TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraints of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.
Here I present a ten album sampler of some of the Black Metal releases I’ve so far overlooked this year. Consider it a soundtrack to your least favorite nieces’ home theater film festival, consisting of mostly Donnie Darko and The Crow YouTube fan films streaming at 480p with only the right channel working. Most of these made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you don’t like black metal and you’re a ‘hip-hop, anime, djent or nothing’ kinda guy/gal or whatever, relax! This’ll be back every seven days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.
Hey! Don’t dive in thinking black metal is all cheap trash, although it is notoriously a dumping ground for the most derivative forms and projects known to heavy metal… Black metal is an important and vital influence upon the evolution of metal and to dull that edge would be the death of important metal DNA. Black metal represents existentialism, self-examination, nihilism, environmentalism, and so many multitudes of things that far outnumber the subject matter within other comparable sub-genres. Above all else the consensus focuses upon individuality in defiance of bullshit. Some black metal sucks but that’s all subjective, man! I’ll be focusing on the positive aspects of each album’s black metal art with the score attached to indicate my personal verdict. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ov Fire & Soul [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [2.5/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Black Empire are an independent semi-melodic black metal band from Quebec that have been largely active, in terms of recording, since 2009 but formed in 2001. Their approach to guitar work is very much in line with some of the more laid back second wave Scandinavian outfits of the mid-90’s. There is little sense of movement in terms of drumming but some smaller ventures towards the sound of bands like Ancient Wisdom and Ancient, minus the keyboard work. When I sat down and tried to do a full review of ‘Ov Fire & Soul’ I ultimately found it to be a ‘one note’ album that really only carried on mood through a very flat production sound. I have no strong feelings for it either way but their good intent doesn’t match with with any particularly good ideas. An average release is no crime but there is little to note on Black Empire‘s latest album outside of competence.
|Title [Type/Year]||Echoes From the Seven Caves of Blood[Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [2.65/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Byyrth are a vampiric raw black metal band from San Francisco, California that create a storm of heinous noise that heavily reminds me of the good ol’ days of Les Légions Noires where fidelity was cursed and insanity was of the highest order. To drive deeper this comparison Meyhna’ch (Mütiilation) even guests on a couple tracks. When I say raw black metal I mean RAW and crispy noise devoid of low end and rasping harshly. This harshness will either delight you or drive you up a wall. At first I was very entertained but their use of harsh noise kept me from really diving in. It is a shame because there are some amazing ideas from punk, heavy metal, and atmospheric black metal that all make the first half of ‘Echoes From the Seven Caves of Blood’ something special. It just drags on from there and I burnt out on the sound after a few full listens.
|Title [Type/Year]||Eight Coffin Nails [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Eighth and final album from this Finnish melodic black metal band. I have long been a fan of their stuff but never incredibly enthusiastic. It is funny that they often seem unimpressed with their own work in interviews, and it seems the project has not been extremely inspiring for them over time. Some things go on too long but I would suggest that whatever suffering lead to ‘Eight Coffin Nails’ was worth it, it is a touching melodic black metal album that sums up their sound and the era they came from perfectly. The keyboard work has never been quite this ethereal and it gives ‘Eight Coffin Nails’ is beautiful atmosphere sound. I would recommend this album but after spending some time with their discography it isn’t a major highlight compared to their fourth and fifth albums.
|Title [Type/Year]||Contra Mundum in Aeternum [EP/2018]|
|Rating [2.25/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Released a full two years ago in 2016 but finally available on CD through Blood Harvest this war metal release borders on psychedelia with it’s scuzzy sound and wildly varied vocal performances. It is a rush and a crazed sort of black metal hell to listen to but I found the more I listened the more it just grated away at my sense and became an annoying blur of noise. That is totally on me as I didn’t step back and move on but returning to it again every few weeks has left me unimpressed. I’ll still give it a few more tries before the end of the year but it generally does not hit the mark for my taste. If you’re a fan of the more raw and punkish side of war metal, and maybe some of the more obscure Icelandic fellows on the raw side of things, this will be more up your alley.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Apostates [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
French black metal-meets-southern rock project Glorior Belli is an entirely new discovery for me and I have to immediately liken their genre-splicing to Every Time I Die in that they use those same bits of Mastodon-esque groove and reference with a modern sub-genre. Do they pull it off? Actually, that is the reason I haven’t really reviewed this one: I can’t decide if it is good. To start the sound is great and their style is unique and well produced. The songs they write are a mix of black n’ roll and some nods to the orthodox black metal they spurned early on. Where I lose faith in the experience is in the riffs. They haven’t so much made a black metal album but wrapped a black metal skin around the rock references of bands like Kvelertak and used flourish and light stylistic changes to make up for a lack of memorable songwriting. As an experience it is captivating for the first few listens but quickly loses it’s flair once you realize it makes no ‘statement’ melodically or stylistically outside of “Hey, here’s some southern rock ideas well blended into mid-paced black metal” and it under-serves the black metal this time around. I like this band but after digging through their stuff, I do understand how Glorior Belli could be seen as a project of missed potential.
|Title [Type/Year]||Siege Bondage Averse to the Godhead [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [2.0/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Well, I more or less didn’t review this because I had enjoyed Serum Dreg and Adzalaan so much I found this Vrasubatlat Productions release under par for the course. Featuring R. (Adzalaan, Ash Borer) and T. (Torture Rack, Witch Vomit) ‘Siege Bondage Averse to the Godhead’ is an experimental noise driven war metal album that creates a cannon of psychotic screaming and downtuned basslines atop nearly power-electronic levels of wobbling noise. Dagger Lust aren’t the worst band I’ve heard in this style but it is just primal hits of noise and groaning equipment manipulation. Sure, that sounds reductive and misses the point entirely but fuck, I just didn’t like listening to it. After many listens I think the part of me that loves stuff like Extreme Noise Terror‘s ‘Peel Sessions’ and Siege‘s ‘Drop Dead’ died a little bit inside. I’m guessing I’m just a wimp and that the power-electronics/war metal crowd will find greater value in this experimental recording. Would suggest Subduer and Flame Acausal in tandem with this.
|Title [Type/Year]||Biaskoncy snieh Času / Niazhasnaje [Compilation/2018]|
|Rating [2.5/5.0]||LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Raven Throne is a hypnotic, moderately atmospheric black metal project from Ukraine that excel in creating separate, thrilling rides out of each release. This compilation of their 2015 and 2017 EP releases shows the band still taking a fair amount of influence from their eastern European peers with a style that nods towards both Drudkh and Graveland. The big disconnect with this band for me is the Ukranian language and my inability to understand it, so I felt a bit lost and didn’t have much to say. It is unusual that a language barrier exists for me but it only becomes frustrating when music is delivered with feeling and I don’t have a lyric sheet to connect with. Otherwise this is well done, I would probably recommend their latest full-length ‘I Miortvym Snicca Zolak’ (2018) instead as a place to start, and these EPs would be more interesting once you’ve had a complete experience with that album.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Monuments of Ash & Bone [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Wolvhammer began in the same realm as bands like Ilsa and Mammoth Grinder as a mixture of sludge, crust punk and black metal ideas. They’ve got November’s Doom‘s drummer, Nacthmystium‘s guitarist, and now their vocalist even sings for Noose Rot and Skeletonwitch. I felt I could confidently go in and warm up to their discography despite having missed most of it beyond ‘The Obsidian Plains’ (2011). Well, it isn’t a full departure from their sound but it is a great leap in a different direction. They’ve strung together a technical composite of black metal, sludge metal, death metal, and black metal with a sort of brutally progressive execution. As awesome as that might sound I’ve only gotten a few focused listens out of it since April because something about ‘The Monuments of Ash & Bone’ just does nothing to pull me in for a closer listen. Normally nepotism or album art is enough to perk me up but this release was just always ‘almost there’ for me. Maybe I need to start getting baked again or go on a sludge and hardcore/crust kick for a while to re-grease those wheels.
|Title [Type/Year]||Apokalupsis [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
If you’re not familiar with musician Ron Vento‘s incredible vision for his technical death/black metal project Aurora Borealis and it’s history since 1994 ‘Apokalupsis’ is just one glimpse into the window of his colossal progressive take on black/death metal as a whole. He is one of those guitarists who can shred but generally reigns it in away from trendiness and pompousness towards the realm of the riff. ‘Apokalupsis’ is a concept album following the universe’s creation all the way to the apocalyptic end times (now) for Earth. You’ll immediately understand why he’s employed brutal drummers Tim Yeung, Derek Roddy, and Tony Laureano in the past: Relentless brutality. This time around it sounds quite a bit like Absu if they were more inclined towards mid 2000’s Nile rather than jazz-sluiced second wave blackened thrash. I was going to write a full review and go through their history extensively but I had other things taking up more of my time and I typically prioritize promos over the stuff I buy myself. Maybe that is the best endorsement possible? I bought it. Recommended if you like the idea of mushing together Angelcorpse, Hate Eternal and Marduk.
|Title [Type/Year]||Little Stories Told By Ghosts [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Want to make those stupid bitches fawning over that horrible Slowdive wannabe ‘black metal’ band Deafheaven eat shit? Kick the tape out of their deck, slap their grill, and crank some Dunnock. You’re about to serve burnt hipster black metal shazam by the bale. No but seriously if you’re involved in a hipster war and in need of out hipstering a black metal hipster have I got the hipster fuel for your fire. First off, they reference influences from Spacemen 3, Xiu Xiu, Striborg, and Velvet Cacoon and they mean it. ‘Little Stories Told By Ghosts’ is a dream-like mix of field recordings, lo-fi atmospheric black metal, and psychedelia-laced ambiance. Dunnock are oddly enough a side-project of folks involved with silly-ass depressive black metal project Dhampyr and a talent for layering ambient pieces atop each other has lead to a highly listenable experience. As much as it might seem like I’m making fun, I really enjoyed the extremity of this release especially as the softer moments drop unmercifully into the screeching lo-fi black metal horror. Something different and woefully extreme, at least. Why didn’t I review it in full? I felt like if I’m going to be a douche making hipster jokes, it should just be one long run-on paragraph at the end of a list rather than it’s own feature.
Did I miss your favorite 2018 black metal album? I’d like to know if there are any 2018 releases you loved but didn’t get enough recognition, drop me a line to tell me. It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.
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