Der Weg einer Freiheit – Finisterre

Germany is a stunning country. From the odd, historically juxtaposed vistas of Berlin, to the mist-covered streets of Hamburg, or the lush solitude of Burgstadt, it is a beautiful tapestry of rich and horrifying history, amazing beer, and incredible architecture. With such a fantastic backdrop it is somewhat surprising, unfortunately, that Germany is not particularly known for its homegrown metal scene. While the country is not without its fair share of well-known bands of the heavy variety (Kreator, Rammstein, Caliban, and The Ruins of Beverast to name a few), the nation’s black metal scene has never been an especially notable one. Der Weg einer Freiheit (DWEF from here on out) set out to change that with their own distinct flavor of post-/atmoblack, flying surprisingly mostly under the radar as their first few records received marginal amounts of buzz. However, in 2014 their third full-length album, Stellar, made waves in the scene with an absolutely stunning assault of black metal ambition that landed them on many a metal year-end list (including that of yours truly). It was a panoramic, emotionally invigorating record that catapulted the band’s already solid reputation into the stratosphere. With the release of their fourth record¸ this year’s Finisterre, the band are posed with the challenge of following up their best record with something equally impactful. On every count, they have succeeded. If you have been sleeping on this band, awake. We are witnessing the rise of a group that is sure to become the bedrock of German metal for years to come.

Cormorant – Diaspora

Sometimes you put on a record and the music cascading into your head gives you a jolt straight up your spine. That opening salvo is everything you want, pushing all the right buttons and getting your blood pumping, your heart racing, and your mind zeroed in on nothing but the music. Pure, unadulterated sound that fills you with elation, an exuberance you can barely contain. I have been overcome by this sensation many times as a music listener. It’s that uncommon state of absolute and unashamed excitement for what comes next. Unfortunately, what actually comes next doesn’t always live up to that initial rush, either by sheer sugar rush effect or simply because the remaining tracks on the album aren’t up to the standards set by the opening track. What it comes down to is that many albums are good, but few are great. It is a truth that music lovers have to accept every time that damned opening track teases us into blind, all-encompassing hope that the rest of the album will live up to the soaring heights of those first few, precious moments. Cormorant’s new album Diaspora gave me this feeling I just described. But in those first few incredible moments, I couldn’t help wondering whether this reaction would persist. What resulted over the next hour was a thoroughly remarkable journey that I have relived and revisited many times since then. TL;DR: This album is profoundly good.

Mavradoxa – Lethean Lament

New York-based post-black metal duo Mavradoxa made a quick turnaround with the follow-up to their 2016 debut, Sojourners, a record that wore its love for Agalloch and on its metaphorical and literal sleeves. Lethean Lament picks up right where Sojourners left off, and despite the brief period between releases, Lament is a fuller, more developed, and polished version of the band, one that also benefits from a much-improved mix. Essentially, Lethean Lament is what you’d expect from a quality post-black metal record: adventurously long tracks, gush-worthy cleans, charred in-your-face passages, and some tasteful string arrangements thrown in for good measure. At a glance, it’s a superbly-composed love letter to the the genre, skillfully pairing elegant and embellished passages with malicious affronts, while sharpening the effects of each against one another.

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog – Romanticism and Black Metal

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “”Understanding romantic aesthetics is not a simple undertaking for reasons that are internal to the nature of the subject. Distinguished scholars, such as Arthur Lovejoy, Northrop Frye and Isaiah Berlin, have remarked on the notorious challenges facing any attempt to define romanticism. Lovejoy, for…