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The Best Black Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016


1.  Inquisition - Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith 183
2.  Schammasch - Triangle 135
3.  Deathspell Omega - The Synarchy Of Molten Bones 122
4.  Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä 116
5.  Névoa - Re Un 30
6.  Skáphe - Skáphe² 22
7.  Abbath - Abbath (write-in vote) 21
8.  Dark Funeral - Where Shadows Forever Reign (write-in vote) 19
  Glorior Belli - Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes) 19
10.  Almyrkvi - Pupil Of The Searing Maelstrom [EP] 11
11.  Cobalt - Slow Forever (write-in vote) 8
12.  Alkerdeel - Lede 7
13.  Plebeian Grandstand - False Highs, True Lows 6
Total votes:
785



With muffled, bass-heavy production and dissonant guitars mixed low to really accentuate the lo-fi feeling, Lede is as sludgy as it is frosty. The frantic riffs and half-shouted, half-screamed vocals betray a lot of hardcore punk influence, but with this level of speed, distortion, and unholiness, Alkerdeel has enough black metal clout to land a spot in this category. All the looming suffocation can't drown out those razor-sharp guitars and blastbeats, and it shouldn't stop you, either.

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If you dig Blut Aus Nord's 777 trilogy and especially its second part, The Desanctification, this EP is something you may like, too. Pupil Of The Searing Maelstrom combines a similar industrial beat with space-themed lyrics and riffs as cold as empty space, à la Darkspace. This music absorbs the listener like a black hole...

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After six years, the French titans who revolutionized black metal, Deathspell Omega, are back in action with a new full-length. The sound here is not too far gone from where they last left off, a ferocious blitzkrieg of dissonant black metal madness. One could say a more redefining formula would have been preferable here, but, man, is it great to have these guys back on the throne showing all their contemporary emulators how things are really done.

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Glorior Belli has become a name worth noting due to its fusion of orthodox black metal with Southern rock (an odd combination, yes, though one that works extremely well). Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes) might actually be the band's most straightforwardly black metal release to date, but those swamp country elements still haunt the background - and even if it's "just" traditional-style black metal, you know you can trust a name like Glorior Belli to deliver a consistent, cohesive, and highly enjoyable effort.

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Inquisition have tried out a new vocal delivery that may ameliorate their standing with some listeners. What remains the same, and what may serve as consolation to those fans who appreciated Dagon's batrachoid rumbling, is the impeccable taste in guitar lines. Inquisition is all about the riff construction (and long titles), and even if Bloodshed Across The Keyboard Of Every Fan Who Has To Type This takes a few steps into more conventional black metal territory, the album remains faithfully Inquisition.
Two men, four songs - which all begin with the letter C. Coincidence? No. A colossal sound? Yes. Re Un is another illustration of how black metal is expanding across all kinds of metal music genres and sub-genres. Doom, post-, sludge, and ritual and psychedelic aspects are melded into one tight, efficient aperture. Re Un is a dreary, visceral, dark album, with themes of self-conflict and helplessness. Shall we sign you up?

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The Finnish psychonauts return for the fourth chapter in an ever-expanding saga of what can only be described as cosmic DMT black metal. Continuing in the bouncy, jammy vein of Valonielu, but somehow making things heavier and even more hypnotic on the black metal front, Värähtelijä could very well represent a peak in the musicianship of Oranssi Pazuzu, seeing them in their catchiest and most entrancing form yet. Strap on that oxygen tank, for you'll surely need it with this one.

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False Highs, True Lows balances finely on the edge of black metal and hardcore, employing the style of ragged screams and noisy, disquieting riffs that somehow belong to both genres simultaneously. Furious drums throw down an onslaught in the undercurrent while cacophonous riffs and feedback ping off each other in bleak phrases of noise, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of later-era Mayhem material with an unusually wavery and thick, drony black metal sound. Plebeian Grandstand knows how to make an unpleasant-sounding album.

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The short attention span of people in this day and age may deter potential listeners to this mammoth of an album, which lasts 100 minutes, but who needs those sore losers anyway? The term "mammoth" may be appropriate for the length of the album, but a couple of tracks in, one may start to realise the term is very much applicable to the actual music as well. Not only does it crush like a mammoth in terms of heaviness, the sheer scale of the soundscapes has to be experienced as the inner void of your soul opens up in harmony to the dissonance and sonic madness that is to follow.

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If you happened to catch Skáphe's debut album back in 2014, it can only be said that 2016's follow up is an improvement of massive proportions. Now this brainchild of the talented Alexander Poole sees the addition of the mysterious D.G. (Misþyrming) on vocals, making what was already an impressive sound even more dynamic and spine-tingling. Thundering, abrasive, and unrelenting, but also oozing a delicious undertone of dark, swirling psychedelia, Skáphe² is a clear, powerful demonstration of what separates "great" black metal from the "good."

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