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Blackened Shards of Hate – A Black Metal EP Roundup

With the sheer volume of releases coming out of the underground metal circuit, it is only natural that some of the smaller releases get overlooked. It’s a shame, because many a times, these EPs and Splits can offer some kick ass music which gets overlooked. So in an attempt to cover some of the more smaller releases in the realm of black metal, the Transcending Obscurity staff have put together a list of recent black metal EPs and splits you should not be missing out on. ~Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Afsky (Denmark) – Afsky (Self Released)


The solo project of Solebrud guitarist/vocalist Ole Pedersen Luk, Afsky makes a big impression on its self-titled debut EP. Comprised of three songs that run for around 18 minutes, Afsky covers a lot of ground in that period of time and treads the line between traditional black metal and depressive black metal, with some additional influences seeping in to provide some subtle nuances. Opener Frosten knuger sjælen i graven has that abrasive second-wave tonality and riffing that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Taake record, while the other two pieces alternate between icy assaults and slower atmospheric/depressive sections that have a lot of depth to offer listeners. It’s a strong first showing for this new Danish black metal project, and with plenty of growing room it should be interesting to see where Afsky chooses to go in relation to Solebrud. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Bait (Germany) – Sunburst (Wooaaargh Records)


While most bands that combine black metal and punk elements go down the crusty, thrashy route, Bait from Germany opt for a more atmospheric, post – rock / post hardcore oriented route. The destructive nihilism is ever present, but it is delivered in a much more layered format. The band doesnt necessarily stick to one side of the coin and they keep alternating between the tracks. Openers Nihil and Inner War deliver a more punk oriented attack with hardcore style riffs and atonal black metal melodies, compared to the atmospheric musings of Leviathan II and In the Absence of Light. Bait’s approach to black metal is definitely interesting and fresh sounding, giving a well rounded EP just under 27 minutes. ~ Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Blakk old blood (Switzerland) – Greed (Clavis Secretorvm)


Brandishing a vicious mix of black metal and punk, Blakk Old Blood channel the likes of early Impaled Nazarene and Nifelheim. The riffs are jacked up on speed, with venomous snarls and frantic drumming accompanying it. The production sounds very old school and has an atmospheric feel to it. Blakk Old Blood manage to invoke a sense of blapshemy with their short, black punk tracks. Misanthrope and Thou are the Dragon blow by very quickly, and are the types of tracks that you play over and over again without tiring of it. The only detractor from this EP would be the final track Seed of Greed. In an attempt to create an ominous atmosphere, the track is dragged on for a bit too long and doesn’t have enough material to justify it. Then again, you can always skip this and return to the blasphemous front half of the record. ~ Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Cairiss (UK) – Fall (Self Released)


From UK emerge this fresh and promising act playing black metal but employing clean vocals in addition to a few harsh shrieks to a stunning effect. Too often you have the fragility of the atmosphere and melodies shattered by overbearing vocals but here’s a band that have managed to fix this issue rather elegantly. Although it may take a while to get accustomed to at first, with the vocal grace and finesse of the singer Freya Jane Brown, it all falls into place. Musically, it’s partially reminiscent of Saor (albeit minus the folk-ish bits) which can never be a bad thing. Clearly Cairiss are onto something here and they probably have a good future in store for them if they can expand upon their sound and reach out. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

Cult of Erinyes (Portugal) – Transcendence (Caverna Abismal Records)


This Belgian band play sharp, ritualistic black metal that has a strong sound and a keen, cutting edge. With riffs that seem bathed in poison, the band produce music that is smothered in grim portents and dark omens. ‘Transcendence’ is 19 minutes of pure malevolence that’s sure to get fans of the style interested. This EP has two well-written original songs, as well as a cover of the Mayhem classic Pagan Fears. I can listen to this over and over again; I suggest you do to. ~ Nigel Holloway

Enlighten (Portugal) – Illvmantithesis (Signal Rex)


Portuguese black/death metal band Enlighten has been keeping busy, following up last year’s ‘Phösphorvs Paramovnt’ with a new two-track EP titled ‘Illvmantithesis’. Though this is only their second release overall, the duo already has a more fully formed sound than a lot of groups are capable of achieving this early on. Opener Pallor takes on a bit more of a black metal slant, letting a sprawling melody lead into a wall of icy blasting and mid-tempo riffing that twists and turns like a serpent. Shroud opens things up a bit more, letting the haunting, abrasive melodies weave a path equal parts black and death metal. Though it’s over in eleven minutes, there’s substance to both tracks that will keep you coming back and hint at even more exploration of ominous and unsettling instrumentation in Enlighten’s future.   ~ Chris Dahlberg

Hades Almighty / Drudkh (Norway / Ukraine) – Pyre Era, Black! / One Who Talks With the Fog  (Season of Mist)


When Norwegian entity Hades Almighty awoke from their 14 year slumber in 2015, they had a brilliant little EP called ‘Pyre Era, Black!’. This release has now been combined with a couple of tracks from Drudkh, to form a neat little split. It’s not hard to see why they’d team up Drudkh, considering the modus operandi of the two bands are not very far off. Both bands have the tendency to weave folk melodies into traditional raw black metal. While the Ukranians go for a more atmospheric approach, Hades Almighty’s take on black metal is a bit more grandiose. Another difference comes in the form of songwriting, where Hades Almighty incorporate progressive ideas in the way the tracks flow. This split is released on Season of Mist, and is a record that is recommended for fans of both bands. ~ Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Necromantic Worship (Netherlands) – The Calling (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Necromantic Worship may be Dutch, but they pull from a particular black metal sound that is more reminiscent of the Greeks. On their newest demo ‘The Calling…’ the group delivers black metal driven by rumbling bass lines and eerie keyboards that give a mysterious, ominous feel. Where so many others have keyboard work that comes off feeling overly cheesy, Necromantic Worship pulls it off in a manner that makes it sound like something truly otherworldly and mysterious. In addition to the standout bass and keyboard work, vocalist Ghûllzaraën utilizes a whispered scream that seems to flow from underneath of the instrumentation and pull you underneath the depths of darkness and despair. This particular type of black metal can be hard to pull off, but Necromantic Worship makes it look easy. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Rats of Reality (UK) – Obsequies (Self Released)


Now this is something a little different; something a little unexpected. This UK band have taken the slightly unusual route and managed to successfully combine blackened crust/thrash with elements of blackgaze. What, I hearyou ask? Well, it’s true – it’s as if Deafheaven decided to knock their current direction on the head and embrace a crust approach, only keeping in the mix their abundance of resplendent melodies and highly emotive riffs. That Rats of Reality aspire to do this is impressive enough; that they do this easily and well, is even more impressive. Ones to watch, for sure. ~ Nigel Holloway

Somnium Nox (Australia) – Apocryphal (Self Released)


Apocryphal is one song spanning an epic 16 minutes and covers several aspects of black metal – the bombastic flair, atmospheric parts, ambient interludes, and so on. It’s fair to call it progressive black metal because it can’t be relegated to just a sub-style or two. Opening with the sounds of the Australian ancient instrument didgeridoo, it adds a shamanistic quality to the proceedings and the way the band takes it forward from there is almost miraculous. Heavy parts alternate with ambient/dissonant/acoustic bits, which makes this an extremely riveting affair, as you wonder what will happen next. Releases like this with utmost attention to detail and presentation are few and far between, and there is indeed joy in stumbling upon a band that have aced it on their very first song/release. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

Toska (Iceland) – Toska (Eihwaz Recordings)


Every time I think I’ve found all of the noteworthy black metal from Iceland another band appears out of nowhere. The country continues to generate some of the most intriguing acts out there, and Toska is another worthy addition. After releasing their self-titled EP last year independently, it has been picked up by Eihwaz Recordings and one listen is all you’ll need to figure out why the label snatched it up. Coming in somewhere between the icy, soaring leads of Blut Aus Nord or a black metal take on the spacey insanity of Mithras, Toska comes in with wave after wave of sound and almost doesn’t give you enough time to process what you’ve just heard. It’s a more technical, aggressive take on the atmospheric/melodic black metal sound, and that’s sure to turn quite a few heads. ~ Chris Dahlberg


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