Hayduke’s 2023 End of Year Round-Up


What a year! I’m presenting an entirely different format this year. No longer are my choices ranked. I’ve been pondering switching to an unranked list for a couple of years now, because the rankings have always been so subjective and subject to change, even in my own mind. However, it’s fair to say 2023 forced my hand. There were so many incredible albums that I was unable to settle on a clear Album of the Year, much less sort the rest into a top 50. In fact, I found that I couldn’t even narrow my list down to 50…there was simply too much good music. Being who I am though, I needed some kind of a structure. I settled on my 12 favorites from each month (144 total). From within that larger group, I also chose 25 albums which are the cream of the crop for me personally. I could make a case for any of these 25 to be my Album of the Year, though some more easily than others. I also want to note that 30 of the 144 (just over 20% of the total list) were released by Fiadh Productions, prompting me to declare them my Label of the Year. No other label was close, though lots of other labels had very worthy years. This article is listed in release order, with a brief monthly commentary and some extra attention paid to my favorite 25. There are listening links to every album included, so perhaps the best way to enjoy the article is to use the play button, oh say about 144 times.




January was a fun month, with lots of diversity. Half the releases are some kind of black metal (including a black/death release from China), as is typical for me, but there was also some sludge, death, doom, crust, and even a dungeon synth release in the form of the latest release from Fogweaver (far and away my favorite dungeon synth project). As fantastic as the month was, it doesn’t contain any for my top 25.


1/1/2023 – Ὁπλίτης – Ψ​ε​υ​δ​ο​μ​έ​ν​η – Black/Death – Independent – China



1/6/2023 – Iravu – A Fate Worse Than Home – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Vita Detestabilis – Malaysia



1/6/2023 – Pyr Kata Voulisi – ΘΥΜΑΤΑ ΕΙΡΗΝΗΣ – Crust – Independent – Greece



1/13/2023 – Fogweaver – Magelight – Dungeon Synth – independent – USA



1/13/2023 – Praying – True Hellman – Sludge Metal – Transylvanian Recordings – USA



1/20/2023 – Nothingness – Supraliminal – Death Metal – Everlasting Spew Records – USA



1/20/2023 – Tribunal – The Weight of Remembrance – Doom Metal – 20 Buck Spin – Canada



1/27/2023 – Glyph – the time of peril – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/WereGnome Records – USA



1/27/2023 – Malleus – The Fires of Heaven – Black Metal – Armageddon Label – USA



1/27/2023 – Seven Doors – Feast of the Repulsive Dead – Death Metal – Redefining Darkness Records – UK



1/27/2023 – Superterrestrial – The Fathomless Decay – Black Metal – Green Flaw Productions – UK



1/27/2023 – Trespasser – Ἀ​Π​Ο​Κ​Ά​Λ​Υ​Ψ​Ι​Σ – Black Metal – Heavenly Vault – Sweden





Another month, another half dozen black metal releases (wow, do I love tremolo riffs and blast beats). It should be noted, for anyone who doesn’t know, that I do not, nor will I ever support nazis in any kind of metal or anywhere else. No sketch. No halfway position. No abusers. Etc., etc, etc. All bands and labels are vetted to the best of my ability. If I missed something, I kindly ask that you let me know. In addition to black metal, this month features one of my favorite death doom projects, a couple of screamo releases, some hardcore punk, a fantastic trad heavy metal album, and some goregrind (a guilty pleasure, so long as the themes aren’t misogynist or otherwise foul). Once again, no releases for my favorite 25.


2/3/2023 – Soulmass – Let Us Pray – Death Doom – Independent – USA



2/6/2023 – My Hair is a Rat’s Nest – fragment – Screamo – Tomb Tree Tapes – USA



2/7/2023 – Häxanu – Totenpass – Black Metal – Amor Fati – USA



2/10/2023 – Big Laugh – Consume Me – Hardcore Punk – Revelation Records – USA



2/10/2023 – Frozen Dawn – The Decline of the Enlightened Gods – Black Metal – Transcending Obscurity Records – Spain



2/10/2023 – Nameless Mist – Lifeless – Black Metal – Fólkvangr Records – USA



2/13/2023 – Nhomme – 種の過音 – Screamo/Jazz – Zegema Beach Records – Japan



2/17/2023 – Ruohtta – Uhratuille – Black Metal – Realm and Ritual – Sweden



2/22/2023 – Oerheks – Landschapsanachronismen – Black Metal – Amor Fati – Belgium



2/24/2023 – Festerdecay – Reality Rotten to the Core – Goregrind – Everlasting Spew Records – Japan



2/24/2023 – Megaton Sword – Might & Power – Heavy Metal – Dying Victims Productions – Switzerland



2/28/2023 – Drowstorm – Jubokko – Black Metal – Pest Productions – Canada





March 3rd was quite a release day! Not only did five albums drop that day which make the monthly twelve, but two of those five start off my favorite 25. Further words will be down below their entries. This month once again features a half dozen black metal, continuing the trend for the year. Also featured are some sludge, thrash metal, hardcore punk, death doom, grindcore, and a fantastic hardcore/sludge hybrid monster.


3/3/2023 – 71TonMan – Of End Times – Sludge Metal – Transcending Obscurity Records – Poland



3/3/2023 – At The Altar Of The Horned God – Heart of Silence – Black Metal – I, Voidhanger Records – Spain



3/3/2023 – Necropanther – Betrayal – Black Metal – Independent – USA



3/3/2023 – Transgressive – Extreme Transgression – Thrash Metal – Independent – USA



Transgressive is a fantastic thrash metal band channeling the old school thrash masters in the service of righteous anger over (the lack of) transgender rights and women’s rights in the United States and the world. The blatant and angry political lyrics may turn some off, but they are part of the draw for me, and I stand in solidarity with the ideas presented. More than that, Extreme Transgression is an exceptional, riff driven album, well worthy of inclusion here on the strength of the music alone. My original coverage is here.


3/3/2023 – Zulu – A New Tomorrow – Hardcore Punk – Flatspot Records – USA


I was a late-comer to this one, but better late than never. I missed it when it first came, but caught up to it mid-November, and wow! The album is a banger, but also unique. The band plays a mix of hardcore, punk, and powerviolence, but also mixes in sounds from across the African Diaspora. It’s a unique experience for hardcore rage to slip into a Nina Simone sample, but the effect is powerful. Full support for this masterpiece.


3/24/2023 – Aphotic – Abyss Gazer – Death Doom – Sentient Ruin Laboratories – Italy



3/24/2023 – Dawn Ray’d – To Know The Light – Black Metal – Prosthetic Records – UK



3/24/2023 – Forcefed Horsehead – Monoceros – Grindcore – Owlripper Recordings – Norway



3/25/2023 – G.N.L.S. (Geometric Nictation of Lament’s Space) – Conspiracy of Thoughts – Black Metal – FYC Records – Greece



3/26/2023 – Choir – Songs for a Tarnished World – Black/Doom – Independent – Singapore



3/30/2023 – Derhead – The Gray Zone Phobia – Black Metal – Brucia Records – Italy



3/31/2023 – Allfather – A Violent Truth – Hardcore/Sludge – Trepanation Recordings – UK





April was one of the tougher months to sort through. Lots of quality releases and some I wish I had been able to keep. The fourth month features eight black metal releases(!), plus some post-rock, sludge, grind, and trad heavy metal. There were also three this month which make the “favorite 25” list.


4/1/2023 – dai-ichi – dai-ichi – Black Metal – Crown and Throne LTD. – USA


Several years ago, dai-ichi (with its first full length album) became my initial key into the more raw side of black metal. Prior to that album, I had stuck mostly with more melodic and more cleanly produced black metal sounds. For some reason, that album just really clicked for me though. Then they created the better side of a split with the highly regarded Lamp of Murmuur (unpopular opinion, though that may be). When I saw they were dropping another album, I ordered the cassette prior to hearing a single note, and I was not disappointed. They just get better and weirder with each release. This album, like the two prior releases in their own right, was a revelation. This duo remains one of the best and most underrated acts out there.


4/5/2023 – Antrisch – Expedition II: Die Passage – Black Metal – Canti Eretici – Germany



4/7/2023 – Felsenmirror – Felsenmirror – Black/Doom – Fiadh Productions/Vita Detestabilis Records – USA


This quartet from Oregon seamlessly weaves the emotional heaviness of existence into the musical heaviness of their take on blackened sludge. I’ve loved this from the first spin and continue to spin it regularly. The self-titled album also marks the first of nine (whoa) albums on this shorter list to be released by Fiadh Productions, accounting for 36% of the spots on my favorite 25 of last year.


4/7/2023 – healthyliving – Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief – Post-Rock – La Rubia Producciones – Scotland/Germany


Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief is a strange fit for either the shorter or longer list. It’s not black metal (or even really metal at all) and not released by Fiadh. It is, however, the album that first mentally took my album of the year spot. That is the first one I heard which made me think, “This is now my AOTY frontrunner.” I received the promo in mid-February and listened shortly after that, so this came early in the year. Enough other eventually came along to make me paralyzed with indecision and move to this new format, but healthyliving always stayed in the mental conversation for me. 


4/7/2023 – Ossaert – Offerdier – Black Metal – Argento Records – Netherlands



4/9/2023 – Class Traitor – Broken Energy Highway – Sludge Metal – Transylvanian Recordings – Australia



4/14/2023 – Deathgrave – It’s Only Midnight – Deathgrind – Tankcrimes – USA



4/14/2023 – Kuolevan Rukous – Demo 2023 – Black/Sludge – Vita Detestabilis Records – Germany



4/14/2023 – Witte Wievan – Dwaallicht – Black Metal – Babylon Doom Cult – Netherlands



4/21/2023 – Anthem – Crimson & Jet Black – Heavy Metal – Reaper Entertainment – Japan



4/21/2023 – Decipher – Arcane Paths to Resurrection – Black Metal – Transcending Obscurity Records – Greece



4/28/2023 – Mortsafe – Mournography – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Realm and Ritual – UK





May marks the first time that black metal doesn’t account for half or more of the releases, sporting only five, and that’s only if you count the beautifully strange Summer Haze ‘99 as a black metal related release. This month also features some death metal, psych rock, sludge, punk, screamo, and crust. Only one album makes it to my favorite 25, and that’s the aforementioned Summer Haze ‘99, released by Fiadh Productions (of course).


5/5/2023 – Aridus – Serpent Moon – Black Metal – Eisenwald – USA



5/5/2023 – Nightmarer – Deformity Adrift – Death Metal – Total Dissonance Worship/Vendetta Records – International



5/5/2023 – Summer Haze ’99 – Inevitable – Blackgaze – Fiadh Productions – Austria


I absolutely love this album. Musically, it features so many influences, from blackgaze, to pop, to post-rock, and much more. Though it’s not much like the rest of Erech Leleth’s projects and discography, it is the release that really made me dig in to his incredible work. What a masterpiece! Read my earlier review here.


5/5/2023 – They Watch Us From The Moon – Cosmic Chronicles: Act 1, The Ascension – Psych Rock – New Heavy Sounds – USA



5/5/2023 – Ugly – Autograph – Sludge Metal – Satanik Royalty Records – USA



5/12/2023 – Hasard – Malivore – Black Metal – I, Voidhanger Records – France



5/12/2023 – Object as Subject – Heretic – Punk – Lost Future Records – USA



5/12/2023 – ÓREIĐA – The Eternal – Black Metal – Debemur Morti Productions – Iceland



5/22/2023 – Perfumed Saturnine Angels – Saccharine Curses Exhaled in the Wind – Screamo – Zegema Beach Records – USA



5/26/2023 – Dratna – Fom​ó​raigh – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – UK



5/26/2023 – Olkoth – At the Eye of Chaos – Death Metal – Everlasting Spew Records – USA



5/26/2023 – Rot//Woven – No Hope For A Better Past – Crust – Fiadh Productions – USA





June features one release in my favorite 25, the mighty self-titled album by funeral doom mavens Oromet, out on Transylvanian Recordings (long one of my favorite underground labels). Once again, there are only a measly five black metal records to go along with another Alicia Cordisco project (of Transgressive), this one mixing power metal and thrash. Also some death, death doom, mathcore, anarchopunk, and powerviolence. To keep things interesting.


6/1/2023 – Oromet – Oromet – Funeral Doom – Transylvanian Recordings – USA


Massive, crushing, heavy – all could be used to describe this album. There is an unrelenting energy to this album, as if it will inevitably crush you, though it may take years. The band manages to keep the genre interesting, which seems to be a difficult task, based on the number of generic releases in the style. Oromet is visceral art.


6/2/2023 – Order of Decay – Mortification Rites – Death Doom – Sentient Ruin Laboratories – UK



6/2/2023 – Project: Roenwolfe – Project: Roenwolfe – Thrash/Power – Independent – USA



6/16/2023 – Mnajdra – Mnajdra – Prog/Black – Fiadh Productions – USA



6/21/2023 – Vurdala’ka – In a Shadow’s Embrace – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – Spain



6/23/2023 – Burner- It All Returns to Nothing – Mathcore – Church Road Records – UK



6/23/2023 – Krigsgrav – Fires in the Fall – Black Metal – Wise Blood Records – USA



6/23/2023 – Snorlax – The Necrotrophic Abyss – Death Metal – Avantgarde Music – Australia



6/30/2023 – Disaffect/Sanctus Iuda – Fuck All Borders – Anarchopunk – Armageddon Label – Scotland/Poland



6/30/2023 – Lucifixion – Trisect Joy of Pierced Hearts – Black Metal – Sentient Ruin Laboratories – USA



6/30/2023 – Serpent of Old – Ensemble Under the Dark Sun – Black/Death – Transcending Obscurity Records – Turkey



6/30/2023 – Spine – Raíces – Powerviolence – Convulse Records – USA





July is the blackest month yet. Counting the blackened hardcore of Calligram, there are ten releases which fit the bill. A fantastic crossover thrash release and a fantastic grindcore release round out the dozen. Three releases, all of them Fiadh Productions black metal releases, make the short list of 25. What a month for the label!


7/7/2023 – A///Plague – Long Dark Veins – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Vita Detestabilis Records – Brazil



7/8/2023 – Sanguine Wounds/Devouring Famine – The Seal of Vampyric Tiranny – Black Metal – Canti Eretici – USA



7/14/2023 – Calligram – Position | Momentum – Blackened Hardcore – Prosthetic Records – International



7/14/2023 – Gossamer – The Culling of Crones – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA



New to me due Gossamer (from the other side of Michigan) release their debut full length after a 2021 demo. The album is a compelling and hypnotic gem in the realm of raw black metal. I even found time earlier in the year to write some more words about it. Read them here.


7/21/2023 – Agriculture – Agriculture – Black Metal – The Flenser – USA



7/21/2023 – Feast of the Witch – Under a Sinister Moon – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – Ireland



This rabid solo black metal EP from Ireland caught my attention immediately. It’s exactly the kind of fire I like. Read my full review here.


7/28/2023 – Dead Heat – Endless Torment – Crossover – Tankcrimes/Triple B Records – USA



7/28/2023 – Organ Dealer – The Weight of Being – Grindcore – Everlasting Spew Records – USA



7/28/2023 – Starer – Wind, Breeze, or Breath – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Fólkvangr Records/Adirondack Black Mass – USA



My love of this solo project from Kentucky is well documented and Hines releases another unique masterpiece in the Starer discography. Full review here.


7/28/2023 – Urbain – A Soul Purged – Black Metal – Hypnotic Dirge Records – USA



7/28/2023 – Witches Forest – Sitting on Stardust – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA



7/28/2023 – Wyrgher – Panspermic Warlords – Black Metal – I, Voidhanger Records – Switzerland





Another month, another seven black metal releases. This is rounded out by an excellent trad metal release, some neocrust, top-notch hardcore, some incredibly unique (and awesome) death metal, and a drone-doom album. The latter, by The Salt Pale Collective deserves a bit of extra shout out. They are an independent project that put in the work to reach out to me (and I’m assuming others) on their own. I fell quickly in love with the album, but never got a review done. The only album to make the list of 25 this month is the Prosthetic debut (and sophomore release) by Nixil, one of my absolute favorite current USBM bands.


8/4/2023 – Moray – The Natural World – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA



8/4/2023 – Owlbear – Chaos to the Realm – Heavy Metal – Independent – USA



8/7/2023 – Arüspex – Hawthorne & Henbane – Neocrust – Independent – USA



8/11/2023 – Claret Ash – Worldtorn: Anemoia – Black Metal – Hypnotic Dirge Records – Australia



8/11/2023 – Earthen Altar – Earthen Altar – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA



8/11/2023 – Move BHC – Black Radical Love – Hardcore – Triple B Records – USA



8/18/2023 – Ecologist – Reinos y ecorregiones – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA



8/18/2023 – Pyrkagion – The Katechon And The Unending Fire – Black Metal – Cestrum Nocturnum Recordings  – USA



8/25/2023 – Hypomanic Daydream – Image – Death Metal – Fiadh Productions/Vita Detestabilis – USA



8/25/2023 – Lepra – Devil’s Blood In Her Tongue – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Vita Detestabilis Records – USA



8/25/2023 – Nixil – From The Wound Spilled Forth Fire – Black Metal – Prosthetic Records – USA



Unrelenting ritualistic black metal from Maryland. I can’t get enough of this project. I’m still kicking myself for missing them when they came to Lansing a year or two ago. Read an interview and review from earlier in the year here


8/25/2023 – The Salt Pale Collective – A Body That Could Pass Through Stones and Trees – Drone/Doom – Independent – UK





September was the first of three hell months, so filled with excellence that I really struggled to narrow the choices down to a dozen. Lots of tough cuts that would likely have made it, had they been released in another month. This month also features a whopping four releases on the list of 25, all black metal, and including one from Fiadh. Eight total releases are black metal or black metal adjacent (Rorcal). Also featured are albums in the heavy metal, death metal, post-metal, and screamo subgenres.


9/1/2023 – Bergfried – Romantik II – Heavy Metal – Fiadh Productions – Austria



9/1/2023 – Białywilk – Zmora – Black Metal – Vendetta Records/Vita Detestabilis Records – USA



9/8/2023 – Fossilization – Leprous Daylight – Death Metal – Everlasting Spew Records – Brazil



9/15/2023 – Bolt Gun  – The Tower – Post-Metal – Avantgarde Music – Australia



9/15/2023 – Floodhag/Lust Hag – Hagridden Black Metal – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA



9/15/2023 – Tumultuous Ruin – An Abscess on the Heart of the State – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Vita Destabilis – USA


I love this album so much. Not only does it start with one of my favorite riffs ever (and is filled with excellent riffs), but it is also so blatantly and unapologetically antifascist, anticapitalist, and anarchist. Full solidarity! You can read my full review here


9/22/2023 – ÔROS KAÙ – Thanatos – Black Metal – I, Voidhanger Records – Belgium


This project has consistently brought phenomenal darkness to the table, and Thanatos is not exception. I didn’t personally review this one, because Michael Litteral beat me to it


9/22/2023 – Ushangvagush – Pestmo’qon – Black Metal – Realm & Ritual/Vigor Deconstruct – USA


Ushangvagush returns with a sense of bleak hopelessness for the world we have ruined on this tense masterpiece. Composed as one long form track, it has been split into two to facilitate cassette and vinyl releases. Check out my earlier review here.


9/25/2023 – Riversleem – A Second Release by Riversleem – Screamo – Zegema Beach Records – Canada



9/29/2023 – Dismal Aura – Imperium Mortalia – Black Metal – Avantgarde Music – Canada


This Canadian trio came out of nowhere for me with this Avantgarde Music release. The album is a massive and perfect blend of black metal and death metal (leaning into black metal, as I prefer). They have things to say lyrically too. Check out my full review (plus an interview) here


9/29/2023 – Rorcal – Silence – Blackened Hardcore – Hummus Records – Switzerland



9/29/2023 – Woe – Legacies of Frailty – Black Metal – Vendetta Records – USA





October was another hell month as described above. So many good releases! My final cut-down includes only five black metal releases, although most of those cross some genre boundaries making them hard to pin to one style. Sludge and doom, or blends thereof, add another four releases to the total, which is rounded out with a post-metal release, a strangely wonderful ambient release, and my favorite death metal album this year, out on the ever reliable Transcending Obscurity Records. This month also places five(!) releases on the list of 25, making it the best month of the year, by that metric.


10/6/2023 – Ghorot – Wound – Sludge/Doom – Transylvanian Recordings/King of the Monsters Records – USA



10/6/2023 – Hellish Form – Deathless – Sludge/Funeral Doom – Transylvanian Recordings – USA


Deathless is the sophomore release by sludge influenced funeral doom duo Hellish Form. The project features Willow Ryan of Body Void fame (more on them later) and Jacob Lee of Keeper (and more, including Body Void live). The emotional weight of this is crushingly immense. The album quickly became a favorite in the genre for me.


10/6/2023 – Stephen Roddy – Leviathan – Ambient/Drone/Noise – Fiadh Productions – Ireland


What a strange release this is, but so powerful. Leviathan is one of those albums which seems to transport me into the ‘other’ with each listen, and leave me ever so slightly changed. The album is not metal, but rather a mix of ambient and drone, with some noise elements. I would not normally include something like this on this list, but it has absolutely compelled me to do so.


10/8/2023 – Telesterion – Epopteia – Post-Metal – Snow Wolf Records – Unknown



10/13/2023 – Body Void – Atrocity Machine – Sludge Metal – Prosthetic Records – USA



Without a doubt, Atrocity Machine is one of the nastiest albums ever made, and I mean that as a high compliment. It is an obliterating mix of sludge and noise. Full review here.


10/20/2023 – Dead Times – Dead Times – Black Metal – Thrill Jockey – USA



10/20/2023 – Unverkalt – A Lump of Death: A Chaos of Dead Lovers – Doom Metal – Argonauta Records – Greece/Germany



10/27/2023 – Sacred Noose – Renounce the Flesh – Black/Death – Fiadh Productions – Ireland



10/27/2023 – Sepulchral Curse – Abhorrent Dimensions – Death Metal – Transcending Obscurity Records – Finland


It’s for good reason that Sepulchral Curse are one of my favorite death metal bands. They just don’t miss. Abhorrent Dimensions is a suffocating listen, mixing Finnish death with the best ideas of Morbid Angel. Check out my full review.  


10/27/2023 – Witching – Incendium – Black/Death – Translation Loss Records – USA



10/31/2023 – Crystal Coffin – The Curse of Immortality – Black Metal – A Beast In The Field – Canada


I feel like the world doesn’t know enough about Crystal Coffin. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone else talking about them, yet all they do is drop exceptional albums. I didn’t get around to a full review of this one, but I assure you that it is stellar. They remind me of the most recent Skeletonwitch album (a solid album to be sure), but I like Crystal Coffin better by a sizeable margin. Get on it!


10/31/2023 – Netherdom – Forsaking, Forseeking – Black Metal – Amor Fati – France





The eleventh month was the hardest of them all. I started with forty-five quality releases, which needed narrowing down to twelve. I could easily do another dozen and still feel like I’m cutting quality candidates. The list I settled on includes a list which is half black metal, plus two of the best grindcore releases of the year, screamo, hardcore, sludge, and funeral doom. Four releases make the short list, but surprisingly, only one is black metal. Five of the albums also released on 11/3, two of which made the short list. What a day that was!


11/3/2023 – Closet Witch – Chiaruscuro – Grindcore – Zegema Beach Records – USA


I loved the Closet Witch debut and wondered how they would follow it up. The answer: they got better. Chiaruscuro is a dense freight train of an album, mixing a fair bit of powerviolence into the grind, and it is perfection! Andrew Dana took the lead on the full review, as he knows the genres involved better. You can read that here.


11/3/2023 – Feminizer – Beneath the Harm – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Vita Detestabilis Records – USA



11/3/2023 – The Holy Flesh – Herald and Adversary – Black Metal – Independent – UK



11/3/2023 – Warcrab – The Howling Silence – Death/Sludge – Transcending Obscurity Records – UK



11/3/2023 – Yatsu – It Can’t Happen Here – Grindcore – The Ghost is Clear/Roman Numeral Records – USA


Stunningly detailed and accomplished grindcore from this Texas band. Nuanced, while still being oppressively aggressive. You can read my full review here.


11/10/2023 – Seder/Galder – Tranquilities II: The Air, The Silence, The Vast Array of Emptiness – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA


Though technically a split, this release is a very cohesive black metal album. It helps that the solo artists responsible for each side have been long time friends and together make up the black metal duo Ancalagon. Beautiful and sweeping in an anguished way, the release is mesmeric, regardless of which side you listen to. Michael and I were moved to interviews…and poetry, which you can read here.


11/17/2023 – Litha – Litha – Black Metal – Tartarus Records – USA



11/17/2023 – Obroa-Skai – Science Progresses One Funeral at a Time – Screamo – Zegema Beach Records – Canada



11/17/2023 – Racetraitor – Creation and the Timeless Order of Things – Hardcore – Good Fight Records – USA


The Chicago based hardcore band present another blistering political statement in Creation and the Timeless Order of Things. Stunningly mature, complex, and nuanced, yet as hard hitting as ever, the band presents their aggressively left (solidarity) world view through more personal stories on this release. I strongly recommend reading the lyrics, as well as listening.


11/23/2023 – Délétère – Songes d’une Nuit Souillée – Black Metal – Sepulchral Productions – Canada



11/24/2023 – Convocation – No Dawn For The Caliginous Night – Funeral Doom – Everlasting Spew Records – Finland



11/24/2023 – Ophanim – T​ä​mpelskl​ä​ng – Black Metal – Eisenwald – Switzerland





The final month of the year was the easiest to sort (yet I still struggled with the last couple of cuts). I only had to pick twelve of eighteen. The initial numbers were so low for a couple of reasons. Anecdotal evidence suggests that less music is released in December, at least partially because many lists don’t consider those albums. Also, I go into hibernation mode to work on this list at the end of November. I still receive and check out promos, but I seek very little out myself. This month features six more albums loosely tied to black metal, one of which was the only December release to make the short list. Three death metal related albums, a grind release, a funeral doom release, and a noise release complete the month and the year.


12/1/2023 – Walking Corpse – Our Hands, Your Throat – Grindcore – Transcending Obscurity Records – Sweden



12/7/2023 – Void – Jadjow – Prog/Black Metal – Brucia Records – UK



12/8/2023 – Anterrima – A Name Engraved in Cold Soil – Prog/Death – Fiadh Productions – USA




12/8/2023 – Music In Low Frequencies – Catharsis – Blackened Post Metal – Raging Planet Records – Portugal



12/8/2023 – Phobocosm – Foreordained – Death Metal – Dark Descent Records – Canada



12/8/2023 – Venus – 426 – J.O.N.E.S./The Aftermath – Noise – Fiadh Productions – USA



12/15/2023 – Crust – Dissolution – Black/Sludge – Avantgarde Music – Russia



12/20/2023 – Dauðaró – Ylur – Funeral Doom – Independent – Iceland



12/22/2023 – Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze – The Fractal Ouroboros – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions/Vita Detestabilis Records – USA


Given the changed format this year, I can’t properly crown BOABOB as my first repeat AOTY (though I considered doing just that…too many other contenders through), I can say that it is deserving of such an honor. The Fractal Ouroboros is a massive undertaking to experience (as it must have been to make) and it moves me in visceral and unexpected ways. Read the longest feature I’ve ever written, including an extensive interview, here.


12/22/2023 – Yfel – Beneath the Mountain’s Vigil – Black Metal – Fiadh Productions – USA



12/31/2023 – Fortress of the Pearl – Agony and Ecstasy – Black Metal – Independent – Greece



Biography:  Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. He is also a contributor to The Metal Wanderlust. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.