Having just read the unintentionally comedic Most Influential Heavy Metal Albums Ever list, I’ll take my turn in reviewing what I consider to be the “best” – or the least bad – extreme metal albums of this passing year.
Despite there being very few extreme metal albums worth mentioning – and even fewer worth listening to – other than the obvious picks, the year has been quite good in terms of quality, or at the very least listenable, black and death metal.
In no particular order, here is the best metal list restricted to the albums that were released this year.
Reiklos – Lifeless
What would happen if you took Darkthrone‘s droning riff style but combined them with Phantom inspired composition and evolving songwriting? You would get Lifeless, Reiklos’ debut and currently only full-length album.
Given that the name of the band comes from a Phantom track – on Nekros Nemesis if I’m not mistaken – the Phantom influences are not that surprising, but the band still manages to avoid the pitfalls of most X-clone bands – cough, Watain, cough – that never move beyond their influences in finding a voice of their own.
Warkvlt – Bestial War Metal
It’s bestial. It’s war metal. It’s pretty much everything you should expect from Warkvlt at this point, meaning pure, intense, unrelenting brutality.
This album will fuck with your shit in ways you can’t even imagine. Take the atmosphere of Incantation’s Onward to Golgotha , the keen melodic touch of Demonecromancy’s Fallen From the Brightest Throne and the brutality and blasphemy of, say, early Marduk.
And there you have Warkvlt’s masterpiece and debut Bestial War Metal in a nutshell.
SEWER – The Birth of a Cursed Elysium
I already wrote extensively about SEWER and their toxic gimmickry, no need to delve further on that topic. With that out of the way, SEWER were always if not competent, at least very talented musicians that know how to write extreme metal. The same can’t be said for the majority of bands within the genre.
The Birth of a Cursed Elysium is one of their best works in the style of blackened death metal, if you can look past the nonsensical song titles. To be fair, they are slightly less retarded on this album compared to Rektal, 2154 or NecroPedoSadoMaso, but you still get the occasional “Vomit for Satan” or “Tied to a Rope”.
Phantom – Withdrawal
Phantom debuted with the raw and ultra-minimalist Divine Necromancy, an album that needs no introduction if you’re familiar with the contemporary history of black metal.
Quite a few elements within Phantom’s music have changed over the years, notably the complete abandonment of the minimalist aspect from Dark Devotion onward.
Reaching heights of compositional complexity never fathomed before – particularly in the realm of black metal which still suffers from a too prominent Darkthrone/Von/Blasphemy/Beherit influence – Withdrawal is what would happen if you combined death metal’s riff maze with black metal’s intense atmospheres.
Phantom – Fallen Angel
Certainly the best album of the year, thus of the list, a very likely the best album of the decade if not the era, Fallen Angel is what black metal should have become after 1994.
There isn’t really much to say about this album that isn’t best discovered yourself, by listening to this masterpiece.
Actually listening, not just hearing the sounds like you would “experience” the latest flavour of the week post-rock vomit.
That’s it for the best of extreme metal – 3 black metal, 2 death metal – of the year.
This list was partially inspired by the Top 10 Black Metal Albums list on Metalious, except for the fact that these morons forgot Phantom’s Withdrawal… opting for the relatively more formulaic Memento Mori instead. Posers.