Jun 092023


(We present here an interview by our Norway-based contributor Karina Noctum of Steffen Kummerer, a member of Obscura and leader of the German band Thulcandra, whose newest album was released last month by Napalm Records.)

Thulcandra have released one of the best and most beautiful melodic black metal albums this year so far. Hail the Abyss is a display of excellent musicianship and top-notch composition that pays attention to the details. The sound is a tribute to Scandinavian melodic and symphonic black metal while at the same exploring other tempos and structures that make it even more interesting.

In this interview Steffen Kummerer not only talks about his new release, but also gives us some Obscura updates. Continue reading »

Feb 152023

I’m very happy about all the music in this mid-week roundup. I’m also very happy about the way it all lines up.

A big part of the fun of doing these collections is not just finding new songs and videos that I think are worth recommending, but also choosing the ones that either flow together well or instead ricochet off each other in unexpected ways. There’s a little bit of both strategies in what I chose for today, but mainly this roundup is designed to quickly elevate your adrenaline and then keep it surging. Lots of good cover art today as well.


I searched out the first time we wrote about Thuldandra at this site. It was in June 2010, when NCS was barely seven months old. The occasion was an extensive review of the band’s 2010 debut album Fallen Angel’s Dominion, in which I included an extensive discussion of the band’s back-story, with notes about the C.S. Lewis space trilogy that was the source of their name. It was evident even then that they held the potential of becoming the truest heirs of Dissection. Continue reading »

Dec 182021

photo credit: Jelena Jakovljevic Photography


We had a very good week here at NCS, with a sharp increase in visitors largely driven by Andy Synn‘s five-part of year-end lists. It has warmed our cold dead hearts to see the positive responses and the gratitude expressed to him for the ton of work he devoted to developing those lists. Maybe we would be better off just stopping there rather than risk drowning our visitors in more lists (or rather, those visitors who weren’t already drowned during the week that just ended), but we have a lot more to share in the next couple of weeks.

Next week we’ll have DGR‘s lists, plus lists from Neill Jameson, Wil Cifer, Professor D. Grover the XIIIth, and Seb Painchaud (of Tumbleweed Dealer), and I’m expecting to receive even more lists from other NCS writers and old friends which we’ll publish before the year expires. And let’s not forget that our big collection of year-end reader lists continues to grow (you can see those, and contribute to them, in the comments to this post).

Meanwhile, I’m beginning to figure out what will go into this year’s list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs, and of course I’m continuing to make a (largely unsuccessful) effort to keep abreast of new songs and videos — which continue to emerge every day despite the rapid approach of the holiday season and the expiration of 2021. Which brings me to today’s gigantic collection….


I’m probably the last metalhead on Earth to check out the new Napalm Death single, “Narcissus“. I knew it was out there, but kept forgetting to hit it. It’s on a forthcoming ND EP named Resentment Is Always Seismic – A Final Throw Of Throes, which includes previously unreleased material and cover songs. Barney Greenway described the new song thusly: Continue reading »

Oct 062021

Picking up here with the second Part of the big alphabetized roundup of new songs and videos I assembled for this hump-day…. If you haven’t yet checked out what was in Part 1, I hope you’ll do that when time allows, because there’s great stuff there too. You’ll find it through THIS LINK.


Even though Genocide Pact‘s new album is their third one, they’ve self-titled it anyway. Unless I overlooked something, the first song I’ve chosen to lead off Part 2 of this round-up is the first one to be revealed from the album. Its name is “Perverse Dominion”, and we get to see the band performing it in a video. Continue reading »

Sep 182021


Well, as you can see, despite injuring myself with an excess of alcohol last night I did manage to make it to the end of my alphabet. To do that, I cut away some (but certainly not all) of the black metal I had planned to include (not just here, but in the preceding segment), because I know I will have SHADES OF BLACK tomorrow.


It’s been a long time since we had a new release by this California death metal band. I discovered them by witnessing their fantastic set at the 2016 edition of Famine Fest in Portland, and the year after that they released their second album Remnants…. That same year they participated in a live split recording with Coffins, Skeletal Remains, and Carnation, but there’s been nothing else since then. Finally, we’re going to get a new Rude EP, and a track off of it, which premiered at Grizzly Butts, is the first item in this collection. Continue reading »

Mar 072021


I want to thank those of you who have left comments or sent messages expressing sympathy and support for my current day-job misery. I was also surprised, and admittedly a bit disappointed, that a lot of people checked in on yesterday’s post even though I didn’t have the time to write about any of the music — or even listen to it! So I thought, what the hell, let’s do that again.

This column is usually devoted to black metal, and so I’ve started that way but also diverted from it. But yesterday one of our supporters (rodney) left a comment with some recommendations, and I thought I would include some of those here at the end, because he included some enticing descriptions of the bands and their music. Some of that music would seem to fit SHADES OF BLACK and some might not, which is true of my own choices

I again haven’t listened to any of this. As was true yesterday, I’m gambling, but these all seem like good bets. Continue reading »

Mar 052015


Munich-based Thulcandra have been a favorite of this site since we discussed their origin story and reviewed their debut album Fallen Angel’s Dominion back in 2010 (here). Their third album Ascension Lost was released in late January by Napalm Records, and today we’re proud to bring you the premiere of an official video for the album’s seventh song, “The Second Fall”.

The mid-paced song is both hard-rocking and threaded with an icy melody that proves to be as memorable as it is dramatic. The song is highlighted not only by magnetic riffs and a pulse-pounding rhythm section but also by a beautiful extended guitar solo that stands in stark contrast to the skin-flaying vocals of frontman Steffen Kummerer. Continue reading »

Dec 132014


Happy hangover day, aka Saturday. I myself do not have a hangover, though not for lack of trying to sew the seeds for one last night. I can’t really explain the good fortune, but I’ll take it. Having a relatively clear head this morning, I did a bit of catching up on metal news and song premieres and randomly selected the following items for your entertainment and edification. Most of these items include eye-catching artwork, too.


This first piece of news sure caught me by surprise yesterday. It appears that the organizers of the Maryland Deathfest have decided to franchise their operation. They’ve announced a three-day event named California Deathfest that will take place from October 9-11, 2015, at the Oakland Metro Operahouse in Oakland, California. The show on Friday, October 9, will feature grind, punk, and hardcore bands, and the shows on October 10 and 11 will feature death, black, and doom metal bands.

Unlike MDF, there will only be one stage, in a club setting, though if this first California Deathfest proves to be a success I’m guessing it will grow — and given the stellar line-up for this debut event, it will surely succeed. Continue reading »

Mar 132012

Thulcandra is a German band whose 2010 album Fallen Angels Dominion (reviewed here) was an utterly faithful and beautifully rendered homage to Dissection. The band’s 2011 follow-up, Under A Frozen Sun, was also very good and proved that Thulcandra’s talents exceed even what was achieved on the debut, though it was one of many deserving releases I didn’t find time to write about last year.

Thanks to Thulcandra, I recently discovered a new band called Wraithcult. Its members include two Thulcandra participants, the “evil twins”, Sebastian and Tobias Ludwig (guitarist/vocalist and bassist, respectively). Both Sebastian and Tobias were also active for five years in yet a third band, the now-defunct Helfahrt, and two other former Helfahrt members have joined them to complete the line-up in Wraithcult: guitarist Markus Klüpfel and drummer Andreas Mecker.

Wraithcult have recorded a debut album called Gestalt (with Dark Fortress guitarist V. Santura at the helm). When I wrote the original version of this post, two of the album’s songs were available for streaming, and those were the two that convinced me this band is worth following. In doing a quick check for possible updates to this post, I discovered that the entire album is now available for streaming.

I tried listening to the album stream while working my fucking day job (which has become a fucking day-and-night job), because at the moment that’s the only way I have any chance of listening to music, but it didn’t work out very well. Continue reading »

Jun 012011

(Andy Synn had a full, black (metal) weekend (except for the fact that he missed Enslaved on Sunday). Before jumping the ocean waters to visit Oslo for that Dimmu concert he wrote about yesterday, he spent a night with Abigail Williams, Thulcandra, and Iskald in England, and has kindly provided us with a report. You should know that he started that night, not in the audience, but on stage roaring with his band Bloodguard.)

On Friday the 27th of May, my band and I were lucky enough to open the show for three extremely talented black metal acts. Though the crowd was small, they were all passionate about their love of the genre and equally appreciative of all the bands’ efforts. Each of the three bands demonstrated a different facet of the black metal template, be it the proggy, thrashy approach favoured by Iskald, the streamlined melodicism of Thulcandra‘s Dissection-worship, or the tense, introverted catharsis of Abigail Williams.

Openers Iskald played a short, tight set, delving into material from all three of their albums.”Under The Black Moon” off their latest (phenomenal) album was a sumptuous delight of crunchy guitars and awkward, obscure rhythms, while “A Breath Of Apocalypse” pummelled and grooved with a refreshing directness and power. Throughout their set, thrash-style speeds and an at-times death metal aesthetic wrapped around soaring, crystal clear melodies, intelligent, driving drums and rough, propulsive Immortal/Enslaved-style riffage.

Sharp and icy, the band delivered time and time again, with each song bearing a different and distinct flavour. Songs like “Domesdag” (introduced as “a true Norwegian song”) and “Det Stilner Til Storm” brought a fiery passion to match the cold melancholy of their icy melodies, their moody, progressive diversions and impressive, yet restrained, technicality demonstrating exactly why Iskald deserve to be held amongst the elite of modern-day black metal. In particular, their most recent material demonstrates more growth and ambition than most latter-day members of the black fraternity can muster, unafraid to explore different textures and impressive, forward-thinking structures. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »