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. Part 2 (here) was devoted to more recent releases that Semjaza listens to most nowadays, and this Part 3 is a continuation of that list.
I decided to split up some of the releases according to the labels that released them, mainly because I realized that three labels totally dominated my playlist in 2018-2019, namely Invictus Productions, Iron Bonehead, and also World Terror Committee.
Apologoethia – Pillars
This is true atmospheric bm but still harsh and old school in mindset and execution. A band that gives a lot of promises for the future. Once again the organic drum sound is a plus for this EP. Some Negative Plane or Mystifier moments are here, but as a whole it is a rare thing to hear a band sound like they carved their own sound from their first EP. The acoustic guitar moments are also fine. Support the true underground efforts and if you like the music please buy the releases I’ve listed here — don’t be just an internet leech.
Baneful Storm – Invocations
Not the most original band ever made, but if someone adores early Morbid Angel he/she should check this. It definitely worships Abominations of Desolation. As a diehard listener of Morbid Angel I immediately liked this release. The vocals also sound similar to Mike Browning, which is a great thing if you ask me.
Speaking of Morbid Angel, I actually liked Kingdoms Disdained as well. Trey Azagthoth is a death metal riff genius and even though their effort prior to that had some very cheesy tracks, I am sure they don’t deserve the bad-mouthing they get nowadays; keeping in mind also, the fact that they released some of the best records of death metal ever. Morbid Angel‘s releases are unbeatable even nowadays. Not only the classic albums from the David Vincent era but Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, for instance, is a masterpiece of serious death metal art too. And let’s not forget that for years I was searching for a death metal album better than Altars of Madness and I never found one.
Beastiality – Worshippers of Unearthly Perversions
Killer diehard black-death-thrash from an ex-Morbid Insulter maniac is always welcome at my cave. Cult release that was actually out in 2017 but I just discovered while writing this and I had to add it here. Some Mortuary Drape or Slayer-inspired moments, and evil Bathory solos and riffs, reinforced my will to buy this.
In the age of similar-looking cover artworks I also really dug their cover for this album. The cover slightly reminded me of Morbid Angel‘s masterpiece Altars of Madness, which is always a good thing.
It’s really a time for people to start thinking of alternative ways to represent their music and for artists to actually go beyond just copying their great works over and over again. I remember when we released Sunyata with Acrimonious some people didn’t really get into the artwork done by the great Kyle Fite. I loved that decision; we should be willing to go beyond the normal. I take the Beastiality release over ANY DsO clone anytime.
Don’t forget also to check Funeral Mysticism by Morbid Insulter if you don’t own it yet.
Deathwards – Towards Death
Next in line is the Deathwards demo. This is a completely possessed and old school worship death-thrash album for metal maniacs who love their metal traditions intact. Experimentation, when done correctly, can be fine too, but how many can manage to form a killer version of things done in the past? Nice solos, killer vocals, audible bass lines, and traditional drum sound — buy it and have your eyes opened for their full-length.
Human Agony – Goring Christ
Bestial cult black metal done right with no gimmicks that rapes Jesus Christ until the end of times. Beherit. Blasphemy. Black Witchery. Revenge. Best recent release for that style for my taste along with Blasphamagoatachrist and Death Worship.
Obscure Burial – Obscure Burial
It’s quite sad that this band is no more. Again released in 2017, but who cares, I actually listened to it recently. This is a death metal release that I really liked, and along with the last Degial and Venenum albums is one of my most-played recent death (music that worships death) metal albums. Listen for instance to the beginning of “I Spoke to Darkness (Black Deserts Divine)”; it sounds indeed like an Obscure Burial. Death metal summoned from the grave.
Spite – Antimoshiach
Α totally favourite black metal release of mine the previous year, along with Adaestuo‘s first album, was for sure Spite’s Antimoshiach. Indeed, Abigor‘s Höllenzwang (Chronicles of Perdition) was my number one release in 2018 but I already mentioned it in a 2017 article.
I actually found myself listening again and again to Spite’s individualistic piece of bm art. This album has once again a sinister concept, an arcane atmosphere followed by a riff pandemonium, and a possessed vocal performance. Τhese are expressed by utilizing a natural overall sound with evil bass lines. This release is great for nowadays black metal fanatics.
Various influences came into mind; bands like Grand Belial’s Key, Dissection, Master’s Hammer, early Gehenna, or Mortuary Drape are summoned forth too. The album is also not afraid to have heavy metal inclinations.
Antimoshiach offers a fresh sound by also keeping all black metal traditions. All of the above made it untrendy since it doesn’t follow either the “I copy dissonant black metal especially the great Deathspell Omega but I don’t understand a word about their concept” trend or “I play whatever is trendy nowadays” trend. Included therein is a frenzied cover version of “Moon” from the classic Into the Drape EP by Mortuary Drape. As mentioned earlier, the Funereal Presence album was a masterpiece too. I can only hope for more Negative Plane releases now.