by: "Grim" Kim Kelly
Hello again, Metal Injection! It’s been awhile (my bad) but I’ve returned to ruin everyone’s day with yet another year-end list. Are you guys sick of those yet? I definitely am, and I’m not even done submitting all of mine. Unlike everyone else on the fucking planet, though, mine will not be making mention of Deftones, Kylesa, Overkill, or even Enslaved, because 1. I think those bands are boring, 2. I don’t care about their new records, and 3. every other self-styled music critic in the blogosphere has already spewed a few gallons short of an oil spill’s worth of virtual ink all over them. Instead, I’ve followed the blueprint from last year’s list and cobbled together a handful of my favorite underground, unheralded, and willfully obscure releases from 2010. Read ‘em and weep.
In no particular order:
Glossolalia – Gold in the Throat
I’m cheating a little here because this album is actually a compilation of earlier demo material from the past few years, but it was technically released in 2010 so fuck you. Glossolalia are one of the lesser-known denizens of the USBM elite Black Twilight Circle, but are no less potent than Arizmenda, Ashdautas, Volahn & the gang. This shit is RAW, with subzero production values, a frantic, oppressive atmosphere, and truly twisted riffs that spiral into jagged discordance. Imagine modern day Deathspell Omega filtered through a pile of Ildjarn demos.
Petrychor – Dryad EP
The rain falls, the wind blows, a quiet acoustic moment suddenly rushes headlong into a gorgeous storm of light and fog, and so this EP begins. Petrychor’s debut offering is an amazing mature affair, and provides one of the strongest arguments imaginable for the existence of “post black” metal. Much like Drudkh or Kveldssanger –era Ulver, Dryad marries the delicate, jarring catharsis of post-rock with sweeping orchestral movements, shimmering acoustic neofolkisms, and the raw-throated honesty of black metal, and creates something genuinely beautiful, and achingly pure.
Kerasphorus – Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn EP
This sadly short-lived project sputtered into hideous life long enough to vomit forth one album, then abruptly disbanded a month or so before it was slated to make its debut at Nuclear War Now! Fest. Pity, because this album fucking rules – easily the strongest thing Pete Helmkamp has done since the last Revenge record. Relentless, razor-edged black/death metal rife with stick-in-your-head riffs and Helmkamp’s trademark rasp – it ain’t Order From Chaos, but it hits the spot!
Sonne Adam – Armed With Hammers EP
Old school death metal is cool now, right? Well, quit posing and get thee to your mom’s credit card – here’s a band worth worshipping, and a 7” worth hunting down in cold blood. This young Israeli horde have given wretched birth to a debut EP of staggering proportions, and lain down some of the heaviest, nastiest, most addictive death metal riffs of 2010. Their grave-robbing Darkthrone cover seals the deal in black blood.
Sargeist – Let the Devil In
You guys should know this one. Orthodox BM OGs Sargeist have been peddling their filthy Finnish wares since 1999, and their latest record is more than just a follow-up to 2005’s classic Disciple of the Heinous Path – it’s a call to arms. Black metal is Satan, and Shatraug & the boys are willing disciples to both. Wickedly melodic but viciously aggressive, Let the Devil In is steeped in freezing moonfog and menacing resolve and proves yet again that Finnish black metal reigns supreme.
The Wounded Kings – The Shadow Over Atlantis
The Wounded Kings are the UK’s best doom band running, which is saying something; after all, Blighty is the birthplace of the heavy and lays claim to some of doom’s most revered souls. This Dartmoor collective do more than pay respects to the past, though. They bring the mystical beast of rebellion that is traditional doom into the present, and somehow render it even more potent. Steeped in occultism and punctuated by haunting keyboards, gargantuan riffs and George Birch’s plaintive wail, The Shadow Over Atlantis is 100% essential listening for fans of Warning, Reverend Bizarre, and graveyards at night.
*Also check out An Introduction to the Black Arts, their amazing split 12” with Richmond druglords Cough
Willing Feet – s/t demo
I only recently stumbled across this mysterious Canadian outfit, but was instantly hooked on their punk-as-fuck, astoundingly low-fi approach to three-chord black metal. It sounds like it was recorded in a trashcan full of angry hornets, the whole thing is littered with piercing feedback, and the vocalist sounds like he’s perpetually on the verge of spewing black vomit all over himself. Fucking beautiful. This demo is short (four songs in ten minutes), mean, and totally inaccessible. For diehards and strong minds only.
Grave Miasma – Realm of Evoked Doom
I wrote about these dudes in last year’s list, and have been glad to see people on this side of the pond finally starting to notice their absolute domination over the current death metal scene. Alongside brother band Cruciamentum, this London-based death metal cult have parlayed their interest in the occult and the esoteric into the overwhelming atmosphere of rotting death and ancient magic that envelops their incomprehensibly crushing invocations and live desecration rituals. This is not simply “old school death metal,” THIS is metal ov death.
Bastard Sapling – V: A Sepulcher to Swallow the Sea
This Richmond, VA collective is the exact opposite of prolific (to their fans’ immense frustration) but this, their long-awaited debut 7”, has proven that there is a method to their madness. Bastard Sapling are one of the best and most underrated USBM bands in existence today, but judging by the strength of these two new songs, should be well on their way to finally getting the attention they deserve. Their music straddles the divide between classic Darkthrone, vintage Ulver, and the majestic atmosphere of bands like Drudkh and Hate Forest, augmented by an appealingly raw but listenable production and a DIY-or-die ethic. Essential!
Blut Aus Nord – What Once Was…
This sumbitch nearly flew under my radar – I was on tour when all the press flurries were going on, and only heard about its release while wasting time on the Nuclear War Now forum. Turns out that this album is the first in a series of albums that promise a very “pure” approach to black metal, and it sounds like the BAN lads are off to a good start. This is not orthodox or old-school by any means – it’s still Blut Aus Nord, which means copious amounts of strangeness, dissonance, and dischord, but it’s far more straight-forward a record than some of their more recent material (excluding last year’s back-to-basics Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With the Stars). Think The Work Which Transforms God, but less chaotic and more doomy and oppressive. Just go buy the fucking thing – it’s out on 12” vinyl from Debemur Morti.
A handful of honorable mentions (get to Googling!):
Axeman – Arrive
Wolvhammer – Black Marketeers of WWIII
Ramesses – Take the Curse
Sadomator – Goatsblood Panspermia
Celestiial – Where Life Springs Eternal
Blue Hummingbird on the Left – Bloodflower
October Falls – A Collapse of Faith