Lychgate – The Contagion in Nine Steps

Metal, usually black metal, that’s made under the avant-garde auspices tends to have this grandiose flair to it which seems to come from opera and from the theater, in vocals and instruments both. In that sense, Lychgate are perhaps not the best example of the genre. While enough touches of the avant-garde style exist on The Contagion in Nine Steps to merit the moniker (like the synths on “Republic”, which open the album or the vocals on the selfsame track), those touches are enveloped in so much sounds from atmospheric black metal and doom that they often lose definition. But this might not be a bad thing; it makes The Contagion in Nine Steps a more approachable album than, let’s say, Dødheimsgard’s A Umbra Omega and less overbearing than album like Aenaon’s Hypnosophy.

Panegyrist – Hierurgy

I’m not exactly unveiling a deep or hidden truth when I say that the occult has been one of – if not the – most prevailing lyrical themes of metal music since its inception. In fact, I’m pretty sure  being a metal band and not having at least one song about Satanism…

Howling Sycamore – Howling Sycamore

Howling Sycamore is a supergroup which does interesting things within the avant-garde milieu but also does much that doesn’t immediately fall into the definition. Comprised of the cream of the crop of progressive metal, namely Jason McMaster (Watchtower), Davide Tiso (Ephel Duath), and Hannes Grossman (Necrophagist, Obscura), Howling Sycamore’s self-titled debut is a whirling mass of influences, ideas and composition drawn from the diverse world of progressive metal. These ideas, however, have been fed through a mirror darkly and now carry a distinctly sinister vibe that is wholly avant-garde. The result is an album that is often bewildering and scattered but which also feels convinced of where it’s heading, as paradoxical as that might sound.

Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis

While Akercocke aren’t necessarily what one would call a legendary band, they’re definitely a cult favorite, and very well-revered by those who know of them. As such, their disappearance was a big blow to fans of progressive death metal. Back in the day, Opeth and Akercocke were one of the…

NYN Prepares To Unleash Entropy

I’m not sure if this disclaimer is even necessary anymore, but just in case: NYN, an excellent death metal project all on its own is also the brain child of Noyan Tokgözoğlu, one of our chief editors and a good friend of mine. Regardless, as with previous releases, I am recommending new music from NYN based on its merit; I truly believe that the project upcoming album, Entropy: Of Chaos and Salt, is huge step up in the project’s history and is an amazing album of technical music. Don’t believe me? What about if I told that none other than Tom Geldschläger (ex-Obscura, Fountainhead) not as an album contributor but as a full fledged member of the project? And what if I added Jimmy Pitts (Scholomance, Pitts Minnemann Project) on keyboards, lending the entire album a veneer of elegance and pomposity? I bet you’re interested now. Head on down below for even more details.

Nightbringer – Terra Damnata

In some circles, USBM has long been a dirty acronym. Much reviled for its less-than-trve-kvlt aesthetic, black metal originating from the United States has seldom been considered an equal with its European peers. Over the past decade, several bands have begun to chink away at the wall of cynicism surrounding USBM to varying degrees of success. Nightbringer is one of these bands. If you have not heard their music before, think the bombast of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk-era Emperor, coupled with a slightly less insane mix of Deathspell Omega’s freneticism, the sonic oddness of Dodheimsgard, and the chilling atmosphere of Blut Aus Nord.

Aenaon – Hypnosophy

When looking through a tag in music curation services, encountering “avant-garde black metal” means clicking play will either result in something incredible or terrible. Few artists have the combination of self-irreverence, self-respect, sense of the fundamentals and how to think outside of them to be able to pull off the latter. As if that’s not enough, take a black metal band, add a saxophone, power metal-esque clean singing, a blues/jazz tint – does it sound potentially disastrous already? Several bands this year alone have attempted this formula and failed. Well, good news is, the Greek masterminds Aenaon have totally nailed it with Hypnosophy.