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Within the past decade, black metal has seen bands from all over the world incorporating new sounds to the genre and changing its delivery like never before. As great as the classic bands are, BM bands today seem to be branching out in every possible direction. From the beautiful chaos of the French bands, to the developing psychedelic black metal style, and even the Avantgarde craziness of Mories... all the experimentation is helping to create a bold new identity for the genre's sound. Black metal today could very well be the one area of metal where we see the most experimentation taking place, and I hope the albums in this list will illustrate this growing trend.

Created by: Apothecary | 05.06.2012

1. Ved Buens Ende - Written In Waters
Was this the album that "started it all" for more unorthodox forms of black metal? It's probably not that specific, but it did set many important precedents. Bouncy, eerily catchy, a brilliant combination of clean and harsh vocals, and most importantly a strange sense of atonal dissonance about the music that the likes of Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell would capitalize upon farther down the line.
2. Deathspell Omega - Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum
If you consider yourself a fan of unusual black metal and you haven't yet heard these Frenchy titans, you've been living under a rock. Many variations in mood and tempo abound here, and lyrically the band deal with anti-Christianity on an incredibly intelligent, metaphysical level that virtually no other BM bands can touch. Much of the "slow and dissonant" black metal we see cropping up today owes its ass to this band.
3. Blut Aus Nord - MoRT
More weird French black metal, and an incredibly polarizing release. There's no "it's kinda good" or "I like it, BUT..." here. You're either head over heels in love with this thing, or you're utterly repulsed by it. Using a fretless guitar to conjure a dissonant, microtonal sound, Vindsval creates a droney, dark ambient influenced black metal sound here. Don't take that as meaning that this is your usual ambient black metal album though. This is an album fully in a league of its own, that truly must be heard to be believed.
4. Diapsiquir - Virus STN
Quite possibly the strangest and most chaotically schizophrenic of the French BM bands, no understatement. Get ready for swing piano, babies crying, and occasionally scary spoken word parts. Lyrics in French.
5. Glorior Belli - The Great Southern Darkness
French black metal with southern rock influences thrown in! Very bluesy, and just groovy and fun as all fuck. It sounds weird in theory, but is actually very interesting and executed extremely well.
6. Melechesh - Enki
It's not too big a stretch to use the term "groove black metal" when describing this one. Incredibly catchy and bouncy BM with an Eastern edge, revolving thematically around the ancient land between the rivers (that's Mesopotamia, for you ancient history n00bs)
7. Urfaust - Verräterischer, Nichtswürdiger Geist
Dutch ambient black metal, but not in the traditional sense we think of "ambient black metal" in. Urfaust take things in more of a dark, orchestral direction, and a few tracks here are just long instrumental pieces that sound almost like something from Richard Wagner. This is also one of the pnly times you will ever see clean vocals on top of black metal that actually WORK. Eerie and mesmerizing, with a sound definitely unique to the band. Lyrics sung in German.
8. Enslaved - Monumension
Enslaved have been consistently redefining themselves virtually since their inception; boiling down to it, no two of their albums really sound too much alike. Since 2000, however, Enslaved have began gradually incorporating progressive and psychedelic rock influences into their music, sometimes in small, sometimes in heavy doses. Monumension is generally regarded as "that one weird motherfucker" in their discog. A black metal core sound is definitely there, but this is perhaps the one Enslaved album where the band most embraced the proggy/psychedelic vibes in full.
9. A Forest Of Stars - The Corpse of Rebirth
Folklorish black metal from the UK. A wonderfully composed 6-person band, these guys have a fondness for dressing in garments reminiscent of Victorian England while onstage. This lyrical/visual theme carries over into their instrumentation, and the band frequently make use of violins, flutes, accordions, and other classical folk instruments to great effect.
10. Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1
American psychedelic black metal (on this release and the follow-up, Addicts). The album title here is a direct reference to Pink Floyd's Meddle album. The music can definitely be aggressive, but it can also be surprisingly catchy and atmospheric, enhanced at many points by trippy synthesizer effects. The closing, three part "Seasick" is probably the most experimental track the band have done.
11. Oranssi Pazuzu - Kosmonument
Finnish psychedelic black metal. Has a very intense, "chaotic vortex" type atmosphere, that feels like you're falling into a black hole. Incredibly memorable and well written, with some bass lines that will get stuck in your head for days.
12. Candy Cane - Fay-Ra-Doowra
Another crazy Finnish BM band, much like Diapsiquir in the sense of their spontaneity and rapid juxtaposition of styles. You're gonna hear horns, you're gonna hear elevator-type piano, you're gonna hear some BIZZARE clean vocals that sound like a little kid is singing, borderline flamenco-ish guitar playing, and more. Wacky, WACKY release, but for those who like their black metal insane and Avantgarde, this is an album for you.
13. The Ruins Of Beverast - Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite
One man German blackened doom project of former Nagelfar drummer Alexander Von Meilenwald. Biblically-historic lyrics, a riff-heavy guitar tone, and (in addition to the BM shrieks) deep, operatic vocals that help to create a haunting and mesmerizing vibe. Very distinct atmosphere unique to Alex.
14. Alkerdeel - Morinde
The artwork of a fox beating a goose is appropriate, because this album will bludgeon you to hell with its gritty and uncompromising fusion of black metal and sludge. Filthy buzzsaw riffs bulldoze you into oblivion. Not for the faint of heart.
15. Leviathan - Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
If you know your American black metal, you know the name of Wrest, well known in the international scene for this band and Lurker Of Chalice. This album is an ambient BM monument to suffering and anguish: depressive, aggressive, and absolutely haunting, with a plethora of spooky sounds and crazy vocal deliveries from Wrest to bring it all out.
16. Lurker Of Chalice - Lurker Of Chalice
Wrest's other project ambient BM project. Kind of like Leviathan, but more focused on the dark, creepy and atmospheric side of things. There's also a very commendable variation in delivery and mood at work here, "Minions" almost sounding like drone doom. This album has achieved a pretty legendary status in the BM community, and not without good reason.
17. Nagelfar - Srontgorrth
The crown jewel of German black metal? Five tracks of massive atmospheric black metal, with a highly folky (somewhat viking) sound thrown in. Great bass tone as well. Also has a notable electronic edge. Keyboards propel a lot of the music here, and the fourth track is just one huge journey through synths with some BM vocals over them, to awesome effect.
18. Akercocke - The Goat Of Mendes
Relatively lesser-known in Akercocke's discography, this album happens to be my favorite of theirs. A thundering black metal sound combines with an underlying progressive composing structure, which leads into surprises at every turn. This is all backed up by the truly stunning vocals of Jason Mendonca, whose wide range allows for virtually everything: growls, shrieks, even some clean vocals here and there that don't sound too unlike Blind Guardian (don't let that turn you off though). Very engaging and fun album.
19. Transcending Bizarre? - The Misanthrope's Fable
Avantgarde black metal with a very strange, psychedelic edge. One of the best things in this style you've heard since Arcturus: xylophones, strange electronic effects, and more goodies lurk in the mix, and create an almost symphonic effect. All three members of Hail Spirit Noir were in this band, so that's reason enough for you to investigate.
20. Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma
This fun sonofabitch of an album is essentially 70s prog rock + black metal. Does that mean it's like a black metal version of Opeth's Heritage? Hell no. It's a groovy, bizarre roller coaster ride through relaxing, occasionally aggressive landscapes of kvlt and psychedelia, with a bit of a darkly comedic edge. }Let Your Devil Come Inside" says it all.
21. The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-li
More great (Lovecraftian!) French black metal. Very well paced, with an excellent balancing out of atmosphere and production. Can be aggressive as hell at points, but when things get a little slower, more melodic, and those spoken word French parts get thrown in, you're in for some creepy shit.
22. Darkspace - Dark Space III
23. Negură Bunget - Om
Regarded by many as the magnum opus of Romanian black metal, this album is a simply amazing blend of black metal and the Romanian folk music of yesterday that the band both celebrate and do an excellent job at recreating. It's those traditional instruments that make this album so special, and at many moments throughout Om you can't help but feel like you're in a forest watching some woodland spirits playing this music.
24. Elysian Blaze - Blood Geometry
Atmospheric BM/funeral doom. A 2 hour, double disc masterpiece crafted solely by twisted Australian genius Mutatiis. Highly symphonic and orchestral at points, the longer tracks clocking in at 20+ minutes and containing multiple movements like an opera. Difficult to digest because of its sheer length, but if you're willing to sit through a musical experience that can only be described as monumental, do not pass this one up.
25. Wormlust - The Feral Wisdom
One man psychedelic black metal from the desolate tundras of Iceland. The production is really the best thing here: it's murky and blurry, and everything just feels smothered in a supernatural mist, which works wonders towards creating a dark, mysterious sound.
26. Atriarch - Ritual Of Passing
Blackened doom from the U.S. Honestly leans much more towards the doom side of the equation, so including it here may be a stretch, but the black metal element can still be felt heavily in the riff style, and the overall ominous, occult theme of the album.
27. The Flight Of Sleipnir - Essence Of Nine
Folk black metal is becoming a tad overdone these days, but this American duo throws some stoner metal elements into the equation that really help give the music an original, riff-heavy, catchy groove that I see few other (if any) bands replicating.
28. Dordeduh - Dar De Duh
Negura Bunget core guys Sol Faur and Hupogrammos split off from the band in 2009, forming their own project that takes the folk elements to new heights while also still retaining some of their trademark black metal techniques from Negura.
29. Murmuüre - Murmuüre
French ambient black metal driven by the twisted enigma that is Felix. Very spacey and kinda random in its instrumentation, but also strangely technical at points, with an underlying flow that manages to keep everything together quite nicely.
30. Peste Noire - L'Ordure A L'État Pur
31. Menace Ruine - Cult Of Ruins
Now here's a truly distinct release. Before going into their droney/neofolk territory that you see them in today, Menace Ruine put out this monster of an album that's a very bizarre blend of black metal, drone, and noise, and that demonstrates how these seemingly unrelated genres can be combined in bold and unexpected ways. Seriously nothing else like it.
32. Gnaw Their Tongues - Eschatological Scatology
One of the many projects of Dutch mastermind Maurice "Mories" de Jong, there'sb a lot of variation among GTT albums, some being outright aggressive and more in BM territory, and others taking a more droney, noisey approach that's equally as terrifying. This album sits somewhere in between, and is the ultimate soundtrack to your nightmares.
33. Cloak Of Altering - Plague Beasts
Another Mories project, COA is focused more on the electronic side of things. Ravenous black metal tears away at your flesh while Satanic video game music made for aliens lurks quietly in the background tickling your brain stem. Say that doesn't sound fun and I'll smack you.
34. Botanist - III: Doom In Bloom
Self-proclaimed "eco-terrorist black metal," a bizarre one man American project of Roberto "The Botanist" Martinelli. Instrumentation limited strictly to drums, vocals, and hammered dulcimer, which creates a sound that's a bit hard to digest, but quite rewarding once you do.
35. Nocte Obducta - Umbriel (Das Schweigen Zwischen Den Sternen)
This German band started out as a rawer form of black metal, but have now moved into some much more interesting psychedelic/Avantgarde territory. This most recent release is actually more ambient than it is BM, but a fantastic band/album regardless.
36. The Meads Of Asphodel - Damascus Steel
This British group defy all boundaries of classification. Core black metal sound, but they've also been known to add in elements of punk, techno, folk, and classical. This album in particular revolves around a heavy Middle Eastern theme, and as such uses a bunch of native percussion and other wacky shit, to great effect.
37. Terra Tenebrosa - The Tunnels
A bizzare Swedish blend of dark ambient, sludge, and some entrancing black metal elements that, though subtle, are definitely felt in the overall mix. The effects of the sound can range from bone-crushing one second to an almost surreal ritual aesthetic the next. If you're looking for some truly haunting, creepy stuff, this is the album for you.
38. Progenie Terrestre Pura - U​.​M​.​A.
Italian ambient black metal, with a strong sci fi theme. The black metal has a strong industrial edge, making it surprisingly catchy at points, and the ringy ding dings of the ambient elements are sure to satisfy any true Metroid fan. Awesome stuff.
39. Fullmoon Bongzai - Is All That You Deserve
A bizzare blend of black metal, psychedelia, and industrial music from Greece, these guys will take your mind and fuck it with full force. This is an extremely strange release, even when compared to all the others on this list, and will probably only appeal to about 1% of the Metal Storm demographic, but for those who just can't get enough of the bizarre, it's highly recommended.
40. Angst Skvadron - Sweet Poison
Psychedelic black metal from Norway. A bit like Oranssi at points, but with enough of a creative mind to easily set themselves apart from them and other contemporaries. A good blend of relaxing space atmospheres and groovy aggressive moments as well.
41. Pensées Nocturnes - Grotesque
French one man black metal of a sophisticated, neoclassical variety. The black metal is hard hitting and menacing, but the more relaxed passages here are quite relaxing and absolutely beautiful. This isn't really classically influenced in the sense of traditional "symphonic black metal," but rather in a dark, grandiose, orchestral sense.
42. Cult Of Fire - मृत्यु का तापसी अनुध्यान
Czech black metal with an intense Eastern theme: Vedic rites, Hindu death gods, all that stuff. Makes use of sitar, piano, Indian percussion, and chanting to create an amazing, mesmerizing atmosphere.
43. Mörkö - Itsensänimeävä
One of the best black/doom albums to come along in a while, because it blurs the line between the two quite seamlessly. This Finnish group can at times be raw and in your face, but also very groovy and borderline psychedelic as well, with a delightfully audible bass tone that rumbles along all throughout this album.
44. Kvelertak - Meir
A growing addition to this whole "black and roll" movement, Kvelertak are pretty much BM meets the Sex Pistols. Punky as fuck, but also with your typical black metal style of guitar playing and shrieked vocals.
45. Autolatry - Native
Seriously cool black metal revolving around a Native American theme. One of the more orthodox albums on here, but pretty unusual as well: has an excellent sense of groove, which can actually get borderline progressive at points, there are some well carved guitar leads, and oh yeah, there's that one track with the sax too!
46. Porta Nigra - Kaiserschnitt
A curious German duo who are difficult to classify. They're mostly black metal, can be very heavy and bouncy, and you can also find traces of doom, punk, and prog in the mix as well. Like Hail Spirit Noir and The Meads Of Asphodel, these guys also have a bit of a darkly comedic "we're not taking ourselves seriously" vibe about their music as well, which makes for a very fun listening experience.
47. Dahakara - Evil Of All Decades
48. Kognitiv Tod - Howls From The Void
49. Remmirath - Shambhala Vril Saucers
This young Slovakian band have only emerged recently, but to say they blew me away with this album would perhaps be the understatement of the year. This is highly eccentric, Avantgarde black metal at its core, with undertones of prog, folk, and psychedelia. The ambiguous nature of the music and rapid juxtaposition of various, seemingly unrelated styles reminds me a lot of Sigh or the Meads, but from what the band's guitarist indicated to me on my review of this, this album was more influenced by Mr. Bungle, and crazy artists from the 70s such as those in the French Avantgarde and German krautrock scenes. Still fun as fuck either way.
50. Volahn - Aq'Ab'Al
A one man project of Eduardo Ramirez, Volahn is a part of the Black Twilight Circle, a collective of American black metal bands based in Southern California who all revolve around themes of Mayan history and mythology. Aq'Ab'Al has some extremely tight and unique composition behind it: thundering black metal, topped off by the lower-range, "roaring" type vocals of Ramirez, very nice guitar playing with a penchant for melody and Latin influences, and lyrics which are apparently in Spanish.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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!J.O.O.E.! - 04.12.2015 at 23:19  
Darkspace take the ambient and repetition aesthetic to a level that the vast majority of bands don't, so I say they're fitting here.
Zaph - 04.12.2015 at 23:42  
Written by Apothecary on 04.12.2015 at 22:09

Are they really that special though?

I would say so, yes. They may not be as crazy and out there as something like Murmuüre, but they have crafted their own, distinct, instantly recognizable sound, sort of like The Great Old Ones(, who are featured.) Both bands have a certain theme running through all their music with some influences from other genres floating in their sound and are absolutely unique, even if they're not being completely over the top crazy original.
And, for the record, I'd say Darkspace is definitely more unorthodox than TGOO.
Apothecary - 05.12.2015 at 00:13  
Written by Zaph on 04.12.2015 at 23:42

I would say so, yes. They may not be as crazy and out there as something like Murmuüre, but they have crafted their own, distinct, instantly recognizable sound, sort of like The Great Old Ones(, who are featured.) Both bands have a certain theme running through all their music with some influences from other genres floating in their sound and are absolutely unique, even if they're not being completely over the top crazy original.
And, for the record, I'd say Darkspace is definitely more unorthodox than TGOO.

I've been considering taking off TGOO too though, I dunno. Atmospheric and ambient black metal doesn't exactly strike me as all that distinct anymore, maybe just because they've both become very overdone... so the originality factor really just comes down to the band in question. You and Joe make a good point though... there aren't really any other bands that take to that style in the manner in which Darkspace do. Could be worth the add
Mr. Doctor - 06.12.2015 at 12:38  
I strongly approve of Darkspace being here with the simple reasoning done by Zaphod and Joe: Many ambient black metal bands? Sure... But none who do it like Darkspace does. To be honest, I see them as having the monopoly of space-related black metal because when someone says space and black metal, virtually everyone thinks of Darkspace and no other band.

Also, if you dig Diapsiquir, I strongly suggest you Lifelover's debut "Pulver". Very out there pop/post-punk influenced black metal of the fucked-up-urban kind.
Vombatus - 06.12.2015 at 13:27  
Alrakis sound like a slow version of Darkspace, everything quite similar. Oh and Paysage d'Hiver, even if not having the space component is (logically) very similar soundwise. But I agree that Darkspace have something special and distinctive.
Mr. Doctor - 06.12.2015 at 13:32  
Well, the fact that bands like Alrakis exist just prove how influential Darkspace can be as I love Alrakis but it's clear as day who they were inspired from. Paysage d'Hiver is indeed very similar (logically, as you said, given the member behind it!)... Although there's a noise component to the music that differentiates it. I guess that's the reason I really love those two bands. When you describe their sound you end up thinking with virtually the same adjectives but they manage to be so different to each other in terms of atmosphere and you clearly feel the dfference between "winter" and "space". Sounds pretentious as fuck but it's true.

Another band that came from Darkspace would be Sun Of The Blind, but it also has an obvious explanation since it's another project from one of the Darkspace members.
Apothecary - 06.12.2015 at 15:46  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 06.12.2015 at 12:38

When someone says space and black metal, virtually everyone thinks of Darkspace and no other band.

I think of Oranssi Pazuzu first, but that probably just says something about my own tastes... fair enough
Zaph - 06.12.2015 at 15:51  
Written by Apothecary on 06.12.2015 at 15:46

I think of Oranssi Pazuzu first, but that probably just says something about my own tastes... fair enough

They'd come in very close second for me
Mr. Doctor - 06.12.2015 at 15:53  
They play on the space theme on far different settings though. While Oranssi Pazuzu is far more playful and gives out a sci-fi vibe (honestly, I think a lot about space comics and tales)... Darkspace is jsut a realistic and therefore more frightening take on space. Both great bands though.
Zaph - 06.12.2015 at 16:06  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 06.12.2015 at 15:53

They play on the space theme on far different settings though. While Oranssi Pazuzu is far more playful and gives out a sci-fi vibe (honestly, I think a lot about space comics and tales)... Darkspace is jsut a realistic and therefore more frightening take on space. Both great bands though.

Couldn't have said it better.
Tomas Piller - 28.12.2015 at 15:01  
I think Master's Hammer would fit in here very well. And I really like your descriptions.

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