Five For Friday: Black Metal 2022

Greetings, Decibel readers!

Hope you enjoyed last week’s death metal roundup, because now it’s time to leave the blazing pits of burning corpses and roam into the haunted forests, where the hidden evil dwells for all eternity. That’s right, it’s time to look back at some of the best black metal of the year! Keep in mind, as always, this column is called Five For Friday, not Fifty to Make Everyone Happy. My selections are obviously a reflection of my own taste and are just a sampling of some of the albums I enjoyed in 2022.

Most of what you’ll hear below are bands taking the standard second-wave black metal sound and lending their own voice to it. They do what I like and they do it well. But I also put Vermilia and Esoctrilihum on here, the former being the best folk-black metal act around, the latter being … well. Kind of hard to put that into words. You’ll just have to listen and figure it out. Lots of luck.


Esoctrilihum – Saopth’s

Ok, so if things keep going at this rate, Asthâghul is going to be putting out albums as fast as I write weekly columns. Where does this guy get his creative energy to put out all this top-tier material? Never mind, don’t answer that. The knowledge would pull us into another dimension, never to return. Anyway, Esoctrilihum continues to deliver transmissions from the outer dimensions for our listening pleasure, this album being a return to the style of Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath and Eternity of Shaog after Consecration of the Spiritüs Flesh took things in a more brutal, death metal direction.

Hulder – The Eternal Fanfare

I mean, if you read me consistently you knew I was going to put this here. It’s been a big year for Hulder, with a new EP, live shows, and landing the cover of Decibel a couple issues back. With her own signature sound in tow after years of careful development, it’s only uphill from here.

Stream: Apple Music

Saidan – Onryō II: Her Spirit Eternal

This was a random find I stumbled on while perusing Spotify. Hey, sometimes it works out! In fact, it worked out so well that it might be my favorite album of the year. Prior to this album, the band did a speedrun through straightforward raw black metal and has since molded it in their own image. The vibe here is like if a horror-punk band suddenly decided to play black metal, but keep their catchy hooks intact. Pound those fists, but put the skeleton gloves on first.

Stream: Apple Music

Till – Monument to Man’s Frailty

Meanwhile, this band was a random Bandcamp discovery, another happy accident. Roanoke’s vocals are absolutely relentless, and are matched with excellent riffs and synth-lines you’ll never want to get out of your head. The band has a unique gift for projecting emotion through their music, even if you can’t make out individual words. Longing, melancholy, triumph, hope, despair — it’s all here, friends.

Stream: Apple Music

Vermilia – Ruska

Again, in a surprise to absolutely no one, Vermilia‘s latest album was a big favorite of mine this year. I’ve said it before, but I’m not a big fan of most folk-laden metal — most of it being too cheesy to invest in or too transparently derivative of masters like Ulver or Empyrium without adding anything fresh. Vermilia is one of the few acts to dodge these traps and craft an epic sound that burns with ferocious black metal fire. It has all the atmosphere you could want, but keeps you interested by maintaining the power and aggression that made you want to read this list.

Stream: Apple Music