Deafheaven – Roads to Judah

Blackened shoegaze wasn’t exactly an unknown concept before Deafheaven came onto the scene. French group Alcest had been producing such music since at least 2007’s Souvenirs d’un autre monde; fellow countrymen Bosse-de-Nage’s debut self-titled predated Deafheaven by at least a year. So when Roads to Judah dropped on Kurt Ballou’s Deathwish label, there wasn’t really…

Drudkh – Eastern Frontier in Flames

Eastern Frontier in Flames is a compilation of rare music by Ukrainian black metal group Drudkh, released in 2014 through French extreme metal label Season of Mist in anticipation of the band’s 2015 album A Furrow Cut Short. This album consists of two extended-plays originally available through limited-edition vinyl runs and one split with English…

The Body & The Haxan Cloak – I Shall Die Here

Sometimes, I feel like doom metal and death metal got their names mixed up. Sure, death metal might have lyrics about death and a band called Death, but doom metal actually creates the feeling of destruction, annihilation, and end-times. Take I Shall Die Here, the 2014 collaboration between sludge/doom metal duo The Body and dark…

Burzum – Fallen

It is cliché to say that the post-incarceration Burzum albums suck. It’s also cliché to say that it’s cliché. Whatever. I really don’t care to write about Fallen, but I refuse to consider this album properly approached until I have some words published about it. Fallen is the second album (eighth overall) released by Varg Vikernes following…

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

If heavy metal had standards like blues or jazz, then Paranoid would comprise about half of them.1 Is your band angry and political, maybe a little punk-ish? “War Pigs.” Crazy stage antics, frontman a little mental? “Paranoid.” Want some old psychedelic vibes? “Planet Caravan.” Don’t mind the pop realm, want a recognizable crowd-pleaser to start off your set?…

Burzum – Belus

In appreciating his contribution to the evolution of heavy metal, it’s easy to forget the horror that is Varg Vikernes. This is a man who killed his bandmate by stabbing him over twenty times,1 set fire to at least four old Christian churches,2 incited a potential “major terrorist act” in France,3 and escaped prison while…

Forgotten Tomb – … And Don’t Deliver Us from Evil

Italian quartet Forgotten Tomb started off as one of the better depressive black metal bands in the scene with releases such as Springtime Depression and Songs to Leave, proof that soul-crushing music need not be buried under static and synthesizers. In 2011, the band signed to French label Agonia Records1 and released Under Saturn Retrograde,…

Behemoth – And the Forests Dream Eternally [EP]

Coming hot off a series of four increasingly promising demos, And the Forests Dream Eternally is the debut studio release by Polish extreme metal band Behemoth. Although most famous nowadays for their compositionally dense, Middle Eastern/Slavic-influenced brand of death metal, the group began as a thrashy black metal outfit that was deeply indebted to their…

Drudkh – Forgotten Legends

Low fidelity production in black metal can be an immensely efficacious tool in establishing atmosphere, with the most (in?)famous example being Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. Sometimes a lo-fi aesthetic is necessitated by financial constraints on behalf of the band, which is at least one of the reasons why Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne til Ulven i Manden has…

Ulver – Vargnatt [Demo]

Although Nattens Madrigal – Aate Hymne til Ulven i Manden has been immortalized in black metal history with the myth of being recorded in a forest due to its extremely low fidelity production, it’s actually Vargnatt that holds such a distinction. Recorded in Norway’s Trollforest in 1993 when all of the band members were still teenagers,1…

Darkthrone – Soulside Journey

Now one of the longest-running acts in modern heavy metal, Darkthrone’s humble beginnings as a technical death metal band were chronicled in their 1991 debut for Peaceville Records,1 Soulside Journey. A far cry from the “Unholy Trinity”2 that inspired a whole generation of sound-alikes and became necessary listening for any black metal enthusiast, Darkthrone’s debut…

Behemoth – Bewitching the Pomerania [EP]

Bewitching the Pomerania is proof-of-concept death metal by Polish extreme music elites Behemoth. Produced and released in 1997, the extended-play marks the group’s shift from harsh, volkisch black metal to philosophically-inclined death metal – with which the group has remained for their past two decades of existence. Although not an essential addition to anyone’s death metal…