LISTCRUSH 2019: Dex’s Top Full-Length Albums

Okay, so here it is – my list of favoured albums that resonated with me the most over the last twelve months. These are the gems I garnered severe replay value from and that I’ll likely return to many more times in future; the ones that burrowed in deep and sat there, festering away and becoming an irreversible part of me. It may seem like a shitload but I somehow listened to somewhere around 1,200 black metal albums/demos (WORTH MORE THAN YOUR LIFE) over the last twelve months and my original shortlist was around 200 releases long, so cut me some slack here – whittling it down to 66 was hard enough.

It’s a black metal only list and only full-lengths qualify (top EPs/demos list is HERE and splits/collabs list is HERE, if you want more recommendations). Due to the sheer volume of albums I wanted to fit in I’m also being outlandishly pedantic with original release dates and other things this year, so although it’s a fucking outstanding record you won’t see stuff like Musmahhu (digital dropped December 2018 or it would have made it in for sure) or the BEKËTH NEXËHMU – De Fördolda Klangorna re-recording appear (technically first released on tape years ago even though not many heard it). There are also others like the new Mizmor that I really should’ve spent more time with, but I didn’t because I’m an idiot, so they don’t make the list. Anyway, here’s the year that was for me. Hope it was just as good for you, thanks to everyone who read my shit and to every artist either on this list or not for doing what you do with such passion, and keeping this beast known as black metal imbued with eternal life. Hails.

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66. PRIMEVAL WELLPrimeval Well

Ryan described the inspiration behind this to me as (and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this): “Some sort of alchemical urge to meld things that shouldn’t work together into one singular, organic living creation based upon what I feel is common ground between black metal, certain types of old-time music, and certain types of modern jazz”. Some of the melodies are lifted from actual folk tunes too – you really do need to listen to this to get the full, incredible picture.

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65. HAVOHEJTable Of Uncreation

Weird, probably hated by many, but I thought this was a great return for the project and I liked it far more than the last Profanatica. Pure evil.

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64. REVENANT MARQUIS – Polterngeyst

Horrible, abrasive, mind-warping, harrowing, haunting. All apt ways to describe the raw onslaught of Revenant Marquis, the apparent new master of blown-out raw madness that’s as psychologically disturbing as it is suffocating. Will drain your very essence and leave you a hollow shell.

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63. QAYIN REGISDoctrine 

Astonishing occultic debut that effortlessly delivered on all the promises made by their great first EP.

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62. MALHKEBRESatanic Resistance

Visceral and untainted satanic orthodoxy from these French apostles, who only get better with each release.

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61. DAUÞUZMonvmentvm

The miners return with another slab of perfectly executed tremolo glory and fantastic atmosphere.

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60. ASAGRAUMDawn Of Infinite Fire

“A massive album of Satanic glory that does everything right and will reignite any black flame to a blazing inferno”. Read the full review HERE.

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59. FÖRGJORDIlmestykset

“at once rough and almost riotous, yet inflicted with a deep and forlorn melancholia, and the masterful juxtaposition of these elements is a true delight to listen to. Almost every song walks dusted, long forgotten and crumbling hallways like an ancient Count Orlok from Nosferatu whilst in the same breath tears through the forest like a pack of wolves on a wild hunt”. Read the full review HERE.

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58. IFERNACHSkin Stone Blood Bone

In a word: Primal. In another word: Excellent. Three more words: Listen to it.

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57. JUTE GYTE – Birefringence

Are you insane? No? If you’re unfamiliar with Jute Gyte you might be after listening to this album. Microtonal braindance madness, and my favourite thing I’ve heard from him in a minute. Which is saying a lot.

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56 LASTERHet wassen oog

Another strange, beautiful and unique album from a strange, beautiful and unique band. Side note – W. Damiaen‘s other project Nevel also released a stunning album, Leven.

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55. STARLESS DOMAINEOS & ALMA

Yes, I’m putting these in together because they’re both equally astonishing and wonderful companion pieces to each other. Listen to them both, and read my interview with the minds behind these hypnotic forays into deep field black metal HERE.

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54. KVELGEYSTAlkahest 

The Helvetic Underground Committee does it again. These alchemical rites were positively thrilling.

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53. VOËMMR – O ovnh intot adr mordrb

“You may find yourself questioning: is this madness, the deterioration of my mental faculties? Nay – just the subterranean wraiths of Voëmmr infecting our reality with all the malignant malevolence usually hidden on the other side. For O ovnh intot adr mordrb isn’t just an album – it’s a portal to another plane of non-existence.” We were lucky enough to premiere this and speak with the Aldebaran Circle members themselves – read the full thing HERE.

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52. WARMOON LORDBurning Banners Of The Funereal War

This Finnish one man project came out of nowhere for me and surprised me with how often I returned to it. Cold, classic melody – the old-school pretty much perfected.

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51. DARKENED NOCTURN SLAUGHTERCULTMardom

Speaking of old-school perfected; the ever-reliable Onielar and co. returned with another gem. They’ve never released a bad album and Mardom drew from everything they’ve done before, with a few new twists.

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50. KËKHT ARÄKH – Night & Love

Romantic lo-fi black that probably should’ve been higher up this list due to it’s (relative) uniqueness and how damn well the whole thing is put together. Spellbinding, delicate atmosphere and raw emotion. LP is up for pre-order through Livor Mortis as we speak, by the way.

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49. BLACK CILICE – Transfixion Of Spirits

Not quite as good as Banished From Time… but still fucking great.

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48. MINENWERFERAlpenpässe

Opening your album with a 17-minute epic is the ultimate power move. US guys singing in German about Prussian involvement in WWI over gorgeous atmoblack never sounded so damned good.

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47. OBSEQUIAE – The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings

Everyone expected this to be amazing. Spoiler alert: they were correct. Medieval bliss.

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46. MYSTAGOGUEAnd The Darkness Was Cast Out Into Wilderness

Wessel Damiaen of Laster and Maurice De Jong of Gnaw Their Tongues come together to create an album that “whilst not doing anything radically unheard of, still perfectly balances all of its elements into an experience that will subtly dawn on you with increasing power. Like an ecclesiastical revelation sent from on high… and echoed down below.” Plus, it got even better the more I listened to it. Read the full review HERE.

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45. MYLINGARDöda Själar

The final panel of their Döda triptych of albums was just as face-devouring and intense as the last two. Ravenous and fetid. Where do they go from here?

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44. VAAL – Visioen van het verborgen land

Saw the fury toned down a little from previous releases, in favour of a more atmospheric menacing/morose feel – and you know what? It worked a treat. I’ve already liked everything the Dutch hermit has put out prior to this but the thick, ancient vibes conjured through these four lo-fi black tracks and four ambient interludes took the project to an entirely new level.

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43. KALEIKRHeart Of Lead

This progressive, complex and beautifully crushing album expertly blended psychedelia and dissonant death with the innate dazzling textures of Icelandic black metal; and all whilst being fed through a filter of intense emotional weight. Impacted early and had huge staying power. As a bonus, we also interviewed Kjartan HERE.

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42. OCCELENSBRIGG – Glacial Conjuration

Thus, the enigmatic Aldebaran Circle solo entity returned to us with its second full-length blizzard of raw black hypnosis, Glacial Conjuration. This project hasn’t put a foot wrong yet and the magic summoned by its swirling tremolo winds and clattering drums is no less potent here; this shit will bury you under six feet of snow and you’ll be so transfixed you won’t even bat an eyelid.

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41. HOPE DRONEVoid Lustre

Obliterating atmospheric post-black sludge-infused nihilism. Drown in the relentless devastating waves. I fucking love this band and how they’re evolving; 2020 will be the year I finally catch them when they come back down here (I’ve missed them more times than I care to count). This tape found its way to my deck many, many times.

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40. AKROTHEISMLaw Of Seven Deaths

These orthodox esotericists effortlessly outdid their already solid first album with a cosmic monument of modern black metal. Captivating and transcendent.

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39. THE DEATHTRIPDemon Solar Totem

Kvohst is back, Thomas from Mork got involved… I was not expecting new The Deathtrip but I’m far from sad we got it. A worthy successor to the superb Deep Drone Master.

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38. CULT OF EXTINCTIONRitual In The Absolute Absence Of Light

I’ll be honest – a lot of war metal/bestial black death runs the risk of all sounding the same to me. I mean shit, if I want to listen to Blasphemy or Bestial Warlust I’ll just listen to them. The stuff that really makes my pants fit nice is when bands or artists come at it from another angle, injecting their own idiosyncratic weirdness into the equation… which is where Cult Of Extinction come in. Although definitely still taking cues from the legends, the project of prolific German solo artist Void goes one further than those earthly brutalities and sophomore effort Ritual In The Absolute Absence Of Light instead sounds like the world being torn apart by occultic and alien means as all we can do is watch in abject horror. The ferocity on display is far past redlining, the harrowing audio samples only add to the mind-shredding abilities of the carnage vomiting forth from your speakers, the whole thing is almost biblical – just like the Gustave Doré cover art, this is exactly like staring into the Empyrean.

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37. HAGZISSAThey Ride Along

In their unique robes and with manic fervour they reap madness with their newly polished spells; eight shrieking and howling odes to the primal and otherworldly. It’s music that sounds like it’s been whipped to your ears on laughing winds as you stand in ragged cloth at the crossroads at midnight… Hagzissa really do walk a wild path of ancient wickedness; unfettered from the norms of regular existence, dancing on that gossamer-thin line between this earthly realm… and the other.

Came back to this magical and sinister beast many, many times. I had the immense pleasure of premiering it and interviewing founder B. Moser too; check that out HERE.

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36. PHARMAKEIA – Pharmakeia

Everything Prava Kollektiv put out this year was fantastic… and this slab of oppressive, churning violence was the best. Harrowing.

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35. DWARROWDELFOf Dying Lights

Hold up – I want to stress this isn’t a “conflict of interest” type thing. Although later on in the year Tom would end up adding his considerable class to our writing team here at BMD, this stunning album was on lock for a spot in my list regardless. Anyway, this is my personal pick for epic black metal album of the year. I also had the pleasure of premiering this album, check that (and a nice chat with the man himself) out HERE.

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34. HUMAN AGONY – Putrescence Of Calvary

Was my favourite bestial black/death release of the year for a while. “A symphony of cruelty. Pure hatred and destruction of the human race“… check the full review out HERE.

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33. GRAFVITNIRVenenum Scorpionis

“The Swedish occult black metal constellation of Grafvitnir is one of those projects intrinsic to the existence of black metal in general. They sum up the very essence of it, every release surging with the mystical power of forces unseen and calling to things beyond sight and comprehension; a grand maelstrom of hate, worship, violence and hyper-melodic intensity honed to the point where it could slice a hole in the fabric of existence itself.”

A band that has never fallen short of my expectations and this record was no different. I also got to chat with them about it earlier in the year; check that out HERE.

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32. BLUE HUMMINGBIRD ON THE LEFT – Atl Tlachinolli

One of the first albums that caught my attention for the year… possibly even in 2018 because promos came a little early, if I recall correctly. Hype built up over almost a decade to this slab of Aztec / Black Twilight Circle war, and it was worth the wait.

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31. TEITANBLOODThe Baneful Choir

Slightly more accessible than their recent work and not quiiiiite up to Seven Chalices level, this typically dissonant monstrosity of nightmare-fuel still hit the spot for me. Could listen to the title track all day, which is probably an odd one to pick out of the bunch, but hey.

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30. DRASTUS – La Croix De Sang

Surprisingly this turned out to be a fairly divisive release between those that loved it and those who didn’t understand the hype at all. One guess which camp I’m firmly in.

“A divine conflagration crawling from the primordial core of life, reaching to devour all, and bring only ash” …read the full review HERE.

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29. WAGNER ÖDEGÅRD – Om undergång och de tretton järtekn

Released a pair of great eponymous albums this year but this one he let really rip with the punk influences, so it is therefore superior and takes the chocolates in my books.

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28. IMPAVIDAAntipode

Returning after eleven years in the abyss with the aptly named He, Who Walketh The Void on vocals, this album is genuinely unsettling as hell. As I said in the full review (HERE), it “…continues the path set out by the first two releases with impressive ease and a natural evolution into even further realms of unfolding terror and darkness. On sheer feeling alone experiencing this record is akin to sitting through some kind of mind-blowingly expansive psychological/occultic horror film. Complete immersion via repeat listens yields immense reward, but be warned; the terror may shatter your fragile synapses, turn your blood to ice… perhaps even burn you alive.”

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27. BETHLEHEMLebe dich leer

Onielar’s second appearance on this list hit me even harder than the first – her throat-shredding howls are fucking perfect for the DSBM originators’ inventive compositions.

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26. SÜHNOPFERHic Regnant Borbonii Manes

Hyper medieval melodies are king on this glorious monarchial maelstrom. Still blows me away each time I listen to it.

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25. MORKDet Svarte Juv

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: True Norwegian Black Metal will never die as long as Mork are still around to carry the torch with great albums like this.

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24. YELLOW EYESRare Field Ceiling

Immersion Trench Reverie was my 2017 album of the year. This didn’t hit quite the same heights, but is still a near immaculate record.

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23. ANTICHRIST SIEGE MACHINE – Schism Perpetration

This album hits fucking HARD. Riffs ahoy, delivered with punishing force. The track ‘Prime Mover’ alone is insane… I can only applaud.

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22. FUNERAL PRESENCE – Achatius 

I saw this recently described as “taking 10g of dried Hawaiian psilocybin mushrooms in a posessed 16th century convent”, which isn’t too far from the truth. Vital stuff with a pure and irrepressible black metal spark.

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21. VARGRAVReign In Supreme Darkness

“What works? Everything. What doesn’t work? Nothing. With his second Vargrav offering V-KhaoZ has surpassed all comparisons to take the throne and reign in the modern era alongside all the old masters. Reign In Supreme Darkness is no mere copy or homage, no tribute album trading on nostalgia… it is Supreme Majestic Black Metal Art. Bow down.”

I was super pumped on scoring the full-stream premiere of this before it fell through at the eleventh hour – but that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it one bit. Read the full review HERE.

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20. VANUMAgeless Fire

Grandiose, powerful, melodic… this irresistible album stayed with me all year. Still love that cover art, too.

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19. ALTARAGEThe Approaching Roar

This approaching roar consumed all in its path, swarming and devouring, leaving only decimation in its wake. Altarage are unstoppable.

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18. KAMPFAROfidians Manifest

After some health problems, the Norwegians are back with serious intent. The breathtaking Ofidians Manifest is their strongest work in a very long time.

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17. SINMARAHvísl Stjarnanna

Originally, I was lukewarm on this album… now I cannot get enough of it. Þórir Garðarsson and Garðar S. Jónsson seem to unstitch reality with their riffs. Swirling, bewitching, celestial goodness.

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16. SØRGELIGWe, The Oblivious

“Challenging you to confront and accept the pointlessness of it all, this album is emotional warfare. A mandatory listen for those who will understand. Buy or die, it doesn’t matter… just accept the void.”

This ended up a chronically underappreciated album for the year. Read the full review HERE and then listen to the fucking thing, alright?

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15. BARSHASKETHBarshasketh

For their fourth album, the UK demons distilled their potent concoction into arguably its most potent form yet. Black metal as a weapon.

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14. STELLAR DESCENTMoss

I’m sure even the gentlemen that created this incredible moment in art might even be surprised to see it so loftily placed in this list (especially when they released another, more black metal album this year too), but just listen to it and you’ll see why. It still touches me deeply with every mesmerizing spin.

“To fully feel this album, go outside into nature, as far away from anything civilised as you can go, and just sit. Close your eyes, feel the air on your skin and… listen. You’ll sink into an appreciation of the fabric of life, seeing all the threads that make up our existence intertwine together into the intrinsic tapestry that we walk through every day, yet ignore due to the very nature of the world we have created for ourselves. One that we should pay more attention to before it’s too late. This album is a reminder. Don’t miss it.

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13. GOLDEN ASHES – Gold Are The Ashes Of The Restorer

…and the award for most stunningly coherent holistic expression of vision in 2019 goes to: this magnificent creation. Another project from Maurice of Gnaw Their Tongues, everything here ties in with perfect synergy – the album art, album title, track titles, hell even the project name are the very manifestation of the transcendent music found within, and all create something overwhelmingly beautiful.

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12. BORKNAGARTrue North

Was not expecting this album to stick with me as much as it did; I’ve always liked everything the Norwegians have done, but not loved it like this. Soaring, progressive, wondrous stuff – with a few new members and ICS Vortex back on the mic, this was a revitalized, resounding triumph.

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11. QUALM – Tiefe

I don’t know what I expected from this album when I saw the cover art, but it certainly wasn’t the most raw, miasmic, miserable and mood-altering record of the year. The vibe here is nothing short of incredible as hypnotic waves of slow abrasion induce a trancelike, life-leaving state; the way this album feels speaks deeply to my soul. When this shit gets rolling it makes Xasthur seem like the happiest dude on earth. Drowning, portrayed in the harshest of audio forms.

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10. MISÞYRMINGAlgleymi

First listen I quite liked this record, then I went off it a bit. Then one day I chucked it back on and it clicked like never before – it was all I listened to on repeat for days, and has remained in my regular playlist since then. Yeah, it certainly has its flaws, but by taking a totally different approach to their debut the Icelanders have created something stirring and electrifying… and oddly life-affirming. Probably a good one to listen to after Qualm, then.

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9. CULT OF ERINYESÆstivation

Holy FUCK this album is a monster. Came out of nowhere at the end of the year and forced its way almost immediately to the top tier of this list. Hands down the best thing they’ve put their name to; a career defining release. “…a relentless onslaught that blows away anything they’ve put their name to thus far; it’s more intense yet with deeper textures than ever before, far more abrasive, more epic in composition… more transcendent. Every searing note is another scrape against your soul, slowly scouring it away with growing violence until it is left raw and bleeding.” Read the full review HERE.

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8. DAI-ICHI – dai-ichi

This mysterious duo came from nowhere (Japan? Who knows) with the sleeper hit of the year. It was also the first original vinyl put out by one of BMD‘s favourite cassette labels, Fólkvangr Records – so you should buy one and support. ‘Seishi’ is still one of my top tracks of 2k19 – check out our premiere of it HERE.

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7. AKASHACanticles Of The Sepulchral Deity

Charging d-beat mayhem tears strips off of coruscating raw black, sinks its teeth into heavy metal and drags it flailing and bleeding through the dirt. Right from the get-go the guitar tone alone acts as a conduit for fearful mysticism and visions of arcane electrical storms crackling wildly into the night, off kilter riffage careening along as songs sound inches from flying off the rails… and it’s all deliciously drenched in a virulent strain of howling sanguinary misanthropia and the pungent stench of disinterred tombs.” If you somehow haven’t heard this album yet, fix that immediately – even Shatraug of Sargeist rated this as one of the best of the year. Read our interview with sole practitioner Leech HERE.

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6. DEATHSPELL OMEGAThe Furnaces Of Palingenesia

“We will grant you freedom from freedom”. A controversial inclusion? This is, to me, the best thing they’ve done since Paracletus (which is one of my albums of the decade). Hasjarl really is one of the most creative players out there.

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5. DEPARTURE CHANDELIER – Antichrist Rise To Power

Man, had I been looking forward to a full-length from these guys… and oh man did they deliver, adding to what is one of my favourite slowly growing discographies in black metal with a glorious, almost faultless record. Also took the honors of being one of the most memed bands of 2019. Neat.

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4. RINGARË – Under Pale Moon

In the entirety of 2019 I played no tape in my possession more than I did the Forgotten Centuries hand-dub of Under Pale Moon. It became my go-to for late night writing sessions, its haunting midnight atmospheres and otherworldly synth a catalyst for slipping into transcendent mental realms and inspiring creativity. Am I infinitely grateful Alex finally decided to release this after all these years? Yes, I am.

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3. SAMMATHAcross The Rhine Is Only Death

Don’t get me wrong, I love nuance and subtlety in my black metal as much as the next person. I can get down to some soft stuff when the mood takes. However, a massive part of my listening pleasure is also derived from hearing pure, uncompromising, skull-shattering aggression and holy fucking shit did this album utterly nail that brief for me. The gents in Sammath perfected their formula with an album that was the very sound of war; an obliterating beast of balls to the fucking wall hatred, relentless death and frenzied blood-flecked carnage. I can only salute them in awe. It’s probably also the review I enjoyed writing the most last year, read the full thing HERE.

Sammath are the boot on your neck, the gun barrel pointed at your face as you cry and piss yourself in the mud. Across The Rhine Is Only Death is the bullet going through your brain as you choke your last breath.

The ultimate war album. Fucking die.

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2. BLUT AUS NORDHallucinogen

This was my number one for the longest time, switching back and forth with Sammath depending on the day. The Frenchmen mutated their sound even further, adding classic and progressive rock elements… resulting in their best work in years. I love albums that do odd things to your head, and this psychedelic trip into worlds unknown definitely does. Ivan did a great review of this which echoes my own sentiments well, so instead of blathering on further I’ll just say: check that out HERE.

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1. NEDXXX – NEDXXX 

I’m sure at least half of you are reading this saying “what the actual fuck? This album dropped extremely late in the year, I didn’t even like it, how the shit could this poser have it at number one?” Well hold onto your Mayhem undies kids, I shall explain.

As I said way back in the intro, I listen to a relatively large amount of music each year (nowhere near as much as some), and often find myself thinking about that age-old edgelord chestnut – is black metal really dying? I mean, look at most of the stuff that gets praised each year. Look at your own favourite albums. Chances are, at the most basic level many if not all are a slightly rearranged or altered copy of something else that you already liked the previous year. And the year before that. And so on. Not only sonically, but in image, album title, the works. Even in extreme metal, all too often everything is expected, everything is safe – in the age of clicking scores of Bandcamp/YouTube links per day, if it’s not immediately familiar with a sound that people already identify with it’s often discarded in favour of the next thing released thirty seconds later. Not always, but often; that’s just how shit is nowadays. Paradoxically, that’s what largely happened with NEDXXX… and that’s what it seems actively designed to challenge.

If NEDXXX is similar to anything, you could say there are shades of the mighty Abigor within, especially the latter day albums. It’s not too much of a stretch to assume TT is somehow involved – I couldn’t think of too many others who would create this. Whoever it is, they’ve seemingly written the album with the intent to tap into something discussed by a voice in the centre of the album – the DIABOLICAL. As the voice states: “What is the diabolic? The diabolic disrupts. It comes from the Greek words Dia and Boli. Diaboli means to tear apart, rip asunder. Anything therefore that breaks pattern. That destroys unity. That corrupts gestalt. Produces discord. That is the diabolic”.

This album is the diabolic manifested, obtaining “evil” through tearing apart all of the safe, expected and endlessly repeated tropes of what you expect from a black metal album and leaving a truly expressive and creative conduit for unspeakable forces. It doesn’t even have a fucking name. I’ve seen many people saying they tried it once or for a track or two but they couldn’t handle the “mathcore” influence/complexity, or it was just noise, or boring. Where were the same old blasts and tremolo lines, or if it was supposed to be some sort of dissoblack, why wasn’t it a DSO copy? It immediately challenged people’s perception of what they expected to hear, it rebelled and attempted to corrupt expectations. For this is not an easy-lisening album – It’s impossibly complex, for starters. Almost Naked City level batshit. It shreds, blasts, switches on a dime at least twenty times in each track, has bongos, dialogue samples, clean proselytizing and distorted roars, takes an immensely intricate approach to composition. It demands attention, investment… and this investment pays off. Peel back the layers, allow its complex patterns to assimilate with your synaptic pathways and a doorway will open – a doorway only true black art can breach, and which all too few artists are attempting to even reach these days, content to release the same old stuff. A doorway to the true diabolic, one of the core tenets of black metal itself.

So yeah, simply put, for me this is the most creative and (yes, I ACCEPT YOUR WRATH) “black metal” album released this year. I’ve listened to it countless times since release, bought the LP and all. Of course, many people hated it. I wholeheartedly recommend you just try it again for yourself, forget about everything else and listen. Absorb.

Open the doorway. Hails.

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Near Misses:

You should also check out the recent albums by Degredo, Ancestral Shadows, Regnans, Arnaut Pavle, Beorn’s Hall, Penance Stare, Wormwitch, Nocturnal Departure, An Isolated Mind, Mizmor, Sutekh Hexen, Frostveil, Nordjevel, Runespell, Djevel, Earth And Pillars, Sun Worship, Arkona, Haunter, Gardsghastr, Örmagna, Keres, Sores, Marras, Ashen Chalice, Waste Of Space Orchestra, Defacement, Revenant Marquis, Witchbones, Gorgon, Vukari, Aegrus, Consummation, Vessel Of Iniquity, Sadisme, Cthonica, all the Prava Kollektiv stuff, Sarke, Schammasch, Mephorahsh, Vástígr, Bednja, Worsen, Wolok and Mo’ynoq. All of these are also fucking great records, and either just missed out or might have made the list if I’d been able to spend more time with them. Oh, and the new Mayhem was solid enough… but we’ve all heard that.

Best Tribute Album: Lords Of The North – A Tribute To Bathory (Fólkvangr Records)

A labour of love from the Fólkvangr stable with a stunning result. Read my full review HERE. Closely followed by the great Devastators Of The Suns (A Tribute To Katharsis) by Bile Noire.

Biggest Letdown: MGŁAAge Of Excuse

Felt like a largely boring rehash without the spark of previous works, took an entire album to get to the one great song (the last one).

…and that’s it. Listcrush done for another year. Cheers again, maniacs. Hails.

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

LISTCRUSH 2019: Tom O’Dell’s Black Metal & Non-Black Metal Favourites

My LISTCRUSH isn’t a deep reflection on the musical and artistic sophistication of the past year. For me, the most important thing for any new album is how much I want to listen to it again and again. I appreciate and respect the skill and talent behind a musical monument like Funerals from the Astral Sphere, but it’s not the kind of album I’ll come back to time and time again. Therefore, I’m not saying that these are the best black metal/non black metal albums of the year. I’m saying that these are 20 albums that I’ve had a great time with, and I really hope you give them a listen and stick them on repeat for a bit as well. 

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BLACK METAL TOP 10:

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1. SaorForgotten Paths

I joined the Saor hype train really late (read: about a month ago), but you can imagine how I regret that now. From the jaunty chorus of ‘Bròn’ to Neige’s excellent guest feature in ‘Forgotten Paths’, this album is epic from start to finish.

Check out: ‘Bròn’

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2. AsagraumDawn of Infinite Fire

With its perfect blend of driving aggression, haunting melodic leads, and savage vocals, this album really reignited my love for the harsher end of the black metal spectrum.

Check out: ‘Beyond the Black Vortex’

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3. Abigail WilliamsWalk Beyond the Dark

This blew my expectations out of the water. Rather than the cheesy symphonic black metal I thought I’d be letting myself in for, Walk Beyond the Dark explodes and drives with the force of a titanic powerhouse. Seriously hard-hitting black metal.

Check out: ‘Black Waves’

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4. NumenoreanAdore

This is an album that makes you reflect. The emotional breadth on display is stunning, from manic fury to deep, elephantine melancholy. I challenge any metal fan to listen to it and not be moved.

Check out: ‘Portrait of Pieces’

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5. ThormesisThe Sixth

From the first minute, this album storms out of the blocks with hooks aplenty and driving verses, and the interesting integration of subtle blackgaze elements contributes to an altogether unique musical atmosphere.

Check out: ‘Sonnen’

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6. NullLore of a Sleeping Forest

A really late release in the year (in fact kicking out another album I’d already written for this list…), this release shows that a new force of atmospheric black metal is ready to be revealed to the world. The ambience and emotion created within the exceptional runtime is huge, and promises to be an album I’ll be revisiting for a long time to come.

Check out: ‘Echoes of Torment’

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7. Crimson MoonMors Vincit Omnia

In a year overshadowed by drama featuring another band(s?) famous for black metal with traditional choral incorporations, Crimson Moon quietly released an album that outshone anything they(either of them?) have released.

Check out: ‘Altars of Azrael’

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8. Cân Bardd The Last Rain

Whilst not quite the colossal achievement that was Nature Stays Silent, I really enjoyed Cân Bardd’s second effort in as many years, and it’s great to hear them through some pristine production. The chorus on the title track in particular is huge.

Check out: ‘The Last Rain’

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9. VargravReign in Supreme Darkness

I always wished that Emperor had released another In the Nightside Eclipse before going all proggy and well-produced, and now it appears that Vargrav have done that on their behalf. Any points lost for originality are more than made up for in awesomeness – this is an album that takes me back to my earliest days of black metal discovery, and I love it for that.

Check out: ‘In Streams from Great Mysteries’

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10. ByküriusA Heretic Art

A release that deserved way more thunder than it received, A Heretic Art built on traditional melodic black metal elements and elevated them with creativity and imagination… all whilst clearly not taking themselves too seriously.

Check out: ‘Rise, Our Father Lucifer’

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NON-BLACK METAL TOP 10:

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1. BrymirWings of Fire [Symphonic Melodeath]

This landed straight at the top of my list when it dropped in March, and nothing ever threatened to knock it from that pedestal. It’s like if Wintersun incorporated more power metal elements, and it’s magnificent.

Check out: ‘Chasing the Skyline’

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2. ThornbridgeTheatrical Masterpiece [Power Metal]

Traditional power metal, with plenty of thrashy galloping riffs and layered choruses. It’s a formulaic approach, but the charisma and passion showcased throughout never fails to evoke the grandeur required by successful power metal.

Check out: ‘Ember in the Winter Grove’

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3. SingularityPlace of Chains [Symphonic Tech-Death]

This is a rare beast; a tech-death album that knows when to show restraint. Combining that with the masterful integration of symphonic and blackened elements, Place of Chains earns its place as the most memorable tech-death album I’ve heard this year.

Check out: ‘Desmoterion’

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4. InsomniumHeart Like a Grave [Melodeath]

Insomnium are one of my all-time favourite bands, and I was never going to not love this album. It’s potentially my favourite album since Across the Dark, with some excellent clean vocal work alongside the traditional Insomnium elements.

Check out: ‘Pale Morning Star’

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5. OrganectomyExistential Disconnect [Slamming/Brutal Death Metal] 

Relentlessly heavy slam; the addition of occasional black metal elements takes it to a level above the majority of the chuggers out there.

Check out: ‘Where Pantheons Lie II: Conviction’

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6. Shadow of IntentMelancholy [Symphonic Deathcore]

Deathcore has been a naughty word in metal circles for years, but bands like Shadow of Intent are showing that the genre really could be taken seriously again. Vocalist Ben Deurr might be the best in metal at the moment, and the orchestrations and incorporations of influences from black metal to melodeath are masterful.

Check out: ‘Under a Sullen Moon’

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7. AllegaeonApoptosis [Technical Melodeath]

Whilst not quite as colossal as 2016’s Proponent for Sentience, Allegaeon continue to showcase a level of technical brilliance without losing melodic direction.

Check out: ‘Stellar Tidal Disruption’

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8. As I Lay DyingShaped By Fire [Melodic Metalcore]

Metalcore has also made some huge leaps forward in recent years, and As I Lay Dying’s triumphant return is as evident of this as any. The riffs are perfect for the gym, the hooks are massive, and the vocals are devastating.

Check out: ‘Torn Between’

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9. Twilight ForceDawn of the Dragonstar [Symphonic Power Metal]

I was worried when Twilight Force fired their previous vocalist, as I thought he may have been the driving force behind their unique sound. However, with former Rhapsody legend Alessandro Conti at the helm, Twilight Force have delivered another album of classically-tinged power metal, filled to the brim with all the cheese they can muster.

Check out: ‘Dawn of the Dragonstar’

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10. Atlantean KodexThe Course of Empire [Epic Heavy/Doom Metal]

I’m very particular with doom, but Atlantean Kodex really hit the sweet spot with their traditional take on the epic/heavy style. The vocals are layered with delicious harmonies, the riffs are slow and driving, and the Byzantine theme makes my inner history nerd way too excited than is acceptable.

Check out: ‘A Secret Byzantium – Numbered as Sand and the Stars’

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

LISTCRUSH 2019: The Ivan Gossage Edition

Hails to Order Ov The Black Arts, Black Metal Daily, and any readers gracious enough to spend time reading what will follow. 2019 has been a hell of a year for extreme metal, and these are my top 57 picks of the year. There’s a hierarchy here, but only by tier… those that fall within a given tier are generally interchangeable and honestly even the margins of each tier are a little arbitrary to some extent, but this seems like the most feasible way to provide some sort of structure.

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FIRST TIER: ALBUM OF THE YEAR

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DisillusionThe Liberation

I could write a short novel about my experience with Disillusion, but that would be boring for you, too personally revealing for me, and marginally inappropriate for this forum since Disillusion isn’t black metal. Sitting midway between progressive epic death metal (think An Abstract Illusion, Ne Obliviscaris, or Eternal Storm [see below]) and progressive modern rock (i.e. Tool), Disillusion can be squarely described as epic progressive metal. Their 2004 album Back To Times of Splendor is THE album I would choose if I could only choose one album to listen to forevermore (except if I were living in the snow, then it would be The Mantle by Agalloch), and The Liberation is a sequel to Back to Times of Splendor. The music?… you will just have to listen for yourself, don’t expect anything too aggressive, and I’m never surprised when other listeners aren’t nearly as hyped about it because so much of my listening experience is wrapped up in subjective contexts. Just listen to ‘In Waking Hours’ and ‘Wintertide’ (songs 1 & 2) with headphones and no distractions… if it doesn’t resonate with you I get it, but I can’t really adequately express how this album resonates with me, and I’m not going to try. Bottom line, it’s probably my favorite thing that has been released since 2015 except for Schammasch’s Maldoror Chants EP. Favorite tracks: ‘Wintertide’, ‘A Shimmer In The Darkest Sea’ [Tool fans should check that one out], and ‘The Liberation’.

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SECOND TIER (six selections)

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SaorForgotten Paths

This was probably my most anticipated release coming into 2019 except for Schammasch and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Since it was released early in the year, because it is so short, and because my love of the album was reinforced by seeing Saor live at Fire In The Mountains festival, it almost certainly gets the award for most spin time. Three epic Caledonian tracks and a nice filler outro that I nevertheless bother listening to. Did I mention that it is short? Yeah, that’s my only complaint… the album length, as well as more nuanced details like the physical presence of the vinyl (regular sleeve instead of elaborate gatefold with poster like the previous 3 albums) makes me really want to accuse this release of being an EP. That aside, the music is PHENOMENAL. Three tracks make picking top songs pretty pointless, so I’d like to recommend full volume on the track ‘Forgotten Paths’ at 4:20 (do you hear that crazy rubbing sound that the bass starts doing at 4:28-30?! What the IS that?!) and the chorus’ of ‘Brón’. Saor has since signed to Season of Mist, and Andy is already working on the next album. Yes, please.

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MisþyrmingAlgleymi

Unlike Saor and Schammasch, I was completely blindsided by this one. When it went up for preorder I blew it off because there was no preview track. Big mistake, which was almost instantly rectified upon hearing the first minute of the first song. Aggressive, catchy, subtly epic, and with good amount of attention paid to seriously rocking the fuck out… to put it simply, Algleymi has everything that I look for in black metal… not just in timbre, but in attitude as well: “It is our utmost conviction that the artist ought to stand beyond good or evil and that the pursuit of his or her artistic goals should therefore remain untouched by considerations pertaining to critical reception, the sensitivity of a potential audience, or anything that would detract from the full accomplishment of those artistic goals. Taking into creative consideration the very fragile current zeitgeist would render any piece of art absolutely harmless and devoid of worth … let us leave the world of binary thinking for a minute, concentrate solely on the individual of exceptional fabric, and dream aloud.” [D.G., Bardo Methodology interview, 2019]. Full Support. Favorite tracks: I don’t know… fucking… all of them I think.

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AoratosGods Without Name

The prolific output of Naas Alcameth makes it difficult to resist exacting upon Aoratos a bit of comparative analysis against its infernal siblings. What Aoratos projects is a supernatural force which is both external and worldly, and can hence be more easily demarcated from the dread internal psychic nightmare of Akhlys, as well as from the more subterranean hellish inferno of Bestia Arcana. That leaves Nightbringer as Aoratos’ closest relative, but here there are important differences. Lacking the epic keyboards and heightened shrill falsetto guitar lead of Nightbringer and bringing instead a nuanced industrial edge, Aoratos forgoes the immense, sprawling apocalypse of Nightbringer and instead emotes a monstrous haunting; more local, more rural, and more terrestrial. The power of this album is absolutely annihilating. Recommended: ‘Gods Without Name’, ‘Thresher’, ‘Watcher on the Threshold’. See full review HERE.

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SchammaschHearts Of No Light

One of my two most anticipated albums of the year, Schammasch (unlike Fleshgod Apocalypse) did not disappoint. Overall, both lyrically and musically, Hearts Of No Light exudes something that is darker, more negative, and more personal than previous albums. Lacking the usual concrete motif, Hearts Of No Light instead consists of multiple tenebrous approaches to a wider and more varied array of areas deep within, where shadowy undercurrents hold sway, where rays of light are glimpsed, and where outward cohesion begins to dissolve. In this way, Hearts Of No Light signifies a progression not only in terms of wider musical variance, but also in the way that the whole is composed… while each track addresses different nebulous aspects of being and tends to individually move from a state of abstraction towards increased emotive cohesion, of the lack of a distinct overarching thesis is itself a statement about the chaos and darkness of inner existential turmoil. Recommended tracks: ‘Ego Sum Omega’, ‘I Burn Within You’, ‘Katabasis’. See full review HERE.

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AsagraumDawn of Infinite Fire

If you are looking for straightforward, no frills, epically aggressive familiar Swedish sound (ala Sworn To The Dark / Lawless Darkness and Vobiscum Satanas / Diabolus Interim) complete with persistently satanic themes, casually blazing riffs, relentlessly tasty ballistic percussion, scorching vocals and that horns-in-the-air ‘let’s burn this fucker to the ground’ insolence, look no further than this musical inferno. Everything about this release positively glows with sincere and authentic classic black metal audacity, and they are doing it WAY THE FUCK BETTER than more established contemporary acts (yes, looking right at you, Watain and Dark Funeral). These ladies are fucking DOMINATING right now and if you like that style and you haven’t been paying attention, please get off your ass, because Dawn of Infinite Fire is downright ruthless. Recommended tracks… fuck, same as Misþyrming, this whole thing is amazing.

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MephorashShem Ha Mephorash

Shem Ha Mephorash is a work of massive ambition, and I have to admit that a significant part of the appeal is not just the music (which is fantastic but pointedly contemplative and ecclesial and not necessarily superior to 1557-Rites of Nullification in my opinion) but the sheer developmental advancement and enormity of the album (clocks in at 74 minutes), the stunning artwork of the physical product, and the overall level of ambition and coherence. The lines between the daemonic and theistic blur here as Mephorash seems to obscure such trivial distinctions, the trumpets of both Heaven and Hell harkening a sacred fire to the spirit, casting the listener simultaneously above as crystalized vapors of ethereal perfection and below to infernal ashes of annihilation. Woe to the profane secular flesh and petty ego, gasping and choking on the smoke from a numinous flame. A modern esoteric black metal masterpiece, Shem Ha Mephorash radiates with transcendence, sacramental power, and a terrible, beautiful white flame of holy judgement. See full review HERE.

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THIRD TIER (ten selections)

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KaleikrHeart of Lead

This one is a bit of an enigma. There’s a LOT going on here that Kaleikr managed to seam together very well. Starting out very close to the beautiful, utra-melodic, atmospheric black metal sensibility of Saor’s Forgotten Paths (ironic because the albums were released at almost the same time), Heart of Lead quickly evolves in a myriad of different directions, like more menacing progressive black metal, technical death metal, progressive death metal, and prog-rock. It even gets a little bit into that claustrophobic and suffocating Icelandic sound with the short title track… but this is minimal and not overdone. A good thing in my personal opinion.

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Musmahhu – Reign of the Odious

A fucking savage blackdeath offering curtesy of Swartadauþuz, mastermind behind Bekëth Nexëhmü, contributor to Gardsghastr (see below), and a surfeit of other extreme projects. This one ranks as perhaps the most violent of all my year-end picks, and might be compared somewhat to Aoratos as an immediate reference. Reign of the Odious is more death metal-oriented, but similar in terms of unremittent pitch-black maelstrom mixed with subtle industrial(ish) elements and an undercurrent of epic cataclysmic ruin. Completely necessary. 

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Eternal StormCome The Tide

I won’t get too into it because it isn’t black metal, but this is a magnificently written, powerful, very melodic opus of beautiful epic artful death metal, which got LOTS of playtime from me. For fans of An Abstract Illusion, Exsickator, and Rivers Of Nihil’s Where Owls Know My Name (but more melodic DM than technical DM). Recommended tracks: ‘Through the Wall of Light Pt. I (The Strand), ‘Through the Wall of Light Pt. II (Immersion)’, ‘The Mountain’.

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WormwoodNattarvet

In 20+ years of listening to extreme metal, there has been only ONE time that an initial listening experience was so profound that I was almost brought to tears from the opening minutes of a song… What is crucial about ‘The Isolationist’ (the last song, track 7)  and in a more general sense Nattarvet as a whole, is the ability to capture a profound paradox: It is a journey both within and also beyond, aptly conjoining the psychological tragedy of isolation with the coldness of natural indifference, and achieving a dissolution of the self through immersion in the solitude that pervades reality as a whole. See full review HERE.

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HathOf Rot and Ruin

Another death metal album. A fantastic one… a near perfect combination of groove, speed, classiness, melodicism, brutality, progressiveness, and technicality, complete with tasteful acoustic interludes and fantastic vocal variation. For fans of Black Crown Initiate before Black Crown Initiate decided to try to sound like Tool. With vocals kind of like Travis Ryan ala Cattle Decapitation, but without those melodic highs. It’s really just badass in every way.

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PanzerfaustThe Suns of Perdition, Chapter 1: War, Horrid War

Monstrous, crushing, war-themed blackdeath with limited tasteful atonality, overpowering vocals, and some doomish sensibilities (mostly in terms of production and an overall sense of progressive desolating inevitability, not in terms of speed)… what can be said about this album that hasn’t been said before and more elaborately? This is one that just demands a listen in order to get it. It’s difficult for me to describe it in a way that makes the album sound unique, but it IS unique, and its short length and promise of subsequent installments makes it easily digestible, leaving one pining for more. I hope we get it in 2020.

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Totaled – Lament

You ever get those moments when you give your chosen listening device a raised eyebrow because of all of the asskickery that is suddenly occurring? Like it was sort of kicking ass in the first place but then it gets taken to the next level and hits that sweet spot when you are just like ‘fuuuuuck’? Well, Lament has a SHITLOAD of those moments. It’s a fusion of black metal and galloping no-damns-given punk/crust/core/grind/violence/something belligerence. On the BM side of things there’s some classic Swedish melody taking place, not unlike old Dissection or mid-era Watain, etc., but there also some much more aggressive, cutthroat Tsjuder-like ripping which really helps bridge the gap between the epic melody and the whateverthefuckitis in such a way that the tracks can vacillate between the disparate styles and sometimes outright mix them together while always sounding entirely seamless. I managed to pounce on the last fancy LP on Bandcamp and the package came with this really cool set of Tarot cards which match the cover art. Definitely highlights this as a top release for me.

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VukariAevum

With only moderate hype, this album turned a lot of heads when it dropped (at least in my social media circles)… and for good reason. Progressive black metal done perfectly: great focus, great balance, great drive, great production. The sound, while not as “warm” as one would find with many post-black offerings, but it is certainly not “cold” either, and the mix embraces the sort of enveloping, balanced, crystalline density that one can find, for example, with Gaerea’s Unsettling Whispers (2018)  or Beltez’s Exiled, Punished, Rejected (2017) … the sort of mix where you can hear everything, nothing is in excess, and it all sounds terrific. There’s nothing here that isn’t downright tasteful, and it fucking rocks on top of it.

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Vortex of EndArdens Fvror

Vortex of End definitely gets my most underappreciated band of the year vote. Despite one previous album already under the belt, captivating album artwork, a surprisingly elaborate physical product (I grabbed a gold LP), and my own best efforts, it never really seemed like Ardens Fvror gained much traction as the triumphant black metal monument that I think it is. Musically, this is undeniably compelling: a slightly death-tinged, powerful, ferocious, yet artistic orthodox BM masterwork with an array of exciting elements and plenty of room to breathe. The vocals are particularly noteworthy… varied, interesting, and effective. What it reminds me the most of is a more muscular evolution of Ascension’s acclaimed Consolamentum album, while simultaneously being much better than anything Ascension itself has put out since. PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS. 

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RorcalMuladona

Based on a novel of the same name by Eric Stener Carlson, and featuring narration of the story by the author, Muladona is the extreme auditory interpretation of a horrific tale of disease and decay, death, violence and stench, grotesque pubescence and entrenched evil. Heavy to the point of devastating, suffocatingly dense, and with a compressed magnitude which is a bit hard to explain, it is no surprise that Metal Archives inadequately describes the band as “Sludge/Doom Metal/Post-Hardcore” but, I’m somewhat curious that the “Blackened” tag is omitted. I’m not sure about older albums, but this one certainly warrants it. Much like the Reverorum Ib Malacht release last year (but sounding nothing like it) my reaction isn’t really “I like this”, but more like “I am in awe of this”.

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FOURTH TIER (fifteen selections)

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Blut Aus NordHallucinogen

Hallucinogen is a prismatic, spiraling, inspired voyage that intentionally waxes towards both the outer realms of cognition as well as towards the far fringes of an eccentric discography which is already so varied and visionary that Blut Aus Nord holds a categorically exclusive, unique, and unmatched status within black metal at large. See full review HERE.

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Drawn Into DescentEndless Endeavour

A melancholic and moving combination of DSBM (which I almost never listen to) and post-black warmth. Much like the Wormwood release, the album is full of quality tracks, but there’s one that really caused me to make the investment, and that was “Wither” (track 2), which a peer shrewdly described as “the ‘Sultans of Swing’ of black metal”… can you hear it? Since I do believe that ‘Sultans of Swing’ is probably one of the best 5 rock songs ever written, let’s just say I was convinced.

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AshbringerAbsolution

Easy Americana-folk infused barelyblackmetal with meandering, woodsy melodies, lightly cascading percussion, straightforward vocals, positive Lennon-esque message, and a very organic, natural, mellow production. Very little distortion or aggression to be found here, this is for times of peace. My only complaint is that the vocals could use some variation, they stick to the Harakiri For The Sky-ish yelling pretty much exclusively. Quite beautiful overall though and probably my most laid-back pick of the year. Great tunes for a wayward northwestern drive amongst the trees, and truly a unique album, musically and visually.

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AkashaCanticles Of The Sepulchral Deity

Malignant, audacious, and relentlessly abrasive, Akasha is a hybrid of venomous, frenzied raw black metal and savage, necksnapping D-beat driven crustpunk. Unlike Totaled, there is zero melody to found in these tracks, only slight variations of speed which ranges from paced predatorial malevolence to frenetic, driving bloodlust, all the while spearheaded by riffs to rip out your throat and vocals to mar your soul. Shockingly, singularly, and utterly vicious.

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ConsummationThe Great Solar Hunter

Pummeling drums drive forward anxious riffing before seamlessly progressing to up-tempo headbanging extravaganza sections. Short but violent guitar solos are dispersed throughout, as downtempo passages featuring ominous chants emerge. Mid-paced groove proves to be one of the more stellar aspects of the album, among many other impressive qualities. Swirling, threatening, almost nauseating guitars atop simple ritualistic beats transition to more doomy, melancholic, and at times quite beautiful measures featuring soaring leads and spoken word. See full review HERE.

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Gardsghastr – Slit Throat Requiem

For me, there’s a lot to not like with about 95% of all modern symphonic black metal. Gardsghastr, essentially a supergroup comprised of Swartadauþuz (Bekëth Nexëhmü, Musmahhu, etc.), Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Entheogen, Skáphe, etc.), the Blackburn brothers (Chaos Moon, Accursed Aeons, Guðveiki, etc.) and relative newcomer voice Glömd avoids all of those pitfalls, hurling forth an album that is at once grandiose and furious. Symphonic elements accentuate the songs instead of trying to carry them, and the tracks blast forward with surprising aggression and brazen scorn, tempting comparisons to more assaultive works within the subgenre like Anorexia Nervosa’s Drudenhaus (but less reliant on orchestration) and Nightbringer’s faster songs.

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AihosHävityksen Maa

Immediately virulent melodies ala MGLA, Dumal, or Uada… helplessly addictive headbanging-in-traffic grooves… beautiful clean acoustic moments… unabashed black and roll qualities of Instinct / Assassins era Nachtmystium… the folk inspired flavors of Nokturnal Mortum… both the classic magnitude of Sworn / Lawless and the more stripped-down galloping orthodoxy of Casus / Trident Watain… fateful march-for-the-horizon-with-your-head-held-high epic ala Catamenia‘s Winternight Tragedies… and all wrapped up in just the right amount of Finnish fuzz. It might not be breaking any huge molds, but this album interweaves multiple facets of straightforward melodic black metal. An instant classic, second in line for most underappreciated album of the year.

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UltarPantheon MMXIX

A critically underrated release from earlier this year. A soaring and complex melodic post-black Lovecraftian opus with a long list of fine attributes, not least of which is an amazing and varied vocal performance and soul-tugging guitar solos. While the music tends towards epic, bombastic scales, the vocals serve to maintain integration with both more traditional black metal currents as well as loop in some post-rock and black-folk elements (specifically similar to the little-known American one-man act Appalachian Winter). I was midway through the third track on the first playthrough when I found myself going for the Buy Record/Vinyl button.

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GrimaWill of the Primordial

Nature-centered and frost bitten, this Siberian black metal places a heavy emphasis on melancholic inflection, an icy subzero vocal delivery, and shitload of damn appropriate accordion. Not to mention other cool stuff like winter bells, blizzards of furious double kick, and whirling guitar riffs, and frigid synth. As a bonus, when Naturmacht Productions opened up preorders they also made the previous album, Tales of the Enchanted Woods available on vinyl for the first time. Thankyouverymuch.

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SühnopferHic Regnant Borbonii Manes

It is difficult to describe what takes place across the vast and furious sonic landscape of this albumThe music embodies austere medieval granite… yet shimmers with golden empyrean aristocracy; the sound is gritty and hard… yet so clearly of the air and the heavens; belligerent and ruthless… but brimming with a passionate hyper-melodicism; a furious bombardment of harmonized antipodes. It is a shockingly flawless display of weightless chaos and choreographed intensity, breathtaking not only for its sheer aesthetic beauty but also because one can scarcely comprehend how such a beautiful maelstrom of orchestrated complexity is possible. Disorientation almost guaranteed unless full attention is given, and even then, it’s a gamble. See full review HERE.

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Remete – Into Endless Night

Steadily driving, foggy melodic black metal, courtesy of D, mastermind behind post-black prototype Woods of Desolation and the rawer(ish) and folk-energized Forest Mysticism. Synth and probably various other instruments adding heavy doses of melancholic presence make this some perfect wintertime midnight music which gets better with every subsequent listen. Into Endless Night is at the top of my list of albums that I’m willing to get pressed onto vinyl at some point. 

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Dead To A Dying WorldElegy

Sort of an odd pick for me if I’m being honest. Also, hard to categorize with some sludgy elements, progressive aspects, doom pacing, black metal flourishes, and “epic crust” is given a nod on their Bandcamp page. Also, multiple vocal styles of deep roaring, blackish screaming, male and female cleans, and array of interesting instrumentation including viola, hurty gurty, Hammond organ, piano, tubular bells, clarinet, hammer dulcimer, and cello. Forlorn, complex, and heart-wrenchingly beautiful much of the time, the wake of my own personal hype surrounding this release led me to retro-collect their entire catalogue, and I regret nothing. 

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NoctemThe Black Consecration

With The Black Consecration, Noctem have definitively annihilated any preconceived notions of what their 5th studio album should sound like… and it is tremendous. Abandoned are many of the death metal elements, grandiose epic flourishes, crystal clear pristine production, and overall vastness of musical concept. What has been embraced is something significantly more stripped down but not raw, focused but not primitive, and straightforward but not simplistic… something more… black metal, and with a noteworthy compacted production to boot. See full review HERE.

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The Great Old OnesCosmicism

Like some immense cosmic horror, tentacles reaching through time and space to spread its monstrous alchemy across the vast universe, Cosmicism is immense, Lovecraftian supernaturalism, carefully layered into ambitious and complex, deep yet expansive melodic black metal. The void’s cold smolder, the frothing of measureless and beautiful empyrean dread emanates from these tracks, not in a relentless explosion, but in a calculated, purposeful, majestic cosmic imperialism, more powerful with every return.

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NihilismObscurite Noir

Jet-black and insidious, this album makes use of addictive, needling riffing (including something that sounds, awesomely, almost identical to parts of the anxiety-inducing film score in 28 Days Later [track 2]) and blistering percussion. It was one of the earliest albums I found this year that really resonated with me (Veldes being the only one of note that I discovered prior to it), and thus it has gotten a lot of periodic listens over the last 12 months, each time reminding me just how fucking solid it is. I would certainly buy this on vinyl, were it available.

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FIFTH TIER (twenty-five selections)

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Veldes – Flameless

This one has the benefit of being the very first album that resonated with me in 2019… earnest, verdant, nature-based melodic post-black luxuriance with prominent (if slightly overbearing) vocals. FFO Woods of Desolation etc. etc.

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Ancient Hostility – Ancient Hostility

Vitriolic black metal with scornful, torturous, and pensive mid-to-slow paced music and absolutely caustic, scathing vocal delivery courtesy of Imber (ex Synodic, Aludra, and hopefully more TBA!).

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Decoherence – Ekpyrosis

Unnerving dissonance, mechanized inertia, catastrophic atmosphere, and ominous spirit, this is Blut Aus Nord worship of the highest order, managing, like Almyrkvi (Umbra, 2017), to surpass the master.

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Qayin Regis – Doctrine

Excellent occult black metal, reminiscent of a more stripped down variation of Naas Alcameth’s various projects (mostly due to the vocals, but also due to a palpable sense of authenticity) with Schammasch-like meditative pacing and even DSO Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice style riffing at times.

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Beorn’s Hall – In His Granite Realm

American Viking/black, surprisingly pleasing despite (or maybe because of?) a particular looseness and rudimentary approach with timing, tempo, and production.

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Falaise – A Place I Don’t Belong

Urban, isolative, and despondent, this is warm post-black featuring a particular song that is heroin-level addictive (‘Leaves in the Wind’).

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Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno

FA will always have a place in my heart, at the very least due to at one point being an all-time favorite band. They’ve changed a lot. Veleno is good, but I hope this album grows on me more than it has so far.

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Misertus – Daydream

Lush, atmospheric post-black melodies absolutely drenched in an almost blinding distortion and featuring a vicious vocal approach, very cool combination of beauty and malice.

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Temple of Perdition – Homage to the Dead (EP)

Religiocritical hymns saturated in warm, heavy cathedralic aesthetics, and featuring choirs, celestial instrumentation, grandiose movements, blasting percussion, and transcendental nods towards ego dissolution and ascension. See review HERE.

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Worsen – Cursed to Witness Life

Hard-hitting melodic, misanthropic American black metal with thrashy flavors and hints of melancholy.

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Sulphura – Voidpulse

Instrumental atmospheric meditative ambient ritualistic drone side project of CSR (Schammasch). If you are familiar with the ambient bits of Triangle, Maldoror Chants, and Hearts Of No Light, then you know exactly what you are in for. 

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MGLA – Age of Excuse

Polish masters of melody return with exactly what you would expect: infectious riffs and absurdly complex percussion that only MGLA delivers.

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Heilung – Futha

Massive neo-folk tour-de-force in a style similar to Wardruna, with a profound live show, fusing tribal beats with a plethora of instrumentation highlights and a vague ritualistic dance quality.

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Haxandraok – Ki Si Kil Ud Da Kar Ra

Occult black metal managing to blend ritual and melody, featuring guitarist of Acherontas and primarily semi-clean pseudo-chanting vocals, similar to what Schammasch does on the regular.

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Imha Tarikat – Kara Ihlas

Unique and candid black metal with back ‘n’ roll sensibilities, a particular shouting vocal approach, and fiery solos.

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Meszaroth – Caro Data Vermibus

Caught up with this one earlier in the year and it did the trick keeping me tuned in and primed for that Mephorash / Schammasch sound before either of the latter dropped their new albums. 

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Thormesis – The Sixth

Very solid melodic progressive black metal, which sounds a lot like Harakiri For The Sky or 2019 Saor (except with keyboards instead of the Scottish instruments and more typical vocals). 

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Minenwerfer – Alpenpässe

A strange but alluring combination of almost Agalloch-esque woodsy atmospherics, raw BM primitivism, war-metal callousness, and World War motifs. 

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Stillness – Hermit

Warm, folky and fanciful with lots of synth, bagpipes, violin, piano, acoustic guitar, clean vocals etc. makes this damn near appropriate to make the family listen to during the holidays. Except when it’s not.

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Gorgon – Elegy

Polished, well-produced, epic, muscular, fully modern symphonic death metal with touches of industrial elements, fits snugly alongside bands like Dawn of Ashes, Empyrean Throne, Shade Empire, The Monolith Deathcult, and Septicflesh.

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Decarabia – Ancestral Kingdoms

Medieval black metal drenched in ghastly, murky, and archaic dungeon/dark ambience; also, vocals are quite submerged in the mix, which I have been appreciating lately, at times evoking a sense of ancient suffocating dread, despite being fairly easy to listen to.

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This Gift Is A Curse – A Throne of Ash

Blackened crust/grind/noise-core, surprisingly sophisticated and actually a bit epic at times, while yet exhibiting an unrestrained, almost hysterical barrage of white-hot hatred.

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Frostnatt – Rimfrost

A short melodic blackish instrumental featuring guitar / percussion (particularly cymbal) reciprocation and precision not unlike MGLA, except with a more synth heavy folky trajectory… think MGLA + maybe Falkenbach or Windir or something like that.

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Iapetus – The Body Cosmic

Aspiring and brilliant progressive death metal, flaunting a constellation of great approaches and talents, including percussion from Dan Presland (of Ne Obliviscaris, a reasonable comparison). Not a huge fan of some of the vocals but this album is a bit of a masterpiece in the progdeath world.

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Cult of Erinyes – Æstivation

The placement of this release is based almost entirely on how late it came to the game and the fact that it is still vying for position amongst everything above… a wild, occult auditory assailment, which, like Vortex Of End above, benefits heavily from fucking insane vocal performance and which, like Rorcal above, is almost supernatural in its ravening violence.

~

And here, with Cult of Erinyes, an end-of-of year decimator which adequately represents the imminent black and extreme metal excellence that we will continue to see in the year(s) to come, seems like an appropriate place to stop and bid farewell to 2019. I want to give a humble salute to all purveyors of extreme music that I have interacted with this year, the fellow admins and superior members of Order ov the Black Arts, and Dex with Black Metal Daily and Rick with MoshPitNation for giving me the opportunity to ignite the flame with all reviews this year.

Forward, and may thy will be done. 

~

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

LISTCRUSH 2019: Dex’s Top 25 EPs and Demos

Back again lords and legends, this time with my favourite EPs and demos that saw foul birth during the last twelve months. All of these are very, very good, summoned and sent out by some great artists and incredible labels that deserve your support – so you should definitely listen to any that you’ve missed, post-haste. I mean, you already missed them the first time. Why make that mistake again?

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25. HIMELVARUWEHet Ondenkbare

The always-outstanding T gave us a new piece of the raw kosmiche black metal puzzle that he’s been slowly assembling over the years. As mystical as the cover art suggests.

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24. BLASPHEMOUS COVENANT – Disruption … Havoc (Grey Matter Productions)

The unholy union between members of Byyrth and Thy Sepulchral Moon. I reviewed this a while back (read it here) and gave it a 4/5 – I like it even more now that I’ve sat with it even longer. To lift from that piece: “By its very nature Disruption… Havoc takes the foundations of both original bands and drops a fucking nuke on them. This is another prospect altogether, existing on its own wavelength of pure experimentation and hatred, expression for the sake of it. It blows everything to pieces; and as the rubble crashes to its final resting place… there stands Blasphemous Covenant, vomiting all over the remains, annihilating the weaklings that still somehow cling to life, and trying to tear open the fabric of existence with its own bare hands. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Only the strong survive.”

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23. ABYSSAL VACUUMMMXIX (Egregor Records)

In a genius move on my part I made the mistake of writing up a set of interview questions for Sebastien of Abyssal Vacuum BEFORE I asked if he was free – turns out he wasn’t, but the fact that this is an astonishing EP still stands. With a fantastic concept surrounding the project (all the artwork depicts eerie subterranean caverns that perfectly echo the exact sound of the dissonant abyss found within) this is still one of the best hidden gems in the underground, and this EP is equally as great as the first two.

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22. THECODONTIONJurassic (Xenoglossy Productions, Glossolalia Records, WOOAAARGH)

War metal. No guitars. Only bass. Lyrics about… dinosaurs? You better believe it, and it fucking slaps. Their second EP Jurassic is a monster, and they have a full-length album coming soon too – so read this interview I did with the beasts earlier in the year and let this dino-stomp crush you.

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21. HEXEKRATION RITESDesekration Manifesto (Atavism Records)

I’m amazed the world is still standing after this vicious blast of annihilating hatred dropped last month. Read my review here if you want to know more, but as I said there: Just listen to it. It fucking sounds like someone beginning to recite the words that will end us all.

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20. PA VESH EN – Cryptic Rites Of Necromancy (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Honestly, I thought this EP was better than Pyrefication, the full-length unleashed by Belarusian wraith Pa Vesh En a few months later. Disturbing, mesmerizing, anguished; exactly what I wanted from this excellent project.

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19. BYYRTHCold Autumn Shadows (Iron Bonehead Productions, Grey Matter Productions)

BMD had the privilege of premiering this seething opus a couple of months ago, and it’s still just as impactful now. Go play ‘Parasitic Twin’ right now and tell me it isn’t great. Go on. Do it.

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18. CELESTIAL CONJURATION – Demo 1 

Stellar synth-driven rawness; sorrowful, abrasive, and oh-so-cold. The second best blend of Dungeon Synth and raw black metal in demo format this year (see number 12 for the best). More proof that Australia exports top quality rawness.

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17. ANDVARI – Fimbulvetr (Fólkvangr Records)

This six track debut EP from new raw pagan USBM duo Andvari (aka Nokturn and Meghan Wood) is an elemental blend of folk melodies, riffs that lockjaw on your neck and won’t let go, plus a great introductory ambient piece to boot. I don’t own this yet, but it’s the item on this list that I’ll be picking up next. You should too (from here) if you know what’s good for you.

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16. ULTHABelong (Vendetta Records)

Confession: I’m a big fan of what these guys do… and even with that weight of expectation Belong did not let me down in any way. This “EP” is not only excellent but 40 minutes long, too – that’s an album if you ask me, but hey, I ain’t complaining.

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15. NIMBIFER – Demo I

Raw black to tug at your soul. I really do need more of this. Side note: that dude on the front is me after realizing I missed out on the extremely limited tape. Repress please?

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14. CARVED CROSS – Sapped Of Strength, Left To Wither And Fade Away (Perished Soil, Livor Mortis)

More astonishing raw black from Australia (Tasmania, to be precise). This might be my favourite of the Hobart horde’s recent works… which is really saying something. Powerful emotion.

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13. MALAKHIM – II (Iron Bonehead Productions)

Annihilates their debut tape, which was already great. These menacing Swedish mystics have absolutely mastered what they do and are already one of the most exciting acts of their ilk, channeling powerful forces into electric compositions. Intense.

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12. FALLEN FOREST – Both Demos (Lost Armor Records)

Yes, you certainly do need to hear both of these stunning demos. No, I don’t care if it’s cheating listing two releases like this. Dungeon (or “mountain”) synth and raw black done incredibly right – but it’s a side project of Coniferous Myst, so would you expect any less?

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11. GEHEIMNISVOLL – Venomous Sorcery Through Hidden Darkness (Knife Vision, ASRAR)

Music to wander long forgotten hallways, haunt tombs AND run wild across moonlit landscapes to. Cold, yearning melodies and an irrepressible energy, with riffs to die for.

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10. LVCIFYRESacrament (Dark Descent Records)

Can black metal be brutal? Nope. Black death however, like Lvcifyre‘s Sacrament (their first work since 2014’s Svn Eater), can be brutal as fuck. This doesn’t stop until every bone in your body has been ground to dust.

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9. LAMPIR – Demo III (Perverse Homage)

I love lamp. Especially necrotic, wretched, howling lamps like Demo III. I can’t see myself getting sick of this project anytime soon.

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8. ATEIGGÄR – Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt (Eisenwald)

As someone else described it, which made me check it out in the first place – this sounds like Kvist with spooky choirs. You best believe I’m all in for that shit.

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7. DÉLÉTÈRETheovorator: Babelis Testamentum (Sepulchral Productions)

This Quebecois crew have been near faultless since their inception, and this latest three tracks of hyper-melodic pestilence and fervor keeps their streak of superb releases going strong. Almost revelatory in its glorious, ecclesiastical filth.

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6. KapalaTermination Apex (Dunkelheit Produktionen)

“Hvmanity is heading towards the ultimate end and will, in time, walk in a world of only ash and death. Hvmanity is an arrogant parody of itself, writhing gleefully in a cesspool of its own making.”

So said the commandos behind Kapala when I interviewed them about Termination Apex earlier this year. This EP, like most others from the Kolkata scene, is some of the most violent music I’ve heard in my life. Pure carnage.

~

5. HAJDUK – All 3 EPs

I’m cheating again by including all three tapes of this Bulgarian solo project here, but you really need to listen to the trilogy in order to understand just how good the raw atmosphere here really is. Originally self-released, I believe Not Kvlt records is doing an LP soon… I’m crossing my fingers It’ll be a comp of all three together because I’d throw money at that shit so damn hard my arm would fall off.

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4. BLACK SPIRIT – Behind The Light That Fades (Infinite Night Records)

If you dig raw black metal and haven’t heard this Spanish solo project, fix that immediately. Second demo Behind The Light That Fades may be unassuming at first but with repeated visits its mastery of crumbling, melodic riffs and subtly venomous vibe will sink deep into your psyche and take firm root. A great, well-rounded tape. Side note – the first demo is also amazing.

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3. LAMP OF MURMUUR – Melancholy Howls In Ceremonial Penitence (Death Kvlt Productions)

I managed to score the tape of this and proceeded to almost wear it the fuck out. The other two demos released by this mysterious US spectre were also quite good, but it was Melancholy Howls In Ceremonial Penitence that resonated just right with me. Quintessential stuff.

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2. DOLD VORDE ENS NAVN – Gjengangere i hjertets mørke (Soulseller Records)

Have you ever seen a reviewer use the phrase “does more in X amount of tracks than most bands do in an entire album”? The debut EP of Norwegian supergroup Dold Vorde Ens Navn is the epitome of that statement. The shades and styles this EP travels through whilst still remaining gloriously coherent and rooted in early ’90s black metal fire would warrant its place on this list alone; however there’s also the utterly undeniable talent of its esteemed creators Håvard Jørgensen (aka Haavard and Lemarchand, co-founding member of Satyricon and early Ulver member), Vicotnik (Dødheimsgard, Ved Buens Ende), Cerberus (ex- Dødheimsgard) and Myrvoll (Nidingr) to contend with. Their collective powers combine, shining through and summoning unforgettable tracks with passion, integrity and energy – I wrestled with whether or not to have this as number one, and it might even have been on a different day.

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1. PLOUGHSHARETellurian Insurgency (I, Voidhanger Records, Night Rhythms, Brilliant Emperor)

To some this will be a surprising choice for number one. Why? It’s largely death metal (well, blackened death, really) and as an EP, it’s a little… odd. But I fucking love it.

Readers of a certain vintage might recall trekking down to the local music dispensary as a kid to spend a few dollars on a now-unfortunately-mythical artifact known as a “CD single”. These typically took the form of the titular single, a b-side that half the time was better than the actual single, then a couple of remixes or some super experimental track that the artist would never dream of chucking on an actual album. Some of these singles were fucking excellent due to their weirdness, and that’s what Tellurian Insurgency feels like to me. There’s opener ‘Abrective Trance’ which begins in a haze of noise and proceeds to cave your head in, then ‘Indistinguishable Beast Of Flight’, which is even better… then an industrialized remix of the title track from In Offal, Salvation and the sleek experimental electronic hybrid abomination thing ‘Xeno-Chemical Insider’ to hammer the final nails in. It’s truly compelling, totally fearless, stands on its own AND leaves me salivating to see what they’re going to come up with on their next full-length excretion if they choose to dive a little deeper into these particular experimental elements and incorporate them into their sound more than ever before.

But yeah, all that aside you could only play the first two tracks and it would still likely hold up as the best of the year. Buy this, I did. Hails.

~

Honorable Mentions: 

Wampyric RitesReflections Of A Frostbitten Moon

WolcensmenFire In The White Stone

DecoherenceDecoherence

GrabesruheRemnants Of Primordial Knowlege

Goat TerrorUnholy March

Triumvir FoulUrine Of Abomination

AludraMass Stellar Graves

OmbrageWitchsickle Swung Low

UnrestCold

HamelinHamelin

LifvsledaManifest MMXIX

PlaguewielderSuffering From Self Inflicted Wounds

…with one extra note: the new Sargeist EP just dropped and would probably have clawed its way to somewhere around the top of this list if I’d had more time to spend with it, and thus judge it fairly. Suss it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean. Hails.

~

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LISTCRUSH 2019: George’s Best… and Worst

I was going to do a Top Five and Worst Five albums of 2019. But, after about five minutes of trying to think of albums that really annoyed me, I realised I could only come up with four. As such, I’ve listed the six albums of 2019 I liked the most, and the four albums I despised. These are presented in no particular order.

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TOP SIX: 

MAYHEMDaemon (Century Media Records)

A triumphant return to De Mysteriis-era Mayhem.

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HEILUNGFutha (Season Of Mist)

It’s Heilung. You know what they do and you either like it or you don’t. I do.

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MYSTIFIERProtogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia (Season Of Mist)

After an 18 year break, the most underrated black metal band in the world return with a cracker of an album.

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ESOGENESISelf-titled (Transcending Obscurity Records)

Out of nowhere Esogenesi release a beast of a debut album. Doom done right!

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CHAOS MOTIONPsychological Spasms Cacophony (Transcending Obscurity Records)

To quote myself: This album will make you question what music is, and what it can be.

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HORRIFIC DEMISEExcruciating Extermination (Comatose Music)

A classic Brutal DM album, and the first album I gave 5 out of 5 to in 2019.

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An honourable mention that would’ve made my list but it’s an EP is Tryptamyne‘s self-titled debut. This is an ambitious attempt to combine Jazz, Death Metal, and a bunch of other styles.

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WORST FOUR:

ABBATHOutstrider

A steaming pile of mediocrity slapped together by an absolute muppet.

LITURGYH.A.Q.Q

The only thing this album ‘transcends’ is my threshold for tolerating shit music.

BATUSHKAHospodi

This album made it abundantly clear which member was the creative force behind Batushka. I think there’s a good lesson for the kids here: don’t steal other people’s stuff because, eventually, you’ll be exposed for the piece of shit you are.

PROFANATICARotting Incarnation Of God

Uninspired BM and some of the most boring drumming ever recorded.

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LISTCRUSH 2019: Dex’s Top 21 Splits and Collaborations

The end of the year is always intense, for many reasons. December last year was particularly fucking insane here as we did our first LISTCRUSH extravaganza, inviting artists and label owners from all over the world to contribute their own personal best-of lists… so this year, in the interests of clinging to the final remaining shreds of what passes for our sanity, we’re keeping it simple. All BMD writers will have their own list articles each, and that’s it – as many or as few recommendations as they please, whichever format they chose, sticking to pure and trve black metal or including whatever genres they see fit (I’m already keen for Tom‘s). Easy? Easy. So without further bullshit, kicking off the 2019 edition of Black Metal Daily‘s LISTCRUSH, here’s my selections for the top splits and collaborations of the year that was. Hails.

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21: HÆNESY / MOONDWELLEREarth and Space (Black Mourning Productions)

Sneaking this one in at number 21 (yeah I fucking suck at cutting my lists down), but it’s still superb. I likely wouldn’t have heard Earth and Space all the way back in January if it wasn’t for Hænesy, but I’m glad I did – both sides achieve the atmosphere that I wish the stuff like this that crosses my path always had. Beautiful, monolithic, endless.

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20: POSSESSION / VENEFIXIONPassio Christi Part II / Necrophagous Abandon (Iron Bonehead Productions)

The black death maniacs get religious in the conclusion to their two-part concept split contributions (part one is also great, but this edges it) before Venefixion up the ante and turn absolutely rabid.

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19: SUN OF THE SLEEPLESS / CAVERNOUS GATE: Sun of the Sleepless & Cavernous Gate (Prophecy Productions)

This took me completely by surprise with how damned well it all works. Well, Schwadorf‘s side was always going to be amazing, but Cavernous Gate match it effortlessly with the perfect blend of death-doom, tinted with juuuuust enough blackness. Very good.

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18: BAŠMU / PÉNOMBRE – Bašmu – Pénombre Split (Les Fleurs du Mal Productions, Amor Fati Productions)

Lose yourself in the forest and howl at the moon. Transcendent abrasiveness, and also contains probably my favorite outro to any Bašmu track.

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17: AMESTIGON / HERETIC CULT REDEEMERQVRI OKBISh 718 / In The Depths Of The Nine Chambers Of Fire (World Terror Committee)

Slow-burning mysticism in patient streams and roaring surges from the Austrian mainstays / Grecian heretics. As the blurb says: “A sacred journey to Mauve Zone through the tunnels of Set and the Ninth Arch to the Den of Spider OKBISh! Listen in Darkness! The Deep will respond!” …which pretty much nails it.

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16: LVTHN / HÄXENZIJRKELLLVTHN / Häxenzijrkell (Amor Fati Productions)

Two covens combine their two very different approaches for one night of vicious occultic frenzy – plus, Necrobutcher himself gave his blessing to the ‘Pure Fucking Armageddon‘ cover on here. Neat.

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15: SUTEKH HEXEN / 夢遊病者7″ Split (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Half split, half collaboration… all surreal, mind-altering and awe-inspiring experience. Very little else like this out there.

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14: EGGS OF GOMORRH / SARINVOMITEncomium Of Depraved Instincts (Krucyator Productions)

Black death war hell from both outfits, ferocious and unwavering, just the way we need it. The inclusion of live tracks on either side is a nice touch too.

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13: BLACK FUCKING CANCER / GLOAMBoundless Arcane Invocations (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

More of a collab than a split as both of these ineffable USBM entities forged their sides together in the same studio, around the same concept, and both sides flow together seamlessly as one huge, engrossing diabolical paean to the maleficent and metaphysical.

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12: SLAVEHOUSE / NÄCHTLICHSlavehouse / Nächtlich (GoatowaRex)

Feral, crusted filth from US horde Slavehouse and raw vampyric wails from beyond courtesy of superb Canadian duo Nächtlich. What’s not to like?

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11: GRÓGALDR / KOMMODUS Howling Sanguine Triumph (GoatowaRex)

If anyone missed this in June, the CD and CS now drops on 28th December. Want a review? These US and Australian projects absolutely kill it here. Grógaldr‘s side is virulent, weaponized black hypnosis and Kommodus continue their ascent to the top of the twitching pile of bodies that is the raw black scene with all the punk violence, outstanding riffage and lethal energy we’re fast becoming accustomed to. Buy it now.

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10: THY SERPENT / ASH POOL Thy Serpent / Ash Pool (Kvlt)

US raw bone gnawers Ash Pool return for the first time in six long years with a consummately excellent track, which would be worth the price of admission alone – the fact that long-running (since ’92) Finnish “anti-christian dark metallers” Thy Serpent absolutely kill it with THEIR long awaited return (last released material was back in 2000!) is a very welcome bonus. Great vibe.

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9: AIWĪGAZ UNĐERGANGAZ / MÚSPELLZHEIMRAiwīgaz Unđergangaz / Múspellzheimr (Afgrundsvisioner, Lunar Apparitions / Nebular Carcoma)

Primordial and turbulent black atmospheres, heaving and churning. Múspellzheimr continue to rule and Aiwīgaz Undergangaz are no slouches either.

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8: OCCELENSBRIGG / BLACK TURMOILStorming The Katatonik Transgression (Signal Rex / Harvest Of Death)

The Portuguese / Bosnia and Herzegovinian pair open a portal to the darkest parts of existence, letting whatever the hell they want crawl through to destroy us all.

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7: GNIPAHÅLAN / DEMSTERVOLDSplit (Amor Fati Productions)

Swedes Gnipahålan show once again why they’re one of my favourite Swartadauþuz projects of the last few years. Demstervold thrill with tense, insistent riffs and spooky synth. Put them together and you get one fantastic (and eerily resonant) split.

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6: LIPITOARE / ENSHROUDLiptoare / Enshroud (Black Gangrene Productions)

Yeah, there’s a lot of raw black in this list… my EP and album lists are more schizophrenic, I promise. Anyway – untouchable atmosphere from the cold, crumbling black ambient/noise infused madness of Lipitoare that only dives even deeper into the abyss when Enshroud consumes your soul. Magic.

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5: SERPENTS ATHIRST / GENOCIDE SHRINES / TREPANATION / HERESIARCHScorn Coalescence (Cyclopean Eye Productions)

Holy fucking shit this four-way split is a nuclear bomb. Pure war, pure death, pure carnage. World-ending annihilation. Just die, alright?

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4: TIME LURKER / CEPHEIDESplit (Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions, Mallevs Records)

Is there a more underrated project than Time Lurker? I mean probably, but this split with also-eternally-slept-on countrymen Cepheide is exquisite, beautiful agony.

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3: IMMATURA MORTE / SANGUINE RELICImmatura Morte / Sanguine Relic (Perverse Homage)

If you want the raw black metal soundtrack to tearing yourself apart, Mexican master Immatura Morte has you more than covered here… and US entity Sanguine Relic continues to do what he does best. The current lord of rawness for a reason.

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2: TOME OF THE UNREPLENISHED / STARLESS DOMAINEpistolary Of The Fall (Aesthetic Death)

As anyone who’s had the misfortune of reading my ramblings before would know, I’m all about splits where the two artists complement each other and combine to create something bigger than the sum of their respective parts. Opening with Tome Of The Unreplenished‘s 19-minute ride through churning black noise and ambient cosmic hell ‘Proskynesis’ is the perfect setup for Starless Domain‘s ‘CERES’, a near 40-minute transcendent maelstrom of interstellar proportions (and probably the heaviest/harshest sound they’ve had). In a word: immense. Would have been number one if it wasn’t for a certain collaboration…

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1. SKÁPHE + WORMLUSTKosmískur hryllingur (Mystískaos)

…and here it is. Two lengthy tracks from two of the most dazzling acts in modern black metal, combining their powers to forge an intense display of light and shadow weaving together with such impossibly layered intricacy the mind can scarcely comprehend it. H.V. Lyngdal, Alex Poole and Dagur Gislason hurl themselves (and you) deep into a psychedelic abyss of horror, tumbling and spinning… by far and away the best collaboration of the year and deserved number one on this list. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last time they work together. Hails.

~

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Eos / MalebrancheEos / Malebranche

Ordem Satânica / NiterisSepulchral Silence of Satan

Aspergillum / Obscurum TenebrarumObscure Emanations Stretching Callously Across Forlorn Grounds

Uten Håp / ApothecaryWaking In An Eternal Fade

Darkenhöld / GriffonAtra Musica

Nefarious Spirit / Void PrayerSplit EP

Blosse / Aster WreathStranded

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LISTCRUSH 2018: THE EPS

Still propping up what remains of 2018 for everyone to stare/point/laugh at as it decomposes in the summer heat – the next segment of Black Metal Daily‘s favorite releases of the year, LISTCRUSH 2018: THE EPS.

For a quick recap: Last year we had the all-too-short lists for splits and EP’s crammed into the same article, this time I’ve decided to give them a little breathing room as there were far too many excellent releases in both of those categories to not give enough of them the proper attention they deserve. Hails to all of the artists involved for bestowing such incredible music upon us once again, I listened to all of these far more than I can remember and I’ll no doubt continue to for years to come. If you missed any of these check them out; if I missed any other great EPs then by all means, feel free to let me know.

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25: Cult Of ExtinctionBlack Nuclear Magic Attack

(Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Thirteen minutes of sonic carnage and destruction at borderline megaton levels. Sheer bestial fucking violence.

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24: LampirBeneath The Flesh Of Dawn

(Black Gangrene Productions)

I don’t think I’ve disliked any of the foul excretions from this project yet. Oppressive, hate-filled majesty. Like your entire body is filled with burning ash.

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23: Serpents LairPerpetual Hunger

(Fallen Empire Records / Amor Fati Productions)

Ominous torment from the Danish horde, swarming from the abyss and devouring with lethal, arcane accuracy. Ravenous.

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22: WindsweptVisionaire

(Ván Records)

Drudkh mastermind does good again. New album drops in February, will undoubtedly be incredible.

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21: UrarvArgentum

(Svart Records)

Opens with a didgeridoo, never gets any less off-the-wall than that. After all these years there’s still nobody doing it like Bjørn ‘Aldrahn’ Dencker.

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20: SarkristaUnder Sentence Of Death

(Purity Through Fire)

Another exemplary pair of songs from the Germans, who never let me down. Rocking, ripping, melodic and morose all in one.

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19: Aparthiva RaktadharaAgyat Ishvar

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

What the hell is this, I thought – and then my head was blown off my shoulders with the force of a thousand suns. Keen for more from these Indian annihilators.

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18: Ill Omen The Grand Usurper

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

Returning to blistering, esoteric black metal rot after the black-doom miasma of Æ.Thy.Rift was a stellar move for these Australians. Sounds like the creature on the front cover, with added solos.

~

17: Gevurah Sulphur Soul

(Profound Lore Records)

After the Canadians’ astounding debut album Hallelujah! they strip back, condense their energies and focus on their more ferocious side… and it fucking works a treat. Devastating.

~

16: Human Agony Goring Christ

(Invictus Productions)

Ravenous vocals? Check. World-ending riffs? Check. The best damned war-metal release of 2018? Quite possibly.

~

15: Nächtlich Second Ritual of Night Worship

(Knife Vision)

One of my favourite raw projects I discovered last year. Consistency and excellence from mysterious Canadian U.E.

~

14: Faceless Burial Multiversal Abbatoir

(Blood Harvest Records / Me Saco Un Ojo Records)

Absolutely brutal Australian blackened death with its own unique twist. To quote a friend of mine: “Totally original… kings of Aussie metal.”

~

13: Cénotaphe Horizons

(Kuunpalvelus)

This French duo are on a roll, nailing everything they put out. Their split with Circle of Oroborous was great, this EP/MLP is wonderful and the teaser track from their next EP Empyrée is also top notch (listen to that here). Why I haven’t seen more hype around this band is beyond the limits of my comprehension.

~

12: Alruna Relieving The Altar

(Tour de Garde / Voidland Shelter)

Incredible, hypnotic and dust-laden atmospheres are conjured with ease by this shadowed Austrian cult on their first release in five years. Spells Cast Unto The Silver Gleam Of The Mountains is immense.

~

11: SVRMЗгарище

(Trismus Records)

The unsung Ukrainian master does it again. I could have just as easily put his also-amazing previous EP Лихиї вітри стогнуть без упину, so check that out too. Forever flying under far too many radars.

~

10: Khandra There Is No Division Outside Existence

(Redefining Darkness Records)

“The concept of the release is the flaw and inability of consciousness to reflect the boundlessness of the nothingness in the frames of reality that (reality) only exists within and in the sanity. It is a sort of an attempt of exceeding the limits of imagination, which makes the lyrics unavailable for criticism from the point of view of logical thinking. The musical vessel here is a result of expression that has no bonds with any personal emotion of social nature.” Fitting, because the debut EP from this Belarusian duo will blow your mind.

~

9: Olxane Primitive Casket

(Nebular Carcoma Records)

Another absolute gem from T of Kaffaljidhma. I also loved his Himelvaruwe EPs plus the follow up Olxane EP Vermilion Ruin (and they all could deservedly be in this spot), but this is probably the one I threw in the tape deck the most times this year, so it wins by default. Magical.

~

8: The SecretLux Tenebris

(Southern Lord Recordings)

Six years off and these Italians aren’t messing around. Black doom grind for the connoisseurs, probably would have been higher if I’d been able to spend even more time with it than I did. The last track Cupio Dissolvi will dissolve you.

~

7: Vessel Of Iniquity Vessel Of Iniquity

(Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

The mysterious A. White may destroy us all. I’ll pull from my review of this insane sensory assault: “…an all-out sonic assailment of inevitable destruction whipping your flesh to dust. It is fucking terrifying. Percussion teeters on the brink of becoming flat-out physical punishment as disembodied howls ride escalating waves of panic-inducing power electronics noise carnage; until it all collapses in on itself and you’re allowed to breathe for a brief, precious moment.”

As an aside – his upcoming new album is equally as good, the man is unstoppable. Review of that coming soon.

~

6: Horna Kuolleiden Kuu

(World Terror Committee / Blut & Eisen Prod.)

Some leftover tracks from the 2015 Hengen Tulet sessions, and it’s all just as great as you’d expect. Also contains an excellent and surprising cover of popular song ‘Tähdet Tähdet’ (‘Stars, Stars’) originally released by Rauli Badding Somerjoki in 1983. Dropped on the same day as their split with Pure. That was a good day.

~

5: Μνήμα The Remains Of Human Bones

(Harvest of Death / Signal Rex)

“You want hell on Earth? This is hell on Earth. Released quietly back in May, the second demo from Hellenic solo act Μνήμα (or MNHMA) is one of the most vicious, caustic stabs of howling cacophonous bile committed to tape this year – three tracks of rawer-than-raw black carnage that sounds like the audio equivalent of being torn limb from limb on a rack” …is what I said about this savage little EP in Indy Metal Vault‘s Albums You May Have Missed article. Just press play – see for yourself.

~

4: AkashaConsuming The Soul

(Grey Matter Productions)

Before the Vibrations Of Blood And Hate split, Akasha‘s sole practitioner Leech was Consuming The Soul. With riffs for days, this excellent debut slice of vampyric hatred cemented him as one to watch and placed him fourth on this list, while the split with Unrest was also fourth on that respective collection of ordered releases… will Akasha also take out that position or higher on the 2019 albums list when the debut full-length drops this year? Time will tell.

~

3: Voëmmr Sombr Moebrd

(Harvest Of Death / Signal Rex)

“Blood-curdling, ritualistic old-school crypt-dwelling misfit music of the macabre.” …so says a review on the Bandcamp page of the Aldebaran Circle-ites, and it is rather eloquently spot on. Like summoning ancient spirits and letting them speak through you, Sombr Moebrd is a fantastic follow up to Nox Maledictvs… and perhaps a great lead-in to their next full-length, sometime in the near future?

~

2: Kommodus From The Ashes Of Empire

(GoatowaRex)

I’ve only listed the Australian’s third demo here, but please also take this to mean the preceding One Thousand Years Of The Wolf too – both are equally deserving of this position. With a primal kinetic energy like nothing else, surprising and artful interludes scattered throughout and some mighty songwriting chops to boot, both of these demos are beyond astonishing. Easily my favourite raw Australian project. Fucking great.

~

1: Pa Vesh En A Ghost

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

As I said when Belarusian enigma Pa Vesh En landed in 8th position during LISTCRUSH 2018: THE SPLITS for his superb offering with Temple Moon, I liked everything he released last year. Perhaps none moreso than his 7″ A Ghost – two tracks of cursed black obscurity that I listened to again and again, and then some. On the surface this might not appear much to many, but with time the raw emanations of this project burrowed their way deep inside my head and nested there, growing deeper roots with every listen and becoming exactly what I wanted when I didn’t know I wanted it. The stale lingering scent of dust from centuries past, an echoing howl through cryptal darkness… Give it a shot and listen deeply. Let A Ghost into your soul.

~

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
ObskuritatemNekrofilm
ArchaistCosmogonic Eyes
EnshroudedThe Emergence Of Crawling Shadows That Lurk Within Your Festering Soul
Funerary DescentOv Chasms Beyond
Häxenzjirkell – …von Glut und Wirbelrauch
GraveirCenotaph
CalvaireJe Me Souviens
VonlausVonlaus
Brood In BlackBlasfemas
Soul DissolutionNowhere

~

Almost done. Arriving soon (well at this rate I’m just hoping it’s before 2020), the final chapter – LISTCRUSH 2018: THE ALBUMS. Hails.

~

Like Black Metal Daily on Facebook for more kvlt sounds and tonal blasphemy.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

LISTCRUSH 2018: THE SPLITS


Lo and behold, we’re back. Before we end up past the point of no return on the treacherous roads of 2019, let’s poke the already rotting carcass of 2018 a few more times – kicking off Black Metal Daily‘s favorite releases of the year is the next segment of LISTCRUSH 2018: THE SPLITS.

Last year we had the all-too-short lists for splits and EP’s crammed into the same article, this time I’ve decided to give them a little breathing room as there were far too many excellent releases in both of those categories to not give enough of them the proper attention they deserve. Hails to all of the artists involved for bestowing such incredible music upon us once again, I listened to all of these far more than I can remember and I’ll no doubt continue to for years to come. If you missed any of these check them out; if I missed any other great splits then by all means, feel free to let me know.

~

20: Precaria / Deathspiral of Inherited Suffering / Dominus IraMetamorphosphoros

(I, Voidhanger Records)

I reviewed this beast earlier in 2018 (check that out here) and it only grew on me even more whenever it found its way back into my playlist. A conceptual trident, of which every sharpened point is unique – yet equally lethal as the others.

~

19: Crurifragium / Abysmal LordSplit

(Hells Headbangers)

A blasphemic pairing of unholy bestial vomit from hell. Both back with their first new material since their last great respective albums, they don’t so much fly out of the gate as smash it up and devour it. Savagery incarnate.

~

18: Cénotaphe / Circle of Oroborous Split LP

(Final Agony)

Perhaps surprisingly if you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing them yet the Cenotaphé side of this split is the standout for me, but overall it’s a stirring display that’s both as mesmerising and curiously obscure as its lithographic cover art.

~

17: Inferno / Devathorn Zos Vel Thagirion

(World Terror Committee)

Mystic power and rage from these two behemoths. Stunningly complementary, bewitchingly coherent and of the utmost quality from beginning to end.

~

16: Ancient Moon / Prosternatur Secretum Secretorum

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

Almost an album’s worth of ritualistic occult mania. Ancient Moon open with an immersive 18 minute piece of diabolical hypnosis while Prosternatur continue the incantation with a tryptich of resonant revelations. Fantastic work from both sides.

~


15: Lampir / Gormanudr Infection At Dusk / Apocalypse (Höllenfeuer)

(Skjold / Hatework)

The sensation of nails on a blackboard, balanced on a razor blade as it glides over your skin… and it is beautiful. Gormanudr take the more orthodox route over Lampir‘s miasma, complementing and enhancing this split’s raw power.

~

14: Occelensbrigg / Spiral Staircase Occelensbrigg / Spiral Staircase

(Harvest of Death / Signal Rex)

Aldebaran Circle-ites Occelensbrigg are as undeniably great as ever, but it’s Spiral Staircase’s understated raw black emanations that demand their appearance on this list for me.

~

13: Jute Gyte / Spectral Lore Helian

(I, Voidhanger Records)

Two stunning compositions inspired by a 1913 poem by the great Austrian expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Mind-bending microtonal madness from the master Jute Gyte… and I think I even enjoy Spectral Lore’s side more, which is saying something.

~

12: Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect / Black Aura Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect / Black Aura

(Infinite Darkness Productions)

Here we see the always-compelling UVSS taking things to an insanely new level of raw bleak filth, and the mysterious Bosnian wraiths in Black Aura don’t let the team down one iota either.

NO DIGITAL AVAILABLE

~

11: Primitive Man / Unearthly Trance Split

(Relapse Records)

To play this split is to know obliteration. Blackened doom noise of the most crushing order, from two of the heaviest bands in existence. I saw some people ambivalent towards this split… I loved it. Absolutely apocalyptic.

~

10: Kaffaljidhma / Gethsemane Split

(Zeitgeists Publishing)

Priceless Dutch raw black. An immaculate journey of transcendence through the heavens from T, as you would expect – then Gethsemane get more raucous, but no less astonishing. These recordings apparently took two years to see the light of day. It was worth the wait.

~

9: Horna / Pure Split Album

(World Terror Committee / Blut & Eisen Prod.)

New Horna is very, very good Horna. LRH brings something special to the table (or drum stool) on his first recordings with the band and they sound all the better for it; Pure bring the grim fury like nobody’s business. Released on Jan 4th and still held its spot on the list.

~

8: Pa Vesh En / Temple MoonPa Vesh En / Temple Moon

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

I’ve liked everything I’ve heard thus far from Belarusian enigma Pa Vesh En, and this murky, stifled offering is no different. Temple Moon also nail it, especially on the fantastic ‘Maze of Decrepit Trees’.

~

7: Paysage d’Hiver / Nordlicht Schnee (III) / Füür Rouch Ruäss

(Kunsthall Productions)

Yeah, yeah, Schnee (III) did admittedly first surface on Myspace back in the day… but in 2018 it finally copped a long-awaited proper release, plus the first new Nordlicht music in 15 years is equally as stunning. Ice cold.

~

6: Vilkacis / Turia Split

(Haeresis Noviomagi / Psychic Violence Records)

There’s something incredibly gripping about Vilkacis’ approach to USBM, I couldn’t get enough of it last year. And Turia… well, they’re Turia and are seemingly incapable of putting a foot wrong.

~

5: Turia / Fluisteraars De Oord

(Haeresis Noviomagi / Eisenwald)

…case in point, another unbelievably great track from Turia. I also played the absolute hell out of this tape, a conceptual split based on rivers that flow through each of their respective hometowns. Could have (and probably should have, along with the aforementioned Vilkacis split) finished much higher up the list on a different day. Both sides are superb.

~

4: Akasha / UnrestVibrations of Blood and Hate

(Grey Matter Productions)

“…Akasha brings an incredibly physical, riff-driven and abrasive chaos that crackles with power as it sounds like it could fly off the rails at any second; whilst Unrest conjures an unspeakable evil and dark magic through noise-oriented rituals, savage voodoo that will terrify and mesmerise in equal measure, and a primitive black assault straight from the hate-filled primordial core of man. Oh, and to cap it off Akasha smash out a cover of Motörhead‘s ‘Ace Of Spades’.” Like raw black metal? You need to hear this split.

~

3: Volahn / Xaxamatza Gods of Pandemonium

(Iron Bonehead Productions / Crepusculo Negro)

Okay, I’m cheating with this one because I heard it late and didn’t realise it dropped on 24th December 2017, but fuck you: this fucking KILLS. The kind of shit that makes you want to howl a primal scream and hurl yourself through a wall. These Black Circle members complement each other perfectly and do more with one song apiece than most bands of the like can achieve in an entire album.

~

2: Forbidden Temple / Ultima Thule Massacre Winds / Untitled

(New Era Productions)

Flemish and Dutch hordes unite in an unholy raw union for the ages. The atmosphere on this is nigh on unbelievable with both sides drawing sustenance from the black blood of ages past; Ultima Thule’s side alone would make this one of my favourite things I’d heard this year so the fact that Forbidden Temple also kill it is merely the icing on the diseased, pestilent cake. Thirty minutes all up and it still isn’t long enough. True black metal.

~

1: Crawl / Leviathan CRAWL / LVTHN SPLIT

(Red River Family Records)

Utter death. Exactly twelve minutes each side, twenty-four minutes of spiralling downwards into a hell more wretched than anything you could ever conjure in your most feverish nightmares. Crawl’s At The Forge Of Hate wants to slowly tear off your skin and eat you alive, while the mighty Wrest does what he does better than anyone with Igneous Ashen Tears and inflicts such immense psychological wounds that you’ll never be the same again. If you call yourself a fan of either project and this isn’t your split of the year, you probably haven’t heard it yet – in which case, fix that right fucking now. Untouchable.

~

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Norse / Host Norse / Host Split

Obsidian Grave / Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect Lupine Musings of a Dying Faith

Krieg / Integrity Split

~

Coming soon – LISTCRUSH 2018: THE EPS and THE ALBUMS. Hails.

~

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

LISTCRUSH 2018: Artists, Label Owners and Contributors – Part Three

Kicking off this new year with steel capped boots, we’re back with the third and final installment of the Listcrush 2018: Artists, Label Owners and Contributors series… and boy, is it a fucking doozy. A heap of lists came in late so they’re all crammed into one monolithic, heaving mass of impeccable music recommendations you can spend hours pleasuring your ear holes with (in private, preferably – nobody wants to see that shit, you sick fuck).

Sincerest of thanks to all the incredibly talented and driven artists, label owners and writers who contributed to these pieces and allowed us a little insight into what they enjoyed in 2018; we’ll be back shortly with the official Black Metal Daily lists of Splits, EP’s and Albums and then return to our regular scheduled programming for another year of glorious sonic wretchedness and terrible writing. Hails.

~

ARMAND BOETS (Breathe Plastic Records)

1: DaughtersYou Won’t Get What You Want
2: LowDouble Negative
3: Funeral MistHekatomb
4: Alice in ChainsRainer Fog
5: Of Feather and BoneBestial Hymns of Perversion
6: Lead Into GoldThe Sun Behind the Sun
7: IdlesJoy As An Act of Resistance
8: Portrayal of GuiltLet Pain Be Your Guide
9: NothingDance on the Blacktop
10: SvartidauðiRevelations of the Red Sword
11: Imperial TriumphantVile Luxury
12: Ken ModeLoved
13: The Body / UniformMental Wounds Not Healing
14: Mirrors of Psychic WarfareI See What I Became
15: EvokenHypnagogia
16: ConvulsingGrieving
17: Secret CutterQuantum Eraser
18: ManesSlow Motion Death Sequence
19: CorpsessedImpetus of Death
20: Chapel Of Disease…And As We Have Seen The Storm, We Have Embraced The Eye

~

JABAWOCK (Soul Dissolution / Viridian Flame Records)

1: Red Apollo – The Laurels Of Serenity
I am so impressed by this album! Melodic and powerful, masterfully composed and engineered… I’m not actively seeking out bands with such heavy hardcore influences, but when it works, it can be mind-blowingly good! This one will stay on heavy rotation in my playlist for a while!

2: Eneferens – The Bleakness Of Our Constant
This album feels very musical, mature, and exudes great beauty. Some people compared this to Opeth, and yeah, I can see the analogy. I really can’t imagine myself ever being growing tired of this album. Simple yet deep. Truly a masterpiece in Atmospheric Black Metal!

3: Stryvigor – Lifelong Journey
Perfect illustration of why I love the Ukrainian scene so much. I absolutely adore this kind of catchy, mid-paced Atmospheric Black Metal, and they nailed this style perfectly on this album! Bonus points for the powerful vocals, love it when black metal singers go into a lower register.

4: Un – Sentiment
There’s not much doom on my list this year, as it’s just not what I’m looking for these days… but this album is just too good to pass by! It feels fresh and authentic, and definitely stands strong among the swarm of Melodic Death/Doom bands that tirelessly recreate the same sound over and over again.

5: Panopticon – The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness
I was not immediately sold on this 2-hours long monolith of an album, but in the end it certainly deserves the praise it has been receiving. This one feels like the perfect embodiment to the artistic vision behind Panopticon, or at least that’s what I like to believe. The combination of Atmospheric Black Metal with Bluegrass-type music works very well, and cements the album’s very own identity. A true monument! (I could do without the “political rant” song though, but that’s just me)

6: Severoth – When The Night Falls…
Very high quality Ambient Black, not much else to say. Bonus points for the bass though, which is not only unexpectedly audible, but also sounds really cool! One more gem from the Ukrainian scene!

7: Elderwind – The Colder The Night…
Highly melodic and epic. The vocals get a bit tedious at times, and the album sure is long. But overall they kept the songwriting simple and straight to the point, which makes it more memorable. A really enjoyable album!

8: Hegemone – We Disappear
Not the kind of Black Metal I’m used to hearing from Poland, in fact this is closer to some French bands on Les Acteurs… Nevertheless, they have obviously mastered this style, and graced us with a top notch album!

9: None – Life Has Gone On Long Enough…
I have had zero interest in DSBM antics for a number of years now, but this album has been a really nice surprise! This feels much more atmospheric and elegant compared to other DSBM albums… a very solid piece of work.

10: Kly – Szczerzenie
Kinda the odd one on the list here, this album has a very unique aura to it. I wouldn’t exactly call it a “solid” album by any means… but damn, some of these songs are extremely addictive! Polish Black Metal mixed with post-punk?! Certainly a bit weird, but so damn enjoyable!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Altars of Grief – Iris
Drudkh – They Often See Dreams About The Spring
Amorphis – Queen Of Time
Vilkacis – Beyond The Mortal Gate
Vermilia – Kätkyt

~

JOHAN NILSSON (Höstblod)

1: Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death In Meatspace
Alternative noisy rock that made me remember how good alternative rock can be.

2: Manes – Slow Motion Death Sequence
Thought this was boring at first but kept coming back to it for some reason, and after a while I was hooked. Don’t know how to label this but I get the same feeling as from David Bowie‘s late works.

3: Ungfell – Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz
Black metal done right.

4: Thom Yorke – Suspiria OST
Always loved Thom and Radiohead and this doesn’t disappoint. Weird mood mixed with some great Yorke-y tunes.

5: Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Well it’s not really black metal anymore, but who cares. Just lovely.

6: Drowse – Cold Air
Dreamy, atmospheric shoegazey stuff that blows your mind.

7: Vilkacis – Beyond The Mortal Gate
Uncompromising usbm.

9: Bosse de Nage – Further Still
Intellectual and arty bm. We need more groups like this.

Honourable Mentions:

Turia / Fluisteraars – De Oord
Turia / Vilkacis – Split
Moenen Of Xezbeth – Ancient Spells of Darkness

~

KEN SORCERON (Abigail Williams)

Top releases of 2018 that I could remember:

Judas Priest – Firepower
Ghastly – Death Velour
Spectral Wound – Infernal Decadence
Craft – White Noise and Black Metal
Antlers – Beneath.Below.Behold
Lago – Sea of Duress
Lychgate – The Contagion in Nine Steps
Drudkh – They Often See Dreams About the Spring
Esoctrilihum – Inhüma
Sear Bliss – Letters From The Ledge
Cantique Lépreux – Paysages Polaires
Dödsrit – Spirit Crusher
Mammoth Grinder – Cosmic Crypt
Svartidauði – Revelations of the Red Sword
Summoning – With Doom We Come
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Winterfylleth – The Hallowing of Heirdom
Hissing – Permanent Destitution
Glacial Tomb – Glacial Tomb
UADA – Cult of A Dying Sun

~

MATRAK TVESKAEG (Cantique Lépreux / Forteresse / Chasse-Galerie)

ImmortalNorthern Chaos Gods
At The GatesTo Drink From The Night Itself
DélétèreDe Horae Leprae
GevurahSulphur Soul
Outre-TombeNecrovortex
DrudkhThey Often See Dreams About The Spring
AkitsaCredo
SargeistUnbound
ArkonaKhram
Judas PriestFirepower
UngfellMythen, Mären, Pestilenz

~

DAEMONAE (Theurgia [Ven/Col] / Funebria)

1: AscensionUnder Ether
2: SvartidauðiRevelations of the Red Sword
3: Dysylumn – Occulation
4: KenosisConsecrationem
5: VoidescentEleven into Nox
6: NihiliferSubterfacto Declive
7: Cultum InteritumTemple of Triumphant Death
8: SelbstSecular Compendium
9: Mortuus UmbraOmnipraesent
10: AcherontasFaustian Ethos

~

IGOR HUBIK (ROOT / Solfernus)

Talking my five favourite songs of the 2018 season!

1: Vltimas ‘Praevalidus’
I was totally shocked by the official news from Season of Mist that one of my most fave guitarists and singers joined forces for this new project. VLTIMAS hit the internet with the only song called ‘Praevalidus’ in fall 2018, and I must admit that listening to this track makes my day almost every day. Can’t wait for their debut album. Blasphemer along with David Vincent – I suddenly cannot remember their previous bands ‘cause I’m becoming devoted fan of VLTIMAS! Prrrrraevaaaalidus!!!

2: Immortal – ‘Called To Ice’
I belonged to the 99% of Black Metal sceptics who buried IMMORTAL once Abbath left the band. Now I have to say that Sons of Northern Darkness are back and they did it! ‘Called To Ice’ is one of their best songs ever and the whole new album sounds fucking great. Huge respect to Demonaz with Horgh for their effort and freezing attitude!

3: Marduk ‘June 44’
They usually bring a hit song with every coming album and this time it’s ‘June 44’ probably. I love that Mortuus’ vocals phrasing reminds me of some commercial pop music refrains. Quite brave in this extreme music. The lyrics concept is clear, of course 😉

4: Lindemann – ‘Mathematik’
Rammstein´s leader came with the brand new song and absolutely perfect video clip. Needless to say any words while watching this magnificent short movie with really catchy chorus theme 😉

5: Behemoth – ‘Bartzabel’
Nergal’s blasphemous division got me surprised with their fresh stuff. I saw them live so many times and know all their full lengths plus EPs, DVDs… But yes: ‘Bartzabel’ is a very original hymn in their discography and maybe that’s why I like this song. “Come to me Bartzabel…”

~

MARK ADDINGTON (Fólkvangr Records)

2018 was a great year for music, despite what a bunch of grumps on the internet have said. These are some of the black metal albums I spent the most time with this year (aside from anything the label put out):

Kroda – Selbstwelt
Ungfell – Mythen Mären Pestilenz
Runespell – Order of Vengeance
Elegiac – Pagan Storm
Primordial – Exile Amongst the Ruins
Autarcie – Sequenia
Stryvigor – Шлях завдовжки у нескінченність (Lifelong Journey)
Elderwind – The Colder the Night
Drowning the Light – Cursed Below the Waves
Vargrav – Netherstorm
Akitsa – Credo
Aorlhac – L’esprit des vents

I also continued to ingest a steady stream of Type O Negative, Rome and Gabrielle Aplin throughout the year, but those are mostly not new and also not black metal now are they?

– Mark
Fólkvangr Records

~

ROGNVALDR (Beorn’s Hall / Storm Of Evil)

1: Kroda Selbstwelt
2: Sorcier Des Glaces Sorcier Des Glaces
3: Spectral Wound Infernal Decadence
4: Nusquama Vuurslag (single)
5: Fluisteraars / TuriaDe Oord

~

MYRDIN CERPHAS (Synodic / Revelation None / Somber Ire / Contributor)

Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Afsky – Sorg
Sadness – Leave
Severoth – When The Night Falls
Oscult – The Sapient – The Third – The Blind
Hoth – Astral Necromancy
Wayfarer – World’s Blood
Nachteule – Bergdorf
Blyh – Transparent To The World
Trollheims Grott – Aligned With The True Death

~

LUCIANO VOIDHANGER (I, Voidhanger Records)

John ZornThe Book Beri’ah
Infernal CoilWithin A World Forgotten
BarúsDrowned
IhsahnÁmr
ConvulsingGrievous
UltharCosmovore
Pyre Of DescentPyre Of Descent
PloughshareIn Offal, Salvation
UrfaustThe Constellatory Practice
Esoctrilihum Inhüma

~

IVAN GOSSAGE (Order Ov The Black Arts / Contributor)

My top 30 of all genres for 2018. It should be noted that while the general region of each albums placement is fairly accurate, the order should be thought of in terms of quantum principles (haha). In other words, they are constantly shifting around depending on mood and context, and therefore the number assigned to them is to some degree arbitrary and represents more where they would tend to be placed and no album has a definitive location.

1: Funeral MistHekatomb
2: AntlersBeneath.Below.Behold
3: WayfarerWorld’s Blood
4: SlugdgeEsoteric Malacology
5: Chapter V:F10Pathogenesis
6: UnreqvitedStars Below The Sea
7: WindfaererAlma
8: Temple of PerditionTetragrammaton
9: SwornDark Stars and Eternity
10: Rivers of NihilWhere Owls Know My Name
11: EmbraAbjection
12: Mortuorial EclipseUrushdaur
13: Void of SilenceThe Sky Over
14: SkanDeath Crown
15: Borgne
16: SolitvdoMilitia
17: StortregnEmptiness Fills The Void
18: Reverorum Ib Malacht – Im Ra Distare Summum Soveris Seris Vas Innoble
19: OublietteThe Passage
20: AcherontasFaustian Ethos
21: A Forest of StarsGrave Mounds and Grave Mistakes
22: Irreversible MechanismImmersion
23: Anaal NathrakhA New Kind Of Horror
24: BehemothI Loved You At Your Darkest
25: Entropy Created ConsciousnessImpressions of the Morning Star
26: Orchestra of the DrownedOpening the Secret
27: NattravnenCult of the Raven
28: Order ov Riven CathedralsGobekli Tepe
29: UadaCult of a Dying Sun
30: KriegsmaschineApocalypticists

HONORABLE MENTIONS: These are albums that have caught my ear for huge potential, would almost certainly place somewhere, and could easily bump others off of the above list – but I simply have not given them enough time to determine if and where.

SelvansFaunalia
QafsielThe Trve Beast
Barren CanyonWorld of Wounds
AcathexisAcathexis
Carpe NoctemVitrun
ConvulsingGrievous
EsoctrilihumInhüma
NottNott
The Monolith DeathcultV2 V’ergelding
Second to SunThe Black
Spectral WoundInfernal Decadence
DélétèreDe Horae Leprae
GaereaUnsettling Whispers
OutreHollow Earth
Order of ApollyonMoriah
Crow Black SkySidereal Light, Volume One

~

DAMJAN (MRTVI / Goddess / Life As A Dream Records)

GoddessRaped Into Being EP
I’m putting my own music on this list because our current politics is completely fucked. I wrote an EP about the abuses that animals go through in our society, and the so called ‘journalists’ didn’t want to cover it because I used the word rape in its correct context. Journos I came to find out were in fact vegetarian animal rights virtue signallers… but quite literally didn’t read more than one word. I won’t name names, but fuck them.

Also, imagine setting up a release with 4 labels a year in advance and nobody does anything they said they would do. Art is dead and so is this industry, let’s pat ourselves on the back while our world burns around us…

https://lifeasadreamrecords.bandcamp.com/album/raped-into-being-ep

Anyway…

DaughtersYou Won’t Get What You Want
A new discovery for me, it’s like the atmosphere of black metal without the cliches. Like hearing a whole new take on a genre you thought you knew. Atmospheric, musical, interesting!

VoicesFrightened
These guys are nuts! After two of the coldest, most inventive extreme records of recent years they decide to bludgeon us with melody. A total lateral move and it’s been on repeat for me!

Imperial TriumphantVile Luxury
Included on everybody’s lists this year. Nothing more needs to be said. Original and interesting.

Gazorpazorp S/t EP
My favourite band in Belgrade at the moment. Very young, yet very mature music! Not metal but a great listen!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWHRkJQiQe4&fbclid=IwAR3NRt-7zlQCFjaW39aJJ4an3vitSTNWq8M83U1mR5RuPzgvw4PMfIJQjmM

ApsurdDerealizacija
Another wicked Punk/Hardcore band from Belgrade. A newer band with veteran players, they tear it up live too!
https://doomtownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/derealizacija-cs?fbclid=IwAR2WVa-NpD_Fm8Il-STLcqMmEr7aD7WWD-c3A17f6eP6DTVJREAhd8P1Cvg

Eva RasProliferation Of Broken Dreams
A noise/powerviolence/hardcore/emo solo project that is pretty interesting. Not something I’m usually into but I like people trying something different. His solo label also puts out a load of music, so checkit!
https://confusionspecialistrecords.bandcamp.com/album/proliferation-of-broken-dreams

ReplicuntsSafe Place EP
And to complete a list of pretty much not at all metal releases of 2018, some solid melodic old school punk!
https://replicunts.bandcamp.com/album/safe-place-ep?fbclid=IwAR0rcd5v1jd3-OmwQuhrzuJba9h9OBV7C_u2xIsghrSANzdDB0I66KlkrXU

~

WALDO (Acedia Mundi)

All around my social media people are saying that 2018 was an amazing year for music and when Aaron asked to do a top list I felt I hadn’t listened to anything new in ages. Much like Scott Williams from Vahrzaw I have focused on old releases, and I must admit that a lot of them are jazz and fusion records from Herbie Hancock, Uzeb, Weather Report, Marcus Miller, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and others. As I have put my mind on some more mainstream related artists and genres I’ll start with what may not appear on other lists. If you only care about your cold steely metal you can bypass the first two entries of this numberless list.

● Anderson .PaakOxnard

Anderson .Paak first seduced my ears with the track ‘Come Down’ from the 2016 album Malibu. It’s catchy and I do recommend to you the NPR music Tiny Desk concert with Paak on drums. The first thing one notices when looking at the tracklist is that there is a shit-ton of featurings in Oxnard. For fuck’s sake, I think there are only 4 songs without a guest and I must confess I did not know most of them. But to think that Snoop Dog sounds 20-year younger is freaking incredible. The amount of different collaborations enables Paak to explore different atmospheres. You get a very old school feeling with ‘Brother’s Keeper’ for example. Don’t get me wrong, Paak doesn’t need to feature Kendrick Lamar to be relevant – the track ‘6 Summers’ is a pretty good demonstration that his flow doesn’t need back-up. Overall, what’s most important is that through this album the quality of song-writing doesn’t go full roller-coaster. You always get funky bass lines, interesting rhythmic patterns and some insightful lyrics : “the revolution will not be televised but it will be streamed live (…) on your mobile device”. I’m a French young fuck that gets to witness the street of Paris crowded with demonstrations, so this feels pretty real. ‘Anywhere (feat. Snoop Dogg)’ clearly is the highlight of the album for me. But tracks such as ’Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar)’ and ‘6 Summers’ will satisfy your groovy appetite.

● Marc RebilletS/T

Let me ask you a question: when is the last time an album made you laugh? And I don’t mean when did you last laugh AT an album, nor when did you sang along with Scorpions‘Rock You Like a Hurricane’ in French like a stupid animal. When is the last time an album made you laugh while you enjoyed the quality of its music? Well, to me it goes back to Marc Rebillet’s self-titled album. Marc Rebillet is a beat maker whose recipe is intertwined with the use of a loop station and being a good improviser. And as much as we have a lot of respect among the metal scene for « one-man band projects » I do respect a guy that can take a step further and reproduce, alone, live and step by step, all the tunes he composes. This guy actually goes beyond that point as he sometimes improvises beats during a show with any subject the audience will give him. And this is where the magic begins.

Marc Rebillet can take the most down to earth theme and make a catchy tune out of it: Android phones vs. Iphones, weird people on social media, the end of a relationship and butts. We’re talking about song titles like ‘Look at That Ass’ with lyrics such as “nice job on your butthole”. What makes it worth the listen is the quality of the beats and the unpredictable song-writing. Rebillet takes us to unimaginable levels of cringe with ‘Dinner’, literally four minutes of a couple arguing about mortgage at a restaurant, with no beat to support the experience because fuck you and yes, he is doing all the voices. ‘Blackbeard’ and ‘You Broke My Heart’ are the album’s highlights in my humble opinion. This is the kind of artist you get into for a good laugh but that makes you stay because of the genius of the beatmaker. I realize part of the amazement I feel towards this guys is due to the fact I discovered him through his youtube channel where he recreates all his songs live: his energy is contagious and you just naturally develop a liking for this crazy composer. Marc Rebillet gives us the ability to share music, his music, with a different perspective: hey, this guy is very funny but that’s not all there is to it. And his Loop Daddy EP confirms it with tracks like ‘I Need You’. This is a talented beat maker that you definitely need to check out.

● Immortal Northern Chaos Gods

This album raised some pretty high levels of drama this year. Being a petty queen, I did partake in it because fuck you. Did I wait for this album like a messiah just to say “Immortal doesn’t need Abbath and if you disagree go fuck yourself”? Yes. Throw rocks at me, I don’t care. Ever since the Abbath album came out I constantly said Demonaz’ solo Heavy Metal record was better because I’m a dick. And God was I pleased with this come back! On the one hand I wonder what would have happened if Abbath had left the ship sooner and on the other hand I’m glad things turned out this way: savage riffs for the mountain climbers. And I realize that it’s hard to talk about this record without the context it was released in. This is more than a record. It’s a fucking statement: Immortal are still relevant and they are able to release some fast guitar riffs that make you shiver. And if this isn’t the best record of the year for me, I believe it is an important album in the history of the Black Metal scene. A record I clearly needed to hear that didn’t disappoint my expectations. I hope they manage to build a live line up to witness The Mighty Ravendark spread around the globe.

● Birds In A Row We Already Lost The World

“Love me, hate me, we already lost the world”. I don’t care what you think: these are the best lyrics written this year, and it is so because they have been written by the band that released the best album that came out his year, no matter which genre you listen to. I got to see Birds In Row in the city of Roazhon during the first edition of the Neuronoise Festival just a few weeks before the release of this album and they gave us one of the best shows I have ever witnessed. 15-38 is the best track written in 2018. I could kill myself listening to it and I’d be happy. Same goes for Fossils. With this album Birds In Row have taken their song-writing to another level, and this is something to be taken seriously because their discography is flawless. 15-38 isn’t your average punk hardcore track. It’s an anthem for a generation. And that is why these guys are so good: everything they write about is relatable. This music is human. It is down to earth and ethereal at the same time. I can’t even say we deserve this music, because depending on who you are you deserve – or think you deserve – very little. Myself included. We are witnessing the rise of one of the best bands of the genre and I’m fucking happy about this.

● ArchgoatThe Luciferian Crown

Archgoat has found the recipe to brew the most devilish records. It’s raw, savage and makes your blood boil. The ingredients may seem simple as there are no big scale changes, no incredible rhythmic choices, just fast guitar riffs with cavernous growls and some keyboards here and there. But the genius of Archgoat is that they connect on an animalistic level with their audience. I feel this band gives people the feeling of being part of something. If there was an Unholy Black Metal Temple somewhere these bad boys would certainly guard the keys of its hidden mysteries. The Luciferian Crown is a great offering to the horned one and this contribution keeps proving that the core of the genre will never disappear. Black Metal will continue to evolve into different shapes, but its bestial roots will remain. And I think it’s very clever for Debemur Morti Productions to have them signed while they release a lot of experimental and more modern takes on the genre. ‘The Obsidian Flame’ is both a martial hymn and a satanic procession that leads to complete and utter madness. Definitely a highlight of the year.

● Funeral MistHekatomb

The return of Swedish Black Metal warmongers Funeral Mist did come unnoticed this year and did raise some questions. This band is actually one of the inspirations of Acedia Mundi alongside Bethlehem, so we were fucking happy. A lot of people have compared this record to Marduk’s work and I got the feeling part of the scene believe it is a “conservative” album for Funeral Mist. It may not be as experimental as some of their previous records but if the insanity of the opening solo of Cockatrice doesn’t make you wet, chances are you’ve been using lube for a long time now. What’s not to like here? The guitar riffing is crazy, the keyboard appearances are well balanced and do serve the songs, the bass sounds metallic and not too muddy, Mortuus’ vocal range is very interesting… This tornado hit me in the face and I asked for more. Its skin ripping riffs are just what I was expecting. There are some pretty interesting rhythmic patterns in this record from beginning to end. Just listened once again at the intro of ‘In Nomine Domini’: the guitar riff enters just after the first time of the measure. A basic rhythm in theory but it gives that extra spice to the song. The band also plays with our expectations in ‘Naught but Death’ where a simple drum beat abruptly gets to breathe. And boy do they serve us martial riffs for a bare-knuckle fist fight! Hekatomb is a great comeback that proves Funeral Mist are better than Marduk.

● Ssanahtes Kumaru

Being a musician allows you to know and appreciate certain bands to a whole new level. I have had the pleasure to tour with this Sludge Post-whatever band from Bordeaux and their first full-length clearly is the record I have listened to the most. Their debut EP had already shown the world their obsession for loudness, noise and chaos. With this self-titled record Ssanahtes have upped their game and it’s fucking amazing. Listening to Ssanahtes is like taking a bath through the ether whilst being physically tormented. Your body moves abruptly whilst these sludgy puppeteers serve you gritty bass lines, dissonant melodies that slowly embrace your pain and harsh vocals for your mind to blow. The first track ‘Kumau’ featuring el Famoso “Bozo” from Baculum is very symptomatic of the craziness they have pulled out. Every goddamn track on this record deserves your attention. Can’t wait to hear what these guys have in stock for us next year!

● Ancst Ghosts Of The Timeless Void

It is very hard to keep up with German Black Crust collective Ancst as they have already 21 releases in barely 6 years. These guys are so productive they might become the Agathocles of the genre! Writing these lines, I just remembered they released another full-length this year. Why Ancst is so great may be because they are one of the RABM affiliated bands with an actual good sound. Quality of sound is something the genre gets criticized a lot for and I found it pretty ironic.

But that’s not why you’ll get into this band. Their modern take on the genre is interesting in its development. This is the anti-Archgoat. Ancst is a Black Crust band looking into the future. They serve us intense vocals, memorable riffs and well-written tunes. I feel GOTTV may not be the better introduction to the band: in my case I had to listen to this record a few times before it grew on me. Actually, one of the odd things about Ancst’s music is that it makes you feel good. Don’t get me wrong: it’s fast and brutal. But I can’t help but feel some kind of “hope” embrace me when I hear the main melody of ‘Dying Embers’. Given their political stance I’d say that is pretty well done.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

● CoilgunsMillennials

I haven’t listened to this album enough to get a proper opinion other than « it’s a Coilguns album therefore it’s good ». I discovered them live and I couldn’t forget the experience. Their singer fucking bit me. He bit my fucking arm. That’s wild animal levels of performing on and off stage for ya Black Death Metal kvltits. Learn from these punx, they figured it all out. If you are into genre mixes and enjoy some HxC blended with Sludge, Post-ish, math-stuff and all, you’ll be amazed by how these guys rock.

● Chance The Rapper The Man Who Has Anything

OK, this one is a bit of a cheat as it’s only a single released in November. Yet, it has kept growing on me since I first heard it. If you think all modern rap has to offer is an ego trip I really recommend you this tune, it’s a good way to get interested in Chance. This tune is the antithesis of the “money, weed & bitches” topos. Chance’s single gets turns the image upside down: « I got everything you and I can fucking imagine, now what? ». Because in the end, buying a golden toilet is just a way to fill the immensity of the void you have instead of a soul and it’s good to hear “I don’t need this shit and it’s getting boring” in times like these, especially when a lot of people are obsessed to climb to the top of the social ladder. Here we get to hear someone from that very top and say “go back, nothing you’ll find here will fulfill you”. I may be fucking naïve but the chorus echoes in me: “love me forever, that’s all I ask of you”. Of course, the message isn’t revolutionary nor is it the first time this kind of stuff has been said. But I guess I needed to hear something simple and efficient message on a chill beat. Hope a new album will come out next year!

● Black OathBehold The Abyss

Now, I can’t be objective with this band. I opened for them back in 2016 when they came to Paris with Riti Occulti and own most of their records. These Italian doomsters released their fourth full-length this year and as their previous albums it is a delight for the ears. One of the bands significant features is the quality Alex’ clean vocals pulls out. We all know a pretty good Doom band whose songs are ruined by clean vocals: this is not the case here, believe me. I have pretty high standards when it comes to clean vocals (my mother being a Coloratura Soprano) and Alex never goes out of tune. This peculiarity is no coincidence, as the band clearly has a very great sense of melody. Mixing Doom with some Rock and Roll, Black Oath present a solid record. The occult themes are treated with seriousness. We are far away from Abysmal Grief – that I do adore as well – and more focused on a dark, epic and melancholic spiritual journey. On the other hand, I believe Behold the Abyss isn’t as striking as their third act To Below and Beyond which is why I put it in the “honorable mentions” section. Still, you definitely should check it out.

~

HERMIT OV TEHOM (Precaria / Desesperanza)

Thanks to Black Metal Daily for having me as a guest to put up my personal Top 10 Black Metal Albums of 2018. These rank as the top 10 according to my taste and criteria, which of course may differ from the reader’s. I accompany every album with a short comment. Here you won’t find soft atmospheric music, you’ll only find abysmally dark music. Having said that, let’s begin.

10: Whoredom Rife – Nid: Hymner Av Hat
Probably the least “dark” in sound on the list, but this is compensated by the majestic textures it conveys throughout its entirety. I always appreciate when music transports me into its own world, this is precisely how I fell in love with black metal when I was a troubled kid and as an artist I can say it’s a pretty hard task to pull off, a lot of effort has to go into it. As the album advances through its hymns of hate, it absorbs me into its own dimension.

9: Acherontas – Faustian Ethos
An introspective album, emotive at times and full of dark textures. There’s no long ambient interludes here as in some of their previous albums, just transcendental black metal art with lyrical depth and proficient songwriting.

8: Chaos Invocation – Reaping Season, Bloodshed Beyond
A prime example of orthodoxy in black metal. Strictly satanic lyrics, riffs that spit evil, slow to frenetic drums, ritual-like passages and dissonant arpeggios. The album has an epic feel and balances the traditional with the more modern styles successfully, reminding me of the recent works of the mighty Acrimonious and Thy Darkened Shade, my favorite Greek bands. Reaping Season, Bloodshed Beyond is an album that reflects how the black flame that fuels black metal (and black arts in general) is alive and burning hot.

7: Trollheims Grott – Aligned with the True Death
13 years of silence passed and I’d never thought there would be news about one of my favorite late 90s/early 00s Finnish bands. Trollheims Grott has this black metal style where the guitar parts are usually fast dissonant riffs with dynamic drumming and industrial elements added. This was a very unique characteristic, I can only think about Aborym and Funeris Nocturnum doing something similar at the time, but not quite enough. Now they have returned with their style refined and way darker lyrical themes.

6: Devouring Star – The Arteries of Heresy
Think about colossal darkness, dense and slow passages with reverberated dissonances. This is a grand work as a whole that takes the listener to an isolated void. Some would describe it as cryptic, but I’d use that adjective for some black death bands like Grave Upheaval and Aethyrvorous. This is purely abysmal black metal that ranges from mostly slow to fast sections. The audio production doesn’t do justice to the compositions though, it deserved better. Focusing on the deep dark feeling here is the key.

5: Esoctrilihum – Inhüma
Esoctrilihum is the solo project of Asthâghul, a very young French artist who lives in isolation, however, his mind is a universe of ideas. Since 2017 he has released three full length albums through I, Voidhanger Records (the same label that released my split Metamorphosphoros!), a label that only releases high quality material and has gained quite a respectable status. Inhüma has surpassed the two previous albums. It is better musically crafted and produced, it sounds more brutal and has what I like to call a psychotic atmosphere, at times revealing the influence of early Abigor. There’s riffs, arpeggios, solos, clean parts, and occasional real string instruments like a viola and a cello if my ears don’t deceive me. The structures are very experimental, adventurous. Every song feels interconnected and if the entire album was a single song, it would’ve worked the same way. Dynamics, ornaments, brutality and darkness.

4: Mare – Ebony Tower
Mystical, primitive, classic and even moody at times. This is the Nidrosian sound at it’s peak, the culmunation of years of cultivating their music. It’s ironic how this record sounds minimalist but there are so many parts of pure brilliance in it, from haunting vocal choruses to sudden background keyboards and an acoustic guitar in one section. Everything is well crafted here. A genuine treat for the mind and soul to us, who belong to darkness.

3: Kriegsmaschine – Apocalypticists
What this band is doing is innovative not only for black metal, but for music in general. It is the first band that I know that instead of using the typical metal beats and blast beats, they use exclusively fill-beat hybrids. This was not always the case, in their early days their style was traditional black metal. After their other band (Mgła) gained massive success, they decided that Kriegsmaschine would take this innovative approach, and they do it so well that it makes it superior to almost everything being released nowadays and it is ironic that this is not their best-known project. The drummer’s creativity is what turns Enemy of Man and Apocalypticists into unique artistic gems, but the style of the guitar is also unusual, as it is composed mainly of dissonant arpeggio-riff hybrids and a dark feeling is omnipresent here.

2: Svartidauði – Revelations of the Red Sword
This album is an adventure from start to finish. Irregular song structures, dissonant counterpointing riffs and catchy melodies make it an aural gem of top class refinement. Revelations of the Red Sword was funded by a cultural program of the Icelandic government. To my knowledge, this is the first time that a country directly invests in a black metal production, which was done by Stephen Lockhart (the man behind Rebirth of Nefast) at Studio Emissary. He’s one of the best in the genre when it comes to turning a recording into a world of its own and a big influence for my own work as an audio engineer, as a reference listen to last year’s albums Tabernaculum and Tchornobog. Svartidauði’s Flesh Cathedral was the album that defined the sound of modern Icelandic black metal and with Revelations of the Red Sword they have taken that genuine essence and added a balance of catchiness and more dynamic composition.

1: Altar of Perversion – Intra Naos
Intra Naos is an almost 2 hour long album filled with dark spiritual lyrics and a fitting production. Rich in conceptual substance and uncompromising musical approach. It’s composition isn’t made for the regular black metal listener, only for the truly immersed, nonconformist listener. It is evident that the creation of this album throughout it’s more than 12 years of cultivation had a more transcendental purpose than to make attractive black metal music, it is a channeling of dark energy coming from the other side and your senses will perceive it. There’s no hooks or recycled riffs here, just epic darkness. The pure audial art progresses along with the lyrics and demands full attention. An essential characteristic of the genre is being against the norm and this album breaks any set of rules. This act of rebellion, combined with the lyrical revelations found in it make me conclude that it is the truest black metal album of the year.

Special mentions go to: Abigor, Abstracter, Adaestuo, Alghazanth, Ars Magna Umbrae, Ascension, Atroce, Avslut, Balmog, Burial Hordes, Dead Moon Temple, Devathorn, Dysylumn, Embrace of Thorns, Glorior Belli, Gontyna Kry, Heretic Cult Redeemer, Imperial Triumphant, Inferno, Malthusian, Misotheist, Numinous, One Tail One Head, Outre, Paragon Impure, Slidhr, Summon, Svartkonst, The Order of Apollyon, Totenmesse, Tractatus, Valkyrja and Vulturine. All of these bands released excellent material in 2018, worthy to listen, and if possible, to own.

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LISTCRUSH 2018: Artists, Label Owners and Contributors complete. Check out Part One and Part Two if you missed them, and stay tuned for the official BMD best of 2018 LISTCRUSH. I promise it will all be over soon.

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

LISTCRUSH 2018: Artists, Label Owners and Contributors – Part Two

Deck the hails, we’re back again with Part Two of our LISTCRUSH series. You know the drill – a whole heap of BMD‘s favourite artists, labels and contributors all share their thoughts on which releases clawed their way scratching and howling to the top of the heap in 2018. The only rule they were given was: no rules. No genre restrictions, list as many or as few as they liked, in any format they chose.

As you can imagine there’s some seriously great selections to be found below (if you missed Part One, check that out here) and some surprising choices; all of which give you great insight into the minds behind some of our favourite releases. So grab yourself another glass of eggnog or whatever and read on... there’s plenty more to come yet.

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RICHARD MCMASTER (Mar Mortuum / Impure Sounds)

In no particular order:

Svartidaudi Revelations of the Red Sword
Essenz – Manes Impetus
Hissing – Permanent Destitution
Abigor – Hollenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition)
Urfaust The Constellatory Practice
Chapel Of Disease – And As We Have Seen The Storm, We Have Embraced The Eye
Mare – Ebony Tower
Ascension – Under Ether
Spectral Wound – Infernal Decadence
Funeral Mist Hekatomb

Best Australian releases:

Golgothan Remains Perverse Offerings to the Void
Ploughshare – In Offal, Salvation
Graveir – Cenotaph
Encircling Sea – Hearken
Convulsing – Grievous
Nocturnal Graves – Titan
Grave Upheaval – Untitled

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WRATH (Dødsferd)

1: ArchgoatThe Luciferian Crown
2: Funeral MistHekatomb
3: Master Vindinctive Miscreant
4: Craft White Noise And Black Metal
5: Harakiri For The SkyArson
6: SathanasNecrohymns
7: At The GatesTo Drink From The Night Itself
8: High On FireElectric Messiah
9: Fu ManchuClone Of The Universe
10: The Pineapple Thief Dissolution

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ASKNT (DSKNT)

The traditional exercise – but never done so far – of listin’ audial efforts of the current but dying year.

2018 extract:

Necros ChristosDomedon Doxomedon
“A very long -and abyssic- journey into ruin. One of the most monumental and fulfilled release to date.”

TaphosCome Ethereal Somberness
“A very powerful old-school death metal album, highly surprising efficiency.”

PortalION
“Fuzzy logic and Non-monotonous death wave.”

MessaFeast for Water
“A real dive into nightmarish depths. Cold flowing darkness.”

WindhandEternal Return
“Ether sounded massive vibrating hallucinations.”

AbigorHöllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition)
“Well, in respect to all their works. Don’t need to put word on this.”

CraftWhite Noise and Black Metal
“Unconventional dissonances and pulses. Excellent opus.”

YOBOur Raw Heart
“Heavy weighted, you need to dig into this.”

Notes and remainders for coming year:

Atrament
Temple ov Perversion

22XII18 – asknt/DSKNT

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SIN NANNA (Striborg)

1: Penance StareScrying
2: LyciaIn Flickers
3: Ash CodePerspektive
4: SelofanVitrioli
5: Soft KillSavior

~

WREST (Leviathan / Martröð)

Here’s the records from 2018 that I think will stand the test of time.
Titles only… it will force people to research and find these gems themselves…

Hailsz,
W.:.

– Hekatomb
– Disinterred Horror
– Credo
– Mandy (score)
– Antimoshiach
– Ancient Records comp II
– Ion
– The Incubus of Karma
– Deep Blood
– Sinister, O.T.D.P.
– Maniacal Winds
– Into Vermillion Mirrors
– Black Metal Warfare
– Upgrade (score)
– Upon Desolate Sands
– Permanent Destitution
– Goring Christ
– Vertical Helix Scan
– Lustful Vengeance
– Window
– Inhüma
– Surging Throng of Evil’s Might
– Tranquility of Death

~

MICK KENNEY (Anaal Nathrakh / Feto Records)

“All I’ve listened to this year is Elvis and that’s it.”

~

IMBER (Aludra / Synodic)

1: Crawl / Leviathan CRAWL/LVTHN Split
2: Mavorim Silent Leges Inter Arma
3: Farsot / Coldworld – Toteninsel
4: Devouring Star – The Arteries of Heresy
5: Knokkelklang – Jeg Begraver

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WEST MADDOX (Ovnev)

When I pick my favorite black metal albums of the year I run them through three categories:

1. How it makes me feel
2. Production
3. Musical skill

Feel is the most important because I can forgive bad production and skill if the band has the ability to make me feel something strongly. If all of these categories are met then I determine if every single song on the album is great and it doesn’t have any filler. The more filler that I think is in an album, the lower it is on the list. The majority of these barely have any filler though. These are my top 50 based on that criteria.

Honorable mention for In the Woods…Cease The Day since it technically is not black metal but has black metal roots. Awesome album.

1. EneferensThe Bleakness of our Constant (Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal)
2. WiltRuin (Black/Doom Metal)
3. DrudkhThey Often See Dreams About The Spring (Atmospheric Black Metal)
4. Spectral WoundInfernal Decadence (Traditional Black Metal)
5. KrahnholmGranting Death (Atmospheric Black Metal)
6. PathsIn Lands Thought Lost (Atmospheric Black Metal)
7. Cosmic AutumnCosmic Autumn (Atmospheric Black Metal)
8. The Nightly DiseaseSmell of Burning Wood (Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal)
9. WayfarerWorlds Blood (Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal)
10. ElderwindThe Colder the Night (Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal)
11. AvslutDeceptis (Traditional Black Metal)
12. DewfallHermeticus (Melodic Black Metal)
13. TrnaEarthcult (Atmospheric/Post Black Metal)
14. MidnartiisWith Reverence and Will… (Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal)
15. Pure WrathSempiternal Wisdom (Atmospheric Black Metal)
16. RunespellOrder of Vengeance (Traditional Black Metal)
17. Infernal CoilWithin A World Forgotten (Blackened Deathgrind)
18. Soul DissolutionStardust (Atmospheric Black Metal)
19. DauþuzDes Zwerges Fluch (Traditional Black Metal)
20. Cân BarddNature Stays Silent (Atmospheric/Epic Black Metal)
21. A Flock Named MurderAn Appointed Time (Black/Sludge Metal)
22. UngfellMythen, Mären, Pestilenz (Folk Black Metal)
23. Mourning by MorningMourning by Morning (Atmospheric Black Metal)
24. Deus VerminMonument to Decay (Black/Death Metal)
25. Realm of WolvesOblivion (Atmospheric/Post Black Metal)
26. Cantique LépreuxPaysages Polaires (Atmospheric Black Metal)
27. Rebel WizardVoluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response (Black/Heavy Metal)
28. ChoriaBlack Secret Beyond of Nature (Atmospheric Black Metal)
29. MorrowThe Weight of These Feathers (Atmospheric/Post Black Metal)
30. SargeistUnbound (Traditional Black Metal)
31. FirtanOkeanos (Pagan Black Metal)
32. ConvulsingGrievous (Black/Death Metal)
33. WindsweptVisionaire (Atmospheric Black Metal)
34. NachteuleBergdorf (Atmospheric Black Metal)
35. OublietteThe Passage (Melodic Black Metal)
36. AntlersBeneath Below Behold (Atmospheric Black Metal)
37. ArchgoatThe Luciferian Crown (Black/Death Metal)
38. PanopticonThe Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness (Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal)
39. WindfaererAlma (Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal)
40. AfskySorg (Depressive Black Metal)
41. VerheererMaltrér (Traditional Black Metal)
42. SolitvdoMilitia (Melodic Black Metal)
43. ImmortalNorthern Chaos Gods (Traditional Black Metal)
44. Black ReaperCelestial Descension (Melodic Black Metal)
45. CzortCzarna Ewangelia (Traditional Black Metal)
46. AniconEntropy Mantra (Progressive Black Metal)
47. UadaCult of a Dying Sun (Melodic Black Metal)
48. Wild HuntAfterdream of the Reveller (Post Black Metal)
49. Untamed LandBetween the Winds (Epic Black Metal)
50. ОктябрьОктябрь (Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal)

– West Maddox

~

GIUSEPPE D’ADIUTORIO (Batrakos / Deathvoid / Thecodontion / Xenoglossy Productions)

At first I just wanted to pick 10 albums, but I couldn’t decide so I ended up with 40. Also most of the positions are rather random after a while, since I suck at making “best of” lists. I’ve mostly listened to non-metal music this year and I think it shows in this list (especially for the first place!). Many thanks to Aaron for reaching out and giving me the opportunity to write this article, it means a lot.

40: HISSINGPermanent Destitution (experimental black/death metal)
Profound Lore Records
hissingseattle.bandcamp.com/album/permanent-destitution
Chaotic and swirling riffs, like a noise band gone death metal.

39: SELVANSFaunalia (atmospheric black metal/progressive rock)
Avantgarde Music
selvans.bandcamp.com/album/faunalia
A huge step forward from Lupercalia. It sounds like a Morricone movie soundtrack mixed with progressive/atmospheric black metal, in the best way possible.

38: PORTALIon (experimental black/death metal)
Profound Lore Records
profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/ion
An improvement over Vexovoid, although Swarth is unbeatable. Actually, I want a Portal album made entirely of songs that sound like the 7th track on here, Spores. This track shows that Portal has the potential to excel in raw black metal too.

37: TIM HECKERKonoyo (experimental/electro/ambient)
Kranky
timhecker.bandcamp.com/album/konoyo
Not as good as 2016’s Love Streams, sadly, but Tim is a man of absolute talent and it shows even when he’s slightly less inspired.

36: AEVANGELISTMatricide in the Temple of Omega (experimental black/death metal)
I, Voidhanger Records
i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/matricide-in-the-temple-of-omega
Honorable mentions to their other 2018’s full length Heralds of Nightmare Descending, their compilation of re-recorded songs Veneration of Profane Antiquity and the reworked version of their debut Oracle of Infinite Despair, it has been a very productive year for the duo, both quantity and quality-wise. It was difficult picking between Heralds and Matricide… actually.

35: CONVULSINGGrievous (experimental black/death metal)
– self-released –
convulsing.bandcamp.com/album/grievous
Unexpected and much awaited follow up to Errata, and an excellent one too. A desperate and dark black/death metal emotional rollercoaster.

34: MALTHUSIANAcross Deaths (black/death metal)
Invictus Productions
malthusian.bandcamp.com/album/across-deaths
If Antediluvian (Haasiophis did the cover art by the way) is “prehistoric chaos”, this is the equivalent of Earth cracking open and swallowing everything at the end of the world.

33: AKSUMITEVinegar Perimeter (punk/black metal)
Colloquial Sound Recordings
colloquialsoundrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/vinegar-perimeter
Furious punk metal. I love Colloquial Sound Recordings’ output and it’s a bit of a shame they slowed down with the amount of releases over the years, they have many interesting oddballs in their roster. Honorable mention to DM‘s main project A Pregnant Light‘s compilation Lucky All My Life/Devotion Unlaced.

32: SVARTIDAUDIRevelations of the Red Sword (black/death metal)
Vàn Records
svartidaudi.bandcamp.com/album/revelations-of-the-red-sword
Excellent follow up to Flesh Cathedral. The melodic leads and passages in the riffing are superb on this.

31: DAGGER LUSTSiege Bondage Averse to the Godhead (black/death metal)
VRASUBATLAT/Invictus Productions
vrasubatlat.bandcamp.com/album/vt-xix-siege-bondage-adverse-to-the-godhead
Notable mentions for the other VRASUBATLAT material out in 2018 as well: Utzalu, Pissblood, Filth Column, Adzalaan and Serum Dreg, but Dagger Lust‘s album was the one that impressed me the most. Furious primitive black/death metal, as brutal as its title.

30: PANDISCORDIAN NECROGENESISOuter Supernal (experimental black metal)
Gilead Media
gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/outer-supernal
Improvised black metal played all simultaneously, courtesy of Ephemeral Domignostika (also a member of Mastery and Pale Chalice). And it almost sounds like a full band! Notable mention to PN‘s EP Eigenwelt, also out in 2018.

29: MAMALEEKOut of Time (experimental rock)
The Flenser
mamaleek.bandcamp.com/album/out-of-time
Mamaleek has become something similar to an experimental rock band by now, but I really appreciated their progression during their career and this album is so damn weird and uncategorizable.

28: ALTAR OF PERVERSIONIntra Naos (raw black metal)
The Ajna Offensive
altarofperversion.bandcamp.com/
Three hours of black metal are a tad too much to endure in the long run, but this album is so damn ambitious and grandiose.

27: DAVID GARLANDVerdancy (experimental folk)
Tall Owl Audio
davidgarland.bandcamp.com/album/verdancy
This is four hours long experimental record, but’s a damn beautiful experience. Absolutely check out the different versions of the CD packaging, great choice of colors and “verdant” aesthetics.

26: SLUGDGEEsoteric Malacology (melodic/progressive death metal)
Willowtip Inc. –
slugdge.bandcamp.com/album/esoteric-malacology
Surprisingly good melodic death metal with clean vocals. It’s also about SLUGS!

25: JUTE GYTE/SPECTRAL LOREHelian (experimental black metal)
I, Voidhanger Records
i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/helian
It’s more of a collaborative album than a standard split for its ambition. Jute turns all he touches into mictrotonal gold.

24: CALIBRO 35Decade (funk/jazz)
Record Kicks
calibro35rk.bandcamp.com/album/decade
Their music is inspired by Italian ’70s crime movies, their most recent albums have some space-rock elements as well. You should absolutely check them out.

23: BARSTThe Endeavour (drone/experimental rock)
Consouling Sounds
barst1.bandcamp.com/album/the-endeavour
Layered, multi-formed and ever transforming during the course of its 43 minutes, while keeping its “drone jam” quality.

22: BODIES ON EVERESTA National Day of Mourning (experimental/industrial rock)
Third-I-Rex
bodiesoneverest.bandcamp.com/album/a-national-day-of-mourning
The description on their Bandcamp reads “Dedicated to a car park in Sarasota FL, a wall in Harrisburg, PA, a chlorine tank, a photograph of a fishing net, a fire extinguisher, a lawyer at a railway station, a section of the pacific ocean near the coast of Chile” and the album is the experimental/industrial equivalent of these evocative vignettes.

21: HIMELVARUWEHemelpoort (raw black metal)
– self-released/The Throat
himelvaruwe.bandcamp.com/album/hemelpoort
Notable mentions to his two EPs also out in 2018 as well: Zwaluwenvesting and Het Okenbare. This is a project of the mastermind behind Kaffaljidhma, with an unique aesthetic and a weird approach on raw black metal.

20: SOLAR TEMPLEFertile Descent (atmospheric black metal)
Haeresis Noviomagi/Eisenwald
solartemplehn.bandcamp.com/album/fertile-descent
Notable mentions to Haeresis Noviomagi‘s other two major outputs this year: Iskandr‘s Euprosopon and Fluisteraars/TuriaDe Oord. All of them are great but I think I like Solar Temple‘s “sunny” take on atmospheric black metal the most.

19: EHNAHRE and HADEANRites for Winter (freeform/experimental rock)
– self-released –
ehnahremetal.bandcamp.com/album/rites-for-winter
Collaborative mini album, with lyrics adapted from the eponymous poem by Weldon Kees. A continuation of the recent Ehnahre dissonant jazzy style like on The Marrow, which I loved last year.

18: SUMAC & Keiji HainoKeep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On (noise rock)
Thrill Jockey
sumac.bandcamp.com/album/american-dollar-bill-keep-facing-sideways-youre-too-hideous-to-look-at-face-on
Notable mention to SUMAC‘s Love in Shadow, also out this year. It was hard picking between these two, but I think I like Keiji Haino‘s crazy noise input a bit more.

17: HERE LIES MANYou Will Know Nothing (psychedelic rock/afrobeat)
RidingEasy Records
hereliesman.bandcamp.com/album/you-will-know-nothing-2
Afrobeat mixed with psychedelic rock. Weird, but I’ve never heard something like this before. These guys are criminally overlooked.

16: ASSUMPTIONAbsconditus (funeral doom metal)
Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Everlasting Spew Records
everlastingspewrecords.bandcamp.com/album/absconditus
A proggy and even more atmospheric take on dISEMBOWELMENT, which I love, so I like anything inspired by them almost by default. Best Italian metal album this year.

15: ANICONEntropy Mantra (melodic black metal)
Vendetta Records
anicon.bandcamp.com/album/entropy-mantra
Impeccable mixture of melody and technicality in black metal. Great drumming by Krallice‘s Lev Weinstein.

14: S U R F I N GINCUBO (vaporwave)
– self-released –
surfing.100percentelectronica.com/album/incubo
Vaporwave did its time by now, but I wasn’t expecting a comeback album from S U R F I N G. They mostly work with original material without relying on samples and manage to avoid vaporwave’s usual trappings, so this doesn’t feel like a “meme” album at all, quite the opposite.

13: SLEEPWALKER – 一期一会 (experimental rock/metal)
Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Annapurna Production
sentientruin.bandcamp.com/album/-
New Sleep? More like new SLEEPWALKER! This is the real deal, an insane fusion of psychedelia, progressive/kraut-rock, jazzy passages and dISEMBOWELMENT. Many things I love condensed into 24 minutes.

12: DAUGHTERSYou Won’t Get What You Want (industrial/noise rock)
Ipecac Recordings
daughters.bandcamp.com/album/you-wont-get-what-you-want-
Everyone is talking about it and rightfully so, it’s that good.

11: DEATH GRIPSYear of the Snitch (experimental hip-hop)
Third Worlds/Harvest Records
youtube.com/watch?v=rX3rmlHG4XM
Another unpredictable album by the guys. This time they even throw in a dose of krautrock for a change.

10: ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVERAge Of (experimental/electro)
Warp Records
youtube.com/watch?v=tN4mV_jB-y0
Sadly it’s a huge step back from Garden of Delete and it’s not some of his best material, but it’s slowly growing on me and when it works, it’s stellar.

9: SAINTE MARIE DES LOUPSs/t (raw black metal)
Fallen Empire Records
saintemariedesloups.bandcamp.com/album/sainte-marie-des-loups
Raw black metal album of the year hands down. The ending of Sermons Sanglants might go on forever for all I care.

8: ZEAL AND ARDORStranger Fruit (r’n’b/spirituals/metal)
MVKA Music
zealandardor.bandcamp.com/album/stranger-fruitManuel Gagneux really knows how to make a catchy chorus and make the improbable mix of metal and spirituals/r’n’b work.

7: TETHERSIt Bows By Day (guitar ambient)
Lurker Bias
tethers.bandcamp.com/album/it-bows-by-day
These guys deserve more credit and exposure. Their guitar-ambient perfectly recreates the melancholic serenity and desolation on the cover artwork.

6: KNELT ROTEAlterity (grindcore/black/death metal)
Nuclear War Now! Productions
youtube.com/watch?v=2NHO41PQa9Q
An ultraviolent equivalent of a brick to the teeth. A shame these guys split up (the album is posthumous, actually), but that’s an excellent way to end your career on a high note. It’s probably going to be a landmark on the subgenre for years to come.

5: RANDALL DUNNBeloved (electro/ambient)
Figureight
randalldunn.bandcamp.com/album/beloved
Beautifully soothing album. Plus it has Zola Jesus and Frank Fisher from Algiers as guests, what’s not to love?

4: IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANTVile Luxury (jazz/black/deathmetal)
Gilead Media/The Alchemy Lab Records
imperialtriumphant.bandcamp.com/album/vile-luxury
Oh man I love jazz mixed with extreme metal, A swirling mix of black/death metal and saxophone madness. Their Metropolis-influenced imagery of vintage New York goes along perfectly with the music.

3: TOBY DRIVERThey Are The Shield (experimental/ambient rock)
Blood Music
blood-music.bandcamp.com/album/they-are-the-shield
I really like the direction Toby has taken both with his solo project and the most recent Kayo Dot albums. Delicate yet intricate. Notable mention for his darksynth side project Piggy Black Cross‘s Always out of R.E.A.C.H. with Bridget Bellavia.

2: CHAOS ECHOESMouvement (jazz/black/death metal)
Nuclear War Now! Productions
chaosechoes.bandcamp.com/album/mouvement
An instrumental black/death metal album that plays like a free-jazz jam. Ornette Coleman goes blasting. Notable mentions for their collaboration EP with Mats Gustafsson and OCRE‘s s/t 7″, a collaboration between bassist Stefan Thanneur and Michel Langevin from Voivod.

1: CLARENCE CLARITYThink: PEACE (experimental pop/r’n’b)
Deluxe Pain –
youtube.com/watch?v=C8Z_arswO4w
Same as 2015, the first position belongs to him. While probably not as good as No Now, and also less layered and more accessible, Think: PEACE is a super catchy, yet complex pop album. Clarence Clarity is once again the absolute master of choruses, every single one got stuck into my brain for days. It’s nice to hear mini-suites, guitar solos and prog-rock-like reprises in r’n’b.

~

Parts One and Two down. Stay tuned for part Three. Hails.

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