Symphonic Black Metal

  • Vesperian Sorrow - Awaken the Greylight (2024)


    Our favorite North American Symphonic Black Metal band, Vesperian Sorrow, is finally back with the excellent “Awaken the Greylight”. Being the band’s six full-length, and after shedding/gaining a few new members since their last one, we were afraid this one would suck. However, we are glad to be completely wrong as this release delivers 54 minutes of some of their finest music to date.

    The release quickly explodes with “As The Pillars Were Raised”, a very typical track for the band thanks to its intense drumming and dramatic keyboards, something not surprising as Christopher Nunez still handles those duties in this release. The interesting part comes with the soaring clean vocals that alternate between the harsh one, giving the band a certain Mercenary-esque edge, thanks to new vocalist, Orlando Logan Olivero, tracks like “Antediluvian - Proceeding the Unshaping”, “An Epistle to the Prime, Vivified”, and “Traverse The Vorthonian Passage” have an even more epic vibe to them.

  • Funeral Oration - Antropomorte (2024)


    Capturing a very unique style of old-school Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal, today we have Italy’s Funeral Oration and their latest effort “Antropomorte”. Inducing a feeling of going back in time a couple of decades, the band unleashes seven tracks and around 40 minutes of highly theatrical and very engaging music. If you were ever a fan of Limbonic Art, Tartaros, and Charmand Girmloch, then this is the release for you.

    Opening with “PLenus Larvarum”, we are immediately treated to old-school BM riffs and to some extent a slight Punk-ish vibe, this all quickly changes as the playful keyboards come around and the whole vibe changes to a more theatrical style. Perfectly blending incisive riffs with superbly catchy interludes and solid harsh vocals, “Amor Obsessio”, “Cloaca cattolica”, and “Il Serpente della Genesi”, keep things intense and yet full of lush and elegant atmospheric arrangements.

  • Ihsahn - Ihsahn (2024)


    Delivering his most ambitious album to date, today we have Ihsahn and his eponymous release, the eight full-length album of his solo career. After a couple of EP’s in between releases, Ihsahn blends cinematic orchestrations with his already quite refined and yet constantly evolving Proggy Black Metal. Featuring both a ‘Metal’ version, and a purely orchestral version, this release is quite the musical journey and a stop above the excellent quality we always expect from Ihsahn.

    After the mood setting orchestral opening, “The Promethean Spark” brings us back to more familiar territories with crafty tempo changes and Ihsahn’s signature mixture of clean and harsh vocals alongside playful riffs. While the ‘Metal’ side of things is familiar, the interplay with the classical instrument arrangements is quite engaging and intoxicating. Tracks like “Pilgrimage to Oblivion” and the lush “Twice Born”, showcase a very unique blend of heaviness with fragility and a splash of vibrancy that is rare to find in Metal.

  • Vargrav - The Nighthold (2023)


    Capitalizing on the success of Vargrav’s first two releases, “Reign in Supreme Darkness” and “Netherstorm”, mastermind V-KhaoZ moves this outfit from a solo project to a band. In “The Nighthold”, we get a more evolved version of this Finish outfit with a gnarly old-school BM vibe to come along. While still delivering for the people waiting for 90’s Symphonic BM, the band goes the extra mile in crafting a release that is engaging and diverse and not just a rehash of their earlier epic releases and yet has that signature Vargrav sound to it.

    Opening with “Moonless Abyss of the Nighthold” and “Through the Woods of Breathing Shadows” we get that dreamy Symphonic BM fix that we were looking for, but also find a harsher and frostier edge to the band’s sound. The addition of Graf Werwolf von Armageddon (Satanic Warmaster fame) on vocals, and members of Finntroll and Moonsorrow on bass and drums, gives this release a more polished and well crafted instrumental edge.

  • Urbain - A Soul Purged (2023)


    We sometimes wonder how the guys over at Hypnotic Dirge Records have such a similar music taste to us. From highly melancholic, to extremely experimental releases, this label has landed another winner with Urbain’s release “A Soul Purged”. Hailing from Texas, this band feels like a mixture of Vesperian Sorrow, Limbonic Art, with some splashes of Dimmu Borgir. With nine brilliant and high-octane tracks, this release is one of our early candidates for album of the year for 2023.

    Opening with the release with the dramatic atmospherics of “Perception”, the mood is set very efficiently as the ravaging intensity of the guitar riffs is introduced alongside piercing shrieks and lush melodic passages. With an atmospheric transitioning track between each song, the band nicely changes the tempo and mood while preparing themselves to unleash aggressive onslaughts with a hearty balance of melody as we can hear in excellent songs like “Without Conscience” and “A Soul Purged”.

  • Diablation - Par Le Feu (2023)


    There is definitely something magical in the water in France as they have a solid wave of talented Metal bands coming front and center. Today’s turn is for Diablation and their superbly polished and engaging Symphonic Black Metal. With “Par Le Feu”, this band gives us …And Oceans-meets-Alghazanth vibes with some Anorexia Nervosa and Limbonic Art splashed in. Featuring seven tracks and nearly 40 minutes of music, this is one hell of a release that no fan of the genre can miss.

    Opening with the enigmatic intro “Inferi Ostium”, the band really hits full stride with the crushing “Vox Diaboli” and its waves of punishing guitars paired with hellish screams. The atmospheric keyboards have that magical late 90’s (or early 2000’s) vibe, when they are overpowering, but seamlessly blend into the mix, as we can hear in brilliant songs like “L'unique merveille”, “Au bord du gouffre”, and “Crépuscule doré”. If the vocals sound familiar, is because they are delivered by none other than Vicomte Vampyr Arkames, who used to handle these duties in Seth a while ago.

  • Cradle of Filth - Trouble and their Double Lives (2023)


    Our favorite Gothic/Symphonic Black Metal miscreants are back, with a new double live release that also features a couple new studio tracks. Nicely separated into older and newer songs per disc, this release is a testament that the band still has plenty of fuel left in their tank while delivering some kick-ass live shows. If you are a diehard fan of the band, this release nicely captures a glimpse of how their, quite elaborate, tracks sound in a live setting.

    Opening with the new track “She is a Fire”, is a dreamy piece that continues the bands intensity and lush atmospherics of their previous release “Existence Is Futile”. Since this track is new, this and the other studio songs should feature Zoë Marie Federoff, the band’s newest member on keyboards and backing vocals. The rest of the first disc has plenty of killer live renditions of fan favorites like “Heaven Torn Asunder”, “Nymphentamine”, “Bathory Aria”, and “Desire in Violent Overture.

  • Luteøks - Barely True Norwegian Black Metal (2023)


    Black Metal parody bands is something that one does not usually encounter, so it was quite interesting to hear Luteøks and their debut release: “Barely True Norwegian Black Metal”. Upon doing more research on the band and the release, we found out that the label, Nordic Mission, is an ‘extreme Christian Metal’ label and all members of Luteøks are also members of Grave Declaration, a fully Christian Metal band. However, moving that aside since we don’t care one bit, the music is actually really good and with plenty of familiar influences.

    After a pummeling Old Man’s Child-esque intro with “Dritfjell”, the band fires up their old-school Norwegian BM chops with the very familiar opening minutes of “Sekken”. Every connoisseur of the genre will immediately pick up the familiar sounds the band manages to blend in together, particularly the Dimmu Borgir-esque nature of “Langbortistan” and its playful antics. We believe that some of the parody aspects might get lost in translation as almost all lyrics are in Norwegian.

  • …and Oceans - As in Gardens, So in Tombs (2023)


    We are extremely glad that the band that got us into Symphonic Black Metal in the 90’s is back in full form and has stayed away from their weird Techno/Industrial phase. …and Oceans delivered two brilliant releases in the late 90’s, then dropped two super weird and ahead of their time releases only to mostly disappear for almost a decade. With “As in Gardens, So in Tombs” the band showcases a lush and evolved sound filled with epic melodies and crafty atmospherics.

    Opening with the album title track, the band’s retro approach to the genre perfectly balances furious guitar work over playful keyboards. While most bands these days make the keyboards overbearing, this Finnish outfit uses them to complement their core sound as they never feel over the top. Tracks like “The Collector and His Construct”, “Within Fire and Crystal”, and “Carried on Lead Wings” have that old Tartaros and Limbonic Art vibe adorned with ‘new’ vocalist Mathias Lillmåns of Finntroll harsh scream onslaughts.

  • Pestilent Hex - The Ashen Abhorrence (2022)


    Unleashing a blistering piece of majestic Symphonic/Melodic Black Metal, today we have newcomers Pestilent Hex. Polished in over five years, this album captures the magic of keyboard driven BM of the 90’s, with similarities to Emperor, Tartaros, Limbonic Art, however, the band manages to sound like something completely different. Be prepared for a dramatic and highly engaging 40-minute experience.

    The release opens with the album titled chapter I, which sets a very hectic opening with blistering drumming, furious riffing, and powerful harsh vocals. This track nicely morphs into a very dramatic and intense atmospheric affair with piercing synths and lush piano arrangements. Both “Nature of the Spirit” and “Mephistophelean Liaison” perfectly build up on such a killer opener with tons of dynamic arrangements, dramatic tempo changes, and heaps of emotion and melody, making up for a very powerful first part of this release.


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