a unit of time has ended. and it is a cute human practice to look back on the year. it is also human practice to personify said ended unit of time and accuse it for all the losses, and praise it for the awesome things happened during that. leaving the losses aside, i have praised 2016 numerous times for the black metal bounty. not quality over quantity or vice versa, we had so many awesome releases.
icelandic and american collaborations totally dominated 2016 by mind blowing collections of black metal moments. add to that nice touches from germany, finland, france, uk, denmark and sweden, the list is complete. also, besides a perfection of new black metal aesthetics, we have witnessed a strong and evident rediscovery of older sounds and structures.
now, a disclaimer is in place: i have not listened to all the black metal releases of 2016. and i may not have done justice to all of them that i have listened. but i tried. another point, the list is based solely on my own personal taste and my mood at the time of listening.
anyways, i always wanted to do this, so here it goes:
excluded from the list: finnish royalty oranssi pazuzu released their 4th full length “värähtelijä”. french giants blut aus nord did a split with ævangelist, “codex obscura nomina” and deathspell omega released the rather short “the synarchy of molten bones”. german depressive black metal elite coldworld released his second full length “autumn”. psycho dutch duo urfaust released “empty space meditation”. on top of all those monumental releases, legends abbath and ihsahn (if you can still consider his music black metal) released new solo material. all those names are untouchable as far as i’m concerned and those releases are all excluded from the list to avoid unfair competition.
also, two honourable mentions. cosmic black metal act mare cognitum’s “luminiferous aether” contains delicious moments and exceptional two opening tracks. however, the rest of the album progresses rather directionless. second, we have oathbreaker’s “rheia”, a wonderful album containing wonderful black metal moments and worthy of mention, but unfit to be included in this list.
the usa act urzeit, also responsible for mizmor, uškumgallu and ash borer, released the ten track anmoksha in september. the album is such fun, black metal done with a grind approach.
speaking of which, uškumgallu did their own part in august. this work of mental strain is hypnotic and claustrophobic. dispersed among the furious attacks, the tempo drops so low it’s suffocating.
still staying within the borders of usa. yith is the name of the band and the man himself, dread is his debut full-length released in september and it is what its name suggests. overall thick, doomy and sorrowful.
moving to the uk. the last album of caïna, before they split up, came out in july. this is a tough rollercoaster of emotions to digest. chaotic, industrial and void of life. also includes jazz and synth pop segments. but in a good way.
danish duo did their awesome debut in august. this is a prime example of progress through tribute. lengthy, slow, with a nice balance of repetition and variation. and amazing orchestration.
the project of french dehn sora, known for his cover art for blut aus nord, throane’s may release derrière-nous, la lumière is a soundtrack of despair and disassociation. at times completely losing track of progression and delving into soundscapes of insanity. he also holds no regards of conventional musical structures, shifting or ending music abruptly.
now to the beautiful land of iceland. sinmara’s garðar s. jónsson’s solo project almyrkvi does a pretty cosmic black metal in a perfect marriage of black metal and electronics. his ep “pupil of the searing maelstrom” is slow, heavy and using electronic beats to perfection in a disturbing and lonely travel through space.
moving to finland. incognito band deathkin released their debut full-length “kohti kotiani kaaosta” in november and it includes 6 brilliant black metal gems. they do not break ground, this is classical black metal, and this is so good. i just have to mention the variation, domination and excellence of vocals.
now back to the usa. death fetishist is the side project of ævangelist mastermind matron thorn and the debut “clandestine sacrament”, supported by known guests is a journey through a demented and hellish mind. the insanity is at max level and it never lets go. a ritual rather than piece of music.
a completely mysterious band, prosternatur’s single release “abyssus abyssum invocate” from july is a disturbing, hard-hitting occult masterpiece that grips you from the first minute. the progression and tension build-up and the breakdowns… and the invoked has awaken.
another incognito band from sweden, irkallian oracle do a crawling, thick and riff-laden doomy black metal awesomeness and their february release apollyon is an hour long agony. slow to the point of making the listener want to claw their face. heavy and ear numbing. and so majestic that you never want it to end.
mizmor is urzeit drummer / vocalist a.l.n.’s solo project, or rather a channel to release his inner demons. his second full-length “yodh” from august is a manic masterpiece of doom and drone infused black metal glory.
just as 2016 was drawing to a close, converging sins happened. the german outfit’s second full-length shook me, pinned me to my chair and made me bow in awe. the orchestration and the integrated and subtle melancholia made me “whoa” repeatedly during its 1 hour awesomeness.
naðra, skáphe, 〇, blut aus nord, fides inversa, wormlust, leviathan, ex-lurker of chalice, antaeus, aosoth (and a lot more) came together, bearing a gift to me. just 2 songs and 16 minutes, this is majestic beyond words.
of course it is skáphe.