Top 10 Black Metal Albums of 2007

Happy New Year! 2007 has drawn to a close and now it’s time to reflect on the year’s best releases. I was considering doing a list for metal in general, but since the year’s acquisitions have been mostly black metal, I will limit my assessment to albums from that genre. Make note that the #1 of this list is not my personal favorite for the year. That honor goes to stoner doom metallers Electric Wizard with their opus Witchcult Today.

And before we go to the formal list, I’d like to give credit to those bands who have put out quality albums this year but have not quite made the top 10. Those bands are Xasthur, Naglfar, N.I.L., Eldrig and Be Persecuted. For bands not under the black metal genus, I grant my praise to Dark Tranquillity, Crionics, Behemoth, and of course Electric Wizard. So here we go…

10. DIMMU BORGIR – IN SORTE DIABOLI
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Despite low expectations, these infamous “symphonic extreme metallers” have returned with a thoroughly enjoyable serving of malefic bombast, symphonic grandeur, and a few more operatic climaxes provided by ICS Vortex. The fact that this is a concept album shows evidence of not just lyrical but also musical consistency.

9. ARKHON INFAUSTUS – ORTHODOXYN
arkhonortho

After Perdition Insanabilis saw this French death squad tying a leash to their formerly chaotic brand of blackened metal, Arkhon Infaustus managed to inject a heavy dose of their past into their new formula of calculated chaos.

8. BLACK FUNERAL – WATERS OF WEEPING
blackwaters

Influences of recent dabblings in dark ambient and industrial music have contributed to this band’s uniqueness in the USBM scene. While the previous album Ordog saw a consistent slew of bizarre chord progressions, this album combines more traditional black metal odes with sections of disturbing ambience and ritualistic noise to invoke waves of trepidation from the mind of the listener.

7. ALATYR – ALATYR
alatyr

2007 features quality releases by some of black metal’s most respected veterans, but notable contributions have been made by newcomers, such as China’s Be Persecuted. However, the award for best black metal debut goes to Slovakia’s Alatyr, who through their eponymous genesis blend atmosphere, emotion and a shot of Slavic tradition into a work of melancholic beauty. As a bonus highlight, there is a cover of Darkthrone’s “Transilvanian Hunger” to close this album, played with no compromise to Alatyr’s fresh new style.

6. ANAAL NATHRAKH – HELL IS EMPTY, AND ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE
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Ever since the relentless debut titled The Codex Necro, these Brits have added new dynamics with each successive album yet have managed to retain the vitriolic onslaught that defines their sound. In Hell Is Empty…, new flavors come mainly out of the vocal department, which range from the mainstay throat-ripping screams, to Attila-esque growls and snarls, to Ihsahn-ic clear vox, and even low gurgling grunts characteristic of brutal death metal bands such as Wormed.

5. ABIGOR – FRACTAL POSSESSION
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These Austrians never fail to manufacture parcels of diabolical guitar riffs of technicality soaked with malevolence. 2007 sees Abigor applying these riffs to a radical new formula of avant-garde drum patterns, tempo changes, and clinically-clean production. It was a risky move to shed so many elements of their past, but it paid off so long as they kept honing their potential for riff writing, which they did.

4. LIMBONIC ART – LEGACY OF EVIL
limbolegacy

When these masters of symphonic black metal called it quits after The Ultimate Death Worship claiming they were emptied of creative potential, there was reason to be wary of their recent resurrection to release their new opus, Legacy of Evil. While it does share many commonalities with the previous album, such as the straightforward guitar and blast-beat volleys, these years of hibernation have sufficiently recharged these Norwegians’ skill for composing anthems of symphonic violence. And where they may lack in new ideas, they make up for it by paying homage to their past works (compare the opening of “Twilight Omen” with the song “Abysmal Necromancy” from In Abhorrence Dementia).
3. WATAIN – SWORN TO THE DARK
watainsworn

It’s dirty yet well-produced. It’s melodic yet resonates tones of misanthropy. It’s awesomely epic yet downright rockin’. Watain and their recent contributions have taken up the fallen torch of Dissection and have risen to the epitome of Sweden’s violent yet agreeable brand of black metal. Sworn to the Dark is the perfect mix; it provides a channel for your hardest aggressions but with plenty of room for aesthetic to please the enlightened metal enthusiast.

2. MARDUK – ROM 5:12
marduk512

When one mentions Marduk most people think of 30-minute blast-beats like Panzer Division Marduk, where razor-sharp riffing synchs far too easily with the constant drum pattern and the emotion rarely shifts from that of satisfying hatred. Rom 5:12 sees Marduk both reinventing themselves and taking the best parts of their past into a mix of varied drum patterns, dark melodies, and a more visceral production. Slowed down tunes intertwine with the Swedes’ trademark sound in the band’s most dynamic opus yet. Most notable are Mortuus’ signature vocals and a guest appearance from Primordial’s frontman on “Accuser/Opposer”.

1. DEATHSPELL OMEGA – FAS – ITE, MALEDICTI, IN IGNEM AETERNUM
deathspellfas

This ever-so mysterious French entity has helped spearhead the storming third wave of black metal through a trilogy of unrelenting chaos. This latest output sees an evolution that pushes the genre’s boundaries where jaw-droppingly technical riffs and tempestuous drumming give way to moments of unsettling ambience. Even after multiple listens, the sudden detonations of lightning fast riffing and percussion still feel unexpected. Yet behind all this seems to be a demonically mathematical harmony that distinguishes this album as a manic masterpiece rather than a jumble of blasting and wankery. It’s a strange feeling to gain such an appreciation for an album that only so subtly exhibits the elements one expects from a typical black metal album. It’s a labor to get into this album, but patience pays off gratuitously.

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6 Responses to “Top 10 Black Metal Albums of 2007”

  1. Panzerfaust Says:

    Thanx for including Deathspell in here.I’ve always known of them but never till you put them in this list had i bothered to check them out.GREAT BAND!

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