10 – Bellum I – AQUILUS (Australia) December 3, 2021
Gentle classical piano paired with tragic, rasping black metal vocals. The caress of soothing choral-laden instrumentals soften the clamour of crashing symbols and resolute drumming. An album that is expressive, relaxing, intense and mysterious all at the same time. A multitude of musicians would have a hard time balancing the delicacy and ferocity found in “BELLUM I”, but HORACE ROSENQVIST does it as a one man project. Don’t sleep on this.
9 – Dahoam – WALDGEFLÜSTER (Germany) September 24, 2021
Apensive walk through forests, accompanied by slow strumming, the atmosphere is one of longing. WALDGEFLÜSTER intertwines interludes of melancholy with abrasive black metal, and drowns listeners in an immersive, introspective listening experience. There is calmness in the turbulence and the ambient enhancements like the rain in “In da Fuizn” whisk you away to a place of reflection.
8 – Solar Paroxysm – MARE COGNITUM (United States) March 19, 2021
Another solo black metal project that really grabbed my attention this year was MARE COGNITUM. A cavalcade of evil vocals take the forefront, gilded with spacey riffs to drive home the interstellar theme. Full bodied and imaginative, it relentlessly drives you through other dimensions. The entire discography is vibrant and lucid, offering much more than standard black metal fare.
7 – Apotheosis – BORNHOLM (Hungary) November 5, 2021
BORNHOLM is a triumphant take on black metal. Their music is full bodied and robust with excellent production. On “APOTHEOSIS” they have fused just the right amount of harmony, accented with distant chants and clean vocals that match with perfectly enunciated vocals that aren’t distorted into oblivion. Finished off with well placed solos, this album has it all.
6 – Hädanfärd – NIGHT CROWNED (Sweden) July 9, 2021
NIGHT CROWNED was likely the first band that woke me from my long pandemic writing hiatus. Melodic death metal to the highest Swedish standard, “HÄDANFÄRD” makes light use of clean vocals opting for a dark cyclone of exciting guitar work, black metal vocals and surprisingly, keyboards. The album starts fast and stays that way except for the title track which offers a nice interlude before being thrown back into the whirlwind.
To be completed in Part 5