11 Black Metal Bands You Might Be Missing Out On
Thanks to the sheer breadth of music being made these days, it’s not an exaggeration to say there are some black metal and ambient acts out there that deserve to be as popular as The True Mayhem. Though these bands didn’t make the cut since they’re currently disbanded, they’re certainly legendary and didn’t receive nearly enough recognition: Slavia, Beastcraft, Skuggeheim, Selvhat, Kaosritual, and Angst Skvadron. The True Narcotic Black Metal project Secht is another defunct underrated gem.
Speaking of long gone outfits that just missed inclusion in our list, Gaahlskagg has been on hiatus for more than 20 years, but their work should definitely be at the top of your playlist, if only because it’s one of Gaahl’s lesser-known endeavors. We likewise urge you to explore Skagg’s often-overlooked Deathcult, which continues to collaborate with the legendary black metal producer Eirik “Pytten” Hundvin. And if you aren’t already familiar with RUÏM, then we urge you to pick up their stellar debut album, Black Royal Spiritism — I — O Sino da Igreja, which dropped in May.
But enough talking about bands that didn’t make this list. We’re here to help familiarize you with some killer bands that you need to check out ASAP. All of our picks are currently active, many of them rank among the most twisted artists in the industry, and they should be in your rotation moving forward — if you have the constitution for it, that is.
From the beginning, Norway’s Knokkelklang has wowed us with four demos and their 2018 debut album, Jeg begraver. This dismal record deranges the senses with the inhuman vocals and tortured poetry on display as transcendent beauty and utter hopelessness intertwine for nearly 42 minutes. The sepulchral atmosphere is laced with divine synths. Jeg begraver equates to cremation in sonic form. Thus, it’s no surprise that the artist behind this one-man band, Levinger, a.k.a. E. Rustad, is also part of Askeregn, or “Ash-rain” — another outfit we highly recommend.
Cold Prophet is a brilliant one-man project of Finland’s Tuomas Tahvanainen. This black ambient act happens to be much darker than all but the very best BM. Cold Prophet’s sublime self-titled debut album dropped last year on June 18.
Cold Prophet is gorgeous yet brutal and maximally disturbing. This mesmerizing effort was mastered by the celebrated Andy LaRoque of King Diamond. The band’s next release will be a split with the outfit below the next selection on our list, for a little bit of foreshadowing.
Kyūketsuki is one of the many phenomenal projects of the French-born, New York-based Maxime Taccardi, who goes by “Yūrei” here. Taccardi is a veritable Renaissance man, with experience as an exhibited painter, sculptor, author, teacher, photographer, and video director. It’s with those skills that he’s able to film his own videos and create his own album art. Known for painting with his blood, of course Taccardi has been generous with the application of bodily fluids on many of Kyūketsuki’s covers.
Kyūketsuki began as an ambient project and transitioned into a black metal monster. Taccardi incorporates traditional Japanese instruments; Kyūketsuki has always mined inspiration from Japanese folklore and other influences. Meanwhile, Taccardi’s raspy and tormented vocal delivery proves that he might actually be a chthonic deity. If Kyūketsuki’s haunting music doesn’t drive you to commit seppuku, you’re probably deaf.
If you thought we were done extolling the ingenuity of Maxime Taccardi, you were sorely mistaken. K.F.R is yet another magnificent brainchild of the visionary Frenchman.
For K.F.R’s work, Taccardi has actually used human femurs as drumsticks, such as when he recorded the album Ad Manifestationem Diaboli (2018). On the latest warped release, Pain/Ter (2023), former member Déhà returned to provide drums. The second half of Pain/Ter’s penultimate composition, “The Serpent’s Kiss,” includes outstanding guest vocals by Taccardi’s fellow genius Niklas Kvarforth. Both Taccardi and Niklas appear in the track’s music video, which was, as can be expected, directed, filmed, and edited by the former.
Duivel is the diabolical creation of the legendary Nachtraaf, who was known as VRDRBR during his twenty years in the Urfaust. The Urfaust duo released their seventh album, Untergang, on August 11 and then devastated us with the news of their untimely demise two days later on the 13th.
Yet as we weep over Urfaust, the fact that Duivel still lives on provides a wicked sense of comfort. In Duivel, Nachtraaf is not only joined by phenomenal permanent members, such as Black Anvil’s Paul Delaney on bass, but he has furthermore enlisted the help of incredible guest artists, who share his ideals. Earlier this year, we reported on Duivel’s latest EP, Heiligschennis, which continues to amaze us. It is a wonderfully beautiful and perverse offering, which comes loaded with “Heksenkut” / “Witch-Cunt.”
We would say that Høstsol is the supergroup of our dreams, but this miraculous band actually defies our wildest expectations. Formed in 2020 by Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth and Manes’ Cernunnus, Høstsol also showcases the gargantuan talents of Ajattara bandmates ex-Barathrum’s Kalmos and ex-Shining’s Rainer Tuomikanto. Mayhem and ex-Shining’s Hellhammer served as Høstsol’s original drummer.
Yes, Høstsol’s debut, Länge leve döden, not only made our mid-year BM list, but it’s truly one of the genre’s best offerings, in my elitist opinion. It is that superb. With tracks like, “Det som en gång var (det kommer aldrig igen),” Länge leve döden gives us much of the same feeling as when we heard certain black metal classics for the first time about 30 years ago.
The Netherlands’ Botulistum has been spreading their savage, lo-fi blasphemy since 1998. Over the years, this group has released much extraordinary content — two demos, three splits, a live album, an EP, and a compilation. Yet, it took until this May for Botulistum to finally unveil their eponymous full-length debut.
All of Botulistum’s nefarious music is quite orgasmic, but we must admit that their split cassette from 2000 with Christfighter provides an especially suitable soundtrack to bedroom activities. It contains naughty hits like “De ontknaping van Jezus” / “The Erection of Jesus.”
Kwade Droes is a totally insane Dutch black metal duo. This devilish outfit released their terribly demented self-titled debut EP back in 2017 and has gone on to unleash three full-length albums and a second EP since. We will refrain from mentioning the identities of the psychopaths behind this project, lest we anger these gods of depravity. However, we can say that Paul Delaney has contributed as a guest.
Fír combines savage black metal with ambient and synthy elements. Although this relatively new Dutch entity has yet to release its debut album, Fír has already treated us to several captivating offerings. The compilation Het werk van de doden dropped this year, for example. Fír is the one-man project of Fír himself, who goes by various other monikers elsewhere. This veteran of the Dutch black metal scene has, past and present, performed in a variety of outfits: Vaal, Staar, Blood Tyrant, The Wampyric Specter, Tirgûl, Ravenzang, the dark synth project Old Tower, etc.
The black metal/ambient group Syning is composed of three highly respected masters: Whoredom Rife’s V. Einride, Manes’ Cernunnus, and Levinger of Knokkelklang. V. Einride and Cernunnus, a true pioneer and muse, both play together in Manii. If you love Manii, you’ll also adore Syning.
Thus far, Syning has only released their self-titled debut, but that awe-inspiring aural ossuary is all you need. Indeed, it transports you back to the ’90s, but also feels very new. Syning is raw yet polished, ethereal, and obscure treasure.
It would be a crime if we neglected to mention Maxime Taccardi’s newest one-man enterprise, Osculum Serpentis. His spectacular yet unbearably frightening debut under the Osculum Serpentis banner, Maleficia, dropped on August 24. This evil, necrotic, and vampiric artistic triumph blew our minds to mere skull fragments. Maleficia has all the ingredients of greatness, including a chilling monologue from Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972).