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Hagalaz’ Top Black Metal Albums of 2014

Posted in best of, black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2015 by blackmetallurgy

Due to my preoccupation with doom metal and horror movies this past year, I haven’t paid as close attention to new black metal as I should have. However, I have come up with a list (there’s not quite ten, but they are my favorites that I feel like I can do justice to). For instance, while I really loved the new Twilight and the new 1349, what I have heard of them, I haven’t been able to listen to them enough to give good reasons why others should. Likewise, there are other I-am-sure-fantastic new releases from the Finnish bands- Goatmoon, Sargeist, and Satanic Warmaster- that I haven’t been able to track down or listen to enough yet.

But here you go. Here are my favorites from the past year.

Myrkur- S/T EP
Myrkur’s debut EP provides a mental journey to a frosty land. Clearly paying homage to her forebears while remaining startlingly original, this self-titled EP has me waiting on tenterhooks to see what this young lady has up her sleeve next.

Kampfar- Djevelmakt
Although they seem to have slipped under the radar for the most part this year, Kampfar’s newest release Djevelmakt is a strong contender. The old-school Norwegians have polished their mix; Djevelmakt has a noticeable lack of low-fi fuzz. Nevertheless, Kampfar’s sound is as mighty and as innovative as always.

Behemoth- The Satanist
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much from Behemoth this year. As much as I love their live show, I’ve not been all that impressed with their last few albums; they sound pretty much exactly alike. I’m very happy to say that Behemoth proved me wrong this time ‘round. Maybe it’s just that I’m a geek for the Orthodox black metal approach, but The Satanist hit me in all the right places, particularly “O Father, O Satan, O Sun.”

Enthroned- Sovereigns
Enthroned’s newest is one of my absolute favorites this year. In terms of pure creepiness, it’s like a ten. Dark and eerie, it’s horrifyingly beautiful in that way that I like my black metal.

Folge Dem Wind- To Summon Twilight
When Jason over at Burning Fist asked me to review Folge Dem Wind’s new album, described to me as “primitive black metal,” I was skeptical, because what the hell is primitive black metal anyway? Jason knows my tastes pretty well, however, and I have a thing for the French school of third wave black metal. The sheer tenacity and wildness inherent in FDW’s newest release makes me want to run through the woods with the wolves.

Primordial- Where Greater Men Have Fallen
I like Primordial. They are great. I have never just been completely dumbfounded by Primordial however. Not until this year. Holy crap. J sent me a link to the title track from this album, and I’m still just in awe at the bombast and magnitude of this thing. And that’s just the first track. The whole thing is like that. How’s your mind? Blown? Thought so.

Mayhem- Esoteric Warfare
Mayhem’s newest album was every bit as amazing as I could have hoped. While those who maintain the view that the band should have quit after Euronymous’ murder will probably hate Esoteric Warfare on principle, those willing to give it a go will find an album with the old school in its bones and some of Attila’s most powerful vocals yet.

Triptykon- Melana Chasmata
Triptykon is sitting pretty at the top of this list, to the surprise, I am sure, of absolutely no one. While I was fond enough of their last offering, Melana Chasmata blew me away completely. Featuring artwork from the late, great, H.R. Giger, Melana Chasmata makes for an awe-inspiring eulogy.

Teitanblood- Death
Once again, I called my favorite early, and I was right. The appropriately named Death is absolutely devastating, the soundtrack to the ugliest pit in hell. Utilizing distortion and echoes in such a way as to create a bottomless feel along with buzzsaw guitars and constantly hammering blast beats, Death is truly a monument of horror.

***

-Hagalaz

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Hagalaz’ Top 10 Not-Just-Black-Metal Albums of 2013

Posted in best of, black metal, burning fist, death metal, doom, doom metal, folk metal, grindcore, retro occult rock, sludge metal, traditional heavy metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

… Is posted over at Burning Fist. Go read it! And then listen to In Solitude and Satan’s Host! And listen to the new Carcass again (as though you needed any persuading to do that).

-Hagalaz

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Releases of 2013

Posted in black metal, blackgaze, canada, colombia, DSBM, france, musings, norway, sweden, underground, united states, USBM with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2014 by blackmetallurgy

In 2012, I felt like the overwhelming theme among the best black metal releases were the ones that took big risks- bands like Marduk and Deathspell Omega doing really interesting experimental stuff. This year, for me at least, the heavy hitters were bands that have traditionally been heavy hitters; the only difference is, in many cases, these are comeback albums. Satyricon, Arckanum, and Rotting Christ all put out albums that are, in my opinion, superior the their other recent releases. I decided to keep it to  ten this year- Horna and Woe were among those I cut, and I haven’t gotten to spend enough time with the new Sadgiqacea album, otherwise I’d probably have to revise again.

So without further ado:

Gehenna- Unravel

Gehenna’s mid-tempo dissonance has really peaked in this new album. Unravel is a dirge-like, doomy album, perfect for a funeral or a rainy day. I really like the influences I hear in this one- namely, French black metal and funeral doom- and the way that Gehenna has made them their own.

Satyricon- Satyricon

I didn’t expect much from the new Satyricon. The Age of Nero was okay, and I am one of the few people, I think, who genuinely appreciates Now, Diabolical. Still, Satyricon’s sound has been too polished for me lately, and even though the production is still a little *too* good on this new one, they’ve got their bite back for sure. There are some lovely black metal riffs in there, the ballad is not bad (seriously. What is it with ballads? So far those that have done it have done it well, but I hope this doesn’t become too much of a thing), and holy crap Frost’s drumming. That’s all I have to say about that.

Watain- The Wild Hunt

I was seriously doubting whether Watain would ever be able to surpass The Waters of Ain, and for me, I still don’t think they have. Nevertheless, the Swedes have proven their mettle with The Wild Hunt, experimenting with ballads and clean vocals and sticking it to those people who think they are simply Dissection clones.

Rotting Christ- Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (Do What Thou Wilt) [No, I would not like to take a stab at it in Greek]

The new Rotting Christ was one of the first albums that I listened to this year, and I really wasn’t crazy about it. But then, a couple of months ago, I threw it on so I could have something good to work out to (Rotting Christ is great, I find, for inspiring one’s sit-ups), and all of a sudden it clicked. I haven’t been able to get enough of it since.

Deafheaven- Sunbather

Yup. I’m putting Deafheaven on my list. Sorry I’m not sorry, Trve Kvltists. Sunbather is a phenomenal album; I mean, Irresistible reminds me of Placebo, even (yes, the pop band. The awesome pop band).  The commentary that this album makes on American materialism is just proof that USBM never ceases to find interesting new ways to address darkness.

Summoning- Old Morning’s Dawn

Old Morning’s Dawn pretty much knocked my socks clean off when I heard it. This album is one of those that you should keep on reserve to put on when your unbeliever friends tell you black metal is just noise. Beautiful.

Arckanum- Fenris Kindir

Arckanum’s new album, Fenris Kindir, serves as a reminder of all the reasons why Arckanum is fantastic. Tungls Tjúgari is a churning, atmospheric nightmare, and Hamrami’s gorgeous soundscape evokes the mountains and forests in the way that only Shamaatae can pull off. (Listening to it right now reminds me that I need to spend more time in the woods. Wish it wasn’t so freaking cold out.)

Gris- À L’Âme Enflammée, L’Äme Constellée

Quebeçois DSBM masters Gris have graced us with a brilliant and lovely new album in the form of a 2 disc set (!!!!). In case you didn’t hear that right, that’s two whole discs of atmospheric, depressive loveliness. My brain doesn’t really know how to comprehend how cool that is, but I’m doing my best.

Inquisition- Obscure Verses For The Multiverse

Although I am still mourning the falling out between Antichrist Kramer and Inquisition that resulted in what I find to be some pretty silly cover art, Obscure Verses is an incredible album. Good old fashioned Inquisition mixed with some really cool effects with the guitar.

And, last but not least, my favorite black metal album of 2013, the album so nice, I bought it twice….

Aosoth- IV: An Arrow In Heart

Anyone who read my review of Aosoth’s newest back in June has the slightest inkling of just how crushingly hard-hitting this album was for me. As I was reflecting on my top ten again today, I spent some time listening to it again, and it’s still just as fraught with tension and cold as the first time I heard it. Brilliant. (And yes, I really did buy it twice. CD and double LP.)

***

Well, fellow kvltists, there you have it. My best of in 2013. I’m coming up with a not-just-black-metal list for Burning Fist, which is… difficult, to say the least, but I am working on it. And I’ll try to get caught up on the reviews, because I’m sure there are some people who haven’t bought the new Woe yet who wonder if it’s worth their buck (but not Inquisition. Everyone’s already got that one. Or they should. If you don’t, you should hand over your spiked gauntlets, because you’re not trve). Have a lovely new year, and I will see you soon, and often.

-Hagalaz

Hagalaz’ Favorite Black Metal Releases of 2012

Posted in black metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by blackmetallurgy

Finally, the list is here! Cutting people off it was excruciating- there have been some really fantastic new albums come out this year. After much pain and deliberation, however, these are the ones I have narrowed it down to. These are also of the ones I have heard- although I would love to listen to all the new black metal that gets released, until someone starts paying me for this blog, I’m on my own for supplying my music, and I am but a poor college student.

So without further ado, in *mostly* random order:

Enslaved- RIITIIR

I was skeptical of RIITIIR for a while, since- don’t get me wrong, I love Enslaved, nevertheless- I am more a fan of the Vikings’ older black metal stuff than their newer proggy stuff. I am happy to say I was wrong; RIITIIR has a lot to offer to old and new fans of Enslaved alike, and their subtle blackening of the prog works VERY well.

Nachtmystium- Silencing Machine

Silencing Machine, while not the return to necro black metal that we were promised, is incredibly dark nevertheless, and the interchanges between metal and the grinding feel of industrial music often backed by hooky rock beats is very artfully done.

Alcest- Les Voyages de L’Âme

Les Voyages de L’Âme, Alcest’s newest offering, is everything you could possibly want from an Alcest album. In places it is raw, in others it is uplifting, and it is always, always lovely.

Behexen- Nightside Emanations

Behexen’s Nightside Emanations (while having a really silly and suggestive title to my 12 year old sense of humor- no offense) is another extremely strong release. The album is straight up, good ol’ fashioned, melody-tinged black metal, but Behexen manages to do it without sounding contrived or stale even after all these years.

Master’s Hammer- Vracejte konve na místo

The new Master’s Hammer, Vracejte konve na místo, hasn’t appeared on any of the big metal blogs’ lists I’ve seen this year and that’s ridiculous (although my pal Carlos put it on his list, because he knows what’s up). Always unpredictable, Master’s Hammer have worked another masterpiece, this time including such elements as a mouth harp.

Merrimack- The Acausal Mass

Merrimack’s The Acausal Mass is a fantastic release, and a great way to solidify the band’s presence in the scene. Though they’ve been around since the early 90s, Merrimack didn’t really come into their own sound until 2009’s Grey Rigorism, when they mixed the perfect blend of French dissonance and Swedish melody. On The Acausal Mass that sound has ripened, resulting in a very strong record.

Deathspell Omega- Drought (EP)

Drought, while a simple EP, is another heavy hitter this year. People who don’t like Deathspell Omega love it even, and that is saying something. Finally ending their trilogy and supplemental EPs cycle (perhaps?), Drought provides a welcome reprieve from the methodical mayhem of albums like Fas without sacrificing any of the ugliness.

Watain- Opus Diaboli (DVD)

Watain’s long awaited live DVD/movie, Opus Diaboli, made me change the title of this post from “albums” to “releases,” because it deserves a place on here. With fascinating commentary on the symbolism that the band uses, a stellar live set, and a really impressive 2-disc live CD, Watain really outdid themselves with this one.

Teitanblood- Woven Black Arteries (Compilation)

Although a compilation comprised of only two songs (“Purging Tongues” from the 2011 EP of the same title and “Sanctified Dysecdosis”), Woven Black Arteries is easily a masterpiece. A mere thirty minutes long, it’s Teitanblood at their finest. This wins the “False” award of the year, for short little things that easily slip through the cracks if you’re not paying attention, but which melt your face off if you are.

Marduk- Serpent Sermon

Marduk’s Serpent Sermon is easily one of my favorites this year. Often dismissed as Old Reliable (by people who have been living under a rock since Rom. 5:12 came out), Marduk took some huge risks with this one and succeeded brilliantly.

Mgla- With Hearts Towards None

Mgla’s new album With Hearts Towards None has not shown up on many best of lists this year, and that’s absolutely baffling to me. With Hearts Towards None is inventive and very hooky for black metal, and for me, this is probably the year’s best.

***

So there you have it- a bunch of stuff that I think is awesome, and I’m shocked that so much of it seems to be largely overlooked (seriously. The metal blogs should be all over that new Teitanblood and Master’s Hammer). With that being said, there are plenty of other really good releases that I had to file off my list- the Agalloch EP (Faustian Echoes) for instance, or the new Shining, which is also really strong. But I decided to cut it off at 11, because, you know, but also because I can’t put everything on it unfortunately.

And unfortunately, there’s also plenty other new stuff that I haven’t heard enough of yet- the new Godseed and Blut Aus Nord, for instance- and stuff I haven’t gotten around to at all yet- I have been told there is a new Enthroned that I missed completely, and Svartidauđi has gotten some excellent reviews. Dordeduh, Krallice, Mutilation Rites, Panopticon; there’s still so much to listen to. But maybe I will get around to listening to those albums and can review them or something, because I’m sure that some of them have easily earned their way onto a top ten (or eleven) list.

In the meantime I’m going to try and get some more written for this thing. It’s been touch and go for a while because I’ve been working so much, but hopefully I can get more done soon.

Have a very kvlt New Year.

-Hagalaz