The Best Black Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2018


1.  Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods 306
2.  Drudkh - Їм Часто Сниться Капіж (They Often See Dreams About The Spring) 102
3.  Funeral Mist - Hekatomb 71
4.  Gaerea - Unsettling Whispers 54
5.  None - Life Has Gone On Long Enough 24
6.  Outre - Hollow Earth 23
7.  Varathron - Patriarchs Of Evil (write-in vote) 17
8.  Carpe Noctem - Vitrun 15
9.  Mare - Ebony Tower 13
10.  Mahr - Antelux 11
11.  Svartidauði - Revelations of the Red Sword (write-in vote) 8
  Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest (write-in vote) 8
13.  Kriegsmaschine - Apocalypticists (write-in vote) 7
14.  Shylmagoghnar - Transience (write-in vote) 6
15.  Dimmu Borgir - Eonian (write-in vote) 4
  Marduk - Viktoria (write-in vote) 4
  Spectral Wound - Infernal Decadence (write-in vote) 4
  Wiegedood - The Doden Hebben Het Goed III (write-in vote) 4
  Hoth - Astral Necromancy (write-in vote) 4
20.  Voidsphere - To Await | To Expect 2
Total votes:
739



Carpe Noctem's 2013 album, while good, was more or less standard fare for the Deathspell Omega-influenced sound Icelandic black metal has become known for. On the sophomore Vitrun, however, these guys have really upped the ante, with a sound that's every bit as cold and hypnotizing as earlier, but now much more atmospheric, better paced, and borderline psychedelic at points as well. A considerable step up from their debut that features a hearty dose of creativity, Vitrun is a real grower of a listen that sees Carpe Noctem taking on a new identity that is ultimately a lot more nuanced and stimulating than earlier.

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You'll probably be seeing the phrase "best album in a decade" a lot of places this Awards season. We're sorry to be so repetitive (hey, it was a great year, what can we say?), but before we retire the sentiment, Drudkh must have their time in the sun... or their time in the fading embers of melting summer skies, one final respite before their gradual envelopment by creeping shadows that herald autumnal despair. Yes, it's all about the intense atmosphere with Drudkh: thick quilts of riffs upon riffs insinuate landscapes as artfully as pure ambient music, despite the harshness of black metal. It has been a while since we heard something so expressive and melodically inspired from Drudkh, and it's great to hear them return to form.

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Hekatomb is wihout a doubt one of the least expected comebacks in black metal during the last decade. Do not let the long hiatus fool you, though; Arioch, a.k.a. Mortuus, demonstrates that utmost respect still must be given to Funeral Mist. The raw and haunting melodic riffs elevate this blood-chilling album to infernal heights while Arioch pukes blasphemy like a possessed preacher. Funeral Mist's third opus is not only a grand exercise in demonic art, but also proof that no other black metal act can quite match or imitate its ceremonial style.

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If you want your black metal to be good, its sound should make people think the world is ending. Gaerea are doing exactly that while presenting their sludgy, melancholic, melodic and sometimes even post-metal- or hardcore-ish version of black metal in a thoroughly artistic way. On Unsettling Whispers, the story of a lost society is told in the third person and the listener is a wanderer, someone who watches, feels, and touches the pale streets he roams but is never seen by others. What this voyeur discovers is the shy will of dying from others as the repeated line "Suicide is part of your life" of the second track suggests. Totally immersive stuff.

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After a 20-year+ absence due to acute tendinopathy, Demonaz returned to showcase his Immortal Technique, wielding both the axe (pun intended) and mic for the Boys from Blashyrkh. Northern Chaos Gods is a mash of both the frenetic tremolo work of the early epoch and the more epic riffing from the Abbath-at-the-Axe years. It's a Darker Of Worlds now that Demonaz has been Called To Ice.

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Stemming from the Prava Kollektiv, along with Voidsphere, this is that good kind of atmospheric black metal. You know, the kind that actually creates an atmosphere. Or, in the case of this void-focused one, sucks the atmosphere, I guess. Taking further the sound that Darkspace popularized, the music is cold and suffocating. The music is so effective in its ambiance both because the production quality has improved in the collective and also because the percussion and the keyboards create both a dynamic and static feeling at the same time, if that makes sense. Couple that with the drowned-out vocals with its occasional bloodcurdling shrieks and the reverb-soaked guitars and the 40-minute ride towards intergalactic doom is so much more compelling.

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Spawned out of Norway's Nidriosian scene, Mare certainly didn't rush out Ebony Tower, as they've gone 15 active years without releasing a full-length. Their latest EP release was eight years ago. And with the cult following they've made since, they made sure Ebony Tower would be a grandiose album. With most of the songs breaking the 8-minute mark, it's quite obvious that the album leans more towards creating atmosphere, mostly revolving the songs around a few mid-paced riffs. The vocals are less of the shrieky kind and more of the cleaner and chant-y kind, which, along with the occasional supporting keyboard and the punchy bass, really helps build the esoteric and ritualistic feel of the album.

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Heavy on the DS, really light on the bm. They don't seek to overwhelm or crush the listener. Instead, it's an Ahab-like lulling, only sans tsunami. The entire album envelopes you like a warm bath. It never goes off, even when distorted riffs are being summoned forth and the drummer is playing more than two beats per minute. It's peaceful and serene. Naked and (be) afraid. It is vulnerable, and using the transitive property of infinity (and if thou gaze long into an abyss the abyss will gaze into thee) you are as well.

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Since Behemoth decided to experiment with the darker and more gothic aspect of black metal this year, fellow countrymen Outre stepped up to restore Poland's death/black dignity. This is an album to be played in a mental asylum; the aural discord, the sheer brutality, and the technical precision of these Poles, combined with some very engaging songwriting that does not go in too many different directions, make Hollow Earth a very unsettling and often nightmarish mind-trip.

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Voidsphere play black metal of the smothering, slowly creeping, psychedelic variety that has been on a steady rise this decade. Featuring two mammoth tracks both clocking in well over the 20-minute mark, To Await | To Expect is an ensnaring journey through a well-paced, delicate balance between the more hypnotizing and more aggressive auras that black metal has to offer. A colossal voyage to the great void at the center of all existence, this album is your 2018 soundtrack for crossing the event horizon and dissolving beyond.

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