A FEAST BEYOND ART 2015 (A YEAR-END LIST BY SEMJAZA OF THY DARKENED SHADE)
(Once again we invited Semjaza, the main man behind the superb Greek black metal band Thy Darkened Shade, to share with us his lists of favorite releases from 2015, and we thank him for doing so.)
No need for a truly lengthy introduction since this is my second list at No Clean Singing, but here is the music that I enjoyed most during 2015.
There is much great music and too little time, therefore, lock yourselves in your home, listen, buy, and play music (read and meditate as well). Then, go outside in the wilderness for more inspiration, away from the vermin and towards the black earth.
I will hereby present my eleven most important albums of 2015, along with some other ones that I cherished this year. Apart from my ultimate best album, which is “The Book of Souls” by Iron Maiden, there is no particular order in the following list.
1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
My favorite band of all time; I grew up with them, listening to Iron Maiden since I was in primary school (before I even learnt to read properly) and I still shiver with every album they release and every single live performance I’ve been fortunate to witness.
This is the album I’ve listened to a million times since it came out. The inspiration I receive from them is timeless, and the fact that they released the new album as a double CD is once more totally inspirational and a very anti-mainstream thing to do.
In times when many heavy metal bands wimped out and completely lost the fire, Iron Maiden (along with King Diamond) always deliver heavy metal anthems from the heart. With hymns like “If Eternity Should Fail”, “The Book of Souls”, “The Red and the Black”, “Death or Glory” (or the whole album), this is a total win. I can’t wait to see them live again and for Bruce to release his new solo album.
Iron Maiden always offer numerous occult references in their tracks (from Aleister Crowley, to Alchemy and John Dee, and also countless references to religious themes and revelation) that can awaken those few who hear the call of the abyss.
To god’s illusion which I recall
Was our delusion before the fall
The angels come and angels go
But the lord of light shining below
Up the Irons until the end!
2. Dodheimsgard – A Umbra Omega
One of my most valued bands of all time returned. This band always manages to produce different albums that are landmarks in their respective genres. From the black metal classic called Kronet Til Konge, to the madness of black thrash (Monumental Possession), the first Devil Doll experimentations of Satanic Art (which contains one of the absolute best hymns of black metal called “Traces of Reality”), and the masterpiece of avant-garde that meets industrial and black metal called 666 International. DHG inspire to break all boundaries, which is the very essence of all Devilish arts.
In the new album, the madman is back with them, with one of his most avant-gardish vocal performances ever. This is pioneer metal music with tons of inspiration, tons of challenging musical ideas, a really individualistic production against trends and a blueprint of soulful art.
While fake bands are copying each other, DHG come to inspire with their own vision and sound. This will be a future all-time favorite release of mine. Now, I need to grab the guitar again and learn all the new songs like I always do with their music.
3. Amestigon – Thier
Amestigon have never gotten the praise that they deserve, but I feel now it is time for people to acknowledge their value.
Having been collecting all Abigor-related releases, I became a believer of Amestigon since Höllentanz. I was expecting Thier with the highest of expectations and I was right.
This album is spiritual, individualistic, deep, unique, with alot of doomy parts. Thier becomes better with every listen; I‘ve been playing this album since I heard it, on a very regular basis, and I will continue to do so.
World Terror Committee will soon release both Sun of All Suns (which will include the amazing track as a bonus called “Invocation Of My Demon Brother”) and Their on vinyl, so the time to purchase your copies approaches.
4. Clandestine Blaze – New Golgotha Rising
Ancient black metal with uncompromising sound and attitude that literally comes with an evil breeze (black metal should always come with an evil breeze). This is another indication that black metal can still be radical, minimal, primitive, and unique at the same time.
Nowadays bands and people are so positive, to serve the status quo and appear safe (while they desperately want to convince themselves that they are extreme). Clandestine Blaze’s music and attitude is always a bliss.
5. Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden
Here we obviously have one of the most important doom metal albums of our times, not only of this year. I am now really looking forward to more albums by them. I was left in awe while listening to this masterpiece and it reminded me of the feelings I had when I first heard the classics of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus.
No fake sounds here, no pseudo-triggered doom metal. The unbelievers of true doom should perish in flames; this is true metal that comes with a great cover artwork, too.
Hail Lilith! Hail Pazuzu!
6. Archgoat – The Apocalyptic Triumphator
One of the ultimate bestial records I’ve heard in my entire life. Bells, devil worship themes, traditional sounding drums, Beherit fire, abyssic keys, and Christophe Moyen cover.
7. Grudom – Troldviser I Granskygge
Should I say individualistic again? Ok, highly individualistic, meditative, obscure black metal out via the amazingly cult of Mysticism Productions (sub-label of Ancient Records). Haunting and frosty atmosphere that reminds us again that black metal should be always individualistic and spiritual.
8. Leviathan – Scar Sighted
Wrest returns with a profoundly unique album, playing everything by himself and also painting the whole admirable artwork. This is one of the best albums he has composed, a mix between Lurker of Chalice and the bleak atmosphere of Leviathan with a bit of thrashy mood in a few parts. Now, let’s wish for a devilish Lurker of Chalice return.
On a footnote, The Lurker of Chalice (2005) full-length album is one of the best underground bm releases ever.
9. Mgla – Exercises in Futility
Remarkable ”melodious” black metal with individual sound and malicious aura; an addictive album that becomes better every time. In case someone doesn’t know, it is noteworthy here the masterpiece album of the mainman’s other band, Kriegsmaschine, called Altered States of Divinity (2005).
10. Múspellzheimr – Hyldest Til Trolddommens Flamme
Epic real atmospheric black metal near the essence of old Ulver. This album also includes some clean haunting vocals. Múspellzheimr produce their own sound, which is close to the ’90s black metal fire.
There are no promotional or mainstream magazine tricks here, in order for the release to sell and become hype, just true uncompromising greatness from the black heart that worships the abyss. What once was and what always shall be, black metal from the void!
11. Akhlys – The Dreaming I
Astral travels, lucid dreams, to the death and towards the beyond. Akhlys produced an amazing spiritual release that will accompany me in the years to come. And obviously, (if one didn’t check when it was out) the masterpiece of underground black metal by Nightbringer called Death and the Black Work (2008) should be mentioned here.
FAVORITE BLACK METAL EP
Malign – A Sun To Scorch
The return of Malign shall be properly celebrated with a Chalice of Luciferian Blood; mandatory EP of 2015, can’t wait for a full album.
FAVORITE HELLENIC RELEASES OF 2015
Macabre Omen – Gods of War at War
Profound and epic-sounding band from Hellas; their first album was great and one I listened to on a continuous basis when it was out. The new one is even better. It is a mix of traditional ’90s Hellenic bm sound (and Hellenic music in general) with epic Bathory influences, Norwegian/Swedish bm madness, but still maintains a really individualistic sound; a grand release that will remain classic.
Ithaqua – Initiation To Obscure Mysteries
Serious Hellenic bm ep worshiping the ways of the old. Apart from reminding me of my school years, this is one of the few releases that revived the old coffin spirit along with the latest releases by Empire of the Moon and Hierophant’s Descent.
NEAR HELLENIC BM
Necromantic Worship – Spirit of the Entrance Unto Death
This band is from the Netherlands and, as the name of the band indicates, they deliver a worship to Necromantia. Being a Necromantia fanatic myself, this wasn’t able to escape my radar and I listened to it many times.
Other metal albums that I listened a lot this year and I recommend, in no particular order of liking:
Nachash – Conjuring the Red Death Eclipse
Love this EP, very much looking forward to their full album; really cult and ancient-sounding black metal.
Djevel – Saa raa og kald
Two ’90s-inspired black metal releases featuring a brother of the path and a real black metal diehard, something which is rare in our days.
Kvltist – Catechesis
Killer tecnhical bm that worships the one and only real source. Having been listening to this epicness since its conception, I have gained much faith since then for this band.
Barshasketh – Ophidian Henosis
Solemn Swedish/Norwegian-influenced bm with plenty of melodies that stick to the mind, with great vocals that remind of Pest from old Gorgoroth.
Shrine of Insanabilis – Disciples of the Void
Great bm with riffing filled with power and strength.
Sepulchral Zeal – Open
Death metal from the crypt.
Death Karma – The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I
Nice concept album with great artwork. Very powerful release; looking forward to the new Cult of Fire album as well.
Infra – Initiation on the Ordeals of Lower Vibrations
Very idiosyncratic sounding abyssic band.
Black Flame – The Origin of Fire
Impressive black metal release from this Italian band that I listened to a lot this year.
Degial – Savage Mutiny
Death metal album of the year along with Cruciamentum’s Charnel Passages and The Heart of the Netherworld by Desolate Shrine.
Satan – Atom by Atom
Traditional heavy metal from this ultra-cult band, grand album.
RAM – Svbversvm
There are influences from Sanctuary/Judas Priest/King Diamond here and therefore, Heavy Metal epicness.
Ranger – Where Evil Dwells
Speed/thrash destruction with some Iron Maiden moments and some evil lyrics, one of the best of the latest bands in this genre.
Trial – Vessel
Classic heavy metal blessedness with amazing vocals and Mercyful Fate-influenced parts.
Mirror – Mirror
Old school hard rock/heavy metal with amazing classic production.
Mondo Drag – Mondo Drag
Listening to the album is like being in a time machine travelling to the ’70s and listening to a classic prog-rock band.
NON-METAL ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
Deverills Nexion – Sinister Tarot
King Dude – Songs of Flesh & Blood – In The Key of Light
Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
Murgrind – Inheritor of the Forest Throne
Jännerwein – Eine Hoffnung
Apócrýphos – The Prisoners Cinema
Amazing 2014 releases that I listened to more in 2015:
Darkspace – Dark Space III I
Hetroertzen – Ain Soph Aur
Non-Metal releases that I listened to this year and I really liked:
Brazen Serpent – Perditions Call To Prayer (2014)
Kinit Her – Storm of Radiance (2012)
Also, very much looking forward for a release from Night Profound called Lux, Evocatio Nox. And as always, I really can’t wait for new music from Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Abigor, Katharsis, S.V.E.S.T, Watain, Drastus, Altar of Perversion, Deathspell Omega, Thorns.
I still want to listen to and buy more music from 2015 releases that I didn’t manage to properly listen to, and dwell in their dimension. People who think that there isn’t great music out these days should either cut their ears or start listening again with the same passion that they used to do.
Apparently, aside from these releases, plenty of older music accompanied me this year: from old school traditional metal gems to everything black metal related, prog and classic rock, classical majestic music, ritualistic ambient, devout/religious music, avant-garde, dark folk, dark wave, etc.
Benedictions to No Clean Singing for the invitation once again.
There’s some great picks here. That Amestigon is wonderful.
….figured this list would be killer, and I was right
Interesting list, there’s a lot of stuff on here I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere. I’m liking Brazen Serpent and Amestigon.
I do my best to keep up, but this is a deep list with lots of things I haven’t heard before. That’s one of the main reasons I had hoped he would do this for us again this year.
Superb list but I was sure since Liber Lucifer I is one of the best black metal releases of our recent times.Need plenty of time to listen to all of this.
Crypt Sermon is stoked. Thanks!
A ton of releases I haven’t heard, but the ones I have are indeed fantastic, which means I’m gonna have to set aside some time to explore the new faces on this list.
Yeesh. I didn’t expect these last few lists… I was just getting settled. Keeping a list of new releases but focusing on old releases for the time being (at least until Abbath comes out) and yet, here we are… last years Semjaza list was killer and like a few of you noted, a bunch i haven’t heard… so now I’m torn… It appears I’ll have to spend my day exploring this list instead of listening to Thy Catafalque and all the other things I had cued up. 😛