(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 second. Part I, in which Semjaza listed his 10 most-listened-to albums, is here.)
Additional inspiring metal albums
I am one of those who respected the devoutness of Ancient Records since the very first steps of the label. Swartadauþuz and Sir N. decided to continue separate ways but they both still release great spiritual art. In order not to spam the list with most of their releases, I decided to state that one simply ought to buy their releases.
Listen here: https://mysticismproductions.bandcamp.com/
and here: https://svartrit.bandcamp.com/
I regularly come back to their catalog and I am impressed by the grandeur of the music. For instance, Bekëth Nexëhmü and Grav are on endless repeat currently, again. Preferred releases are too many to be remarked. No matter if they decided to go separate ways, both black metal fanatics still rule supreme.
I. ATTIC “Sanctimonious”
I own all King Diamond / Mercyful Fate albums and I have followed them with a diehard craving since I was a kid. Both of them are my absolute beloved bands next to Iron Maiden. Attic know that they are not the most innovative band on earth. And I have gotten over my teenage desire of listening to each non-genuine band. Consequently, the fact that I listened to this album a few times means that I found it at least enjoyable. Most of the stuff that Attic choose to make is based on King Diamond / Mercyful Fate. But their tracks and their melodies are just not to be disregarded. The King is one of the few artists who has never dissatisfied me; I still wait for his new album eagerly. Until then, Attic’s new album will accompany my craving for decent King Diamond-esque heavy metal.
II. BESTIA ARCANA “Holókauston”
Disturbing royal greatness, doomy atmospheres, oppressive riffing, and incredible artwork. Everything about this release is top. The members of Nightbringer are busy releasing some of the finest atmospheric black metal albums with additional projects apart from Nightbringer. And I can’t wait for the full-length of Adaestuo, which I have the sense it will totally rule.
III. GRAFVITNIR “Keys to the Mysteries Beyond”
From 2012 Grafvitnir have released some very decent albums, and Keys to the Mysteries Beyond is no exception. Firmly rooted in the Swedish underground and having as their key influences bands like Ofermod, Dissection, or old Setherial (check their masterpiece Nord), they released a rather punishing Satanic album. With whispering vocals that are evoking of another time and space, this album could have been released in the ’90s.
IV. GRAV “Projektioner af Död” & “Tomb of Agony”
See previous comments about Sir N. These albums are on relentless repeat and are full of inspiration and dedication that few bands can offer. I can hear some influences from Ved Buens Ende and Lik. The albums incorporate a sense of strange calmness that cannot be explained with words and nice bass-lines that I always appreciate. I am enthralled with the sincere vocal performance as well.
V. HELLWELL “Behind the Demon’s Eyes”
Mark “The Shark” Shelton, more known from the ultra-epic masters of the ’80s called Manilla Road, returned with a spellbinding album. It is thrilling to see a man who contributed plenty of masterpieces, so naturally creating something as great and as different as this album, especially after so many years within the metal scene. Paolo Girardi’s splendid art is totally fitting Mark’s music as well.
VI. ISRATHOUM “Channeling Death and Devil”
Malevolent black metal with some clean chants. In contrast to some known hooded clowns with clean, aspiring-monk-like chants, this release conveys actual spiritual feelings. Additionally, they have their personal sound, and their musical ideas are second to none. Chaotic riffs, possessed vocals, followed by a special way of composing. I heard some influences from Ved Buens Ende and Burzum that added to the total atmosphere of this album.
Listen to the disturbing “Drudges of Ruination” and you will be persuaded.
VII. PAGAN ALTAR “The Room of Shadows”
Absolute cult metal greatness that should not be overlooked. This year a teenage dream came true since I saw live one of my favorite bands ever, Cirith Ungol. The new Pagan Altar was an addition to the cult metal event of the year. Epic metal hymns of magic; one of the metal highlights.
VIII. PERVERTED CEREMONY “Sabbat Of Behezaël”
Lucifer’s darkness and Necromantic worship. Black candles are burning, and the end is nigh. Devoted blood runs through the veins.
IX. PORTRAIT “Burn the World”
Classic metal release with Mercyful Fate and NWOBHM influences. This one has much more of a unique touch than Attic, although the influences are intact. A great metal album from start to finish. Remarkable cover art and concept as well.
X. UNGFELL “Tôtbringære”
True black metal with acoustic sections. A worthy indicator that performing with vision brings out novelty within a band. Again, too sad I am not able to understand their lyrics. Nevertheless, the feeling they convey is enough to convince me. Some accordion parts add to the depraved touch of the album.
XI. VASSAFOR “Malediction”
Austere and disturbing death/black metal with many meditative moments that drags everybody towards hell. The equilibrium between vehemence and silence are irresistibly stimulating. One of those albums that need repetitive listening sessions to be absorbed. When the absorption towards its void happens, a whole new dimension opens. The more technical riffs are also powerful. Being solemn isn’t rare within the metal scene, it just needs hunger and willpower to discriminate those gems that are here to stay. And Vassafor are here to stay, knowing the heritage of sinister music.
I may have forgotten something, but other metal albums I liked this year included:
▪ AOSOTH “V: The Inside Scriptures”
▪ CAINIAN DAWN ‘’F.O.H.A.T.’’
▪ CONDOR “Unstoppable Power”
▪ DERAIS “Of Angel ́s Seed and Devil ́s Harvest”
▪ DEGIAL “Predator Reign”
▪ DØDSENGEL “Interequinox”
▪ DEAD CONGREGATION “Sombre Doom” (EP)
▪ ENSNARED “Dysangelium”
▪ FIDES INVERSA “Rite of Inverse Incarnation” (EP)
▪ GJENDØD “Nedstigning”
▪ HETROERTZEN “Uprising of the Fallen”
▪ MÛSPELLZHEIMR “Nidhöggr”
▪ NIGHTBRINGER “Terra Damnata”
▪ NECROVOROUS “Plains of Decay”
▪ REBIRTH OF NEFAST “Tabernaculum”
▪ TEHOM “The Merciless Light”
▪ URN “The Burning”
▪ ULTRA SILVAM “Ultra Silvam” (Demo)
▪ VENENUM “Trance of Death”
A lot of people feel that music is about rivalry. Feeling that their band is superior to everyone else around. And nothing else really is great apart from their own releases. This behavior equals to ego worship for me. I always disliked that attitude in the same way that I disliked that everything should be supported since it is all underground. Both attitudes are equally wrong for my mentality. I am in deep love with sinister music as far as I can remember. And art as a whole is very important for my existence; without art I cannot live. Futile ego wars are nonsense. And supporting something just for the sake of being underground or metal with no criteria is equally foul.
Some few albums from 2016 that I listened to more this year:
▪ INQUISITION “Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar”
▪ MORTEM “Deinós Nekrómantis”
▪ NOX FORMULAE “The Hidden Paths to Black Ecstasy”
▪ QUINTESSENZ “To the Gallows”
▪ RECITATIONS “The First of the Listeners”
▪ SERPENT ASCENDING “Anaṅku”
▪ TRUE BLACK DAWN “Come the Colorless Dawn”
▪ XALPEN “Black Rites” (EP)