It’s good to be back to my very own place of murk and solitude after such a long pause! There have been many things to figure out, which obviously reflected on SBM but that’s life, you know. Nevertheless, throughout my silence, I’ve received a large number of submissions, which I could not cover entirely (not even close), but I’ve selected some to include in this little but sweet black metal retrospection.

Note: I’ve mashed up already published releases and stuff that is to come out in the near future, so don’t consider this as a “year-end list” .

Long overdue is a shout out to my friends at LADLO Productions who have been extremely kind to present to me two CDs that blew my mind once more. Without further due, here they are:

Hyrgal – Serpentine | Order CD

French trio Hyrgal’s debut full-length “Serpentine” was an eye opener for me in terms of their craft. The band emerged in 2008 with a split with Kairn following a long period of silence until their resurgence in 2017 with “Serpentine“.  The album includes 7 ferocious tunes encompassed by a deep and emotionally-driven atmosphere. From the cover art all the way to the overall instrumental work, this album radiates powerful waves of sorrow and nostalgia in a way that feels subtle yet gripping.

Moonreich – Fugue | Order CD

Back in 2015 I had the enormous pleasure to recommend Moonreich and their outstanding CD “Pillars of Detest. Needless to say, I eagerly anticipated their follow up, which later on became known as “Fugue“;  a 7-piece track list decorated with a brilliantly well made packaging. Honestly, it’s worth to acquire this album just to appreciate the 16-page digibook alone! 

Back to the question that you never asked – how far have Moonreich gone from their successor? Well, I’d say from a production standpoint, they have certainly upped their game. The band has paid extra attention to the mixing and mastering stage leading to a butter smooth experience. The sound is a bit overly-polished for my taste but I’d certainly not consider this as a drawback.

Compositions-wise, “Fugue” involves plenty of progressive elements adding to the variety and unpredictability of the instrumentals. Still, black metal at its core with a wide range of barbaric passages and melodious interludes that are reminiscent of their previous release. Very solid overall; a tiny little bit more accessible to the mainstream listener, in my humble opinion. But who cares, anyway?

Ende – Goétie funeste | Order CD

I’ve praised Ende a number of times for their stellar depiction of raw 90’s black metal. To this date, the duo has not ceased to deliver their craft in a very creative manner pushing down the “constraints” of the oldschool form of this genre with such a grace. 

“Goétie funeste” packs a rich palette of arrangements bound by a frostbitten sound production and truly remarkable guitar lines that took a hold of me instantly. The album itself does not intend to bring in modern concepts whatsoever. It does what straightforward black metal is meant for – spreading darkness! 

Note: Ende are to release a new split with Gotholocaust through Asgard Hass very soon, so be sure to keep an eye on their shop.

Peste Umbrarum – Night Shines Eternal | Order CD

Portland-based quartet Peste Umbrarum surprised me with a submission from their debut demo titled “Night Shines Eternal” a few days ago. Rather short yet dense material composed in the vein of traditional black metal that clocks at 30 minutes, this is a must-listen if you are into the darker shades of this genre.

What stood out for me immediately is the mature compositions and knack for writing engaging material that is fleshed out in a primitive way without lacking potential. Definitely looking forward for more from these guys!

Fallen Tyrant – Children of a Nuclear Dawn | Order CD

Now, I gotta admit that I’ve been very thirsty for oldschool black metal lately, so this next feature continues to expand on that. Fallen Tyrant hail from Darmstadt, Germany and I got to know them thanks to their label Bleeding Heart Nihilist Productions.

Children of a Nuclear Dawn” is the band’s second full-length bursting with explosive pulses and devastating power that naturally pushed me to headbang as the good old times at the local metal club. Overall, very vibrant material that resonated with me, so I’d recommend to give it a shot and support the utmost underground bands such as Fallen Tyrant themselves.

Ezkaton – Plague for the Empires: Time | Order CD

What would be a December if I don’t shout out at least one depressive black metal release that would sink your soul into inextinguishable misery? Fortunately, that’s not the case for Ukraine’s anonymous act Ezkaton unleashed their first full-length “Plague for the Empires: Time” whose influence still haunts me. 

The overwhelming dissonance that reeks from the album awakens images of complete and utter decadence. Exceptional interplay with bleak atmosphere, intense instrumental work and very effective high-pitched vocals successfully encapsulating the grief of a truly tortured being. 

Svartidauði – Revelations of the Red Sword | Pre-order CD

Last but not the least, I’d like to give a special place for one of Van Records’ freshly put out releases, namely Svartidauði’s Revelations of the Red Sword“.

Generally, Icelandic black metal scene has been very consistent in producing some of the most memorable releases of present days. Svartidauði in particular have been very potent over the years pushing their craft onward album by album and their latest falls no shorter than before. “Revelations of the Red Sword” is a next level in the band’s path transcending every aspect of their craft making it an absolute must-have.

In a nutshell, this stuff is beyond darker than you can imagine delving further down into the murkiest corners of the occult. Especially brutal, haunting and strikingly awe-inspiring. Do not miss out on this!

…and one more: Firtan – Okeanos | Order CD

Okay, I did cheat, didn’t I? But it’s for your good and pleasure, believe me! I’d like to conclude this installment with another epic album that comes from Art of Propaganda Records’ forge. Behold Firtan’s latest “Okeanos“.

From the astounding skill and sense for writing complex arrangements to the stellar execution that makes it a pure delight to listen to each track. This is a massive effort of bringing in creative means within the extreme metal genre and damn it, these guys made it all the way! Treat yourself by destroying your headset / speakers with “Okeanos“. 

Oh, and make sure to watch Firtan’s music video called “Nacht Verweil”. It’s beautiful to say the least. 

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoy this well delayed spoil. Let’s see what the future holds from now on. Cheers!