New Black Metal Worth Your Time

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James looks at four new black metal albums that he deems to be worth your time. This article covers everything from raw black metal to folk black metal to black/death metal and even post-black metal and looks at bands from Norway, France, Germany and the US. So dig in and we’re sure you will find something that you like.

Written by James Sweetlove

Coven Of The Swamp – Aeon Of Clarity

Location: Germany

Coven Of The Swamp offer us a unique take on black metal, one that works in Southern US folk influences in both essence and sound, featuring banjo throughout. This has been done by other black metal acts such as Panopticon, as well as numerous acts from Moonlight Cypress Archetypes, the difference being that these are all Southern US based acts. Enough about that though, what of the actual music? Well the project gives us two epic tracks each running for over 11 minutes. During these 22 or so minutes the band manage to create a fantastically depressive that also has a sense of danger and mystery to it. One can picture dark beings lingering in swamps or lurking in forests, as the natural world goes on around it.

The banjo is seamlessly worked in with the traditional black metal instruments, as well as the vocals. Vocally speaking there are two unique styles on display, one that is a faded screeched style that reminds me of The Witcher from Ceremonial Castings and another that has a guttural almost Demilich style sound to it. Banjo aside, there are plenty of other atmosphere focused section that are both clean and distorted, some have a beauty to them that feels melancholic, while others have a menacing undertone attached. Overall I think that this is fantastic second single/EP, one that has me really excited to see what the band do next, I see a bright future ahead for these mysterious purveyors of bleak music.

Veins Like Vines – Bloom And Rot Share The Same Colors

Location: France

Taking things in a completely different direction is mysterious Parisian lo-fi post-black metal/punk project Veins Like Vines with their debut release. I can immediately guess that there will be those who hear this and say “well this isn’t technically black metal” and to them I say “shut up.” While this is a nuanced take on the genre, at its core it very much shares that same dark, experimental, DIY sounding edge of black metal as well as the punchy energy and DIY essence of punk.

This album is all about hypnotically repetitive rhythms and melodies and atmosphere. The same earworming riffs and hooks play on repeat and keep your head nodding from start to finish. Elevating these riffs are the tones that they carry, which are raw, distorted and biting in nature. They play through a subtle layer of distortion and feedback that gives everything a warped sound and feeling. Nothing is more warped though than the vocals on the album. These aren’t words being delivered, there are no messages, just distorted haunting singing that is present throughout the release. These vocals are also used relatively sparingly, so while they aren’t sparse, they leave plenty of room for the instruments to shine. Overall I like this album a lot, it was a refreshing take on black metal that has a hypnotic power to it allowing it to be both exciting and somewhat relaxing at the same time.

Sacrificial Vein – Black Terror Genesis

Location: USA

In recent years the Midwest has put out plenty of amazing blackened death metal, much of which falls under the radar. A prime example of this is Sacrificial Vein’s Black Terror Genesis, a release that ticks all of the boxes of the genre and then some. The band have mastered both raw dissonance and haunting atmosphere, balancing the two perfectly throughout the release. One moment you’ll have crushing heaviness and discordant complexity and the next cavernous soul crushing depressive atmosphere complete with pained shrieks and wails.

The vocals are one of the album’s true strongpoints, shifting from shrieked black metal vocals and guttural death metal vocals to pained wails, moans and shouting. There’s both impressive power and palpable emotion behind these vocals dependent on what is needed at any given time. Instrumentally the album is fairly impressive, with some real technical mastery on display with the guitar and drum work. However, its the atmosphere that makes this album, its just so thick that its almost suffocating and yet you can’t turn away, you just want to keep sinking deeper because its all so captivating. I think that there will be many in the dissonant black and death metal scenes that will find plenty to here and I see plenty of potential opportunity for these newcomers.

Heraldic Blaze – Blazoned Heraldry

Location: USA/Norway

US/Norway based Heraldic Blaze give us a somewhat traditional take on black metal that could probably be at home amongst a Second Wave fan’s collection. This isn’t your standard Second Wave black metal though, its a complex blend of sounds and styles. Yes, it has the traditional elements at play, but the band present it all in a unique and captivating way. The key difference is that subtle rock rhythms expertly woven into the songs, rhythms that allow the listener to really bang/nod their head along with the music. This doesn’t take away from the rawness or aggression of the music as a whole though, if anything it compliments it.

Vocally we get a raw screeched style that feels familiar but is also a little unusual in its delivery thanks to both faded echoed effects and wildly screeched DSBM style vocals at times. The drum work adds a lot of energy to the album but holds its place at the back of the album’s overall sound, never drowning any other instrument out. The key to this album’s unique sound though is the guitar, which while definitely black metal in overall nature really takes on a variety of different sounds and styles. There’s everything from rock to surf rock and post-punk woven in here and I can’t get enough of it. The guitar tone on the release is also perfectly balanced, it provides just enough bite that it feels raw but its clean enough that it helps to develop that catchy rock feeling of the release. Lastly, the occasional use of flute in the mix is a nice touch and helps to expand an already robust and at times beautiful overall sound. As far as debuts go, I think this is an amazing first effort and I look forward to seeing more from the band.




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