Here we are folks – the second installment of Kvlt Kolvmn, Take Two, a monthly round-up of my top 10 favorite BM releases from the past 30 28 days. While I fully intended to make this an actually recurring segment, all of my time spent digging for new black metal has kept me stoked to come back here with new recommendations. It seems like every week I find a handful of new, invigorated albums that either venerate or progress one of my favorite genres. I will admit that February was a bit sparser than January, and I spent most of the month yearning for some big name albums dropping in March (more on that next month). Still, there was no shortage of great BM in February, and I’m excited once again to not only share these albums with you, but to also see your suggestions of releases I’ve missed out on but are definitely worth a spin.
Aeonus – 47303652367904000000 (Russia)
Musical pet peeve time—it bothers me when bands use numbers in their name and/or titles. I’m not sure why, but it does. That aside, I’m glad I overlooked this personal quirk and decided to check out Aeonus, yet another solid recommendation from my friend Dave Tremblay over at Can this Even Be Called Music?. The album is a relatively standard atmospheric BM album at its core, but some adventurous song structures and well-orchestrated synth symphonics elevate the music to an astral level. It reminded me of a high-fidelity/low-nationalist Burzum, especially with the use of synths and suffocating atmosphere. I guess you really can’t judge a band by their album cover (and the bastardized binary code slapped on it).
Ars Magna Umbrae – Through Lunar Gateways (Poland)
Though exceptional BM vocals are difficult to pull of well, nothing compares to a vocalist who’s able to find their own original portrayal of the style’s pure evil. And while I have to give props to Hekte Zaren and her beautiful guest vocals in the middle of the album, my heart truly lies with the savageness of D.A Khthōn, whose incredible shrieking snarl elevates the music he roars over. But make no mistake—everything about Khthōn’s debut as Ars Magna Umbrae is a musical triumph; the kind of atmospheric BM that isn’t afraid to blend aggression and progressive ideas into its expansive sonic landscapes. I know I don’t order the albums in these posts numerically, but if I did, this would likely be in the number one spot.
Chronovorus – Aphotic Mythos (United States)
This is easily the slowest album I’ve picked thus far, a fact which might turn off some speed-hungry BM fans. But Chronovorus are truly a funeral doom band with a BM heart that’s blackened to the core. Something I love about both genres is the intrinsic paradox of their riffing—melodies that sound as hopeful as they do riddled with despair. Chronovorous excel at this blend and more than make up for the lack of blast beats with rich, dense compositions.
Funeral Chant – Funeral Chant (United States)
Outside of Bathory, I’ve never been a huge fan of that sweet spot between BM and metal’s more traditional tendencies. I use “sweet spot” as a descriptor because of how excellent the style can be when it effectively layers the raw ugliness of BM atop well-executed metal traditionalism. Case in point—Funeral Chant, a band that epitomizes the phrase “best of both worlds.” To be fair, I may like the band as much as I do because of their heavier leaning toward BM, but there’s no denying those thick, pummeling riffs lying underneath. Prepare for some ugly metal goodness.
Grima – Tales of the Enchanted Woods (Siberia)
Seeing as I originally launched Kvlt Kolvmn by recommending Grima‘s Devotion to Lord, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to their latest album as well. Of course, it helps that the duo still has their incredible sound intact, complete with a soaring pagan BM that’s in sync with the frigid, Siberian landscapes that surrounds them. This album feels quite a bit colder than their debut, which leads to some more chilling, tragic melodies. There’s so much intricacy to the Band’s writing that I’d be surprised to find an atmospheric BM fan that wasn’t enamored with their style.
Jatayu Vadham – वासना (India)
Finding this bizarre looking BM demo from India may have perked my interest, but it was Jatayu Vadham‘s music that ended up intriguing me most. This short, three-song collection is essentially “BM-singer/songwriter,” with solo guitar compositions that feel improvisational in nature. The lack of other instruments (save for some buried drums here and there) may turn off some listeners, but I found this to be an incredibly interesting demo that left me curious for what else the project has in store. Here’s to hoping we get a proper full-length in the near future.
Lorn – Arrayed Claws (Italy)
If you’re reading this after it’s just gone live, you might have noticed that Jonathan featured Lorn in an HLT earlier today, a complete accident that proves great minds think alike. More importantly, though, proves that Lorn are an essential listen for 2017 BM that you should spin immediately. This easily ties Ars Magna Umbrae as my favorite BM album of the month—its incredible marriage of chaos and atmosphere falls somewhere between Bestia Arcana and Deathspell Omega, two bands I don’t compare to lightly. I’ll echo Jonathan’s words here: Arrayed Claws is a “lethal dose of black metal that demands multiple listens, and will satisfy and terrify each time.”
Pure Wrath – Ascetic Eventide (Indonesia)
In a thread in our blot staff group, Eden referred to Pure Wrath as a quintessential example of Saor-core (in a good way), and it’s hard to disagree. from the landscape painting on the cover to the sweeping melodies, this Indonesian-born atmospheric BM handily carries on the torch despite being quite a ways away from the nearest evergreen (I think…I’m not really well-versed in the botany of Indonesia). Saor’s Guardians may have just come out late last year, but anyone who’s already yearning for a follow-up will find Ascetic Eventide to be a more-than-proper intermission.
Ungfell – Tôtbringære (Switzerland)
Tôtbringære was the first new BM album I found in February, and boy did it start off the month on a high note. In all honesty, I usually can’t stand medieval/renaissance themes in metal; it feels too campy for my taste. But Ungfell present these influences in a way that makes me envision the most depraved medieval fair imaginable, a mental picture that easily quelled my skepticism. It certainly helps that the BM is also on point, making for a total package that’s rewarding for its substance and its risks.
Wintergeist – Der schwere Weg (Germany)
Winter in the title? Check. Germany? Check. Romantic-style painting of a winter landscape? Check. Now all you need is some solid, pagan BM to back all of this up, something Wintergeist offers in spades. The band’s preferred BM style is a straightforward romp with free-wheeling vocals, and the overall simpler approach helps to create a contrast that elevated the moments of pure beauty throughout the track listing. Sometimes you need a meat-and-potatoes slab of BM, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of that this month than Der schwere Weg.