(For the seventh year in a row (!), I invited my friend Johan Huldtgren of the Swedish black metal band Obitus — whose new album Slaves of the Vast Machine (reviewed and premiered here) was itself one of the year’s best black metal albums — to share with us his year-end list. Once again, he agreed. This list previously appeared on Johan’s own blog.)
Another year has flown by, in my case quite literally, so here we are again with a new edition of “albums I enjoyed this year”. From what I’ve seen of the lists posted here so far, many of my picks haven’t made others’ lists so I guess either my taste has diverged from that of the median NCS:er or you’ve all missed out on some worthy albums; hopefully it’s the latter and this will be useful for you.
10: Aosoth – V: The Inside Scriptures
A murky death metal blanket wrapped over DsO-inspired French black metal. When they put the pedal to the metal, as on the excellent second track, this gets really interesting.
9: One Master – Lycanthropic Burrowing
Harsh and pummeling yet well put together, this might be the least accessible album on this list, but well worth it. Stick it out and give it a few spins and you’ll see.
8: Auðn – Farvegir Fyrndar
Atmospheric melodic-tinged black metal which, while it doesn’t bring much new to the table, is mostly well-executed; it does itself well as background music.
7: Blut Aus Nord – Deus Salutis Meæ
Blut Aus Nord harks back more towards releases such as Odinist or Mort, which suits me just fine; that tends to be my favourite version of them. While some of it feels like they’ve done better, it’s still better than much else out there.
6: Acrimonious – Eleven Dragons
Acrimonious brings us their third album, Eleven Dragons. The Hellenic trio brings us 11 (shocking) tracks of latter-day black metal, often reminiscent of a time before Watain got boring. So while there isn’t much here that is decidedly groundbreaking, it’s well-written, and well-executed, and with a perfectly blended production.
Spanning the spectrum from at times atmospheric to blistering. Selbst bring us a sprawling debut of well-executed black metal. A band to keep your eye on.
4: Blaze of Perdition – Conscious Darkness
Four tracks, 46 minutes, long-form is back this year. “Ashen Remain” and “Detachment Brings Serenity” are the two highlights on an excellent album where even the weak spots are very strong.
3: Bestia Arcana – Holókauston
Nightbringer side project Bestia Arcana brings us Holókauston and it’s every bit as good as you could expect given those involved. If complex, uncompromising blackmetal is your thing, then this is the album for you.
2: Crafteon – Cosmic Reawakening
Blending the better parts of melodic black with slightly grimier deathmetal we end up with an album of some gravitas. Without that it would easily have descended into something which would have given us all diabetes. Lovecraftain horror black/death at its best.
1: Nightbringer – Terra Damnata
Not satisfied with just releasing Bestia Arcana, within two weeks mostly the same folks drop the latest Nightbringer, just to show the rest of us how it’s done. They also released a split track with Abigor / Thy Darkened Shade / Mortuus, and mastermind Naas Alcameth released an album with his more deathmetal oriented band Excommunion. Lest we forget, last year he also released one of that year’s best with Akhlys. Busy guy.
Now, if you’re familiar with Nightbringer the sound will come as no surprise; from the first riff there is no doubt about what you’re listening to, it’s just faster, tighter, and the sound has gotten a nice polish to just bring everything out in the clear. I think I said it best in my closing remarks last they graced my list:
“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.”
That sentiment hasn’t changed; blackmetal needs more Nightbringers.