Mixing the bombast of hardcore, the experimentation of post-metal and the all-out aggression of black metal, Svalbard are a unique entity in the UK metal scene. We caught up with vocalist Serena Cherry to discuss the best black metal albums of all time, so fetch you corpsepaint and settle in for an uncomfortable ride.
Dodheimsgard – 666 International
“A refreshingly stubborn record that refused to conform to the strict rules of the genre. 666 International smashed the mould in 1999 with its mind-boggling blend of inhumanly fast blast-beats, abrasive guitars and harsh electronica. It’s still one of the most unpredictable and subversive black metal albums out there.”
Silencer – Death Pierce Me
“The first thing you’ll notice is the vocals; the uncomfortably expressive banshee howl vocals. Then you’ll notice how ahead of his time Silencer was in creating mournful, depressive, doom-laden black metal. Death Pierce Me is an emotive album, full of loud and quiet dynamics, held together by an incredibly dense, sombre atmosphere.”
Nifelheim – Envoy Of Lucifer
Clearly taking inspiration from pioneers Venom and Bathory; Nifelheim wear their influences proudly on their spiked sleeves whilst simultaneously injecting a new shot of energy into the old school approach. With its infectious simplicity, ripping tone and bellowing vocals, Envoy Of Lucifer is the definition of a modern classic.
Dissection – Storm Of The Lights Bane
“Perhaps the greatest album opener of all time is Night’s Blood on Storm Of The Lights Bane. Jam-packed with incredible, complex riffs that shred with frenetic pace, it is a powerful black metal anthem that sets a triumphant, captivating tone for the entire record.”
Wiegedood – De Doden Hebben Het Goed 2
“Just when you thought they couldn’t top their captivating 2015 debut, Wiegedood evolved above and beyond with De Doden Hebben Het Goed 2. Dissonant, furious riffs combine with utterly malicious vocals, that all seamlessly give way to huge atmospheric sections – resulting in one extremely compelling listen.”
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Immortal – At The Heart Of Winter
“Got to have at least one blatant Norwegian classic on here! There’s not a duff track on this album; each song is filled with melodic, icy riffs and disco beat hi-hats. Accessible in the best sense of the word, At The Heart Of Winter could genuinely convert anyone into black metal.”
Mgła – With Hearts Toward None
“Shamelessly euphoric in places, whilst dark and brooding in others – With Hearts Toward None saw Mgła revel deeply in both sides of the black metal spectrum. With this gracefully composed release, the revered Polish band struck the perfect balance between melody and misery.”
Immortal – At The Heart Of Winter
Got to have at least one blatant Norwegian classic on here! There’s not a duff track on this album, each song is filled with melodic, icy riffs and disco beat hi-hats. Accessible in the best sense of the word, At The Heart Of Winter could genuinely convert anyone into black metal.
Xasthur – The Funeral of Being
Possibly the most depressive of the American suicidal black metal that dominated the noughties; this album will drag the listener down into a stark, claustrophobic hole and keep them there for 48 tortured yet atmospheric minutes.
Dawn Ray’d – The Unlawful Assembly
As raw as it comes, this debut from Liverpudlian Dawn Ray’d was an absolute game changer in terms of its ferocious lyrical content, backed by a dynamic meld of buzzsaw guitars and sombre violin sections. One of the most refreshing releases of recent years.
Amesouers – Ruines Humaines
Okay, this is an EP, but it’s a perfect one. Evocative, emotional and beautiful, Ruines Humaines is packed full of moments that tug on the heartstrings. The only flaw is that this amazing record is only 16 minutes long.
Svalbard’s new album It’s Hard To Have Hope is out May 25, via Holy Roar Records.