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.

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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.

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16: Human Agony Goring Christ

(Invictus Productions)

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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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LISTCRUSH – Part Two: Albums

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

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~ TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2017 ~

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

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

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

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

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38: BEZMIR – ‘Void’ (Werewolf Promotion)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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34: ALMYRKVI – ‘Umbra’ (Ván Records)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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25: BESTIA ARCANA – Holókauston (Dark Descent Records)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This raw, disassociative dysphoria still haunts my dreams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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15: URARV – ‘Aurum’ (Svart Records)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4: SEVEROTH – ‘Forestpaths’ (Werewolf Promotion)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hails 2017; bring on 2018.

-A

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

Submissions welcomed.

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