(For the fourth year in a row we invited Semjaza, the main man behind the superb Greek black metal band Thy Darkened Shade and also a member of the formidable Acrimonious, to share with us his lists of favorite releases, and he again agreed. This year, his year-end thoughts will again be presented in multiple parts, of which this is the first.)
Upon contemplating which albums I listened to and bought this year, I comprehended that the list is vast. I don’t view my lists at NCS as the regular end-year lists since I am not completely interested in that. This is an opportunity to spread the message and, along with it, some of the releases that spoke to me each year. This is by no means a way to review these albums. With the over-flooding of the mainstream, I see lists including the same albums over and over again. That’s one of the core reasons I decided to appear regularly at a web-zine like NCS.
With that being stated, I prefer a no year list than another tasteless list with the same bands that engulf the magazines and the internet. It is infrequently that a list can do anything to me personally. Some of us are here to prove that brain-dead paid reviews or public relationship praise aren’t the solitary reasons to write such articles.
I have been and still am fanatical with zines and the diehard devotion that some of them convey. Currently, it is even more significant to spread the zines that go stronger with honesty and passion than ever before. Particularly for black metal, some people keep overlooking how vital the threatening mindset really is. Without that mindset and the mystical devotion there is no black metal, period. The Sinister Flame, Bardo Methodology, V.I.T.R.I.O.L, Forgotten Path are just a few instances of zines that I am looking forward to additional issues. Buy their issues and fund their deepest efforts. Melting this unholy art way too much with the mainstream has made people disremember the sinister viewpoints and focus on just the music. Black metal was never only about music. If I want pure boundless music with no inquisitiveness for the concept, I would rather listen to progressive rock.
Bleak music is circulating everywhere in the world, which is rather rational if you consider that most human beings are breathing zombies. Programmed petty creatures, with no actual expertise in any field of their individual lives. They want their laid-back listening practices to trail their unfilled life’s schedule. Then again, I piss on all those aspiring reviewers and musicians who have no determination to state or produce anything of worth. Most of the time, these ones are the first to judge attainments beyond their own grasp. Fairly realistically, individuals who never went through the losses needed to generate true sinister art desire to parasitize within their safety net and just rant instead of contributing. Those who speak a lot, do not act. It is absurd to see people ”reviewing” without truly commenting or saying anything for the albums they review. It is even infrequent to see any respected comments for any album concept or artwork, since a lot of reviewers currently listen to their albums via YouTube with no actual profound linking to anything apart from their vacant opinions. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to every rule.
There are a great many problems within the metal scene. Through the misuse of the internet some leeching cretins disremember that to aid a band’s effort undoubtedly doesn’t mean to leak an album way before its release date. That arrogant behavior only demonstrates the brain-dead consumer stance of the nowadays metal fan. When someone isn’t even able to recall one track from an album, he is not entitled to make any judgement, in the same way that I cannot express anything of worth about an album I have not even heard correctly. I recall a day when most of the listeners used to study even the credits on each album to absorb every single detail of it.
Furthermore, there are the ego-based musicians who ”love music” but do not care about anything else apart from their individual fame and forged grandeur. Phony ”occultists” within specifically the black metal scene who can’t properly spell their names or compose any meaningful sentence but at the same time attempt to convince others that they have resolved the secrecies of universe B. Posing ego-worshiping idiots whose achievements are far less than their words. Amusing sites from canny elitist wannabes, who appear to joke about great attainments. Bands that track whatever is fashionable in each specified period. Paid reviews in magazines and monotonous garbage album marketing. Tours with useless bands that are fit for the trash can. But the great thing is that these will be forgotten while accurate testaments of art will endure persistently.
Still to this day I have my private issues with the precise labeling of black metal art. These recent years my issues with correct labeling are even bigger than earlier. And since words are a way to communicate at the mundane plane, when I say black metal, I mean apocryphal, arcane art dedicated to Lucifer. As I said beforehand, that doesn’t mean that music deprived of such Left Hand Path concepts isn’t good/great or mediocre/bad, but unquestionably it isn’t black metal. My individual annoyance stems from the fact that black metal has been linked by the ill-informed with cultures and feeble values that have no place in such an exceptional spiritual crusade.
A tiny history search of what was labelled as black metal in the ’80s and what defined this movement in the ’90s will demonstrate what I say is 111% valid. Some titles of the classics include: Satanic Rites, The Return of the Darkness and Evil, In Gate of Hell, Come to the Sabbath, Welcome Princess of Hell, Sons of Satan, Satanic Lust, Fallen Angel, Obsessed by Necromancy, The Ritual Murder, The Knowledge of the Ancient Kingdom, Evil Prayers, Inno a Satana, Satanas Tedeum, Evil Prevails, Satanic Blood, Diabolic Unity, Spell of Destruction, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Paragon Belial, Blood upon the Altar, The Priest of Satan, Black Arts, etc. Need I state more? I can write the names of primary classic tracks with parallel Satanic concepts until the end of times since that is the old-school concept of the black metal artform.
Back in the day, not a Left Hand Path concept meant at once not a black metal band, but something else. Bands like Enslaved or Immortal agreeably accepted that they weren’t black metal due to not being Satanic. So what defined black metal? In the ’80s it was largely the Satanic concept with metal music. In the ’90s it was the aforementioned plus the creed put into practice with no remorse, and the will to produce something much more than just music.
In conclusion, consider these lists as the albums that I listened to more and that will stay with me. Notably, I also continuously listen to a lot of the classics I grew up with, and also, I bought music not released in 2017 from various genres.
PART I – ELEVEN ALBUMS I LISTENED TO A LOT FROM 2017 A.B.
I. ABIGOR “Höllenzwang (Chronicles Of Perdition)”
I was raised up with Abigor’s releases amongst others. The previous years I have been fortunate to observe their progress even more closely. Even if the album is not yet released, this is the one I listened to more in 2017. I was honored to offer some few vocal lines on this album, but since I wasn’t the composer, I have the utter right to say it is unquestionably my preferred black metal album this year (their album Leytmotif Luzifer-The 7 Temptations of Man was my favorite in 2014 as well). Very few times I come across bands that have a passion equivalent to their early years to compose sinister music for the right reasons.
Most of my favourite bands whose early works I still adore, have wimped out. Abigor is one of the rare exceptions that still breathe for black metal. Their persistent mania to contribute differently each time they create a new album inspired my musical concepts for Thy Darkened Shade albums. This album is not an exception since they managed to generate a whirling of chaotic black metal immensity performed with remarkable passion and contributing in a different way than before to the movement. Here Abigor are melting their old with their newer sound.
I am effortlessly bored with the currently aspiring Deathspell Omega replica bands demonstrating their accidental dissonant riffs; I permanently feel that a sense of real Satanic hymns within black metal is vital these days. Deathspell Omega is a pioneering band that very few can come even close to.
In this album I can hear hymns straight from the pits of Hades. Although, I respect all Abigor albums, I will like it if they do a total return to a record dedicated to the Tonstudio Hörnix sound. With Höllenzwang this feeling of mine is reinforced. Concept-wise the album at first glance seems like a traditionalist sinful black metal concept with a return-to-basics vibration; however, it has much more than that to offer the listener. The clean vocals offer a very solemn sensation, and the black metal vocals are possibly Silenius’ finest performance. But enough with my words, just buy the album and be absorbed by its void.
For me, this album can be summarized as this: A vortex of death and destruction, no one will enter His kingdom unless he becomes like Him.
II. ARCKANUM “Den Förstfödde”
As with Abigor, Arckanum is a giant inspiration to me. I hold Shamaatae’s vision in high regard. His band is one of the most serious in terms of ideological spiritual black metal. I am permanently looking forward to everything that he is doing both as a writer and musician. Arckanum is a band that never compromised its vision, and that is something I truly reverence. I was unhappy to hear that this is going to be his last album. But I hope that he will reappear. This album is something diverse from what he usually does. Very doomy at times and much less thrashy; it is really a grower. There are parts with no drums at all but just guitars, which build the atmosphere for the rising of the serpent within the spine. Some violin parts are vastly haunting. and the use of a heavy distorted bass at parts reminds me of another legendary band: Necromantia. In the scene of exaggerated potential occultists, Shamaatae’s anticosmic music and spiritual quest is constantly needed.
III. CLANDESTINE BLAZE “City Of Slaughter”
Best raw black metal album of the year. Uncompromising vision and evil defiance. A must, as simple as that. If this abum was released by any known Norwegian band it would have been praised forever.
IV. DOMGÅRD “Ödelagt”
For sure, the greatest Domgård album to date. An album with a sense of what black metal is about. Spiritual and heretical music that retains many shades of evil. Clean chantings offer an olden black metal dimension that I adore. Ambient at times, epic and majestic, with the real sense of the word. The album also has Burzum moments, some classic Swedish black metal melodies, and even thrash riffing insanity. But undoubtedly it goes beyond all that. The never-ending riffing possession that this album holds is something that is almost absent in the majority of the black metal bands now.
The latest trend in the mainstream media to glorify a very retarded old Ulver rip off of a certain female-fronted untalented band should be overturn by starting to take notice of the real deal. Bands like Domgård deserve much more attention.
V. INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS “The Crowning Quietus”
I have been spreading this release since I first heard it. Largely because I consider it one of those albums that melt the legacy of metal like very few recently. From black to thrash, death to heavy metal, and also ’70s rock. This album sensibly merges together the influences of the band to create a black metal album like few in this year. Along with Malokarpatan, this album sustains the heritage of the whole metal genre through a black metal perspective and concept. Now I only request that the new Negative Plane will be out soon. The Crowning Quietus is inspiring, I have the sensation that more great things will come from the band.
VI. KROLOK “Flying Above Ancient Ruins”
’90s-revering black metal, the way it should be. I already adore this release. This is among the concealed gems of the underground that should be discovered by any serious listener. A classic black metal album with early Darkthrone and even some Necromantia vibes. The album offers a sense of astrally flying above medieval castles with evil lurking everywhere.And the final transformation of the individual into something else. Every single riff has value, and the nice bass-lines add to the overall result.
My eyes were open to the twilight
And I can no longer speak
of fleshly matters
From the bastions I have seen the Abyss
and am now blinded to the world.
VI. MALOKARPATAN “Nordkarpatenland”
Absolute boundless metal riffing feast. One of the albums that I know will stay with me. A mix of Master’s Hammer, the two first albums of Mercyful Fate, early Bathory, and Kill ‘Em All. There are also some Iron Maiden twin-guitar leads and bass lines that add to the total masterpiece. They are offering their own touch to the greatness of the above influences. The legends are real and the devil lurks in every one of them.
VIII. OFERMOD “Sol Nox”
Ofermod needs no introduction since their diehard stance influenced many, and the attention that they get is less than what they deserve. Sol Nox is for sure the best album from this classic and influential band. After Svartsyn’s victorious return with In Death, Sweden’s red dragon Ofermod returns.
Mystérion Tés Anomias is undeniably one of my chosen black metal EPs of all time. I sense this album is like a continuation of that masterpiece. Great atmosphere and vocals contributed by Tehôm from Mortuus. The mixing -mastering work absolutely fits their evil vision and was done by none other than TT of Abigor, who also mixed and mastered Shaarimoth’s newest sinister masterwork that I included on my previous year ”list”.
Back to Sol Nox, I particularly adore the sound of the toms. The lyrical concept is clearly solemn, and all the tracks are relevant and killer. There are classical music moments in the way that the riffs are expanding. Listen to “The Awakening” and be incessantly convinced.
IX. SVARTSYN “In Death”
Currently I listen to the new Ofermod and Svartsyn albums in a row. Svartsyn is an additional band that I am inspired from particularly, with what they did until their total masterpiece, Timeless Reign.
In Death is Svartsyn’s finest album since Timeless Reign. Ornias here is completely bewitched by the wicked supremacy of the night and offers a totally shivery vocal performance. This is his quest to divulge the obscurities of death. The album offers enthralling classic Svartsyn riffing and deathlike atmospheres. Doomy and dismal at times, and also absent from the spotlight of any scenes. This is true black art.
And he spoke with a voice of death
To bring the man to his knees
X. VULTURE “The Guillotine”
This is the classic speed-thrash album of the year without a second thought. Primarily because it absolutely slays, it is in contradiction to any trends; it has a real sound, with non-triggered drums, and each riff is a fist in the face of god. When it came out I think I watched the video of “Vendetta” 8 times in a row. For Agent Steel, Overkill, Exodus, Razor, and early Slayer metal fanatics. The real metal mania here is transmittable. Pretentious metal is all over the media, and some people can’t really get the difference between antinomian true metal and fake forgiving music with Hollywood pretentiousness. Vulture is the antidote to all of these. Split your plastic band and stop complaining because real metal is here to stay. Vulture is one of those bands that prove this statement is real.
XI. WULKANAZ “Paralys”
Ambient and dungeon synth influences heard at times with a very profound/arcane black metal sound. Some thrash riffing also totally destroys. Hail the real underground fire that animates these souls. There is surely an old-school black metal aura around with traditional sounding drums, and they even have some parallels with Arckanum. But there is much more depth and character to this album than I can express in these few words. Strikingly incredible.
Part II will follow soon.