7) One Master, Reclusive Blasphemy
Raw, unrelenting, scathing black metal from the frost-bitten climes of New England. The New England winters can get pretty Scandinavian real quick and One Master have produced the perfect album to listen to while you’re trapped in your house, surrounded by two feet of icy, white death. Don’t expect 30+ minutes of tremolo picking and blast beats though. One Master are more than adept at interesting song structures and adding touches of the esoteric to their overall vibe…but they can also blast your face right the fuck off too.
Recommended track: “At the Hour of Saturn”
6) Vastum, Hole Below
For the second time in three years San Francisco’s Vastum are making an appearance on this list. Vastum deliver old school death metal slathered in layers of eeriness and depression. The ethereal aesthetics that Vastum manage to weave into their sound take death metal to new and somewhat unsettling depths. A lot of bands like to pretend their music emanates directly from the bowels of hell but for Vastum it actually might. Heavier than a herd of stampeding elephants and equally as memorable an experience.
Recommended track: “Amniosis”
5) Murg, Varg & Bjorn
Every year there is that one album that I don’t uncover until a few months after its release and I spend way too much time kicking myself over not having this album in my life sooner. This year that distinction belongs to Swedish black metal duo, Murg. Their debut album is an absolute ripper that makes almost every other black metal release this year inconsequential (sans the other ones on this list, of course). I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I know anything about this band other than they write amazingly complex, second wave inspired black metal. Their digital footprint is about as deep as a church mouse’s in a blizzard. But what they lack in Facebook likes they certainly make up for in authentic intensity.
Recommended track: “Grannen ar din fiende”
4) Tribulation, The Children of the Night
Oh, Sweden. Your output of amazing metal music will never cease to amaze me. The next best band flowing from Swedish shores might just be Tribulation, who on their newest album have managed to take their sound further into the depths of this surreal blackened death metal-goth rock hybrid. There is so much going on inside the walls of this record its like some sort of musical asylum being secretly run by the inmates. While this album would certainly appeal to fans of bands like Ghost, Blood Ceremony, or Ides of Gemini, it would also find fans among the old school, Swedish death metal faithful. It’s simply stellar from start to finish.
Recommended track: “Melancholia”