|The Best Bm You Never Heard.|
Based on the number of votes for each album, these are all impressively ignored by the Sputnik userbase. Some are albums ignored in favor of more popular ones by the same artist, others are albums by artists that are completely ignored. Download and be impressed:
The Key of Throne
Melodic/symphonic black metal, lying somewhere between Summoning, Graveland, and Emperor. Some of the most beautiful melodies to come out of black metal, and one of the best vocal deliveries in the entire genre as well. I generally couldn't give a shit about vocals, but these are so good they impressed even me.
Although a compilation, this is fully capable of standing as a unified album. It is also the only Ildjarn work ties in his earlier feral black metal with his later ambient works by the presence of two songs exclusive to this particular release - "Eksistensens Jeger" and "Svart Dag (The Nothingness)", which are both stunningly beautiful, all the more so because you don't expect such a thing from Ildjarn.
Following the Voice of Blood
Graveland in general doesn't seem to get a lot of attention here. Both 'The Celtic Winter' and, to a lesser degree, 'Thousand Swords' are better than this, but this is the least known here out of the three. It's also the first album that fully embraces the more symphonic approach Graveland adopted later on.
Divus de Mortuus
I would actually consider this death metal more than black metal, but it straddles the line between the two pretty closely. In any case, it is absolutely excellent - some of the most unrestrained and violent metal you'll ever hear.
Circle of the Seven Infernal Pacts
Easily the best black metal album to come from Germany, although Nox Intempesta's 'Damnanus - Dominum' isn't too far behind. Very doomy, very atmospheric, it serves as an example of how you can "sound like" another band on paper (in this case, Darkthrone and early Samael) and yet still remain completely different for subtle reasons.
Profanatitas de Domonatia
A lot of people hate the drum sound on this. A lot of people hate the repetitiveness on this. A lot of people hate the up front simplicity on this. However, if one engages in this album as a fully involving EXPERIENCE, and not just a fun piece of music, it becomes dreadfully apparent just how deep it can really go. Next to Ildjarn, this is one of the best expressions of unbridled hatred ever created.
Like 'Profanatitas...', this album requires a LOT of attention to really "get." In this case, however, it's for the opposite reason; there is a lot of stuff going on that is easily missed. Really complex, convoluted stuff, although it won't sound that way if you just play it as background music.
|8||Axis of Advance|
Consider yourself at full liberty to fully ignore Malfeitor's review of this album. It is excellent in many ways. As Noktorn over at m-a pointed out, Axis of Advance is at heart a funeral doom band that simply happens to play very fast. The melodies here are either immersive or offensive, and they work in perfect tandem with the lyrics - which, should you bother reading them along with the music, you will see that they are some of the best in all of metal.
This is a band that tends to get ignored by most people, not just Sputnik. They have put out several quality albums, but I consider this their best - it matches the medievalist atmosphere of their earlier works with the industrialist intensity of their following ones. The whole album is unrelentingly paced, but only in a way that influences you to go along for the ride. It should also be noted that the production is terrible, and not in a black metal way. Volumes go up and down randomly, and it all sounds like it was recorded with homemade electronics. But once you accept these "flaws," they only add to the album's charm of speeding riffs, truly frightening vocals, and hypnotic drumming.
Although this band is hardly ignored by Sputnik (making a comeback seems to have that effect) this particular album is. It's rather surprising how different it is from their later, more heavy-metal-oriented output. This is some very, very dark shit.
Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan
You can probably figure out what this sounds like simply by reading the title. What makes this good, however, is that it does the obvious thing (fury, evil, etc.) well. Somehow, Antaeus managed to make what SHOULD have been a run-of-the-mill black metal album an excellent one instead.
|12|| ||Nox Intempesta|
Damnanus - Dominum
As with the Antaeus album above, this is one that seems standard (and unexceptional) on paper, but manages to exceed its own niche. Very similar to Mayhem at their best, there as a definite sense of unbridled, unapolegetic spirit in this. It just so happens that it's the spirit of war.
Yet another German black metal band that has somehow missed the limelight over the years. This band predates the synth-obsessed experimental tendencies that would plague the rest of German black metal by a number of years. There is as much industrial and epic heavy metal in this as there is black metal. Although I usually detest those sort of mixtures, Tha-Norr did it in a way that made it sound natural, avoiding the curse of gimmickery.
|14||Throne of Ahaz|
Apart from Sacramentum, this may be the best black metal to come from Sweden. Their second is good as well, but starts toeing into the frigid waters of Norsecore. Here, however, they have made something truly special.
Joined in Darkness
Yet another of the rare breed of American black metal bands that managed to actually be good. Like Black Funeral, they managed to create an atmosphere that can only be described as "medieval," without making it seem retarded that Americans were attempting to create anything referring to medieval aesthetics. This is a very unique album, both in quality and in sound.
Before this band became absolute shit, they made some very good stuff, the best of which is this little EP. Some of the most melancholic music I've ever come across, yet it still manages to avoid sounding self-pitying. Honestly, that one guitar solo gets to me every time - if you listen to this, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
If I were to describe this in words, you would think I was saying it was another of those bands that is great in spite of not being unique. But that isn't the case. Krieg's music always has never been confused for anyone else's. This album in particular is just... out there. The riffs on this thing are a whirlwind, chaotic and dangerous.
Under Ein Bloodraud Maane
Once again, an oddball black metal album infused with traits from numerous other genres. Like Arcturus and Ulver, this band explored quirkiness in their music; unlike almost every band who has done this, they were able to create stuff that sounded natural in spite of being so odd. They later went on to trip-hop, which was OK, and then succumbed to shitty experimentalism. This album, though, is virtually a classic in some circles.
I'll be brief: there has been nothing this atmospheric since 'Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.'
This band has a lot of similarity to Graveland, which should come as no surprise if you look at the members. Despite that, it definitely has its own personality. If anything, I would say it has even slightly MORE of the "lose yourself in another world" aspect than Graveland(no easy feat), although it's not better overall. Make no mistake, though - this is excellent, as is the second album.
Folkloric Necro Metal
Hate Ildjarn? Can't imagine that anyone could truly enjoy it? Listen to this album, and you might begin to understand. The music is almost identical -there's even an Ildjarn song or two on it- but the aesthetic is completely different, and much easier for the average black metal fan to appreciate. Which is not to say this album is merely a gateway to Ildjarn - it expresses many of the same concepts, but it does so using a different path. And both paths are worth exploring.
There will surely be a lot of people who find the sound on this album almost offensive. But if you can get past the initial "what the fuck?" moment, you'll discover a beautiful set of songs built around classical melodic progressions. This is like a black metal Mozart.
To me, the best Greek metal is a tie between early Septic Flesh and Necromantia. Varathron and Rotting Christ are pretty good too, but they just have too much heavy metal in them for me to take them as seriously. In any case, this is Necromantia's best work - although only an EP and not a full-length, it is more than potent enough to leave you feeling different than you did before pressing play.
Black Hateful Metal
Now THIS is weird. When I heard it was Polish black metal, I was expecting another Graveland clone(there's tons of them). Nothing could be further from the truth. This is another one of those albums that has not simply low production values, but verifiably BAD production. This one takes a little while to get into, but once it does draw you in, it does so for good.
One more of the exceptions to the rule of me disliking black metal with variety in it. A lot of people describe this as being ahead of its time, and in a way it is - it pulls of the whole mixing-genre thing effectively long before other black metal bands did the same. However, that is not what makes this good; what does make it good is how well it catches your attention with melodies that would normally sound cheesy yet don't.
South American black metal that sounds like, well, nothing else. Yes, there is the obvious Sarcofago/Sepultura/Vulcano/etc. element here; but this is closer to a demon becoming more evil by losing its sanity than it is to being a condemnation of religious values.
The Other Side
Yet another largely-ignored black metal gem from Sweden. This one sounds a lot like Hypocrisy, for obvious reasons. However, I would venture to say Tagtgren was better at making this album than he was at making any other album for any other band. Really cool stuff in here.
We Are Death... Fukk You !
Love them or hate them, there is only one SadEx. Although their combination of Blasphemy-style musical fury and Impaled Nazarene-style outlandishness became gimmicky on their last two albums, they managed to make their first few albums sound simply uncompromising instead - like they knew what they wanted to do, and did it, even if it confused others. This is fucking awesome.
|29||Spear of Longinus|
Like fellow Aussies SadEx, Spear of Longinus gets a lot of flak for reasons that might be very valid. They've always made better interviews than albums, and the majority of their work can only really be appreciated for reasons that go beyond the music itself. However, that is not the case with this particular album. Although coming out in the very late year of '97, this is an equivalent to Mayhem's 'Deathcrush' in both style and honesty. This is some absolutely ripping metal that you'd think came out almost ten years earlier if you didn't already know the date.
|30||I Shalt Become|
Let me get this out of the way: this is entirely a Burzum clone. In spite of that, it stands on its own - it may not be unique, but it IS very, very good stuff. The following albums were rather disappointing, but that only serves to prove that this one is great - it set a standard the band itself couldn't match.
Blut und Krieg
Germany makes yet another appearance on this list. This one is a little more standard fare than most of the other ones mentioned here, but it is nonetheless very good. Considered an underground classic by many, I personally wouldn't go that far, but it should definitely be heard by every black metal fan at least once. Preferably more than once.