Viewed holistically, Nyctophilia’s Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae is an enjoyable black metal listen, but not a memorable one, despite its authentic efforts at second-wave mimicry.
Richard Z. Kruspe’s passion for guitars, rock n’ roll and musical innovation in general shine through on A Million Degrees, Emigrate’s third album.
On Heir to Despair, Japan’s Sigh have, as usual, taken the road less travelled and released yet another fresh, genre-defying album of progressive, avant-garde black metal. This approach may not guarantee popularity, but they can definitely sleep the sleep of the artistically fulfilled.
While the mood of the do-it-yourself attitude of early second-wave black metal is all but absent on this tribute record, it is still a delight in terms of nostalgic charm – and while the holistic impression of the record is a little awkward and (obviously) not fresh, original creative output – but the admiration these bands hold for the halcyon days of black metal yore, and for Burzum, is undeniable.
Cevin Key’s Brap & Forth Vol. 8 showcases production over arrangement in a selection of outtakes and demos – but still captures the overall essence of Remission (1984) and Bites (1985), Skinny Puppy’s groundbreaking first two albums.
Revelations of the Red Sword is a deeply esoteric album, blessed with a huge presence and a constantly shifting undercurrent of unapologetic misanthropy. But it’s also a more refined expression than 2012’s Flesh Cathedral and a triumph for Iceland’s Svartidauði.
Due out via Transcending Obscurity, Dødsferd’s, Diseased Remnants of a Dying World is an excellent showcase of a long-running band that refuse to rest on their laurels and instead keep producing quality content.
Worlds Open, Worlds Collide may be the only full-length One Tail, One Head will release, but they are going out on a high note: a solid disc that keeps the True Norwegian Black Metal flag flying high.
Beastland evokes a nostalgic response through its use of industrial tropes and inspires through its unique instrumental approach but Author & Punisher ultimately rely too heavily on novelty of approach in a woefully disinterested, uninformed musical climate.
Chthonic’s Battlefields of Asura is crushingly heavy, stirringly epic and attractively accessible all at once, tempered with exotic themes exploring Asian mythology and folklore. Check our review and exclusive track-by-track video.
As long as bestial, angry songs like “Ritual” and “Blasphemous Attack” exist, Blasphemy will always be a relevant contributor to the genre, and Blood Upon the Altar will always be a classic.
The latest Apocalyptic Witchcraft-released album from Ireland’s From the Bogs of Aughiska, Mineral Bearing Veins is not a safe or simple record: its evocative ambient black metal musical content may be easily accessible, but the themes it deals with are anything but.
Due via Iron Bonehead Productions, Black Funeral’s The Dust and the Darkness offers a short but stirring paean to forgotten underworld figures, phrased in music that is at once primitive in its emotive delivery but highly sophisticated in its composition and arrangement.
Blood of Serpents presents their second full-length, Sulphur Sovereign (Non Serviam Records), and it’s a monster: uncompromising and heavier than a thermos of Mercury, typically Swedish death/thrash influenced black metal.
Spain’s Empty balance desolation and aggression beautifully on Vacio (Osmose Productions), an album that is at once a pleasure and a torture to listen to.
Skeletonwitch’s Devouring Radiant Light comfortably straddles multiple genres of extreme metal while still effectively retaining appeal to fans within each of those sub-genres; a mature expression overall, but lacking some of the grit of prior offerings.
On Hekatomb, Funeral Mist craft a black metal record that merges multiple styles and techniques without the usual progressive and over-intellectualised trappings that usually accompany such ambitious undertakings.
Northern Chaos Gods may be a “safe” album, playing purely to the strengths of the Immortal legacy, but don’t take it as a negative criticism: this is still a monster of a record.
On Ultra-Nihilism, Cape Town’s Skedel have managed to solve a mystery that has plagued many for over two decades: why have no bands ever successfully and entirely bridged the gap between black metal and industrial?
Lychgate’s ambitious, academic third album, The Contagion in Nine Steps, is a challenging beast that melds abstraction, philosophy and psychology together in a musical interrogation of contemporary society and crowd behaviour.