Oct 222017


Welcome to Part 2 of this Sunday’s SHADES OF BLACK column, which I divided into two parts because of its considerable length (Part 1 can be found here). In this second installment you’ll find a mix of advance tracks from forthcoming albums as well as full releases.


I’ve already written two posts since August about Summoning’s new album and I didn’t even have any music to share, which I suppose is a sign of how hyped I’ve been about the prospect of something new from these Viennese wizards. I guess the third time is the charm, because now there finally is a song I can share. But first, allow me to excerpt a quote from the press announcement by Napalm Records — who will be releasing the album on January 5, 2018: Continue reading »

Oct 012017


One thing led to another. I knew I wanted to start this SHADES OF BLACK post with the Summoning news, and then as I made my way through my seemingly endless list of new or newly discovered black metal, the thoughts of that band influenced the other choices. I don’t mean to suggest that any of the other four bands in this collection sound quite like Summoning, but they do all create visions in the mind that don’t seem real, invoking either vistas of a distant past or perhaps mythic narratives of a past we wish had existed.

Having gathered these particular songs together, I was left with a bunch of others that didn’t seem to fit the flow I was looking for. And so my aim is to gather those in a second installment. I know it’s dumb of me to forecast something that isn’t finished yet, since Mondays always seem to disrupt my plans (but I never learn)… and for that reason I’m going to try like hell to wrap up Part 2 today.

I found a couple of the items in this collection myself, but for the rest I’m again indebted to my Serbia-based source of underground intelligence, Miloš.


The last album by the Viennese wizards in Summoning was 2013’s Old Mornings Dawn. In early August Summoning updated their profile picture on Facebook with a new image suggestive of new activity, but without comment or explanation. Their Facebook page has only existed since late June, and there have been few posts since then, but one in mid-August included these words: Continue reading »

Aug 082017


This is, obviously, a humongous round-up of things I’ve recently discovered. I’ve organized it in this way:

First up there are two news items that feature imagery and info about eagerly anticipated new releases but no music. Then I’ve got new videos and music streams by (or related to) a quartet of venerable and revered bands, followed by new advance tracks from two younger favorites who are returning with new releases this year. And then I’ll close this out with music from two bands whom I’ve just discovered.


On most days I post a piece of usually dark or surreal artwork on our Facebook page. I keep an archive of what I’ve posted over the years, as a way of trying to avoid repeating myself. In that archive I’ve counted 22 paintings by the Polish artist Mariusz Lewandowski that I’ve posted over the years since I began doing that, which I think is proof of how strongly I like his creations. But as far as I can recall, he has never created artwork for the cover of a metal album… until now. And his cover for the new Bell Witch album will surely stand as one of the best album covers of the year, if not THE best. Continue reading »

Dec 182016



Last Sunday was bereft of a Shades of Black feature, so today I plan to have two. Yes, I’ve obviously forgotten my oft-learned lesson about not announcing future plans when you’re a part-time, half-witted metal blogger who can’t predict the diversions of life. So the truth is, the second part of this post may or may not arrive today. But at least you’ll have two good advance tracks, two excellent full releases, and one wonderful tribute compilation to keep you company in case I go off the rails.


Here’s an excerpt from our man Andy Synn’s review of Wiegedood’s last album,

“The Belgian three-piece, whose name is also the Dutch term for ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’ (way to keep it morbid, guys), possess an enviable knack for pumping out a ferocious torrent of rage and fury, whilst maintaining a keen melodic edge that’s neither weak nor overbearing. That may not sound like much, but it’s a hard balance to get just right, and these guys make it look like child’s play. Pun intended.”

Continue reading »

Apr 032016

Rearview Mirror


Tons of metal bands have mined the works of J.R.R. Tolkien for everything from band names to album and song titles and lyrics. Few have excavated his writing as extensively as Austria’s Summoning, in part because the band have been plying their trade for such a long time. Since their formation in 1993, Summoning have produced seven albums (the last of which was 2013’s Old Mornings Dawn), three EPs, and an assortment of early demos and splits.

Summoning are probably best known for creating an epic, atmospheric, synth-heavy sound that captures the mythic, heroic sagas that have often inspired them and that have been reflected in their lyrics. But the album I’ve chosen for this Sunday’s look back at metal’s past — 1999’s Stronghold — is the first one in which the lyrics were not all derived from Tolkien (according to this source), and it’s often referred to as one that marked a change in the band’s sound, one that even Summoning have described (here) as “much more guitar orientated with more compact keyboard-melodies”. And this further statement about Stronghold appears on the band’s official site: Continue reading »

Feb 152016

Dungeon Synth copy


(Kaptain Carbon returns to NCS with a feature devoted to Dungeon Synth”.  Kaptain Carbon operates Tape Wyrm, a blog dedicated to current and lesser known heavy metal. He also writes Dungeon Synth reviews over at Hollywood Metal as well as moderating Reddit’s r/metal community. We’ve heard that he is also a fantastic dungeon master and has some wonderful EDH decks.)

If you have been following my exploits and research into dungeon synth, this article should come as no surprise. For the past year or so I have taken a swan dive into this genre without any hesitation or thought of the consequences. If you are new to dungeon synth, allow me to give you a proper introduction.

Continue reading »

Feb 132014

Welcome to Part 28 of our list of 2013′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the three songs I’m announcing today, click here.

We’re down to the last two days of this series, with three more today and 300 more tomorrow. Just kidding — but I’ll tell you, it’s awfully hard for me to let go of this series. There are so many great songs I’m going to have to omit if it’s ever going to end. As for today’s three, I’m not sure there’s any theme that would justify this grouping. I have simply found all three to be powerful, and powerfully infectious, and I need to have them on this list before it ends.


It took seven long years for this fabled Austrian band to release a new album, but it finally came in 2013: Old Morning’s Dawn. Though I am most definitely a Tolkein nerd, I’m not a Summoning nerd, having only a passing acquaintance with only shards of the band’s previous discography. Therefore, I am incapable of intelligently debating (as many others have) whether Old Morning’s Dawn stands up to so many years of building expectations. I’m also incapable of debating whether those Summoning worshippers in Utah’s Caladan Brood out-performed their masters on 2013’s Echoes of Battle, because I’ve only heard one song from that album (and I’m mentioning that comparison only because I know some of you are going to bring it up). Continue reading »

Apr 102013

Here’s a round-up of a few of the things I saw and heard in the last 24 hours.


I heard a new song by a London-based band named Hang the Bastard. NCS writer Andy Synn sent me a link to this song. I love this song with a deep and abiding love, not a platonic kind of love but a rough, messy, sweat-and-fluid-drenched, up-against-the-wall kind of love, with clothes ripped off and strewn around the floor and some blood smear left on the paint from all the scratches.

The name of the song is “Sweet Mother”, and Hang the Bastard released it a couple of weeks ago. It has huge, beefy, fuzzed-as-hell riffs coming out of every orifice. It squalls and crushes and lacerates. It maketh my head to bang so vigorously that I’ve been left in a permanent bobble-head condition.

The vocalist sounds like he gargled with gasoline and then ate a lit match before tracking his part; I hope the other guys had the decency to stick a fire extinguisher down his throat when he was done. Continue reading »