(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 fourth and final. Part I, in which Semjaza listed his 10 most-listened-to albums, is here; Part II, which included additional inspirational releases, is here; Part III, which listed favorite EPs, demos, and splits, is here.)
Non-metal most-listened releases
I. AEOGA “Obsidian Outlander”
Ritual ambient that incorporates field recordings and drones. Forlorn and enchanting like most of the Aural Hypnox releases. On repeat mode, it is perfect for nocturnal actions and astral projections. Highly recommended stellar dimness.
II. ARKTAU EOS “Catacomb Resonator”
Dark ambient of sophisticated nature. Immaculate and effective for the motionlessness of the mind and the rising of the higher Self. Arktau Eos is one of the best bands of the dark ambient genre. Travelling the listener to places unknown to man but still places that must be discovered. Private symbols from deities that need to be comprehended. Concealed desires and shadow sides that need to be revealed. The ego-less being, the no-one, the need to become the nonentity which becomes everything in return. Finest dark ambient release this year.
III. DARKNESS ENSHROUD “Antitrinity”
Unveiled Ghostly Shadows was a significant ritual ambient release of the ’90s from which I am still influenced. I valued seeing a new album out by Darkness Enshroud. On Antitrinity the church organ parts summon necromantic sensations, and the entire atmosphere is austere and sincere. I unquestionably liked this album, αs well as the disturbing ambience and the mystical intent behind it.
IV. DER BLUTARSCH “What Makes You Pray”
Classic band that impresses me nonstop. Experimental psychedelic rock with few ambient passages. Anti-trendy, non-plastic, and expressive. The repetitions of the musical themes act like mantras. The album has a tranquil effect and is obsessed with the power of sound. Wonderful release.
V. DAEMONIA NYMPHE “Macbeth”
Daemonia Nymphe is a neofolk band from my country that performs music sometimes inspired by Ancient Hellas. Here they composed the soundtrack for the Shakespearean tragedy of Macbeth, and the results if you ask me are wonderful. Some parts reminded me of Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, and Howard Shore, or even Tim Burton soundtracks.
VI. HORISONT “About Time”
Classic hard rock release that combines a lot of the elements that made rock music great. Some Rainbow influences are present, and the ’70s legacy of rock exists throughout the album. Soulful vocals with inspiring harmonies and very expressive solos. addictive hard rock.
VII. JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES “The Horse and Other Weird Tales”
Straight-to-the-point psychedelic rock with amazing vocals, hypnotic solos, and very inspiring basslines. I also like the natural sound of the whole album. They went deeper into their discrete sound here. Some understandable Jon Lord influences on the album are undeniably great as well. Diverse musical themes are constant within the album.
VIII. MICHAEL MORTHWORK & RICHARD MOULT “The Man Whom the Trees Loved”
Both respected artists for different reasons each. I was joyful to hear they would be doing a conceptual release together. Forlorn, mystical, acoustic, ambient, numinous, haunted, and at the same time irradiated. Many sensations and moods included in this release. I hope they will continue this collaboration. Based on a story of Algernon Henry Blackwood.
IX. OLD TOWER “The Rise of the Specter” & “Ruination, the New Dawn Cometh”
The Rise of the Specter is one of the best dungeon synth releases I’ve heard this year, followed by the 9-minute track called “Ruination, the New Dawn Cometh“. Of course, there are old Mortiis parallels; a very shadowy, epic, and bleak release. For winter, fire, and Self-reflection.
Another striking dungeon synth release this year was Realms of Magickal Sorrow by Old Sorcery, along with a masterpiece of the genre called Gil-Estel by Thangorodrim.
X. IMPERIVM LVCIFERI “Imperivm Lvciferi”
Wicked ritual ambient with some noise influences; an album that accompanied me a lot this year. Haunting and dreadful, it evokes visions of the fall. This release beckons otherworldly endeavors.
XI. TREPANERINGSRITUALEN “Kainskult”
Dark ritualistic industrial music for disturbing souls. Exceptional, malicious, distressing, and even tribal at times. Certainly, one of the most interesting and diverse releases recently. The minimal repetitions of themes make the tracks have a completely trance-like effect. I really respect how the vocals develop around the music. Some vocals even reminded me of Aldrahn. I hardly like anything close to industrial, and when I do, it means for me that it slays.