Top notch Albums:
Awe / Vacantfield / End – Moerae
A mighty collaboration, a split release of extraordinary thematic cohesion. Review here.
Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden
(Epic) doom metal, of great heaviness and terrific guitar work. Memorable tracks, most of them of stellar status.
A grandiose continuation of Cult of Fire’s last year ep, a release with an interesting concept, which is nicely reflected in the songs’ variant character. Review here.
Dødheimsgard – A Umbra Omega
The band’s highly anticipated album was definitely worth the wait, and despite the superabundance of guitar ideas, some of which were somewhat unstably incorporated in the record, it is a masterpiece crowned by the amazing vocals of Aldrahn.
Enforcer – From Beyond
Another great album for the Swedes, a bit more complex than their previous releases, a masterpiece nevertheless.
Pagan black metal of quality is a thing always worthy of note. This US band delivers it spotlessly, wrapped in an amazing cover art. Review here.
Alexandros’ second full-length was definitely worth the wait. Epic metal of Quorthonesque soul, teeming with emotion, embedded with folk melodies and ancient spirit. A masterpiece, that along with Atlantean Kodex’s “The White Goddess”, holds the scepters of this decade’s epic metal. Review soon to come.
Misþyrming – Söngvar elds og óreiðu
Icelandic black metal has started to become saturated, what with most of the new bands playing a certain take on orthodox black metal, but Misþyrming triumph on sheer darkness alone. Highly memorable riffing, and pitch black atmosphere.
Since last year, “Panic in Urals” had me on the lookout for these Watchtower/US Power worshiping Greeks. “Illusions in Infinite Void” is amazing, well-executed, not flawless, but definitely a hell-of-a-debut.
It’s been 12 years since “Onyx”. Khal Drogo’s sound has been minimalised, adapting a hypnotic quality, not unlike “Hvis Lysset tar Oss”. Through a guitar work exquisite, the album flaws gracefully, quite more easily digestible than its precursor. Review soon to come.
Trial – Vessel
A personal favourite of mine, these Swedes’ sophomore album blends nicely the edges of NWOBHM, US Power/Progressive, and King Diamond, carving a niche of its own. Containing some of the most well-written compositions that I’ve heard this year, it is perhaps the most enjoyable of this year’s releases up to now.
More than Adequate Albums:
A Forest of Stars – Beware the Sword you cannot see
The British deliver yet another opus of psychedelic black metal. None of their releases seems to have let down my expectations. Review here.
Acherontas – Ma ION
Another passionate release from these Greeks. The only flaw is the album’s duration; it seems that the songs are a bit more drawn out than they should. Still, inside this record lie some amazing riffs.
Deletere – Les heures de la Peste
These Canadians had picked my interest with their “Inopia et Morbo” demo. Their first full-length is an excellent species of Metal Noir Quebecois, with a handful of rawness thrown in. Review soon to come.
Dödfödd – Demo 15
A guitar-less release of with great dungeon atmosphere, another solid release from Sir N. Review here.
Embrace of Thorns – Darkness Inpenetrable Voluminous, extremely thick black/death from Greece. The Athenians are veterans of the scene, and keep spitting out blasphemous recordings. Review soon to come.
Goatblood / Nuclear Perversions – Rex Judaeorum/Wolves Of Apocalypse
A great black/thrash release, with Goatblood’s side being a little more closer to my taste. Their full-length is soon to be released.
Grimoire – L’Aorasie des Spectres Reveurs
Atmospheric black metal from Quebec, creating highly vivid soundscapes. A bit on the chillingly romantic side, especially recommended for Ephemer fans.
Ithaqua – Initiation To Obscure Mysteries
Early 90’s Greek black metal worship. Highly nostalgic, not much original, but extremely enjoyable, with excellent lyrics. Review here.
Katavasia – Sacrilegious Testament
A super-group playing old school Greek black metal. Well-rendered compositions, top of the notch vocals, and this “Thy Mighty Contract” feeling overflowing.
Kjeld – Skym
Dutch atmospheric black metal of freezing tempereature and Scandinavian temperament. For those old-schoolers that never abandoned the 90’s scene. Review here.
Leviathan – Scar Sighted
Wrest’s comeback is more than satisfactory, leaving behind the urban chaos of his last album. Here lies the inhuman, cosmological spirit of “Massive Conspiracy against all Life”. Review here.
Nettlecarrier – Black Coffin Rites
Another highly enjoyable release from these Norwegians. Total second wave worship, with great guitar riffing. Review here.
Outre – Ghost Chants
One of the best orthodox black metal releases that I’ve heard in quite a long time. Poland is a staple of quality black metal, and Outre proves it once more. If only we can have a new Cultes des Ghoules release this year… Review here.
Slaegt – Ildsvanger
Minimalistic raw black metal from Denmark with punk attitude scattered around. A release spot on the spirit of band isolation.
Tome of the Unreplenished – Innerstanding
Diastric atmospheric black metal from Cyprus, highly majestic and image evoking. Review here.
Uitzichtloos – De Oogst
Hypnotic black metal from Netherlands with shrieking vocals and frosty breath. The dutch scene is definitely riding mightily during the last few years.
Vassafor / Temple Nightside – Call of the Maelstrom
Total fucking DARKNESS. Brutal black/death, grandiose as the Abyss, thick as Hell. Vassafor’s side is the highlight for me.
Visigoth – The Revenant King
If this album’s sound was not infested with some heavy/groovy moments, it would feature on the top list. “Dungeon Master” could very well be among my top 10 songs of the year. Stille, the vocals are great, the guitar work more than adequate, and this is a very good record of epic metal.
Vivus Humare – Einkehr
A release with shaky character but great ideas, closing with a killer a la “De Mysteriis” song. If only they follow on this path on their next release. Review here.
Sorcerer – In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross
Finally, these veterans’ debut is out. Memorable songs which know how to be highly epic. Unfortunately there is an abundance of groovier moments here too, which don’t let the album shine.
Heathen – Heathen
This cassette release from Norway, through (the quite interesting) Caligari Records, is akin to Burzum’s debut rawness, a bit more hypnotic, containing a few ambient as well. Review soon to come.
The Rest (Albums that didn’t convince me or are not my cup of tea, also those that I didn’t listen to as much I would like in order to be certain):
Abominor – Opus decay (What I said earlier about the saturation of Icelandic scene. Not bad per se, but neither is it memorable. Great cover though.)
Akhlys – The Dreaming I (This one I have not given many spins, but although it takes off great, it becomes kinda boring from the long middle track onwards. Still, I am not certain.)
Caina – Setter of Unseen Snares (Never was much of a fan of Caina, and this album feels small, in most of its aspects.)
Code – mut (Code have left black metal behind, turning to a watered down version of late Anathema, with great vocals though.)
Corpus Christii – PaleMoon (Still do not have a clear opinion about this one. There are great riffs in here, but also tiring moments.)
Decline Of The I – Rebellion (That one is interesting post black metal, with quite a bit of experimentation. Quite good, but not my style of black metal.)
Devathorn – Vittra (This one I found somewhat stretching-in-order-to-sound-extreme, in a bad way. Not given it as many listens as I would like however, probably will revisit.)
Devouring Star – Through lung and heart ( A lot of hype about this one, and without a good cause as far as I am concerned. Typical orthodoxy black metal, not memorable. Great cover art though.)
Dhampyr – Oceanclots (This one is strange, and definitely needs more spins. There are certainly god ideas in here, but maybe a tad to many. Will be returning.)
Dynfari – Vegferð tímans (Pagan black metal, to which I have not listened much. Didn’t click, but it has a certain quality.)
Enslaved – In Times (Late Enslaved are definitely not to my liking, thus I cannot say much about this one.)
Ereb Altor – Nattramn(After their first 2 great albums, Ereb Altor have been declining in my eyes. This one certainly has its moments, but didn’t convince me.)
Hacavitz – Darkness Beyond(On first listening to this one I was excited, but after a few more spins it was reveealed as well-played but not much inspired second wave black metal.)
Helrunar – Niederkunfft(Maybe the greatest disappointment of the year so far. Loved their earlier works, but in this album they have left behind their pagan days, adding some unacceptable for me heaviness.)
Imperial Triumphant – Abyssal Gods(Great moments in this one, black/death of experimental character, with lots of extremity, needs more listenings to, will probably rise in my esteem.)
Liturgy – The Ark Work(At first I thought it was a joke leak. Then I listened to it a few times, deleting it after that. Then I gave it another shot. The vocals are highly dubious. It has its moments though.)
Maléfices – Hurlemort(Metal Noir Quebacois, of good quality. A solid release.)
Marduk – Frontschwein(A good release from the Swede veterans. Not up to par with their (much) older releases, but definitely worth a listen or two.)
Negura bunget – Tau(The Romanians’ works after the divide are not up to par with their mighty past. This rule applies to this year’s record too.)
Pulsar Colony – Cosmic Manifestations(I’d like this one to be more experimental, but as it is, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it – it is without many high moments.)
Solefald – World Metal.Kosmopolis Sud(Not a fan of the band lately, this one was quite boring and inessential.)
Swarþ – Veneficivm(Good material here, but not of the abyssal quality that blazed in their demo releases. Waiting for a full-length.)
Tribulation -The Children Of The Night(Their previous album was a masterpiece of death metal experimentation, this one is hard rock with harsh vocals, definitely not my thing.)
Shining – IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends(A good release from Kravforth, nothing more, have long been distanced by the band’s material.)
Albums I expect on the next part of the year:
Black Sword Thunder Attack – TBA
Djevel – Saa Raa Og Kald
Goatblood – Adoration of Blasphemy & War
In the Woods… – TBA
Midnight Odyssey – Shards of Silver fade
Morar – TBA
Nawaharjan – Lokabrenna
Ninkharsag – Blood of Celestial Kings
Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs