Despite the bubbling growth of Black Metal in popularity and artistic variety, there’s a saying that Black Metal is corrupt, dumbed down for the masses, not true to itself any more. This saying has been around with Black Metal fans since the mid-90’s, disregarding the fact that their ideas of how the genre should remain crystallized forever has been disproven time and again by most of the Black Metal giants. But still, one could ask ; are there new bands in 2022 able to carry the legacy of crude and stripped-down Black Metal onwards? Keeping it interesting while not succumbing to the « modern » temptations of cross-genre bastardization, « Post- » style songwriting or, worst of all, clean production ?
Well, yes. Quite a lot actually, and one does not have to take a conservative stance to enjoy those for what they are : a mix of hommage to the genre greats, musical refinement, and raw feelings expression. Here are seven among many.
Lycopolis – Amduat I & II
Black Metal – Egypt
Despite the obvious obstacles, Black Metal is ever growing even in countries enforcing strict puritanical censorship. Lycopolis are hailing from Egypt and they don’t fuck around.
While it certainly sounds cliché to say they bring an “oriental” touch in their riffs and leads, not only is it undeniable but it doesn’t stop them from delivering crude Black Metal from start to end. In this two-part album Lycopolis offer a sound harsh and dry as a sandstorm with an uncompromising old-school vibe ; the drums and the riffs feel of old Venom and Darkthrone, and the yelling is scorched as can be. This is honest, authentic and immersive Black Metal : a journey into the remains of the City of Wolves, swallowed up by dust and dunes.
Lunae Aurae – Demo I
Darkwave / Black Metal – Ecuador
As always, South America is keeping the Kvlt alive. This new band ticks all the boxes from the underground with a short and unpolished demo, raw-to-the-core sound and aesthetics, an esoteric / vampyric edge, Owl screams as vocals and spooky vibes.
But there is a bit more to Lunae Aurae that will lure you back again and again : their excellent take on synths to build haunting melodies not only for intros and transitions, but also in both ‘long’ songs of the demo, especially “Ls Brjs Cntn Ngrs Hchzs” that literally qualifies as a decadent Black metal Waltz.
Raw, dungeon-crawling Black Metal with a heavy dose of synth gloom, just like Satan intended.
Faceless Entity – The Great Anguish of Rapture
Funeral Black Metal – Netherlands
Needless to say the Netherlands holds one of the most prolific and interesting Black Metal scenes today. Between the bigger names like Laster or Fluisteraars, Faceless Entity took a darker path : looking at Death itself in the eye, and lose themselves and their audience in the most fundamental anguish in human existence.
And they do so with an uncompromising formula : slow, nasty Black Metal oozing with fear and malice. Raw sounding, yet very efficient ; each song in The Great Anguish of Rapture has a couple of signature riffs like mantras dwelling in the listener’s mind. The Faceless Entity is a hypnotic force, both repulsive and fascinating ; come mourn the dead and the living with it.
Shapeless – He Who Whispers across all Dimensions
Occult Black Metal – Australia
For those who want the thrills, Shapeless will come crawling for you from the depths of cosmos, and into the great void. He Who Whispers Across All Dimensions is 20+ minutes of esoteric Black Metal, meandering from convoluted synths to terrifying waves of riffing and screaming, somewhere between Darkspace and Blut Aus Nord.
Shapeless stand on a certain sophisticated side of Black Metal ; while the feeling and production remain foggy and mysterious, the compositions are intricate and masterfully crafted at the service of metaphysical anguish. As they put it themselves :
All consciousness, order, organisation, and attempts to subvert physical and psychic destruction are meaningless. Surrender.
Black Metal – Greece
There’s a rumor in town ; Ayloss, the entity behind the RABM spearhead project Spectral Lore, might not be a simple human but rather a collective of humanoid creatures able to work simultaneously under a hive mind. This is, according to our experts, the most plausible explanation to their various output that shows both high quality and coherence.
Not long after the last Spectral Lore album, followed by a Mystras album, then the Clarent Blade Epic Heavy Metal endeavour, and simultaneously to the Psychedelic BM Fortress of the Pearl, Ayloss unleashes Auriferous Flame upon us. This is, according to him (them ?), a classic, stripped down tribute to old school Atmospheric Black Metal. And while it certainly has all the qualities of 90’s atmo BM, one can still feel the maestro’s very own particular riffing alchemy, subtly twisting one of the most headbanging BM releases of the year.
Wraithlord – A Dance in the Ghostlight
Black Metal – USA
One of the awesome things about the USBM scene is, let aside its musical and artistic variety, its contingent of solo artists capable of taking whatever aspects they like about Heavy Metal in general, make it into their own take of Black Metal that’s true to the genre but also refreshing and fun, and do so with an absurdly high-frequency output.
Everyone already knows of Lamp of Murmuur at this point, but there’s also Mäleficientt and a few others… Among them Wraithlord, to whom we owe already three full-length albums and one cover album this year alone. There’s a lot in his music : old school Heavy Metal, Post-Punk, Death Rock, even Surf Rock vibes. But make no mistake, Wraithlord remains Black Metal at all times : fierce, cold, epic, unforgiving. And goddamn fun.
Gusforladt – Friendship, Love and War
Raw, Epic Black Metal – USA
Let’s be honest, Black Metal is always the same. A bunch of dudes screaming in high-pitched voice, squealing tremolo riffs, terrible production, blah blah blah [insert low effort Black Metal meme here].
So, why does it keep working ? Why do we keep looking for new basement-dwelling stuff ? Because no matter how often Black Metal artists borrow or copycat from one another, no matter how all BM artists are doomed to walk on giant’s shoulders for eternity, there’s always someone, somewhere, re-twisting those few constitutive elements to pull out something that will grab your guts and take them for a few dozens of minutes of pure, transcendant worship.
Gusforladt got it all. The screams, the riffs, the keys, the nasty textures, the sense of haste and the highly, HIGHLY epic rides… With a few specific twists though ; just wait to get to the Morricone-esque glory of Heads Bowed in Silent Prayer. Pure, epic Black Metal worship that will make you holler, ready to grab a sword and fence towards any kind of orc, dragon or landlord.