5 – Trisagion – ETHEREAL SHROUD (UK) December 10, 2021
A depressive cloud of black metal with doom elements, “TRISAGION” is thoughtful, miserable and frigid. From the clean melodic vocals to the anguished screaming it surrounds the listener with layers of complexity. Thundering drums, and funeral riffs are highlighted with soft piano creating a sound that is extremely fulfilling on many levels. Unfortunately, ETHEREAL SHROUD called it quits after the release.
4 – Devoured by the Oak – CÂN BARDD (Switzerland) November 12, 2021
What starts off as a delicate folky sojourn through forests and mountains, breaks into mystical violence. It is, all at once, epic, beautiful and mournful. Feelings of serenity created by the orchestrations surrender to harsh vocals overlaying dramatic strings and piano. CÂN BARDD masterfully juxtaposes the tranquility that comes with choirs with gut wrenchingly fast black metal drumming.
3 – Rotten Garden – GRIMA (Russia) January 22, 2021
GRIMA is bewitchingly violent with drastic punctuation of woeful solos that conjure feelings of mental and physical despair. The cortege of atmospheric samples usher in pleasant acoustics and aggressive guitars, topped off with the inclusion of a morose accordion demanding your attention. Well-rounded and evocative, “Rotten Garden” is spiritually nurturing black metal.
2 – Arkivet – WORMWOOD (Sweden) August 27, 2021
Comparing this year’s list to ones past there is a definite trend of my favourite albums getting more depressing and moody. Maybe that’s an evolution of my personal tastes, or some inner reflection or some commentary on the global situation, maybe a combination of all three. When it comes to being bleak, WORMWOOD is right up there. A journey of somber honesty, images of reality are coloured with blast beasts, pained vocals etching out distressing lyrics. The melody, and hints of convalescence offer brief reprieve and offer comfort amidst the miserable message they convey.
1 – Tales of Othertime – STORMKEEP (United States) November 19, 2021
This album fucks. There are tons of flowery words that I could use to describe this album, but the gist of it: I ordered it halfway through the single “A Journey Through Storms” and continue to be impressed and amazed on every play. Vigor and intensity emanate from this powerhouse of a debut full-length that has everything one could want in an album: tight hooks, catchy choruses and chest pounding drums. It stays true enough to old school black metal to satisfy even the trvest kvlt elitists and adds in the right amount of progessive, symphonic bits to keep it engaging. This is the musical equivalent of a blizzard – Furious, magnificent, and cold.