#20 Aptorian Demon - Libertus
This is Aptorian Demon's debut, and it is a fantastic release. This band already has a masterful understanding of pacing, song dynamics, song structure and versatility. The opening track begins with a - what sounds to be - priest speaking in a perhaps Scandinavian tongue. The band is Norwegian so perhaps it's that, but I'm a sucker for sound samples. Sound samples are attention grabbers, especially if utilized well, and the opening few minutes alternate between sound samples with a choir/bells background combination and chunky black metal riffs coming in and out. Around 1:50 a buzz-saw guitar rips in, and then some deep, gut wrenching vocals. Vocal styles are all over the place. This is not a run-of-the-mill one dimensional BM record... everything is spread out, diverse and intelligent. There are some very tasty riffs. If one part of a song grabs you, hold onto it, because you won't hear it for long. The last minute of "Ignitus" is a melodic acoustic passage.
Most of the songs are conventionally lengthed, but "Ignitus" and "Libertus" are longer at nine and thirteen minutes (of course making these two the best). The shorter songs are seemingly more atmospheric. Some of this album is very evil and foul, and some of it isn't. "Amir al-Mu`minin," for example, is very soft, clean and upbeat. A poor Youtube selection, but...
" "Amir al-Mu'minin
#19 Lunar Aurora - Hoagascht
I've read that Lunar Aurora broke up for good earlier this year, so it's likely Hoagascht
will be the last record we ever hear from them. It's really a shame, but it's hard to complain when a band has been as consistently good over such a long period of time as Lunar Aurora. This band has put out a large number of atmospheric black metal classics over the past few decades before hanging it up temporarily in 2006 for reasons I'm not sure about (to be honest I'm not sure what musicians are were in the band when they recorded this album). Andacht
was a phenomenal album. This one isn't as good as I hoped it'd be after six years of silence, and it's certainly not as varied or up to par audio quality-wise with Andacht
, but it's still a fine record. The riffs are strong, the atmosphere is fairly cold and old-world feeling, synthesizers and guitars are blended very well, and overall it's a solid effort by an awesome band that's been around a long time. I do wish Lunar Aurora had tried to branch out a little and throw in some different vocal styles or something, but even though they're basically doing the same thing on every track, the album still has a really cool sound to it. "Nachteule" is one of the catchiest and riffiest tracks on the record; the last two minutes are bliss. Due to the reduced guitars, the atmosphere is pretty essential, which is partly created by the reduced guitars. And with synths, the result is something that doesn't sound dark and depressing, but rather, mystic and rustic.
All the song titles and lyrics are in a German dialect that's spoken in Northern Germany - where the band members are from I believe. And the album title translates into "homeland" or "home garden" or something of that sort, so it would seem the band has ended it's career by returning to the place it loves most.
#18 Furia - Marzannie, Królowej Polski
Furia's third full length is not quite as multi-layered or intricate as Deathspell Omega's brand of black metal, but the disjointed guitar melodies combined with the overall avant-garde atmosphere definitely appear to be influenced by Deathspell at times. But to be honest, I enjoy this more. This is some cold, hazy BM. This album actually has a few upbeat passages throughout though, something that's unusual for a lot of black metal - especially Polish black metal that's long had a reputation for being harsh and unforgiving. The opening riff in “Wodzenie,” for example, and the repetitive (and almost psychedelic) overtones threaded throughout “Sa to Kola,” are some examples. With all its rhythms and dissonant atmosphere, it's very obvious Furia’s core is still firmly rooted in "old school" classic black metal. The melodies lay the groundwork for most of the tracks, the dynamics shift quickly at times, and there are moments throughout the album that are downright heartfelt - even if only for a few seconds before a blistering blastbeat tears it away. There's something very genuine about this kind of music, and the same goes for Lunar Aurora and Mgła's as well. These musicians are pouring their souls into it, and I'm not sure they're trying to get anything in return besides the gratification of somehow managing to manifest their feelings into this ugly, fractured music.
," "Skądś do nikąd
" (the quality is real bad on that last one)
#17 Atriarch - Ritual of Passing
Atriarch is a fairly young band signed to Profound Lore that just released its debut album, "Forever the End," last year. They did a split with Alaric earlier this year that has a different version of one of the tracks on this album on it (a better version), and now this album, and these three releases comprise Atriarch's discography to date. The opening riff in "Parasite" that's played behind the spoken vocals is pretty killer. The vocals throughout the record are pretty annoying (coming from someone who has little use for punk and hardcore), I would have preferred it if Lenny Smith had stuck to chanting, spoken vocals, and black metal screeches. But the sound of the music is very interesting. The guitar tone often reminds me of a doomy Celtic Frost. The punk influence is definitely there, but so is gothic influence, so the blackened, sludgy doom that is Atriarch is born from different roots than most other bands in its genre pool. They're not trying to clone popular or classic doom metal bands, they're trying to carve their own niche and make their own way with a sound that's unique to them. hb420 analogized them to a Darkthrone / Candlemass fusion... that seems pretty accurate.
#16. Sentimen Beltza - Zulo Beltz eta Sakon Honetan
Oindurth SaVinitta is Sentimen Beltza, this is his third full-length, and the only way from here is down. Zulo Beltz eta Sakon Honetan
is one of those albums that had me hooked almost immediately because of the first track's melody. Twelve minutes of beautiful, depressing melody. "Mendi Urdinak" is one of my most-listened-to songs of 2012... a soaring, depressive, epic black metal anthem that's more emotional than almost anything else that's come out this year. The entire album is not up to this caliber, though. And that's the only reason Zulo Beltz eta Sakon Honetan
is not higher on my list. "Neguko Goiz Bat" is also a catchy, epic track that reaches the album's pinnacle state of psychadlic-like hypnosis. The guitars are raw and dissonant even though the production is stellar, the pace varies but it's often on the slow side which just enhances the depression, the atmosphere is very alive but dead at the same time, most importantly though... this album is so, so emotional. The negative charge in this album is something special. Few artists can take inner conflict and create music out of it as well as SaVinitta can. Black metal enthusiasts looking for only blistering riffs and blastbeats need not look here. "El Tiempo Bajo Polvo" is one of the few tracks where the pace really speeds up permanently, to the delight of the average BM listener. Otherwise prepare for a long haul of varying tempos - usually mid to low - and music full of anger, hate, sadness, conflict, inner-torment, etc.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Mendi Urdinak