In the words of None, or Nøne: "Life Has Gone on Long Enough." This black metal band from the United States wants you to know: "It's Painless to Let Go." In a similarly cynical manner, the defunct Berlin-based band Through the Pain makes the claim: "Time Heals Nothing." Metal, on the contrary, is capable of healing all wounds. Yes, many people are quick to write-off art as harmful when it explores extreme states of pain. Yet, the artists who create such work often state that it is a form of therapy, even a necessary act of self-expression. If their feelings are authentic, we would be cruel to try to censor them. That said, today, we will be focusing on depressing metal albums that are capable of filling your soul with joy.
Not all of the picks on our list are "black metal" in the proper sense, let alone "depressive suicidal black metal." Although the term DSBM is limiting, it is nevertheless a useful springboard for discussion. All of the movement's pioneers were rugged individuals who shattered preconceived notions about what metal should sound like. DSBM would never have come to be if not for bands like Manes, Strid, Burzum, Forgotten Woods, and Bethlehem. The Aussie one-man project Abyssic Hate is often cited as another major influence, although its creator has made some unsavory statements. Bands that you should check out include Happy Days, Hypothermia, Psychonaut 4, Forgotten Tomb, Thy Light, Xasthur, Leviathan, Totalselfhatred, Austere, Gris, Apati, and Nocturnal Depression.
Norwegian black metal fans will love Selvhat, or "Self-Hate" — a project of Celestial Bloodshed's "Mehimoloth," the late Steingrim Torson Brissach. We are still reeling from Steingrim's death: He was accidentally shot at the age of 25 on April 30, 2009, while visiting a friend in his hometown of Trondheim. Uten Håp, "or "Without Hope," is an active, though lesser-known, solo band from Norway that truly kicks ass. Meanwhile, Håvard "Mortiis" Ellefsen's ambient effort Vond will make you want to defenestrate yourself.
If you like to get down in the dumps, Germany will certainly take you there. We love German black metal just as much as the Swedish BM/thrash outfit Gehannah loves alcohol. In case you feel that some of your favorite German groups have been left out, we recently covered some of the following gloomy projects and more on our list of German BM bands: Wedard, Wigrid, ColdWorld, Regnum, Anti, Sterbend, etc. The Bremen-based duo Happy Ending will certainly put a smile on your face with their lone EP, Have a Nice Day (2013). Selvmorrd (yes, two "Rs") from Lower Saxony may not have produced much content, but the "Seelenfeuer" / "Soul's Fire" band is certainly entertaining. They will appeal to your weakness to what is "necro" and real.
Are you looking for something outside the box? The Dutch experimental noise/metal band Gulaggh, which was formerly known as Stalaggh, has used mental patients as guest vocalists. This has been made possible by the fact that one of their members works in an institution. The Swedish project Eufori, which includes two Mist of Misery members, is like a breath of putrid air from a freshly opened coffin. The melancholic Swedish one-man project Grift by Erik Gärdefors is an especially unique undertaking that draws inspiration from literature. The Estonian band Suicidal Suppression conveys despair so effectively that they will make you want to hurl.
All that said, get ready for some seriously disturbing albums that are anything but lifeless. The music below will make you put the blade down and start fumbling with your record needle. After listening to these exhilarating picks, you will have 10 new reasons to wake up.
Shining — V: Halmstad (Niklas angående Niklas) (2007)
"When a door closes, a coffin opens…" – Niklas Kvarforth
It doesn't get any better than Shining. The band's mastermind Niklas Kvarforth is an absolute genius! Niklas started Shining in 1996 as a solo project when he was just 12 years old! Shining would like you to play with knives until you are "Fullständigt jävla död inuti" / "Completely Fucking Dead Inside." In other words, "Submit to Self-Destruction" and "Mörda dig själv…" / "Murder Yourself…" Although Niklas has come to regret applying labels to Shining due to the trend he unintentionally started, Shining is nonetheless the definitive DSBM band. Unlike many copycat musicians, the dynamic and versatile Niklas is a true individual. His music is full of brute will. For this reason, Niklas' work is 100% refreshing. Shining isn't just about gloom and doom, but rather it is about spontaneity. Niklas never ceases to amaze fans with his art, intellect, sense of humor, and unbelievably daring antics. Self-pity has never been his objective. Niklas projects strength and a new level of edgelord confidence.
All of Shining's albums should be considered Swedish national treasures. Halmstad (2007), Shining's fifth album, is a good place for new listeners to begin. From Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata to the poet William Hughes Mearns, this record has it all. The following soundbite from Christina Ricci's character in Prozac Nation (2001) captures Halmstad's essence of depression in a nutshell: "You wake up one morning afraid that you're going to live." Halmstad's tagline could be the title of the third track, which was actually written by Malign's Ynas "Mörk" Lindskog: "Låt oss ta allt från varandra" / "Let us take everything from each other." Lindskog knew just the right words to cheer Shining fans up: "Sparka det lyckliga flinet ur mitt vidriga anlete." / "Kick the happy grin out of my disgusting face." Although Niklas eats through collaborators like a vampire sucks blood, he has recruited a long list of top-notch musicians. Shining's crew has included Mayhem's Jan Axel "Hellhammer [von]" Blomberg, ex-Bethlehem's Andreas Classen (Niklas also sang with Bethlehem.), ex-Urgehal's Jarle "Uruz" Byberg, Ajattara's Rainer Tuomikanto, ex-Abhorrence's Sebastiaan Bats, Marduk and Ondskapt's Joel Lindholm (Niklas played with Ondskapt as well.), etc.
We have some exciting news: Mr. Kvarforth has been working with Hellhammer, Manes' Cernunnus of Manes, and Ajattara and ex-Barathrum's Vesa "Kalmos" Wahlroos in a band called Høstsol. This supergroup recently dropped the song "Din skördetid är nu kommen" in advance of a split LP that they will be releasing with Shining this year. We eagerly anticipate the unleashing of Høstsol's debut album this year as well. As we recently noted, Niklas’ work with Maniac in Skitliv and his appearance on So Much Suffering’s “Suffer in Silence” totally rock. Interestingly, Niklas was invited to join Skitliv after bumping into Mayhem's Attila Csihar while he, Niklas, was hiding out in Norway. This occurred during the period when many people assumed that he had died. Attila suggested to Skitliv's founder, ex-Mayhem's Maniac, that he should enlist Niklas, whose tattoo provided the "Skitliv" moniker.
Niklas wears endless hats. He is an author and a businessman. Niklas' first label, Selbstmord Services, published material from bands like Joyless, Leviathan, Ondskapt, and Forgotten Tomb. Selbstmord Services was also responsible for Shining's first two albums and EP. In 2009, Niklas launched Katastrophy Records. In 2017, he founded The Sinister Initiative. Given Niklas' wit, it should come as no surprise that Shining has the best merch. Unfortunately, the shirts that read "I have a boyfriend at home but I think of Niklas Kvarforth when he fucks me" are no longer available on Shining's website, but you can still treat yourself to a wide selection of equally provocative items.
Lifelover — Erotik (2007)
Dio said: "The lover of life's not the sinner." Lifelover's vocalist — "B" / "Nattdal," or Jonas Lars Bergqvist, tragically died in 2011 from an accidental overdose that was caused by psych meds that had been prescribed to combat his anxiety. We think that Bergqvist was an incredible gift to the world. In 2005, Bergqvist, who also played with bands like Dimhymn and Ondskapt, founded Lifelover together with "( )," or Kim Carlsson of Hypothermia. They first whipped out their instruments together during their very first encounter. This wicked meeting resulted in a massive amount of bloodletting, by the way. Labels don't really apply to Lifelover, which was one of the most exciting groups of all time. You can call them BM, DSBM, post-BM, etc. This Stockholm-based band incorporated elements of shoegaze, pop, goth rock, etc.
Where does one even begin with Lifelover?! The EP Dekadens (2009) features "Myspys" and "Major Fuck Off." When you hear songs like these, you can only wonder: "How could anything be so perfect." Lifelover's albums are Pulver (2006), Erotik (2007), Konkurs (2008), and Sjukdom (2011) — a limited edition box set of which came with a razorblade, barbed wire, a syringe, etc. As is the case with the last band on our list, all of Lifelover's releases are all masterpieces. Yet, Erotik is definitely a classic album that definitely has a special je ne sais quoi. This urban nightmare has stood the test of time. Lifelover focused on topics like love, hate, heartbreak, drugs, and depression: Erotik is no exception. It hits you like "en isvind av AIDS-infekterade rakblad" / "an ice-wind of AIDS-infected razorblades." This magnificent record ends with the speaker ejaculating on a corpse.
Lifelover enthusiasts are bound to enjoy Kim Carlsson's sick three-song demo called Bloody Melancholy (2006), which he made under the moniker Life Is Pain with the Czech artist Trist from bands like Deep-pression and, of course, Trist. (Keep in mind that Kim ran a label called Insikt that worked with bands like Dimhymn, Hypothermia, Trist, and Deep-pression.) Lifelover members have collaborated with a number of other awesome bands. For example, "1853," or Johan Gabrielson, is a member of Vanhelga and was also linked to Deprimat and Ofdrykkja.
Secht — Secht (2006)
Secht's "True Narcotic Black Metal" will give you an overdose of awesomeness. Secht's self-titled album is the only release that the project spawned. We are astonished by the fact that Secht was able to snag all our favorite musicians to cram into 37+ minutes of brilliance. The following godheads appear as guest artists on Secht (2006): Gaahl, Darkthrone's Nocturno Culto, Aura Noir's Apollyon, Taake's Hoest, Tsjuder's Nag, Carpathian Forest's Nattefrost, now ex-Carpathian Forest's J. Nordavind, etc. Nevertheless, this actually makes sense when we consider that Secht was the project of ex-Gehenna's Dirge Rep and Carpathian Forest's Vrangsinn. Secht is a mind-blowing piece of Satanic, yet mature, experimental art that consists of an extended composition called "Parasitten menneskedyret." It will eat right through your mask of sanity. Secht brings you manifold manifestations of sickness that unfurl like the most beautiful, handpicked flowers. You seriously can't top this album. It should be one of your new favorites.
Sorry… — All That Died Was My Innocence (2022)
Sorry… was formed in 2019. The band currently consists of three members who were born in Greece and one who was born in the US. All That Died Was My Innocence (2022) is Sorry…'s first full-length studio album. Before that, Sorry… had already released three EPs and a compilation record. All That Died Was My Innocence is sure to convince you that you have lived "A Life Poorly Spent." The narrative voice on the track "Accepting Loneliness" draws the following rash conclusion "the only solution is the razor deep inside my veins. Each scar for every person I know making negativity my pleasure." The record comes to a cathartic close with a cover of Lifelover's "Mental Central Catalogue." Frontman Void's vocals are to kill for.
Make a Change… Kill Yourself — Make a Change… Kill Yourself (2005)
This self-titled debut album alerted the metal world that there is something rotten in Denmark after all — Make a Change… Kill Yourself. Their self-titled debut record (2005) is laced with absinthe and razorblades. It ends with the message: "A final attempt to make my death honorable; I drag myself outside to die in public hopefully giving these humans trauma. What a lifeless body…" Drink in this liquid opioid sickness —
Lichtblick — Phrenesis (2018)
Lichtblick is a depressive black metal band from Austria that was founded in 2013 as a two-man project that has since grown. Lichtblick is currently a four-piece. The collective focuses on topics like substance abuse, suicide, depression, and anxiety. In 2015, Lichtblick released the EP Feel Free to Lose Your Life. They followed this up with two full-length albums: Phrenesis (2018) and Abkehr (2022). With songs like "10 Cent Pistol," which is accompanied by a needle-infested music video, and "Feel Free to Lose Your Life," Phrenesis is sure to put you in your [un]happy place.
Todeskult — Als die Farben älter wurden (2007)
This defunct band released the three-song demo Mental Self-Destruction in 2006. This demo contained the lovely "Carving My Veins in Solitude," which ended up on Todeskult's debut album, Als die Farben älter wurden (2007), or "As the Colors Became Older." This thrilling record, which includes songs like "Foreboding Suicide." The savage vocals and the chaos within this well-ordered whole will remind you what inner hell really looks like. If you've ever wanted to jump off a bridge, Todeskult will help you re-experience that state of despair. Als die Farben älter wurden is a true deathgasm. This under-appreciated diamond in the rough, which is modern BM, was followed by Todeskult's final album, Apathy (2009). That said, enjoy the sample of Als die Farben älter wurden below.
Photophobia — Humana Fragilitas (2010)
Photophobia has been active since 2009. The band features two Finnish-born musicians who are members from Fornicatus — another band that we recommend — and an Italian-born frontman. A. Mordbid from Happy Days used to play bass with Photophobia. Humana Fragilitas (2010) and The Seven States of Mourning (2012) are Photophobia's only albums to date. Spend the better part of your next hour listening to Humana Fragilitas and you will understand what is meant by the phrase: "Rotting in This Putrid Life…" The whole gruesome affair ends in a cover of Lifelover's "Stockholm."
Silencer — Death — Pierce Me (2001)
This cult album is so wicked that it will leave you speechless. Silencer – Death — Pierce Me is one of the most memorable pieces of music that you will ever hear. Although there have been countless rumors surrounding Silencer and their masterpiece, we will refrain from distracting hearsay. The Silencer duo consisted of vocalist "Nattramn," whose name is likely Mikael Nilssson, and Andreas "Leere" Casado. Leere initially founded the project in 1995. Leere's vocals will definitely pierce you. He worked with Shining from 2005 to 2006 as a guitarist. (Trivia: Leere was the one who reintroduced Niklas Kvarforth to Burzum. Niklas was originally turned on to Burzum by his very own… grandmother. On a surprising though similar note, Niklas father served time in prison with Dissection's Jon Nödtveidt.)
Silencer has only released two pieces of music. Their one-song demo called Death — Pierce Me (1998) was, of course, followed by the album by the same name (2001). Musician Steve Wolz played drums on the full-length effort while drummer Jonas Mattsson appeared on the demo. The record begins with its title track: "Rip my throat. Drink my blood. Strangle me. Drown me… Cold hands, fingers like razors. Break my neck. Put out my light. Crush my hope, rape my life…" Bigotry is to be condemned in all forms. Although some of Death — Pierce Me's lyrics seem problematic, it must be remembered that this album is an exploration of mental illness. Metal Hammer ranked this Death — Pierce Me as one of the "10 Bleakest Metal Albums Ever," and it is available through Napalm Records. You can even buy it from Barnes & Noble. These appear to be encouraging signs.
Diagnose: Lebensgefahr — Transformalin (2007)
Diagnose: Lebensgefahr is the moniker under which Nattramn released the album Transformalin (2007). This project allegedly came about because Nattramn, who was supposedly institutionalized, was given the opportunity to create music as therapy. Listening to Transformalin is like entering an alternate reality. This haunting gem is unlike anything you've ever heard. Nattramn released a book in 2011. In 2012, Nattramn dropped the 21-minute album Ödelagt under the name Trencadis.
Suizid — "I Left This Life to Rot" (2020)
You're going to love Suizid, which came out with the EP Wo Trauer niemals endet, or "Where Grief Never Ends," in 2020. The project was founded by the German-born musician Niklas Schackert, who is currently based in Vienna and has recruited a live lineup to assist him. The "Rest in Piss" band has yet to release an album. After you hear "I Left this Life to Rot" from Wo Trauer niemals endet, you will definitely want to start monitoring Suizid's updates. This song, which is as unique as it is brutal, begins on an introspective note: "Depression isn't hating life: It's a love dedicated to misery, suffering, death…"
Slaktare — "I Hate You"
The melancholic black metal band Slaktare is an absolute delight. "I Hate You" from the EP Love Is Always Painful (2010) may just be the most satisfying song of its kind: "Die you fucking whore! Fuck you! I hate you! Fuck! Receive my hate you whore! … Suffer you bitch!" Slaktare has gone on to release the original full-length album Journey into Darkness (2015). Thank Satan that this "Psychotic and Fucked Up" German project is still active.
Vanhelga — "Ensam mot alla"
Frontman "Pessimisten" / "C9H13N," David Jansson of Ofdrykkja, and formerly of Apati, wrote the amusing song "Ensam mot alla" / "Alone Against All" for Vanhelga. The song begins: "Min lägenhet är smockfull av jobbigt folk. Någon tuggar piller, en annan röker holk. Vill slippa höra idioterna prata. Jag blir så utmattad av att alltid hata." "My apartment is overcrowded with annoying people. Someone is chewing pills. Another one is smoking a blunt. I want to stop listening to the idiots speaking. I get so exhausted of always hating… The high pushes away all thoughts." This song spits serious truth: "Omringad av slynor men ingen kan min ensamhet stilla." / "Surrounded by sluts, but no one can fill the emptiness in my heart." This track can be found on the album Fredagsmys (2018), which also includes an appearance by "Graf," or David Graf, of Psychonaut 4.