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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Bandcamp Misanthropy – Volume 15: Holiday Edition

As I’ve been slacking off a little with these and in an attempt at keeping with the spirit of the season, here’s the very first holiday edition of Bandcamp Misanthropy: Twenty artists, all name-your-price download so you can bag yourself a load of fresh sounds either free or supporting the artist however you like. Due to the sheer amount of releases I’ve kept my word count to a minimum; I also ran out of time and had plenty more releases to put in than this, so expect another Volume soon. Anyway, here’s the fifteenth and final 2017 installment of Bandcamp Misanthropy for your vulgar delectation. Enjoy. 

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Artist: Chaos Moon

Year: 2017

Kicking off proceedings in the best way possible, USBM masters Chaos Moon have returned with their fourth full length ‘Eschaton Mémoire’ and without any fucking about with unnecessary words: it’s incredible. 

Created by men whose pedigree includes KriegManetherenSkapheMartröđ and more with superbly symbolic cover art by Jef Whitehead of Leviathan, this release is utterly bewitching and the haunting fury of it will affect you for days. The band have this to say about it: 

Eschaton Mémoire is finality: from invocation to ruin. It spans each phase of this death from multiple perspectives and through various planes. Each passage further opens the cosmic wound, weaving other realms into the present; bloodletting the metaphysical plague. The end consummated, may the mists of Niflheim shroud forevermore.”

This really is ultimate quality USBM and the fact that it’s up for name-your-price download simply blows me away. Many thanks to the excellent Blood Music (who will also be stocking the CD and vinyl versions) for that. 

You know way back at the beginning, when you first heard black metal? The magic it had? Well, this release is the physical manifestation of that feeling. Seriously. If you don’t already own it: download this now.

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Artist: Entheogen

Year: 2017

And in a neat segway from Chaos Moon we have another related project, this time Alex Poole handles all vocal intonations/strangulations while fellow Mooner Steve Blackburn is the main songwriter. Both of these men have clearly struck creative gold this year. ‘Without Veil, Nor Self’, the otherworldly debut of US experimentalists Entheogen, 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. 

Bleak, delicate and furious; this exercise in dissonance and metaphysical catastrophe is making a shitload of end-of-year lists for good reason, and for a sneak peak if I ever get around to posting it: it may just be on mine. Pick this up at name-your-price download without hesitation. LP coming next year through Fallen Empire Records and cassette through Mystískaos.

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Artist: LVTHN

Year: 2017

A blazing occult orthodox rite from the Belgian LVTHN. Two tracks, twenty five minutes; a conceptual mini-album about Arachnidia Lilith, the spider goddess of Sitra Ahra. 

Is it good? Yes. This time around they aim to honour the arachnid aspects of The Dark Mother and those aspects come across in the music well. Shifting, sliding guitars skitter in anxiety laden mania as the infernal power rises. “Power from the living, power from the dead” are some of ZD‘s vocal intonations on opening track ‘Arachnidia’ and that proves a sinister omen, as by the end of the vehemently venemous, irresistibly devotional and downright monolithic ‘Akkawbishia’, everyone and everything has been sacrificed for the life and glory of The Queen. 

A strong release that reminds me I need to spend more time with this often overlooked band. Worship through name-your-price download, or pick up physical tools of ritual from Fallen Empire RecordsAmor Fati Productions and Rat King Records – UK. Oh, and the cover art is nice.

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Artist: Jassa

Year: 2017

Fog and stillness; the True God resides in The Abyss, where there is no past and no future.

Toiling away in the darkness, subterranean Russian black death esotericists Jassa continue to produce higher works of such ferocious alchemy they could transmute flesh into black gold. With deranged riffs, skin-searing vocals, tribal flourishes and streaks of creative experimentalism surging throughout their ritual offerings, it may lean more heavily on the ‘death’ part of their descriptor than previous efforts but I’m still slightly taken aback that ‘Incarnation of the Higher Gnosis’ isn’t popping up on at least the deep end of a few end of year lists. It probably would if more people had heard it, who knows. If you haven’t yet, be ashamed and rectify this at once with a name-your-price download below and/or snap up an LP from Fallen Empire Records if there’s any left.

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Artist: Aura Mortis

Year: 2017

Next up, a quick fix of hatred and the voice of Satan himself from Serbian duo Aura Mortis. ‘Proclamation of the Sardonic Flame’ is two stirring tracks devoted to extinguishing all life in the name of the Dark Lord and acting as an audial vessel for His will.

The first paean is composed of an intro and the title song itself (‘Tartarus Rising/Proclamation of the Sardonic Flame’); and whilst it’s more dynamic and the riffs and atmosphere are undoubtedly top notch, in my opinion it’s the b-side ‘In Being Engraved’ that’s an absolute fucking stormer. A fire hit of full blistering orthodoxy, this emanates the glory of Satan in wretched obesiance before lurching into a morbid, mid-tempo outro hymnal filled with awe and rotting reverence.

Good songwriting, savage vocals and the guitars have that satisfying buzz. You can’t go wrong at name-your-price download; tape out through Zły Demiurg with a CD version coming soon. Total death. 

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Artist: Sol Lustitiae

Year: 2017

And lo, we witness the birth of something beautiful. The instrumental raw demo recordings for what is apparently an upcoming full-length, this could easily be left as-is and would still be pretty great. Sol Lustitiae (‘Sun of Righteousness’) hail from Italy and play liturgic black metal; equal parts stunning bleakness, ephemeral dissonance, bright atonal intricacies and brilliant post-scapes. The compositional skill on display here is nothing short of dazzling and it will unquestionably be something truly special once polished up, but for now, immerse yourself in what our forsaken souls can reach of the light shining from ‘Iam, Christe, Sol Lustitiae’. Name-your-price download.

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Artist: Agonie

Year: 2017

Some Canadian black metal done the old way. The duo of Agonie summoned their sophomore slab of death worship way back in January and ‘Culte Funèbre’ sounds exactly how you’d want it to. A sombre soliloqy from the crypt in six parts, this drinks deeply from the veins of masters past and each ode stands alone as a grim piece of dark art. Sepulchral and vampyric atmospheres are conjured with ease, dripping in blood; while special mention must be made of the dual throat attack containing some killer variety from hopeless, agonized howls to demonic low growls. And I’m not usually a fan of ambient closing tracks, but absolutely satanic final ambient piece ‘Funérailles d’un monde’ is a suitably horrifying and theatrical way to close out proceedings, pitch-shifted vocals and all.

It’s up for name-your-price download, as well as their first release. Oh and if you purchased the tape from Solar Asceticists Productions it came with a vial of real bone ash and a handwritten French poem on parchment scroll, which is a lovely touch. Hails.

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Artist: Eskapism

Year: 2017

A neat little pair of new tracks from Ukrainian atmospheric duo Eskapism. The first is single ‘Lost Land’; a masterful and marvellous example of how these men manage to pack so many emotions into one track. From the lush synth intro to the epic finish this track is a dynamic rollercoaster and gold star testament to their songwriting abilities; if you don’t want to press play again immediately after hearing it you may be dead. The only thing that may stop you from flogging that one track on repeat for hours is the B-side: a killer rendition of Swedish act Skogen‘s track ‘Aska’, that captures and may even improve upon the feeling and power of the original well. 

Free download, but it’s a little tricky; you’ll have to pay $3 to grab both tracks together (well worth it, support if you’ve got the coin) or you can download each track separately for free. 

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Artist: Kaffaljidhma

Year: 2017

‘Alphecca of the Northern Crown, Sequestered in an Alcove of Lustrous Spires’ is the evocative title of the single 12 minute expression of raw Dutch anti-cosmic transcendentalism that comprises one man project Kaffaljidhma‘s fourth emission, ‘IV’.

Spectral melodies, drum patterns and howls echo around inside a cavernous wall of sound, although “cavernous” isn’t really the right word. It’s more a space inside a higher plane of existence created by the music itself, drawn from the mind of the enigmatic (AKA: Olibanum) who also brings us Himelvaruwe and other wonders. It’s haunting stuff; one track isn’t nearly enough but luckily he also has another three exemplary Kaffaljidhma releases all up for name-your-price, with a new one coming early 2018. Fingers crossed for an eventual full-length.

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Artist: Hyperborean Skies

Year: 2017

US artist Ben Stire released an exceptional full-length for his solo atmo-black project Hyperborean Skies back in June, and to tide you over until the next album of melodic mastery, he’s dropped a surprising little curio: a cover of ‘Walking In The Air’, originally by Howard Blake and featured in the 1982 short animated film ‘The Snowman’.

Now I unashamedly/unironically love that song so I was extremely interested to see what he’d done to it; and what he has done is completely fucking nailed it whilst totally making it his own. Translating the entire song into blasting black metal would have been almost predictable, instead he works the dynamics of the original composition perfectly and even aces the clean vocals.

If he’s going to cover obscure and unexpected songs this well, part of me hopes his next full-length is a covers album. Superbly done. Name-your-price download.

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Artist: Witch Trail

Year: 2017

Belgian three-piece Witch Trail have cooked up a delicious brew of sludgy post-black post-punk goodness, just for you. On latest EP and 8th release overall ‘Thole‘, they effortlessly genre-hop at will in a breathtaking display of raw talent and somgwriting capability. 

Every track on this is a winner. Riffs with attitude, the vocal attack roared from a place of power. The black metal influence may be buried deep sometimes, but it’s never far away and always ready to pounce back and grab you by the throat at any second. Couple this with a frequently raw, careening punk vibe that threatens to either derail or lash out with kicks to the head and you have one of those tense albums that sounds gloriously dangerous even in the quieter moments. Of which there are many, often tightly wound and seething with barely hidden intent. 

For those feeling a little more adventurous than your standard black, get in here and grab a name-your-price download now; this is some seriously rocking shit. They’ve been through nine levels of hell trying to get vinyl properly pressed so if they ever successfully manage that you’ll be able to pick up some wax too, but in the meantime you can also purchase physical support in the form of a CD through Babylon Doom Cult Records.

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Artist: Macerie

Year: 2017

And now an Italian blackened crust post-hardcore trio that revel in slow-burning yet manic wretchedness. When Macerie‘s two track EP ‘To K***’ gets moving it absolutely crushes your bones to dust; but almost absentmindedly, as though either unaware or uncaring. Bleakness and brutality in equal measure.

Good news and bad news. The good: If you like what you hear, they have another four track release also available at name-your-price, that was also once released on tape through Sentient Ruin Laboratories and may still be available from a few select distros. The bad: I’m not entirely sure they’re still active, so these may be the last releases you hear.

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Artist: Ovnev

Year: 2017

A year after the release of his debut album ‘Cycle of Survival’ which popped up way back in Volume 3, one man USBM wilderness walker West returns with another excellent offering inspired by the harshness and grandeur of the natural world. 

‘Incalescence’ is a solitary and emotional album, but not in a depressive sense. No, West is instead adept at implanting feelings that ebb and flow naturally betwixt a sense of awe, introspection and quiet wonder. An improved production gives new power to the compositions, the layered guitars take on almost elemental force while the frequent acoustic breaks remain an atmospheric highlight. I’ve previously mentioned this already but Ovnev remains very much a project with deep artistic integrity; you’ll be drawn in with ease, totally believing in his vision and feeling it. 

A perfect accompaniment for your own trip into the wild unknown, be it physical or a mental flight of fancy whilst curled up on the couch at home. Grab a name-your-price download or a physical copy from Naturmacht Productions today.

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Artist: Funeral Harvest

Year: 2017

Raw Norwegian Satanic occult death rituals. Interested? You should be. ‘Bunker Ritual Rehearsal’ is the debut demo from the shadowy Funeral Harvest and for an embryonic first effort, it definitely shows a hefty amount of potential. 

Listening to this is like the last thirty years of genre progressions never happened; it’s simply nothing less than raw, live-recorded black metal played with spirit like days of yore. Scandinavian riffs abound (the main one on opener ‘Nihil Sub Sole Novum’ is a sinister scorcher) and they balance out and enhance that approach quite well with an obscure tone that permeates all. The guitars are often in a slightly lower register than you might be expecting, packing more body blows and menace whilst the vocals are ripped straight out of the early ’90s playbook. Then there’s the even rawer fourth track ‘☧’ which takes things to abrasive new heights but remains no less compelling, as all foul ingredients swirl together to create an intoxicating breath of fresh but ancient air from the crypt. 

Pure black metal. Available at name-your-price download, or grab a slice of evil in cassette form from Iron Bonehead Productions.

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Artist: Deadwood Lake

Year: 2017

You may remember UK atmo/melodic fellows Deadwood Lake from the ancient times of Volume 2 when we checked out their debut EP ‘Remembrance’, based on the tragedy of vocalist Bruce Powell losing his brother in an accident. The band itself was formed in tribute to him and it’s a theme they intend to continue; which they have done surprisingly well on first full-length ‘Forest of Whispers’.

Continuing the same theme, no matter how well-meaning and honest, could still easily feel like rehashing the same material. This avoids that by means of being a step up from the EP in just about every aspect and Bruce himself possibly going through a kind of gradual evolution as the days pass. I’m loathe to even imagine what he must still be going through so I don’t want to be presumptuous, but it feels somehow different. Whereas it was mesmerising and heart-wrenching to hear the raw pain on the EP, now it’s still there but seems almost tempered in a way and the songs feel more vital overall. He still speaks of it all from many different angles but I find that this time around it’s when he fights back or gives in to rage that the songs are their strongest. ‘Forest of Whispers’ has some great moments and when he screams “Eye for an eye, life for a life” in ‘Vengeance Will be Mine’, you fucking believe it.

Not that the rest of the album isn’t great. All performances have stepped up a notch and the songwriting taking some bold steps; the first time I had the album playing in the background I had to stop and check it at one point that it hadn’t somehow skipped artists to an old Steven Wilson demo or something, so make of that what you will.

A solid listen and at name-your-price it’s worth your support. I still admire what these gents are doing. 

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Artist: Voidsphere

Year: 2017

I don’t know how the hell I missed posting about ‘To Call / To Speak’ a couple of months ago when I first heard it, so luckily it slots nicely in here. I only even remembered to actually purchase it when I was writing this article which is frankly fucking inexcusable as it’s easily one of the greatest EPs to drop this year. Featuring the same anonymous person(nel) as the excellent Arkhtinn, prepare yourself for a raw 40 minutes of total USBM abyss worship over two expansive, savagely grandiose tracks. 

Opening with ambience that indeed sounds like the maw of the Void beginning to split open in the vacuum of space, before you know it the universe rends apart and the horror begins. The lo-fi cosmic howl hits you; you’re done. There is no escape. This EP has its own hypnotic gravitational pull and will rend you limb from limb once you’re helplessly lost in its violent magnitude.

I could wax lyrical about this one for ages, but just download the thing and let the music speak for itself. Released through the umbrella of Prava Kollektiv with physical copies also available from Fallen Empire Records and Amor Fati Productions.

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Artist: SVRM

Year: 2017

I don’t believe this man has ever released a dud note let alone a bad song, but the unsung master of autumnal atmospheres is back with what may somehow be his strongest material yet.

I first covered Ukrainian solo artist SVRM back in Volume 9 and on his fifth EP he’s still not wasting a single note; push play on any of the three tracks on offer throughout ‘Останнє Сонце’ (‘The Last Sun’) and you’re immediately swathed in gorgeous, perfectly placed layers of spine-chilling melodies, driving percussion and his roaring, impassioned vocals.

Boasting a slightly cleaner sound than previous efforts, everything honestly feels just right. Have you heard a similar kind of thing before? Likely. But (barring the already established masters), seldom done this well. I listened to it ten times in a row when it was released the other night and you should too, this project deserves far more exposure than it gets. Up for name-your-price download with all his other great releases. Support.

~

Artist: Inner Suffering

Year: 2017

This release (which isn’t even his latest) by prolific Ukranian solo artist Inner Suffering was recommended to me by Kimberlee of the now defunct Synodic, who gave an eloquent description of what ‘It’s All The Same In The End’ means to her:

“I’ve listened to this album countless times and it conveys a melancholic emotion that I was able to apply to my life situation which suited my mood perfectly. This is an instrumental album so it’s easy to get lost in the music and interpret it the way you see fit. I love it because of that fact. Most everything from Inner Suffering takes me to a place within myself that is very real.  Perfect ambient depressive black metal.”

Perfect ambient depressive black metal it is. It doesn’t even depress you, just makes you numb. We could delve deeper into technicalities like the interesting dissonance between the 7 string rumble and the etherial melodies, but over-analysing would take away the magic so just grab it and experience it for yourself. Lithium in audio form.

~

Artist: My Purest Heart For You

Year: 2017

Unearthing gems like this is both why I love Bandcamp and why the Bandcamp Misanthropy Volumes began in the first place. On third release ‘Isolation and the Ward of Internal Abuse’, US experimental DSBM Artist My Purest Heart For You effortlessly creates a unique and captivating atmosphere through the oddly perfect duality of gorgeous, choral keys and hyper-raw distorted DSBM that occasionally borders on noise. Melancholy guitar work, throat shredding screams and magical, almost peaceful synth layers; it’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in this release and it may be quite unlike anything you’ve heard before. 

Highly recommended. A beautiful, zen-like flower in the darkness. 

~

Artist: Krampusnacht

Year: 2017

And to wrap things up poorly like your drunk parents pretending to be Santa on Christmas eve, I don’t delve into pure dungeon synth very often on these pages but in the spirit of the season (and because it’s actually pretty great), here’s a name-your-price Christmas dungeon synth covers album.

Fuck Christmas, enjoy the holidays. Hails.

~

Submissions for possible inclusion in future Volumes are welcome.

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