This summer has been packed with so many incredible festivals, but the black metal party continues all year round. There are so many amazing bands out there in the world that we wish we could see in the flesh.
For example, the legendary Urgehal’s reunion is in full swing, with their upcoming gigs including slots at Cosmic Void, Messe des Morts, Eindhoven Metal Meeting, and Party San Metal Open Air. Along similar lines, we would be thrilled to see Lifelover join forces again. After all, their last reunion concert took place in 2015.
Meanwhile, there are black metal bands like Darkthrone that have either chosen never to play live or have decided that performances are no longer in their best interests. In the case of that iconic duo, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto had their final show back in 1996 at Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo.
It’s with that knowledge that we’re especially grateful for the black metal artists who continue to take the stage for our benefit. What follows is a list of the bands we’d love to catch live someday.
Yes, Slagmaur is one of black metal’s greatest and most individualistic groups. This band of miscreants is feared for their habit of turning shows into “mass executions,” featuring hanging victims and burning men nailed to inverted crosses. The extraterrestrials behind this Fosen-based collective perform in beastly masks that further add to their mystique.
Slagmaur is always on the road, with plans to perform at a number of exciting events like Prophecy Fest. One of their stops this year was Illinois’ Metal Threat Fest, where fellow greats like Aura Noir and Ved Buens Ende also performed. We hope that Slagmaur will return to America soon. In the meantime, we eagerly await Slagmaur’s next album, Hulders Ritualet, which will be released this year. It should make ideal material for a global killing spree.
Mare showcases four of the genre’s leading artists: Luctus, a.ka. Wraath and Afgrundsprofet; ⷚ, Sundli; HBM Azazil, Kvitrim, or E. Blix; and Nosophoros. They just gave what appeared to be a killer performance over the weekend at Beyond the Gates.
The revered Whoredom Rife duo reigns with the authority of kings. Their charisma and power result in especially magnificent stage shows, where their use of animal heads as props is just icing on the cake. Whoredom Rife consists of vocalist K.R and multi-instrumental V. Einride. Both men are highly accomplished artists.
It was recently announced that H. Brovold has replaced Bruthor as Whoredom Rife’s live bassist. In fact, H. Brovold just gave his first performance with the group at Wacken. Nosophoros and Vemod’s Jan Even Åsli also currently act as members of Whoredom Rife’s concert crew. In the past, Wraath and HBM Azazil have served as live associates.
Dødsengel is a duo born of the genius of Kark and drummer Malach Adonai. Their latest album, Bab Al On (2022), amazed us when it dropped in December and continues to surprise us to this day. It would be a dream come true to hear its compositions in a concert setting, especially given Kark’s sensational dramatic abilities.
In the past, Dødsengel has played major festivals, such as Inferno, Beyond the Gates, and Nidrosian Black Mass Pt. III. Unfortunately, it’s been quite a long time since Dødsengel has performed before an audience. This sad fact has not been due to a lack of interest. Though they have a strong and adoring fanbase; in fact, anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to black metal during this century will tell you that Dødsengel is one of the best.
Djevel is fronted by vocalist and bassist Kvitrim; ex-Emperor drum Faust handles drums; and Trånn Ciekals provides guitars and additional vocals. Ciekals, the project’s mastermind, is not only a fantastic lyricist, but he is also one of the greatest black metal composers of our time.
The band’s next album will be recorded in this fall, but concertgoers will hear one of the new tracks for the first time at an Oslo show this November.
The powerhouse Behexen has been spreading their beautiful disease since the ’90s. Behexen is arguably the Finnish band that is most worth following, with plans to play in Japan next year. Apparently, they’ve been working on a new record, so hopefully Behexen will play some shows in support of it soon. Sadly, we missed Behexen at Steelfest this year.
Formed in 2014, Doedsvangr is a Norwegian, Finnish, French supergroup. This electrifying outfit consists of exceptionally masterful musicians who, past and present, have played with many of the genre’s best bands, such as Tsjuder, Umoral, Nordjevel, Behexen, our next pick, etc. The brutality and skill of these artists are terribly refreshing. We truly appreciate Doedsvangr’s superb songwriting.
Nattverd (& Jordsjuk)
Nattverd is made up of some of Norway’s greatest metal talents: Atyr, Ormr, Sveinr, Aven, and Renton — the group’s newest acquisition. Although Nattverd’s members are spread out geographically, the band is technically from Bergen. Thus, we hope to see them perform at Beyond the Gates in the future. We find it shocking that a band as excellent as Nattverd has only begun playing live. In fact, these warriors seem to be made for the stage. This year, like Behexen, Nattverd lit up Steelfest, where Sveinr, who also goes by the moniker DezeptiCunt, also performed with Nordjevel and the pioneering act Gehenna. The fact that he played three sets at a major festival tells you everything you need to know about his artistry.
We are extremely stoked about the fact that Renton — whom you might also know from TrollfesT, his brief time in Urgehal, and also as an original yet now ex-member of Sarkom — has formed a new blackened thrash supergroup called Jordsjuk with Mannevond and ex-TrollfesT’s Sagstad. Their first performance will be held in January 2024 at Oslo’s ORGIVM SATANICVM III. Jordsjuk has the potential to turn into one of the next biggest things in the extreme metal world.
In April, Dødheimsgard released an album that I and others believe to be one of the very best, Black Medium Current. Thus, we really hope to have the opportunity to personally catch DHG performing this material. DHG’s upcoming 2023 dates include Hellbotn Metalfest in Kolbotn, Norway; Greece; Mexico; and then Canada. Earlier this year, the band travelled to Australia for the first time and also rocked Oslo at Imperium Urban Siege #2. Yes, the genius of Dødheimsgard is always in demand. You won’t find a more magnetic band.
Prior to the release of his debut album with RUïM titled Black Royal Spiritism – I – O Sino da Igreja (2023), Blasphemer told us that he would like to have a new record out by early 2025 and then play some festivals. The ex-Mayhem legend is the ultimate black metal guitar god. Thus, it would be especially amazing to see his skills first-hand, though he can also be found with the likes of the David Vincent-fronted Vltimas and Aura Noir. We are excited about Blasphemer’s idea to include some lesser-known musicians in his live team. He wants to make sure that he is collaborating with artists who possess “the right spirit.” Drummer CSR, the other half of the RUïM studio duo, is a fantastic young talent, who also plays with Thagirion. He is bound to bring the fire at RUïM’s concerts.
Odium is an extremely fun and nostalgic band. Despite forming in 1994, these symphonic stalwarts have only released one full-length album, The Sad Realm of the Stars (1998) — a true classic. We were delighted that Odium graced Inferno Fest this year with their magical presence. The support of their fanbase remains strong; there are countless listeners who still crave to more from Odium, so it only makes sense that a tour would be well attended.
It’s been 30 years since Strid released what is regarded by many as the first depressive suicidal black metal recording, End of Life (1993). This one-song demo was actually created in 1992 when the band was still known as Battle. Original member Storm, who handled vocals and bass on End of Life, tragically passed away in 2001. Another one of Strid’s musicians, Lars Fredrik Bergstrøm, who parted ways with the team before rejoining, is also sadly deceased.
Fortunately, Ravn Harjar remains with the band. Strid’s roster currently includes Vicotnik, who lived in Askim for a time — the band’s home turf; Fleurety and Umoral’s Svein Egil Hatlevik; ex-Dødheimsgard’s Clandestine; and Inflabitan’s Sigmund Hansen. Whenever Strid takes the stage, the group seems to have a very special energy. Without music like theirs, life would be truly worth losing.
Ritual Death (& Nathr)
The Trondheim-based Ritual Death features Nosophoros on drums, Wraath on vocals, and the Italian-born Lord Nathas on bass. H. Tvedt previously played keys in the band. Drummer Omega has accompanied Ritual Death live. Ritual Death has played many amazing shows with fellow greats like Djevel. The group’s chemistry, dark allure, and atmosphere are exceptional.
On a related note, we must mention that we look forward to the first show by Nathr, an incredible blackened funeral doom outfit that is fronted by Nathas. Although Nathr cancelled what should have been their live debut this September at Legend Metalfest, we are hopeful that this inventive project will take the stage soon.
Misotheist is one of the truly outstanding bands to emerge during this century. This group is fronted by Brage Kråbøl — the force behind Enevelde, which is another one of our top recommendations. Misotheist released their self-titled debut in 2018. That was followed by For the Glory of Your Redeemer (2021). If all goes according to plan, we should be cursed with a horrifically great new record this year.
Misotheist has been playing at some really cool events that have been making us envious. One of their upcoming gigs is Celebrare Noctem, where they will be joined by the likes of Mare and Vemod — an outfit worthy of today’s list that consists of E. Blix; ex-One Tail, One Head’s Jan Even Åsli; and E. Kalstad.
Høstsol has never played live, but we really hope that they will. Their debut album, Länge Leve Döden, dropped in January. This supergroup was founded in 2020 and boasts Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth on vocals. Ajattara bandmates Rainer Tuomikanto and Kalmos play drums and bass respectively. Guitars are handled by the legendary Tore-Helge “Cernunnus” Skei of Manes, Manii, Syning, and others. (We would kill to see the genre-defying Manes in concert, but these pioneers are extremely elusive.)
Kvarforth is known to work himself up into trance-like states. Thus, he gives extremely memorable live performances. The amazing thing about Kvarforth is that he brings out special qualities even in iconic artists. Kvarforth’s collaboration with ex-Mayhem’s Maniac in Skitliv is a great example of that. Unfortunately, Niklas Kvarforth is struggling with medical issues at the moment, so we hope that he emerges as strong as ever.
In favor of creative freedom, the ingenious Scott Conner of Xasthur distanced himself from black metal long ago. Yet, to our great surprise, his latest studio album, Inevitably Dark, features a range of genres, including black metal. Scott Conner is obviously a brilliant musician, whose work has inspired countless artists and listeners.
When we spoke with Conner earlier this year, he stated that he can’t wait to hit the road with Inevitably Dark. Conner plans to reimagine the songs in concert, adding new twists and nuances of color. We hope that Xasthur’s tour happens soon.
Formed in 2004, Mork is a fan favorite and thus is frequently invited to top festivals. On September 16, Mork will mark the tenth anniversary of their debut album, Isebakke (2013), with a special show in their hometown of Halden.
In October, the group will be heading to Nepal for the first time before embarking on a Brazilian tour. For studio purposes, Mork is the one-man band of Thomas Eriksen, a phenomenal performer. He plays live with a group of dedicated and highly skilled friends. Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto has not only appeared on a couple of Mork’s albums, but he has also taken the stage with the band. Furthermore, he attended a Mork show this year as a spectator. It is nearly impossible not to fall victim to Mork’s lethal dark art.