Here we go further into the countdown of the top 50 black metal albums of all time. Before I sat down at my computer I confessed to someone that I do not know why I continue to subjecting myself to the work that goes into making these lists. You my faithful reader seem to like them as the numbers don't lie so in honor of Black Metal History month I will press on. Obviously when ranking these I am looking for what I have listened to the most. Many of these I owned long before I had a Last Fm page to help track what I listened to and going with my gut. Best is not the fastest. Best is not even the most satanic though that gets these bands more points than just relying on speed. What has stood the test of time and I continue to return to are the most important qualifications. So here we go...
40-Inquisition- "Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm"
My rule is when in doubt go with the album that got you into the band in the first place.Aside from the weird production choices on this album this rule stands pretty solid with these guys. It also is yet another black metal album from 2010. This album they kept the SATAN up front, they come across as an evil version of Immortal. Granted with the production on this album they are not as big and thundering as Immortal or as big and thundering as the albums that follow, but there is just something about these songs that earns it this spot.
39-Wolves in the Throne Room - "Black Cascade"
Here is another one where I have to go with my gut. The more organic guitar sound of this album, elevates it above the others. These guys have been known to get distracted by the atmosphere and wander away from their camp fire. There is atmosphere to this album and I think it occurs in the most natural way possible.
38-Ulver-Nattens Madrigal -
Ulver might not be a black metal band now, but they once were. I prefer their mid-period where the two sides of the band were balanced, they also have many albums from this era where half the album is instrumental so picking what is best can be tricky, so with these guys there are a couple of album's I might have listened to more, but this is the black metal album I have listened to the most. For black metal the guitar solos on this one prove solos can work on a black metal album.
37- Blut Aus Nord- "the Work Which Transforms God"
These guys are similar to Ulver in the fact that they might have album's I am listened to more, but those album's are not black metal. So the rule is just because a band starts off as black metal doesn't grandfather later albums in by default. I think as far as their black metal albums goes this one is the best because it is so dark it borders on being depressive suicidal black metal. Their tendencies towards atmospheric experimentation are still firmly intact for this 2003 album and they set the bar for French black to follow them.
36- Hail Spirit Noir-" Oi magoi"
This Greek band takes a progressive approach to bringing their brand of darkness. The execution is flawless and they refuse to play by the rules.They do have the occasional blast beat, but sound like they are just as influenced by Deep Purple as they are Darkthrone. There are sections where it feels like they are wandering off into a jam, which is something you never hear in black metal.For a genre that is all about freedom and being a non-conformist, black metal all too often adhere to closely to playing in the confinements of being true rather than taking risks and this album celebrates the risks they take.
The band broke up after this album was released due to the overdose of their guitarist. They were not always black metal in the strictest sense by the time this album rolled around. I think the mood and the other influences brought to the table expanded what black metal could be. Like most of the depressive black metal, the emphasis is on an emotional heaviness. Sometimes this translates over into a metallic heaviness. Not burdened by an overabundance of blast beats, they sometimes veer into a more black n roll realm. I think this is a fitting picture of their full realized musical vision.
34-Twilight- "Monument to Time End"
This supergroup made an astounding album of forward thinking black metal, when they tried to mess with the formula and bring Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth into the fold, things went sour. But this album is a monument before that time ended. The guitars on here bring a indie rock sensibility and layers of melody. It is an album that is as heavy sonically as it is metal.
One of the amazing things about this album is it was created by one person. While this is less uncommon in black metal due to the misanthropic nature of the artists who play it, this album feels very organic like it is four guys jamming in a room. The drums are just as well played as the guitar parts to there is not the uneven feel of programmed drums that sound too thin for black metal. This doesn't follow the blue print of most Swedish black metal and owes little to Dissection.
32 - Moonsorrow-"Varjoina_kuljemme_kuolleiden_maassa" .
This 2011 album is so epic even the band themselves could not touch it when they tried to follow it up five years later. While it could also be on the top 50 pagan or viking metal albums list...if I ever get around to doing it or am even able to think of 50 albums worth a damn from those sub-genres. This album is dark enough to earn it's place here. Epic has become an overused term when it comes to metal, but if I had to pick one album on this list to use it for it describes the cinematic quality of what is going on here. Often the vocals are the most black metal element on the battle field, but I think this incredible album pushes the boundaries of what black metal can be. The folk elements are very well done and add to the over all sound rather than being a Middle Earthen distraction.
31-Marduk- "Plague Angel"
When mentioning bands from the second wave of black metal these guys are in the big 4 along side Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor and Burzum. Sure they might have albums that are more cvlt, but the songs are what matter and here they come off of some of the more spastic bursts of aggression to throb with a darkness that carries a more convincing feeling.A little more of an intimate feel to this album than what would happen on "Wormwood" and everything that follows.