Friday, January 16, 2015

The Year of Hellenic Darkness

Written by Andy Osborn.

Over the course of the past two years, the Greek black metal scene has easily become my favorite in the world. Those who have studied their history know that the Hellenics were pumping out magnificent blasphemies just as well as the Scandinavians during the early nineties, but in recent years a new wave of Greek titans, heralded by a few long-running groups, has come into prominence and made their country proud with devilishly brilliant releases. And in 2014 the planets aligned and resulted in one of the most incredible territorial-specific offerings in modern metal history. Every month there was a ground-shaking release from somewhere on the ancient peninsula, encompassing all kinds of evil hymns and exhortations.

Some albums have previously appeared on these pages, but the amount of brilliant Greek black metal uploaded to Bandcamp in 2014 is just even too staggering to fully explore. I did my best to round-up the best releases from the land of democracy and decline, but this is just the tip of the world-shattering iceberg.

Injekting Khaos - Injekting Khaos
Artwork by Viral Graphics

While this came out in 2013, Injecting Khaos’ self-titled EP went criminally unnoticed; even more of a shame since the band promptly split up after its release. Furious and dark, the highlight of the 5 tracks is the superbly pronounced low end, something almost completely unheard of in black metal. [Note: Vinyl copies of the EP are available on the Blastbeat Mailmurder Bandcamp].

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Lord Impaler - The Serpent Seal
Cover art by Petros F.

A band who has mastered the art of short releases, Lord Impaler have been going strong for 15 years yet only have one full-length under their bullet belts. Just like last year’s impressive Babylon Whore EP, The Serpent Seal is full of shorter songs that constantly switch things up. Consisting of re-recordings from their early days, this is a great little release for those with melodic sensibilities who like to be kept on their toes.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

A Diadem of Dead Stars - The Mist Bearer 

With a band name that’s clearly a nod to Wolves in the Throne Room, it’s not surprising this one-man project reeks of Cascadian influence. This dreamy debut is about to be physically released on Pest Productions, the world’s foremost authority on black metal dripping with atmosphere. It won't convert any skeptics of the style, but it’s perfect for those looking to get hypnotized in a sea of fog.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Human Serpent - The Gradual Immersion in Nihilism
Artwork by Moornebheym

Although the album has one of the most terrifying covers I've ever seen, the music is surprisingly accessible. Following the left hand path of greats like Taake and Sargeist, Human Serpent play raw black metal with an uncanny ear for melody and catchy guitar work.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Varathron - Untrodden Corridors of Hades
Artwork by Mark Riddick

One of the country’s most well known blackened exports, Varathron has been honing their craft for a quarter century, and it shows. Coupling pure evil with an epic atmosphere and worship of all things mid-paced, the sonic wonders to be explored are never-ending. More progressive than you would expect, Untrodden Corridors of Hades is best served with a glass of fine wine and an open mind.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Thy Darkened Shade - Liver Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet
Artwork by Vamperess Imperium

Without question my favorite black metal release of the year, everything about this album is absolutely mindblowing. The frenetic riffs and dizzying guitar work is a nonstop barrage for the album’s length as the hymns to Lucifer only get more impressive by the minute. And the stunning production highlights the mind-bending bass performance, one of the best in black metal history.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Principality of Hell - Fire & Brimstone 

Principality of Hell don’t try to hide the fact they worship the early cohort of black metal, in fact, they embrace it. The title track’s chant of “black fucking metal!” is just one of the many boot-stomping, fist-pumping moments on this grin-inducing debut. A side project featuring the country’s elite with members from Necromantia, Ravencult, and Thou Art Lord, the rock n’ roll solos and beer guzzling anthems are as fun an homage to the early days as you can get.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Spectral Lore / Nachtreich - The Quivering Lights 

Spectral Lore’s unbelievable III was given a lot of attention in 2014, but they also quietly released a split with Nachtreich late last year. The Germans provide soothing neoclassical pieces which rub off on Spectral Lore’s hypnotic, dazzling blasts. The entire split is painfully pretty, but will even appeal to those with darker intentions as former Dark Fortress vocalist Azathoth contributes vocals on “Ghost Lights”. [Note: the download comes with the tracks in the wrong order. The correct one is listed on the Bandcamp.]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Diablery - Architect

In a style that’s become a punchline in recent years, Diablery’s Architect is a breath of fresh, icy air into the orchestral black metal world. The symphonic orchestrations are pronounced, but not overwhelming or overly bombastic. The long, varied album of triumphant anthems is held together by drummer Jan Westermann’s fantastic performance.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Goetic Equivalent - Goetic Equivalent

Taking cues from both the Second Wave and the current USBM scene, sole maniac Filer channels nihilistic dark energy in this debut. For a unknown solo artist with a drum machine this is a fantastic foray into the beauty that is evil black metal. The tempo changes and frenetic guitar work make this stand out among the hordes of mediocrity.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2014, A Diadem of Dead Stars, Andy Osborn, black metal, Diablery, Goetic Equivalent, Human Serpent, Injekting Khaos, Lord Impaler, Nachtreich, Principality of Hell, Spectral Lore, Thy Darkened Shade, Varathron
  1. I've been noticing quite a few excellent Metal bands from Greece in general that have been producing some amazing music it's like Greece is in the midst of Metal Renascence or something.

    1. Very true. I wonder if the deluge is a (happy) coincidence, or if it's tried to the economic crisis they've had the last few years.