It may be a little early but I am starting to slowly getting things ready to roll out a bunch of lists with 2016’s best releases. For the first installment, I’ve asked Astraeus to join. He is the mastermind of Swedish melodic black/death band Cwealm. By the way, you can check out their debut album Odes to No Hereafter if you missed the official premiere. 

2016 has been a good year for black metal, with Dark Funeral’s “Where Shadows Forever Reign” displaying a marvellous return to form and Uada’s “Devoid of Light” outdoing Mgła with their melodic hymns, which, by the way, are less Mgła-sounding than some people might want you to believe. That said, we all already know about these albums (or at least the first one!). With this list I want to highlight some underground acts that are equally good, but perhaps not as known, while also indicating some of the diversity found in this vast genre.

Hear something that you like? Then buy the album. In other words: Support Black Metal!

Slavland – Wiec

The same mix between relentless barbarism and folkish beauty we know from gems like Nokturnal Mortum’s “Нехристъ” and Graveland’s “Thousand Swords” returns here. It’s as if the former had been married to Sacramentum’s “Finis Malorum.” Excellent!

Buy “Wiec”

Denouncement Pyre – Black Sun Unbound

In the borderland between Nifelheim, Deströyer 666 and Watain, we find Denouncement Pyre. Their latest album is my personal pick for the ultimate black/thrash attack of 2016.

Buy “Black Sun Unbound”

Eldjudnir  – S/t

Strongly inspired by Ved Buens Ende. If laid-back, avant-garde black metal with unsettling atmosphere and eerie clean (male and female) vocals sounds appealing to you, then look no further.

Buy “Eldjudnir”

Depicting Abysm – Passage

This oscillates compellingly between grief and evil. Aptly placed half-notes and great bass work makes it really stand out from the atmospheric/depressive black metal crowd.

Buy “Passage”

Onirism – Cosmic Dream

Symphonic black metal with traces of Emperor, Summoning and Dissection. A bit polished, perhaps, but with excellent guitar work and a unique, spacey feel!

Buy “Cosmic Dream”