Feb 212023

Photo by Melissa Petisa

(Last Friday 20 Buck Spin released Anthronomicon and Helionomicon, the two new full-length studio offerings from West Coast blackened death metal trio ULTHAR, and today we quickly follow that with Comrade Aleks‘ genuinely fascinating interview of the band’s vocalist/guitarist Shelby Lermo.)

Shame on me! It’s easy to catch my attention if the band communicates with the cosmic horror born from the myths of H. P. Lovecraft. This reference helped me to learn about a few great bands, and Ulthar from the US is one of them now. The trio consists of Shelby Lermo (guitars, vocals), Justin Ennis (drums), and Steve Peacock (bass, vocals). Each of them have a few more bands or projects behind them, but they really put a lot of ideas and energy into Ulthar.

Their first albums Cosmovore (2018) and Providence (2020) demonstrated fanatical devotion to surrealistic and violent blackened death metal. And now 20 Buck Spin have released two new album from Ulthar at once – Anthronomicon and Helionomicon. The band chose not to release them as a double-album, as the two recordings are different entities, and of course you’ll know the reason when you read this interview with Shelby Lermo. Continue reading »

May 102020


I spent hours yesterday trying to catch up on listening to new metal. I now have a giant list of things I’d like to recommend, including enough blackened sounds to fill up a four-part SHADES OF BLACK today. I haven’t figured out how to make that happen, and I don’t know how any normal person would be able to digest all of it even if I could. But I’m going to continue pondering how to deal with my desire to put it all out there. In the meantime, here’s the first installment.

I will say that the “shades of black” in this collection are often very faint shades, with other stylistic ingredients much more prominent than black metal. But I think all this stuff is outstanding, and fits very well together, for reasons you’ll figure out as you listen.


“A wild ride full of twists and turns”. That’s how this Portland band describe Adorned In Wrath, a two-track demo that will be released on May 22nd, which they say will serve “to give a glimpse of our forthcoming sophomore full-length”. The first of those two songs, which is streaming now, is definitely a wild ride — in fact, that’s an understatement Continue reading »

Apr 242020


Here we come to the end of this alphabetized selection of new music from a dozen bands that I began yesterday with Part 1 and Part 2. Of course the flow of new metal didn’t stop after I picked these 12 earlier in the week, so it will soon be time to start over.

Because this is Friday, with three Zoom happy hours on my calendar, it will also soon be time to see how well I learned my lesson from last week, i.e., that if you drink for 7 hours straight on Friday night, Saturday will be a vast wasteland. But while I’m still able to write semi-coherently, let’s finish this round-up:


Resolving Origin” is a single released on April 20 by the band Slaghead from Hampton, Virginia. Per the band, it’s “a song about how to use rabies and car crashes to travel in time and become a God (do not try this at home)”. I’m not sure I would have interpreted the lyrics that way without insight from the band, but regardless, the lyrics are great — and you should go read them at Bandcamp on the way to buying this single (for one U.S. dollar or more) — because it’s well worth having on your hard drive. Continue reading »

Sep 162018


Unlike most of the music I chose for Part 1 of today’s collection, black metal isn’t the dominant ingredient in everything I’ve included in this second Part, though it always plays a role. I’ve segmented these five choices by design, with some connections I hear between the first two, and some different connections between the last two, and some HelCarpathian Black Metal in the middle.


Ulthar‘s 2016 debut demo made quite a vivid impression on me, which I likened to “the musical equivalent of rabid wolves in a feeding frenzy”. Of that demo I further wrote: “The focal core of Ulthar’s music is corrosive, distorted, head-ramming, d-beat crust, but they spread out from there, incorporating bestial death bellows and deranged shrieking along with massive, spine-shattering chugs, violent blackened riff swarms, and melodically dismal and alien slower passages”. Continue reading »

Jul 102016

Make-Pilgrimage of Loathing


Ms. Islander and I were at an outdoor wedding and reception yesterday. It began in the late afternoon and continued late into the night around a fire with an intermittent misting rain. We had a great time, but it has caused a slow start for my Sunday blogging.

I had collected music from eight bands to recommend in this latest Shades of Black post, but because it’s already early afternoon here in the Pacific Northwest I’ve decided to split up the collection into two parts. Otherwise, this post would be appearing even later than it already is; also, eight may be too much music to digest in one sitting anyway. With luck, I’ll get the second half finished in time to post on Monday. Hope you enjoy what’s included here.


I’m going to start and finish this collection with music from two bands I discovered thanks to tips from my friend Miloš. The first of these is a trio of songs from an album entitled Pilgrimage of Loathing by a North Carolina band named Make. The album, which is their third full-length, will be released on July 15 by the Portland (OR) label Accident Prone. Before hearing the music, I was enamored of the cover art by Fritz Silberbaur — and then became enamored of the music, too. Continue reading »