Starting 2020 on fire, German label Purity Through Fire unleashes yet another excellent Black Metal release with Mavorim’s sophomore full-length release “Axis Mundi”. Presenting a mixture of Ambient elements with Melodic Black Metal spurts, this release clock in at around 60 minutes of engaging and crafty music. As a one-man entity, this outfit’s sound is a bit retro, folk-like, heavy and powerful at the same time.
After the mood setting into, we get the mystical “Aus Asche auferstanden” filled with subtle synths and a demolishing BM pace. The harsh screams perfectly blend in with the powerful riffs and the very well marked drums. This very martial musical structure is quite effective in creating well delineated songs that are enjoyable and yet predictable, as the dreamy “Wo kriegergleiche Kräfte walten” and its magical clean vocal arrangements.
Unleashing one of the first 2020 contenders for Black Metal album of the year, today we have Finland’s mysterious duo with “Gnosis”. While most bands follow a marked path, Aethyrick brilliantly blends elements of traditional BM with more refined atmospheric/Post-BM influences with an overall punishing but melodic approach. Always keeping the listener engaged, this release features over 40 minutes of dramatic and high quality music.
Opening with the moody “Will Embodied”, Gall and Exile set a furious tone with blistering riffs and hellish drums, however it is the melancholic guitar leads and the overall oppressive atmosphere that sets the band apart. With certain influences of outfits like Vanum, Ash Borer and Post-Black Metal elements, the band’s style is quite refined and cut-throat as we can her in crushingly melodic tracks like “Oneiric Portals” and the heavily atmospheric “Stellar Flesh”.
Aside from the cringey name, Goats of Doom hails from Finland and it is ready to kick some ass with their high-octane Black Metal that reminds us of the melodic brilliance of Catamenia. Unleashing over 35 minutes of frosty music, the band does a great job in crafting intricate melodies that are just perfect for headbanging on a nice cold winter night.
Kicking off with the catchiness of “Mustan Unen Äiti”, the album sets a very intense and yet melodic tone that is rare to find these days. The epic guitar leads and hash vocal perfectly blend as the pace intensifies and the riffs continue to rip through our speakers. Avoiding repetition, the band’s track have blistering tempo changes and crafty drumming to keep things interesting when contrasted by slower paced passages with clean vocals and folky/pagan Metal vibes on tracks like “Kuolonkorjaaja” and “Sinne Mihin Valheet Ei Yllä”.
Unleashing one of the most furious and yet catchy releases of 2020, today we have one-man battalion Midnight with “Rebirth by Blasphemy”. With over 16 years of existence, this release is surprisingly the fourth full-length record after a large series of EPs, splits and demos. Thanks to its completely intense live shows and the superb catchiness of their music, Athenar has managed to get signed to Metal Blade Records and now can conquer bigger stages with his intoxicating music.
Opening with the blistering “Fucking Speed and Darkness”, you get that Speed Metal vibe crossed over with Punkish elements and a hearty dose of Black Metal. This is indeed the band’s signature sound and it is perfectly paired with a completely bonkers attitude of chaos and not giving many fucks. This is clearly materialized on pummeling tracks like “Escape by Blasphemy”, “Devil’s Excrement” and the retro-sounding “Rising Scum”.
Today we have a highly melodic Black Metal entity called Vananidr and their latest full-length release “Damnation”. With a vicious edge to their sound, this band perfectly blends old-school Melodic BM elements with modern production values and a knack for long and seizure inducing headbanging passages. Showing that you don’t need too many bells and whistles to deliver a punishing performance, this album is one of the most direct and yet well-crafted releases we have heard in quite a while.
Opening with the hurricane like-tempo of the blistering drumming of “Distilled”, the listener is treated to a ravaging song with crafty tempo changes and a very oppressive atmosphere. The harsh vocal snarls perfectly pair with the sinister atmosphere crafted by the band’s mixture of piercing guitar riffs and melodic tremolo-picking passages, as perfectly outlined on the album’s title track and in the superbly catchy “Hunter”.
Sneakily released on the 24th of December, Sargeist unleashes nearly twenty minutes of their signature brand of Black Metal with “Death Veneration”. As one of the premiere bands of the genre, these Finns craft four intense anthems filled with furious riffing, devilish vocals and blistering drumming. As a great addition to any BM collection, this EP deserves to be heard and purchased.
Blasting the listener straight to hell with the pummeling “To Make Wolves of Men”, we have Profundus spewing his inhuman shrieks to the tune of Shatraug and VJS furious guitar work. With their signature rawness and intensity, the band transitions into the machiavellian “To Feast on Astral Blood”. We particularly enjoy this piece a lot thanks to its highly memorable melodic passages that are just brilliant for an intense headbanging session.
Just when you think you have a band figured out, Unreqvited continues to push its aural boundaries with the lush and brilliant “Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse”. Taking the best elements of its earlier releases and adding more dynamic and contrasting ones, this one-man outfit manages to create a magical atmosphere that is quite hard to come out of. If you are into Atmospheric Post-Black Metal and you think you have heard it all, this release will change your opinion.
Opening with subtle atmospherics in “Nightfall”, the track slowly evolves into an excruciating passage to the bowels of hell thanks to its punishing shrieks. However, the music stays dreamy and ethereal, creating a very interesting and powerful contrast. With a heavier vibe, “Wasteland” continues spiraling into madness with dramatic guitar work and intricate drum patterns, creating a very visceral and yet melodic experience.
Today we are almost closing 2019 with some ritualistic Black Metal from Greece, under the moniker of Haxandraok. With “KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA” this duo delivers a highly ritualistic crushing example of punishing and yet eerily atmospheric BM. With a certain Melechesh, Nile and even Orphaned Land vibe, this release delivers over 30 minutes of engaging music that will keep the listener on a heightened state of awareness.
Opening the release with lush middle-eastern arrangements, “The Temptress of UD DA KAR RA” slowly proceeds to unleash waves of piercing riffs and creepy clean vocals. The band’s sheer power is made quite evident with the level of intensity of this track, but the crafty tempo changes are what makes the song stand out. Crafting an ambiance of decay, “Ba'al Zel Bul at the Gates of NOX” continues spewing the band’s ritualistic message with more creepy vocal arrangements, intense drumming and crafty guitar leads.
Hailing from Quebec, Canada, today we have Black Metal newcomer Trépas and their debut release “L'héritage du monde”. Delivering nearly 40 minutes of relentless frosty Black Metal, this outfit unleashes quite a solid initial effort. For those fans that like a good dose of melody mixed into their BM, the six tracks unleashed in this release will satisfy your cravings.
The band blasts away with the pummeling “Rivages Sombres”, a very punishing and engaging opening track. Perfectly balancing melodic guitars, blistering drums and harrowing harsh vocals, Trépas makes a very solid first impression. The sinister opening of “L'Aube”remind us of old-school Ancient and that melodic riffing with furious drumming from 90’s BM. The level of intensity in this track is perfect for a furious headbanging session, from start to end.
Just when you think that 2019 can’t get any better in terms of Black Metal release, Polish Arkona decides to drop their triumphant release “Age of Capricorn”. Delivering one of the most savage and yet melodic and refined BM releases of the last decade, we are treated to over 46 minutes of vicious music. If you are a fan of the genre that wants both relentless aggression and high-octane atmospherics, this is the best album you can get in 2019.
After a creepy intro with some eerie samples, “Stella Inferno” quickly unleashes grim riffs and bestial drums. This track is both atmospheric and in your face, blowing past your eardrums and rattling your brain as Khorzon and company spew their madness. The playful synths perfectly combine with the blistering pace of the demonical “Alone Among Wolves”. As if the BM aural assault wasn’t enough, some super creepy wolf samples add and insane amount of depth and vigor to this track.