It very much seemed that by the end of 2016 there were very few places across the globe that hadn’t been affected by a plague of black metal. Bands were springing up in some very unlikely places and seemingly on a weekly basis. No longer just the product of various Scandinavian territories and a few other places, for such a niche genre, black metal seemed to be big business (relatively speaking, of course). While many bands seemed happy to screech and hiss their way down a familiar path, there genre still had other avenues to explore.
Hungary’s Sin of God play straight up death metal. With no tricks and very little fusion, most of the time these guys play pure death metal the way you liked it (or not) in the early 90s. Their 2016 release ‘Aenigmata’ is a good step forward production-wise from 2012’s ‘Limbus’ – the drums are much tougher and heavier sounding, while the riffs have more bottom end – but, essentially, it brings more of the same as before. If you like your death metal in a largely traditional style, this mightn’t be a bad thing.
How to describe Satarial? Aside from possessing a broad extreme metal tendency, this Moscow based outfit are almost impossible to pigeonhole. A rather clumsy description might be “operatic battle black metal”. It sounds implausible, but that’s kind of where the bulk of their inspiration comes from on their 2016 release ‘Blessed Brigit’. It should be a mess; it should be so confrontational that almost no-one would want to listen…but, somehow, their noisy sound collages are fascinating in their aural brutality – and after over a decade of plying their ugliness, the fact that they still sound so original and so vibrant is no mean feat.
Dark Phantom’s beginnings stretch back to 2007, though due to very unsettled political climate in Iraq, the band wouldn’t make any headway until two years later. Their early musical endeavours were met with some hostility in their home country – or they would have been, had they been heard. In the band’s own words, with regard to playing such music: “under an Al Queda controlled situation, death was a consequence.” Still, Dark Phantom toiled, playing cover tunes at first, but eventually crafting their own sounds. Their first gig in their home city of Kirkuk in 2011 attracted a crowd, but also resulted in terror groups attacking the band’s online community. In 2012, they underwent a major line up change as their vocalist and drummer left the band and sought work in other areas “for safety reasons”. To say the journey from band formation to album release was a hard and dangerous undertaking would be an understatement. Against the odds and after years of determination, Dark Phantom finally released ‘Nation of Dogs’ – an album of hard-hitting, self-penned material at the end of 2016.
Bulgaria’s Serpentine Creation are one of those extreme metal bands whom seem to become more assured with every release. While they’ve not necessarily become any more melodic, it is easy to hear how their music has become grander with the passing of time. Their 2012 debut album ‘Dystopia’ featured some fairly straight black metal, played quite well but let down by budgetary constraints. Three years on, ‘The Fiery Winds of Armageddon’ was afforded a bigger send-off, with clearer separation between the instruments. The band showing a broader musical palate on those tracks, too, with some great solos and twin lead sounds to balance out the heavy pneumatics. More than just a stop-gap, 2016’s ‘Incest’ not only continues from where the previous recordings left off, but also introduces more new ideas.