Within the past decade, black metal has seen bands from all over the world incorporating new sounds to the style and changing its delivery like never before. As great as the classic acts are, BM bands today seem to be branching out in every possible direction. From the beautiful chaos of the French bands to the psychedelic dabblings of the Finns to the atmospheric scene out West in the U.S... all the experimentation is helping to create a new identity for the genre. So, in no particular order, here are some of the best releases from this growing trend of originality within black metal's foundations (atmospheric, psychedelic, black doom, and otherwise).
Blut Aus Nord - MoRT More strange avante garde black metal, the album title stands for Metamorphosis Of Realistic Theories. Vindsval's use of a fretless guitar on this release creates a very distinctive sound.
Diapsiquir - Virus STN By far the strangest and most chaotically schizophrenic of the French BM bands, no understatement. Get ready for swing piano, babies crying, and bizarre spoken word parts. Lyrics in French.
Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini One of the original 90s Norwegian bands, Enslaved are getting increasingly progressive as they go along, and have, in my opinion, been getting better and better with each subsequent album.
Agalloch - The Mantle American atmospheric black/Blackened folk metal. The deer skull percussion on "The Lodge" says it all.
Kawir - Isotheos Probably one of the more orthodox releases I've put on here, but Kawir still aren't the average BM band. Lyrics in classic Greek all about Greek mythology, female vocals, awesome harmonic chants, and a bit of flute and acoustic guitar.
Melechesh - Emissaries Atmospheric/Oriental black metal. Israeli BM band with lyrics about ancient Mesopotamia. They're kinda like a black metal version of Nile, albeit more groovy and less technical.
Wolves In The Throne Room - Two Hunters Call it "tree hugger black metal" if you want. Atmospheric black from Washington, highly pantheistic lyrics. Occasional nature sounds, like bird chirping and running rivers thrown in. Female vocals too ^_^
A Forest Of Stars - The Corpse of Rebirth Folklorish black metal from the UK. A wonderfully composed 6-person band, these guys have a fondness for dressing in garments reminiscent of Victorian England while onstage. Fun band.
Oranssi Pazuzu - Kosmonument Finnish psychedelic black metal. By far one of the strangest bands I have ever heard. Amazing atmosphere, feels like falling into a black hole.
Candy Cane - Jaula Another Finnish psychedelic black metal band. Kinda like Oranssi Pazuzu (who they actually did a split with), but a bit weirder and more spontaneous at points
The Ruins Of Beverast - Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite One man German blackened doom project of former Nagelfar drummer Alexander Von Meilenwald. Biblically-historic lyrics, a riff-heavy guitar tone, and (in addition to the BM shrieks) deep, operatic vocals that help to create a haunting and mesmerizing vibe. Very distinct atmosphere unique to Alex.
Nagelfar - Srontgorrth The crown jewel of German black metal? Five massive tracks of keyboard-driven, eerie atmospheric black metal, with a highly folky (somewhat viking) sound thrown in. Great bass tone as well.
Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma Is it psychedelic? Is it progressive? Is it black metal? Is it all, is it none? This crazy Greek band has a sound like no other. Think 70s Hawkwind + black metal, and that's something close to the noise these guys generate. Yeah, it's that insane. "Into the Gates of Time" says it all.
The Great Old Ones - Al Azif More good French atmospheric black metal. The fact that these guys are Lovecraft-themed pretty much automatically makes them good.
Negură Bunget - Om The magnum opus of Romanian black metal, no exaggerations. The folk elements are simply amazing and will blow your mind.
Elysian Blaze - Blood Geometry A 2 hour, double disc masterpiece crafted solely by twisted Norwegian genius Mutatiis. Highly symphonic and orchestral at points, the longer tracks containing multiple movements like an opera. Don't pass this one up.
Atriarch - Ritual Of Passing Blackened doom from the U.S. These guys are unique in the fact that they really lean more towards the doom side of the equation, this album being much more so an extreme doom release than anything else. Vocalist Lenny Smith, with his magnificent blend of BM shrieks, classic stoner metal-esque cleans, and haunting operatic drones, really adds the icing to the cake.
The Flight Of Sleipnir - Essence Of Nine Blackened folk metal is becoming a tad overdone these days, but this American duo throws some stoner metal elements into the equation that really help give the music an original, riff-heavy, catchy groove that I see few other (if any) bands replicating.
Dordeduh - Dar De Duh Negura Bunget core guys Sol Faur and Hupogrammos split off from the band in 2009, forming their own project that takes the folk elements to new heights while also still retaining some of their trademark composition techniques from Negura.
Murmuüre - Murmuüre French ambient black metal driven by twisted mastermind Felix. Very spacey, but also strangely technical at points. This is definitely one of those "you have to hear it to understand it" type of albums.
Botanist - III: Doom In Bloom Self-proclaimed "eco-terrorist black metal," a bizarre one man American project of Roberto "The Botanist" Martinelli. Instrumentation limited strictly to drums, vocals, and hammered dulcimer, which creates a sound that's a bit hard to digest, but quite rewarding once you do.
Nocte Obducta - Umbriel (Das Schweigen Zwischen Den Sternen) Like many other experimental black metal bands, these German guys began with an orthodox BM sound before gradually transitioning to much more interesting territory over the course of their discography. This release in particular is an all-inclusive avant-garde journey of eerie synthesizers, highly atmospheric and psychedelic guitar, and fantastic blend of clean and black metal vocals. Very dreamlike, and actually more ambient than it is black metal, but a fantastic band/album regardless.
Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by Apothecary ]
Lol this list isn't complete yet, I just took a break from it for a bit. I have about 30 other bands to add to it, but I've just been feeling lazy as of late
And yeah, I'm well aware of Leviathan and The Ruins Of Beverast. Two amazing one-mand bands. Murmuure I'm unaware of though, will check out.
I came here through your comment on my 2012 best to worst list. There's definitely some stuff here I need to check!
Glad I could help out. Yes indeed, if you're looking for strange and bizarre black metal, this is the list on metal storm. Not trying to say that I know the most about black metal on metalstorm (go to JOEE or Troy for that), but I'm definitely your guy for inquiry into the weird side of the genre