(For the eighth year in a row (!), our friend Johan Huldtgren of the Swedish black metal band Obitus — whose 2017 album Slaves of the Vast Machine (reviewed and premiered here) is their latest release — has again allowed us to share with you his year-end list, which originally appeared on Johan’s own blog.)
10: Shroud of Despondency – Cull
Not having heard Shroud of Despondency since their 2002 debut it was hard to know what to expect; while the production is more polished in many ways it still sounds like the Shroud of Despondency I enjoyed 16 years ago.
9: Uada – Cult of a Dying Sun
When their new album came out to much fanfare this year I picked it up and it’s hard not to love the thing. While I’m generally wary of mid-paced black metal they actually have the riffs to sustain it. The first few tracks especially soar and are ridiculously catchy. Now all that said, at times it’s a bit much, the riffs are so saccharine after having listened to the whole thing I was diagnosed with diabetes and had to quit them.
8: Sargeist – Unbound
Sargeist have been a perennial favourite since 2010’s excellent Let The Devil In. Unfortunately Sargeist have really never been able to come back and exceed what they did then. This year however they come closer than ever. This is a truly great black metal album and Sargeist’s best in almost a decade, don’t miss it.
7: Shining – X – Varg Utan Flock
I’m not sure what it was about 2018 but quite a few bands came out with albums which, while on their own perhaps were not spectacular, were huge improvements over previous output. Shining is a good example of this. X – Varg Utan Flock is probably the best overall album since V – Halmstad.
6: Nachtmystium – Resilient
I haven’t really kept up with Nachtmystium since their first album Reign of the Malicious; that which I’ve heard hasn’t really done much for me. So I was surprised when I stumbled upon this latest EP and actually quite enjoyed it. Especially the title track is very good.
5: Det Eviga Leendet – Lenience
For a debut it’s a surprisingly strong and bleak affair. One can probably pigeonhole this as mostly atmospheric black metal, but thinking of it only as such probably does everyone a disservice as its blend of industrial, post-metal, and ambient parts really make this hard to define. The vocals are caustic, so much that they might be too much for some, but I like the desperation they lend the songs. In many ways the album builds up and each song is in some ways better than the previous ones, with the two closing tracks being the best ones. It will be interesting to see what they come up with after such a debut.
4: Aorlhac – L’esprit Des Vents
This album oozes second-wave black metal, often very melodic but still razor-sharp, keeping it from getting too saccharine. The vocals are top notch with a mix of howls and rasps mixing it up perfectly. Former Peste Noire drummer Ardraos kills it on the kit with solid blastbeats as well as more fills than you can shake a fist at. As impressed as I’ve been with this album I will now have to hunt down the to previous parts of their trilogy to see what came before.
3: Délétère – De Horae Leprae
Délétère released their second full-length, and quite an album at that; nine tracks clocking in at 64 minutes means it’s not a quick and dirty affair. Luckily, for the most part there is enough variety to keep it interesting even if at times the tracks blend together a bit. But the furious ‘métal noir Québécoise’ is often simply too good for one to notice that the hour has past and the stereo gone cold and dark.
2: Ungfell – Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz
Switzerland’s Ungfell play mostly atmospheric black metal tinged with quite a lot of folk influences. If listening to this causes you to do a double-take and think you’re listening to Peste Noire you’re not the only one. There are times when the folksy parts further remind me of older Drudkh as well, and then all of a sudden the folk part melts away to give way to some caustic, shredding, and blasting wonderful black metal that just puts a big dumb grin on your face.
1: Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
Coming completely out of left field after a nine-year drought, Arioch releases a perfect black metal album. With every album he’s released he’s outdone himself, and he keeps setting the bar higher for quality orthodox black metal. The hardest part is trying to find a song on this album which is the stand-out song — the whole album is simply brilliant from start to finish and the songs differ enough that you end up wanting to highlight them all, but “Cockatrice” can probably be said to have the slightest of edges over the rest. An awe-inspiring and in most respects perfect album, without a doubt my number one for 2018.