Deaf Sparrow’s Top Black Metal of 2013

We here at Deaf Sparrow pride ourselves on listing.  That usually involves listing things you've never heard of, because it's the only way we can stay two steps ahead of the hipsters, beards, and jeans jackets.  We listen to whatever we get, we take no sides, we hurt feelings, we cause genitals to hide between legs, we're like that B action flick the name of which you can't remember, all you remember is how awesome it was.  That's what we're like, minus gratuitous nudity, and somehow we get you to continue reading our tripe through these ridiculous analogies.  You see this article?  It's a top list, but we don't even have a number.  We don't need ten, twenty, we take whatever we like and we make a random list out of it.  Numbers be damned, we don't need them, it's all about the list.  No one really cares about the number when it comes down to it.  Thus, these are our selections for the best black metal of 2013.  This doesn't necessarily mean the albums were all released in 2013, that's just when we listened to them, but we promise, that's as subjective as it gets around here, the rest is pure truth.  As you may assume, all of these albums have achieved the coveted Deaf Sparrow 5 / 5.

 

Germ - Grief

Black metal isn't all about hate, it's about feelings, nothing more than feelings.  Hate is just the pussy's way of pretending he's a hard-ass when really he's full-out bedroom black metal at his auntie's.  So let's call a duck a duck and all take a swim in the lake.  Germ is about feeling, lots of it, coupled with atmospheric guitars and horrifying shrieks that would put a flock of ravens to shame.  Seriously, how in the hell does this guy manage this kind of screaming?  It'a amazing.  What's also amazing is the amount of variety and technical skill in this album.  Germ sometimes goes into melodic power metal with actual singing, and then descends into terrifying agony with girls singing in French over it for that extra bit of Victorian Gothic.  "Butterfly" in particular was one of our favorites, and a great showcase of what this entire album is about, but don't think you'll call any of it with just that sample.  Full listen required here, friends.  And more Germ, please.  Germ Official Facebook

 

 

Underling - Breathe Deeply

Post-black metal is in is the new shade of black.  This becomes obvious when bands like Underling come from the womb combining the dark, visceral nature of black metal with the experimental sounds of post-rock.  Created by the bassist of the too-good-to-be-true technical death metal band Fallujah, they've changed sound a few times with the release of demos and EPs but their latest effort, Breathe Deeply, is their best yet with the perfect equilibrium.  Everything about the sound is exquisite, especially the bass and vocals. Black metal often tosses the bass sound to the wolves but here it has a presence similar to An Autumn For Crippled Children and the vocals are distinct and neither whiny nor over-the-top.  Once they release an album, they will be among the top dogs in the post-black scene.  Underling's Official Facebook


 

 

Amethyst Falls - Reflections in the Fog

Not much is known about this band other than that it's a project of members from Airs and Verwüstung, but they play an eclectic mix of black metal and darkwave.  If you're into Brave Murday Day-Katatonia and wouldn't mind it being a bit more black, Amethyst Fall's EP, Reflections in the Fog... is for you.  It's only two tracks but with these mere two Amethyst Falls will hook you with hypnotic drumming, shoegaze guitars, and classic black metal vocals.  The bass is incredibly dominant and it adds so much flavor to the sound that other bands should aspire to bass just as hard as they do.  They're in the process of writing a new album according to their last post on Facebook so get excited.  Amethyst Fall's Official Facebook


 

 

Ataraxie - L'Être et la Nausée

Ataraxie's L'Être et la Nausée was a later discovery in the past year but boy, get ready for some really, really dark and heavy black/funeral doom.  This music is beyond playing for funerals - this shit is for stumbling upon the decaying remnants of your hometown as it lies in ash and ruin.  Your friends, family, dogs, and even the hot neighbor across the street are-all-dead kind of music.  The vocals here are among the best that funeral doom has ever had to offer and combined with the sound of profound sense of loss and tragedy, you can't go wrong with at least giving this album a shot to your head.  It 's two discs with the title track being nearly 30 minutes so light some candles, read The Road, and get this playing and you got yourself a depressing night.  Ataraxie's Official Facebook
 

 
Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory & Injury

Altar of Plague's Teethed Glory & Injury was apparently hit-or-miss for a lot of people.  Quite frankly, it shouldn't be because it truly was their greatest work.  By abandoning their long structures and going for average length, they're able to execute creative ideas and an atmosphere entirely different from previous works.  The sound is very primal and raw yet 'cleanly' produced and the additions of post-rock, noise, and ambiance creates a cinematic experience that feels like a cold and harsh murder-thriller.  Altar of Plagues also give their best vocal performance and it especially breaks through the cracks in "Burnt Year."  Unfortunately, this was their last album as a band so we won't be seeing any more releases soon but it sounds like James Kelly, the main man behind them, is looking to keep creating music so there may be something as experimental as Teethed Glory and Injury in the near future.  Altar of Plague's Official Facebook

 

 

Redwood Hill - Descender

This release really went under the radar for a lot of people.  Redwood Hill's first album, Descender, pulls together the best aspects of post-black metal, sludge, and post-metal to get you to turn up the volume and wreck your bedroom.  For awhile, the first track "Aten" was our go-to workout song because of just how pumped it gets the body, and not pumped like the fuckers who play EDM or Eminem to bench press but the kind of pumped to squat 3x bodyweight and put hair on your balls.  The sound is so crushing and pounding while maintaining the melodic, enough to keep you singing along to the depressing and angry lyrics.  They have under 1000 likes on Facebook which is absolute horseshit.  Like them and start following these Danish kids.  Redwood Hill Official Facebook

 

 

Black Hate - Los Tres Mundos

Okay, that settles it, we're moving to Mexico.  Yep, moving, because Black Hate is there.  No offense to Mexicans out there, but the country's really known for its gore grind, not really black metal.  Perhaps it's because of the horrid recording quality, it imparts the true "brutal" to that genre, but mix it with black metal and it's just a mess of crumpled cassette tape.  Here, however, you're in for a treat.  Dusktone has released some of the more interesting in the dark, depressing underground over the past several years, and Black Hate is an example of it.  Los Tres Mundos was apparently created after the head of the band experienced some sort of mental breakdown that perhaps led to a suicide attempt, we're not entirely sure, but either way if suicide is your wish this will probably fulfill that and leave the note under your pillow.  Black Hate has perfected black metal here.  The screams, the eclectic mix of sounds and instruments, the chorus of girls wishing you back to life, it's all here, and it's all awesome.  Check out tracks two and four in particular and see if you can stop your hands from steering your car off a bridge.  Black Hate Official Facebook


 

 

capCAPA - This is the Dead Land, This is the Cactus Land

These gentlemen hold a special place in our hearts for one of their previous releases, Shallow Towers, for being one of the few albums to accompany in the fall of Cole's year at his University and that special place grew with their latest effort, This is the Dead Land, This is the Cactus Land.  It's the conclusion of a trilogy about a man surviving the end of the world in isolation and thus is highly reflective and emotional.  The vocals are distinct and very easy to understand and sound more like post-metal while the rest of the sound is black metal combined with post-rock (surprise motherfuckers).  The album art perfectly captures the atmosphere with the ever-looming grayness along with all the emotional and introspective thoughts that come from journeys into the woods.  CAPA's Official Bandcamp


 

 

Nhor - Within the Darkness between the Starlight

From what we've heard, the U.K. is a dreary place full of rain, piss, and disgruntled football fans of the non-American variety.  Nhor, a one-man act, has somehow turned our perspective of the U.K into something rather... mystical and we don't mean mystical as in the genie from Aladdin but more like a land rife with ancient and dark lore among the woods.  With Nhor's release of Within the Darkess Between the Starlight, he's created a very melancholic but beautiful atmospheric type of black metal filled with maudlin piano interludes, dissonant vocals, and ambient guitars.  The best description is like Wolves in the Throne Room but more sad and enchanting than angry.  If you were for whatever reason to be getting your tribal on around a fire in a forest and can blast a stereo, this is your go to album.  Nhor's Official Facebook
 

 

Written by Cole Olson and Stanley Stepanic