photo by Vamperess Imperium
EDITOR’S NOTE: Beginning with 2014, Semjaza, the main creative force behind the Greek black metal band Thy Darkened Shade, shared with us his year-end lists of favorite metal and non-metal releases. We did not have a 2018 year-end list from him because at that time he had embarked on a much more extensive project that would not be limited to releases from that year, but would encompass recommended music across the significant span of his listening (a significant span both in years and in genres).
This extensive list was completed many months ago, and so although it includes 2019 releases, it doesn’t include all of them that might have been on it. The delays in beginning to post the list were our own, not Semjaza’s. And there have been further delays in our posting of this second part, again our fault. With a bit of good fortune, we will post the remaining Parts much more quickly.
Part 1 included an introduction to this entire series, lists of favored split releases and full-length releases, and a special focus on French black metal. You can find all of that here. This Part 2 is devoted to more recent releases that Semjaza listens to most nowadays.
Archgoat – The Luciferian Crown
Another killer Archgoat release. No, they don’t suddenly play progressive rock, you either like them or not.
Altar of Perversion – Intra Naos
I really think this album deserves more notice. Absolutely amazing release that I have been listening to repeatedly since it was out. Old school, bleak, and wicked with a relevant concept and fine artwork. This band has always been one of the best and I highly recommend all of their works, older or new. This was one of my most-played albums in 2018, and since then.
Aura Noir – Aura Noire
Black/Thrash madness, as simple as that. This band never disappoints. Here we have a metal riff feast with an old school metal production.
I adore them live as well and I really admire how my all-time favourite black/thrash bands (Aura Noir, Destroyer 666, Nifelheim) continue to be inspired by real metal. Now that Blackie entered Nifelheim we can only expect total metal madness from their new album. It is also inspirational that a lot of black/thrash metal bands stick to their guns, and no matter how big they become they don’t wimp out.
Blackdeath – Phantasmhassgorie
What do we have here? A totally unique band that follows none. A band that cares for no trends and no scenes that few even talk about. How many are there that really follow their own will? I am sure Black Death are doing exactly that.
Listening for instance to “…ist Hass” — such a killer track! Great early Gorgoroth-inspired riffs with the craziness of Voivod and melodies that are playing all day in my head. Or listening to the great Thorns-meets-Voivod song that is “Hass in den Adern der Erde”.
When TT mentioned that he mixed their new album I enthusiastically listened to it over and over again. It’s no secret, I am a huge listener of TT‘s work (Abigor are one of my favourite bands ever) and I also believe he nailed it production-wise here too. The organic sound only fits this amazingly individualistic and evil art. Previous favourite mixing mastering job of TT was Shaarimoth’s and Ofermod’s latest masterpieces.
I have to admit I need to dig deeper within the discography of Blackdeath.
Black Funeral – The Dust and Darkness
Another cult band from the ’90s from people who were into what they claimed to be. The early output of this band was inspirational. This EP is raw, evil black metal, as simple and as good as that. Also, check these two killer dark ambient albums that the same guy released: Darkness Enshroud – Unveiled Ghostly Shadows and the album called Nekrocrafte by Hexentanz.
Clandestine Blaze – Tranquility of Death
Primitive black metal the way it is supposed to be. CB never disappoints. “Triumphant Empire” is one of my favourite bm tracks recently.
Cultes des Ghoules – Sinister, Or Treading The Darker Paths
Necromantic black metal with a sound close to a mix of Necromantia and Mortuary Drape. In that style, CDG is the best band of the last years. Really relevant and eerie black metal.
Also, their previous catalogue deserves the attention it gets.
Drastus – La Croix de Sang
I was very happy to see this one released via one of my favourite labels of all time (Norma Evangelium Diaboli). Drastus certainly deserves much more attention and this album is for sure one of my favourite bm albums of the last ten years.
Bleak and unique dissonant black metal, very possessed overall performance, individualistic while praising the source. I need nothing more from a release.
Die Kunst der Finsternis – Queen of Owls
What an eerie album for the gravediggers this one is, I love it. A haunted release for the ones who breathe for death and its charms. Odious energies evoked therein — there are doom, heavy, and black metal moments and a really great vocal performance.
Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
I had to add this! I must admit that I adore the two first albums more and I had very high expectations for this album. So high that it was impossible for anyone to even come close to my expectations.
When someone releases one of the best albums of all time (an album like Salvation — Maranatha was close but I prefer Salvation) it is very hard to do another album equally striking. However, I wasn’t able to ignore the goosebumps I got with “Shedding Skin”, “Hosanna”, or “Cockatrice” for instance. These tracks are some of my most-played black metal tracks the last years. And Arioch is obviously one of the best vocalists ever and a huge influence for me.
Funereal Presence – Achatius
As soon as I heard the first preview track of this album I was sure I was going to love it. Having been a listener since their first EP and loving their first full album, I was very much looking forward to Achatius. Surely this is going to be one of my favourite 2019 black metal albums. Cavernous feel, theistic aura, sinisterly personal sound, some old Darkthrone and Bathory vibes too. Erasing all the posers, unbelievers, and copy-paste bands. The acoustic instruments and the narrations produce a totally ritualistic atmosphere too. I have nothing to add, pure brilliance; buy it now.
Horna – Kasteessa Kirottu
I dig it when bands are keeping it underground and close to the old spirit of black metal. Horna never cared about what is hot or what sells. They just have followed their own solitary path for years. This is a recent recording of old Horna tracks, apart from “Antikristus”, a Behexen track initially that didn’t make it on a Behexen album — which is actually my favourite track on this release. Raw, filthy, strictly ’90s-based bm with passionate vocals.
Master’s Hammer – Fascinator
I totally worship their demos and their first two full-length albums, like everyone who has any relationship with bm. However, I even like their most experimental albums, but I feel Fascinator is their best album in years. Looking forward to seeing them live too.
Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion
What the Hell, this is simply one of the best death metal albums I’ve heard in years. Their return is one of the best returns in the metal genre. Total worship! Hail Possessed!
Now I just wait for Nocturnus AD to ruin everything with their new album Paradox.
Sektarism – Fils de Dieu
Evil and untrendy black doom of death. This is a completely depraved release from dark souls and one of my favourite albums from 2018. I am sure Euronymous‘ spirit can describe Sektarism as “the audial essence of pure black evil”. Buy it now.
Ultra Silvam – The Spearwound Salvation
Possessed and violent old school black metal with thrash and traditional ’80s influences.
I really liked all the tracks and I will buy it as soon as I find the opportunity. Some of their riffs reminded me of Sorhin too, a band which is definitely one of my favourite Swedish ones.
Shadow Records certainly is a legendary label that spawned forth some amazing releases through the years. Classic releases from bands like Malign, Triumphator, Funeral Mist, Sorhin, Ofermod etc.
They still release killer individualistic bm with bands like Heretic Cult Reedemer or The Third Eye Rapists etc.
Shadow Records recently re-released a classic box of EP’s called Black Metal Terror. A box that every diehard should own since it contains 4 classic Swedish black metal EP’s by Triumphator / Watain / Ofermod and Malign.
Varathron – Patriarchs of Evil
I grew up with Varathron and I still adore them, ever since their killer album Walpurgisnacht. I can’t even imagine a black metal fanatic that doesn’t own their classic albums.
In Patriarchs of Evil they expand their old sound by having an arcane concept as well. Some amazing melodies and traditional ’90s Hellenic bm riffing are to be heard therein but the band here isn’t afraid to add new elements. This is for sure my favourite Varathron album after their classics. If you are an unbeliever check the epic closing track called ”Ouroboros Dweller” and you will be no more. Looking forward to more.
Xalpen – Wowk Otrr
Completely evil and old school necromantic black metal. Both their EPs are relevant and eerie. ’90s atmosphere here with vocals that remind of the first Emperor album along with some death metal ones as well. Overlooked possessed black metal of Chilean madness. Fit to be be heard closely after the sinister masterwork that is called Casus Luciferi.
Some other albums I’ve listened to a lot:
Newest releases by Mare and One Tail One Head.
Ekstrophé Compilation, the Misotheist album, and the Darvaza EP’s as well.
Inhüma by Esoctrilihum (with killer cover art by Wrest from the mighty Leviathan).
Certainly, Vomitor‘s Pestilent Death & Crucifier‘s Thy Sulfur Throne on High were two of the most diehard releases I re-listen to these days.
That guy gives significantly great music suggestions.
If you were scrolling and you saw Funeral Mist and thought to yourself, “I haven’t heard that album.” Stop whatever you are doing and fix that.
Thy Darkened Shade fucking kills!
They released only masterpieces!
Personally, Im no fan of Arioch’s singing at all in Marduk—(Joakim and) Legion sang in my black metal formative years and I was well-pleased with that; sorry not sorry—but with Funeral Mist’s Hekatomb all is well. Cockathrice and Hekatomb’s other tracks have an immediacy that Marduk could only have been dreaming of the past decade and a half. Plus, WWII stuff is yawn-inducing; glorifying it is just silly posing imo.
Xalpen, Sektarism and Die Kunst had slipped passed me; not bad! And happy to see Funereal Presence get some love. One man bm done to jangly perfection!
Possessed I sort of ignored due to the awfully silly lyrics, but perhaps I should reconsider….
Now that Nocturnus Ad’s Paradox has proven to be great, I wonder what Semjaza makes of it.
Anyway, my two cents.
Drastus, Funeral Mist, and Funereal Presence are all immediately worth buying right now if you do not have them. Of course, what we really need in 2020 is the next full-length album from Thy Darkened Shade. Semjaza has hinted on Facebook that something is coming. It needs to happen.
Black Death smashed it!
Next post will need to bring the new Thy Darkened Shade album out!!
Favourite release is the Drastus one tool!