Now this is how you combine ambient/atmospheric music with black metal. Titaan appeared out of nowhere earlier this year and dropped easily one of the most impressive debut albums I have heard in years. What is most impressive is the organic way in which Titaan’s sole member Lalartu is able to organically weave in dark ambient sections and even silence in between absolutely feral blasts of black metal, both building suspense and heightening the intensity of the album’s ferocious moments. This is one that you will want to listen to as a whole and truly immerse yourself in as it careens between utterly oppressive aural onslaughts and engrossing atmospheric sections. The multi-layered vocals also deserve a mention as they blur the line between brutal death grunts and savage blackened shrieks. If you like your occult black metal to take you on a spiritual journey into the heart of darkness, look no further.
|Cover art by Morkh|
Released in late 2015, Serpents Athirst Heralding Ceremonial Mass Obliteration is another gem of black/death metal out of Sri Lanka. Following in the footsteps of the mighty Genocide Shrines, but bringing enough of their own flavor to the mix, this is one fans of rabid and vicious metal will not want to miss. Eschewing the cavernous death metal sound that is so prolific right now in favor of something far more visceral and intense, Serpents Athirst have made a bold statement with this three-song assault. Utilizing razor sharp riffs that will rend flesh from bone and an absolutely filthy vocal assault puts many black and death metal vocalist’s to shame Heralding will leave you battered, broken and terrified in just under 12 minutes. Can’t wait to hear a full length from these hellraisers.
|Artwork by Boris Haimov|
Israel isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of Luciferian black metal, but that is going to change if Mortuus Umbra has their way. Released towards the tail end of 2015, this excellent EP has sadly slipped under most people’s radars despite its undeniable quality. Catechism manages to achieve the same dissonant and enveloping atmosphere Deathspell Omega are masters of without ever entering into copycat territory. Add to that some truly memorable riffs, expressive and varied screams and an excellent production job, hitting that perfect balance that Watain did on albums like Sworn to the Dark, and you have an occult black metal release that is more than worthy of your dollars and your time.
|Artwork by Noir Soufre|
This is Virvel av Morkerhatet’s first release since their 2010 debut, but it was definitely worth the six-year wait. Virvel aren’t afraid to show off their technical proficiency on this slab of forward thinking black metal. In fact, it is their ability to utilize various time signatures and angular riffs to create an alien atmosphere that really helps this Ukrainian band stand apart from the overpopulated black metal scene. Even more impressive is the band’s ability to balance their precise riffs with quality songwriting, easily avoiding the technical wankery trap bands this proficient often fall into. This is one that will give you a lot of replay value, as there is lots of variety and nuance to discover as you delve deeper and deeper into it’s 50 minute run time. Not quite as a much of a mind-fuck as Dodheimsgard’s latest, but just as engrossing, give this one a shot if you prefer your black metal shooting for the stars as opposed to the basement.