As long as you know where to look, there’s always new bands to discover, no matter how specific or granular your stylistic preferences may be. This is especially true now in the age of Bandcamp and Spotify, which presents a seemingly limitless landscape of sonic hills to mine for hidden gems of musical brilliance. However, this can be pretty overwhelming too, and can cause many of us to retreat to the bands we already know and feel comfortable with.
For the past few months, I’ve been trying to dig through these channels of exploration to find some solid raw and melodic black metal. Think stuff like Nattens Madrigal-era Ulver, the French Les Legions Noire scene, and Gorgoroth’s first three albums, and you’ll get my drift. I know there are plenty of bands that have emerged since the mid-1990’s, but I wanted to see what bands were active now. After sifting through dozens of bands and broadening my scope a bit to include some depressive stuff, I narrowed down the list to bands I really liked. I also tried to gather acts that haven’t been covered yet by Invisible Oranges or No Clean Singing, who always seem to beat me to the punch.
So if you want to check out some raw (but not necessarily Ildjarn/Akitsa-level raw) black metal from newer bands with varying shades of melody, atmosphere and menace, perhaps you’ll enjoy the music listed below.
This was the closest thing to what I was originally looking for. It should come as no surprise that the band comes from Finland, a country whose black metal hordes have long specialized in creating black metal that’s both ferociously raw and irresistibly catchy. The production is perfect, the riffs are amazing, and the tempos vary enough to not let the album get stale. The vocals are a bit of an acquired taste, but after some adjusting they meld with the music just fine. Additionally, there’s a triumphant heavy metal flair that creeps in from time to time as well, which gives Riivaus something to set it apart from other more melancholy Finnish bands.
According to its Facebook page, “Nyctophilia does not support commercial and main stream press.” Well, hopefully Grief, the band’s sole member, doesn’t mind being brought up in this article. Poland’s Nyctophilia combines a punishing, in-your-face assault with a depressive sensibility that harkens back to bands like Weakling, Xasthur and Leviathan. Through this dark and fierce sound, Grief intends to “cross the borders of my mind and body to show people how pathetic their life can be and how blind they are in today’s world.”
Ok, so what if you want something “melodic” in a more grandiose Swedish sense (think bands like Vinterland, Naglfar and Sacramentum)? Well, then perhaps the glorious conductors of the cosmos in Atra Vetosus can help you with that. Vocalist Josh “Thorodan” Gee has a dynamic style all his own that combines a variety of shouting and screaming techniques to fit the mesmerizing power of the guitars, bass and drums. If any band on this list is destined for wider success in the metal world, I’d put my money on these Tasmanian maniacs.
Style: Raw atmospheric/melodic
Another Finnish band. Like many contemporary black metal acts (e.g. Cosmic Church, Mare Cognitum), Antimateria likes to write songs about space and the cosmos. In an interview, sole member Ahma talks about anti-matter, the CERN super-collider project and about his hope that “one day they really would be able to make a black hole which eventually would swallow the whole solar system and so on, I would only call that a justice of nature.” As for the music, it bears many of the hallmarks of melodic Finnish black metal while adding some synths and non-metal instruments as well.
The project of one Marc Huszar, the entrancing and depressive Ühtceare is one of a few acts he fronts, which also includes the progressive/post-metal act that bears his surname. The song below is from a compilation put together by Death Kvlt Productions. The combination of roaring and flowing black metal with the well-placed synths evokes the spirit of a symphony orchestra, or the grand blaze at the dawn of the earth.
Style: Raw black metal
Nox is probably the most straightforward second-wave style band on this list. Their full-length debut had some promising moments on it, but there were some rough edges to work out in terms of tempo and song composition. The band did a great job of pulling everything together on their EP in 2016, so let’s hope they carry this perfectionist approach to pure black metal with them on a future album’s worth of material.