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An alphabetically sorted list of 2015 albums that did not quite make it to the top-20, yet are just a step below. I found that ranking them was time-consuming and non-essential, since the difference in quality between them was almost non-existent, hence the alphabetic hierarchy.
A Forest Of Stars – Beware The Sword You Cannot See
In their fourth album, the British avant-garde band continue their exploration of atmospheric and narrative aspects of metal, distancing themselves even more from traditional black metal, yet managing to maintain a high level of quality, just a step down in comparison to their first three masterpieces. Full review here.
Akhlys – The Dreaming I
Nightbinger’s Naas Alcameth delivered with his side project’s sophomore album a frigidly thin, ambient-like black metal, with abstract structure, that conjures almost effortlessly a spectral soundscape of the night void. A fine species of hypnotic dark music. Full review here.
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of Witches
Well, this one is the first more-than-decent album of CoF in more than 10 years, so it must be mentioned. They have finally managed to pull off some excellent riffs, that though they are well below the masterpiece level of the 90’s, are an oasis for those who have silently been following them all these years.
Délétère – Les heures de la Peste
Quebec is bound to appear once or more times in my end-year lists. Délétère, after 2 promising demos released their debut, which stands steadily upon the Quebecois sub-genre, yet manages to instil a dark sense of occult upon it, mainly through the lo-fi, fluctuating production, which results in eeriness aplenty. Full review here.
Diabolicum – IA Pazuzu
The return of the industrial/clinical black metal Swedes was triumphant, creating an album that was based on the fantastic “The Grandeur Of Hell”, sporting a degree of variety that was unexpected and more than welcome. Full review here.
Drowning the Light – From the Abyss
From the Australians with the huge discography, came one of 2015’s most pluralistic takes on the early Norwegian sound, full of devotion to early Emperor, Gehenna, and all the atmospheric sub-genre in particular. If only its duration was somewhat shorter, it could well climb pretty high. Full review here.
Ethereal Shroud – They became the falling Ash
A UK black metal band is always welcome in end-year-lists, especially if it plays a sort of atmospheric BM that manages to create magnificent vistas of the dark side of nature. A mix of Summoning and Paysage D’Hiver would be the right decription.
Grafvitnir – Necrosophia
This is a last minute entry (figuratively speaking), that is bound to bring smiles to all old-Dissection fans. Excellent songwriting, close to the spirit of Nödtveidt’s band (meaning well-structured and flowing riffs), “Necrosophia” showcases a band that may not be the most original, yet manages to convey the 90’s occult spirit, along with blazing compositions.
Haukruunu – Havulinnaan
Epic black metal, drawing from epic-era Bathory (just listen to “Kuvastaja”), crossovering it with Scandinavian black metal riffing of a frosty nature. Nature- and past-worshiping, this is pagan black metal of raw elegance.
Malokarpatan – Stridžie Dni
Certain albums can fix your interest and positively bias you even before you listen them. That’s the case with those Slovakians and their debut, which is graced with an outstanding (and unusual, as far as black metal art goes) cover art, and a folklore lyrical content. Their style is an amalgam of Venom and Negative Plane, with much rawer production than either of these bands. If one, however, manages to dive under the murky surface, one can discover a multitude of excellent ideas accompanying the telling of dark tales from the Slovakian countryside.
Mgla – Exercises In Futility
The Polish masters’ third album was received with high acclaim almost universally, and though I tend to find it a bit predictable, and simplistic, riff-wise, it remains a release with high quality, and some of the best melodic riffs one can listen to in 2015. Full review here.
Nahtrunar – Symbolismus
It takes a lot of courage to kick off your album with “En Vind Av Sorg’s” riff, and not sound like a Darkthrone copy, yet these Austrians somehow manage it. Coming with an innate sense of romantic melody, this one is a prime example of black metal soundscaping.
Nechochwen – Heart Of Akamon
This was quite a surprise. The project of one of Obsequiae’s members, this is epic black metal done rightly, in the vein of Falkenbach or early Solstafir. It would be higher, if not for the odd (early) Opeth influence, that mellows down the overall image. Nonetheless, an excellent album.
Nettlecarrier – Black Coffin Rites
Nettlecarrier’s sophomore album follows on the tradition of the debut as one of the best examples of second-wave black metal of nowadays. Darjthrone and Gorgoroth worship of the highest qualitative caliber. Full review here.
Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs
The US riff-masters (with a deeply folk soul) returned after 4 years, with an album that follows upon the tradition of the amazing debut, is somewhat mellower, yet retains all the distinctive elements of the band, especially the excellent riffing.
Outre – Ghost Chants
One of the few examples of really interesting and refreshing orthodox black metal nowadays, this album a somewhat traditional mindset into Deathspell Omega sound, accompanied by some of the best vocals that one can hear nowadays. Full review here.
Revenge – Behold.Total.Rejection
Outstanding Grind.Noise.Black_Death_Terror from the Canadian masters of extremity, which (at least in my ears) have long surpassed their legendary compatriots (Blasphemy and Conqueror). A beast of an album, that emits uncontrolled sonic chaos. Full review here.
Sacral Rage – Illusions In Infinite Void
US power metal, with a bit of Watchtower weirdness thrown in is definitely my cup of tea. I had high expectations from this album, and the Greek band did not disappoint me, though a fluctuation of quality throughout the album is evident. Nevertheless, a grand debut, and my radar is definitely on them and their sophomore attempt.
Saligia – Fønix
This one was startling, in a good way. From the traditional second-wave black metal of their debut, Saligia turn to a more earthly disposition, somewhat doomier, somewhat crunchier, with a hint of epicness in the clean vocals.
Serpent Noir – Erotomysticism
A surprising turn of sonic direction for this Greek band, which slow down their black metal, imbuing it with psychedelic elements, yet retaining a deep sense of the occult, as well as the quality that permeated their debut.
Visigoth – The Revenant King
This one boasts some of the best songs of this year, with “Dungeon Master” being right on the top, but the bit of a groovy edge spoils the fun for some of us. A solid example of traditional epic metal, nevertheless.