At the start of pulling this list together I had thought it to have been a "light" year for BM releases. It was only when I got into compiling my "Best of 2018" that I realised it had in fact been quite a good year. 2018 in BM saw the return of some well established acts, some of them doing what they have always done well whereas others took to the recording studios minus long standing members. When all is said and done, I think it all turned out rather well.
It is a Top 10 folks and sadly not everyone has a place, so appreciative nods in the general direction of:
Shining "X-Varg Utan Flock"; Alghazanth "Eight Coffin Nails"; Summoning "With Doom We Come"; Varathron "Patriarchs of Evil" and Watain "Trident Wolf Eclipse".
10. Panopticon "The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness I & II"
By far the latest release on the list in terms of me catching up with it. Usual atmospheric BM goodness on disc 1 and not too shabby folk/bluegrass/dark americana on disc 2. Does grow on me the more I listen.
9. Wallachia "Monumental Heresy"
A recent revisit to this album boosted it into the list. Those lush orchestrations supply a great foundation to those tremolo riffs and acoustic passages throughout "Monumental Heresy". Nice work.
8. Wiegedood "De Doden Hebben Het Goed II"
Aggression is the name of the game here, as death and anger are thrust at you from every corner. Can pass you by completely if you don't give it proper attention, and doing so will reap rich rewards as there is so much going on here beneath the surface.
7. Die Kunst Der Finsternis "Queen of Owls"
Another fine slab of vampiric, gothic and horrific BM from Sweden's finest lord of the night. This truly is the art of darkness at work right here.
6. Craft "White Noise and Black Metal"
Dodgy record title aside, Craft return with a real class release some seven years after their last outing. Catchy and scathing at the same time, the Swedes fifth full length make it two back to back releases from the country of IKEA into my top 10.
5. Drudkh "They Often See Dreams About the Spring"
Still no bad releases from Drudkh after 15 years of atmospheric BM. The atmosphere is just as prevalent as ever on release number 11, built into the intelligent song structures and mature riffing and growling we have all become ever so familiar with. There is just no getting away from the feeling of vastness on this record as it swallows you up track by track. Sadly this is also its main flaw as the attention required to fully enjoy this is a little too intense for my aged metal brain, otherwise it could have placed higher.
4. Immortal "Northern Chaos Gods"
Abbath who? I mean this is one the most Immortal sounding Immortal albums ever, right? Showing Demonaz as the real songwriting force behind Immortal, "Northern Chaos Gods" is just chock full of FUCKING RIFFS MAN! I mean play this in a dark room, get up to switch the light and you will trip over at least 4 riffs whilst trying to get to the light switch! They have song called "Blacker of Worlds" on here, I mean if that doesn't get your average corpse paint laden BM teenager wet then there's no hope for humanity.
3. Marduk "Viktoria"
Ok, this caught me completely off guard. I mean, pants down, around the ankles, pooing in a bag, in a forest in hi-vis work gear - caught off guard! Now I have stopped shitting in the woods like some giant luminous bear I am just having the time of my life listening to the short, sharp yet thoroughly enjoyable blasturbation of Marduk. Cold and melancholic melodies swirl throughout the album and fill your head like for days afterwards.
2. Sargeist "Unbound"
Another band that simply can do no wrong in my book is Sargeist. I am at the point now where I listen to each new release with trepidation, just in case this is the one that drops a bollock the weight of Finland itself as the band have decided to go all Euro Pop! Thankfully, "Unbound" is most definitely not Euro Pop. It is a furiously trve representation of Sargeist's traditional sound that is complemented superbly by melodic stylings from a largely new and reinvigorated line up. No Sargeist entry at Eurovision this year folks!
1. Winterfylleth "The Harrowing of Heirdom"
So, controversially not an actual BM record but most definitely a release by a BM band. I can't quite put into sufficient wording just how much I enjoy this record of acoustic storytelling. I sing along to every line, I get teary at every lush piece of instrumentation and atmosphere and I smile content as a Bond villain at every warm tone that washes forth from my speakers/headphones. An earthy, emotional and endearing experience that sits proudly atop of my list for 2018.