1: Spektr - Cypher

2013-12-24 06:33:34 by johan

Cypher My first encounter with Spektr was with their second full length Near Death Experience, when I heard it I thought it had potential but it wasn't quite there. There were times when it was a frustrating listen because they built up to something only to let it peter out into industrial noise, which don't get me wrong is mostly what they're all about, but they mixed in just enough black metal to get you hooked and then they yanked it all away. With Cypher I think some of that has been resolved, this is much more a musical album than an album of various noises, while I'm sure the true industrial fans are distraught I think they've managed to get the right mix for an excellent, if still complex and demanding album.



2: Nightbringer / Dødsengel - Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno

2013-12-23 03:45:56 by johan

Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno Nightbringer is an old favourite whom I've followed since their 2005 split Rex Ex Ordine Throni, while I've had differing opinions on their releases over the years there is no denying they always bring something challenging to the listener. Once the first track gets going after a lengthy intro and build up it does not cease, absolutely relentless complex black metal, with that special sound which right away identifies this Nightbringer. It's on the second track they really shine though, perhaps a bit simpler and more straightforward it's an absolute ripper of a song, which currently tops my list of most played songs of the year. Dødsengel is a band I've had less exposure to, only having heard 2010's Alongside Chorozon and while it's a decent release it didn't impress me. What change a few years does, the two tracks presented here are vastly superior flowing beautifully together and clocking in at an impressive 17 minutes total. For anybody who likes complex and challenging black metal this is the must have release of the year.


Nightbringer   Dødsengel

3: Ashencult / Mephorash - Opus Serpens

2013-12-22 07:58:54 by johan

Opus Serpens Ashencult is a band that's been on my radar since last years great Black Flame Gnosis, so as soon as I heard this was coming out I had my pre-order for the vinyl in. It's been spinning relentlessly ever since. Their track is a mostly mid tempo affair of great old school black metal. Much like last year's album this isn't necessarily breaking any new ground but once again the execution and fire is all there, and that takes you a long way. Mephorash was a band I was unfamiliar with but their track on this split stands up quite well, although I could have done without the spoken word passages. Otherwise it melds well with the Ashencult track giving the split a nice consistent sound. Overall a great little split.


Ashencult   Mephorash

4: Lord Impaler - Babylon Whore

2013-12-21 04:38:27 by johan

Babylon Whore Lord Impaler is another band I can thank metalbandcamp.com for, while randomly surfing one day I ran across this and I don't think a day has passed since when I've not listed to this gem of an EP. Two ferocious tracks of black metal which makes me think of Deströyer666. This isn't a release that gets points for originality, but when you can pull off thrashing black metal this well that's really all you need. I have high hopes for the next full length.


Lord Impaler

5: Blut Aus Nord - What Once Was ... Liber III

2013-12-20 06:18:22 by johan

What Once Was ... Liber III Perennial favourites Blut Aus Nord returns this year with the third installment of the What Once Was ...Liber series of EPs (one can quibble with calling this an EP since it's longer than some albums), and once again this is for those fans who perhaps find the regular Blut Aus Nord releases too progressive and modern. Like it's two predecessors this is harsh and industrial, there are no melodic interludes or anything to catch you, it's droning, uncompromising, and unmistakably Blut Aus Nord. Like many great albums there is no love at first listen here, it'll take a few times to find what you like about this release, but once you hear it, it'll be hard to shake.


Blut Aus Nord

6: Peste Noire - Peste Noire

2013-12-19 04:26:53 by johan

Peste Noire You never know what you'll get with Peste Noire, what we have here is an album which I should love, it's more black metal and less crazy than 2011's L'ordure à l'état pur, however the madness made that album, so the lack thereof here takes this album down a notch. That said, still a good album that I will spend many hours with, it just doesn't quite reach up to it's predecessor.


Peste Noire

7: Abbotoir - MCMXV

2013-12-18 04:11:39 by johan

MCMXV I first ran across Abbotoir earlier this year with the XLI demo, featuring just a single 20 minute song, I immediately loved it. It got played quite a lot over the year. It wasn't until quite late this year I realized they'd released a full length, where they doubled the amount of songs (two!) each of them almost clocking in at thirty minutes. No doubt you are now in real funeral doom territory. This reminds me quite a lot of Esoteric, and that is no bad thing, so do yourself a favor and go pick this up.



8: Lycus - Tempest

2013-12-17 16:13:17 by johan

Tempest I don't recall how I came across Lycus, but I'm quite happy I did, while my preference tends to be for harsher funeral doom, this is a decent doom album in a year which saw few doom releases (or perhaps in which I saw few doom releases). Having perhaps the best artwork of the year certainly did not hurt either. With three songs clocking in at a just over 40 minutes gives you an idea of what you're in for, then realize that the last track is an impressive 20 plus minutes. If you're in the mood for a good doom album with a splash of black metal this is your release.



9: Ulcerate - Vermis

2013-12-16 10:43:05 by johan

Vermis I don't listen too much to death metal anymore, but when I do it's the most interesting death metal in the world. Hyperbole and bad jokes aside, Ulcerate has released a great album with Vermis; there is enough chaos here to keep me interested but without losing sight of the greater picture resulting in some good songs. This is a rare things these days, many bands of the technical inclination tend to fall into the trap of too many riffs or too much chaos, resulting in an inaudible mess. So it's always a good thing to find a band that does it right.



10: Vallendusk - Black Clouds Gathering

2013-12-15 10:04:53 by johan

Black Clouds Gathering I stumbled upon Vallendusk via the always excellent metalbandcamp.com and it's been one of my most streamed releases this year. I'll admit it's a bit cleaner and more melodic than what I generally listen to, but they do it so well it's hard not to get sucked in. The songs are all quite long averaging eight or nine minutes each. Unfortunately the album looses some steam towards the end, but the first few songs are so good you can forgive this quibble.



The 2013 list

2013-12-15 09:38:50 by johan

Listmania season is upon us, this year has been a strange one for me, I've heard fewer new releases than in previous years and in general what I've heard has impressed me less. Therefor this year brings a few changes to the usual rules, I won't be talking about albums this year but about releases, so there will be some splits and EPs on this years list as I felt they were superior to many of the full length albums released.