Love and Pain is a painting by Edvard Munch, It has also been called Vampire, though not by Munch. Munch painted six different versions of the subject in the period 1893–95. The painting shows a woman with long flame-red hair kissing a man on the neck, as the couple embrace. Although others have seen in it “a man locked in a vampire’s tortured embrace – her molten-red hair running along his soft bare skin,” Munch himself always claimed it showed nothing more than “just a woman kissing a man on the neck”. (from Wikipedia)
Inspired by a number of very good albums that were released in the last few months, I’m dedicating this post to a musical genre that despite being included into the “Extreme Metal” category (and, as such, followed by a tinier category of listeners with respect to other mainstream genres), nonetheless is capable to offer some of the most passionate and exciting songs across the entire musical panorama.
Within Progressive Black Metal I include a family of styles of music which span from Blackgaze to Progressive Metal. Within this this fairly wide grouping of genres, let’s see which have been the most interesting releases of the year, ranked from the best. These are six great albums from both relatively new bands and also legendary and well-renowned metal groups.
I spoke about the great work of Finnish Antipope in a recent post of the blog. The new album from these nordic metallers, named Denial/Survival, is in fact gifted by an huge amount of creativity and innovation.
Ten years ago the band started as a conventional black metal group. With each following release, however, they have incorporated many additional styles of music including progressive metal, gothic, doom and also an hint of industrial. With their forth full-lenght work the band has reached a point where an overwhelming number of different influences and techniques have been merged together creating something really new and quite unique in today’s music scene.
Enslaved, the legendary black metal band from Norway, arrived this year to the impressive result of releasing the fourteenth album of a long and influential career. Their biography says that at the turn of the new century the band started to insert incrementally progressive elements inside their original style, and the last album is a further confirmation of the approach they matured in the last decade.
The new album, named E, mixes some typical black metal moments with surprisingly softer and post-rock oriented passages. It’s clear that the two minds behind the band, Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjørnson, who are also the only remaining member of the original formation, are still driven by a huge creative fire and also by an evident desire to continue experimenting with sounds and grooves.
Ne Obliviscaris, Urn
Despite representing maybe a little step back from their absolutely beautiful first two albums, the last work from the Australian metal sextet Ne Obliviscaris still represents on of the best progressive metal releases of the year. Urn, their third and last full lenght releases, combines the incredible technical expertise that the guys form Melbourne had already shown in their previous works with an indisputable ability to develop enjoyable melodic lines that are never trivial or boring to hear.
With respect to the previous LPs of the band, the new album loses a bit of freshness and immediacy, but also testifies the effort made to introduce some new elements to evolve their sounds. We have here relatively darker and more introspective atmospheres, still supported by excellent songwriting skills.
Sun of the Sleepless, To The Elements
Behind the moniker Sun of the Sleepless we have the one-man experimenta metal project crated as back as 1999 by the talented German musician and singer Ulf Theodor Schwadorf. After a first phase in which he produced a bunch of EPs and a split album with German black metal band Nachtmahr, the project was basically put on hold for more than 10 years, actually until this new release of 2017, To The Elements.
The album shows how confident the German musician has become during the last decade in merging together black metal elements with ambient-like soundscapes and progressive rock influences. The combination of so different elements seems in fact absolutely natural, almost spontaneous, and this attests the impressive songwriting skills that Ulf Theodor Schwador has matured through the many experiences in which he’s been involved in the long time between the two phases of the Sun of the Sleepless project.
Violet Cold, Anomie
Violet Cold is an experimental one-man project crated by Emin Guliyev from Baku, in Azerbaijan, and Anomie is his fifth studio album released so far. His music has been described as depressive black metal, blackgaze or post black metal. But as sometimes happens, these kinds of tags and labels don’t explain completely the beauty – I would say the musical elegance – that lies behind the wall of sounds and the articulated melodies whic we find dispersed into such a beautiful record.
The six tracks of the album compose a long and mysterious musical journey into atmospheric and dark territories, with a few bright glows which every now and then illuminate the scene. Guliyev really managed to put together a refreshing and original sound which stands out from the mass of similar albums.
Farsot is a German metal band which released this year their third full-length release, Fail·Lure, which arrives on the shelves almost exactly ten years after their debut work. Despite being active for so many years, I have to admit that this group is one of those discoveries I did in the recent times thanks to the automatic playback function of Youtube.
Among the six albums included in this list, Fail·Lure is undoubtedly the one where the black metal’s sonorities are more present. Nonetheless, the songs of this album contain many elements of evolution from simple and straight black metal style, such as groovy riffs interleaved with disturbing atmospheric moments.