Jan 142021


Well, as you may have noticed, I missed two days in a row for the rollout of this list — the first one because I ran out of time before having to turn to my day job and the second one because the Seattle area where I live suffered a ferocious windstorm that killed the power and the internet at my home for what turned out to be 33 hours. So, I have some catching-up to do, and may do that over the coming weekend.

But for today I have three more songs from 2020 that I absolutely loved, and I have again made this particular grouping because of something they share. In this case it’s the use of unusual instrumentation in black metal (and these aren’t the only examples you’ll find in this list before it’s done). And it happens that those instruments are a big part of what makes these tracks so infectious.


Gavranovi (Гавранови) is a Serbian word that seems to mean “ravens”. The band’s frontman is Nefas, who for almost 20 years was the vocalist for the great black metal band The Stone. A second member, Janković, who seems to be the principal instrumentalist, plays the gusle, a traditional horsehair-string instrument that dates back to the 9th century, and their lyrics emulate the form of Serbian medieval epic poetry. There also seem to be three more members, all of whom also perform vocals — Matković (who’s also credited as a guitarist), Sokolović, and Rančić. Continue reading »

Dec 202020


Yesterday I bitched about the compression of my NCS time over the last week, so no more bitching today. Besides, I did have a lot of time to myself yesterday and this morning, enough to finish listening to some things I’d begun earlier, and to make some exciting new discoveries. What you’ll find below is a diverse mix of recently released albums and one new EP, along with a couple of advance tracks from forthcoming records and one twist at the end.

SRD (Slovenia)

Not too long ago my Norwegian friend eitororm e-mailed me with some suggestions for this column, one of which was Ogjna prerok, the sophomore album by the Slovenian black metal band Srd. He wrote: “The album is all over the place, with songs and passages with varying quality. In the middle of the album there’s even an accordion tune, which really doesn’t fit. And despite all this, I find myself returning to listen to the album over again. It has certain elements that really stick to my mind. If you listen to this whole album in its entirety, a part of it may just end up on your list of infections”. Continue reading »