(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 third. Part I, in which Semjaza listed his 10 most-listened-to albums, is here, and Part II, which included additional inspirational releases, is here.)
Most-listened EPs, Demos, and Splits
I. DEATH LIKE MASS “Jak zabija diabeł”
Killer black metal EP. Especially the vocals are from another realm. Too sad I cannot understand their lyrics.
II. GNIPAHÅLAN “I Blodets Kamp”
See previous post (here) about Swartadauþuz. Gnipahålan is a wicked atmospheric black metal act. No gimmicks or fallacious attitudes here. Just persistent passion for the art of the devil. Nice basslines, remarkably eerie riffing, obsessive vocals, and menacing ambience. Ancient Records-related artists are needed in the black metal movement. The ambient ending of the demo is pure class.
III. HOWLS OF EBB / KHTHONIIK CERVIIKS
Howls Of Ebb is an exceptional band and unfortunately this is their final release. They offer unique and odd death/black that sounds like it was reproduced from an evil Lovecraftian dimension. Doomy at times and truly engulfing. The length of their part seems like a second since every musical moment is captivating. Progressive components are present as well. Bass lines are also interesting, and this an advantage in my book. There are few ambient parts here as well, I now want more new material by them.
Khthoniik Cerviiks was similarly unusual but dissimilar in their way of performing their mental illness. Although I have not been following them, I will now check their releases. They are dissonant and the feeling they transport is one of being lost into the void and never coming back. There were even some parts and leads that were closer to a hard rock feeling. Both bands fitted together in this new release, and even though I came here for Howls of Ebb I became a fan of Khthoniik Cerviiks as well.
IV. MALAKHIM “Demo I”
Traditional black metal lunacy. This is one of the demos of the year and a release Ι played quite a few times. Malakhim is a band I will look out for, their full-length or any further releases. Recommended.
V. MOENEN OF XEZBETH “Dawn of Morbid Sorcery”
This is a completely malicious demo and one of the highlights this year. Early Samael and Beherit vibrations along with Moenen of Xezbeth’s individual sound intentions is what this demo offers. Nothing less than pure old black metal radicalism.
VI. SHRINE OF ORPHEUS “Λυκόφως”
A new emerging band from Hellas that I can tell has a lot of potential. I recently discovered this EP and I found myself listening to it occasionally. Therefore, I will soon buy their LP. It actually sounds older than it is. This is melodic, not trendy, black metal that recognizes the Hellenic black metal legacy but develops everything within its own vision. Exciting riffing and passionate vocals as well.
VII. SINMARA “Within the Weaves of Infinity”
One of the best evolving bands from Iceland along with Wormlust (my favorite) and Rebirth of Nefast. What I like about this EP is that it has a nice sense of melodious riffing without leaving out inspiring dissonant parts. Sinmara made a notable sound for themselves. There is a very eerie feeling throughout this EP; I can also get some Emperor influences at times. Killer release.
VIII. THE THIRD EYE RAPISTS “Deathtrip Transcendence” & “Magicians of the Holocaust”
Possessed black/death/thrash with a grand Satanic aura. One of the best latest bands that has emerged from Sweden, featuring ex-members of Morbid Insulter. Very much looking forward to their first full-length album. Hateful and radical. Not for posers.
IX. THEURGIA “Genómasis”
Fuck the attention span of the wannabe internet BM soldiers who didn’t praise this EP. For sure, this one is the EP I listened to most this year. One of the bands that I will have my eyes upon in the future. A dangerous, evil aura; every ingredient that a true black metal release should have is here. Theurgia performs sinister black metal with abyssal vocals; nothing more or less needs to be said.
I’ll be your judge, the silence of your prayers
I’ll be the eye in the firmament
X. WRATHPRAYER / FORCE OF DARKNESS “The Wrath of Darkness”
The Wrath of Darkness is a conceptual split release and definitely one of the best splits I’ve heard lately. Satanic and odious atmosphere is always present, for total death is the ultimate salvation of existence. I can summarize the split with the following sentence: Emissaries of evil raising from their tombs to avenge the abominable life and bring forth endless darkness. Herrerias‘ cover art is also obviously top-notch, I adore it.
Wrathprayer are abyssal, possessed, and obscure; I even got some Blasphemy-ian feelings from them. While Force of Darkness are closer to the classic black/thrash primitivism and devoted to diehard evil metal, with some early Slayer moments clearly. And I totally loved how Force of Darkness ended the split with the bass and electric guitar solos, classic.
XI. WARLOGHE “Lucifer Ascends”
One of the top bands from Finland for sure offers two unreleased tracks of real raw black metal. Theistic ambience and astral adeptness. Chaotic whirling black metal riffing and true primitive feelings of grandiosity. This long-sold-out EP is a must.
Chosen Re-releases 2017
▪ AMESTIGON “Sun of All Suns”
▪ BAXAXAXA “Hellfire”
▪ BLACK WITCHERY “Desecration of the Holy Kingdom”
▪ GRAND BELIAL’S KEY “GOATY / TOTH”
▪ HORNA “Sudentaival”
▪ IRON MAIDEN / BRUCE DICKINSON re-releases
▪ SAMAEL “Blood Ritual”
▪ SHAARIMOTH “Current 11”
▪ VIRUS “Carheart”, “The Black Flux” & “The Agent that Shapes the Desert”
▪ WARLOGHE “Dark Ages’ Return”
Flawless live album
IRON MAIDEN “The Book of Souls: Live Chapter”
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