1: Deathspell Omega - The Synarchy of Molten Bones

2016-12-20 04:06:58 by johan

The Synarchy of Molten Bones Deathspell Omega have always been a rewarding band to listen to, you never know what you'll get, you might not even be 100% happy with it, but ultimately it's a worthwhile endeavor. So when they once again out of the blue announced a new release expectations were immediately dialed to 11. From the moment you hit play there is no doubt what this is, there is simply never mistaking DsO for any other band. The pace has been picked up significantly from 2012's Drought which is a welcome development and there are hints here and there of their, in my opinion finest moment, 2007's Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum. The one nagging aspect is that I do at times feel like this isn't nearly as groundbreaking as some of their earlier efforts, but that doesn't stop this from being another top notch effort.

 

Deathspell Omega

2: Antaeus - Condemnation

2016-12-19 07:57:17 by johan

Condemnation I'm often conflicted about albums released late in the year which I immediately like, always makes me question if it will have staying power. This however is Antaeus, so staying or not, power it surely has. With eight real songs clocking in at about 40 minutes there is no filler to speak of here, this just rips from the moment you hit play until the end. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the borderline inhuman skills of session drummer Menthor, his unrelenting blasts adds an order of magnitude to the existing chaos. This is nothing short of a spectacular album.

 

Antaeus

3: Spektr - The Art To Disappear

2016-12-18 06:52:49 by johan

The Art To Disappear Spektr probably has more detractors than fans; straddling black metal, industrial and ambient you're bound to never fully satisfy any individual fanbase. With The Art To Disappear Spektr have made their most accessible album to date (not that this necessarily means much in the given context), there are long periods of fairly standard fare black metal, then inevitably punctuated by ambient interludes and industrial noise. My main complaint is that it's a bit too polished and clean feeling, a nice dirty dose of chaos would probably have put this album over the top.

 

Spektr

4: Inquisition - Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith

2016-12-17 05:48:13 by johan

Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith Given the progression on the last two Inquisition albums my hopes for this one were high to put it mildly. So while they deliver a quality album with which I can have few quibbles it just doesn't reach all the way. It feels very much like the clear and obvious successor to 2013's Obscure Verses for the Multiverse but breaks little new ground. Now don't get me wrong this is a solidly good black metal album, but the last two albums have just had that something special which I'm not getting here. That said, Inquisition treading water is still better than 60% of everything else out there.

 

Inquisition

5: מזמור - Yodh

2016-12-16 03:35:06 by johan

Yodh Another new find for me מזמור play a doom tinged black metal, or a black metal tinged funeral doom. The five tracks meld the two genres perfectly as to never lose your interest despite the long runtime of each (none clock in under ten minutes). This is an album of woe and despair, perhaps one of the best ones I've heard in many years. This has quickly become my goto album for those dark nights when you won't go gently ...

 

מזמור

6: LHomme Absurde - Monsters

2016-12-15 04:25:22 by johan

Monsters L'Homme Absurde might take the prize for the most disturbing artwork on my list this year, the music is not nearly as disturning however. It's atmospheric post black metal done about as right as it can be done. As expected most of the album stays in the mid tempo range however they do venture out on occasion with some blasting passages that keep things interesting and give this a black metal edge on the otherwise post black metal album. Sometimes the small things make all the difference.

 

L'Homme Absurde

7: Behexen - The Poisonous Path

2016-12-14 04:34:41 by johan

The Poisonous Path Behexen are nothing if not consistent, one can quibble about which the best (or favourite) release is, but the releases are quality black metal. So chances are if you've enjoyed their previous releases you'll find things to like here too. The flip side to consistency is that it gets predictable and might lose your interest. Luckily for most of the time Behexen is interesting enough to keep it interesting.

 

Behexen

8: Ash Borer - The Irrepassable Gate

2016-12-13 04:31:48 by johan

The Irrepassable Gate I've heard Ash Borer's name tossed around the past few years but the little I had heard could never hold my attention long enough to make them worthy of further investigation. After having sat through The Irrepassable Gate I might just make time to go back and revisit their past. While this album doesn't necessarily bring much new to the table the mix of raw black metal with atmospheric passages works well enough to make me want to reach for another spin.

 

Ash Borer

9: LVTHN - Eradication of Nescience

2016-12-12 04:26:12 by johan

Eradication of Nescience Like Forlet Sires, LVTHN is another band I had not previously heard of prior to randomly running into them this year. With this album we're back in familiar raw black metal territory, albeit generally slower than my normal fare. While they try to keep it fresh blending old and new sounds, after a while the songs have a tendency to meld, and I sometimes wonder if I've not heard that riff before; then just as you're about to give up they toss in something completely new and once again you're hooked.

 

LVTHN

10: Forlet Sires - Journey Towards Ruin

2016-12-11 07:08:17 by johan

Journey Towards Ruin Journey Towards Ruin is Forlet Sires debut and a fine debut it is. Mostly straddling the rawish and post black metal, they mix in some doom elements to keep it interesting. While there are some questionable moments (the female vocals towards the end of the second track come to mind), they mostly get it right. There are moments when I'm thrown back and reminded of Shroud of Despondency's debut For Eternity Brings No Hope and that is an excellent thing. This is band worth keeping your eyes on.

 

Forlet Sires

1: Mgła - Exercises in Futility

2015-12-28 04:17:42 by johan

Exercises in Futility Given how much hyperbole there has been around this album it's hard to find something original to say, so I won't really attempt. Enough to say this is hands down album of the year, despite it's late release it's easily my most played album in 2015. I must admit that when I first listened I wasn't sold on it. it took several listens before it had seared my brain enough to make me realize how utterly brilliant it is. I'm struggling to find any flaws here, the production fits it perfectly the instrumentation is spot-on and even the lyrics (which let's be honest can even on the best albums be lacking) are for once well formulated. Nothing short of fantastic album all the way through.

 

Mgła

2: Akhlys - The Dreaming I

2015-12-27 05:43:51 by johan

The Dreaming I Coming from one of the minds of Nightbringer one should know what to expect and he does not disappoint, once the intro is over there is no doubt whom we're dealing with here. The complex structures the raging madness and those vocals, yeah those vocals. A year when there is no Nightbringer album this fills that void perfectly. This album got so many spins this year if mp3s could wear out I'm sure they'd all be dead by now. An absolutely amazing album which none should miss.

 

Akhlys

3: Mephorash - 1557 - Rites Of Nullification

2015-12-26 07:17:00 by johan

1557 - Rites Of Nullification A few years back when Mephorash released a split with Ashencult I wasn't terribly impressed, perhaps they were just overshadowed on that release, however this year they return with not just a full-length but the, single song, Sfaíra Ti̱s Fo̱tiás EP. They don't stray beyond their previously chartered course with a slow to mid pace orthodox black metal, but this time it seems altogether more well put together, songs flow naturally and the fairly crisp production brings all the parts out. Not a bad comeback.

 

Mephorash

4: Murg - Varg & Bjrn

2015-12-25 09:37:10 by johan

Varg & Björn Murg are a new find for me, this is their first release as far as I can tell, information about the band is fairly limited. Like many of this years entries on the list this is another simple and raw black metal which just hits the spot. Nothing fancy or spectacularly original, just well written and played. This does seem like a year of nostalgic releases.

 

Murg

5: Porta Nigra - Kaiserschnitt

2015-12-24 05:18:50 by johan

Kaiserschnitt The prize for most metal artwork (on my list at least) might just got to Porta Nigra. I was (probably) alone in not being a huge fan of their previous release Fin De Siècle however I'm starting to believe I perhaps dismissed it too early, after spending some time with their latest album and letting it grow on me I might just have to go back and revisit past sins.

 

Porta Nigra

6: Hæthen - Shaped By Aeolian Winds

2015-12-23 05:35:39 by johan

Shaped By Aeolian Winds Atmospheric black metal with a touch of 90s Norwegian worship, I've thoroughly enjoyed this album. Nothing really new under the sun, but that isn't necessary when the result is as good as it is. Well crafted and executed this is one of those releases you'll find yourself going back to and often finding small little things you missed last time.

 

Hæthen

7: Peste Noire - La Chaise-Dyable

2015-12-22 04:27:13 by johan

La Chaise-Dyable Famine and Peste Noire return with another weird album which, at times, falls into the black metal category. It does so often enough for me to like it, but alas like with the previous album I just feel that it's lacking that little extra he had on L'ordure l'tat pur, the madness on that is what pushed it over the top, here it's unfortunately just good, where it could have been great.

 

Peste Noire

8: Sangus - Pedicabo Mundi

2015-12-21 04:17:30 by johan

Pedicabo Mundi Violent thrashy black metal, with four songs clocking in at around 11 minutes this hits the spot when you want something quick and nasty, as they never really lay off the tempo, pretty much starts out at full speed and that's where they keep it for the duration. It'll be interesting when they release a full length to see if they can write material which will hold your attention for the full duration or if an EP is about as much as can be tolerated. I look forward to finding out.

 

Sangus

9: Tyranny - Aeons in Tectonic Interment

2015-12-20 06:02:58 by johan

Aeons in Tectonic Interment Living up to 2005's Tides of Awakening was always going to be a tall order, and while they certainly released a good album it just doesn't quite reach all the way. The absolutely crushing sound just isn't there, and perhaps it's the shorter songs or perhaps that ten years of waiting just built up too many expectations. by no means a bad album, just a tad disappointing.

 

Tyranny

10: Bell Witch - Four Phantoms

2015-12-19 07:20:37 by johan

Four Phantoms Bell Witch would probably not have made this years list had I not seem them live recently. They were very, very good live and I was rightly impressed. This album, is not quite as good as they are live, the biggest problem is that there is just way too much clean singing on some parts and it distracts from an otherwise musically quite good album. If they can tone back on that for the next release I think they'll have a real winner on their hands.

 

Bell Witch

1: Nightbringer - Ego Dominus Tuus

2014-12-26 02:44:17 by johan

Ego Dominus Tuus Nightbringer is another band I've followed since their inception, and they've never done me wrong. Every release simply gets better and better. Last year's EP Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno was just two songs but those two songs where better than what most bands produce in a lifetime. This year they return with a full length and they do not disappoint. An absolutely crushing release of complex black metal that they do best. Immediately it's clear what you're listening to, they've got a sound like no other, and there is never mistaking a Nightbringer riff. This is a tour de force which few can match but if only a few tried the music scene would be all the richer for it.

 

Nightbringer

2: Emptiness - Nothing But The Whole

2014-12-26 02:44:16 by johan

Nothing But The Whole On the heels of one strange album comes the next: Emptiness' Nothing But The Whole. It's dark, brooding, partially ambient and then a little industrial; it's nothing short of brilliant. The songs are strangely memorable for being the amalgamations they at times seem to be. The only flaw I find with this album is that it ends, and that rather abruptly, when you get an album like this you really don't want it to end.

 

Emptiness

3: Thantifaxath - Sacred White Noise

2014-12-26 02:44:15 by johan

Sacred White Noise When putting this on the first thing you notice is the huge departure in sound from their self-titled EP. They've taken that, twisted it and ran with it. What you end up with is otherworldly, odd, and utterly hard to describe. This album is a rare one, find it (preferably on vinyl), and just let is wash over you. You'll be mesmerized and will never want it to end.

 

Thantifaxath

4: Misery Index - The Killing Gods

2014-12-26 02:44:12 by johan

The Killing Gods Misery Index are near and dear to my heart and they rarely disappoint. With The Killing Gods they once again up the ante. If there is something that needs to be said is that sound wise they've never sounded better, all you want to do is keep turning up the volume, it's the best sounding album they've produced to date. It's also I think the most even, the whole album flows very nicely and there are really no weak songs on this album. This is perhaps the only minor quibble I'd have is that there are no stand out tracks either, there is no obvious romper like You Lose here but first five tracks which collectively make up the song Faust might have a slight edge on the rest. Nonetheless this is an absolute monster of an album which I just can't quit.

 

Misery Index

5: Darkspace - III I

2014-12-25 05:26:16 by johan

III I Six years after III Darkspace return with III I (not really sure why III I and not IV but then I know nothing). First track, 4.18, clocks in at an astounding 27 minutes, so you're in for quite the ride. Remaining tracks are shorter each only taking up 18 minutes of your day. The sound seems a bit mellower than on III with the vocals being shifted back a bit in the mix and generally more muffled than on the previous release. That said this is by no stretch of the imagination an easy listen, it demands your full attention and you should give it.

 

Darkspace

6: Blut Aus Nord - Memorial Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry

2014-12-24 12:48:13 by johan

Memorial Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry The long running series of Memorial Vetusta albums has always been a fan favourite with it's more predictable black metal sound. While I like and appreciate the more experimental stuff you find especially in the 777 trilogy this does sound and feel like a natural sound for Blut Aus Nord. It's often quite beautiful and sweeping, and while I don't often comment on it the artwork needs mention here, it's a astounding piece. If you've not already done it, do yourself and pick this up.

 

Blut Aus Nord

7: Satanic Warmaster - Fimbulwinter

2014-12-24 12:48:11 by johan

Fimbulwinter Satanic Warmaster is one of those bands I've heard lots about, not all of it good, but which for whatever reason I've never really investigated. I had heard a few random songs over the years but never enough to grab my attention, so when I stumbled upon this album while browsing bandcamp one day my expectations were quite low; but it's quite the romper of melodic black metal. At times it reminds me of older Norwegian black metal with it's heavy keyboards passages. Solid release which one has a tendency to keep coming back to.

 

Satanic Warmaster

8: Krieg - Transient

2014-12-24 12:48:09 by johan

Transient I've always had a soft spot for Krieg, ever since Rise of The Imperial Hordes 16 years later he's is still at it and while the sound has changed rather dramatically over the years one can always be sure it'll be an interesting listen. Now that said, I do feel that this album for the first time in a long time has quite a few similarities to the very early stuff. There is more old black metal with that punk vibe you got on Rise of The Imperial Hordes than in quite a few albums. All things that make this old black metal hand happy.

 

Krieg

9: Funereal Presence - The Archer Takes Aim

2014-12-24 12:48:07 by johan

The Archer Takes Aim I found Funereal Presence after reading an interview with a member or Nightbringer. That was enough of an endorsement to check them out, and I'm glad I did. Great little piece strange black metal. It's a release that takes some getting used to, there are some very strange parts and the vocals can at times be a turn off. If he'd skipped out the clean vocal parts (which are often weird and don't add much) this album would have garnered a higher placement on this list. All in all the songs are generally solid but could have used some better editing. I'll be keeping an eye on them in the future.

 

Funereal Presence

10: Woods of Desolation - As The Stars

2014-12-24 12:48:03 by johan

As The Stars Not being overly familiar with Woods of Desolation this was an interesting find, one can probably classify this as somewhere in the realm between atmospheric and depressive black metal with a dose of post rock. All in all it's seven mid-paced songs with just enough melody to hook you and keep you interested. Like many bands in this genre it's great background music for reading or working. I'll be checking out their back catalog next.

 

Woods of Desolation

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.

 

Spektr

2: Nightbringer / Ddsengel - 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. Ddsengel 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   Ddsengel

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 Destryer666. 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 l'tat 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.

 

Abbotoir

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.

 

Lycus

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.

 

Ulcerate

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.

 

Vallendusk

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.

1: Deathspell Omega - Drought

2012-12-24 05:36:01 by johan

Drought

 

If there was little to say about the previous album on the list, what is there to say about DsO that hasn't already been said? With each release they continue to impress and innovate as few others can; this, short by DsO standards, EP leaves little to be desired, other than perhaps that it was longer. We get both hints of their raging best as well as more nuanced songs all of which fit in with their previous releases. As has been said many times this feels a bit like an epilogue to the long trilogy they concluded a few years back, which only means that what comes next - the first post trilogy full length - will be even more highly anticipated than ever. In a few years we'll know, but until then this will suffice.

 

Deathspell Omega

2: Merrimack - The Acausal Mass

2012-12-23 06:59:35 by johan

The Acausal Mass

 

The black metal that Merrimack plays can in no ways be considered modern och innovative, it's traditional, mostly mid-paced but furious black metal. However they do it exceedingly well, the compositions are tight and performed well, so there is nothing to complain about here. This has been my second most listened to album of the year for those very reasons, and well it's furious black metal so why not? There is little else to say about this album other than it being a great one which fans of the genere should have no problems devouring.

 

Merrimack

3: Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Cosmosophy

2012-12-22 15:19:51 by johan

777 - Cosmosophy Of the 777 trilogy, this might rank as my least favorite one, however it's a very good ending album, it's mostly slow and gives you that winding down feeling. My complaints are mainly that BaN's will to experiment sometimes takes them in directions I find brings little to the table. There is ample clean(ish) singing as well as quite a bit of electronica. None of this really accents the music much, it's mainly an annoyance and a track you quickly skip. As a whole the 777 trilogy is very well made, I have minor quibbles as stated above but they shouldn't detract from the whole.

 

Blut Aus Nord

4: Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas

2012-12-21 06:19:38 by johan

Vanitas As has been customary for the past few releases Anaal Nathrakh comes out with a somewhat more accessible album followed be one that is less so. The albums that fall into the latter category tend to be more interesting, and Vanitas fits there. While it's not quite as furious as 2009's In the Constellation of the Black Widow, it's got enough parts that keep you interested. My sole wish was that they had more songs like Of Fire And Fucking Pigs, when they truly turn the grindometer to eleven, here's hoping to more of that in the future.

 

Anaal Nathrakh

5: Ash Pool - Cremation is Irreversible

2012-12-20 05:54:27 by johan

Cremation is Irreversible Without a doubt Ash Pool takes the prize for best album title of 2012, and the music is equally superb, this is caustic black metal, gone are all the things I disliked about 2010's For Which He Plies The Lash, this is a much more a throw-back to 2007's World Turns on Its Hinge, and it's great. This EP has been a mainstay in my playlist this year and I expect to be spinning it many a times in the future

 

Ash Pool

6: Aldebaran - Embracing the Lightless Depths

2012-12-19 05:09:47 by johan

Embracing the Lightless Depths Excruciatingly slow and heavy, this is my favorite funeral doom album of the year, it's not quite as astounding as last year's favorite (Mournful Congregation's Book of Kings) but it's damned good. Two songs clocking in at just under the 30 minute mark the remaining three barely making up ten and you know which are the real songs here. This isn't an album for the impatient or anybody who wants to get this done (but if that were you, would you be listening to funeral doom?), no this is an album that demands your time, and it's a worthwhile endeavor.

 

Aldebaran

7: Mgła - With Hearts Towards None

2012-12-18 06:49:34 by johan

With Hearts Towards None Four long years since the stunning Groza came out this was one of the year's most anticipated albums. While not quite living up to it, it's so close that categorically ruling it inferior is unfair. My only real complaint with this album is the title, it just feels wrong somehow. Perhaps it's just a poor translation and it makes more sense in Polish or perhaps it has some deeper meaning that I'm unaware of, regardless it's a minor complaint on an otherwise amazing album.

 

Mgła

8: Behexen - Nightside Emanations

2012-12-17 08:19:48 by johan

Nightside Emanations Behexen return with more punk fueled black metal, my initial impression was slightly disappointed as this wasn't quite on par with 2008's great My Soul For His Glory, however it has grown significantly on me, there are several tracks that are quite catchy and hard to get out of your head once you hear them. All in all a solid album that should leave most previous fans satisfied.

 

Behexen

9: Ashencult - Black Flame Gnosis

2012-12-16 06:47:18 by johan

Ashencult Logo Ashencult like Blodhemn previously comes as breath of stale 90's air, there is ample Scandinavian black metal worship here to go around, however at times it breaks with this and we get a whiff of contemporary American black metal. Hence there is more here than just nostalgia, the album is fairly strong with quite a few memorable riffs and songs, and as such it's graced my playlist many a times this year since it was released. Looking forward to see what develops next.

 

Ashencult

10: Blodhemn - Holmengraa

2012-12-15 08:00:56 by johan

Holmengraa In many ways Holmengraa is a nostalgic album, it sounds and feels just like the early to mid 90's. It is absolute and non-apologetic Dissection worship (they even include a Dissection cover for good measure). There is nothing new here, but for someone who enjoyed the music of that era this certainly brings it back to life.

 

Blodhemn

1: Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Sect(s)

2011-12-15 04:16:11 by johan

777 - Sect(s) I feel slightly uncomfortable including this album, it's the first of three of a trilogy, part two has already been released (part 3 is due out in 2012), and it seems pretty clear that all three are meant to be a single album, so reviewing just one third seems unfair. However they are released as separate albums and as such I decided they were fair game. As with all Blut Aus Nord albums there are aspects to love and hate here, there are times I think it gets a bit too soft, but for every part that you might not like they come back in spades with their very special brand of black metal that blows most other bands away. As truly amazing as this album is I think once part three gets released and we get to experience the full trilogy, that's when this will really come to shine as perhaps one of the greatest albums in a long time.

 

Blut Aus Nord

2: Peste Noire - L'Ordure l'tat Pur

2011-12-14 06:06:16 by johan

L'Ordure  l'tat Pur Most people who know me know that my taste in music is narrow; to quote an old friend who in fit of frustration once uttered "you don't even like metal, you only like a tiny sliver of metal..." As this sliver is generally located at the far reaches of black metal, I'm expecting a certain amount of disdain for not only including this album in my top ten, but for placing it as highly as I do. The first thing that needs to be said is that this is by no means a black metal album, there are black metal parts to it, but this must undoubtedly be placed in some other genre, the clich and overused epitaph "avant-garde" is probably as good as any. So why is it on my list? Well in a year that offered few truly great albums this is if not great without a doubt the most interesting and challenging. The albums swings wildly from black metal, to circus metal, to french folk, to post rock. I don't think it's an overstatement to say many people will hate this album, but I can't quit it. The few annoying parts are made up for by the insane parts that keep this album interesting, time will tell how well it holds up, but there's barely been a day I've not listened to at least part of this album since it was released in May, which should prove a certain staying power.

 

Peste Noire

3: Belphegor - Blood Magick Necromance

2011-12-13 05:05:40 by johan

Blood Magick Necromance Belphegor was a band that I had given up hope on, after 2003's stunning Lucifer Incestus came a string of disappointing albums featuring a combination of subpar song writing and an often flat and uninspiring production. So when I read that they'd released a new album this year I was ready to dismiss it. Mark my surprise when I started listening to Blood Magick Necromance, this was back in Lucifer Incestus territory again, well written and catchy songs together with a sharp and punchy production. It always comforting when a band manages to redeem themselves like this, it means there is some hope after all for those bands that have released great albums only to subsequently never be able to live up to it.

 

Belphegor

4: Anaal Nathrakh - Passion

2011-12-12 05:46:02 by johan

Passion Anaal Nathrakh don't operate in a very wide spectrum, they swings between grindy black metal and grindy black metal with cleanish vocals. This album sees a slight swing back to the latter, close to Hell Is Empty, and All the Devils Are Here, luckily they don't go as far as they did last time, and there is enough parts filthy black metal to keep this interesting.

 

Anaal Nathrakh

5: Kampfar - Mare

2011-12-10 07:57:33 by johan

Mare My last Kampfar album was 2006's Kvass, the first thing one notices on Mare is that the production got notched up. Things sounds warm and a bit beefier than previous experiences. The second thing is that instead of few longer songs in general we're treated to more shorter ones. This works out pretty well as at least a few of the songs on Kvass where quite forgettable, "Ravenheart" being the obvious exception as the standout hit on Kvass. Back to Mare, a very strong album, the title track really takes it away as stand out track this time with a good and heavy mid tempo flow.Do yourself a favor and pick this album up.

 

Kampfar

6: Lifelover - Sjukdom

2011-12-09 05:11:10 by johan

Sjukdom Sjukdom is perhaps Lifelover's most uneven album, there are times when it's absolutely brilliant and then there are parts that are less so, with fourteen tracks this is hardly surprising. Now as Lifelover has gone to it's grave we'll never know where future albums would have taken them, but there are sufficient great parts here that I'd like to believe that we'd have gotten another album as amazing and filler free as Erotik. R.I.P. Lifelover.

 

Lifelover

7: Mournful Congregation - Book of Kings

2011-12-08 05:45:10 by johan

Book of Kings Funeral doom is a genre I get into and then forget about every few years, as such I had never run into Mournful Congregation until this years Book of Kings. Now that I've been exposed though I will have to hunt down all previous releases because this is some of the best funeral doom I've heard since Esoteric's first two albums or Tyranny's Tides of Awakening. If you even remotely like doom you need to get this album, at four songs clocking in around 80 minutes (and the last song alone going on for 33) this is just how I like my doom, slow, somber and without end.

 

Mournful Congregation

8: Shining - VII: Fdd Frlorare

2011-12-07 05:27:10 by johan

Fdd Frlorare Things are not always as they appear, last time I had Shining on my best of list they made number five, this year they're number eight. As such one would assume that this years album is inferior to the last, one could hardly be more wrong. VII: Fdd Frlorare is a huge improvement over 2009's VI: Klagopsalmer, while I liked the previous one quite a lot, it was just always a bit off, with VII: Fdd Frlorare it somehow feels a bit more like Shining again. That said it's not Shining of old, and I do wish they'd just dirty it up a bit and get back to some of the complete misery of the earlier albums.

 

Shining

9: Deivos - Demiurage of the Void

2011-12-06 04:50:46 by johan

Demiurge of the Void It's hard to say that Deivos brings much new to the world of death metal, much of this you'll undoubtedly have heard before. That said it is well played and tends to hold your interest. It also avoids the trap that many modern technical death metal bands fall into where they release an album played on 17 string guitars, 19 string bases at a blistering pace, but can't hold your interest to save it's life. It's a nice well rounded album which features decently well composed songs, my only advice for their next album is more cowbell.

 

Deivos

10: Barghest - Barghest

2011-12-05 05:26:48 by johan

Barghest Barghest was an album I picked up for no other reason than the cover. I had never heard them before but the minimalistic simplicity of the cover appealed to me and it turns out so does the music. For the music is just as bare-bones and simple as the cover, nothing fancy or complicated, just simple old and dirty black metal, and as far as that goes Barghest does it very well.

 

Barghest

The 2011 list

2011-12-03 12:48:33 by johan

Once again listmania season is upon us, and I will over the next two weeks be posting my top ten albums for 2011. Looking back I feel that 2011 has been a weak year for the music I enjoy, that said, ten albums have been picked. While most choices will surprise none, I think there might be a few here that could be considered black swans.

1: Deathspell Omega - Paracletus

2010-12-15 09:57:09 by johan

Paracletus Paracletus concludes Deathspell Omega's theological trilogy which began with Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice six years ago. Needless to say it's been a long wait, but it's hard to argue it hasn't been worth it. You can still feel some leftover madness from 2007's Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum but it's largely a restrained album (all terms here relative to Deathspell Omega, few others could release such and album and have it referred to as restrained). That said, this is by no means an easy album to listen to or appreciate, it will win no new fans, but if you're already deep in the Deathspell Omega world you will not be able to put this album down. Without a doubt a monumental achievement, one can only wonder where they'll go now.

 

Deathspell Omega

2: Watain - Lawless Darkness

2010-12-14 08:12:27 by johan

Lawless Darkness In many ways "Lawless Darkness" is the very logical heir to "Sworn to the Dark", it's cleaner, slower and in some respects more epic album than it's predecessor. I like that the vocals are more pronounced, but it feels like the guitars lost out a bit, I'd have preferred a slightly sharper sound and an uncleaner production in general. Despite these small gripes it's still replaced "Sworn to the Dark" as the Watain album I actually the most listen to, I'm sure that will change soon enough but for he foreseeable future this album will remain at the very top of my most listened to albums.

 

Watain

3: Canopy - Menhir

2010-12-12 20:31:54 by johan

Menhir Starting to listen to this album and you might just think you put the wrong disc in, the slow intro, build up and even beginning sound well, soft. Then after around 3 minutes the vocals kick in and well you know you're listening to death metal again. However this isn't normal death metal, it's not even the regressive death metal of Canopy of old, no this is some weird prog death metal. Knowing the bands influences I guess this evolution was inevitable, however at least so far they manage to keep the weight squarely on the death metal part of prog death metal label. It's shifted but it's still there, there is no telling what future efforts will hold but at least so far they are doing their thing really well.

 

Canopy

4: Sargeist - Let The Devil In

2010-12-11 23:15:12 by johan

Let The Devil In One of this years pleasant surprises, in many ways pretty rudimentary black metal, but done quite well. The songs are pretty short but they still manage to be catchy and surprisingly memorable. Top notch performances by all involved here clearly propel this album, as with poor execution or production this could have been quite awful, but especially the guitars and vocals are so excellent here that it really makes this a beast of an album.

 

Sargeist

5: Drudkh - Handfull of Stars

2010-12-10 11:20:50 by johan

Handfull of Stars Drudkh gets the price for least metal album on my list so far this year, while Drukh's folk inspired metal has always been a bit in this direction, the cleaner production (especially on the guitars) takes this album into post-rock. Probably a let down for many die hards, but I do enjoy it, not as much as "Blood In Our Wells" but then few bands ever live up to their greatest moments.

 

Drudkh

6: Misery Index - Heirs To Thievery

2010-12-09 17:47:47 by johan

Heirs To Thievery I've followed Misery Index since the first EP was released almost ten years ago, and they've pretty consistently released quality death/grind albums. I liked Discordia(2006) better than Traitors(2008), but other than that progress has been pretty linear. So Heirs To Thievery was anticipated and delivered, while I sometimes wish they would have put more emphasis on their grind credentials and less on the classic death metal there is nothing here to really complain about.

 

Misery Index

7: Burzum - Belus

2010-12-08 15:42:21 by johan

Belus If somebody had told me a year ago that I'd be listing a new Burzum album on my best of list I'd have never believed them. It's been 14 years since I last bought a Burzum album, and with Varg's tirades against traditional instruments (only synth is real!) it was hard to believe I'd ever see this happening. However once out of prison and probably money it seems good old fashion black metal is once again kosher. That's a good thing, cause when he puts his mind to it he can still, unlike other recent ex-convicts, make quite the black metal album.

 

Burzum

8: Ondskapt - Arisen From The Ashes

2010-12-07 12:44:03 by johan

Arisen From The Ashes To nobody's surprise the follow-up to 2005's Dödens Evangelium sounds, well pretty much like its predecessor. The production is better and overall the tempo has gone down, but other than that nothing really stands out as new on this album. In the case of Ondskapt that's not necessarily a bad thing, you get a solid orthodox black metal album, however by the time the next album rolls around I hope a modicum of fresh ideas have infiltrated them.

 

Ondskapt

9: Nightbringer - Apocalypse Sun

2010-12-06 10:58:49 by johan

Apocalypse Sun I remember hearing Nightbringer first on the 2005 split with Temple of Not, well they fell off my radar but reappeared this year with their second album. This album is a bit of an anomaly for me while it features some pretty fast guitar picking, but on the whole the songs are slow, long and repetitive. There are riffs that feel like they go on forever with little or no variation. At the same time it has charm, and is an intriguing album, you easily get drawn in as it sweeps you away.

 

Nightbringer

10: Ash Pool - For Which He Plies The Lash

2010-12-04 19:30:19 by johan

For Which He Plies The Lash This is Ash Pool's second album and little has changed since 2007's "World Turns on its Hinge". The good? Sound is a bit more polished while staying noisy and primitive. The bad? Vocals now frequently foray into some sort of semi-clean territory where this band doesn't really belong. One could make the claim though that the cleanish vocals add to the noise thus making this an even more disgusting album. In the end this is a solid piece of minimalistic, noisy black metal, though definitely not for everyone.

 

Ash Pool

The 2010 list

2010-12-03 11:34:30 by johan

Here we go again, customarily I will over the next two weeks be posting my top ten albums for 2010. Looking at the releases for this year my only comment right now will be that while on the whole 2010 has been rather disappointing the list itself is very competitive making it very hard to rank the albums that did make the cut. My feeling is that the internal order could change quite dramatically any given day.

Revisisting the 2009 list

2010-11-30 09:59:39 by johan

Looking back at my list from 2009, I think I pretty much still agree. I would rearrange the list slightly but no album has really appeared on my radar that should have been on the list but wasn't, nor has any album on the list so fallen out of favor that I'd have removed it. So with some hindsight after the break is my rearranged list of 2009s best albums:

Read the rest of this story...

1: Gorgoroth - Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt

2009-12-13 00:10:00 by johan

Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt A friend of mine used to say that bands who played mid-tempo songs those riffs had to be top notch to keep you interested. Bands who played at top speeds could get away with more as the speed covered it up. As somebody who is a sucker for speed I always saw his point, there are few bands that put out mid tempo albums which could keep my interest more than a song or two, if that even. There are of course the exceptions, and wow is this one of them. From the first listen I knew this album would make the top of this list. The vocals and the drums are amazing, the production on the drums could have been better, but the tightness and precision make up for it. Of course it would be nothing without Infernus simple but effective riffs. Without a doubt album of the year.

 

Gorgoroth

2: Funeral Mist - Maranatha

2009-12-11 15:10:42 by johan

Maranatha Every now and then you come across an album, that at first listen does little for you, and even after subsequent listens once it has started to stick can you really put your finger on what it is. This is such an album, on the face of it it's quite standard black metal. However after a few listens you start noticing all those small things: the random ups and down in tempo, the choir thrown in towards the end of "Anti-Flesh Nimbus", the reoccurring religious madness samples (the most prominent being the almost 12 minute long "Blessed Curse"). Once you start finding these anomalies this becomes less and less a standard black metal album and nothing short of a great album.

 

Funeral Mist

3: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars

2009-12-10 14:50:14 by johan

Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars Compared to much else on this list, as well as most of Blut Aus Nord's back catalog this must be classified as easy listening. If Anaal Nathrakh is a jack hammer pulverizing your skull, Blut Aus Nord is a carnivorous earwig slowly turning your brain to mush. Never really staying too long on the same path, this album is quite a far cry from previous ones, I still hold 2003's "The Work Which Transforms God" to be their finest moment but this isn't far behind.

 

Candlelight Records

4: Anaal Nathrakh - In the Constellation of the Black Widow

2009-12-09 16:56:00 by johan

In the Constellation of the Black Widow When asked to compare their current work with past or future works the phrase "most extreme" is often abused. Anaal Nathrakh can with some semblance of honesty actually claim this. I know of few other bands where each release in many ways becomes less listenable than the previous one. The barrage of sound that meets you on this album is astounding, and the vocals are as insane as ever. To say that this album isn't for everybody is an understatement; I think the subset of people whom like metal in general and black metal in particular that can actually stand this album are easily counted, and I can't stop listening.

 

Anaal Nathrakh

5: Shining - VI - Klagopsalmer

2009-12-08 16:16:33 by johan

VI 0 Klagopsalmer Shining has with each release progressed further from their black metal roots to something more akin to a black / dark rock band. I've slowly come to accept it, though I still hold their second album as my favorite. Despite that I like this, I like it a lot, probably not as good as "V - Halmstad", but quite logically the next step. I already look forward to "VII - Fdd Frlorare" due out early 2010.

Shining's Myspace

6: Arckanum -

2009-12-07 19:30:17 by johan

Arckanum can be added to the list of artists which prior to 2009 I had extremely limited exposure to. This album honestly blew me away though, it's consistently strong despite it's range from at times thrashy to at other times melancholic and further into classic monotonous black metal. Don't take this albums relatively low placement as an indication of lack of quality, the list is simply getting quite competitive.

Arckanum

7: Immortal - All Shall Fall

2009-12-06 17:58:21 by johan

all shall fall cover One of the reasons I resisted making genre specific best of lists, is because of albums like this. It fails to fit neatly into any one category, it's for lack of a better word "Immortalish". Keeping with the tradition of the last 4 albums it mixes the Immortal black metal sound with riffs that are decidedly heavy metal. Immortal can get away with it, thanks to the fairly unique vocals. For a bit of a comeback album, not half bad.

Immortal

8: Katharsis - Fourth Reich

2009-12-05 06:09:04 by johan

fourth reich cover Katharsis has always been one of those bands that everybody else has raved about but I never bothered checking out. Partially because I resist hype, and partially because I'm lazy (the latter probably being predominant). I did however pick this album up and, I guess I should have done so sooner. This isn't half bad. 5 songs clocking in at just over 45 minutes means you're in for some serious listening here. It's not in any way ground breaking, but it serves it purpose.

Katharsis

9: Destryer666 - Defiance

2009-12-04 15:38:41 by johan

defiance cover Destryer666 have always been one of my favorite bands. Their thrashy war black metal have been a party staple for as long as I remember. It's been seven years since the last full length, but once again they don't disappoint. Don't get me wrong this is no "Phoenix Rising" or "Unchain The Wolves", but it's a solid slab of exactly what you'd expect from Destryer666, and that's good enough to land them at spot number nine.

Destryer666

10: Nazxul - Iconoclast

2009-12-04 02:23:53 by johan

iconoclast cover It's been 14 years since Nazxul's previous album, "Totem", so it was hard to know what to expect. In all honesty if I was subjected to a blind test I don't think I'd have ever made the connection. Whilst Totem was raw and unrelenting Iconoclast is symphonic and overall pretty easy listening (all things relative). None of that is to say it's not a very enjoyable album, it was just not what I expected. The long sweeping passages will make for excellent reading or coding music.

Nazxul on Myspace

The 2009 list

2009-12-03 15:45:56 by johan

Since we're coming to the end of 2009, I will be posting the mandatory list of album releases I enjoyed the most this year. There will be ten posts in descending order. As these posts will most likely bore some people I'll try to toss in a few other posts as well.