Enlarge Djevel holding their Spellemann. Picture by @marielle.goldilocks.

The Year That Was: Black Metal in 2022

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This year has brought albums from groups like Abbath, Watain, and Sigh. After three decades, the highly polarizing Mystic Circle finally released their self-titled, eighth record in February. This seems oddly appropriate because the past twelve months have been just as bizarre as this German band’s early work, which is actually quite amusing.

And while “poser” Black Metal has continued to run rampant, countless bands have proven that the “black flame” lives on. Join us as we reflect on the highlights of 2022.

Best Black Metal Album of the Year

Djevel’s Naa skrider natten sort is not only the clear winner, but it’s also one of the greatest albums of all time. It is the second installment in a trilogy that began with Tanker som rir natten (2021). The fact that Tanker som rir natten (2021) was honored this April with a Spellemann Award, or “Norwegian Grammy,” may have been the best news of the year.

Best Debut Album

The Nidrosian supergroup Ritual Death has already wowed us with other releases, so we fully expected their self-titled debut album to be phenomenal as well. It’s a must-hear.

Other Recommendations

Khold’s Svartsyn, Ofermod’s Ofermodian Litanies (EP), Nordjevel’s Gnavhòl, Djevelkult’s Drep alle guder, Mork’s Den Svevende Festning (EP), Dødsengel’s Bal Al On, Darvaza’s Ascending into Perdition, Kampfar’s Til Klovers Takt, Funeral Harvest’s Redemptio, Archgoat’s All Christianity Ends (EP), Askeregen’s Brennende åkres gr​ø​de, Blood Chalice’s The Blasphemous Psalms of Cannibalism, Chaos Invocation’s Devil, Stone & Man, and Darkthrone’s Astral Fortress.

Most Needed Reissue

Reissues of Ragnarok’s In Nomine Satanas (2002), Collectors of the King (2010), and Blackdoor Miracle are coming out on December 30. However, the vinyl copies will ship in March. Pre-order these classics here.

You May Have Missed…

American metalheads probably have not heard HILD’s ValFreiya. HILD, the project of ex-Marduk’s Lars Broddesson, is mainly a thrash band with elements of black, death, and crust.

Best Cover

There were a lot of whacky cover images this year, but the front of Glemsel’s Forfader, which features two Victorian women, is especially unforgettable. The music itself is also great.

Strangest Release

The insane carousel ride that is Pensées Nocturnes’ Douce Fange (2022) has divided listeners, but it’s definitely a laudable effort.

F*CK-Yes Moment

We were delighted that vocals by the late Trondr Nefas were used on Vulture Lord’s “Bloodstained Ritualknives,” which you can find on the split Deathiah Manifesto.

Greatest Signing

The legendary Nargaroth and Season of Mist have teamed up. Finally! A major label has recognized the genius of René “Ash” Wagner.

Exciting Developments

Carpathian Forest’s Nattefrost and Vrangsinn (and the Arsonists) played their first gigs as solo artists in 15 and 11 years respectively. This occurred at Skien Metalfest 2022, where the two icons also presented art. Both Nattefrost and Carpathian Forest have shared progress relating to their upcoming albums. However, Vrangsinn is, unfortunately, taking a break from performing live with CP. Thankfully, he won’t stop working with them in the studio.

A ton of bonuses have been announced for those attending Inferno Fest next year, such as a BM exhibition at the National Library of Norway that will open the same month. Cadaver’s Anders Odden has resurrected his BM sightseeing bus tours for festival-goers.

We saw more proof that Snorre Ruch’s promises haven’t been empty. He really will deliver a second Thorns album.

Tulus is set to unleash their next record, Fandens Kall, on February 17. A documentary about the making of this effort will drop in advance on December 30.

Trondheim’s Manes recently recorded seven songs.

We are stoked for the 2023 debut album by RUÏM, the project of ex-Mayhem’s Blasphemer.

Coolest Events

Mayhem celebrated the 30th anniversary of the recording of Live in Leipzig (1993) a couple years late on December 15.

Beyond the Gates had a lot going on this year, including a wonderful photo exhibition curated by the top authority on BM, Finn Håkon Rødland; tours by famed producer Pytten, who also led a conversation with Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson; guided trips by ex-Old Funeral’s Tore Bratseth; etc.

The Year That Was: Black Metal in 2022
 Attila Csihar and Finn Håkon Rødland. Photo by Filippa Rødland. 

Urgehal embarked on a “Death March / Dødsmarsj for [Trondr] Nefas” in honor of the 10-year anniversary of their brilliant frontman’s untimely passing. Their reunion will continue into 2023.

Best Dressed

We were envious of Vicotnik’s clothing, accessories, and makeup during a performance by Dødheimsgard at Halden’s Imperium Festival.

The Year That Was: Black Metal in 2022
Photo by Carl Eek.
Video by Finn Håkon Rødland.

Funniest Thing

Mayhem’s Teloch has become obsessed with Crocs.

Feel-Good Stories

The Satyricon & Munch exhibition at Munchmuseet of Oslo was a huge success… And Satyr earned a bronze medal behind the wheel of a Porsche in the Norwegian Championship for racing.

Most Surprising Update

It wasn’t a surprise when Mr. Niklas Kvarforth decided to axe all Shining’s members except Peter Huss. Nevertheless, after 26 years, we certainly did not expect Mr. Kvarforth to announce: “Finally, Shining have truly become, and sound like a real band!” Shining is the best, but it has always essentially been Niklas’ one-man show with some other extremely talented musicians serving him. Shining now features Mayhem’s Ghul, ex-Necrophobic’s Alex Impaler, and ex-Cradle of Filth’s Nicholas Barker.

Anniversaries

Mayhem’s Deathcrush turned 35.

The first full-length True Norwegian Black Metal studio album, Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky, celebrated its 30th anniversary (!) as did Immortal’s Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism and Burzum’s self-titled debut.

Mayhem’s Wolf’s Lair Abyss, Ulvers Nattens Madrigal – Aatte Hymne Til Ulven I Manden, Gorgoroth’s Under the Sign of Hell are still youthful at 25.

Tsjuder’s Demonic Possession first gripped us 20 years ago.

Coincidentally, Shining’s V – Halmstad, Lifelover’s Erotik, Darkthrone’s F.O.A.D., and Dødheimsgard’s Supervillain Outcast are all bratty yet incredibly brilliant 15-year-olds. Slavia’s Strength and Vision is also the same age.

(Note: 2023 will mark the 30th anniversary of what has famously been dubbed the “year of misery” when Euronymous was tragically killed. Nevertheless, 1993 also gave us several classics like Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon.)

So… How Did This Year Compare to Last?

2021 was far more exciting overall, but a few fantastic albums dropped toward the end of 2022 like the pick below, which we recommended earlier.

Prognosis for 2023

Based on what has already been revealed, we can safely say that 2023 will be a great year for dangerous black metal. For a taste of what’s to come, check out the following track from Høstsol’s debut album, Länge Leve Döden, which drops on January 13.

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