The sad thing about early EoY lists is that it pretty much renders EoY lists moot. You are supposed to present your readers with the list of what albums you think are the best releases of the year. But when you publish them early, a lot of great releases are left out (as if a release near the days when people are buying presents isn’t a valid strategy for bands), so it actually is a list of “best releases of the year so far”. Then why not do it in October? “Don’t be ridiculous, this would just mean best releases of the year so far, it won’t be the best releases of the year so far close to end of year”. Right.
Anyway, enough chit chat and on to the meat.
Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith
Inquisition prove one more time that even when they have a bad day, they can do far better than most ‘mainstream’ black metal bands.
In the Woods… – Pure
Now this is some comeback! I never really hoped for a second “Heart of the Ages” and so I wasn’t really disappointed that they didn’t deliver one. Still, this isn’t some half-arsed attempt to grab easy money using your past glory as many bands usually do (Gh-Venom-gh). Listen to it, it REALLY is In The Woods…
In Vain – Mantra
Progressive Black/Death Metal from Norway. Took some 4-5 minutes to grab my attention, but from then on it was a breeze, despite some odd moments. Fans of Borknagar should not miss this.
Imperium Infernalis – Imago Dei
Nightmarish vocals, exquisite drumming, tormenting riffs, forge this extraordinary album. Progressive black metal made in Greece. Don’t miss this!
Kawir – Πάτερ ‘Ηλιε Μήτερ Σελάνα
Kawir are probably the oldest and most respected Pagan Black metal band in Greece. This album is a bit more heavy metal centric than their previous works but it is still amazing. HAIL KAWIR!
Listen to the album here: https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kawir-father-sun-mother-moon
Kosmokrator – First Step Towards Supremacy
The biggest drawback here is some of the drumming which in some cases feels out of place. Overlooking this, there are some great riffs, extraordinary vocals and an effort so solid you will sh*t bricks.
Lux Divina – Walk Within the Riddle
Spanish black metal with a feeling, for fans of Wolves In The Throne Room. Very well thought out compositions, tight and focused play and an excellent production. Give them your attention, they worth it.
Mistur – In Memoriam
Sognametal is alive again! If you don’t know what it means then I guess you don’t know about Windir. If you do know what it means, I can only add this comes right after “Arntor” in my preferences. YES, it is THAT good!
Listen in full here: https://mistur.bandcamp.com/album/in-memoriam
Murg – Gudatall
Grim and ferocious Swedish black metal. It could be a masterpiece, but somehow they manage to abruptly dismiss all the tension buildup, which will make you feel awkward in many cases. A very good album nonetheless.
Netherbird – The Grander Voyage
Finely crafted Swedish melodic black/death metal. The album flows from start to finish as a beautiful stream of music, revolving around a main theme and using it playfully to cross boundaries and genres. Nothing you haven’t heard before (not THAT important to me anyways), it has its fair share of epic moments.
Novembre – Ursa
Partially doom, partially prog, partially death, this wild mix is probably the best album Italy gave to the world over the last years. Highly recommended for fans of late Enslaved and Fen, and to anyone who appreciates well composed music actually.
Buy it here: https://novembre2.bandcamp.com/album/ursa
Negură Bunget – ZI
When you merge the folk tradition of Transilvania with natural ambient black ‘n’ roll the result is certainly weird, and paradoxically sounds great. A rewarding listen…
Nahtrunar – Existenz
When this album got released halfway in December, I knew it was going in my EoY list within minutes. It deserved to spread like wild fire, but unfortunately most major publications had already closed their lists and articles for the year at that time. If you are serious about your black metal, you CANNOT afford to miss such a finely crafted album.
Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows
We used to say that there is something in the Icelandic water that turns its youth into super-musicians. I am starting to believe that there is something going on with French water too. Relentless experimental black metal, in the vein of Deathspell Omega. Top notch.
Prosternatur – Abyssus Abyssum Invocat
Ritualistic experimental black metal. I don’t have much to say about it, it is *almost* a masterpiece. There were a handful of moments that disturbed the whole atmosphere that was building, but apart from that, the album is really haunting. Great release.
Verwoed – Bodemloos
Bodemloos in English means bottomless, and this EP is exactly that. The loose structures of the songs pull you toward a spiral to the depths of hell. Nightmarish black metal is what the Dutch are good at, and this is no exception.
So this was the 3rd part of my list of noteworthy releases. One more to go, and then I might even tell you which of all those are my favorites. Have a great weekend everyone!