Now we are cracking the top 20 of our Top 50 Black Metal Albums of All Time list. It's interesting to notice the trends in release dates and regions these albums are coming out of as we work our way down the list. Most are ranked according to how much I have listened to these albums, with a few exceptions when it comes to certain albums that many of these releases owe their existence to. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know blast beats alone do not fly with me. These are not just musicians who made great black metal albums , these are musicians ho made great music that happened to be called black metal. Some of these albums even came before black metal as we know it today. So here you go ...
This band has gotten a lot of shit due to Hunter's ramblings, but the bottom line is with this album they took black metal somewhere very different. It's bright rather than dark. Normally this is something I would not be down for , but somehow they made it work due to the jarring sonic dissonance and how they took things like blast beats and almost gave them a jazz like spin.
19- An Autumn For Crippled Children- "Lost"
This band from the Netherlands not only does post-black metal, but they do it with a more convincing nastiness and gaze out into sprawling beauty. The eventually began to rein it in, with the vocals sometimes being the heaviest component . This 2010 album finds them at the peak of their powers and making beautiful music with feral abandon.
I don't like this project's earlier work because of the lo-fi punk like quality. Once the production improved and a bigger viking like sound came then he caught my ear. The earlier stuff if more popular with a more hipster crowd for the very reason I do not like it.This album has more actual singing on it and it came down to me trying to decide between this one and "Twilight of the Gods". What it came down to was this album is black metal , while "Twilight of the Gods" is more epic pagan metal. "Hammerheart" might not be as refined, but it is darker and meaner.
While I like many of the albums that came after this one, and most of the albums that came before, I think this 2005 album finds the band at the perfect middle ground of blending their blasty black beginnings with the more progressive viking metal they would eventually find themselves locked into. Black metal is still the central component here and that fades later on. The clean vocals are not as abundant, but fit wonderfully when they do appear and the title track is actually pretty catchy, which is not an adjective that would have really described their songwriting before this point.
16- Tombs- "the Path of Totality"
The band's 2011 album found them still firmly grounded in black metal. Like most of the bands on the list Mike Hill is not content to live off of blast beats alone. When they are used they are more effective due to the broader dynamic range. The guitars are what take the spot light as they are dark and dissonant. Just as heavy metal as they are heavy sonically. Crushing as Neurosis like sludge and atmospheric as early Darkthrone, they make for a powerful album that carries many shades of darkness.
15-Totalselfhatred- "Apocalypse in Your Heart"
I keep returning to this album time and time again. They prove black metal can have stellar guitar and doesn't have to stick to static tremolo picking. The album does kick off with that kind of feral intensity and these guys prove that they can do straight up black metal as good as any band, but they bring a sorrowful atmosphere that captures the anguish of their name. The vocals are more aggressive than most depressive black metal bands. Their use of guitar melodies never compromises the intensity of this album.
14-Nachtmystium - "Addicts : Black Meddle Part 2"
Blake Judd's addiction and other issues has sometimes overshadowed how awesome this project is. It was a tough call between this one and the more experimental "Assassins", this album is an honest picture of the dark torment that is Judd wrestling with his demons that were certainly winning when this album was released in 2010. Black metal is known for it's escapsim into icy viking lands or the occult imagery. This is a very real album. Dope sick black metal.If you are wondering why it ranked this high, well it boils down to the songs, which are crafted subtle hooks that draw you back into
13- Immortal- "All Shall Fall"
I get it you are screaming for "Sons of Northern Darkness" or "Blizzard Beasts". But this album just has a bigger more powerful sound. The drums fucking trample you. Their earlier albums while as awesome as they maybe are almost a parody of black metal while this album hit you with an intensity that can not be laughed at. For a genre where this kind of production might be seen as coming across as not cvlt enough or contrived, I think this album makes a powerful argument for getting your shit to sound good. Everything that you want from this band is here and dialed up to 13. The gallops destroy other bands who try to do similar. If you are wondering why Behemoth is not on here, do you really need them when you have this ?
12- Celtic Frost - To Mega Therion"
When this album came out in 1985, black metal had yet to come to fruition. Black metal as just an album by a punk fueled metal band in the growing thrash scene. This scene found Tom Warrior and friends clawing at it with a more dynamic and darkly romantic offering that is "To Mega Therion". "the Usurper" and "Circle of Tyrants" along cement it's place here.
11-Shining- "the Eerie Cold"
To many of you who have never really listened to this album, you expect me to explain why or how this could beat out Celtic Frost. I think atmosphere and darkness are two main components of black metal that this album beats Celtic Frost out on. Both bands did go through a cock rock period after these albums. The guitar playing on this album is certainly superior. Then there is the fact that if I am giving a rawer album that is more meat and potatoes metal then given a depressive black metal album I am going to go with the depressive black metal album as that generally resonates more with me. This album does have some powerful heavy riffs to go along with the bleak landscape they drag you into.