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

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    Bandcamp Misanthropy – Volume 7

    The bottomless wellspring of Bandcamp is overflowing with great shit just waiting to be discovered. This series aims to shine light on the freshest emanations and foulest incantations from its darkest corners, a few artists at a time. Here’s the seventh installment for your vulgar delectation. Enjoy. 

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    Artist: Time Lurker

    Year: 2017

    French one-man atmospheric act Time Lurker has recently released what’s sure to be one of my personal favourite atmospheric albums of the year. Dynamic and pummeling, the eponymous debut is seven tracks of incredible rhythmic drumming and superbly unhinged vocals that bellow and howl with the fury of the ages as the guitars surge and fall underneath it all to create a myriad of mesmerising emotion. It sounds like the ebb and flow of the waves of time itself: violent and constructive, calming and crushing; somber melodies swoop into a grand aggression both bleak and hopeless yet as intrinsic and vital as life. It gets into every fibre of your being and won’t let you go.

    Believe it or not, it wasn’t even written as an album. It’s comprised of two EP’s (‘I’ and ‘II’) rolled into one; although you’d never guess as the whole thing flows seamlessly from start to finish. Honestly, not one single track on this is a dud. Available through Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions you can also snap up a digital copy for a mere €1 from their Bandcamp, which is why I’ve snuck it into this Volume. What are you waiting for? Treat yourself.

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    Artist: Grimah

    Year: 2017

    Spanish three-piece Grimah have their debut full length due out later in the year and to whet the appetite of any interested souls have unleashed their first ever track ‘Serpens’. It apparently won’t be on the album proper and was released as a tribute to a struggling friend, with ‘M’ handling vocal duties as a one-off for this particular track, so expect a different oratory style on the album. The music itself is an impassioned take on the epic, emotive and melodic fury that MGŁA do so well; a hard task to match, but they do an admirable job of rising to the challenge. If this is what they’re capable of the debut could be an absolute hidden gem. Available for name-your-price download; check it out and support.

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    Artist: Whitewurm/True Love

    Year: 2017

    I’ve spoken before about how great splits are where the artists involved complement each other perfectly; well, this is another one that fucking nails it. 

    USBM one-man projects Whitewurm and True Love are a match made in a hell you’d never dream could exist. Whitewurm kick off proceedings with ‘Sentenced’, an onslaught of majestic, atmospheric hatred that’s filthy yet refined; sorrowful melodies drape almost elegantly atop the malignant savagery within. Breathtaking stuff that will have you searching up the rest of their discography before the track even hits the halfway mark.

    But while you’re doing that, True Love arrive to ruin your mojo/day/life. Some severely creepy oscillations begin to emanate from your speakers, demanding your attention before an absolute torrent of raw atonal scorn and sludging depravity spews forth like an unspeakable leviathanic horror forcing its way into this existential plane. Aptly titled ‘Levitating on the Brainwaves of the Insane’, the harsh assault is offset by slithering grooves and interlaced with twisted scratchings designed to snap your synapses beyond all hope of repair. It’s the perfect foil to the atmospheres of Whitewurms’ side of the split, sonically matching it yet the flipside of a dirty coin you found stomped into the muck out the front of a graveyard. 

    At ten minutes apiece each track flies by in what feels like three. Released just two weeks ago some limited tape copies were available, but they’ve already sold out; this release is that good. Luckily it’s also up at name-your-price download from Whitewurms’ Bandcamp, so head over there and get behind it.

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    Artist: Demiurge

    Year: 2017

    US occultist Demiurge is currently working on new material for his eponymous depressive project, however he also released his first ever EP back in January. ‘Sitra Achra’ is solid melancholia; mystical, pained and miserable. Just the way it should be, right? Making good use of sombre repetition to create a mood that sticks throughout the whole EP and with a variety of arcane lyrical themes, I’m keen to see what he comes up with next as the project shows a lot of promise in the great ‘Repose of the Gods’ alone. Up for name-your-price download, he’ll keep perfecting his formula and it will only get better from here.

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    Artist: Hyperborean Skies

    Year: 2017

    US solo artist Ben Stiles brings the feels on Hyperborean Skies atmospheric debut album ‘Empyrean Fracture’. Jam packed with majestic emotion and riffs that want to carry you off soaring and wheeling into the night sky, the songs flawlessly segue into each other creating an enthralling tapestry woven with the utmost care and skill. A well thought out and put together album that’s been three long years in the making; you can feel every drop of sweat and sleepless night he’s put into perfecting it, and it’s paid off.

    Exceptional melodic guitar layers engage and enthrall while the driving (programmed) drums leap out and power the songs. It’s a varied and dynamic listen that’s adept at shifting moods; by the time the frankly gorgeous synth interlude ‘Mists of Memories’ (that would make Vangelis turn green and ends all too soon) ends you’re totally immersed in the sobering, yearning feel before the thrash-tastic ‘Betrayed by the Stars’ arrives, slaps you around the head and sends you packing on a whole new journey.

    You know those releases that are almost fun to listen to? This is one of those. Highly enjoyable for a debut album, head on over to his Bandcamp and support. Oh, and check out the cover he dropped earlier in the year of Burzum’s ‘Dunkelheit’ while you’re there too. Hails.

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    Artist: Faunus

    Year: 2015/17

    Nature inspired atmosphere abounds in this release from Faunus; one man project of Admetos from Elegos, the Hellenic duo I reviewed back in Volume 4. Based on the four Seasons and the cycle of death and Rebirth, ‘Where Everything Begins With An End’ kicks off with Autumn, its raw blasts and solid riffing settling you in for the ride nicely. Winter is up next; this is where the EP really comes in to its own. Epic and sombre, it reaches grand emotive heights before dissolving into eerie menace and is really the centrepiece of the album. Which isn’t to say the quality drops from here on in; the excellent Autumn is ponderous and introspective with evocative guitar work and vocals that almost turn guttural where necessary to add weight, before Summer closes out the album with alternating doom-y vibes and blasting fury.

    Originally only self released on Bandcamp a couple of years ago, it’s finally scored an extremely limited run on CD and Tape through Apesxintipotapotis. Only 44 copies will be made of each; so if you dig the digital, snap one up while you can.

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    Artist: Winterkyla

    Year: 2017

    I wasn’t sure if I was going to include this, but I’m throwing it in last minute because I find it quite interesting. Swede Requiem’s one-man project Winterkyla released its debut EP ‘Uppland’ about four or five months ago and for whatever reason I’m just hearing it now. What we have here is a great piece of varied and melodic black metal with some truly excellent, emotive guitar work perfectly in synergy with the bright cover image. Also notable is the vivid production that really leaps out at you… except for the drums, which sound oddly muffled in comparison. A small complaint I guess and one that I’m hoping will grow on me during further listens; it does give the guitars ample room to shine. The rest of the album is far above average and does more than enough to make me keen to hear what comes next (favourite moments: the Enslaved vibes that creep in at the end of ‘Frystad’ and the raucous Kvelertak-esque punk energy of ‘Winter In Bloom’) and at name-your-price download it’s well worth a listen. 

    Edit: I’m several listens in and the drums are working more for me now. Definitely check this one out!

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    Submissions for possible inclusion in future Volumes welcomed.

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