Being born in the early eighties, the second wave of Black Metal erupted during my childhood, its subsequent commercialization took place in my youth. Therefore I only consciously and actively experienced this style at a time when Black Metal was already one of the established genres in Metal – with all of its stylistic diversity. That is why good Black Metal to me is not about loyalty to its origins, but rather its credibility and creativity. I think this is reflected in the selection below.
Here are my ten Black Metal highlights of 2019 in alphabetical order:
Ancient Flame – Tyrant Blood
This one-man project from the underground of Philadelphia plays epic Pagan Black Metal with elements from classic Heavy and Doom Metal. Since J.L. is also active with CRYPT SERMON this is not surprising, but together with atmospheric keyboard choirs it creates an unusual Black Metal record.
Darkthrone – Old Star
The grand masters from Norway have not published pure Black Metal for a long time. The main focus of their new album is on Doom Metal influences. Most of the time, the duo gets the curve just in time before it sticks too much to the lower tempo range. Nocturno Culto’s grater vocals and Fenriz’s drums provide recognition values. As always, very special – and that’s why it’s simply great!
Dawn Ray’d – Behold Sedition Plainsong
“It’s time for new tales of resistance!” is what the anti-fascist musicians from Liverpool shout at you right at the beginning of their second album. They set this resistance to music with original Black Metal mixed with a medieval feel. The interplay of hard bludgeoning and soft Folk tones creates a gripping dynamic, which is why this album should be enjoyed in one piece.
The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism
In extreme Metal, a calm intro is often followed by a thunderstorm. Not so with these Frenchs, because what follows here is hardness with a comprehensible structure. The cosmic chaos of the men from Bordeaux can be described as progressive, rather than dissonant, whereby their music creates a hypnotic pull that is very difficult to escape. But why would you want to escape it at all?! Also thrilling are the solos, rooted in classic Metal, and the distinctive bass lines.
Mork – Det Svarte Juv
This Norwegian one-man project is more grim and primal than most of the genre’s competitors. The multi-instrumentalist’s second album sounds raw without sounding underproduced – at least according to the standards of the genre. DARKTHRONE and SATYRICON are the musical guides on this dark path.
Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
It’s hard to put the style of this extraordinary Minneapolis based band into words. Medieval sounds and choirs create a mystical basis for atmospheric Black Metal, whose organ-like guitars and Power Metal borrowings exert an unfamiliar fascination. This medieval Metal can be enjoyed without a mead horn.
Sarke – Gastwerso
The sixth album by these Norwegians is once again a musical surprise bag from Black Metal, Industrial, Synth, Thrash and Retro Rock. That doesn’t sound typical for the genre at all, but it works extremely well, due to the many years of experience of the musicians involved. And with DARKTHRONE’s Nocturno Culto on the microphone, nothing can go wrong anyway.
Verheerer – Monolith
The debut from 2017 of the German band was able to convince me with its creative and traditional Black Metal. This also applies to their second record – without any doubts! Despite the extreme variety, the album feels like it is made of one piece – just as the album title promises.
Vimur – Triumphant Master of Fates
Although the vocals and drums always sound like Black Metal here, this Atlanta based band uses a lot of elements from riff-driven modern Metal and Melodic Death Metal on their second record. This is particularly evident in genre-atypical melodies and structures, but thanks to excellent songwriting this never sounds out of place.
Wormwitch – Heaven That Dwells Within
BLACK METAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The Canadians made a blatant musical course correction from their debut to their second album. Where the guys enriched the Black Metal of their debut with elements from Crust, Thrash and Blues, these have now been replaced by Melodic Black/Death Metal and Folk/Pagan Metal. This not only suits the band extremely well, they have also made it into the top list of the genre for me! The album features great melodies and solos, atmospheric choirs, wonderful acoustic guitars, overwhelming drums, an always present bass and a singer who can both shriek and sing. On top of that, the production is excellent and the record shows an extremely tasteful cover artwork. An album that does absolutely everything right!