2015 – The Good Albums (21-40)


An alphabetically sorted list of 2015 albums that did not quite make it to the top-20, yet are just a step below. I found that ranking them was time-consuming and non-essential, since the difference in quality between them was almost non-existent, hence the alphabetic hierarchy.

A Forest Of Stars – Beware The Sword You Cannot See

In their fourth album, the British avant-garde band continue their exploration of atmospheric and narrative aspects of metal, distancing themselves even more from traditional black metal, yet managing to maintain a high level of quality, just a step down in comparison to their first three masterpieces. Full review here.


Akhlys – The Dreaming I

Nightbinger’s Naas Alcameth delivered with his side project’s sophomore album a frigidly thin, ambient-like black metal, with abstract structure, that conjures almost effortlessly a spectral soundscape of the night void. A fine species of hypnotic dark music. Full review here.


Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of Witches

Well, this one is the first more-than-decent album of CoF in more than 10 years, so it must be mentioned. They have finally managed to pull off some excellent riffs, that though they are well below the masterpiece level of the 90’s, are an oasis for those who have silently been following them all these years.


Délétère – Les heures de la Peste
Quebec is bound to appear once or more times in my end-year lists. Délétère, after 2 promising demos released their debut, which stands steadily upon the Quebecois sub-genre, yet manages to instil a dark sense of occult upon it, mainly through the lo-fi, fluctuating production, which results in eeriness aplenty. Full review here.

Diabolicum – IA Pazuzu

The return of the industrial/clinical black metal Swedes was triumphant, creating an album that was based on the fantastic “The Grandeur Of Hell”, sporting a degree of variety that was unexpected and more than welcome. Full review here.


Drowning the Light – From the Abyss

From the Australians with the huge discography, came one of 2015’s most pluralistic takes on the early Norwegian sound, full of devotion to early Emperor, Gehenna, and all the atmospheric sub-genre in particular. If only its duration was somewhat shorter, it could well climb pretty high. Full review here.

Ethereal Shroud – They became the falling Ash

A UK black metal band is always welcome in end-year-lists, especially if it plays a sort of atmospheric BM that manages to create magnificent vistas of the dark side of nature. A mix of Summoning and Paysage D’Hiver would be the right decription.

Grafvitnir – Necrosophia

This is a last minute entry (figuratively speaking), that is bound to bring smiles to all old-Dissection fans. Excellent songwriting, close to the spirit of Nödtveidt’s band (meaning well-structured and flowing riffs), “Necrosophia” showcases a band that may not be the most original, yet manages to convey the 90’s occult spirit, along with blazing compositions.

Haukruunu – Havulinnaan

Epic black metal, drawing from epic-era Bathory (just listen to “Kuvastaja”), crossovering it with Scandinavian black metal riffing of a frosty nature. Nature- and past-worshiping, this is pagan black metal of raw elegance.


Malokarpatan – Stridžie Dni

Certain albums can fix your interest and positively bias you even before you listen them. That’s the case with those Slovakians and their debut, which is graced with an outstanding (and unusual, as far as black metal art goes) cover art, and a folklore lyrical content. Their style is an amalgam of Venom and Negative Plane, with much rawer production than either of these bands. If one, however, manages to dive under the murky surface, one can discover a multitude of excellent ideas accompanying the telling of dark tales from the Slovakian countryside.

Mgla – Exercises In Futility

The Polish masters’ third album was received with high acclaim almost universally, and though I tend to find it a bit predictable, and simplistic, riff-wise, it remains a release with high quality, and some of the best melodic riffs one can listen to in 2015. Full review here.


Nahtrunar – Symbolismus

It takes a lot of courage to kick off your album with “En Vind Av Sorg’s” riff, and not sound like a Darkthrone copy, yet these Austrians somehow manage it. Coming with an innate sense of romantic melody, this one is a prime example of black metal soundscaping.


Nechochwen – Heart Of Akamon

This was quite a surprise. The project of one of
Obsequiae’s members, this is epic black metal done rightly, in the vein of Falkenbach or early Solstafir. It would be higher, if not for the odd (early) Opeth influence, that mellows down the overall image. Nonetheless, an excellent album.

Nettlecarrier – Black Coffin Rites
Nettlecarrier’s sophomore album follows on the tradition of the debut as one of the best examples of second-wave black metal of nowadays. Darjthrone and Gorgoroth worship of the highest qualitative caliber. Full review here.

Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs

The US riff-masters (with a deeply folk soul) returned after 4 years, with an album that follows upon the tradition of the amazing debut, is somewhat mellower, yet retains all the distinctive elements of the band, especially the excellent riffing.


Outre – Ghost Chants

One of the few examples of really interesting and refreshing orthodox black metal nowadays, this album a somewhat traditional mindset into Deathspell Omega sound, accompanied by some of the best vocals that one can hear nowadays. Full review here.


Revenge – Behold.Total.Rejection

Outstanding Grind.Noise.Black_Death_Terror from the Canadian masters of extremity, which (at least in my ears) have long surpassed their legendary compatriots (Blasphemy and Conqueror). A beast of an album, that emits uncontrolled sonic chaos.


Sacral Rage – Illusions In Infinite Void

US power metal, with a bit of Watchtower weirdness thrown in is definitely my cup of tea. I had high expectations from this album, and the Greek band did not disappoint me, though a fluctuation of quality throughout the album is evident. Nevertheless, a grand debut, and my radar is definitely on them and their sophomore attempt.


Saligia – Fønix

This one was startling, in a good way. From the traditional second-wave black metal of their debut, Saligia turn to a more earthly disposition, somewhat doomier, somewhat crunchier, with a hint of epicness in the clean vocals.


Serpent Noir – Erotomysticism

A surprising turn of sonic direction for this Greek band, which slow down their black metal, imbuing it with psychedelic elements, yet retaining a deep sense of the occult, as well as the quality that permeated their debut.


Visigoth – The Revenant King

This one boasts some of the best songs of this year, with “Dungeon Master” being right on the top, but the bit of a groovy edge spoils the fun for some of us. A solid example of traditional epic metal, nevertheless.


Nettlecarrier – Black Coffin Rites review


Τρία χρόνια πριν, το ομώνυμο ντεμπούτο των Nettlecarrier ανέβηκε πολύ ψηλά στις προτιμήσεις των παραδοσιακόπληκτων μαυρομέταλλων, και δικαίως, μιας και το δευτεροκυματικό υλικό τους ήταν άκρως ποιοτικό, ιδιαίτερα στο συνθετικό τομέα. Άλλωστε το line-up τους είναι βαρύ, με αιχμή του δόρατος βεβαίως τον πολύ Dirge Rep (πάλαι ποτέ Gehenna, Enslaved, πέρασμα από Aura Noir, κτλ). Υπ’ όψιν, τα τρία μέλη, συν κάποιος από τους (αντιπαθείς σε εμένα) Kvelertak, έχουν φτιάξει και τους Djevel, οι οποίοι ντεμπουτάρουν οσονούπω, με τα πρώτα δείγματα να είναι άκρως θετικά. Πίσω στους Nettlecarrier, τα τρία χρόνια που είχαν να δουλέψουν το καινούριο υλικό αξιοποιήθηκαν απ’ ότι φαίνεται με πολύ καλό τρόπο, με αποτέλεσμα το (θεσπέσια ονοματισμένο) “Black Coffin Ritesνα είναι τουλάχιστον αντάξιο του προκατόχου του.

Το εξώφυλλο του άλμπουμ είναι κατά τι πιο συγκεκριμένο από αυτό του “Nettlecarrier”, τόσο ως προς την υπόνοια του μουσικού ύφους των Νορβηγών (το προηγούμενο θα μπορούσε να ανήκει κάλλιστα σε κάποιο post άλμπουμ) όσο και θεματικά, ενώ το λιτό και σχετικά αναπάντεχο λογότυπό τους παραμένει ως έχει. Μουσικά κινούμαστε σε γνώριμα μονοπάτια: τραχύ, ριφοκίνητο μαύρο μέταλλο νορβηγικής σχολής, δίχως ανεπιθύμητες προσμίξεις. Ο ελιτισμός της γνώσης της εμπνευσμένης σύνθεσης δεν επιτρέπει τη νόθευση με άλλα είδη. Μόνο παγωμένα ουρλιαχτά (τυπικό αλλά απολαυστικό λαρύγγι ο Mannevond, με ωραία εκφορά λόγου και διακριτικό echo) προς τον μαύρο ουρανό και οι πορείες των κολασμένων πνευμάτων πάνω στον ασταμάτητο σιδηρόδρομο της κιθάρας. Darkthrone-ικές μονοτονίες, Gorgoroth-ική στρυφνίλα, και ατμόσφαιρες που είναι γνώριμες κι αγαπημένες. Ευτυχώς το groove και η διαβρωτική επίδρασή του είναι ουσιαστικά ανύπαρκτα στο δίσκο. Οι μελωδίες υπάρχουν, καλά στοιβαγμένες μέσα στον πυρήνα των αρχοντικών στην ανάπτυξή τους riff. Ταχύτητες αγχωτικές ως επί τω πλείστο, με λίγα βασανιστικά στην έρπουσα νωθρότητά τους σημεία. Τα κομμάτια έχουν ποικιλία στο εσωτερικό τους, είναι αριστοτεχνικά δομημένα, με καίριες παύσεις και αλλαγές υφοπλοής – εδώ υπάρχουν κάποια κοψίματα που σωρεύουν δυναμική ενέργεια σαν άπληστες μπαταρίες, πριν την εκτοξεύσουν σε κύματα παροξυσμού.

Το “Black Coffin Rites” έρχεται να σταθεί δίπλα σε δίσκους όπως το “Desert Northern Hell” των Tsjuder, και το “Bjoergvin” των Taake. Πρόκειται για ένα άλμπουμ από άτομα που ξέρουν πως να λατρέψουν το νορβηγικό ήχο και είναι έμπειροι συνθέτες. Είναι το πιο πρόσφατο άρτιο δείγμα μιας σκηνής που αρνείται πεισματικά να παραδώσει τα όπλα, παρά τη μετακίνηση της καινοτομίας σε άλλες γεωγραφικές συντεταγμένες. Το “Black Coffin Rites” είναι απολαυστικό μέχρι τελευταίας πρόκας, δίχως να παλιμπαιδίζει – οι Νορβηγοί έκαναν το 2 στα 2.

Highlights: Uten Gud, The Bones and Flesh of Hanged Men, Noctem Aeternum