As I write this, it’s summertime here in the United States, which means sun, heat and beach time, along with my sudden and temporary taste for shandy-style beers. It’s the perfect time for albums like Considered Dead, Blessed Are the Sick and Effigy of the Forgotten. But it’s not exactly the most fitting atmosphere for the reverb-drenched screeching and frosty guitar riffs of albums like Battles in the North. Or is it? Yes, it’s bright out, way too bright. But the sun always goes down at night. It may not be cold, but it’s dark, and the moon is freezing no matter what happens on Earth.
So with that in mind, I’ve gathered up 6 more great underground black metal bands that deserve your attention. Miss the first edition back in May of this year? Check it out over here to catch up!
Great atmospheric black metal often evokes some element of nature: trees, lakes, mountains, etc. This album from Germany’s Schattenfall immediately conjures images of epic thunderstorms, followed by a seemingly endless torrent of rain cleansing the landscape of the listener’s mind. You can tell a lot of thought went into making the record into a cohesive experience, from the title (which translates simply into “Shadow in Black”) to the album art. In a world of now very tired atmospheric black metal tropes, Schattenfall is the great flood that resets the world.
England’s Heathen Deity plays straightforward black metal inspired by the genre’s giants like Darkthrone, Satyricon, Mayhem and Gorgoroth. Consisting of two men going by the names Azrael and Dagon (no, not that one, chill out), the band has played events like Britian’s Blackwood Gathering and built a name for itself as a rock-solid, no frills black metal band. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when the one you already have rolls over everything in its path.
Pure is a very fitting name for this Swiss black metal band, as the music is pure in its unrelenting ferocity. Don’t get the wrong idea, however, Pure isn’t yet another band trying to re-record Fallen Angel of Doom while moving the sonic chess pieces around. No, Pure channels it’s oppressive rage through melodic riffs and a massive atmosphere. It’s no wonder the band was able to team up with Horna for a re-recording of a few tracks for this year’s excellent split.
I hope you like castles, ghosts and vampires! Cause this band sure does! Also, I hope you like dynamic song structures and memorable riffs, cause there’s plenty of that to be found here as well. I really like the production on Flying Above Ancient Ruins as well, as it has that enveloping and entrancing character that still retains a fist-pumping character that recalls black metal’s first wave. Hit play on the song below and scroll to around 4:20 to see what I mean. (I mean, listen to the whole song too, of course.)
Of all the bands I’ve found in my black metal digging, this might be my favorite discovery so far. The production, vocal approach and construction of riffs is absolutely everything I want in black metal. Greece’s Insanity Cult manages that perfect balance between mourning and power that presents the genre at its most awe-inspiring. If you like the depressive sound but want something still tethered to the world of Under the Sign of Hell and Let the Devil In, Insanity Cult is the band for you (and me, clearly).
Of the bands on this list, Paara is probably the most well known at this point. After all, they have a professional music video out there for “Suon Sydän.” Cool as that song is, “Hermeen Hauta” is my personal highlight off the band’s new album, Riitti. The album has a very professional and crisp production, but still retains the ripping guitar sound that’s so critical to this style. In addition, the non-metal sounds (which I assume are keyboard-generated) are all very well placed and make the songs very memorable and catchy. Apparently the band likes to sing about ghosts, so that’s pretty cool too.