Over the weekend I received the new special issue of Decibel Magazine featuring their picks for the “Top 100 Black Metal Albums of All Time.” I was astonished to discover I only had 70 of the 100 albums and some where from bands I hadn’t even heard. So I decided I was going to track them all down and give them a listen. Then I decided I might as well listen to the whole list. Then I decided I might as well write down my take on the list. Then I decided I might as well post it up for my weekly jams list every Friday until I make it through all 100 albums.
Now like I said I have 70 of these albums and I have listened to some of the very recently but I wanted to re-listen to them in the context of this list. In for a penny in for a pound some might say. While I disagree with this list (and I think that is the purpose of these lists, to rile of the internet fanboys) I will keep my thoughts on that to myself until we get through the whole thing. First week down I made it from number 100 to 72:
100. Inquisition – Ominous Doctrines of Perpetual Mystic Macrocosm
Not sure how this ended up so low. The 100 spot seems like a bit of an afterthought like “yeah we might as well add this.” Especially considering Inquisition’s new album may take the top spot on my year end list.
99. Mutilation – Vampires of Black Imperial Blood
This album is new to me. I haven’t heard to much of the early 90’s French underground congregation The Black Legions and what I had heard was almost unlistenable. This album is not much different. Top 100? I dunno about that.
98. Leviathan – Tentacles of Whorror
This is the first of THREE appearances Wrest makes on this list and first of two with his Leviathan project. Intimidated by his prolific output I only ever listened to Massive Conspiracy Against All Life and his most recent, True Traitor, True Whore. Massive Conspiracy was the only one I could get into. It’s hard for me to see past some of his anti woman overtones and complete, encompassing despair that permeates his work and to me it becomes a bit unlistenable after awhile. Awarding him three spots on this list seems a bit like overkill to me. That being said, Tentacles of Whorror has some good moments.
97. Mayhem – Ordo Ad Chao
I’ve always been impressed with Mayhem’s ability to switch up their sound. They switch it up about as often as they switch up band members. Mayhem isn’t my favorite black metal band but their early releases, Deathcrush, Live in Leipzig, and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas are genre classics. Ordo Ad Chao in my opinion really shows off the skill of the players in Mayhem, in particularly Hellhammer’s drumming and Attila Csihar’s weird, twisted vocals. Solid album.
96. Revenge – Infiltation.Downfall.Death
Another new album to me. Holy crap this one is blisteringly angry and brutally fast. I guess I should have expected that from a band consisting of members from Conqueror and Angelcorpse.
95. Shining – V: Halmstad
This album is bleak. Very dark, very punishing but with great riffs and songs. Shining’s output is really hit or miss with me, this one being the one big hit. They say this falls into the “depressive” black metal category but I think this transcends it. Don’t put this on if you are in a good mood. Misery loves company I’ve heard.
94. Rotting Christ – Triarchy of the Lost Lovers
This was probably Rotting Christ’s first step into their goth/black metal phase. This is not as far in as they would get the songs definitely get “groovier” and less bombastic with more focus on the guitar. I’ve been a fan of most of their work and think of all the bands who play this sort of black metal, Rotting Christ is the best.
93. Peste Noire – La Sanie des siècles – Panégyrique de la dégénérescence
This album was completely new to me. I had heard the name but never the band and I’m kind of sad now I hadn’t heard it earlier. This album is phenomenal. Folky in all the right parts, black and miserable in the rest with a swirling melody. There’s something in the French waters I think.
92. Vinterland – Welcome My Last Chapter
I just listened to this album a week ago but I don’t mind listening to it again. I could listen to this album everyday and not be tired of it. If I were compiling this list I definitely would have ranked this higher. Much higher. This album is amazing.
91. Mystifier – Goetia
Another new album for me. To my ears, this one is really straddling the fence of death metal. There are some creepy keyboards in it but I hear death metal. A solid album but not sure if this is top 100 Black Metal albums worthy.
90. Alcest – Le Secret EP
Alcest has always been a perfect example of how to make beautiful black metal. While this EP is new to me, I’m not surprised at how amazing it is. That’s Alcest for you. This position could have gone to any number of Alcest albums but I’m glad I got to discover this one.
89. Krieg – The Black House
I’ve been following Imperial’s record store blog for awhile now but hadn’t bothered to check out his actual band. This is an awesome slab of black metal. Quick, furious songs and a rock style beat. Good stuff.
88. Marduk – Those of the Unlight
The first of two Marduk appearances on their list. With multiple entries from multiple bands on here I’m surprised Heaven Shall Burn… When We Are Gathered wasn’t included. This, Opus Nocturne and Heaven Shall Burn are all great albums and I have a hard time picking the better of the three. However, A Sculpture Of The Night is one of my favorite black metal songs. Again, I would have placed this higher.
87. Gehenna – Malice (Our Third Spell)
I was pleasantly surprised to see Gehenna show up on here. If you ask me a band that sounds downright evil I would say Gehenna. My favorite of their Spells albums but all three are classics if you ask me.
86. Aura Noir – Black Thrash Attack
I love this album. Black Thrash Attack is a perfect descriptor of what this album is. Plus the alternating songs between Aggressor and Apollyon give it a great, unique blackened thrash feeling. This album will blow your face off.
85. Tormenter – Anno Domini
I recently go this album because it seems a ton of black metal bands consider it to be of great importance. It’s an ok album but I’m not sure it’s as great as all that. I guess the argument is that it predates the second wave of black metal. Atilla’s voice is great but he sounds better in Mayhem.
84. Judas Iscariot – Thy Dying Light
This album is ok but I disagree with it’s placement based on Decibel’s description. I agree it sounds very much like the early Norwegian stuff, almost to much but Decibal ranks it because it was a one man black metal band in 96 from America. There are some amazing one man bands that I can think of that didn’t place and have a much more unique sound (cough cough Panopticon cough) than just paying homage to their Scandinavian influences.
83. Craft – Fuck the Universe
I’ve only heard their most recent album Void and honestly, I think that one should have placed here instead. Void is unrelenting in it’s ferocity and hatred. Not to say this one isn’t grim and hate filled, it’s just not as intense.
82. Cobalt – Gin
Some local boys! I love this album. For sure would have put this higher on my list. I love the way the throw so many different styles into a blender and pour out there folk infused, drone take on black metal. Put on the song Stomach and tell me this isn’t awesome. Great stuff.
81. Fleurety – Min Tid Skall Komme
Fleurety got experimental with black metal. Groovier drum beats, piano interludes, swinging guitars. I think Arcturus might have started this fire and their flame burns brighter but this album is an interesting and enjoyable addition if you are looking for some different kind of black metal.
80. Mysticum – In the Streams of Inferno
Another new listening experience. Man I was not prepared for this one. Blistering black metal all set to the beat of a drum machine. While a drum machine might not be unusual for black metal, usually they try to hide it and make it seem like real drums. Not here. It sounds like a dance songs drum machine. I dig it.
79. Ludicra – Fex Urbis Lex Orbis
I got into Ludicra right after they ended. Go figure, but I was instantly hooked. I love their take on Black Metal and how they aren’t afraid to try some new things with it. This is probably my favorite of theirs though I do have a soft spot for The Tenant. Might have ranked this higher.
78. Negurã Bunget – Om
There seemed like there was a huge commotion around this band a couple years ago and now all the fervor has sort of disappeared. This is a pretty solid album and I enjoyed revisiting it for the first time in awhile. Top 100? Not so sure about that. I bet I won’t listen to it again for some time.
77. Darkspace – Dark Space I
I was pretty excited to see Darkspace show up on here though I wish it would have been Dark Space II. I has some good moments but it’s far to long and unfocused. II gets all that crazy, cosmic black metal into a much more concise package.
76. Deströyer 666 – Phoenix Rising
Ah, Australian black/thrash. This album and Unchain the Wolves are both shredders. This album is unrelentingly cool with one shredder after the next. I am the Wargod (Ode to the Battle Slain) is an epic in the truest sense of the word.
75. Ved Buens Ende – Written in Waters
This album is all over the place but in the best way. It’s almost math rock. Crazy transitions and timing abound but never miss a beat. And the vocals? What can be said about the vocals? From crooning, to croaking to shrill and piercing. All this combines to make an incredible album, and the only one from the band.
74. Deathspell Omega – Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum
As far as I’m concerned Deathspell could have a spot for every one of their albums. The fact that this ranked so low is almost criminal. They do have another album on this list that places higher but still, Deathspell can play circles around your favorite band and most of the bands on this list.
73. Immortal – Battles in the North
Immortal shows up two more times on the list and rightfully so. I kind of love Immortal all around. You could do worse than to pick a random Immortal album. The ones on the list I think are a pretty good selection, though again I would rank this one higher. 35 minutes of Norwegian sub-zero black metal. Fantastic album.
72. Funeral Mist – Maranatha
I was only familiar with the name Funeral Mist before this album. I missed them on my Swedish Black Metal week and that seems like a shame. The interwebs tells me that their previous album Salvation is better so I may have to check that one out now.
Some non top 100 listening this week:
Falkenbach – Asa
Deathspell Omega – Drought
Rotting Christ – A Dead Poem
Axeslasher – Anthology of Terror, Vol 1.
Stay Creepy My Friends!