Oct 302018
 

 

(Despite what the title of this post says, Andy Synn hasn’t managed to review every fine 2018 album and EP we’ve heretofore failed to write about, but he does catch up with more than two dozen of them.)

While lots of blogs/zines are already (or soon will be) switching their focus away from covering new releases and towards consolidating their annual “Best Of…” lists, here on NCS island we’re still doing our very best to bring as many new (and some not so new) albums/artists to your attention as possible.

Of course the truism that “there’s simply too much music out there” remains as painfully accurate as ever, and it pains me to admit that I/we simply can’t cover all the releases we want to, in the depth we want to, no matter how hard we try.

So consider this article a voluntary mea culpa acknowledging our limitations and a (probably futile) attempt to make amends a little bit to all the bands and artists who we may have missed or ignored over the last several months, as well as to shine a light on a couple of upcoming releases you’ll probably want to keep your eyes/ears open for. Continue reading »

Sep 212018
 

 

This has been another banner week for new metal, and fortunately I’ve had enough time to compile one more round-up to follow the one from two days ago. Of course, even the combination of the two doesn’t provide a comprehensive display of everything I’ve been enjoying this week. As usual, the choices I’ve made were impulsive, though I also made the usual effort to include variety in today’s post.

I also hope this late-week collection will make up for the fact that I won’t be writing anything for NCS this weekend because I’ll be traveling on a short vacation. However, we should still have a Waxing Lyrical column from Andy tomorrow, and our ally HGD has stepped up to do Sunday’s Shades of Black feature (I’ve seen his selections, and they’re good ones). I’ll be back in the NCS harness on Monday.

DEIPHAGO

Deiphago describe their music as “Experimental Hyper-speed Satanic Bestial Metal” — and every word of that is true, perhaps never more so than on the track I’ve chosen to begin today’s collection. It simply doesn’t sound like anything else you’re likely to find in the realms of black metal or black/death. It challenges convention, it viciously shoves us out of our musical comfort zones, it’s likely to leave you bewildered and bedazzled (or at least severely unbalanced). Continue reading »

Aug 192018
 

 

This weekend I had the time to double the size of the usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK column. And while I recognize the risks of recommending more music than you’ll have time to check out, I do hope you’ll explore the excellent selections I included in Part 1, as well as what I’ve picked for Part 2. As in the earlier installment, I’ve again included two full recent releases and advance samples of music from two others that are set for release this fall.

ULTHA

I somehow missed the original 2015 release of the debut album (Pain Cleanses Every Doubt) by this enormously talented German band, but rectified the oversight when the album was reissued by Translation Loss in April 2016, helping to spread the word through an interview of the band and a stream of one of the songs from that fine debut. And since then I’ve been following their activities closely, writing about their 2016 EP, Dismal Ruins; their 2016 split with Morast (a tribute to Bathory); their 2017 live recording, Woe Over Roadburn; their 2017 split with Paramnesia; and their 2018 EP Dismal Ruins Pt II. Meanwhile, Andy Synn reviewed their 2016 album Converging Sins.

In other words, as prolific as Ultha have been, we’ve devoted attention to everything they’ve done so far. Why stop now? Continue reading »

Jul 222018
 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Roughly one week ago NCS patron HGD, who has been kind enough to send us recommendations of new music from time to time in the past, prepared a SEEN AND HEARD round-up of new music that we happily presented along with his own introductory comments. And today we’re doing it again, but this time HGD’s recommendations fall within the focus of our Sunday SHADES OF BLACK posts. Once again, the words of introduction are his. We’ll have a second SHADES OF BLACK post a bit later today.

ARCHEMORON

Archemoron (translated as “beginning of death” from Ancient Greek) are a black metal band from Athens, Greece. They formed in 1999 as a thrash/heavy metal band under the name Ancestor before changing their style and eventually their name in 2008. Their third album, Year of the Harvester, was released on June 20 through Bowels of Noise. Continue reading »

Oct 312017
 

 

I posted the first two parts of an extra-large SHADES OF BLACK column on Sunday, intending to post the third part yesterday after first arranging all the music in alphabetical order by band name and then dividing the collection into three segments. I obviously didn’t get the final segment finished — mainly because it contains the most music of all three parts, with four complete albums or EPs in addition to a new video.

Perhaps needless to say, I haven’t written in detail everything I’d like to say about all four of the complete releases, but I hope I’ve written enough to lure you into listening for yourself.

KRALLICE

On Friday of last week, without much advance fanfare and no musical teasers, Krallice released their seventh album, Loüm. It’s available as a digital download now, and orders can also now be placed for CD and LP editions. It includes lead vocals, lead synths, and lead lyrics throughout the album by Dave Edwardson of Neurosis, as well as painted cover art by Carl Auge. Continue reading »

Nov 252016
 

flag-map-of-germany

 

(Andy Synn prepared this trio of reviews for new albums by three German bands.)

Synchronicity can be a strange thing indeed. Case in point, coming hot on the heels of my recent (and surprisingly well-received) column on “Black Metal” here we have a triple-header feature on three bands who all sit somewhere under the big black umbrella, but whose actual adherence to the term “Black Metal” varies pretty drastically.

Not only that, but they all just happen to be German in origin, which means I can collect all three groups under the “Best of German” banner which I first used (here) back in May, and pretend like this whole thing was part of some grand plan of mine, rather than a completely random sequence of events that just happens to have lined up in a way that appears to be thematically significant.

But I’ll take what I can get, because these three albums are all absolutely hervorragend Continue reading »

Oct 182016
 

ultha-bathory-tribute

 

During this past weekend two very good German bands released a split in which each of them covers a song by the almighty Bathory. The bands are Ultha and Morast. The split is available on Bandcmp now and will be released on 7″ vinyl by Vendetta Records (Halo of Flies will have copies for U.S. distro). The songs will also be included in a Bathory Tribute Compilation to be released later this year by CVLT Nation. Here are a few thoughts about the split, plus streams of the songs:

ULTHA

In March of this year I posted (here) an interview of this new German black metal band along with a stream of a song from their debut album Pain Cleanses Every Doubt, which was originally released by a group of European labels last year and then re-released in April 2016 by Translation Loss Records.

And then in August I also reviewed the band’s new EP, Dismal Ruins. Both releases were so very good that I was eager to hear Ultha’s cover song for this new split. Continue reading »

Aug 072016
 

Alcest-Kodama

 

Just as yesterday’s Seen and Heard round-up was much shorter than usual, so too is this Sunday’s edition of Shades of Black. I got back to Seattle last night from that four-day wedding festivity in Vegas I’ve mentioned before, but between the two premieres I’ve posted since then and a backlog of personal stuff to deal with, I haven’t had time to write about everything I wanted to include in this post. I’m hoping to supplement it during the coming week before going off to Migration Fest on Thursday, when our site’s content will probably diminish again.

With so many songs and full releases on my list of Shades to choose from, I picked the following four items to recommend, without much rhyme or reason. The bands are less obscure than usual for these posts, until you get to the end.

ALCEST

I suspect I will always consider Alcest to be a shade of black even if Neige and Winterhalter decide to start playing bluegrass — though that hasn’t happened yet. The fifth Alcest album is named Kodama, which we’re told is the Japanese word for “tree spirit” and also refers to the process of sounds reverberating across mountains, valleys, and forests that’s often attributed to these spirits. Continue reading »

Mar 282016
 

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Last year a group of European labels released the debut album of a German black metal band named Ultha, bearing the title Pain Cleanses Every Doubt. I somehow managed to miss it, even after seeing a comment about Ultha on a post I wrote last August about the final recording of the tremendous German band Planks — a comment which disclosed that PlanksRalph Schmidt was a member of Ultha. That was a stupid error on my part, but thankfully one I’ve had a chance to rectify.

What put Ultha on my radar screen after that previous oversight was the news that the excellent U.S. label Translation Loss will be re-releasing Pain Cleanses Every Doubt on April 29, which I suspect will give Ultha the attention they deserve among North American listeners who might have missed their remarkable debut last year, as I did.

There are some interesting stories behind the origins and music of Ultha, as I learned when I reached out to the band with a series of e-mailed interview questions. One of those interesting stories concerns the reasons why Ultha chose the musical path reflected in this album — because it sounds almost nothing like what you would think of as German black metal (or even, more broadly, traditional Northern European black metal). While many North American black metal bands continue to reach east across the Atlantic for their inspiration, Ultha have gone in the other direction, resisting the stagnation they sense in much of the black metal coming out of their homeland and drawing inspiration from such U.S. innovators as Leviathan, Xasthur, Ash Borer, Fell Voices, Wolves In The Throne Room, and Weakling/Dispirit. Continue reading »