(Of course yesterday one of my favourite black metal acts, Ustalost, announced a new album for *next* week. I have no doubt it would’ve ended up on my list, but I also didn’t want to wait an extra week just to be able to listen to it for 1,5 time and hastely putting it up the list. I’ll put it up my list next year if it’s as good as I hope!)
Just three songs, of which one is a cover. But this little ep is everything I love about ‘Bodom’, be it Children or this project that ended way too soon. Alexi Laiho forever. (I wrote his obituary in Dutch)
This Spanish duo walks a line that apparently exists between sludge metal, hardcore punk and grunge. They remind me of Mantar, another heavy as hell duo, but these two have a sound all their own.
Do you like piano music? Do you like avantgarde black metal? Then all your dreams came true - too. Cool structures, a unique and amazing sound that works because it’s all so well thought out. Not an easly listen, but rewarding.
Play small venues, wait patiently for a label to believe in you? Not Blackbriar. They found the talent and time to do it all themselves, and crowdfunded their debut album. I think that’s cool. This is creative and well done symfo metal the Dutch are so good at, and it’s not hard to hear why so many people around the world chipped in to make it happen. (I spoke to them in Dutch)
Canadian black metal that goes anywhere and everywhere. On the experimental side, but still riffy as all hell (which is the place where that voice came from). They made another cool ep, plus a worthy split this year. A band to watch!
I love Obsequiae, I love Horrendous. These bands have such a completely different sound and vibe andI would have never guessed a band would come along that would sound like exactly that combination. Four songs, all bangers.
Not as good as Old Star, let’s be honest. But I’ll be damned if this isn’t a fun, raw, creative and very much Darkthrone record. If you’re looking for riffs, slide uncle Ted and uncle Fenriz a few bills.
A classic band with a record late in their existence I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I do. But Existence is Futile
has all the classic COF elements honed to perfection, and it’s a great listen front to back. (My review in Dutch
These mutts are again putting their nasty paws all over your royal chamber, and they do it well. They won’t be making any new fans that didn’t already like their style, but if it’s your thing (it’s mine), this is really another great slab of atmospheric black metal.
This band was hyped around their earlier records, but they didn’t really grab me. This one is dark and moody as death/doom gets, but it’s so goddamn catchy too. Melodically, they’re hitting it out of the park.
This is as hard, fast and brutal as anything they’ve done the last twenty years. Absolute beast of a guitarist Erik Rutan (of Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal fame) is like a piece of the puzzel the never knew they missed.
Black metal with southern US / country / western influences is kind of a rage, I guess? But not many bands do it as good as these Nashville guys. And it’s not a gimmick: the songs are great.
I don’t even like hardcore. But fuck me, this is goood.
To me, this record is kind of attached to the one above, Terminal Bliss, because I heard them both on the same day. The first part of this record is just as insanely pummeling too, but the second is pitch perfect funeral doom that noone expected. Well I didn’t. (My review in Dutch)
I don’t think I have seen any band live as many times as Mastodon, and they can be… bad. But when they’re good, you better believe they’re at the fucking top of the foodchain. I’ve gotten a streak of great live shows out of them the last few years, and they top it with a great record with twists and turns, and some deeply melancholic, well written songs. It’s a lot, but it’s worth the time. (My review in Dutch)
Like Warning, this is a band I didn’t appreciate much before seeing them live at Roadburn. But I think I would’ve been lured into Companion by first track ‘Calla’ anyway. Funeral doom that’s never dragged out to make their point.
How good is that voice? Sarabeth Linden might be the greatest vocalist in this list. There are plenty of scorching riffs, too. There are not many records I have listened to as much this fall and winter as this one.
I was at the legendary Blood Moon show Converge did with Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chisholm and Stephen Brodsky in 2016, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Ever since I’ve been hoping they release it on vinyl, but instead they maybe did something better: a whole new record with intense and beautiful songs. (My review in Dutch)
The best band active in the world of folky atmospheric black metal, although he kind of lost me with the previous double album, where he sliced his two main ingredients (metal and bluegrass) apart. On this album it shows why they just blend so well. ‘Know Hope’ is one of the best tracks Panopticon has ever done.
Spotify told me the track I’ve listened to most all year is Meer’s ‘Beehive’. And can you blame me? They’re not inventing anything, but these nine Norwegian kids just do something right with their songwriting. It’s hooky, catchy, sweet and bitter, and I eat the whole album up everytime I start it.
Aquilus is progressive and inventive, heavy as hell and so so beautiful. Think older Opeth or Agalloch, but made by a fan of the romantic pianists like Chopin and Ravel. Bellum I is another unique, beautiful, bombastic, epic, complex, nuanced and enthralling masterpiece.
Blending acoustic (!) black metal (!!) with Brazilian tropicália (!!!) and make it work this well, is really a goddamn wonder. Caio Lemos of Kaatayra has done so on multiple occasions. This new one seems to be his swansong, and that’s sad. But at least we have this and I’m happy.
Hello late nineties, I’ve missed you. If you’ve been brought up with Emperor, Sacramentum, Immortal, Dissection or any other great blue covered album from that time, you’ll love this. Riff after riff, choirs, sprinkles of dungeon synth, just majestic.
‘Antaresian’ is just the best black metal song of the year, and the rest of this fantastic record follows suit. Riffs - yes, oh my god yes.
But did you know you’d enjoy so many amazing guitar solo’s on a one-man atmospheric black metal record? Jacob Buczarski - on my list at number 7 last year
with his collaboration with Spectral Lore - again aims for the stars, and he hits the mark. (My review in Dutch)
There is something irresistable about this band. It’s so heavy and yet so accessible. Technical and melodic. Airy and stuffed at the same time. It’s like everything I love about this band crammed into one record where all these elements still get the room they need. I didn’t aim to have a big name top this list, but Fortitude
is as powerful as they come. (I spoke to them in Dutch)
Honorable mentions: Iron Maiden, So Hideous, Code, Charlotte Wessels, The Silver, Dreams of the Drowned, Quicksand, Alkuharmonian Kantaja, Suffering Hour, 1914, Unanimated, Lamp of Murmuur, Turnstile, Spectral Wound, Between the Buried and Me & Empyrium.