Dec 142015

Austin Lunn


(We are grateful that for the third year in a row Austin Lunn accepted our invitation to share his favorite releases from the year that’s about to end. He is, of course, the man behind one of ours: Panopticon’s Autumn Eternal.)

First off, sorry for the excessive length of my list this year. There was a lot of to choose from and a lot of records to listen to this year. I am sure that I have forgotten some excellent records, and immediately after this is published it’ll hit me. Please keep in mind that there is no particular order or ranking on this list… it is simply a list of records I really enjoyed this year, and I hope that others have, too.

Best wishes,


Nechochwen-Heart of Akamon

Nechochwen – The Heart of Akamon

Nechochwen is a band I have been a fan of for quite some time, and with every single release they redefine themselves, further refining their craft and expanding upon the tremendous foundation they have labored so hard to build. They include their passions in the music, incredible musicianship, and the very precious and rich native history that inspires them. I feel they are a true example of American metal, drawing from the heart-breaking history of this land we live on… screaming the sorrow and loss into the dark, hoping that it will resound in some sort of echo of triumph.




Shape of Despair-Monotony Fields

Shape of Despair – Monotony Fields

This is without a doubt my most listened-to album this year. I have been a fan since the release of Angels of Distress and have been hooked ever since. It is music I listen to to calm myself… music I often play at night to drift off to sleep to… this is their absolute finest and will be the standard that funeral doom is to be compared to in my mind from here on out. Crushing, sorrowful, atmospheric…




Galar-De gjenlevende

Galar – De Gjenlevende

This band is one of the finest Norway has to offer at the moment. In my mind, they belong comfortably alongside bands like Borknagar, Windir, and Blodhemn-era Enlaved. They are epic in scope… the performances are incredible… the song-writing is challenging and unique. I have been obsessed with every album since their first, and with each successive release they break the standard they set for themselves on the preceding album.





Grift – Syner

Without a doubt this is my favorite black metal album of the year. It belongs right alongside Nasheim’s brilliant Solens Vemod album… a sorrowful, gut-wrenching black metal album drenched in atmosphere and emotion. The recording is perfect… the packaging for the LP is amazing… this album is without flaws.





Isvind – Gud

One of the best black metal albums to come out of Norway in quite some time, in my opinion… Isvind has been around for a long time and this is an incredible album. It evokes some of the grit and grime of Dark Waters Stir but pushes their intensity and sound to a new level. It is creative, unique, and pummeling. The drumming on this record is vicious… the vocals are brutal (and at times really unique and inventive). I have listened to this album a ton this year and will likely continue to do so for years to come.




Alda - Passage

Alda – Passage

Alda are one of the finest metal bands America has to offer. This album is such a moving, beautiful record… in the first moments of “The Clearcut”, the music, lyrics, and vocals are so honest and beautiful… it brings the images of the song to mind. This record is exactly the kind of music I am constantly searching for… fragile yet fierce, raw yet clear, emotional and artistic. This is a perfect album, in my opinion.




Tau CRoss cover

Tau Cross – s/t

This album… This is so goddam good. It is the album that should have come in between Amebix’s Monolith and their epic reunion album Sonic Mass. It has a much more punk sound than Sonic Mass and certainly picks up where Monolith left off with its driving drums and crusty riffs, grimy recording, and the Baron’s weathered vocals. The lyrics are amazing… Rob’s insight is always much appreciated, but this critique of the state of the world is refreshing and inspiring. The Baron has a lot to offer metalheads and Punks alike and I for one and grateful for it. This record rules.




Swallow the Sun-Songs From the North

Swallow the Sun – Songs From the North

There are certainly moments that I like more than others on this album, but as a long-time fan of this band I couldn’t help but be excited when I saw they were doing a triple full-length.

Swallow the Sun’s first two albums are absolutely crucial listening to me. In my mind they were the soundtrack to a miserable time in my life and certainly served as an incredible outlet for a time in my life that was dark and dreary… seeming to drag on and on. Swallow the Sun articulates that forlorn and crushing European death doom style perfectly. This record, or should I say these records, are diverse and creative… exploring many facets of the band, isolating their elements and exploring them to extremes. This album deserves praise simply on the fact that in the age of digital media, not many bands are willing to put so much time and money on the line to create such an epic endeavor.




Blood of the Black Owl-WARmth

Blood of the Black Owl – WARmth

Blood of the Black Owl returns with more of Chet Scott’s signature ritualistic, ambient/ metal hybrid, but with a stronger presence of acoustics and a more organic sound this time. I love this band and am always excited to hear more music from Blood of the Black Owl… this album is certainly long-awaited and a bit of a departure from his heavier sound, but certainly a worthy addition to his discography.




Harrow-Fallow Fields

Harrow – Fallow Fields

Somewhere between Skagos and Agalloch, this band is one I have been watching for a long time. They have always written good songs, but to me this is the album where all the planets aligned for them… it has this perfectly raw but discernible production… unique songwriting and structure… cool arrangements and great performances… it is really an enjoyable album.




Paradise Lost-The Plague Within

Paradise Lost – The Plague Within

When I was 13, Draconian Times came out. A friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday. It’s weird thinking about it… I had no idea at that time that Paradise Lost had been one of the originators of the English Death/Doom metal scene…I had no idea what that was… I was 13 in the ’90s in suburban Tennessee.

As time went on, this band continued to be important to me… as my interests changed and grew, I dug deeper and deeper… in my early twenties I was obsessed with the gloom and grit of Lost Paradise, Gothic, and Shades of God… I have enjoyed many of their albums as they have slowly returned to form, but with each record I would say, “Just wait till the next one…”

Well… here it is. This is THE NEXT ONE I have been waiting for. Brutal as hell… gloomy and grey… heavy and dark… and with Mr. Holmes’ filthy death vocals that I had been wanting to hear, coupled with the best moments of Icon and Draconian Times.




Obsequiae-Aria Of Vernal Tombs

Obsequiae – Aria Of Vernal Tombs

Incredible composition and performance wrapped up in an album that tells an amazing musical story, commanding the listener. Perfectly timed breaths of relief, giving the listeners time to digest the intensity they have just consumed… this is a firm step forward for Obesquiae’s already impressive history, and the standard that many of us in the US should measure our musicianship against. Absolutely brilliant.




Seeds In Barren Fields - Let The Earth Be Silent After Ye

Seeds In Barren Fields – Let The Earth Be Silent After Ye

Sweden’s SIBF return with a more emotional, darker, more vicious sophomore album. Decidedly blacker but with moments of beauty… tons of melody, but also dissonance and ugliness. It’s a truly interesting album that requires lots of attention, as it is deep and complex.





Solbrud - Jærtegn

Solbrud – Jærtegn (2014)

This came out in 2014 but I don’t give a damn… I just found it this year.

THIS is phenominal Danish black metal. Pummeling, melodic… fierce… reminds me a bit of if you took WITTR’s Black Cascade and Forteresse’s Métal Noir Québécois and tossed it in a blender…. it’s constant and intense… incredible.





Drudkh-A Furrow Cut Short

Drudkh – A Furrow Cut Short

I love this band and have for quite a while, but am often chastised for the albums I love most by this band… ( I’m pretty obsessed with A Handful of Stars… don’t get me wrong… I love everything they have done, but that album in particular is amazing to my ears). This album is on most everyone I know’s year end-list, and with great reason… it is amazing. Full of passion and rage… intensity and absolutely incredible drumming.




Khors-Night Falls

Khors – Night Falls Onto The Fronts Of Ours

Somewhere stylistically between Drudkh and Kroda (who also released a great album this year), this album expands on the strongest moments of their previous album Wisdom of Centuries and is a really heavy, atmospheric album with pretty slick production. It’s got great performances by the band members and the songwriting is awesome. It’s atmospheric and moody… lots of interesting keyboards and guitar work.




Thulcandra-Ascension Lost

Thulcandra – Ascension Lost

Thulcandra is continuing on their path with Dissection-worshiping melodic blackened death metal. Each album sounds to me like songs that very well could have been cut from Storm Of The Light’s Bane, and it’s fucking great. I love this band.
I hope they keep it coming.




Cruciamentum-Charnel Passages

Cruciamentum – Charnel Passages

Healthy doses of (early) Morbid Angel-esque brutality, with the filth and grime of Gothic-era Paradise Lost… their vocals remind me a lot of His Hero Is Gone… this is awesome death metal… bleak, brutal, and filthy.





Kjeld – Skym

Awesome… totally vicious black metal. This drummer is completely insane.




Misþyrming art

Misþyrming – Söngvar elds og ódreðu

This LP belongs right alongside a band like Mgla… it’s dark and aggressive. intense without being overbearing… raw production… gravelly vocals… interesting riffs… just the right amount of atmosphere. Awesome record.




HAethen-Shaped By Aolian Winds

Haethen – Shaped By Aeolian Winds

Fantastic and aggressive black metal. Perfectly raw but balanced production. Lightning fast blasts… reminds me at moments of earlier Immortal, Wrath of the Tyrant-era Emperor, Nemesis Divina-era Satyricon… but with its own unique flare and instrumentation.




Crypt Sermon-Out of the Garden

Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden

This is the record Candlemass should be trying to make. I am a huge Candlemass fan and haven’t been particularly nuts about anything after King of the Grey Islands (and I might add, the demo versions of those songs in the DOOMOLOGY box set are absolutely crushing). This record is awesome and was given to me for my birthday by a good friend… he knew just what I needed. This is amazing, epic doom that is sure to be revered as an essential record for fans of the genre.




Wilt-Moving Monoliths

Wilt – Moving Monoliths

Gloomy and oppressive… black metal with doom elements, depressive atmospheres… fans of Strid should take note… this band is the soundtrack to the abyss.




Mgla-Exercises In Futility

Mgła – Exercises in Futility

I was late to this band… I am not sure why. My friend Jan showed them to me in a night of heavy drinking at my place. We listened to With Hearts Toward None and I really liked it. This album is an awesome record… but holy crap… that drummer. He is so inventive and unique… his parts are so interesting and intricate yet completely in the pocket and reasonable. He doesn’t over-play at all; instead, he makes everything interesting, sitting in just the right place at just the right time.




My Dying Bride-Feel the Misery

My Dying Bride – Feel The Misery

I love My Dying Bride, so I simply feel an obligation to put their new album on my list. If you like My Dying Bride, you will like this. If you don’t like My Dying Bride, you won’t like this. It is cool to see Calvin Robertshaw return to the band again, although they had some great records with Hamish on guitar as well.






Air Formation - Were We Ever Here

Air Formation – Were We Ever Here

Air Formation’s Daylight Storms album is one of the most often played non-metal records around our house. I love the production and tone of the record… the songs are awesome, and its a great shoegaze record. It’s cool to see them active again and I feel like this new EP fits right in with their Daylight Storms LP and their 57 Octaves Below EP. Awesome, dreamy, atmospheric music.







Grift-Saive split

Grift/Saiva split

Grift are a great band… but the Saiva track on this is really something. Saiva is fucking amazing. I can’t wait to hear a full-length from Saiva. Fans of early Ulver and Lönndom take note.




Old Graves - This Ruin Beneath Snowfall

Old Graves – This Ruin Beneath Snowfall

I have listened to this EP over and over. It is sorrowful yet aggressive… unique and emotive black metal with some interesting acoustic passages. Fans of Woods of Desolation would be super-interested this, I reckon. It’s a very good EP.





Obsidian Tongue-Infera Bruo split

Obsidian Tongue/ Infera Bruo split LP

I haven’t spent as much time with the Infero Bruo side of this record as I should, but the Obsidian Tongue song is one that I have loved since its inception. I was fortunate enough to hear demo versions of this song along the way, and they performed it at Winterblot festival last December… it’s an incredible song crafted by phenomenal musicians. Infera Bruo also released a great album this past year, In Conjuration, which you should check out as well.





Manii – Skuggeheimen

What is essentially a new incarnation of the amazing Norwegian black metal band MANES, whose early work is essential in the blueprint of depressive black metal… this EP is a re-recording of two MANES songs from their superb demo, “Til Kongens Grav De Døde Wandrer” and ” Ned I Stillheten”. This EP is fucking awesome. I have listened to this a lot (as well as their preceding full-length, Kollaps). If you are into older-sounding, raw black metal with a lot of atmosphere, this is for you.




Addaura - And The Lamps Expire

Addaura – And The Lamps Expire

This record is awesome. Fans of Skagos and Fauna will certainly love this… it is very atmospheric and yet organic… a beautiful record indeed… deserving of many many listens.




LP Reissues:


Falls of Rauros - Hail Wind and Hewn Oak

Falls of Rauros – Hail Wind and Hewn Oak

First proper full-length by Maine’s finest finally reissued on wax. Raw and beautiful… this is an introspective album. It is very close to my heart and it is awesome to have it on wax. Mastered by Andrew from Nechochwen and with new art by Nate Burns.




Waldgeflüster - Femundsmarka LP

Waldgeflüster – Femundsmarka LP

This is one of my favorite albums of all time. One of the finest bands Germany has to offer, in my opinion. An absolutely perfect album finally on wax. I’m also going to throw in here that I have been lucky enough to hear the demo’s for the next Waldgeflüster album and they are completely insane. Much darker, more complex song structures… it is going to be something else!




Mare Cognitum-Phobos Monolith

Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith

I had meant to add this release to my list last year, but there were so many great records that I forgot until it was already published. This record is amazing… reminds me of Blut Aus Nord but more technical and with a more extreme sense of urgency. The LP is amazing…crazy colored vinyl with vibrant art. Killer album.


  1. Wow! for once I’ve heard a lot of his choices and they’re all STELLAR. That Nechochwen is really special.

  2. There are a bunch of bands that sound right up my alley in this list…looking forward to giving Harrow and SIBF a first listen. I really like the songwriting from what I’ve heard of that Galar album, but the production irks me to no end. It sounds super loud to me, gets in the way of enjoying the songs.

    Great pick on the Nechochwen! I salivate all over that album 😀

    Thanks for putting this one together, lots to delve into!

  3. Holy List. This is amazing. A bunch of greats from my own lists as well as much to dig into.
    But yeah, Nechochwen is easily one of the very best of the past number of years. What a fully realized piece of work.

  4. So happy to see Nechochwen! It’s a shame none of the ”big-platform websites” are giving them recognition, their record was truly inspiring and both harsh and clean vocals were excellent!

    Surprised not to see Downfall Of Nur on the list though, their album had a beautifully folky WITTR vibe.

  5. Always enjoy reading Austin’s list..theres always stuff on here that passed me by during the year

  6. I didn’t even realize I was hankering for new shoegaze until I listened to Air Formation. Going to listen again, then listen to “Black Metallic” by Catherine Wheel 17 times in a row. (It’s been that kind of day.)

  7. I always dig Lunn’s list, it’s an excellent guide to the past year’s great metal 🙂

  8. Shape of Despair getting the love it deserves

  9. That Galar is a real sleeper for me. Been meaning to get back to it forever.

  10. Lots of great bands on this list, such a great year for BM, glad Mgla, Alda and Nechochwen were mentioned definitely in my top this year!

  11. Some real diverse stuff in here. For me Khors and Thulcandra are stand out picks – I hadn’t heard either, so thanks!

    • I’m afraid it’s not quite that simple. Is this man fucking nazi scum?

    • And I would add that if you’re suggesting from that old photo of Eisenslav that Kroda is a NSBM band, you would be wrong. There is nothing in the band’s lyrics or public stance that supports that charge, and Eisenslav has denied it as well. It’s obviously up to you if you want nothing to do with any kind of music made by someone who would ever wear such a shirt, but that’s different from implying that Kroda is NSBM or — even worse — that there’s something wrong with Austin Lunn (or me, for that matter) appreciating Kroda’s music.

      • Shinkar Artem – Eisenslav from Kroda was also part of band Protest – NSBM, RAC and White Pride music, that can not be denied.
        Same case is the band Лють – Rage – pure White Pride, Anti-Semitism, NS … Eisenslav – in this band as S.A. is leading member of these bands !!! Wake up please !
        He is also connected to Temnozor – Темнозорь – another NSBM, Right-wing band and so on … .

    • anyone else think it’s a little funny that the person who is up in arms about this has Hatriot (hateful patriot?) as his site name? hmmmm….. Hate to be the one to point this out but I don’t think many of us can really say too much about the content of metal music in general. I am a big fan of Watchmaker but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I support anyone going out and Killing Fucking Everyone. Likewise I’m sure the chaps from Cannibal Corpse for instance don’t really want you to go give oral sex to a dead body, it’s all just imagery used to further the atmosphere of the music. Beyond all of that…….. this is metal music. It was never really meant to be pc in the first place.

  12. DRUDKH? Didnt know and really sad about that Panopticon support NSBM? Drudkh members are from Hate Forest just for example …

    • You’re way off base in suggesting that Panopticon knowingly supports NSBM. You’re also off-base in branding Drudkh a NSBM band, though they’re clearly Ukrainian nationalists. Here’s one of the few (maybe only) statements by the band about this:

      “”During all its history, the band followed a ‘no photos, no interviews, no website, no gigs’ policy, which was nobly accepted by DRUDKH’s new label Season of Mist. The absence of any comments or information from DRUDKH’s side gave an opening to a few ignorant internet warrior-fans to spread rumors, that the band embraces some extreme political views. This is absolutely misleading and a total profanation, since there is nothing in DRUDKH’s music or lyrics that would suggest any political outlook. DRUDKH praise individualism, self-improvement and estrangement from modern values.”

      • Thanks for your reply Islander. Fact is that member of Drudkh Roman Saenko is part of Hate Forest, which is 100% NSBM. Blood of Kingu (other members of Drudkh are part of this act) is also very near to NSBM. It is only foreseeable, that members from NSBM bands have NS ideology. For me its logical, because I dont separate music and its content. Iam in the geographical region.

        • But my point is that there is nothing I know of about the content of Drudkh’s music that is NSBM. To repeat something I wrote in response to a comment above about Kroda, it is the choice of each listener to decide they will not listen to any music made by someone who has political associations that are distasteful, even if a particular band they are in, or the music of that band, has nothing to do with those associations. But to take that a step further and suggest that another person (like Austin or myself) has crossed some line by appreciating the music of such a band (which has no NSBM agenda in its music at all), goes way too far.

          • IMHO: In my world Man can not be divided from his Work. If you suggest doing this, than ok, why not, but it does not serve as proof, that Eisenslav or Roman are not doing NS, right-wing, white pride stuff.

            • What a tired, boring argument. If you don’t like their politics by all means, don’t buy or listen to their music. But don’t be surprised if people dismiss your hand wringing and pearl clutching.

        • And I hope it’s clear that I would never knowingly support NSBM myself. That’s not what we’re talking about here, though, in my opinion.

    • You are very misinformed. Stop perpetuating this myth. Do some research ffs. Drudkh never was NSBM…

  13. As usual Lunn’s taste and year-end list practically mirrors my own. It should come as no surprise that this man knows his metal!

    Only thing missing is the Macabre Omen which I think is the best album in a decade. Nice to see the Galar up on another list too as I have had that thing on constant rotation since it came out. 2015 has been a GREAT fucking year.

  14. Just got that Wilt in the mail yesterday. Some of it is immediately likeable, some I can tell will need time to grow on me. Glad I got it.

  15. Excellent list,i also found bands that i did’t know.
    I was very happy that i saw ALDA,GRIFT, and MARE COGNITUM,great Bands and great releases this year.
    Have everyone a Great New Year with lots of music.

  16. Fantastic list. This finally spurred me to pick up that Galar release, and a bunch of the rest are in my Bandcamp wishlist now too.

  17. So happy to see another list from Austin. Now I have a couple more albums to delve into that I’m sure I will enjoy.

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