first appearance at NCS.


The Belgian duo Alasthor claim inspiration from such bands as Marduk, Arkhon infaustus, Dissection, Gorgoroth, Funeral Mist, Nargaroth, and Mgla, and for their lyrical themes they draw upon studies and practices of the Left Hand Path. Their newest release, Mahapralaya, is a four-track offering that was revealed on March 24th. Continue reading »