Oct 102022


If you haven’t yet tumbled to the marvelous talents of the Italian one-man band Xanathar, today is a good day to do that. Prior to today Xanathar had released two EPs (Darkmoon and The Towers), both of them emerging last year, but today there’s a third one and it’s an eye-opener too.

What made the two previous EPs such great experiences was Xanathar‘s skill in interweaving classic ’80s doom and epic heavy metal with raw black metal and dungeon synth. It was quite evident from those releases that Xanathar really loves all those divergent stylistic influences. But just because you love a bunch of disparate kinds of music doesn’t mean they’ll work together well if you try to mash ’em up or even stand them side-by-side. Making it work requires a lot more than affection.

Xanathar made it work in those first two outings, so much so that I included a song named “The Test of Fate” on my list of 2021’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. And as you’ll discover through our premiere stream today, it works again on Gold, Black and Crimson. Continue reading »

Jan 192022



You could call this installment of the list a “Shades of Black” segment. Each band plays black metal, but the styles are quite distinct from each other. All three of these songs got stuck in my head the first time I heard them, and I still enjoy re-living the experiences many months later.

The grouping is book-ended by two Polish bands, with an Italian solo project in the middle, and I hope the songs I’ve chosen will induce you to explore the full releases they came from because all three are worth the time.

If you happen to be cruising into this list for the first time, you’ll find the preceding Parts (and an explanation of what this list is all about) through THIS LINK. Continue reading »

Jun 272021


Reporting to you today from the hellish Pacific Northwest heat dome, where the second highest temperature ever recorded in Seattle at any time of the year happened yesterday and new records will be set today and tomorrow, I bring you  Part 2 of today’s expanded column devoted to black-ish metal. I decided to include three new EPs of very different styles, and to bookend them with one advance track from a forthcoming record and one song that opens a recently released album.

ONDFØDT (Finland)

Part 1 of today’s column was entirely devoted to videos, and I thought I’d begin Part 2 with another one. This one is for a song named “Mörkri” from Ondfødt’s new album Norden (their third full-length), which is set for release by Immortal Frost Productions on July 30th.

The heaviness of the bass and the hammering of the drums give the song visceral punch and power, but the mood of the music is severely desolate and distraught, with a haunting feeling of isolation and abandonment that’s matched by the frozen vistas in the video. But the song is a multi-faceted one. A militaristic drum pattern announces a change, with swinging, swaggering, and swirling riffs and scorching blasts of vocal ferocity giving the song a healthy dose of feral, carnal energy — though it becomes cold and cruel before the end. Continue reading »