Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Flare in the Northern Sky - Cosmic Black Metal Roundup

Written by Calen Henry.

Upon reflection it’s not actually all that surprising that there’s so much space themed black metal. After all, when one tires of trying to capture the sound of a cold Scandinavian forest what’s colder than the void of space? Travel with me through the void as I present some of my picks.

Cover art by Luciana Nedelea

This is the album that started me down the rabbit hole of cosmic black metal and still my favourite. Phobos Monolith mixes blistering tremolo riffs over lightning blast-beats with soaring melodic leads and spacey ambient passages to come up with Blut Aus Nord from space. My only complaint is that the programmed drums can’t keep up with the astounding quality of the rest of the music but that’s hardly the musician’s fault.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Mesarthim takes an almost comically obvious route of combining black metal with cheesy new age keyboard riffs. It’s like the soundtrack to an 80’s science documentary by Emperor. The ridiculous thing is it works incredibly well. This is partly due to the excellent composition in both the black metal and synth parts ending up with something like “black metal Muse” and partly due to the utter commitment in the vocals. The album is also DR 11 meaning very little dynamic range compression was used, making it sound excellent.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Daharaka is Turkish for “blacker” and he certainly is. Unlike some of the other cosmic black metal artists Daharaka sounds like second wave black metal played from space. His guitars and riffs are fuzzy and amorphous but rather than take the kvlt route of trebling it’s guts out he’s applied some effects that give similar results but sound very spacey. There’s something slightly off with the vocals that prevent me from outright loving the album but his unique approach deserves to be experienced. Trve kvlt space metal.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Cover painting by Brian Smith ("By Midnight", 2010)

Tome of the Unreplenished takes the tried and true melodic black metal approach of bands like Rotting Christ and Thou Art Lord and takes it to space. Complete with chanting and “Hellenic” tremolo riffs.

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Cover art by Dis Pater

Midnight Odyssey leans more towards the ambient and slow side of things that the other bands on this list for a sound that’s kind of “blackened Enya”. Be warned, though, the album is ridiculously long; 2 hours and 20 minutes.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Art by Paolo Girardi

While quite musically different from the previous five bands you can’t talk about space black metal without its original purveyors, Inquisition. Guaranteed to be the catchiest black metal about space Satan sung by a toad that you’ve ever heard.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2014, 2015, ambient black metal, atmospheric black metal, Calen Henry, Dahakara, experimental black metal, I Voidhanger Records, Inquisition, Mare Cognitum, Mesarthim, Midnight Odyssey, Tome of the Unreplenished
1 comment:
  1. Wow. As a huge fan of BM and Enya this is a real treasure trove. Thank you! That is the best description of Inquisition I've ever heard.