Black Lion Records, an extreme metal label not to be confused with the jazz label which operated through the 80’s, were founded in Sweden in 2012, and have quietly released a number of great “sleeper” albums since. Representing a variety of subgenres, Black Lion’s current roster includes 17 artists with a high volume of black and doom releases.
Frowning – Extinct
One-man funeral doom outfit Frowning released their second album, Extinct, in February. The album moves slowly but with great weight. Multi-instrumentalist Val Atra Niteris weaves sad melodies between flattening guitars and mournful vocals. Furthering what started on the first Frowning record, Extinct still deals with death, suicide and depression, but does it on a more massive scale.
Vanha – Within the Mist of Sorrow
Within the Mist of Sorrow is perhaps the most mournful or depressing release to come from Black Lion. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Vanha’s debut pulls in everything necessary for an impressive doom record: heavy, plodding riffs that are met with melodies that move the songs along, reverb-laden vocals and a general feeling of melancholy. Songs like “The Curse” use keys and clean vocals to change the pace of the album before returning to distorted guitars and growls.
Carpatus – Malus Ascendant,
Carpatus deliver a rousing black metal record on Malus Ascendant, pairing fearsome tremolo picked/blast beat sections with mid-tempo black metal and even occasional acoustic or atmospheric passages. Their third full-length, which came eleven years after their second, Malus Ascendant is a strong return for Carpatus.
Sons ov Omega – Reign
Billing themselves as “Swedish Apocalyptic Occult Metal legions,” Sons ov Omega escape easy categorization. Appearances can be deceiving, as the face-painted band isn’t really the black metal horde they could be taken for. Sons ov Omega draw much of their sound from death metal’s melodic leanings while mixing in a healthy dose of black metal as well as as pensive, atmospheric instrumentals. The vocals on Reign are incredibly diverse too: a mixture of screams, growls and, surprisingly, powerful clean vocals. As far as first albums go, Reign is one that should put Sons ov Omega on the radar of epic black/death fans.
Temple of Demigod – The Great Old Ones
Not to be confused with the French black metal outfit their album shares a name with, Temple of Demigod craft elegant symphonic metal. The Armenian one-man band tempers blast beat-laden stretches with keys and guitars that recall the genre’s grandiose tendencies. Each song is given room to breathe, which makes the more raging moments on The Great Old Ones hold that much more weight, and vice-versa for the more epic, symphonic sections of the album.