Metal Chris’ favorite black metal albums of 2020

It’s the end of the year so it’s time for my end of year album lists! I’m posting several lists, each for a different subgenre/category, and ordered by release date instead of ranking them. 2020 has been a unique year with unique challenges, to say the least, and I fully expect that to be reflected in my lists. This black metal list is my first of these lists but the doom/stoner list is now live here and you can also find my death metal list here.

ErancnoirBerglicht
Self-released February 7 2020
This Iranian one man band put out a gem of longform atmospheric black metal in early 2020. I found myself getting lost in this album’s four tracks, totaling about 70 minutes of music, many times this year. Other Iranian metal bands From The Vastland and Arsames are more well known but Berglicht proves Erancnoir is worthy of attention too.

Cult of FireMoksha / Nirvana
Released 20 February 2020 by Beyond Eyes
The Czech band Cult of Fire released these two companion albums in February and while double albums can drag on they’ve done a good job of making each one listenable on its own, though I’d argue they do complete each other. A unique band unlike any other out there right now, they use black metal to explore the philosophy and spiritual concepts of Buddhism and Vedic Hinduism (subjects I do not claim to be an expert on) while simultaneously playing totally jamming riffs.

GlooshTimewheel
Self-released 29 February 2020
Gloosh is a one man band based in the city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. This debut album offers a Russian take on the Cascadian black metal sound of bands from the Pacific Northwest like Wolves In The Throne Room, Ash Borer, Fauna and others with a heavy focus not on coldness and evil but on nature and solitude. This is a great album to plug some headphones into while taking a walk somewhere outdoors.

Spectral Lore / Mare Cognitum split Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine
Released 13 March 2020 by Entropic Recordings
The Hellenic black metal of Spectral Lore met with the Cascadian black metal of Mare Cognitum to bring us this Astrological themed split from these two excellent one man bands. Each planet in the Solar System is given its own song by one of the two bands and then they both combine on the two songs about Pluto that close out this almost 2 hour long release that somehow goes by too quickly every time I play it.

FeminazgûlNo Dawn For Men
Self-released 17 March 2020
Their debut EP from 2018 was solid but the women of North Carolina based Feminazgûl really stepped it up this year on their first full length, No Dawn For Men. Better songwriting combined with better production have made this band with a novelty name something to be taken seriously.

KaatayraSó Quem Viu o Relâmpago à Sua Direita Sabe
Self-released 1 April 2020
Kaatayra is a one man Brazilian black metal band that uses many folk elements and even instruments to create a sound that seemingly comes straight out of the rainforest. As an acoustic black metal album it certainly isn’t the most brutal release on this list but there’s simply nothing else out there that sounds like this album. Kaatayra released another album in August, Toda História pela Frente, that features electric instruments if you want a little more bite added to that sound.

UnreqvitedEmpathica
Released 22 May 2020 by Northern Silence Productions
Metal Archives doesn’t even consider Unreqvited a metal band but I’m a firm believer that this calming style of atmospheric black metal is another splinter of this diverse subgenre. I’m not sure this album would have appeared on my year end list in any other year but I cannot count the nights that I’ve listened to this album to help me wind down after long stressful days during this pandemic. There’s no lyrics, just vocalized screams, that are somehow perfectly relatable in 2020.

Paysage d’HiverIm Wald
Released 26 June 2020 by Kunsthall Produktionen
Paysage d’Hiver is a Swiss band with a French name that translates to “Winter Landscape” and the name is quite fitting. Their sound is cold, brittle and perfect to listen to while tromping through nature in the middle of a snowstorm, even if only in the mind’s eye. It’s a long album at about 2 hours in length, but the songs here are simply too good to easily get tired of. As a side note, many have noticed the new Taylor Swift album, Folklore, has a strikingly similar cover.

Lamp of MurmuurHeir of Ecliptical Romanticism
Released 2 October 2020 by Death Kvlt Productions
For the trve kvlt purists the debut full length by Olympia, Washington, based Lamp of Murmuur does not disappoint. This album has all the hallmarks of traditional black metal harking back to the Norwegian second wave, but manages to keep the sound fresh and exciting with creative song writing that, while familiar, isn’t derivative enough to make it seem like a direct rip off of anything in particular.

Путь (Pathway) – Юдоль скорби (The Vale of Sorrow)
Released 23 October 2020 by Depths of Void
Путь, pronounced “put,” released this EP in October. Instead of a keyboard, the Russian band features an accordion playing slow, sad melodies that add a somber tone to their songs. Black metal’s Scandinavian roots often give a wintery feel but this release feels like the waning days of October as plant life withers and dies heading into the dark winter months. The track “Cold Spring” was actually written in the early days of the pandemic and is about the isolation felt in locked down “empty cities” across the world.

3 Comments

  1. This is outstanding! Thank you for doing this.

  2. Great choose!

  3. Your list is awesome! I really dug the 2020 albums from Czort, Ba’a, Belore, damn if I start naming them, all I won’t stop. The Erancnoir you mentioned was superb. The Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum split ruled as well.


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