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.

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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 – Part One: Splits and EPs

It’s that wonderful time of year: The time when every man and his dog has been splattering their ‘best of’ lists all over every available surface with joyous abandon. It’s also handy to find out if you’ve missed anything outstanding, as perusing lists from like-minded souls with similar tastes often yields overlooked gems. Last year I probably listened to more music than ever before and I still definitely would have missed plenty of gold standard releases; so, far from being comprehensive ‘best of’ lists here are BMD’s humble lists of superb black/blackened splits, EPs and albums that more people should hear and you should hunt down if you slept on. Some big names, some clandestine arts; my favourite shit from one of the most stacked years in recent memory, and every single one of these artists/releases I wholeheartedly recommend for your full attention. Part one: Splits and EPs. Enjoy.

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~~ TOP 10 SPLITS ~~

10: GRAVEIR / MAR MORTUUM (Impure Sounds)

The first of three (!) all-Australian splits to make my top 10. An uneasy journey from Graveir knocks you around a bit before Mar Mortuum come through with absolute strength and astonishing quality. How neither of these bands are bigger than they are is beyond the limits of my comprehension. 

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9: PAYSAGE D’HIVER / DRUDKH (Season Of Mist)

A single lengthy piece of windswept hypnotic atmosphere from Paysage D’Hiver that’s still absolutely essential; the only thing that prevents this being higher up the list is Drudkh not meeting their usual lofty standards. Which means by average plebian standards, it’s still fucking great. Even sub-par Drudkh is excellent music.

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8: INTRINSIC LIGHT / EXPURGATORY (YNTPM)

Zen transcendence and blackened noise-rock experimentalism from the bowels of Melbourne, Australia. No other split intrigued me like this did; an almost indescribable experience. Those scared to stray far from the black metal blueprint need not apply.

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7: WHITEWURM / TRUE LOVE (Les Fleurs Du Mal Productions)

Two solo USBM artists combine for one of the most caustic double stabs of hate you’ll have heard last year. Everything starts off disgustingly well with Whiteworm (featuring guest vocals from Eric Baker, who I daresay will also pop up somewhere in part two) then descends even further into new depths of hell with True Love. This was actually how I discovered True Love, so I like this split even more for that. 

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6:  SUTEKH HEXEN / BLSPHM (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Yeah I’m cheating throwing a vinyl reissue in here, but the original release from years ago was ridiculously limited and barely anyone heard it, so fuck you, this counts in my book. Like listening to the destruction (Sutekh Hexen) and aftermath (BLSPHM) of the end of the world; strangely calming and terrifying all at once.

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5: SINMARA / MISÞYRMING (Terratur Posessions, Vánagandr)

The Icelandic masters knock it out of the park on both sides. Sinmara‘s track ‘Ivory Stone’ is somehow even better than anything on ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’, which is saying something.

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4: HOWLS OF EBB / KHTHONIIK CERVIIKS (I, Voidhanger Records, Iron Bonehead Productions)

Khthoniik Cerviiks and Howls of Ebb try to outdo each other for pure black death avant-garde psychic obliteration. Utterly batshit.

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3: ABIGOR / NIGHTBRINGER / THY DARKENED SHADE / MORTUUS (Self Released)

Four great artists, four tracks that blend seamlessly into a mesmerising and magickal whole, one stunning split. Reverential. Immerse thyself.

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2: CONVULSING / SIBERIAN HELL SOUNDS (Art As Catharsis, WOOAAARGH)

Sheer masterful carnage. I still haven’t wrapped my head completely around these twin Australian black holes, and it’s been out for a month. It’s also another one that introduced me to one of the artists; I fucking love Convulsing and am forever grateful to Brendan for finally making me check out Siberian Hell Sounds through this release. Be warned: this will consume you from the inside out.

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1: BLOOD TYRANT / DEPARTURE CHANDELIER (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Unequivocal and irrefutable split of the year. Raw vampyric elitist art from Dutch duo Blood Tyrant, and the triumphant return after six years of Canadians Departure Chandelier. It may only be a single track from each (and a short intro) but I can easily flip the 7″ over and over and listen on repeat for hours, and have done so many times. Near perfection.

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Near Misses: Sutekh Hexen / Hissing, Funeral Moon / Hordes of the Black Cross, Thy Darkened Shade / Chaos Invocation.

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~~ TOP 10 EP’S ~~

10: HEXIS – XII (Self Released)

The unstoppable Dutch blackened hardcore pulverisers somehow topped ‘Tando Ashanti’ from earlier in the year with this. I’m still mightily pissed I missed them when they came through my area last year too. Brutal.

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9: HIMELVARUWE – ‘Gewrocht’ (The Throat)

I could have easily put Dutch enigma T‘s  other raw demo for this project (‘CCIII’) up here, or his release from the also-stunning Kaffaljidhma; but this captivated me from the minute I heard it. How does he do it? Beats me, but I hope he never stops.

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8: MALEFIC LEVITATION – ‘The Ancient Plague’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, Dawnbreed Records)

This came in relatively late but I’ve been playing the shit out of it. In a great year for war metal, these US berzerkers blew me away. Ultimate destruction; more please, stat.

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7: AVERSIO HUMANITATIS – ‘Longing For The Untold’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, BlackSeed Productions)

“This is an EP that will pull your skin off slowly to force you to see what’s underneath, directing your gaze both inwards and outwards.” 

I said that in the intro piece for when I interviewed them earlier in the year and it’s still a perfect description of their nihilistic, transcendent black/death assault to me. Need a new full-length from these demons. 

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6: LORN – ‘Arrayed Claws’ (I, Voidhanger Records)

I’ve been communicating sporadically with Radok of Italians Lorn for almost a year now in regards to an interview; he’s a fascinating person. Perhaps one day it will eventuate, but in the meantime let the intricate, silvery ‘Arrayed Claws’ sink needle-like into your brain. Unique and unsettling; this project just gets better and better with each release.

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5: SINMARA – ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’ (Oration, Terratur Possessions)

Intricate, deeply melodic in its bleakness and utterly captivating in the tale it tells, this wrapped its rich tapestries around me and didn’t let go for some time. Bodes extremely well for the upcoming full-length.

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4: GNIPAHÅLAN – ‘I Blodets Kamp…’ (Ancient Records, Mysticism Productions)

I would have put the Swedes excellent self-titled full length in the top albums list but that originally came out in 2016 despite the ’17 vinyl release, so luckily this EP more than makes up for that omission. Raw black with perfect atmospheric clarity; listen deeply.

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3: VOIDSPHERE – ‘To Call | To Speak’ (Fallen Empire Records, Amor Fati Productions)

I said in the last Bandcamp Misanthropy this was one of the greatest EPs to drop last year and it easily would have been the greatest if the next two on the list hadn’t been released. The production gets me every time. Pure void worship. I need to pick this up on vinyl.

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2: THANTIFAXATH – ‘Void Masquerading As Matter’ (Dark Descent Records)

The first time I heard ‘Cursed Numbers’, my reaction was simply: Wow. The Canadian trio could have released that track as a single and I still would have put it somewhere on this list; add the rest of the EP and you’ve almost taken top spot. Follows up ‘Sacred White Noise’ in the best way possible. Stunning. 

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1: SKÁPHE – ‘Untitled’ (Mystískaos) 

I feel like many have forgotten about this outstanding single track EP, the third release from the duo of Alex Poole (another name that may pop up in part two) and D.G of Martröð, Misþyrming and Naðra. Black metal to me is all about feeling; this makes me feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare hell trip through the worst kind of hallucinatory psychosis. Easily the best of the year. Yeah DMT and LSD are cool, but have you tried Skáphe?

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Near Misses: Serpent Column – ‘Ornuthi Thalassa’, SVRM – anything he released last year, Kaffaljidhma – ‘IV’, Rür – ‘Rür’, Somnium Nox – ‘Terra Inanis’, Abkehr – ‘In Asche’, Thy Sepulchral Moon – ‘Contemptuous Retaliation Storm’, Nordjevel – ‘Krigsmakt’, Endalok – ‘Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar’, Svartidauði – ‘Untitled’.

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And that’s Part One wrapped up, hope you found at least one new blackened delight to pleasure/annihilate your ears with. Let me know anything I’ve missed, should have heard, or just how terribly shit you think my listening tastes are in general and stay tuned for Part Two: Albums, coming soon. 

Hails to 2017.

– A.

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Get in early for 2018. Submissions welcomed.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com