ALBUMS YOU MISSED… Is a yearly tradition of rallying behind overlooked and under-served releases that I’d either missed or that’d deserved more hype as the endless mill of new releases blazed throughout the year. This is decidedly -not- a “best of” list but rather a grip of underrated stuff that the general public should consume and ideally become fully poisoned by. The curation on this list aims for lasting quality, substance and variety. — If you find something you dig go tell the band on social media and support them with a purchase! If you’d like your music reviewed, read the FAQ and send promos to: email@example.com
|TITLE:||The Eternal Harvest|
|LABEL(S):||Les Acteurs de L’Hombre|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 4th, 2022|
A somewhat different sort of atmospheric black metal record, ‘The Eternal Harvest‘ strides with purpose perturbed by wilting spirits and surreal imagery. Named for a Venenum song but producing longform dirges of their own verve, the expressive mystique of Lunar Tombfields manages to be one of the more considered atmospheric black conceptions out of France this year. Immersion is generally achieved in the droning yet engaged rhythm guitar and drum interplay, naturally, yet the vocals break this warm meandering feature with a variety of interruptions and meditations which help to cinch up the impact of these fairly long 10-15 minute pieces. The mix of sensorial interest and performative touches make for a memorable full listen.
|RELEASE DATE:||January 28th, 2022|
Spanish black metal solo act Negativa arrive upon their third full-length album managing a beauteous, maudlin resonance which begins to far outweigh the noisome and dissonant side of their previous works, engaging the emotional center of the brain with what is more-or-less very sophisticated yet steadily churned depressive black metal. The vocal work is vestigial, engaged from afar and placed in a subconscious space of the render making for an aloof presence which emphasizes the confidence of the guitar arrangements first and foremost. ‘04‘ is a record which reads to me as one which wants to be personal but insists upon living behind a screen door, a thin masking of detail for the sake of wanting their art to come first and without personae, not unusual in modern black metal but perhaps not enough to cling to for the casual passerby.
|LABEL(S):||Sigilvm Tenebrae Records,|
|RELEASE DATE:||November 1st, 2022|
This long-standing Hungarian black metal quintet Dunkelheit seem to have rededicated themselves to spiritual alchemy on this impressive third full-length album, an approach inherently rooted in the melodic traditions of black metal’s chaos-gnostic channeling. What this means for the listener is a sophisticated set of classic black metal spiritus at a somewhat mid-pace and written for two guitars which interact and fray in impressive ways throughout. Including rhythm guitarist Krigeist (Barshasketh, Bròn) and bassist Saterian (Svoid) has unlocked a different side of the band, a work which is as equally impressive as the imaginative cover art they’ve chosen for ‘Inner Awakening‘ for its slowly built musical statement in dramatic arcane phrase. It is both representative of their greater cult and a new higher standard presented in their work which should be celebrated for its entertaining yet spiritually driven value. Building toward the final two pieces on this record is yet one of the more underrated listening experiences black metal had to offer in 2022.
|ARTIST:||THE LOOM OF TIME|
|TITLE:||Grand False Karass|
|RELEASE DATE:||September 30th, 2022|
This second great work from vastly underrated Australian trio The Loom of Time is no less of nuke upon the traditions of progressive extreme metal, still pulling from all angles for their vision on ‘Grand False Karass‘ to the point of absurd maximalism. Every moment of this record promises to have its lushness interrupted by another tirade, a different thought entirely, or a complete dive in mood which keeps it all feeling captivating yet nowhere near easy listening music. In this sense these folks have more in common with Sigh than they do Ihsahn, willing to snap out of their 80’s prog rock infested blackened heavy rocking flowstate at any moment to inject anything that’ll sate an unpredictable ear for the details. Opener “The Depths of Hell Itself” gives use this sense of /what next?/ up front with its sudden extended dive into a raw, weirdly lo-fi black metal break for a couple of minutes, before snapping out of it into a big orchestral doom moment and wheeling back to the original prog-black esotericism they generally lead with on most songs. It is one of the most challenging yet rewarding full albums of the year and despite the vocals being somewhat croaked and questionable at times. Fans of The Meads of Asphodel should appreciate this bands work, though any serious comparisons wouldn’t hold up minute-to-minute.
|TITLE:||Baptism of Shadows|
|RELEASE DATE:||April 28th, 2022|
The best release from Altare this year for my taste, this second full-length from the Oulu, Finland based quintet Serpentfyre should catch the ear of anyone attuned to classic Norwegian riff standards and modern Finnish classicist melodicism. If you’re wondering what’d taken so long to put out a second album go check out the two albums they put out in 2016 and 2018 in their other aggressive project Hatespirit, though the line-up of each has shifted in the interim. Expect a virile pace, always brutal yet tuneful stabs at melodic black metal within their attack developed between an army of guitars. Much like certain earlier works from bands like Bexehen they don’t waste much time interrupting the flow of it all with heavy metal riffs but each song reaches a point of transition where they strike a few notable blows. If you love Finnish black metal and appreciate the high standards it generally suggests then you’ll be just as impressed with ‘Baptism of Shadows‘.
|RELEASE DATE:||June 30th, 2022|
Eschatology is a project between members of well-known Swedish acts Craft, Mordbrand and the very talented drummer from Polish group Over the Voids… and Owls Woods Graves. ‘Eschatology‘ is their first mLP and debut release, a set of four ~6-7 minute pieces notable for their scent of lo-fi grime and accomplished performances wherein the brew reads as ancient yet enlightened prophecy in its depiction of nuclear destruction. The three part “Cataclysm” develops in separate chapters, starting with a speedballing thrasher up front before the middle portion focuses on a brooding groove and the final third finds its own chaotic narrative bent. “The Wound” features guest vocals from Dawn‘s vocalist and features a more stomped out rhythm which takes a moment to begin to flesh out its moving parts but impresses as it fully reveals. Forss should join the band and Karlsson should write more of these mid-paced songs, since this is the most inspiring part of the record even if the whole of “Cataclysm” was substantive and evocative in a different way. I see great potential for these elements dancing together in the dark on further releases.
|TITLE:||Ein Abbild Der Leere|
|LABEL(S):||Wolves of Hades|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 18th, 2022|
So, as is the case with post-metal, of course I have hundreds of overlooked atmospheric black metal records to pick through every year since they don’t appear all that challenging to conceive and impress the average listener with. ‘Ein Abbild der Leere‘ is the second full-length from Brandenburg, Germany based trio Kluizenaer and a turn away from the more fixated ambient notions on their first record. It is as syrupy with mid-humming guitar drone as you’d expect but this is not your average precocious arte-noir project, instead a howling and blasting tunnel of obscurant noise which I’d found thrilling as they’d plunged into opener “Verewigung”. The drum sound is too soaked in reverb, making for a bonking digital snare sound, and the riffs are more about shaping for compositional impact but the attack of the band remains convincing enough throughout that I’d stuck with it.
|ARTIST:||CIRCLE OF OUROBORUS|
|RELEASE DATE:||September 2nd, 2022|
Many will overlook the prolific history of Finnish duo Circle of Ouroborus at face value, seeming to be a Bandcamp release mill with an esoteric bent, but there is no such inconsistency or thoughtless dribbling to be found in their reality. I’d discovered the band looking to see if Rahu was still active, finding one member had put out countless things under this name and I’ve kept up since 2014 or so. ‘Autuala‘ is one of three records they’ve put out in 2022 and despite the volcano on the cover painting looking a bit more like a Christmas tree it is the best of the triptych and the most “heavy metal” record they’ve written in a while. “Vaakalauta” should sell this idea pretty quickly but every part of this record pours from a glorious amphora of stoic, or at least accomplished and emotive inspiration. The first half of the record is admittedly single-minded but they’ve broken this up over the course of the second half with dreamier songs like “Uusi polku” which fans of Aethyrick and Blood Red Fog will appreciate.
|LABEL(S):||Iron Bonehead Productions|
|RELEASE DATE:||July 19th, 2022|
This fellowe from Oregon has put out three full-length albums and one mLP over the course of the last eight months and ‘The Gates‘ is probably the best of his very clear study/tribute to the early first wave Norwegian black metal style. Despite the innocuous and ineffective programmed drums skittering on the surface this release seems to speak specifically to the merits of early Gorgoroth, Mayhem, and Darkthrone all circa 1994 with maybe a small hint of Immortal in certain guitar progressions. I suppose this is entertaining and well capable of invoking an old feeling, though there is no real personal feeling or force put behind any of it. The best way to describe the sensation I get from this kind of release is seeing a very good Elvis impersonator, yes I am always willing to celebrate the tradition of said gyrations in spirit but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to put myself in the mindset of a tourist and play along. Still, if you are just looking for an incorruptible study of Norse black metal to spin for ~40 minutes this is a great choice void of bothersome bullshit.
|TITLE:||Black Steel From the Heart of the World|
|RELEASE DATE:||April 22nd, 2022|
One of my biggest obsessions this Summer, between listening to too much The Doors and hiking in the mountains like a goon, was picking through the last five or so years of Finnish black metal I’d missed from their deeper underground. Deviant Records have collected a generally related and uniformly exceptional group of bands from the underground in the western Finnish Jyväskylä area and, of course you’ll first identify Blood Red Fog as your path inward since they’ve long been essential but there are some exceptional bands to explore here on this compilation otherwise. One of my favorites of the lot, Sammas’ Equinox should be familiar for their tuneful, ethereal oaken timbre but it is the darker horrors found on this comp (Emanating Void, Sombre Figures, etc.) that tie the whole experience together. For my taste the revelation here which I’d not looked into prior was Pantheon of Blood, realizing I’d overlooked their ‘Voices Rooted in Blood‘ record back in 2020. All in all an important showcase for a sect of inventive, unique Finnish black metal.
|LABEL(S):||Hypnotic Dirge Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 17th, 2022|
Swampborn are an eclectic modern black metal band whom present this hourlong full-length debut with absolute urgency, a pouring-forth sort of drive which oppresses the ear by sheer momentum and little subtlety in terms of volume. They’ve really gone in on this record in terms of extended song lengths and enough accoutrement that it leans towards a progressive black/blackened death tag overall. While I appreciate the full hour of full-blast approach it’d quickly become taxing on repeat listens, though I appreciated some of the more straightforward pieces like “Transitions” which rounded out the myriad attack of the second half. Though ‘Beyond Ratio‘ didn’t end up being my kind of thing overall it did impress by way of precision and aggression.
|ARTIST:||AD FINEM OMNIA|
|TITLE:||No Peace – No Dawn|
|LABEL(S):||Purity Through Fire|
|RELEASE DATE:||March 21st, 2022|
This exceptional melodic black metal release might sound as if it’d come from Finland or even Poland to some degree but it arrives by way of two folks out of the Santiago, Chile area who are also key members of atmospheric black metal band Sol Sistere. ‘No Peace – No Dawn‘ will immediately impress fans of the melodic finesse of groups like Sargeist, Taake and Mgła in terms of the gratifying detail applied to the melodic arcs they’ve developed in the guitar work, largely consonant and striding phrases which rise and fall with an inspired contemplative grace. The appeal of the full listen hinges on the dance of it all immersing and the intimate yet still performative voicing of the guitar balanced with wrathful yet distant vocals enchants without any interruptive heavy metal stomping, leaving the whole of it flooding forth without any stoppage in sight. It is a wondrous thread to follow even if it isn’t anything we’ve not heard, there is some admirable conviction carried throughout the full listen which speaks to a serious and deeply philosophical consideration when we look to the lyrics.
|RELEASE DATE:||May 16th, 2022|
German pagan black metal act Horn had definitely gone for a bigger, bolder and charged version of their sound on ‘Mohngang‘ back in 2020 and for its follow-up ‘Verzet‘ they’ve maintained that bombast alongside even more improved production values. Making great use of stringed and folk instruments alongside the commanding clean vocals Nerrath has developed over the years this ends up being even more impressive than the previous album in scope. I’d found it was missing the a big feature song like “Satt scheint der Sud der Tat” from the last album but this is a slightly different mood overall, sonorous and serious yet prideful. The impact of late 90’s/early 2000’s Falkenbach somewhat applies here minus the keyboard driven side of things, leaning into strong guitar melodies which brace well-considered folken vocal melodies which are effectively prone to chorale. Horn is pretty much untouchable as a lasting statement in this space per these last several albums and I am impressed that he’s gone independent, it is definitely the right record to represent his work with. Essential pagan black metal for 2022.
|TITLE:||Miseria de Profundis|
|RELEASE DATE:||April 29th, 2022|
The oft imitated yet hardly replicated dreary, swaying signature of French black metal artist Meyhna’ch (Mütiilation) has always benefitted from an anxious, tip-of-the-tongue quality which graces each creation. This seems to still persist even on the very well considered, ugliest sorrowful beast that is ‘Miseria de Profundis‘, his second full-length under the Meyhnach name. The disgust he has infused into this record particularly resonates in the vocal performances, a dissociative haunting which hits a certain apex of rotten, guttural dread on “Grim Omen” mid-album. There is much the photocopier emulating, put a frame on everything, raw black metal currency today could learn from writhing under the grotesque presence of this record.
|LABEL(S):||I, Voidhanger Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 14th, 2022|
Incantvm comes from the visionary talent of Vittorio Sabelli whose pronounced clarinet and interest in the dark arts you’ll recognize from his former project Dawn of a Dark Age. ‘Strigae‘ is an entirely unique conception wherein a black/doom metal orchestra is built from black metal musicians and given to the existential musing and bombast of dark 70’s and 80’s progressive rock surrealists (High Tide, Black Widow, etc.) wherein the effect is a haunting blend of bold-faced neoclassical inspired movements and the ugly nihil of black metal, which we’ll tangentially consider 90’s music. Opening the first six minutes riffing on the main melody for Dies Irae does a fine job of introducing their greater language but don’t expect this to read as a shoehorning of eldritch rock and classical into a plain black metal album but, rather all of these things feed into the wild action and narrative heavy affect of each piece. “Il Cerchio e il Fuoco” is the piece to fully show off these possibilities in their witching glory. Fans of Pensées Nocturnes who want something otherwise very Italian in spirit (and language) but even more ambitious will surely fall directly into this one and its many narrative rants. “Il Processo” is probably my favorite here for its break in the tension beyond the first 25 minutes.
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