Between 2015 and 2017 German trio Zeit carved themselves a niche within the world of extreme metal with three enjoyable – if challenging releases – that fused black metal intensities with an almost industrial abrasiveness. Further releases combined the black metal elements with heavier and doomier riffs, very much showing a band willing to stretch out without any concession to lightening up.
2020 was a busy year for progressive/melodic death metal act Ewigkeit. Their critically acclaimed 2019 album ‘Disclose’ basically set multi-instrumentalist James Fogarty on a roll of creativity and he filled the following year with a wide array of works. The follow up album ‘Scarscape 2.019’ fused Ewigkeit’s distinctive progressive death traits with a science fiction concept that was far less uptight than Arjen Lucassen’s works, before a follow up EP (‘XXIII’) flipped all expectations by dumping the aggression and indulging more of Fogerty’s classic metal influences on a far more melodic disc. He then closed the year by recording some of his angriest sounds to date – material scheduled for release in January ’21 as the ‘Depopulate’ EP.
Norwegian black metal band Mork return in March 2021 with their fifth full lrngth album, ‘Katedralen’. Ahead of the album, the band have shared a new video clip for the lead single ‘ARV’, which contrasts fairly typical scratchy vocals with a Sabbathy doom riff to create an intense slab of extreme Scandinavian metal.
When it comes to extreme metal, the Scandinavians have a long and rich history. Quite often, their extremes are rooted in the black metal sphere, but sometimes a more gothic approach will rear its head with interesting results. In the hands of Iceland’s Vofa, the latter definitely applies since their debut album comprises of three very lengthy, title-less pieces that explore the heaviest end of the funeral doom subgenre. In many ways, it sounds almost exactly how its sleeve art looks.
In terms of twenty first century black metal, few bands create intense and dark atmospheres better than the UK’s Necronautical. Far more sophisticated than a pneumatic din with some casual church burning thrown in, their 2019 album ‘Apotheosis’ features seven tracks that show how – when well played – such extreme sounds can be carry a lot of weight in the progressive stakes. This album, although largely created from classic black metal roots, also takes in intensive folk metal and battle metal influences, to create something that ranks among the year’s most interesting extreme metal discs.