The Best Melodic Black Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016

1.  Rotting Christ - Rituals 349
2.  Winterfylleth - The Dark Hereafter 102
3.  Ashbringer - Yūgen 46
4.  Fuath - I 35
5.  Oak Pantheon - In Pieces 16
  Wayfarer - Old Souls 16
7.  Eneferens - The Inward Cold 12
8.  Eternal Deformity - No Way out 10
9.  Winterhorde - Maestro (write-in vote) 7
10.  Hjel - Kalte Asche 6
11.  Borknagar - Winter Thrice (write-in vote) 5
  Blodstrupmoen - Blodstrupmoen 5
Total votes:

Yūgen is the latest example of how American black metal can have different but equal qualities from its European brethren. Folk, ambient, and electronic traits lace the music top to bottom in a seamless, effortless way. Naturally, there are a boatload of other elements used on Yūgen. The occasional beautiful female vocals, pianos, oboes, mandolins and an array of keyboards and synths. Sounds complicated? Ashbringer have meticulously and mysteriously made all of these ingredients work, and work really well.

A quintet from Gressvik, Norway, Blodstrupmoen have made one of the more memorable atmospheric, melodic, post-black metal debuts of recent times. The songwriting, mixing and production all feel like this isn't Blodstrupmoen's first rodeo. The common themes here are bleak atmospheres, hauntingly beautiful passages and cold, dark resonance via tremolo picking, blast-beat drumming and black metal shrieking. However, the future is extremely well-lit for this young band.

Everything about this album is impressive: from the fact that this is the band's self-released debut album, to the fantastic songwriting, the top-notch production as well as the fact this is all done by one man! It's amazing what musician Jori Apedaile has managed to achieve with this album. The Inward Cold is melodic/atmospheric black metal with a touch of death/doom that takes you on a hauntingly beautiful journey that grabs a hold of you from the first note & never lets go.

Eternal Deformity have been around a hell of a long time but are unfortunately still criminally unknown compared to similar bands of their quality. In a career spanning 23 years, No Way Out is the 6th full-length by this Polish six-piece, yet represents something of a shift in sound from its predecessors. While still having its roots firmly set in symphonic/melodic black metal, the soundscape is vastly expanded upon as elements of death, doom, gothic & prog are seamlessly added into the mix to create a truly captivating & rewarding experience for the listener. With No Way Out, Eternal Deformity may finally obtain the recognition they so thoroughly deserve.


Fuath - I

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Coming to you from the visionary behind Saor, Fuath's debut focuses similarly on atmosphere, though without the folk elements; I is (am?) all about the meloblack side of things. Echoing through the night sky come haunting keyboards and layered guitars, driving straight towards your heart with the bleakest, most forlorn melodies they can conjure. Fuath perfectly captures the image presented on the cover of the album, full of esoteric darkness and voluminous shadow, but also a little bit of wonder at the vastness of the world around us.

Hjel's Kalte Asche is the soundtrack of bones, ash, fog, mist, ruins, decline, the end of the world. This one-man project's debut album is a testament to Max's(Windrider) songwriting abilities. A German poetic abyss engulfed in somber atmospheres, acoustic explorations, maniacal screams and melodic enchantment, Kalte Asche is a true diamond in the rough. Sehr gut!

Oak Pantheon broke into some poor prog band's van and stole all their riffs, then disguised them with battering blastbeats and icy growls so nobody would be able to tell - but those songwriting chops shine through nonetheless. In Pieces is black metal at heart, but with such a contemplative atmosphere, repeated use of clean vocals, and frequent borrowing from post-metal, the album has more to offer than a two-word label can accurately describe.

Non Serviam! And the Greeks never did. Overall, Rotting Christ stayed true to their sound of their last couple of albums. But the mixture of black metal, with a hint of doom, or better yet gothic, and the incorporation of straight-up heavy metal riffing makes Rituals a very diverse and extremely atmospheric album.

Trying to figure out what genre tag to give Old Souls is challenging, so let's dispense with the pretentious labeling and talk about what makes this album so great. Dark and harrowing atmosphere but with alluring melodies and crystal-clear production. See-saw battles between slower, heavier and majestic sections against softer interludes with pseudo-experimental flourishes. Wayfarer have made an album bursting with devotion and gleaming with emotional ferocity.

You can set your watch by Winterfylleth; you know you're going to get a new album every two years and you know it's going to be a real ripper of a release. The Dark Hereafter has just the right amount of reverb and lacks just enough polish to give the album that "lost in the mountain mists of a black metal album cover" feeling, and as usual there is a sense of continuity with Winterfylleth's native musical traditions that pervades in subtle ways. The music may still be grim and frosty, but it's not your run-of-the-mill, goat-sacrificing, painty-faced, screeky BM; this is black metal with depth and musicality.