Depressive Black Metal

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Depressive Black Metal or Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (DSBM) in full, is one of the sub-genres of black metal music. It tends to be more monotone, repetitive and droning with an aim to be hypnotic. Ambient influences may be included and while there is some crossover with atmospheric black metal especially, the mood intended to be put across by this style is very different. Vocals in depressive black metal bands tend to drift from the traditional raspy growls and into something more akin to a despairing wail. Lyrical themes will also usually deal with subjects of depression and suicide. It is not music designed for a happy listener.

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depressive black metal top albums

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XASTHUR To Violate the Oblivious Album Cover To Violate the Oblivious
XASTHUR
4.71 | 5 ratings
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SHINING V: Halmstad Album Cover V: Halmstad
SHINING
4.23 | 15 ratings
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TODESSTOß Ebne Graun Album Cover Ebne Graun
TODESSTOß
4.46 | 3 ratings
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SHINING IV: The Eerie Cold Album Cover IV: The Eerie Cold
SHINING
4.05 | 12 ratings
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BETHLEHEM Dictius Te Necare Album Cover Dictius Te Necare
BETHLEHEM
4.10 | 5 ratings
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GRIS Il Était une Forêt... Album Cover Il Était une Forêt...
GRIS
4.00 | 7 ratings
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GRIS À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée... Album Cover À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée...
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XASTHUR Subliminal Genocide Album Cover Subliminal Genocide
XASTHUR
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SILENCER Death - Pierce Me Album Cover Death - Pierce Me
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LEVIATHAN (CA) The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide Album Cover The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide
LEVIATHAN (CA)
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SHINING I: Within Deep Dark Chambers Album Cover I: Within Deep Dark Chambers
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XASTHUR Telepathic With the Deceased Album Cover Telepathic With the Deceased
XASTHUR
3.75 | 4 ratings
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depressive black metal Music Reviews

EINSAMTOD Einsamtod

Album · 2012 · Depressive Black Metal
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adg211288
The self-titled debut album of Slovakian act Einsamtod, released in 2012, clearly doesn't set out to be an easy album to get into. Nor should it, since it belongs to the depressive black metal genre, but even so, this one certainly knows how to throw its listener right in at the deep end, greeting the ears with what initially appears to just be a wall of fuzzy noise and screams. This abrasive assault is surely enough to put off all but the most determined of listeners. But those who get past this, will find an unexpected gem of an album.

This is the opening track, Freezing End, which at 8:46 in length is actually the shortest that the five track album has on offer. Once you get over how incredibly raw Einsamtod have made their sound, you'll be able to start appreciating the atmosphere that the duo, instrumentalist Smrtislav and vocalist Nefastvm, have managed to create. Intricate melodies have been inserted into the lo-fi fuzz, resulting in a dark atmospheric journey that is an quickly compelling to the enthusiast as the initial barrage of fuzz is anathema to others.

Each does does have a tendency to begin in much the same way, but once you get used to what Einsamtod is about the album proves excellent across it's duration. There's just one problem with it, during track four, the dark ambient piece Journey Through a Land Forlorn and it's nothing to do with the composition or performance. It's a technical problem with the release. There's a noticeable glitch where the music jumps that is incredibly jarring. At first I think this was a problem with my personal copy and upon my first listen I was all but ready to get onto the supplier I bought it from to complain when something made me decide to look up the song online. And lo and behold, the exact same glitch occurs, so it's not a problem with my particular press.

This may explain why on the vinyl version, which was released the following year in 2013, has had this track pulled. One has to wonder why such a glitch made it to press on the CD version though. It seems incredibly unprofessional and somewhat spoils what is otherwise clearly an essential release of the depressive black metal genre and even though the track is an ambient one I can't help but think it's removal would be a detraction to the vinyl version, since it adds variety to the release.

That issue aside, I do absolutely consider Einsamtod to be an essential album. One day I hope these guys find it in themselves to do it the justice it deserves and properly fix that botched recording of Journey Through a Land Forlorn rather than just retconning it out of the album. I may even buy it again if they did. That's how good it is.

XASTHUR Subliminal Genocide

Album · 2006 · Depressive Black Metal
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Warthur
Continuing and intensifying the approach of To Violate the Oblivious (even the cover art looks similar), Subliminal Genocide finds Xasthur main man Malefic continuing his project of applying atmospheric black metal techniques to depressive black metal mood and subject matter. Oppressively doomy and refreshingly experimental by turns, the album feels like a sort of weird opposite of psychedelia - whilst psychedelic music tries to open up your mind to wild vistas, Xasthur's music is more numbing, yielding an anaesthetic haze in which everything winds down until only the music is left. Maybe it's not a wild divergence the from the rest of his black metal material, but it's a decent entry in his discography.

PALE MIST Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls

Album · 2016 · Depressive Black Metal
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adg211288
Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls (2016) is the second full-length album by UK depressive black metal act Pale Mist. The solo project of Glomor, he's released an EP and a split in the time since the debut album Where the Darkness Is Praised (2012) was released. The album was originally released on CD and digital formats by Sinister Stench Productions with a limited cassette release following in 2017 through Heidenwut Productions.

The album opens with Through the Thick Fog of Misery and Woe, an instrumental that slowly builds up the album towards it's first vocal track, which is the title track Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls, which is noticeable more aggressive than the former, where the guitars have quite a jangly tone, which is repeated in other tracks of the album including the eighteen minute long Embraced by the Pale Mist. I rather like the tone of those parts actually; they give the record what in my experience of the black metal genre as a whole is an atypical sound. There are also quite a few more clean tone parts used on the album as well, including a second instrumental, Gazing, Opening the Barriers. When used in the tracks with vocals though the clean parts when combined with the growls create a surprisingly dark vibe, more so than the heavier parts of the album manage. The album's finale is The Welcoming Glow of the Moon, another long track at just over twelve minutes.

Though the album as a whole does fit the mood of a depressive black metal release due to its rather bleak sound and a semi-raw production it's overall a lot more accessible than some such bands are. Glomor sticks to using growls, albeit fairly tortured sounding ones, and doesn't throw any of those wailing and whimpering like clean vocals that some DSBM bands like Taiga or Todesstoß use. You know, the kind that can really grate on one's nerves after a while. Fortunately there's none of that nonsense here and Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls is a better album for it. I didn't hear of this album until after the year of its release, but I definitely count it as one of my best 2016 finds from after the event.

GHOST BATH Starmourner

Album · 2017 · Depressive Black Metal
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Kev Rowland
I was sent this by the record label to review, but still know virtually nothing about the band. I know it’s their third album, and that they were formed by Nameless (vocals, guitar, piano), but even though they are touring and there are five of them in the band the guys aren’t listed on the press release, or the band’s own homepage, or their Facebook page (I tried, honest). In addition, their debut EP was released on both a Russian and Chinese label, and I don’t even know what country they’re from! Apparently the stories, or parables, look into Jewish angelology and the hierarchy of angels as found in the bible and other religious texts," says Nameless. Although the album has a definitive joyful and hopeful feel, it is still drenched in depression and sorry, as any true Ghost Bath record should be."

So, they’ve put a lot of work into staying anonymous, apparently so that listeners aren’t distracted from their brand of depressive black metal. And I can understand why listeners might easily be distracted, as in all fairness this isn’t all that good. Easily the best parts of this album are the artwork (and apparently the CD booklet has each track accompanied by a beautifully crafted painting as well as a "parable" to read alongside), and the first song which is a delicate piano instrumental. The rest of it is well-recorded and produced but these are the only positive comments I really have. In “Ambrosial” the same chord is repeated so many times that I felt like slashing my wrists or turning the album off, whichever I could get the most energy for.

Black Metal as a genre contains many groundbreaking and inspiring bands, this isn’t one of them.

TODESSTOß Hirngemeer

Album · 2015 · Depressive Black Metal
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adg211288
In the world of avant-garde metal there are many crazy albums. There are many downright weird albums. And there are also albums like Hirngemeer (2015) by German act Todesstoß, which sound like something straight out of a nightmare and are completely fucking unhinged. The release is the seventh full-length album released under the moniker, but the first with an extended line-up. Joining founder and previous sole member Martin Lang is Euer Gnaden (bass) and Flesh of L (vocals). Hirngemeer (apparently meaning Brainworm if Google Translate is accurate), contains just three tracks but lasts for a massive near seventy-five minutes of music.

The album should come with a warning sticker telling potential listeners not to approach unless they are feeling brave and open-minded. In every traditional sense of what music is supposed to be, Hirngemeer just isn't it. It's three tracks clock in at 28:25, 34:05 and 12:18 respectively and on the surface nothing seems particularly structured and certainly not good in the usual way that music is supposed to be, but it's all an illusion. Pay closer attention to what's happening and there's a method in the madness that's actually quite out in the open, with some true genius in the instrumental work from the two instrumentalists, especially the bass of Euer Gnaden. Martin Lang does everything else, including liberal use of a harmonica on opener Verwehung, while Flesh of L spews the German language lyrics, sometimes like he's been possessed by a demon, at others like he's desperately trying to escape its menacing clutches and is utterly terrified about what it might do to him. It's depressive black metal at its core, with many other elements detectable the more the album is listened to, notably funeral doom metal and ambient ideas, but seems more designed to drive its listener to madness than suicide.

That's the first track at least, the second and longest Narbenkäfig is surprisingly more restrained on its use of these elements, though it still maintains a lot of them and a general air of menace. And it goes on for such a long time that it really does present the impression that they'll be no escape from whatever hell Todesstoß are trapped in. Finally, the shortest of the three tracks is Strom der Augenblicke, which actually takes the album in a non-metal direction to finish the bizarre journey off but is of course no less dark and creepy for the lack of metal elements.

Hirngemeer is just too crazy to be an album that many could enjoy on a regular basis, but I admit to finding a strange kind of fascination with it. It's something that you could listen to a dozen times and still not really understand and I think that may even be the band's intention. You're not meant to understand the album. It's a window into a warped mind, one you wouldn't want to own but is kind of eye-opening to visit and an album that's quite unlike anything else I've ever come across, not even the other Todesstoß album I've heard, Ebne Graun (2017), which is comparatively sane and structured. Listen to this when you reach the point where you feel that you've heard everything else black metal has to offer.

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