LISTCRUSH – Part Two: Albums

Wrapping up the two part LISTCRUSH series of the releases that resonated and affected us the most throughout 2017, here’s the top 40 full-length albums. A little late, but last year was absolutely monolithic for Black Metal in general so what was originally going to be a top 20 stretched out to 40, and could have easily continued to 100. As in Part One, every single one of these albums and artists is highly recommended for your full attention. Enjoy.

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~ TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2017 ~

40: KROLOK – ‘Flying Above Ancient Ruins’ (Hexencave Prod.)

A Mortiis-style introduction echoes down cobwebbed halls before bursting into the moonlit sounds of the best era of Scandinavian hell. This Slovakian vampyric horde effortlessly nailed it.

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39: HAUNTING DEPTHS – ‘Death’s Sacred Fire’ (Goatowarex)

No names, no country of origin, no information available for the project at all; just great fucking black metal.

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38: BEZMIR – ‘Void’ (Werewolf Promotion)

One of Ukranian dark ambient maestro Severoth‘s many solo projects, now he channels the violence and terror of the cosmic void. Whenever I needed a quick fix of blistering, uncompromising savagery I always went straight to this beast. 

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37: EVILFEAST – ‘Elegies of the Stellar Wind’ (Eisenwald)

This Polish gem crept silently in right at the death of the year and enchanted me with its ethereal, cold grimness. Magic.

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36: WHOREDOM RIFE – ‘Dommedagskvad’ (Terratur Possessions)

Norwegian Black Metal is alive and well. The fucking riffs in this one should be illegal.

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35: NIGHTBRINGER – ‘Terra Damnata’ (Season Of Mist)

Another go-to album if I needed a fix of viciousness. Majestic, sophisticated, devotional; and not the only entry on this list from these US mystics.

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34: ALMYRKVI – ‘Umbra’ (Ván Records)

My favourite cosmic black/death album of the year, the debut album from these Icelandic wizards was everything I hoped for and more.

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33: THROANE – ‘Plus Une Maine a Mordre’ (Debemur Morti)

A deep, deep album. Nobody creates art like Dehn Sora. Avant-garde madness, a bleeding wound that will not heal.

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32: ENTHEOGEN – ‘Without Veil, Nor Self’ (Fallen Empire Records, Mystískaos)

Alex Poole‘s second entry into these lists. As I said in a previous article, this “will split your mind off into several simultaneous perceptual tangents allowing reality to become both an entirely new proposition and completely inconsequential all at once”. Mental.

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31: HAVUKRUUNU – ‘Kelle Surut Soi’ (Naturmacht Productions)

I was a big fan of the Finns previous effort ‘Havulinnaan’ so when I first heard ‘Kelle Surut Soi’ I was a little disappointed by the differences, as they’d seemingly toned down a large part of what I enjoyed about them. Then I actually opened my ears, and holy shit.

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30: THE CLEARING PATH – ‘Watershed Between Firmament and the Realm of Hyperborea’ (I, Voidhanger Records)

Italian prodigy Gabriele Gramaglia pushing everything into the stratosphere. Black Metal taken to almost incomprehensible new heights. Could have been higher up the list on a different day.

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29: ISRATHOUM – ‘Channeling Death and Devil’ (Altare Productions)

Easily should have landed on more lists. As I wrote once before: “Five years was worth the wait; they’ve created a perilous album with an undeniable power that will bend you to its will. A trek down black metal’s many dark and winding paths; a sinister, ritualistic experience infused with dangerous occultism and coiled savagery, eyeing you with disdain and contempt, knowing it could tear out your throat with a mere flick of its wrist.” Evil.

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28: PERVERTED CEREMONY – ‘Sabbat of Behazaël’ (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Sheer ritualistic abomination; frenzied, fetid and foul. I felt like I needed a shower after every listen. Beautiful.

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27: URN – ‘The Burning’ (Iron Bonehead Productions) 

Utterly blasphemic blackthrash from the Finns. The energy and sheer traditional headbang-ability of this is off the chain.

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26: INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS – ‘The Crowning Quietus’ (I, Voidhanger Records, Invictus Productions)

Black Metal that shreds? Yes. This album fucking rips. Glorious satanic power and might.

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25: BESTIA ARCANA – Holókauston (Dark Descent Records)

The Nightbringer gents pulled off a spectacular coup releasing this and ‘Terra Damnata’ in the same year. An apocalyptic conjuration to rival anything any of them have ever done, including Akhlys. This tore open the earth.

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24: KRALLICE – ‘Go Be Forgotten’ (Hathenter Records)

My favourite thing they’ve done in a minute, by a long shot. The production, the art; the inhuman musical abilities. This is one that will never be forgotten. 

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23: FACELESS ENTITY – ‘In Via ad Nusquam’ (Nebular Carcinoma Records, Altare Productions, The Throat)

Forever mourning the dead and the living. Ominous, obscure atmosphere; I listened to a shitload of raw black this year and this was among the best.

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22: FROZEN GRAVES – ‘Frozen Graves’ (Kuunpalvelus)

Finland showing everyone how it’s done; pure black metal. Probably would have been higher on the list if it’d dropped earlier than November and I’d been able to spend more time with it. 

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21: SVARTSYN – ‘In Death’ (Agonia Records) 

Sweden’s finest annihilate once again. Misanthropic fury that will slice you in half with no mercy.

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20: VOID PRAYER – ‘Stillbirth from the Psychotic Void’ (The Throat, Goatowarex)

This raw, disassociative dysphoria still haunts my dreams.

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19: MORK – ‘Eremittens Dal’ (Peaceville Records)

When these men hit their stride nobody can beat them for capturing the essence of ’90s Norway. It isn’t mere imitation; it’s a channeling of powerful natural spirit continuing in the current age. The carriers of the torch for True Norwegian Black Metal.

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18: VOËMMR – ‘Nox Maledictvs’ (Signal Rex)

Recorded over two nights in an abandoned farmhouse, you can almost feel the spirits of the dead crackling in the air as these Portuguese enigmas coax otherworldly atmospheres from their instruments.

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17: AU-DESSUS – ‘End of Chapter’ (Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions)

The only post black album to make my list this year, this is monumental. Listen to it. Now.

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16: SELBST – ‘Selbst’ (Sun & Moon Records)

The Venezuelans killed it with top notch composition, thunderous sound and one overall devastating album. Very well done.

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15: URARV – ‘Aurum’ (Svart Records)

The man with the best voice in Norwegian Black Metal returns with another outstanding project. Bjorn ‘Aldrahn’ Dencker brings the avant-garde weirdness once again, and it is excellent.

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14: FLEURETY – ‘The White Death’ (Peaceville Records)

Obliterating the notion of genre constraints since the early ’90s, Norwegians Fleurety are back with a stunningly bizzare rabbit hole from which there is zero chance of escape and even less of understanding. “We were always being normal”… 

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13: DSKNT – ‘PhSPHR Entropy’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

A churning maelstrom tearing apart the very physics of reality at a molecular level. I’d been following this release from Swiss enigma ASKNT with extreme interest, then when Sentient Ruin Laboratories picked it up for release I couldn’t have been happier. Terrifying. You need this in your life.

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12: MRTVI – ‘Negative Atonal Dissonance’ (Transcending Obscurity Records)

How many artists are truly experimenting with black metal, or music in general?  For Damjan from mental Serbian/UK project MRTVI it’s gone past the ‘experimental’ stage, he’s now inventing. Full of improvisation and all sorts of sonic abandon, my 2017 list is stacked with avant-garde alchemy but this may just be the most batshit. Anxiety inducing.

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11: TCHORNOBOG – ‘Tchornobog’ (I, Voidhanger Records, Fallen Empire Records)

I watched the hype slowly creep and then explode on this when it was released, and it was completely deserved. Monstrous, disturbing songs that warp your psyche; this isn’t an album you can dip in and out of. Dive in to the horror. 

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10: NORSE – ‘The Divine Light of a New Sun’ (Transcending Obscurity Records)

“A warped, angular beast that lumbers towards you, continuously shape-shifting as body parts and facial features drop off and regrow in a horrifying, gibbering terror. Utterly inhuman.” Many, many more people should have paid attention to this dissonant Australian behemoth of an album. Superb. 

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9: AOSOTH – ‘V: The Inside Scriptures’ (Agonia Records)

Backed up their last in spectacular fashion. I listened to this many, many times; and I still haven’t even received my vinyl yet.

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8: TETRAGRAMMACIDE – ‘Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix’ (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Ultimate punishment. These Indian commandos took the gloves clean off with this release and created an all out assault of sonic war crimes, each frenzied blow landing with lazer precision. The most brutal album on this list, and arguably of the year. 

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7: BLUT AUS NORD – ‘Deus Salutis Meae’ (Debemur Morti Productions) 

Nobody does it like these gentlemen. It may not have been the giant leap forward many were expecting, but they didn’t need to. Still the best in the game. 

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6: ACRIMONIOUS – ‘Eleven Dragons’ (World Terror Committee)

Semjaza is a man who knows his stuff, and this album ticked every single box for me. Perfect black art deserving of the highest praise. Glory to the one who is Eleven. 

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5: CHAOS MOON – ‘Eschaton Mémoire’ (Blood Music)

Alex Poole does it again. This time allowing a more collaborative effort for his main project, the inclusion of Eric Baker on vocals this time around is absolutely inspired. Top shelf USBM, absolutely essential. 

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4: SEVEROTH – ‘Forestpaths’ (Werewolf Promotion)

I listened to this album more times than any other over the course of the year. Ukranian demon Severoth‘s second entry into this list is a spellbinding journey through an immersive, frozen world. Something about this release hits me just right. A masterpiece.

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3: american – ‘Violate and Control’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Fucking savagery. The US black industrial noise terrorist duo crafted something special here; something hideous and usually hidden but now dragged screaming into the light. The only album I purchased on multiple formats, and it’s pleased me to no end that I’ve seen it pop up on a few other year-end lists. Hanging to see what they do next.

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2: BLACK CILICE – ‘Banished From Time’ (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Released in early March and never bettered. The raw black metal album of the year. Incredibly affecting, I was lost in its hypnotic swathes of cavernous howls for what felt like an eternity. Atmosphere like no other.

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1: YELLOW EYES – ‘Immersion Trench Reverie’ (Gilead Media)

This album crept up on me. I had no idea it would be my album of the year until I was compiling this list, when I realised there could be only one release that could, and should, be at the top. At first listen you think it’s cool and the US crew had made some nice improvements building on ‘Sick With Bloom’; but once it starts to get under your skin and the nuances begin to reveal themselves there’s nothing quite like it. The field recordings from Tibet are only the icing on a rich, fascinatingly calm and natural yet grim and unsettling cake. Oustanding. Unique. In a banner year for Black Metal, this was the best.

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Near Misses: Synodic – ‘Infinite Presence In A Violent Universe’, Desolate Shrine – ‘Deliverance from the Godless Void’, Bašmu – ‘VVitchblood’, Orm – ‘Orm’, Theurgia – ‘Transformation’, Fell Ruin ‘To The Concrete Drifts’, Fin – ‘Arrows of a Dying Age’, Enisum – ‘Seasons of Desolation’, Lóstregos – ‘Lendas Baixo o Luar’, Vassafor – ‘Malediction’, Windswept – ‘The Great Cold Steppe’, Dodecahedron – ‘Kwintessens’, Sarkrista – ‘Summoners of the Serpents Wrath’, Woe – ‘Hope Attrition’, Doedsvangr – ‘Satan Ov Suns’, Weregoat – ‘Pestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication’, Acedia Mundi – ‘Speculum Humanae Salvationis’, Malokarpatan – ‘Nordkarpatenland’, Wiegedood – ‘De Doden Hebben Het Goed II’, Falls of Rauros – ‘Vigilance Perennial’, Ofermod – ‘Sol Nox’.

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…And that caps off the 2017 edition of LISTCRUSH. My utmost respect and admiration to all the artists that toiled in the darkness and blessed us with their blackened works last year. Think I missed anything? You’re probably right, send me your favourite shit. I’ll be chewing on a stack of remaining 2017 releases for the next few months anyway. 

Hails 2017; bring on 2018.

-A

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Get in early for next year: Email blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Submissions welcomed.

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