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 Part 3 was a continuation of that list (here), which focused on releases by Invictus Productions. This Part 4 is a further continuation, focusing on releases by Iron Bonehead and World Terror Committee.
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.
Abyssous – Mesa
Morbid Angel-like death metal with some Incantation influences, along with a serious concept and ambient passages. Certainly an overlooked death metal album of our days, this one. Listen for instance to “Congealed Lores” and be forever pleased by the darkness that it offers.
Baxaxaxa – Hellfire
Classic demo re-release that I just had to add here. If you don’t know it, just buy it.
Dakhma – Hamkar Atonement
Unique Ahrimanic worship metal. Amazingly nefarious atmosphere, nice compositions, ritualistic and folk elements along with a blend of black and death metal into one chaotic vision. Add to that a fine vocal performance, a real black metal concept, and a nice, not-modern production, and you have Dakhma. In this time and age when people are happy with their fast-food entertainment and music, I am happy with a double CD dedicated to darkness and evil.
Embrace of Thorns – Scorn Aesthetics
A band from Hellas which is certainly my favourite death/black metal band from here along with Dead Congregation. I actually feel that this is their best album so far, adorned with a killer mix/mastering job too.
Malakhim – II
After a killer demo, we have another fine EP from these maniacs. I am really eager for their first full-length release. It is even harder for bands to play traditional Swedish black metal these days and sound unique. This band is one of the hopes for the future for me. The killer vocal performance adds to the overall outcome obviously. And we can only wish for a new Malign album now.
Sworn to His Fire!
Musmahhu – Reign of the Odious
I have expressed my adoration for Ancient Records and related projects. Swartadauþuz strikes here with a death metal vision that is parallel to none. This is one of my favourite death metal releases the last years, and I can certainly hear the unique Swedish death/black parts too. Don’t forget to check Swartadauþuz’s other bands as well.
World Terror Committee
W.T.C. still is one of my favourite labels in the black metal genre, ever. That was one of the reasons why I decided to release my own music through this label. Some of the recent albums I found myself indulging in were the following:
Adaestuo – Krew Za Krew
This is one of the albums that I can’t get over at all. Definitely one of my favourite releases in 2018. I love everything here — the atmosphere, the eerie aura and the vocals, which are simply some of the most sinister vocals I’ve heard. Three individuals contribute with spiritual music for the coffin spirits. The ambient passages are sinister as well. And if you haven’t checked: Incursus, Hekte Zaren, and Cornigr, do it now, not to mention Nightbringer and related bands like Aoratos,
VJS is also a part of Sargeist nowadays (also signed with WTC) with whom he released the totally amazing old-school Finnish Black Metal album called Unbound, which is surely fine too. I’ve listened to it a lot of times since we toured with them with my other band, Acrimonious, and Chaos Invocation. I completely became mesmerized each night by the evil spells from both bands. They reinforced the devotion that I was feeling during that tour and I will never forget that. Hail to both of them!
Reaping Season, Bloodshed Beyond by Chaos Invocation was also one of the most fierce and true bm albums released by WTC. I can’t remember how many times I listened to this album when it was out. Witnessing the diehard, no-bullshitting stance of Chaos Invocation live was definitely a plus in my book. This album is melodic yet raw, serious and devotional, from diehards dedicated to diehards. They also somehow remind me of the force of one of my favourite German bands ever, namely Katharsis, and the live intensity of Watain or Malign.
Here I have to add another release of similar style but more melodic and closer to The Somberlain that grabbed my attention lately. The album was Into the Wild by Voodus, released by Shadow Records. I am not very easily convinced when I hear bands playing that style nowadays. Mainly because when Dissection was disbanded and as soon as Watain were starting to prove that they are one of the best black metal live bands of recent years, more and more bands were starting to play like them. Into the Wild grabbed me since it was really well done and had some amazing, very heartfelt Swedish black metal melodies as well. One of the releases that deserve support that follows that style.
Ascension – Under Ether
They never cease to amaze me. They are one of the best bm bands of our times. Killer traditional black metal, expanding more their own style here and contributing with influences ranging from early Morbid Angel to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Under Ether‘s production is also fantastic, very powerful and organic, and even had a hard rock vibe in both the production and the execution of some solos.
Barshasketh – Barshasketh
An honest work, from an honest band. Their best record so far and one I have been playing a lot since I heard it. Melodic, dynamic, and personal. I get a Gorgoroth meets Si Monumentum and even Ondskapt influence at times here. But it is important to mention that I can definitely hear their own riffing style too. Their other band Belliciste‘s new album called Bàrdachd Cogaidh was also a really interesting take upon old school black metal, so check both releases.
Myrkraverk – Naer Døden
I sometimes wonder if people are deaf. This was definitely one of the best latest Norwegian black metal albums in years for me, along with Aptorian Demon‘s masterpiece Libertus. Νaer Døden is so nostalgic it is like ’95 again. It reminds me of Storm, Isengard and old Ulver. Completely killer old-school black metal that very few mention.
Also, check another curse of Norwegian magic: The Three Transcendental Keys by Throne of Katarsis.
Trollheims Grott – Aligned with the True Death
Fanatic technical black metal with elements of Dødheimsgard. Again done for the right reasons from people that I know mean it. In that style, it is one of the best releases in years.
The re-releases of the first albums of Amestigon and Shaarimoth are also killer and should be bought at once.