I enjoy almost every sub-genre of the extreme metal tree, but over the years I ended up focusing on black metal more compared to the others because I found it to be ridiculously diverse. So how did the first half of 2019 fare when it comes to black metal? Not bad at all I would say. While there were way more releases that I very much enjoyed, these are some of the ones that clicked with me right away. They are not ranked in any particular order.
MORILD – “Så kom mørket og tog mig på ordet En sort sky af minder I afgørende stunder Frosset fast til mit indre Jeg håber det forsvinder med lyset At dø eller blive fri”
Atmospheric black metal has become so overdone that I can’t help it but label it mostly redundant. It’s all about folksy elements, covers of forests and a dash of melody and you have your atmospheric black album. There are a few bands that mastered this branch of the sub-genre, but there are others that only try to cash in on the popularity of it. However, every once in a while I do come across a band that just has a different approach, a band that tries to break the mould and push things forward. MORILD does all this on their enchanting debut by creating a sense of mystery and paving a journey of self-discovery. A brilliant composition that brings light to a scene lost in the dark.
Read my review here
NUMENOREAN – “Adore”
I’m not sure if I would’ve checked this album if it wasn’t for the big Count Vlad. Some albums tend to get lost in my ever expanding Wishlist and if the cover isn’t exactly eye-catching, they are doomed to remain undiscovered. I’m glad though this one received a place in my permanent collection. “Adore” is a post-black metal jewel. It has a crisp, clear production compared to the murky, shoegaze sound other peers use and so, the instruments are clearly separated in the mix and get to shine as brightly as they should. In addition, the beautiful interludes add a nice touch to the whole record.
YELLOW EYES – “Rare Field Ceiling”
I thought a lot if I should include this in my list considering how late it came out, but the fanboy in me couldn’t contain himself. I regard YELLOW EYES as some sort of black metal paradox, because to me they don’t sound evil but they aren’t exactly tranquil, they are not overly melodic, nor too raw. I have no idea how they manage to achieve this chaotic neutral sound, but what I’m sure about is that with “Rare Field Ceiling” they provide a gripping cathartic listen. The field recordings are present as usual creating a feeling of deep meditation, but this time around with some samples straight from Siberia.
MEPHORASH – “Shem Ha Mephorash”
While I do enjoy my black metal seasoned with neck-breaking speeds, I welcome a well thought mid-paced album. “Shem Ha Mephorash” is the most cohesive record I listened to in the past few years. Everything just adds up to from this 70+ minute beast: the cabalistic theme regarding the 72-fold name of God, the very well designed lyrics booklet with esoteric artwork, the album cover riddled with symbolism, the solemn, religious sound of the music. Everything just clicks perfectly into place.
Read my review here
AORATOS – “Gods without name”
I’m closing this list with a total descend into madness. While this project bears the unmistakable mark of the dark mind of Naas Alcameth, it still manages to separate itself from the visionary’s other artistic endeavours, by mixing elements from Akhlys and Nightbringer, while still maintaining its own identity. “Gods Without Name” explores a dark oneiric space devoid of all light or hope and for its entire duration, the listener is left wondering what’s lurking in the tenebrous murkiness of this cold void. Despair washes over you as you wish to escape this sonic hell but at the same time are unable to do so. Indeed, this album further cements Alcameth’s importance in the scene with his twisted brand of occult black metal.
Read my review here
*Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.