2017 has seen some great releases in Black Metal, especially in the underground! Let’s count down the Top 5 Black Metal releases worldwide, so far!
Bestia Arcana – ‘Holókauston’
‘Holókauston’ is the perfect sonic depiction of the armageddon. Not just of the effect of the crumbling world, but also of the crushing dread that shadows it. The other black metal project of Naas Alcameth along with present and ex-Nighbringer members Menthor and K. comes back into the fold after 6 years since the first album, which was a different beast altogether. To release two albums of this quality in the same year (although they had written ‘Holókauston’ last year but only released it this year) is exceptional. The performances are ferocious and are of avalanche-esque scope. Devastation is summoned in ritualistic fervour as the four tracks trample over anything that has the potential to bloom. The ambient sections deplete all optimism. The effect of putting on this album is irreversible.
Dødsengel – ‘Interequinox’
The much-awaited full length release from the Norwegian masters Dødsengel is finally here after 5 years and their extremely interesting and engaging style of black metal is still at its peak. The album is both catchy and weird at the same time, and it is very satisfying to unravel something with every listen. The wide variety of vocal styles is one of the most eye-catching points and the way the riffs wrap around the frequent tempo changes is exceptional. Most of Dødsengel’s albums have an intriguingly cathartic mood to it and this one is no different. Nothing comes close to leaving the imitative ones far behind in irrelevance than this band’s music. This is going to be another classic.
The Ruins of Beverast – ‘Exuvia’
The Ruins of Beverast is a special band. The unorthodox approach to black metal and the initial difficulty of getting into the band’s style only makes it more worthwhile. That doesn’t change with ‘Exuvia’, but a lot does change. It’s 2016 EP faintly hinted what the ambience of the album would be like, and ‘Exuvia’ builds upon it. Meilenwald tailors the album in a way that the picturization of tribal and ritualistic images is inevitable. As with the previous releases, the transition between black metal and doom metal is as smooth as butter. The shamanic chants transport you to timeless spaces, the atmosphere to spaceless times. The hypnotic doom sections haunt you as much as the black metal parts chase you further into the woods. For someone who considers the band’s first two releases to be its greatest, this album comes close to it.
Nightbringer – ‘Terra Damnata’
Nightbringer’s path has continually taking their music further away from the orthodox sound while still being peripherally caressed by the shadows of their early influences. ‘Terra Damnata’ is birthed in the self-created void and slithers out upwards into the Light in rapid course. With every step, Nightbringer is closing the gap between the esoteric philosophies they delve in, and the projection of such into the auditory dimension. Fearless thrusts of sharp guitar work into unnerving and unknown corners of mysterious musical landscapes is what you would encounter during the comparatively short length of the album. The ritual begins yet again, the music puts on a mask that convolutes its features from being shapeless to an absolute form to being shapeless again.
Ofermod – ‘Sol Nox’
Another band that returns with a full-length after 5 years to at least my surprise is Ofermod. Meanwhile Michaya was involved in his other bands, Nefandus and Serpent Noir. As with their every release, ‘Sol Nox’ is a solid riff-oriented orthodox black metal. While this is primarily a black metal album, there is a decent amount of death metal thrown around. The melodic riffs are devilish and unnerving. The orthodox label fits perfectly with Ofermod as they keep their black metal simple and unpretentious, which is also why they are one of the best Swedish black metal bands ever.