The following is a short list of black metal releases (with a commentary on each) that would general fall off the edge of the usual stylistic lines that Death Metal Underground follows when looking at genre releases. These are all exceptional and form part of what could, in hindsight, be described as the lone wolves of an established and matured black metal genre — generally unnoticed or passed by without receiving substantial attention among the waves of excess of the 21st century; treasures hidden in plain sight for those with a developed sense beyond mere form.
An interesting observation is that Infamous has a very interesting characteristic of slightly moulding their music character to somewhat align itself with the style and sound of whichever band they share a split with. This is not to say that Infamous copies a different style, because the Italian behind this project has already found a strong and mature voice of his own. Rather, the subtleties of the music lean in this or that direction.
Sharing a split with a band that appears to have a great influence over Infamous seems to have pushed the songs on this split to some of the most expressive since Of Solitude and Silence and the demos (now released in a great compilation titled From the Hermit’s Paths). The final track, ‘Among These Cold Walls’, is an amazing, extended piece that hearkens back to the earliest, varied yet focused style of the demos.
Nekrokrist SS, on their side of the record, deliver very strong content consistent with their style and overall quality. Knowing their work in their two full-length albums, one could say that, like Infamous, they are showing their most expressive and potent performances so far. This may be due to a mutual inspiration, or it may simply be the effect on this listener of these two great and compatible projects. Whatever the case, I would recommend this as possibly the single best release of raw black metal music written in 2016 (that is, without counting re-releases or compilations from the past).
Hailing from Greece and playing a standard-technique melodic and raw-sounding black metal, Riddle of Meander show us an established and mature style in their debut album. This mostly consists of streams of mid-length, tremolo-picked melodies over a distinguishable bass line accompanying in monophonic fashion and suitable, sensible drums. The voice does not intrude or detract, and fuses into the tone and quality of the rest. This may not be the ultimate classic of classics that leads the way to a new usage of the black metal language, but it is one of those releases that exemplifies that excellence is possible without re-inventing the wheel.
End of All Life and Creation strikes a balance between atmospheric crudeness and highly-intelligible complexity. Furthermore, and most importantly, it consistently and effectively evokes a blanketed yet nonetheless discernible sinister aura of an evil that broods and develops through the centuries rather than rush out for a bloodbath.
This release was likely overlooked for its partnership with the charlatanes par excellence of Deathspell Omega. However, the degree of separation in terms of musical quality is abysmal. S.V.E.S.T.‘s music here is convoluted for sure, but the musical motif-links are present, despite being stretched. The different sections do not work through pure shock, but rather in a kind of extension and condensation of intensity, a method that was seen in a different form in Urfaust. This is allegoric chaos, with a sure musical foundation.
This is an album that deserves full attention and rewards the listener. The aura is not the of the calm meditative type that we would see in Darkthrone or Burzum, but of energetic turmoil creating shapes and rupturing through space. In all of this, S.V.E.S.T. remains highly consistent in style. What we are shown here is an album that could potentially be held along with Godless Arrogance as the best black metal works of the new century. They both represent a next step along the evolution, a new breed of the ideals channeled into purest form from two different perspectives.
A parallel can be drawn with the dizzying approach of Abigor in Channeling the Quintessence of Satan. But where Abigor is applying an incredibly dense, focused, baroque and percussive black metal in an almost riff-salad manner, S.V.E.S.T. is orchestrating something closer to a black metal Close to the Edge, without the inferior appendices that dragged Yes‘ symphony down. In Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum one finds a veritable Satanic Black Metal Symphony.
I would recommend S.V.E.S.T.’s 2007 as transcendental form, representing the raw and bloodthirsty violence of the amoral material, that feeling of empty sinking in your gut coming from deep-seated fear of an inevitable and terrible consequence. This is a music that, on the plane of the transcendent, brings into being the purely sensual in its full aspect beyond what we know as ‘superficial’.
As has been previously exposed before, Abyssum‘s music is of a very elusive kind, and one which hides great treasures among structures and patterns that seem simple or inconsequential at first. Their value rather lies in their being taken in throughout long stretches. And while the main compositions of Poizon of god were later refined and greatly enriched for 2014’s Cum Foeda Sanie Ex Ore both in arrangement and in production, the whole of this 2008 release is possessed of an undeniable potency when considered as a holistic and unitary experience. That is, pieces should not be singled out, nor should riffs and sections be considered on their own. The art of Ebvleb works thus, always on an immense and occult layer that is tangibly present but that becomes apparent only when the enormous scale of the stretches between relations and juxtapositions of emotions and afterthoughts comes within the grasp of each singular listener.
When one learns to listen to Poizon of god, the span and depth of that abyss is truly felt as one’s inner being expands and the sky above one’s perception of the open space to the stars is not only known abstractly but felt, making limb and heart tremble. This is the transcendental terror that Abyssum transmits; sinking beyond the flat nekrosound and taking in the collection weightless moments that make up its units as they congeal like nebulae into vast and unimaginable star systems is the only way of gaining a vision of this mystery. What is found here is pure depth, and at the most obvious level, a myst too thin to grasp. This is the key to the mystery of Abyssum’s music, and no one can explain it or afford it by proxy for the reader. In this way, Abyssum’s music is esoteric and transcendentally mysterious through and through.
Thy Call is only the beginning, and perhaps the most obvious as it reflects the spiritual experience of Central American pine tree forests over the mountains. Poizon of god is a slow congealment of the dust of stars, an awareness of the depth and antiquity of the universe, and an unexplainable feeling of connection with it that is ecstatic.