So as not to make too much work for myself, I’m posting only my top five Black Metal albums of 2011. I should also mention that my fiscal year begins and ends on Halloween, but I’ll post this on New Year’s Eve for all you normie squares. Also, one really needs a couple of months to digest the albums fully, so albums released after October 31, 2011 do not apply here.
I did not review this album this year, but I thought it deserved mention. London’s Void only had one other release, Posthuman, and that was eight years ago. Posthuman is, by far, one of my all-time favorite industrial black metal albums—up there with classics by …And Oceans and Red Harvest. This self-titled album was a little disappointing because they threw in a lot of techy grind parts and featured fewer industrial parts, but even so, it’s very well done.
Vreid is one of those bands that stands apart from most black metal. They’re full-shred, they have skill, and their music speaks for itself, rather than any black metal ideology (I’m thinking Windir right now… oh wait, they used to BE Windir). The production value on this album is crisp, and the songs are heavy and black, yet fun and catchy. I also think the vocalist sounds a lot like Gallows from New York’s Mythology, which is a compliment to both bands. V has some classy solos, great melodies, devastating riffs and plenty to enjoy for all sorts of headbangers.
3. Urfaust – Der Freiwillige Bettler
This album is fucking brilliant. The riffs, the chord progressions, the key modulations, the tempo changes—all just brilliant. The production is perfect. Black metal producers, especially ones of the depressive variety, should use this album as reference. Der Freiwillige Bettler sets a very dark mood, it’s got some catchy melodies, and oh yeah… they have a motherfucking SINGER. He’s got the operatic vibrato and everything. This keeps the album fresh and interesting. The only thing keeping this album from being #2 is that the vocalist only seems able to say “yah yah yah”.
2. Blut Aus Nord – 777 Sect(s)
I’ve only been a modest fan of Blut Aus Nord until this album came out. A lot of the stuff on this album sounds like their typical mechanical blast beat atonal black metal, but there’s a few gems in there. Epitome II, IV and VI (that’s half the album right there) are slow, dark industrial pieces. They set an amazing mood that both engages you intellectually and works well as background music. Definitely a top pick of 2011.
1. Inquisition – Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
You know when you find that album that you have to listen to on repeat? This is one of those albums, except with one big difference: I fucking hate listening to the same album twice in one week. I don’t care what I’ve said in past reviews, this album has stood the test of time and I play the shit out of it on a weekly basis. The title track is absolutely glorious—it’s got that catchiness that makes melodic black metal bands jealous, yet it is so dismal and dark that it could rival Mayhem‘s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. And like Urfaust, the vocals are unique to typical black metal. In this case, they’re this jarring rattle that almost sounds inhuman—especially in “Desolate Funeral Chant”. Without contest, this wins black metal album of the year.
Honorable mention: Unexpect—Fables of the Sleepless Empire
Unexpect has long been a favorite of mine. I had to wait five years for this album, and it did not disappoint. I can’t say I’ve heard a better avant-garde metal band than Unexpect. But that’s just the reason I can’t put it on this list—it’s not black metal.
So there you have it—six albums that made 2011 a good year for this black metallist. [Just adding this to make 666 total words ~Ed.]
Forever Hail Mozym,
~Mutis Tkålomsen, The Breath of Mozym