Winter is obviously the season for Black Metal since the cold grimness of the music matches the frozen climate outside. This makes the atmosphere more immersive, and unlike many people I actually look forward to winter. It’s also amusing to watch people turn salty as I openly wish for more snow. For them it’s miserable, but for me it’s the best time to enjoy classic Black Metal albums, and I could list my wintertime favorites indefinitely. While it’s great to revisit many of these albums as the snow and ice accumulates, there’s also a drive to find new variations of this intoxicating sound. Here are five recent Black Metal releases that will give purpose to the winter cold.
MYSTERIA MYSTICA AETERNA Into the Kingdom of Shadows 01/10/21
This debut album begins with a dark ambient intro and then continues using atmospheric keys to compliment the lo fi guitars on each song. These cold riffs take more of a minimalist approach to create a wall of sound, and there are plenty of memorable progressions throughout. Tempo variations allow arpeggiated riffs to come through on “Kiss of the Goat” and for slower groove on songs like the title track. The dark acoustic “Intermezzo” adds another dynamic to the album’s raw, cold sound.
BELLICISTE Deathsworn 01/12/21
A cold and desolate soundscape manifests on this new demo, and the riffs have a medieval vibe that conjures visions of fortresses and battle. There are epic tremolo melodies throughout, and the Punk influence is clear on songs like “Morbid Delirium” and “Deathsworn.” The latter also has a spaced-out guitar solo and brooding riff passage. This sound continues through “Beyond Death” and “Lunatic Depths,” which adds flutes to create a dark Folk sound before ending with a final blast of icy riffing.
VALAC Burning Dawn of Vengeance 01/15/2021
The sound here is raw, hellish, claustrophobic, and exactly what I love in Black Metal. The riffs are easily audible and diverse, with the hideous production only making the guitars sound heavier and more menacing. The songwriting overall is reminiscent of DARKTHRONE’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky, but with more gloom and despair. The vocals are full of anguish and sound like a tormented entity coming through another dimension. The ambient tracks and effects reinforce this atmosphere brimming with melancholy, sickness, and hatred.
AONARACH I 01/29/21
This album is much colder than the cover art would suggest. The band’s name means “isolation,” and the tone of the music reflects its toll on mental health. Sounds of rain and other effects also convey a sense of seclusion in nature. The riffing is hypnotic and haunting, but occasionally shows driving intent on songs like “The Ritual” with some Death Metal influence and a melodic solo. The pace temporarily slows on “Solitude” to let the mournful keyboards and anguished vocals leave their mark, and a violin adds to the melancholy before cold riffs lead to the conclusion.
MIASMIC Uroborocidal Undoctrination 01/10/21
This one is full of interesting riffs that blend classic Black Metal with Thrash, Groove, Doom, and other influences. There are moments of pure chaos, haunting ambience, dark melodic passages, timing changes, spacey solos, and they’re all interwoven seamlessly within unrelenting grimness. There is frostbitten tremolo riffing on “Beneath the Bestial Banner,” a crushing, slow, and epic groove on “Broken Shields of Forgotten Battles,” and brooding riffs with a melancholic hook on “Cloak of Stone.” This album is easily one of the year’s highlights.
Let this cold season enhance the raw atmospheric experience of Black Metal instead of allowing it to be a life drainer. Many who are into this genre probably do this already, but if you aren’t yet, give these new recommendations a shot and also revisit the old classics. Or share your own Winter favorites.