There are so many black metal releases that have stood the test of time. And while every album technically celebrates an anniversary every year following its release, we’ve got some major milestones for some of the genre’s best offerings. Iconic bands like Emperor, Enslaved, Ulver, Strid, and Rotting Christ all have releases celebrating a 30th anniversary, while Dødheimsgard’s Satanic Art turns 25 this year. Each one is a reminder of why black metal endures and why you should make a ritual of listening to masterpieces a daily thing if you haven’t already.
Thankfully, like a fine wine clutched menacingly by Gaahl, black metal only becomes more sinister, twisted, and disturbing with age. Thus, we present these 20 full-length black metal albums that have — or are about to — hit milestone anniversaries!
Celestial Bloodshed’s Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed (2008)
Fifteen years ago, on April 7, Celestial Bloodshed’s Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed was released featuring an unforgettable team of legendary artists: Luctus/Wraath on bass and guitars; Tiller on drums; and the late Steingrim Torson on vocals. Sarath also appears as one of the guests.
In an interview with Debemur Morti Productions, Wraath stated: “…. I wrote most of the ideas, presented them to the band and we worked from there.”
“For us this was and still is deadly serious and at times very dangerous. But I do not have the time to sit and think about such things, I am still running with the Devil so to speak. And no matter what has happened and no matter if our little circle had or has caught peoples’ attention or not, we would still be doing exactly what we are doing: for we are cursed, scarred and forever possessed…”
Celestial Bloodshed’s Ω (2013)
Ω represents another one of black metal’s gems. This magnificent album turned 10 in February. Unfortunately, Ω would be Celestial Bloodshed’s final release due to the tragic death of Steingrim Torson in 2009. Although the material for this effort was created before Steingrim’s passing, it was mostly recorded in 2010. The closing song, which features Steingrim on vocals, was taped in 2006. Wraath provided vocals, bass, and guitars; H. Tvedt handled guitars and organ; and Tiller played drums. Together with Wraath and Tiller, special guest Hoath Torog of Behexen sang on the third track. Azazil/Kvitrim contributed vocals for the song that followed. Sarath also helped make this album possible.
On a related note, we must mention that the following releases involving Wraath are celebrating their fifth anniversaries this year: One Tail, One Head’s Worlds Open, Worlds Collide; Mare’s Ebony Tower; and Darvaza’s EP Darkness into Turmoil.
Selvhat’s Gjennom mørket famlende (2008)
Selvhat was the project of Steingrim Torson. As such, Selvhat’s work is black metal in its ideal state. Recorded in 2005 and initially released by Nordkult Rituals in June 2008, Gjennom mørket famlende was Selvhat’s sole album. Azazil, who continues to act as one of the most important black metal musicians, played drums on this effort. Last year, Terratur Possessions reissued this album and released a Selvhat compilation titled Avskjed that was remastered by Kark of Dødsengel.
Vulture Lord’s Profane Prayer (2003)
Hønefoss’ thoroughly blasphemous Vulture Lord is one of the bands that best captures the meaning of the genre. Although Vulture Lord compilations had been released beforehand, Profane Prayer still counts as the band’s triumphant debut! Vulture Lord’s next and only other full-length album to date, Desecration Rite, wouldn’t drop until 2021, but it was well worth the wait. We are truly grateful that these stalwarts are still crafting exemplary black metal.
Behexen’s My Soul for His Glory (2008)
Finland has been referred to as the metal capital of the world. However, Behexen is arguably one of the country’s greatest musical assets alongside the next band on this list and Ville Valo’s divine voice, which we’re sure the Behexen team appreciates. Behexen is a true gift from Satan, and My Soul for His Glory remains every bit as spectacular as it was 15 years ago. The band’s most recent record, The Poisonous Path, premiered in 2016. However, there have been mentions of a new, sixth album, so stay tuned.
Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon (1993)
Beherit’s first full-length studio album, Drawing Down the Moon, turns 3-0 in November! This revolutionary masterpiece is one of the most highly regarded in black metal. Known for its incredible atmosphere, use of synths and electronics, minimalism, and so forth, Drawing Down Moon is an unearthly delight. After this record, Beherit, which was formed in 1989, would fall apart, essentially becoming a one-man project: frontman Nuclear Holocausto continued on under the Beherit name for a while before moving on to other ventures and eventually returning. Early member Sodomatic Slaughter and a couple of new musicians assisted Nuclear Holocausto on Engram (2009), but Bardo Exist (2020) boasts the talent of Nuclear Holocausto alone.
Darkthrone’s … Do We Have to Choose?
The ridiculously prolific Darkthrone has created a total of 20 studio albums! This year, we celebrate Under a Funeral Moon (1993), Hate Them (2003), Dark Thrones and Black Flags (2008), and The Underground Resistance (2013). Although these are all fantastic records, the historical significance of Under a Funeral Moon in particular cannot be overstated. It’s the second installment in Darkthrone’s “Unholy Trinity.” Fenriz actually told Music&Riots Magazine: “… as a whole I’d say Under a Funeral Moon is my fave [Darkthrone album].” Gasp! Not even we can pick a favorite from Darkthrone’s catalogue.
Den Saakaldte’s Øl, mørke og depresjon (2008)
Den Saakaldte is a supergroup with a fascinating backstory. The band, which originally featured Mayhem’s Hellhammer, was founded by ex-Naer Mataron’s Sykelig, who had just moved to Norway from Greece. Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth became the group’s first vocalist because he and Sykelig temporarily lived together in the apartment of the incredibly generous Vicotnik of Dødheimsgard, as Sykelig stated on The Thomas Eriksen Podcast. Øl, mørke og depresjon is Den Saakaldte’s debut album. In addition to Sykelig and Kvarforth, it showcases 1349’s Seidemann on bass, ex-Gehenna’s S. Winter on drums, and now ex-DHG’s Honey Lucius on keyboards. This fantastic record is enhanced by guest trumpet from Rune Eide.
Armagedda’s Only True Believers (2003)
Only True Believers is Armagedda’s highly enjoyable sophomore album. Of course, the title forces us to recall the Isengard lyric: “Only true believers will survive the storm of evil.” This record actually includes a very special guest — Watain’s Erik Danielsson appears on drums. Only True Believers was produced by ex-Funeral Mist’s Tore “Necromorbus” Stjerna, who would act as the session drummer on Armagedda’s next album, Ond Spiritism: Djæfvvlens Skalder Anno Serpenti MMIV (2004). Necromorbus has his own studio and has thus worked with the likes of Mayhem and even mastered the first album on this list.
Sarkom’s Bestial Supremacy (Precision in Pure Darkness) (2008)
Sarkom ranks among the most “fun” black metal bands out there. Bestial Supremacy (Precision in Pure Darkness) was their sophomore album. This record features Unsgaard, the mastermind behind So Much for Nothing, on vocals and now ex-members Sagstad and Renton on instruments. Oddly enough, Sagstad and Renton have been with Trollfest since the beginning. (Expect a new album from Renton this May with Nattverd.) Sarkom’s third album, Doomsday Elite (2013), which features an extended cast that includes the wonderful Uruz of bands like Vulture Lord, will turn 10 this autumn.
Sarcoma Inc.’s Psychopathology (2008)
The devilishly charming Sarcoma Inc. released a total of three excellent albums. Psychopathology was their final record. Allow this highly rewarding effort to guide you through “perverted adventures of sex and violence!” Although Sarcoma Inc. seems to have vanished into the night, we hope that they will surprise us one day with a comeback!
Angst Skvadron’s Flukt (2008)
Angst Skvadron’s glorious debut album, Flukt, actually shares a birthday with Abbath Doom Occulta — June 27th. The brainchild of the prolific late legend Trondr Nefas of bands like Urgehal, the genre-bending, trippy, alien-metal Angst Skvadron is one of the most unique projects that you will ever hear. Thus, Flukt, along with the band’s other work, should be a staple on your playlist. Prepare yourself for songs like “The Astroid Haemorhoids and the Drunken Sailor.”
Odium’s The Sad Realm of the Stars (1998)
Formed in 1994, the symphonic black metal titans known as Odium continue to spellbind us. At 25, Odium’s gorgeous The Sad Realm of the Stars still feels brand new. This album was actually mastered by Sarkom’s Tom Kvålsvoll as well as Odium’s frontman, Sechtdamon — he and bassist Demariel are the only two musicians on this effort who remain with the group, though Eek, for example, can be heard in bands, such as the pioneering outfit Funeral. The late Einar Andre Fredriksen of Funeral is credited with the logo and “Belial” drawing while the cover art is by ex-Limbonic Art’s Morfeus. Although The Sad Realm of the Stars is Odium’s sole full-length release to date, let’s keep our fingers crossed for new material!
Mork’s Isebakke (2013)
The one-man powerhouse Mork has definitely been one of this year’s stars so far. Mork’s sixth record, Dypet, dropped on March 24 and earned much critical acclaim. Yet, even dazzling reviews could not do justice to what Thomas Eriksen, the project’s mastermind, has achieved. Formed in 2004, Mork released the demo Rota til ondskap in 2007, and Isebakke became the band’s career-launching debut album six years later. Isebakke is named after the part of Halden in which Eriksen grew up. Eriksen has always stayed true to his roots. He has mentioned the possibility of playing a show in Halden to commemorate Isebakke’s 10th anniversary. Let’s hope it happens!
Gorgoroth’s Destroyer — or About How to Philosophize with the Hammer (1998)
Don’t you just love black metal albums with titles inspired by Nietzsche?! Like the late philosopher, Gorgoroth’s fourth album, Destroyer — or About How to Philosophize with the Hammer, is an infinite source of inspiration. As a nod to the wisdom of the great Fenriz, it ends with a stellar cover of Darkthrone’s “Slottet i det fjerne.” Destroyer was recorded at Grieghallen with the legendary Pytten. It showcases four different vocalists: Pest, Infernus, Gaahl, and T. Reaper. We must note T. Reaper is the frontman behind Malignant Eternal whose EP 20th Century Beast is also 25 years old as is Obtained Enslavement’s Soulblight, on which he played bass. Gorgoroth’s sixth album, Twilight of the Idols — In Conspiracy with Satan (2003), is celebrating an anniversary this year as well.
Immortal’s Pure Holocaust (1993)
You probably knew that Immortal’s sophomore album, Pure Holocaust, had to be on this list. Produced by the Pytten like the pick above, Pure Holocaust remains one of the purest examples of True Norwegian Black Metal! Abbath played drums on this album, even though the late Erik “Grim” Brødreskift was credited and pictured on the cover. The lovely Nargaroth song “Erik, You May Rape the Angels” is dedicated to his memory. Most readers are probably already aware that Immortal is currently the one-man band of Demonaz and will unleash a new album, War Against All, this May.
Carpathian Forest’s Black Shining Leather (1998)
Twenty-five years later, Carpathian Forest’s Black Shining Leather retains every bit of its grim yet sexy allure. With songs like “Pierced Genitalia” and “Sadomasochistic,” this album is a naughty and wild orgasmic treasure. It ends with a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which is one of the best we’ve heard. Last month, CF’s Defending the Throne of Evil turned 20, thus we have a lot of demented brilliance to celebrate.
Dissection’s The Somberlain (1993)
Dissection’s The Somberlain remains a magical and immortal canonical record that marks the full-length debut of this classic band. The Somberlain will always offer listeners an intensely meaningful and reinvigorating experience: “Thus far a long journey through my soul’s infinity, it has been a journey far beyond mortality. I have found what I wanted, tranquility. I’ll thrive on evil, eternally.” This melodic gem premiered in December 1993. It is dedicated to the memory of Euronymous, who was killed earlier that year in August, and “the cursed Mayhem” as a whole.
Bathory’s Blood Fire Death (1998)
Bathory’s fourth studio album, Blood Fire Death, is an iconic release of which we should all be well aware. Blood Fire Death was produced by the band’s central force, the late Quorthon, and his father, the late Börje “Boss” Forsberg. The strange truth is that the song “For All Those Who Died” was actually adapted from a poem in Erica Jong’s Witches (1981) — the same book from which the famous Bathory goat was nabbed. Blood Fire Death signifies the beginning of Bathory’s “pre-Christian Swedish Viking era.” Whereas this record is black enough to satisfy a certain type of listener, Bathory’s next album, Hammerheart (1990), demonstrated a more dramatic stylistic shift away from BM. It is also worth mentioning that Bathory’s final album, Nordland II, turned 20 this year.
It’s Black Metal in Spirit: Manes’ Vilosophe (2003)
The phenomenal Vilosophe represents Manes’ radical departure from black metal. Yet, no matter how far Manes strays from black metal, they will always be in black metal at heart, thanks to the genius of Tor-Helge “Cernunnus” Skei, the band’s lone constant member. Cernunnus’ unique songwriting is out of this world. Each member of the team did a stellar job on Vilosophe, yet we must emphasize that Asgeir Hatlen’s distinctive vocals are exceptional here as elsewhere. If you love this band, check out Terratur Possessions’ Manii, which includes Cernunnus and his original partner in crime in Manes, Sargatanas. Manii plays ’90s-style black metal with that extra je ne sais quoi of its legendary creators. However, if more experimental madness is what you crave, take some time to revisit Ulver’s Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which turns 25 in December.
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