Nevoa – The Absence of Void [Portugal, Atmospheric Black] (2015)

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Altare Productions | 6-29-15

Altare Productions | 6-29-15

For the most part, location and place of origin is only cosmetic when evaluating music. Sure it is interesting to highlight certain scenes and possible movements based on region and good records from places with other good records is something of note. I would be lying if I said that the fact that this atmospheric black metal record was rom Portugal did not give a reason for a second glance. This is not because Portugal is lacking in heavy metal bands rather that their metal bands seem to be operating at normal capacity with the majority still unheard. This country is about to explode.

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Shaidar Logoth – Chapter II: The Ritualist [US, Black/Drone] (2015)

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Self Released | 3-1-15

Self Released | 3-1-15

Well, okay. This is something interesting. Shaidar Logoth seems to be the side project for Adam Clemans current front man for the Profound Lore act Wolvhammer and onetime vocalist for Veil of Maya and Steven Henningsgard who already collaborated with the singer for Iron Thrones. Though all bands involved are under the extreme metal umbrella, the work for Shaidar Logoth is something different. Chapter II: The Ritualist continues the band’s near silent lamentation of noise, despair, and complete obliteration of the self.

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Akhlys – The Dreaming I [US, Black] (2015)

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Debemur Morti Productions | 4-20-15

Debemur Morti Productions | 4-20-15

It shouldn’t be a surprise that US based black metal project Akhlys has some sort of ground swell with its second record The Dreaming I. First of all, the project’s creator Naas Alcameth also made waves last year with Season of Mist act Nightbringer and their 2014 record Ego Dominus Tuus. If one was left with any burning questions after Nightbringer’s record came to a close, Akhlys is here for an afterparty in the voids where nightmares and dreams spill into one.

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Eternal Valley – Ascend To The Unknown [US, Black / Ambient] (2015)

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Self Released | 3-18-15

Self Released | 3-18-15

Sometimes one knows they are going to enjoy a record. A one man black metal project who self releases black metal records about cosmic themes and obliteration? Yep, this should be simple. Eternal Valley was already halfway in the door just by glancing at previous records and album artwork. The deal was sealed however at the oozing synth which washed over the album’s opener “Path To An Astral Existence.” Sometimes riding on convention allows like minded people to flock in droves to a star which just about to collapse and die.

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Crom Dubh – Heimweh [UK, Atmospheric Black] (2015)

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Ván Records | 3-29-15

Ván Records | 3-29-15

Crom Dubh is interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all this 4 piece is interesting for their addition into the UK extreme metal scene whose both black and death production has been fantastic in the last couple of years. Second of all, Crom Dubh’s debut Heimweh is worthy of note specifically for the band’s employment of the atmospheric style which is smooth and well oiled. Heimweh comes on the wings of a few other silent demos and EP releases and is even now shining bright on a lonely hill waiting for more people to show up. Though audience is relative, Crom Dubh’s relative obscurity is surprising given the sound which could be appealing to a wide spectrum of listeners. Perhaps Heimweh will be the time which the sky cracks open and pours ink black water over this land.

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Ecferus – Prehistory [US, Ambient / Black] (2015)

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Fragile Branch Recordings | 2-6-16

Fragile Branch Recordings | 2-6-16

Ecferus comes with a lot of discussion even before the music begins. Prehistory is the debut from a one person black metal bedroom project which is particularly interested and dedicated to anthropology and primitive mythology. Prehistory was released by a small label who also was responsible in distributing 2014’s Woven Within by the very decent and capable Ad Infinitum. The release also comes wrapped in one of the more intriguing covers by illustrator Rose Proctor. Even if Prehistory was terrible, I would be a little bit entertained. The fact that the music is as good as it surrounding ceremony is fantastic.

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A Forest Of Stars – Beware the Sword You Cannot See [UK, Psychedelic Black] (2015)

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Lupus Lounge | 2-27-15

Lupus Lounge | 2-27-15

Would you look at that cover? I literally have zero idea what is happening between the dragons, beasts, and goddamn robots. A Forest of Stars comes with a mountain of expectations with their name, album title, and general style of “psychedelic” black metal. It would be easier if this band was just disciples of post rock and made long black metal landscapes which had crescendos and piano interludes. The fact that this British band has so much more weird shit in their album is cause for pause, praise, and possibly alarm.

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Ghost Bath – Moonlover [International, DSBM] (2015)

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Northern Silence | 3-17-15

Northern Silence | 3-17-15

One of the most surprising development of this year was the proverbial explosion of Chinese depressive black metal act Ghost Bath. Last year, this site reviewed their debut Funeral which was a soul wrenching experience full of piano and pained cries. Though I shouldn’t be surprised at the potential this band had on a larger audience, it is still exciting to see the project get tossed around between larger sites and blogs. Moonlover is the band’s second release in a short time and continues the focus of emotionally scared black metal which is incredibly sensitive regarding mortality.

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Addaura – …and the Lamps Expire [US, Black] (2015)

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Self Released | 1-19-15

Self Released | 1-19-15

Atmospheric black metal experienced a partial renaissance and partial burn out in the mid 00’s. I say both because the dreamy style which was pioneered by 90’s black metal bands and made famous by others a decade later saw relative stardom in non metal blogs and publications. Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, Skagos, and a tent full of other bands quickly made a handful of albums which ranged from the not so decent to the pretty good. Part of my discontent for atmospheric black, as well as the post rock template which is infused to its core, was how easy it was to connect to feelings of beauty. The twinkling guitars and contrast between soft and harsh sections over long tracks made it easy for wonder and profound contemplation. It is going to take a really good atmospheric black metal release to begin to break this hard shell of indifference.

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Aquilus – Griseus [Australia, Symphonic Black] (2014)

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Blood Music | 12-21-14

Blood Music | 12-21-14

The difference between symphonic black and atmospheric black maybe small to some but large to others. For the most part, atmospheric black metal has been the preferred style for musicians as it can work with varying levels of production. Symphonic or neoclassical black metal has had less of recent history only becasue it weighs down a band into a certain sound. I only make mention of this history as it seems symphonic/ neoclassical black is the more antiqued style. This is important because when returning to the sound, a well crafted record could bring back all of these warm and strange emotions.

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