Next up are the most favourite Black Metal albums of Max, a music enthusiast within my circle of German friends who is infamous for his distinct and very well substantiated opinions, specifically his taste in BM and also music in general that goes far beyond the scope of any genre. I feel honoured, that he agreed on sharing this highly personal list on Abismo, I am pretty sure this task was not easy at all! It is interesting to see the differences and similarities between South-American and German BM fans, Make sure to listen to the records he shared, if you are not familiar with them:
Recently, Krups asked me to compile a list of the 15 most influential, best or most important Black Metal albums. Certainly not an easy task, so I took the liberty to reduce it to my personal favourites. Nobody wants to read the same list of the same Norwegian bands from the same period of time over and over again. While Emperor, Satyricon, Mayhem and the likes certainly are very important and influential, you probably know them anyway when you bother enough to read this.
1) Darkthrone – Under a Funeral Moon (Peaceville, 1993)
My personal entrance into the unholy realm of Black Metal and, to date, unrivalled in grimness – lyrically, musically, and in terms of sound engineering. No mids, just high range and bass. Had the many copycats of later years chosen this as blueprint instead of Transilvanian Hunger, who knows how Black Metal would sound today?
2) Burzum – Filosofem (Misanthropy Records, 1996)
Nietzsche wrote: “If you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you“. Well, Filosofem is the maelstrom which grabs you and drags you so far beneath the surface that, even if you break through again, the feeling of it will never, ever, quite leave you. One of the most unique and powerful albums ever written.
3) Dissection – The Somberlain (No Fashion, 1993)
One of the first bands to apply the Swedish fondness for melodies to the grim reality of Norwegian Black Metal, and certainly one of the most influential ones for decades to come.
4) Bathory – Under the Sign of the Black Mark (Under One Flag, 1987)
Bathory were pioneers in so many ways, but can (arguably) be regarded as one of the first bands who translated the occult imagery created by Venom and the likes into sound. Dark and sombre, “Call from the Grave” features one of my favourite guitar leads in proto Black Metal
5) Samael – Worship Him (Osmose Productions, 1991)
With Celtic Frost and Samael, Switzerland has its own share of ground breaking bands. Although conveying a similar feeling as Bathory’s Under the Sign…, Worship Him makes the list because of its almost doomesque utilization of mid- to down tempo range. Into the Pentagram!
6) Watain – Casus Luciferi (Drakkar Productions, 2003)
Often sold as “Dissection‘s musical and spiritual successors”, I think this doesn’t do the band justice. Their second full-length is so unique in style and composition that it spawned a wave of epigones in its own right. Watain can claim with good reason that they are almost single handedly responsible for the big wave of (not exclusively) Swedish ‘orthodox Black Metal’ bands (which, at some point, all started to sound more or less alike) during the mid-2000s.
7) Behexen – Rituale Satanum (Drakkar Productions, 2003)
About that orthodox wave: Behexen did that first, years ahead of the hype and with a truly unique style of writing and composing.
8) Manes – Under ein bloodraud maane (Hammerheart Records, 1999)
Formed when about every other kid in Norway founded his own Darkthrone-clone, Manes always stood out from the mass, as they had something eerie and otherworldly about them. While probably formed too late to be truly influential, I hope that putting them on this list wins them some of the attention they deserve. Also, their later (only marginally Black Metal-related) stuff is worth checking out. Do it!
9) Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon (Spinefarm Records, 1993)
Blunt Finnish occult brutality! While “simple” is a euphemism for the riffing, the heavily distorted vocals and overall dark atmosphere make more than up for this.
10) Impaled Nazarene – Ugra Karma (Osmose Productions, 1993)
More blunt Finnish brutality, but at an entirely different level than delivered by Beherit. Near-constant blast beats meet occasional outbursts of melodic riffing, with a controversial, almost punk-like attitude. And yes, there’s a keyboard in there! While their debut might even be slightly more extreme, Ugra Karma works exceptionally well as an album, and thus ends up on this list.
11) Katharsis – Kruzifixxion (Norma Evangelium Diaboli, 2003)
This is what, as a friend of mine once said, could have happened if Darkthrone hadn’t wimped out. It’s (to me) a spiritual successor to Under a Funeral Moon, only in a more advanced but not refined (it is equally raw, but different) way. I would go so far as saying that this is one of the best German Black Metal releases ever. Moreover, it marks NED’s first release as a label, which is an honorary mark in its own right.
12) Negură Bunget – Măiestrit (Lupus Lounge, 2010)
Negură Bunget claimed a unique position in contemporary Black Metal for a long while. Not only did they sound deeply humane and authentic in their interviews, their music, despite its sophistication, conveyed a certain kind of warmness very atypical for that genre. Măiestrit, a reinterpretation of their debut album, forms the pinnacle of their career, unfortunately followed by a very nasty break up.
13) Deathspell Omega – Paracletus (Lupus Lounge, 2010)
Deathspell Omega are obscure and legendary at the same time, and it is hard to pick a favourite. Paracletus, however, is the perfect fusion between their earlier, more traditional phase and their highly ambitious, almost jazz-like work of later years. Catchy melodies are paired with sophisticated arrangements and culminate in the most powerful release of DSO so far.
14) Mgła – With Hearts Towards None (Northern Heritage Records, 2012)
Mgła have received widespread attention with the release of this album, and every bit is as deserved as fans and critics claim. Their previous EPs set a high mark, but with their debut, Mgła excel in what they do best – writing one killer riff after the other, and combine them with the bleakest, most intelligent lyrics of Black Metal nowadays.
15) Lunar Aurora – Andacht (Cold Dimensions, 2007)
Lunar Aurora had a long life and have become more refined from release to release. With Andacht, they had outdone themselves – all the typical trademarks, ranging from spherical keyboard soundscapes to long, atmospheric riffing, are still there, but more on point than ever. A truly melancholic and dark masterpiece!