This year I spent a lot more of my time discovering new music, new genres and visiting more live shows than the previous year, for which I’m glad.
I’m putting my focus here at metal-exposure more on all the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff and on photography and less and less on reviewing albums.
Nevertheless, I’m very excited about a few albums that were released in 2023.
It’s hard to put them in a ranking because each of them is unique and contributed to my life in its own way.
If I háve to pick a number one album, I think it will be ‘Dolt Land’ by Grift. Drifting away from the previous Grift sound, this can’t be considered as a metal album anymore, but who cares; call it ‘post black metal’ ‘atmospheric folk’, or whatever you like, it will stay in my top 2023 albums. The atmospheric sound takes you back to nature, in its primitive form. I’ve seen an acoustic show by Grift this year and it was one of the most unique shows I’ve experienced, closing my eyes and drifting away on the sounds, forgetting the world around.
Next on the list would be Wayfarer with ‘American Gothic’. A good friend of mine was extremely enthusiastic about this album and kept encouraging me to listen to it and I’m glad she did. I was unfamiliar with the band before then, but I’ve given the album quite some spins by now, although I would say it’s by far not enough yet. I love their style, which I think would be best described as ‘black metal with a twist.’
To stay in the black metal genre, which still is my favourite genre, the next album is ‘Om hundrede år’ by Afsky. This album is pure, straightforward black metal, without bullshit, and for that, very good! It’s proof of the fact that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to create greatness. Their show at the Dark Troll Festival this year was one of the best shows I’ve witnessed.
Adding a bit more melody and atmosphere to the black metal is Aara. Their release ‘Triade III: Nyx’. It’s not the first time that one of their albums ends up in my yearlist. As a matter of fact, since I’m familiar with them, most of their releases end up in my yearlist. Their storytelling style of black metal truly is unique and impresses me over and over again.
Staying in the storytelling black metal genre, is the debut release of Antrisch: ‘Expedition II – Die Passage’. Born from the ruins of German black folk metal band Kromlek, the band released their first full length this year. The concept album makes you feel the cold of the north while listening to it. The icy sound, and professionalism of the musicians make this a debut many bands should be jealous of.
The last album I would like to talk about is Vargrav – ‘The Nighthold’. Now this album only released a few weeks ago so I haven’t listened to it that much yet, but just like their previous albums I’m already hooked on it. The band reminds me of the old Dimmu Borgir in their glorious days. The melodic elements and keys might go over the top a bit every now and then, but it only adds more charm to it.
Other albums I would like to mention are:
Heretoir – Nightsphere
Tryglave – The Ritual
Uada – Crepuscule
Blackbraid – Blackbraid II
These are all very decent albums, some I listened to more than others, but all impressed me because of various reasons.