Leaving Earth: 10 Trippy, Spacey, and Oddball Black Metal Albums
Whether with some substances, the gun, or just a wild imagination, there are so many reality-altering black metal groups that can show you what it’s like to blast off into madness. It would be criminal not to mention the likes of Shining, So Much for Nothing, Vanhelga, Hypothermia, Life Is Pain, Photophobia, Den Saakaldte, early Ofdrykkja, and Psychonaut 4 as prime, yet depressive, examples of bands that will totally derange your senses.
Must-hear albums that feel like very different types of illegal substances include Trollheims Grott’s Bizarre Troll Technology (2001), Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon (1993), Thorns’ Thorns (2001), Fleurety’s Department of Apocalyptic Affairs (2000), and the unlikely happy pill that is Wallachia’s From Behind the Light (1999) — it wins the award for the biggest earf*ck. Meanwhile, Trondheim’s Slagmaur has imagery that will make you feel like you’ve swallowed a couple sheets of acid.
So prepare to get high on our supply of black metal albums that should be classified by the DEA as a Schedule I sonic drug potent enough to alter even the most brilliant mind.
Secht — Secht (2006)
This “True Narcotic Black Metal” project was the brainchild of two legends — Vrangsinn, best known for his work with Carpathian Forest, and ex-Gehenna’s Dirge Rep. Secht’s stellar self-titled EP features guest appearances by all stars like Darkthrone‘s Nocturno Culto, the one and only Gaahl, Carpathian Forest’s Nattefrost, Tsjuder’s Nag, Aura Noir’s Apollyon, etc. Secht is one of the most underrated black metal gems — a strange fact considering the talent involved. Yet, one could argue that the experimental nature and originality of this miraculous project makes it somewhat inaccessible to mere mortals.
Angst Skvadron — Sweet Poison (2010)
Angst Skvadron was the project of the late Trondr Nefas of bands like Urgehal, Beastcraft, and Vulture Lord. This magnificent genre-defying outfit could be described as alien black metal, though Angst Skvadron gave listeners permission to call their music whatever “the hell you’d like.” The haunting, hallucinatory, and inventive Sweet Poison was Angst Skvadron’s second of two albums. This offering came with the message: “Again, this album is written in extreme hangovers and extreme medication at Gjør Det Til Helvete Sjøl Studio and at Bikkjehuset.” The lyrics themselves are often quite amusing, so listen carefully as you embark upon the highly varied journey that is Sweet Poison!
Dødheimsgard — 666 International (1999)
In the most refined and intellectually challenging way possible, Dødheimsgard‘s thoroughly brilliant 666 International is guaranteed to make you feel like you’ve just won a golden ticket to another dimension. Twenty-four years later, this avant-garde classic still seems way ahead of its time. By all criteria, 666 International is a mind-blowing masterpiece that will call your preconceptions about music and much more into question.
This album boasts a lineup that was completely out of this world: Vicotnik, Aldrahn, Svein Egil “Zweizz” Hatlevik, Czral/Aggressor, and Apollyon. Although all members but Vicotnik have since changed, the biggest danger of Dødheimsgard remains that their work makes pretty much everything else seem like a bad joke. Thus, once you have understood the genius of DHG, you won’t be able to break free of their spell. Keep an eye out for DHG’s sixth record, Black Medium Current, which drops on April 14.
Skitliv — Skandinavisk misantropi (2009)
At the heart of Skitliv, ex-Mayhem’s Maniac provided vocals and guitars while Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth contributed backing vocals and guitars. Based on one of Niklas’ tattoos, the duo actually were introduced by Mayhem’s Attila Csihar. Since then, the two have become brothers in spirit and weathered several lineup changes together.
Although Skitliv had other releases, Skandinavisk misantropi remains their sole full-length album to date. Skandinavisk misantropi showcases some very special guests, such as David Tibet, Gaahl, now ex-Den Saakaldte’s Honey Lucius, Attila, etc. We haven’t heard from Skitliv in quite a while. Both Maniac and Kvarforth are currently directing their respective energies elsewhere. However, we know that they have at least worked on new material for another record, which we hope will come to fruition one day.
Troll — Universal (2001)
Troll — the product of the fountain of creativity dubbed Nagash. You might know Nagash from his past work as Dimmu Borgir’s bassist. Remarkably, this two-time Norwegian Grammy-winner remains at the head of The Kovenant, which he co-founded as Covenant in 1992 with Psy Coma, who in fact appears on Troll’s third album, Universal. Mayhem’s Hellhammer, a.k.a. “Mr. Hellhammer,” is yet another one of the five talented artists whom you will hear on Universal. The cover of Universal may look like a troll, but if you just open your mind, the music is awesome. Universal is a far cry from Troll’s debut record, Drep de kristne (1996), which Nagash completed as a one-man effort. That said, Troll truly earned the right to push the envelope even further than they had on The Last Predators (2000), a dual effort, by the time the addictive Universal unleashed its mind-bending poison.
Mysticum — Planet Satan (2014)
The “Black Magic Mushrooms” band Mysticum is known for pioneering industrial black metal. They also managed to distinguish themselves from their peers by ingesting vast quantities of substances at an early time when the Norwegian BM movement was not exactly into that sort of thing. “We poisoned the scene,” frontman Cerastes joked in conversation with author Dayal Patterson in regard to the topic of substance use. Although Mysticum is one of the most important black metal bands to have cursed the universe, here in America, they unfortunately do not receive the recognition they deserve.
Nattefrost — Terrorist (Nekronaut Pt. I) (2005)
The eponymous “solo” project of Carpathian Forest’s iconic frontman, Nattefrost brings you “True Primitive Narrow-Minded Elite Black Metal.” Nattefrost’s debut album, Blood & Vomit (2004) set the bar impossibly high. “Recorded… under heavy influence of alcohol, drugs and hell,” the band boldly described their album as “probably the best album in the world.” Nattefrost’s sophomore record, Terrorist (Nekronaut Pt. I), is an equally titillating offering.
“Hellcommander Nattefrost” / “Nattep*nis” worked with a variety of very special guests, including his Carpathian Forest collaborator Vrangsinn, ex-Carpathian Forest’s J. Nordavind, ex-Gehenna’s Dirge Rep, Aura Noir’s Aggressor, Gehenna’s Sanrabb, etc. (To be clear, Vrangsinn, whom we will probably hear again on Nattefrost’s next release, has stated that he is taking a break from performing live with Carpathian Forest. Nevertheless, he will continue working with CF in the studio, contributing to the songwriting process, etc.)
Apati — Morgondagen inställd i brist på intresse (2010)
Formed in 2007, Apati remains one of the most memorable depressive black metal bands. Their insanely powerful art is as paralyzing as a drug binge. Morgondagen inställd i brist på intresse was their second of two albums. This heartbreaking gem begins with “Kemisk kärlek,” or “Chemical Love,” and leaves you with these words as the end approaches: “Jag sjukanmäler mig för resten av livet, och väljer total isolering. Min morgondag är inställd, i brist på intresse…” / “I report sick for the rest of my life and choose total isolation. My tomorrow is cancelled in a lack of interest.” The album features now ex-Shining’s Christian Larsson, who was known in this context as Patient C, and Ofdrykkja’s Pessimisten, who went by C9H13N. Co-founder Obehag departed from the band in 2011 and tragically passed away shortly after. Thus, Apati disbanded, despite having so much more darkness to spread.
Odium — The Sad Realm of the Stars (1998)
Odium’s lone album to date, The Sad Realm of the Stars, will catapult you into outer space. It’s a gorgeous and unique offering that’s absolutely unforgettable. Fortunately, Odium is still alive and well, so we really hope that they will release a new record at some point in the future. They actually haven’t lavished us with a new recording since the superb 2001 single “Altering the State of Being.” Luckily, you can catch Odium at Inferno Fest this year. Also, keep in mind that Odium is closely linked to Myrkskog — all three of the latter band’s current members are active in the former outfit. Two of these musicians also play in Nordjevel — another one of the most exciting groups around.
Lifelover — Erotik (2007)
The self-described “narcotic” metallers Lifelover delivered performances that were of such an intensely emotional nature that they force you to question whether you’ve ever heard anything of the sort. To this day, countless bands shamelessly copy this legendary group, who called it quits after the death of co-founder B, or Nattdal, in 2011 (though they played a show shortly after and also celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2015). Yet, Lifelover’s honesty always rises above the swarms of their impersonators, no matter how skilled. The beautiful atmosphere of Lifelover’s Erotik (2007) is almost completely unparalleled. Erotik envelops you with the all-consuming embrace of opiates, alcohol, and misery.
And a Non-BM Extra…
Fenriz’ Red Planet’s Side of Engangsgrill (2009)
Anyone familiar with Fenriz’s work will already know that the Darkthrone icon has a fair amount of fairly trippy material. The three doom metal songs released under the Fenriz’ Red Planet moniker were unique tracks recorded in 1993 with the intention of completing a full-length doom album via Peaceville. Fenriz did everything himself, except now ex-She Said Destroy’s Ventilator added some tambourine, but he soon became too busy to follow through.
The split record featuring Red Planet and Nattefrost titled Engangsgrill, had the song “Jon Carter, Man on Mars” on its tracklist, which was ultimately turned into Valhall’s “Moonstoned.” Similarly, “My Ship Has Sailed Without Me” became Moonstoned’s “Dreamer.”