Enlarge Vemod: E. Kalstad (Left), E. Blix (Top Right), J. E. Åsli (Bottom Right). Photographer: Jana Junker.

12 Reasons Why 2023 Will Be an Excellent Year for Black Metal


Black metal is a genre that’s experiencing a bit of a renaissance. The Spellemannpris / “Norwegian Grammy”-winning Djevel awed us last year with Naa skrider natten sort — the second brilliant spot in their current trilogy, which has since made us eagerly await the third installment. Many other fantastic BM bands have announced they’re in the process of making — or have completed — new albums: Snorre Ruch’s Thorns, Manes, Nargaroth, Order, Den Saakaldte, Gehenna, Ljå, Dark Sonority, Nattefrost, and Carpathian Forest.

Although we don’t actually know when any of the above albums will premiere, several exciting releases are scheduled to rear their monstrous heads this year, while a few unforgettable offerings have already come out. Of course, it’s impossible to predict which records will be delayed and which bands might decide to drop musical bombs with little warning. With that in mind, we have prepared a list of reasons why this year’s sure to be remembered as an excellent year for black metal.

We would like to give a huge thank you to leading black metal expert Finn Håkon Rødland for informing us about the plans concerning the first four releases. He also drew our attention to the awesome new project at the end.

Vemod’s Forthcoming Album

If everything proceeds as expected, the cult legends Vemod will unveil their long-awaited sophomore album this autumn via Prophecy Records. Formed in 2000, this crown jewel of the Nidrosian black metal scene released their full-length debut, Venter på stormene, in 2012. This “Dark Ethereal Metal” band excels at creating incredibly rich and gripping atmospheres that rank among the best. Cerebral yet intrepid, Vemod summons landscapes of fire, ice, and northern lights while taking you on an intensely meaningful inner journey. Just listening to their divine art is a spiritual experience. Vemod consists of a rarified crew: the insanely accomplished E. Blix, a.k.a. “HBM Azazil” / “Kvitrim” of groups like Mare and Djevel; J. E. Åsli, formerly of One Tail, One Head; and E. Kalstad.

From Venter på stormene:

Slagmaur’s Forthcoming Album

Label-mates of Vemod, Slagmaur will hopefully release their fourth album this year via Prophecy Records as well. Formed in 1997 as Norske Synder, Slagmaur finally adopted their current name in 2006. Slagmaur created some terribly cool demos as well as a killer split before unleashing their masterpiece of a debut album, Skrekk lich kunstler, in 2007. The late legend Steimgrim Torson and E. Blix both provided additional vocals on that effort. Slagmaur’s work is stunning, theatrical, and bizarre. This inventive outfit explores the most varied shades of black and extreme horror, never ceasing to amaze us. Slagmaur certainly has some of the greatest imagery in the genre. Their friend and collaborator Snorre Ruch was actually photographed for the band’s 2019 single “Wildkatze.” Slagmaur’s roster currently features Dr. Von Hellreich, Lt. Wardr, and General Gribbsphiiser.

From Skrekk lich kunstler:

Whoredom Rife’s Forthcoming Album

Whoredom Rife has just finished recording their fourth album! It is set to be released later this year by the mighty Terratur Possessions. We are honestly not sure how Whoredom Rife could possibly follow up the triumph that is Winds of Wrath (2021). Yet, we know that this duo always produces stellar content. Formed in 2013/2014, Whoredom Rife consists of veterans K.R and V. Einride. Whoredom Rife is not only known for delivering True Norwegian Black Metal exactly was you want it in the 21st century, but they have also attracted attention due to their remarkable visual art. Since their 2016 debut EP, Whoredom Rife has been collaborating with Berlin-born and Peru-based artist and scholar Jose Gabriel Alegría Sabogal.

From Winds of Wrath:

Misotheist’s Forthcoming Album

Also thanks to Terratur Possessions, we can expect Misotheist’s third album this autumn. Like all the previous bands on our list, Misotheist hails from Trondheim — the 21st-century capital of black metal, if you ask those who actually understand the genre. Misotheist clearly does their best to remain shrouded in a veil of mystery. That said, this band is definitely one of the most under-recognized talents out there. The incredibly harsh, fire-breathing Misotheist makes elevated art for an elite type of listener. Nevertheless, it seems inconceivable that any metalhead could fail to love Misotheist’s work.

From For the Glory of Your Redeemer (2021):

RUÏM’s Planned Debut

What could be more exciting than the debut of a new project by the ex-Mayhem legend Blashpemer?! RUÏM’s genesis was inspired by the rediscovery of a tape with Mayhem-era riffs. Blasphemer provides guitar, bass, and vocals while “CSR,” César Vesvre, contributes drums. RUÏM is currently signed to Peaceville Records, who will be releasing their album sometime this year. You might have heard RUÏM’s “O Sino da Igreja (Threat Mix)” on Peaceville’s 35th-anniversary compilation titled Dark Side of the Sacred Star, which came out this past December.

Mork’s Dypet

Expect only excellence from Mork — the one-man project of Thomas Eriksen. Although Eriksen performs with a live lineup of musicians, he writes and records all of Mork’s material by himself. Mork’s last EP, Den svevende festning, was one of our top picks of the year for 2022, and the full-length Katedralen was recognized as a clear top album of 2021. Like RUÏM, Mork also contributed a song, “Alrunens Hevn,” to the recent Peaceville compilation. Eriksen clarified on his podcast that “Alrunens Hevn” was a leftover track from Dypet. Mork’s records have showcased several iconic guests like Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto and Kampfar’s Dolk. Dypet will feature an appearance by ex-Kvelertak’s Erlend Hjelvik. Mork has had three different beer collaborations in the past, and we hope to see a new ale brewed to mark the joyous occasion of Dypet’s release on March 24.

From Dypet:

Tulus’ Fandens Kall

Founded in 1991, Tulus is one of the True Norwegian Black Metal greats. Tulus’ seventh album, Fandens kall, premiered online a day early on February 16. This monument to authenticity features Sarke, Blodstrup, and Crowbel. We can’t praise this magnificent effort highly enough. As always, on Fandens kall, Tulus marries the poeticism of masterful lyricist Hildr with a boxer’s strength. Tulus delivers the rawness and brutality that you need while giving you a whole new level of groove. Tulus’ distinctive creative voice has always put them in a category of their own, and you’ll hear that right away on Fandens kall.

Sarke, a.k.a. Thomas Bergli, has stated his intention to make a new album with his eponymous “solo” project next. Given that Sarke is one of our favorite bands, we obviously can’t wait for that. Sarke is, of course, fronted by Nocturno Culto and features other incredible musicians as well.

From Fandens kall:

Dødheimsgard’s Forthcoming Album

In terms of quality, artistic integrity, and wild creativity, no band surpasses Dødheimsgard. DHG’s new album will be released this year via Peaceville Records. Their last effort, A Umbra Omega (2015), is honestly one of the best things I’ve heard. It’s the height of art. Vicotnik co-founded DHG with now ex-member Aldrahn in 1994 and then brought Darkthrone’s Fenriz aboard for a time. Although DHG began as a fairly straightforward black metal outfit, Vicotnik has long solidified his reputation as the king of avant-garde BM. He recently caught us by surprise by starting a new project called Doedsmaghird. Know that both DHG and DMG were included on Dark Side of the Sacred Star. Their contributions were titled “Stemmen fra evigheten” and “Then, to Darkness Return” respectively. DMG’s debut album should come out in 2023 as well!!!

Vicotnik has also spoken about the possibility of new releases with Ved Buens Ende and Strid as well as a DHG compilation with unused material at some point in the future. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

From A Umbra Omega:

Shining’s Eleventh Album

Shining’s eleventh album, which will unleash its wrath this year, will be the band’s first full-length offering since X — Varg utan flock (2018). Fortunately, Shining now boasts a glorious new lineup. After Shining’s mastermind, Mr. Niklas Kvarforth, axed everyone but his longtime guitarist Peter Huss, he enlisted ex-Dimmu Borgir’s Nick Barker, Mayhem’s Charles Hedger, and ex-Necrophobic’s Alex Impaler.

If you purchase XI’s first single, “Allt för döden,” on vinyl, you will also receive an exclusive cover version of Alice Cooper’s “Pick Up the Bones.” That gem will be released on April 25. Similarly, the album’s second single, “Avsändare okänd,” will be published on vinyl with a cover of Danzig’s “Crawl Across Your Killing Floor” on June 29.

From Varg utan flock:

Shining’s Reissue of Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt

The new Shining lineup also recorded four bonus tracks for the reissue of the 2012 EP of cover songs called Lots of Good Girls Gonna Get Hurt. Although all the original picks, except maybe Katatonia’s “For My Demons,” were unlikely choices for an extreme band, Shining pulled them off perfectly. The 11-Year Anniversary Edition, which ships late this month in CD form and next month on vinyl, comes with a special essay by Mr. Kvarforth himself.

You might already know that Kvarforth has already established himself as an author. The release of Cinematic Nightmares — Volume III, the first, despite its name, installment in his trilogy of film books, has been delayed. Yet, we really hope to read it soon.

From the original Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt:

Høstsol’s Länge Leve Döden

Niklas Kvarforth’s Swedish/Norwegian/Finnish supergroup Høstsol dropped their killer debut album, Länge leve döden, this January. The Høstsol roster includes the legendary Cernunnus of Manes as well as Kalmos and Rainer Tuomikanto, both of Ajattara. (It is worth noting that Mayhem’s Hellhammer was the group’s original drummer.)

Given the talent involved, it seems only natural that Länge Leve Döden is a rare 10/10. It’s simply sublime — one of my favorite BM albums already.

From Länge leve döden:

Inferno & Beyond the Gates

Inferno in Oslo and Beyond the Gates in Bergen are always amazing festivals. Besides Vemod and Mork, these are my recommendations of can’t-miss artists who will be performing at Inferno: Djevel, Dold Vorde Ens Navn, Urgehal, Darvaza, and Odium. Events include a conference with Mayhem’s co-founder Kjetil Manheim, writer and ex-Turbonegro’s Harald Fossberg, and Masacre’s Álex Oquendo; Cadaver’s Anders Odden’s black metal tour bus sightseeing excursions; and guided tours of a BM exhibition at the National Library. Finn Håkon Rødland will also moderate a talk with the NRK team about the outstanding documentary series Helvete, which he had a major behind-the-scenes role in shaping.

Mare is going to be a huge highlight of Beyond the Gates. The very same day, Enslaved will give a live rendition of their classic 1997 album, Eld. This is destined to be a very special and historic moment that the band is very much looking forward to. On a related note, expect Enslaved’s latest triumph, Heimdal, to take you by storm when it premieres on March 3.

Attila Csihar’s Void ov Voices : Baalbek

The great Mayhem and Tormentor vocalist Attila Csihar has finally unleashed his first ever solo album. Void of Voices : Baalbek is a profound, haunting, and thought-provoking work. It was recorded in 2012 in Baalbek, Lebanon. Although this surprising offering dropped online in January, it was officially released on February 17. Attila actually started the project Void ov Voices in 2006 in order to perform ritualist music live.

From Void ov Voices : Baalbek:

Spirit Tomb’s “Aandegrav Trilogy”

Like the above pick, Spirit Tomb may not be metal, but this brilliant new project certainly is very black. Spirit Tomb’s superb and introspective art is also quite heavy in essence. It reflects the genius of its creator, the multi-talented Leon Kristoffer. The music consists of piano, cello, and vocals. Spirit Tomb is poetic, theatrical, and even cinematic — an all-consuming experience. The forthcoming “Aandegrav Trilogy” will be released by Apollon Records. It will, at the very least, begin to unfurl this year. Watch out for the EP The Lotus of Dahlia, the LP Spiritus Lacrimarum, and the LP The Haunted Palace.

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