Metal Chris’ Favorite Black Metal Albums of 2019

It’s the week after Christmas but before New Year’s and everyone has been posting their year end lists. I figured I’d join in the fun this year with a few of my own. This is my black metal list but I also have a death metal list (here) and a doom/stoner (here). I definitely listened to these genres disproportionately the most in 2019. The albums are not ranked so they’re in order of release date. They’re not meant to be “the best albums of the year” but they are my personal favorites of the year, the ones I kept coming back to listen to again and again.

VeldesFlameless
Self released January 4, 2019
Veldes is from Slovenia and their sound is perfect to put on the headphones for a solo walk through the woods. They blend the epicness of bands like Saor with the attachment to nature akin to the Cascadian black metal bands and somehow make it all really catchy and moving at the same time.

Rotting ChristThe Heretics
Released February 15, 2019 by Season Of Mist
One of the earliest and most famous of the Greek black metal bands, Rotting Christ has changed their sound several times over their 30+ year history. These days they blend elements of that classic Hellenic black metal epic sound with gothic and melo black metal elements. Sometimes their albums are far off the mark but The Heretics hit the bullseye with unique and diverse songs. Their local tie in is their rendition of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” which you can hear on the player below.

EllendeLebensnehmer
Released March 29, 2019 by Art of Propaganda
Lukas Gosch is the mastermind and sole member of Ellende, everyone else in this Austrian band is a hired hand. There have been a lot of bands playing the post-black metal sound since Alcest started blending shoegaze with black metal over a decade ago, but while some of these bands have veered far into hipster territory Ellende has managed to keep enough brutality and mournful sorrow in with the atmospheric elements to keep the band firmly in the more black metal than gaze side of the spectrum.

MisþyrmingAlgleymi
Released May 24, 2019 by Norma Evangelium Diaboli
The black metal scene in Iceland is very strong right now and 2019 saw a slew of great releases by bands like Sinmara, Andavald and even a Wormlust / Skáphe collab album, however Algleymi by Misþyrming rises above them all as the island nation’s stand out release in 2019. This album is aggressive and melodic and the songs are diverse and creative so that it warrants multiple playthroughs without becoming boring. Misþyrming translates to “mistreatment” but this album is anything but.

Батюшка (Krzysztof Drabikowski)Панихида
Self-released May 26, 2019
A public schism and ensuing legal battle over the name Batushka have resulted in multiple versions of the Polish band after their debut album, Litourgiya, was released in 2015. Both versions of the band released albums this year but Krysztof Drabikowski showed that while the other version may have better marketing and production, you can’t beat or imitate the feel of his songwriting. Continuing the band’s sound of combining Gregorian monk style chanting with black metal, Панихида is the rightful sophomore album from one of the most unique sounding bands in black metal right now.

Yellow EyesRare Field Ceiling
Released June 28, 2019 by Gilead Media
The only fully American band on this list, Yellow Eyes have a very distinct sound drenched in distortion but with a foundation in melody that is somehow both off putting and infectious at once. The band is from New York City and Rare Field Ceiling‘s sound is perfect listening while wandering a bleak urban landscape. I also have some personal attachments to this album that I won’t get into here, but this is a release that I’m sure I will be enjoying for years to come.

VoidsphereTo Exist | To Breathe
Released July 25, 2019 by Amor Fati Productions
Black metal fans have always loved the genre’s underground collectives such as the Norwegian Inner Circle, Les Légions Noires and the Black Twilight Circle. Voidsphere is my favorite of the ПРАВА КОЛЛЕКТИВ (Prava Kollektiv), a group of bands that have been putting out releases that are dissonant and dark, even by black metal standards. Voidsphere is distinct in that their songs are all lo-fi, very long (around 20 minutes plus), and basically sounds like you’re endlessly falling into a black hole over an eternity.

AsagraumDawn of Infinite Fire
Released September 13, 2019 by Edged Circle Productions
Asagraum is an all female black metal band but don’t let stereotypes fool you, this release is the most aggressive on the list. It isn’t all fury akin to Medea though as there are breaks where the band shows their ability to slow down a bit to build up tension. This adds a needed dynamic contrast to the blasting. Solid riffs and raspy vocals are the standard of this Dutch band.

Blut Aus NordHallucinogen
Released September 20, 2019 by Debemur Morti Productions
The French band Blut Aus Nord is almost like the Neurosis of black metal in that they have a long history of changing their sound over the years yet continue to put out top notch material. With a title like Hallucinogen you might expect something closer to Oranssi Pazuzu’s psychedelic black metal but the album is not that spacey and has more progressive and melodic influences. They are definitely experimenting with some new things here too, for example the song “Mahagma” sounds like Blut Aus Nord’s take on the Batushka chanting sound.

VástígrAura Aeternitatis
Released September 27, 2019 by Avantgarde Music
The second Austrian band on this list, Vástígr has a modern take on melodic black metal without the campy cheese the sub genre is sometimes guilty of. This is Vástígr’s first release but it is quite impressive. The album cover art perfectly captures the cold and isolated sound of Aura Aeternitatis, reminiscent of trodding through the snow on the side of a mountain with the grim reaper hot on your heels. The catchyness and beauty of these songs have kept me coming back.

Dawn Ray’dBehold Sedition Plainsong
Released October 25, 2019 by Prosthetic Records
Dawn Ray’d is a UK based anarchist band with a solid anti-fascism and anti-bigotry stance, something that is unfortunately not common enough in black metal. This is the band’s sophomore release and they’ve taken leaps forward with their songwriting. Their sound blends black metal with folk elements and has a certain primitive rawness to it that ties it all together perfectly.

SchammaschHearts Of No Light
Released November 8, 2019 by Prosthetic Records
This was a late comer this year but wow what a release by Swiss band Schammasch. These songs weave pure darkness in a very dramatic and gripping way. It is never about any specific riff or drum beat but the overall feel of these songs. No matter the tempo they are dripping in tension, apprehension and utter darkness. The dark vibe they have captured here is distinctly black metal in nature and one I will be relistening to well into the next decade.

Behemoth ticket give away

Behemoth at Fillmore Silver Spring

Poland’s masters of the dark arts, Behemoth, return to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Friday, November 2nd, with a killer line up that includes At The Gates and Wolves In The Throne Room. We’re so excited about this show here at DCHM that we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to one of you lucky readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me which of the three bands playing you’re most excited to see. On Wednesday, October 17th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. The winner will get two free tickets the show! Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that, I hate spam too. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Live Nation for $29.50 here.

Behemoth just released a new album, I Loved You at Your Darkest, on Nuclear Blast Records this month. Now, after a successful summer performing as one of the support acts for Slayer’s farewell tour in North America, they’re returning to the US for a proper headlining tour. At The Gates is one of the most important bands from the famous Swedish Gothenburg death metal scene. They will probably always be most remembered for their masterpiece album Slaughter of the Soul but they also put out a new album this year, To Drink from the Night Itself. The opening band is probably the most influential US black metal band, Wolves In The Throne Room. They’re from Washington state and are one of the bands that helped make atmospheric black metal popular with a wider audience. Now go check out the videos below by these bands and leave a comment telling me which one you’re most excited to see at the Fillmore Silver Spring on November 2nd!

Behemoth – Wolves ov Siberia

At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself

Wolves In The Throne Room – Born From The Serpent’s Eye

Cradle Of Filth ticket give away

Cradle Of Filth at Baltimore Soundstage

This Friday, April 6th, the infamous Cradle of Filth will be performing at the Baltimore Soundstage! To help get you guys pumped for the show we’re going to give away a pair of tickets to the show to one of you lucky DCHM readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me who your favorite band or musician from the UK is. Then this Thursday, April 5th at 12pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. The winner will get two free tickets the show! Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that, I hate spam too. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $30 here.

Cradle of Filth really stepped up their game with the release of their 2015 album Hammer of the Witches. The come back has kept up with their follow up album in 2017, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. If you haven’t listened to the band in many years I highly suggest you check these albums out as they’ve brought the band back to relevancy. Also performing is Jinjer, a Ukrainian band that reminds me of something like a cross between Arch Enemy and Periphery. The opening act is Uncured from New York City. They play a somewhat proggy style of deathcore and should bring some good energy to get the night started. Now check out these videos of all three bands and leave a comment telling me what your favorite band from the UK is!

Cradle of Filth – Heartbreak and Seance

Jinjer – Cloud Factory

Uncured – Opium Den

Malokarpatan coming to Atlas Brew Works

Malokarpatan at Atlas Brew Works

This Friday, March 23rd, Atlas Brew Works is hosting another killer metal show. This time the headliner is Malokarpatan, a black metal band from Bratislava, Slovakia. Who the hell is Malokarpatan you ask? They formed in 2014 and released their debut full length, Stridžie dni, in 2015. Malokarpatan really started perfecting their sound on their sophomore album in 2017, Nordkarpatenland. The band starts with a more simplistic style of black metal that is based on a speed metal foundation reminiscent of bands like Venom and Midnight. Then they blend that with Slovak folk elements and the result is a truly unique sound. This show at Atlas is going to be a rare chance to catch them perform live in our area. Also on this bill is touring support band Negative Plane. They’re form New York and play a strange style of black metal that uses surf rock elements and somehow they pull this off without it sounding silly. Local support comes from Erlkonig, a Baltimore based black metal band that shares several members with Genevieve. The opening band is Voarm, a black metal band that has a more traditional sound. Despite the show being at a brewery it is open to all ages. There’s more info on the Facebook event page here. So come out this Friday night and check out a unique black metal show at Atlas Brew Works!

Malokarpatan – V okresném rybníku hastrman už po stáročá vyčína (In the provincial pond, a water goblin has been raging for centuries)

Negative Plane – Angels of Veiled Bone

Erlkonig – Demo 2017

Voarm – Dissolution Descension

Review of Inconnu by Thonian Horde

Band: Thonian Horde
Album: Inconnu
Release Date: 9 September 2017
Record Label: Grimoire Records
Buy on CD ($7) or as digital files ($5) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Inconnu by Thonian Horde

With this post we’re debuting a new album reviewer on DCHM. Please welcome Vivek Rangarajan and read his first post for us, a very in depth review of a black metal album released by a band of guys from local doom metal bands. Be sure to stream a few tracks at the end of the post as well!

This is my first review on DCHM and I was given the pleasure of reviewing Thonian Horde’s Inconnu. This album was a blast to listen to from start to finish, but before I talk about Inconnu, let’s learn who Thonian Horde are.

Thonian Horde is a local band which features former and current members of Weed is Weed, Pale Divine, and Faith in Jane. Most of these bands are based in Frederick, Maryland, and each member is active in the Maryland Doom Metal community, which is a surprise since they are a black metal band. In 2016, the band released a self-titled debut album and in 2017, they released their second album, Inconnu. Upon first listen, one might expect it to be a black metal album with some touches of Maryland doom. However, this is not the case! In fact, Inconnu is a very eclectic blend of black, death, and thrash metal with some traditional hard rock. Thonian Horde’s Inconnu is an album that showcases the strengths of extreme metal while blending it with good-old fashioned rock and roll.

The opening track “Stygian Rhyme” sets the tone for the album and wastes no time doing it as well. Bassist and vocalist, FeZZy, uses cleaner than normal black metal vocals to put his own twist on the typical black metal shrieking vocal style. I love it. This heightens the vocal performance because it shows his identity. The guitarists Dirty and D-Mize provide a well-rounded attack, in that, both guitarists lay down the riffs in a cohesive manner. Dirty holds down the song on rhythm while D-Mize shreds for the lead sections.

While the album is rooted in black metal, Thonian Horde incorporate more styles of metal and rock as the album progresses. As soon as the second track, “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey,” begins, we see Thonian Horde incorporate a traditional rock-groove. While this can be shaky, Dirty and D-Mize do an excellent job balancing the rock groove with abrasive black metal riffage. Dirty does a good amount of lead work in this song and his leads show off the rock influence. D-Mize keeps the black metal rhythms going and keeps the song cohesive. The drum work done by Tyler “The Beast” Lee shows off a balance between black metal and rock. There is a mix of black metal blasting while keeping a rock-groove. It makes the song hard-hitting and groovy. This turns “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey” into a black ‘n roll song at the end. It’s a great one as well. The third song, “Three III 3,” is a more straightforward black metal song. It contains a lot of the gloomy atmosphere that is common in black metal. D-Mize and Dirty put their own spin on this by incorporating a semi-melodic lead that corresponds with the main riff.

The fourth track, “Atrocious,” continues what “Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey,” began. It begins with mid-paced bass line which transitions into the main riff of the song. It keeps the black n’ roll ball going as the bass line sets the rock-groove for the guitars to add on to. One thing I’d like to note on this song is how the bass guitar is easy to hear throughout the song. I love it when a song actually lets the listener hear the bass. It is unusual for the bass to be easily heard in a black metal song. Hearing the bass adds another layer to the song which strengthens it for me.

The fifth track, “Helltrain,” is my favorite track off the album. Thonian Horde show off their songwriting abilities with this track. This song combines black metal and hard-rock grooves with some speedy thrash metal. The song begins with a straight up hard rock bass-line, then D-Mize brings some dissonant feedback from his guitar. The song transitions into an excellent black n’ roll riff that Dirty holds down, while D-Mize is doing some spastic and bizarre leads. The Beast’s drumming is at its peak on this song, he keeps the grooves going while everyone is doing their own parts. Around the halfway mark, the song becomes a blasting black metal track. I love how The Beast’s drumming hits the listener like a sledgehammer with this transition. The transition is very subtle, which makes the transition’s punch even harder. Once the blasting ends, the vocal attack by FeZZy howls a powerful scream which shifts the entire song into a thrashing frenzy. The drumming in this part of the song by The Beast uses a slam-dancing beat that’s common in thrash. The use of the thrash beat packs a punch and gives a fast circle-pit beat to enhance the guitarists riffs. D-Mize and Dirty go nuts once the thrash beat kicks in. I love the amount of energy their riffs produce during this part of the song. They also include a headbangin’ breakdown that is common in thrash metal. I don’t usually care for breakdowns in all honesty, but Thonian Horde’s use of a thrash breakdown in the track is great. To end the song Dirty goes nuts in his solo and D-Mize even joins in on the insane fun. The guitarists keep the riffs thrashy, yet the atmosphere and attitude of black metal is still present. The song transitions from a black n’ roll song to a traditional black metal song and finally to a blackened thrash song, and I love it. I can see a vicious circle pit breaking out whenever they play this song live.

The sixth track, “The Eleventh Dream,” is an atmospheric instrumental track. The song has a melancholic bassline that repeats throughout the song. On top of that it contains a lot of eerie sounds that evoke a feeling of misery. It’s a track that is nothing but suffering and dread and it feels as if someone has died and we are seeing what life is without this person. “The Eleventh Dream” is a great cool down to all of the madness going on for the first five tracks.

The second half of the album continues the black n’ roll while adding elements of extreme metal. The tracks that do this great in the second half of the album would be the title track, “Inconnu” and “Organized Oppression.” “Inconnu” is more rock influenced than anything else, however, there are sections that are traditional black metal. One thing of note during this track is there is a good amount of melody in the song. I like their use of a melodic section in this song because it makes the more straightforward parts sound more abrasive by contrast.
“Organized Oppression” is a more straightforward black metal song. There is a slight melody throughout each riff which adds another layer to all of the blasting going on behind the drum kit. The song eventually becomes a blackened thrash song with some melodic elements to it. The song concludes after an energetic guitar solo by Dirty.

This is not a perfect album and there are some faults to be found. The vocals could use less reverb on them. They make the vocals seem artificial and the lyrics lose their meaning because of it. In addition to this, the last track, “Iris Effect,” does not have as much variation as the other songs have. It uses a simple riff to carry the album to the end, and the song is very mid-paced throughout which makes it hard not to lose interest. It begins to drone. Inconnu has a few problems, however, they do not detract anything from the overall experience.

Overall, this album is a fantastic local release. Thonian Horde show off how diverse their songwriting ability is. The incorporation of hard-rock grooves and melodies, combining that with black metal and other forms of extreme metal, make this one of the more varied albums I have heard in a very long time. If there is any album that I regret not putting on my favorites of 2017 it is definitely this album. Inconnu shows that there is a lot more to the Maryland scene than just doom metal or grindcore. If Thonian Horde can follow this map they have created for themselves, then I think they can make a big splash at the national level. Who knows, they could be a part of a great tour package. For right now though, their future is bright.

Helltrain:

Angels, Devils, and the Serpent Grey:

Mayhem ticket give away

Mayhem at Baltimore Soundstage

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the holiday season is officially upon us. That means it’s the perfect time for a church burning ticket give away! Let the notorious Norwegian black metal legends Mayhem darken your holidays this Friday, December 1st, when they play the Baltimore Soundstage with Immolation and Black Anvil. We know you’ve got presents to buy on top of bills to pay so we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to this show to one of you lucky readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite black metal song is. Then this Wednesday, Nov 29th at 5pm EST the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries. Be sure to enter using an email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If I haven’t heard back from the winner in 24 hours another winner will be chosen at random. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Ticket Fly for $23 here.

Mayhem is one of the original bands from the infamous second wave of black metal that arose out of Norway in the early 90s. On this tour they’ll be performing their classic 1994 album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas in its entirety along with some of their other songs too. Also performing will be Immolation, a death metal band from New York that has managed to keep their sound intense without getting stale over the 30 years of their existence. New York City based black thrashers Black Anvil will open the show. Now check out these videos from the bands performing and let me know your favorite black metal song in the comments!

Mayhem – Freezing Moon (live)

Immolation – Fostering The Divide

Black Anvil – May Her Wrath Be Just