Hails to The Order Ov The Black Arts, MoshPitNation, and any readers gracious enough to spend time reading what will follow. 2019 has been a hell of a year for extreme metal, and these are my top 57 picks of the year. There’s a hierarchy here, but only by tier… those that fall within a given tier are generally interchangeable, and honestly even the margins of each tier are a little arbitrary to some extent, but this seems like the most feasible way to provide some sort of structure.
First Tier: ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Disillusion – The Liberation
I could write a short novel about my experience with Disillusion, but that would be boring for you, too personally revealing for me, and marginally inappropriate for this forum since Disillusion isn’t black metal. Sitting midway between progressive epic death metal (think An Abstract Illusion, Ne Obliviscaris, or Eternal Storm [see below]) and progressive modern rock
(i.e. Tool), Disillusion can be squarely described as epic progressive metal. Their 2004 album Back To Times of Splendor is THE album I would choose if I could only choose one album to listen to forevermore (except if I were living in the snow, then it would be The Mantle by Agalloch), and The Liberation is a sequel to Back to Times of Splendor. The music?… you will
just have to listen for yourself, don’t expect anything too aggressive, and I’m never surprised when other listeners aren’t nearly as hyped about it because so much of my listening experience is wrapped up in subjective contexts. Just listen to “In Waking Hours” and “Wintertide” (songs 1 & 2) with headphones and no distractions… if it doesn’t resonate with you I get it, but I can’t really adequately express how this album resonates with me, and I’m not going to try. Bottom line, it’s probably my favorite thing that has been released since 2015 except for Schammasch’s Maldoror Chants EP. Favorite tracks: “Wintertide”, “A Shimmer In The Darkest Sea” [Tool fans should check that one out], and “The Liberation”.
Second Tier (six selections)
Saor – Forgotten Paths
This was probably my most anticipated release coming into 2019 except for Schammasch and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Since it was released early in the year, because it is so short, and because my love of the album was reinforced by seeing Saor live at Fire In The Mountains festival, it almost certainly gets the award for most spin time. Three epic Caledonian tracks and a nice filler outro that I nevertheless bother listening to. Did I mention that it is short? Yeah, that’s my only complaint… the album length, as well as more nuanced details like the physical presence of the vinyl (regular sleeve instead of elaborate gatefold with poster like the previous 3 albums) makes me really want to accuse this release of being an EP. That aside, the music is PHENOMENAL. Three tracks make picking top songs pretty pointless, so I’d like to recommend full volume on the track “Forgotten Paths” at 4:20 (do you hear that crazy rubbing sound that the bass starts doing at 4:28-30?! What IS that?!) and the chorus’ of “Brón”. Saor has since signed to Season of Mist, and Andy is already working on the next album. Yes, please.
Misþyrming – Algleymi
Unlike Saor and Schammasch, I was completely blindsided by this one. When it went up for preorder I blew it off because there was no preview track. Big mistake, which was almost instantly rectified upon hearing the first minute of the first song. Aggressive, catchy, subtly epic, and with good amount of attention paid to seriously rocking the fuck out… to put it simply,
Algleymi has everything that I look for in black metal… not just in timbre, but in attitude as well: “It is our utmost conviction that the artist ought to stand beyond good or evil and that the pursuit of his or her artistic goals should therefore remain untouched by considerations pertaining to critical reception, the sensitivity of a potential audience, or anything that would detract from the full accomplishment of those artistic goals. Taking into creative consideration the very fragile current zeitgeist would render any piece of art absolutely harmless and devoid of worth … let us leave the world of binary thinking for a minute, concentrate solely on the individual of exceptional fabric, and dream aloud.” [D.G., Bardo Methodology interview, 2019]. Full Support. Favorite tracks: I don’t know… fucking… all of them I think.
Aoratos – Gods Without Name
The prolific output of Naas Alcameth makes it difficult to resist exacting upon Aoratos a bit of comparative analysis against its infernal siblings. What Aoratos projects is a supernatural force which is both external and worldly, and can hence be more easily demarcated from the dread internal psychic nightmare of Akhlys, as well as from the more subterranean hellish inferno of Bestia Arcana. That leaves Nightbringer as Aoratos’ closest relative, but here there are important differences. Lacking the epic keyboards and heightened shrill falsetto guitar lead of Nightbringer, and bringing instead a nuanced industrial edge, Aoratos forgoes the immense, sprawling apocalypse of Nightbringer, and instead emotes a monstrous haunting, more local, more rural, and more terrestrial. The power of this album is absolutely annihilating. Recommended: “Gods Without Name”, “Thresher”, “Watcher on the Threshold”. See full review here.
Schammasch – Hearts Of No Light
One of my two most anticipated albums of the year, Schammasch (unlike Fleshgod Apocalypse) did not disappoint. Overall, both lyrically and musically, Hearts Of No Light exudes something that is darker, more negative, and more personal than previous albums. Lacking the usual concrete motif, Hearts Of No Light instead consists of multiple tenebrous approaches to a wider and more varied array of areas deep within, where shadowy undercurrents hold sway, where rays of light are glimpsed, and where outward cohesion begins to dissolve. In this way, Hearts Of No Light signifies a progression not only in terms of wider musical variance, but also in the way that the whole is composed… while each track addresses different nebulous aspects of being and tend to individually move from a state of abstraction towards increased emotive cohesion, of the lack of a distinct overarching thesis is itself a statement about the chaos and darkness of inner existential turmoil. Recommended tracks: “Ego Sum Omega”, “I Burn Within You”, “Katabasis”. See full review here.
Asagraum – Dawn of Infinite Fire
If you are looking for straightforward, no frills, epicly aggressive familiar Swedish sound (ala Sworn To The Dark / Lawless Darkness and Vobiscum Satanas / Diabolus Interim), complete with persistently satanic themes, casually blazing riffs, relentlessly tasty ballistic percussion, scorching vocals, and that horns-in-the-air ‘let’s burn this fucker to the ground’ insolence, look no further than this musical inferno. Everything about this release positively glows with sincere and authentic classic black metal audacity, and they are doing it WAY THE FUCK BETTER than more established contemporary acts (yes, looking right at you, Watain and Dark Funeral). These ladies are fucking DOMINATING right now and if you like that style and you haven’t been paying attention, please get off your ass, because Dawn of Infinite Fire is downright ruthless. Recommended tracks… fuck, same as Misþyrming, this whole thing is amazing.
Mephorash – Shem Ha Mephorash
Shem Ha Mephorash is a work of massive ambition, and I have to admit that a significant part of the appeal is not just the music (which is fantastic but pointedly contemplative and ecclesial and not necessarily superior 1557-Rites of Nullification in my opinion) but the sheer developmental advancement and enormity of the album (clocks in at 74 minutes), the stunning artwork of the physical product, and the overall level of ambition and coherence. The lines between the daemonic and theistic blur here as Mephorash seems to obscure such trivial distinctions, the trumpets of both Heaven and Hell harkening a sacred fire to the spirit, casting the listener simultaneously above as crystalized vapors of ethereal perfection and below to infernal ashes of annihilation. Woe to the profane secular flesh and petty ego, gasping and choking on the smoke from a numinous flame. A modern esoteric black metal masterpiece, Shem Ha Mephorash radiates with transcendence, sacramental power, and a terrible, beautiful white flame of holy judgement. See full review here.
Third Tier (ten selections)
Kaleikr – Heart of Lead
This one is a bit of an enigma. There’s a LOT going on here that Kaleikr managed to seam together very well. Starting out very close to the beautiful, ultra-melodic, atmospheric black metal sensibility of Saor’s Forgotten Paths (ironic because the albums were released at almost the same time), Heart of Lead quickly evolves in a myriad of different directions, like more menacing progressive black metal, technical death metal, progressive death metal, and prog- rock. It even gets a little bit into that claustrophobic and suffocating Icelandic sound with the short title track… but this is minimal and not overdone. A good thing in my personal opinion.
Musmahhu – Reign of the Odious
A fucking savage blackdeath offering courtesy of Swartadauþuz, mastermind behind Bekëth Nexëhmü, contributor to Gardsghastr (see below), and a surfeit of other extreme projects. This one ranks as perhaps the most violent of all my year-end picks, and might be compared somewhat to Aoratos as an immediate reference. Reign of the Odious is more death metal- oriented, but similar in terms of unremittent pitch-black maelstrom mixed with subtle industrial(ish) elements and an undercurrent of epic cataclysmic ruin. Completely necessary.
Eternal Storm – Come The Tide
I won’t get too into it because it isn’t black metal, but this is a magnificently written, powerful, very melodic opus of beautiful epic artful death metal, which got LOTS of playtime from me. For fans of An Abstract Illusion, Exsickator, and Rivers Of Nihil’s Where Owls Know My Name (but more melodic DM than technical DM). Recommended tracks: “Through the Wall of Light Pt. I (The Strand)”, “Through the Wall of Light Pt. II (Immersion)”, “The Mountain”.
Wormwood – Nattarvet
In 20+ years of listening to extreme metal, there has been only ONE time that an initial listening experience was so profound that I was almost brought to tears from the opening minutes of a song… What is crucial about “The Isolationist” (the last song, track 7) and in a more general sense Nattarvet as a whole, is the ability to capture a profound paradox: It is a journey both within and also beyond, aptly conjoining the psychological tragedy of isolation with the coldness of natural indifference, and achieving a dissolution of the self through immersion in the solitude that pervades reality as a whole. See full review here.
Hath – Of Rot and Ruin
Another death metal album. A fantastic one… a near perfect combination of groove, speed, classiness, melodicism, brutality, progressiveness, and technicality, complete with tasteful acoustic interludes and fantastic vocal variation. For fans of Black Crown Initiate before Black Crown Initiate decided to try to sound like Tool. With vocals kind of like Travis Ryan ala Cattle Decapitation, but without those melodic highs. It’s really just badass in every way.
Panzerfaust – The Suns of Perdition, Chapter 1: War, Horrid War
Monstrous, crushing, war-themed blackdeath with limited tasteful atonality, overpowering vocals, and some doomish sensibilities (mostly in terms of production and an overall sense of progressive desolating inevitability, not in terms of speed)… what can be said about this album that hasn’t been said before and more elaborately? This is one that just demands a listen in order to get it. It’s difficult for me to describe it in a way that makes the album sound unique, but it IS unique, and its short length and promise of subsequent installments makes it easily digestible, leaving one pining for more. I hope we get it in 2020.
Totaled – Lament
You ever get those moments when you give your chosen listening device a raised eyebrow because of all of the asskickery that is suddenly occurring? Like it was sort of kicking ass in the first place but then it gets taken to the next level and hits that sweet spot when you are just like ‘fuuuuuck’? Well, Lament has a SHITLOAD of those moments. It’s a fusion of black metal and galloping no-damns-given punk/crust/core/grind/violence/something belligerence. On the BM side of things there’s some classic Swedish melody taking place, not unlike old Dissection or mid-era Watain, etc., but there also some much more aggressive, cutthroat Tsjuder-like ripping which really helps bridge the gap between the epic melody and the whateverthefuckitis in such a way that the tracks can vacillate between the disparate styles and sometimes outright mix them together while always sounding entirely seamless. I managed to pounce on the last fancy LP on Bandcamp and the package came with this really cool set of Tarot cards which match the cover art. Definitely highlights this as a top release for me.
Vukari – Aevum
With only moderate hype, this album turned a lot of heads when it dropped (at least in my social media circles)… and for good reason. Progressive black metal done perfectly: great focus, great balance, great drive, great production. The sound, while not as “warm” as one would find with many post-black offerings, but it is certainly not “cold” either, and the mix embraces the sort of enveloping, balanced, crystalline density that one can find, for example, with Gaerea’s Unsettling Whispers (2018) or Beltez’s Exiled, Punished, Rejected (2017) … the sort of mix where you can hear everything, nothing is in excess, and it all sounds terrific. There’s nothing here that isn’t downright tasteful, and it fucking rocks on top of it.
Vortex of End – Ardens Fvror
Vortex of End definitely gets my most underappreciated band of the year vote. Despite one previous album already under the belt, captivating album artwork, a surprisingly elaborate physical product (I grabbed a gold LP), and my own best efforts, it never really seemed like Ardens Fvror gained much traction as the triumphant black metal monument that I think it is. Musically, this is undeniably compelling: a slightly death-tinged, powerful, ferocious, yet artistic orthodox BM masterwork with an array of exciting elements and plenty of room to breathe. The vocals are particularly noteworthy… varied, interesting, and effective. What it reminds me the most of is a more muscular evolution of Ascension’s acclaimed Consolamentum album, while simultaneously being much better than anything Ascension itself has put out since. PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS.
Rorcal – Muladona
Based on a novel of the same name by Eric Stener Carlson, and featuring narration of the story by the author, Muladona is the extreme auditory interpretation of a horrific tale of disease and decay, death, violence and stench, grotesque pubescence and entrenched evil. Heavy to the point of devastating, suffocatingly dense, and with a compressed magnitude which is a bit hard to explain, it is no surprise that Metal Archives inadequately describes the band as “Sludge/Doom Metal/Post-Hardcore” but, I’m somewhat curious that the “Blackened” tag is omitted. I’m not sure about older albums, but this one certainly warrants it. Much like the Reverorum Ib Malacht release last year (but sounding nothing like it) my reaction isn’t really “I like this”, but more like “I am in awe of this”.
Fourth Tier (fifteen selections)
Blut Aus Nord – Hallucinogen
Hallucinogen is a prismatic, spiraling, inspired voyage that intentionally waxes towards both the outer realms of cognition as well as towards the far fringes of an eccentric discography which is already so varied and visionary that Blut Aus Nord holds a categorically exclusive, unique, and unmatched status within black metal at large. See full review here.
Drawn Into Descent – Endless Endeavour
A melancholic and moving combination of DSBM (which I almost never listen to) and post-black warmth. Much like the Wormwood release, the album is full of quality tracks, but there’s one that really caused me to make the investment, and that was “Wither” (track 2), which a peer shrewdly described as “the Sultan’s of Swing of black metal”… can you hear it? Since I do believe that “Sultans of Swing” is probably one of the best 5 rock songs ever written, let’s just say I was convinced.
Ashbringer – Absolution
Easy Americana-folk infused barelyblackmetal with meandering, woodsy melodies, lightly cascading percussion, straightforward vocals, positive Lennonesque message, and a very organic, natural, mellow production. Very little distortion or aggression to be found here, this is for times of peace. My only complaint is that the vocals could use some variation, they stick to the Harakiri For The Sky-ish yelling pretty much exclusively. Quite beautiful overall though and probably my most laid-back pick of the year. Great tunes for a wayward northwestern drive among the trees, and truly a unique album, musically and visually.
Akasha – Canticles Of The Sepulchral Deity
Malignant, audacious, and relentlessly abrasive, Akasha is a hybrid of venomous, frenzied raw black metal and savage, necksnapping D-beat driven crustpunk. Unlike Totaled, there is zero melody to found in these tracks, only slight variations of speed which ranges from paced predatory malevolence to frenetic, driving bloodlust, all the while spearheaded by riffs to rip out your throat and vocals to mar your soul. Shockingly, singularly, and utterly vicious.
Consummation – The Great Solar Hunter
Pummeling drums drive forward anxious riffing before seamlessly progressing to up-tempo headbanging extravaganza sections. Short but violent guitar solos are dispersed throughout, as downtempo passages featuring ominous chants emerge. Mid-paced groove proves to be one of the more stellar aspects of the album, among many other impressive qualities. Swirling, threatening, almost nauseating guitars atop simple ritualistic beats transition to more doomy, melancholic, and at times quite beautiful measures featuring soaring leads and spoken word. See full review here.
Gardsghastr – Slit Throat Requiem
For me, there’s a lot to not like with about 95% of all modern symphonic black metal. Gardsghastr, essentially a supergroup comprised of Swartadauþuz ( Bekëth Nexëhmü, Musmahhu, etc.), Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Entheogen, Skaphe, etc.), the Blackburn brothers (Chaos Moon, Accursed Aeons, Guðveiki, etc.), and relative newcomer voice Glömd, avoids all of those pitfalls, hurling forth an album that is at once grandiose and furious. Symphonic elements accentuate the songs instead of trying to carry them, and the tracks blast forward with surprising aggression and brazen scorn, tempting comparisons to more assaultive works within the subgenre like Anorexia Nervosa’s Drudenhaus (but less reliant on orchestration) and Nightbringer’s faster songs.
Aihos – Hävityksen Maa
Immediately virulent melodies ala MGLA, Dumal, or Uada… helplessly addictive headbanging-in-traffic grooves… beautiful clean acoustic moments… unabashed black and roll qualities of Instinct / Assassins era Nachtmystium… the folk inspired flavors of Nokturnal Mortum… both the classic magnitude of Sworn / Lawless and the more stripped-down galloping orthodoxy of Casus / Trident Watain… fateful march-for-the-horizon-with-your-head-held-high epic ala Catamenia’s Winternight Tragedies… and all wrapped up in just the right amount of Finnish fuzz. It might not be breaking any huge molds, but this album interweaves multiple facets of straightforward melodic black metal. An instant classic, second in line for most underappreciated album of the year.
Ultar – Pantheon MMXIX
A critically underrated release from earlier this year. A soaring and complex melodic post-black Lovecraftian opus with a long list of fine attributes, not least of which is an amazing and varied vocal performance and soul-tugging guitar solos. While the music tends towards epic, bombastic scales, the vocals serve to maintain integration with both more traditional black metal currents as well as loop in some post-rock and black-folk elements (specifically similar to the little-known American one-man act Appalachian Winter). I was midway through the third track on the first playthrough when I found myself going for the Buy Record/Vinyl button.
Grima – Will of the Primordial
Nature-centered and frost bitten, this Siberian black metal places a heavy emphasis on melancholic inflection, an icy subzero vocal delivery, and shitload of damn appropriate accordion. Not to mention other cool stuff like winter bells, blizzards of furious double kick, and whirling guitar riffs, and frigid synth. As a bonus, when Naturmacht Productions opened up preorders they also made the previous album, Tales of the Enchanted Woods available on vinyl for the first time. Thank you very much.
Sühnopfer – Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes
It is difficult to describe what takes place across the vast and furious sonic landscape of this album. The music embodies austere medieval granite… yet shimmers with golden empyrean aristocracy; the sound is gritty and hard… yet so clearly of the air and the heavens; belligerent and ruthless… but brimming with a passionate hyper-melodicism; a furious bombardment of harmonized antipodes. It is a shockingly flawless display of weightless chaos and choreographed intensity, breathtaking not only for its sheer aesthetic beauty but also because one can scarcely comprehend how such a beautiful maelstrom of orchestrated complexity is possible. Disorientation almost guaranteed unless full attention is given, and even then, it’s a gamble. See full review here.
Remete – Into Endless Night
Steadily driving, foggy melodic black metal, courtesy of D, mastermind behind post-black prototype Woods of Desolation and the rawer(ish) and folk-energized Forest Mysticism. Synth and probably various other instruments adding heavy doses of melancholic presence make this some perfect wintertime midnight music which gets better with every subsequent listen. Into Endless Night is at the top of my list of albums that I’m willing to get pressed onto vinyl at some point.
Dead To A Dying World – Elegy
Sort of an odd pick for me if I’m being honest. Also, hard to categorize with some sludgy elements, progressive aspects, doom pacing, black metal flourishes, and “epic crust” is given a nod on their Bandcamp page. Also, multiple vocal styles of deep roaring, blackish screaming, male and female cleans, and array of interesting instrumentation including viola, hurty gurty, Hammond organ, piano, tubular bells, clarinet, hammer dulcimer, and cello. Forlorn, complex, and heart-wrenchingly beautiful much of the time, the wake of my own personal hype surrounding this release led me to retro-collect their entire catalogue, and I regret nothing.
Noctem – The Black Consecration
With The Black Consecration, Noctem have definitively annihilated any preconceived notions of what their 5th studio album should sound like… and it is tremendous. Abandoned are many of the death metal elements, grandiose epic flourishes, crystal clear pristine production, and overall vastness of musical concept. What has been embraced is something significantly more stripped down but not raw, focused but not primitive, and straightforward but not simplistic… something more… black metal, and with a noteworthy compacted production to boot. See full review here.
The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism
Like some immense cosmic horror, tentacles reaching through time and space to spread its monstrous alchemy across the vast universe, Cosmicism is immense, Lovecraftian supernaturalism, carefully layered into ambitious and complex, deep yet expansive melodic black metal. The void’s cold smolder, the frothing of measureless and beautiful empyrean dread emanates from these tracks, not in a relentless explosion, but in a calculated, purposeful, majestic cosmic imperialism, more powerful with every return.
Nihilism – Obscurite Noir
Jet-black and insidious, this album makes use of addictive, needling riffing (including something that sounds, awesomely, almost identical to parts of the anxiety-inducing film score in 28 Days Later [track 2]) and blistering percussion. It was one of the earliest albums I found this year that really resonated with me (Veldes being the only one of note that I discovered prior to it), and thus it has gotten a lot of periodic listens over the last 12 months, each time reminding me just how fucking solid it is. I would certainly buy this on vinyl, were it available.
Fifth Tier (twenty-five selections)
Veldes – Flameless
This one has the benefit of being the very first album that resonated with me in 2019… earnest, verdant, nature-based melodic post-black luxuriance with prominent (if slightly overbearing) vocals. FFO Woods of Desolation etc. etc.
Ancient Hostility – Ancient Hostility
Vitriolic black metal with scornful, torturous, and pensive mid-to-slow paced music and absolutely caustic, scathing vocal delivery courtesy of Imber (ex Synodic, Aludra, and hopefully more TBA!).
Decoherence – Ekpyrosis
Unnerving dissonance, mechanized inertia, catastrophic atmosphere, and ominous spirit, this is Blut Aus Nord worship of the highest order, managing, like Almyrkvi (Umbra, 2017), to surpass the master.
Qayin Regis – Doctrine
Excellent occult black metal, reminiscent of a more stripped down variation of Naas Alcameth’s various projects (mostly due to the vocals, but also due to a palpable sense of authenticity) with Schammasch-like meditative pacing and even DSO Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice style riffing at times.
Beorn’s Hall – In His Granite Realm
American Viking/black, surprisingly pleasing despite (or maybe because of?) a particular looseness and rudimentary approach with timing, tempo, and production.
Falaise – A Place I Don’t Belong To
Urban, isolative, and despondent, this is warm post-black featuring a particular song that is heroin-level addictive (“Leaves in the Wind”).
Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno
FA will always have a place in my heart, at the very least due to at one point being an all-time favorite band. They’ve changed a lot. Veleno is good, but I hope this album grows on me more than it has so far.
Misertus – Daydream
Lush, atmospheric post-black melodies absolutely drenched in an almost blinding distortion and featuring a vicious vocal approach, very cool combination of beauty and malice.
Temple of Perdition – Homage to the Dead (ep)
Religiocritical hymns saturated in warm, heavy cathedralic aesthetics, and featuring choirs, celestial instrumentation, grandiose movements, blasting percussion, and transcendental nods towards ego dissolution and ascension. See review here.
Worsen – Cursed to Witness Life
Hard-hitting melodic, misanthropic American black metal with thrashy flavors and hints of melancholy.
Sulphura – Voidpulse
Instrumental atmospheric meditative ambient ritualistic drone side project of CSR (Schammasch). If you are familiar with the ambient bits of Triangle, Maldoror Chants, and Hearts Of No Light, then you know exactly what you are in for.
MGLA – Age of Excuse
Polish masters of melody return with exactly what you would expect: infectious riffs and absurdly complex percussion that only MGLA delivers.
Heilung – Futha
Massive neo-folk tour-de-force in a style similar to Wardruna, with a profound live show, fusing tribal beats with a plethora of instrumentation highlights and a vague ritualistic dance quality.
Haxandraok – Ki Si Kil Ud Da Kar Ra
Occult black metal managing to blend ritual and melody, featuring guitarist of Acherontas and primarily semi-clean pseudo-chanting vocals, similar to what Schammasch does on the regular.
Imha Tarikat – Kara Ihlas
Unique and candid black metal with black ‘n’ roll sensibilities, a particular shouting vocal approach, and fiery solos.
Meszaroth – Caro Data Vermibus
Caught up with this one earlier in the year and it did the trick keeping me tuned in and primed for that Mephorash / Schammasch sound before either of the latter dropped their new albums.
Thormesis – The Sixth
Very solid melodic progressive black metal, which sounds a lot like Harakiri For The Sky or 2019 Saor (except with keyboards instead of the Scottish instruments and more typical vocals).
Minenwerfer – Alpenpässe
A strange but alluring combination of almost Agallochesque woodsy atmospherics, raw BM primitivism, war-metal callousness, and World War motifs.
Stillness – Hermit
Warm, folky, and fanciful, with lots of synth, bagpipes, violin, piano, acoustic guitar, clean vocals etc. makes this damn near appropriate to make the family listen to during the holidays. Except when it’s not.
Gorgon – Elegy
Polished, well-produced, epic, muscular, fully modern symphonic death metal with touches of industrial elements, fits snugly alongside bands like Dawn of Ashes, Empyrean Throne, Shade Empire, The Monolith Deathcult, and Septicflesh.
Decarabia – Ancestral Kingdoms
Medieval black metal drenched in ghastly, murky, and archaic dungeon/dark ambiance; also, vocals are quite submerged in the mix, which I have been appreciating lately, at times evoking a sense of ancient suffocating dread, despite being fairly easy to listen to.
This Gift Is A Curse – A Throne of Ash
Blackened crust/grind/noise-core, surprisingly sophisticated and actually a bit epic at times, while yet exhibiting an unrestrained, almost hysterical barrage of white-hot hatred.
Frostnatt – Rimfrost
A short melodic blackish instrumental featuring guitar / percussion (particularly cymbal) reciprocation and precision not unlike MGLA, except with a more synth heavy folky trajectory… think MGLA + maybe Falkenbach or Windir or something like that.
Iapetus – The Body Cosmic
Aspiring and brilliant progressive death metal, flaunting a constellation of great approaches and talents, including percussion from Dan Presland (of Ne Obliviscaris, a reasonable comparison). Not a huge fan of some of the vocals but this album is a bit of a masterpiece in the progdeath world.
Cult of Erinyes – Æstivation
The placement of this release is based almost entirely on how late it came to the game and the fact that it is still vying for position among everything above… a wild, occult auditory assailment, which, like Vortex Of End above, benefits heavily from fucking insane vocal performance and which, like Rorcal above, is almost supernatural in its ravening violence.
And here, with Cult of Erinyes, an end-of-of year decimator which adequately represents the imminent black and extreme metal excellence that we will continues to see in the year(s) to come, seems like an appropriate place to stop and bid farewell to 2019. I want to give a humble salute to all purveyors of extreme music that I have interacted with this year, the fellow admins and superior members of Order ov the Black Arts, and Dex with Black Metal Daily and Hayduke with MoshPitNation for giving me the opportunity to ignite the flame with all reviews this year. Forward, and may thy will be done.