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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Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

TODESSTOß Ebne Graun Album Cover Ebne Graun
TODESSTOß
4.50 | 3 ratings
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XASTHUR To Violate the Oblivious Album Cover To Violate the Oblivious
XASTHUR
4.32 | 5 ratings
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SHINING V: Halmstad Album Cover V: Halmstad
SHINING
4.15 | 15 ratings
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BETHLEHEM Dictius Te Necare Album Cover Dictius Te Necare
BETHLEHEM
4.25 | 4 ratings
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GRIS Il Était une Forêt... Album Cover Il Était une Forêt...
GRIS
4.12 | 6 ratings
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LEVIATHAN The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide Album Cover The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide
LEVIATHAN
4.02 | 15 ratings
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SILENCER Death - Pierce Me Album Cover Death - Pierce Me
SILENCER
3.98 | 4 ratings
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XASTHUR Subliminal Genocide Album Cover Subliminal Genocide
XASTHUR
4.00 | 3 ratings
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SHINING IV: The Eerie Cold Album Cover IV: The Eerie Cold
SHINING
3.84 | 11 ratings
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GRIS À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée... Album Cover À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée...
GRIS
3.85 | 5 ratings
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LIFELOVER Pulver Album Cover Pulver
LIFELOVER
3.62 | 4 ratings
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SHINING I: Within Deep Dark Chambers Album Cover I: Within Deep Dark Chambers
SHINING
3.62 | 5 ratings
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depressive black metal Music Reviews

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.

XASTHUR To Violate the Oblivious

Album · 2004 · Depressive Black Metal
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Warthur
Xasthur has long stood as an example of a one-musician black metal project Doing It Right, chasing Malefic's particular aesthetic vision without compromise and wherever it may lead (even if that's out of black metal altogether, as on his recent dark folk and gothic country releases). To Violate the Oblivious is a remarkable black metal release combining the raw emotional catharsis of the best depressive black metal with the all-encompassing immersive moods of the best atmospheric black metal. Goodness knows what the lad is so upset about, but he's intent on the whole world knowing about it. Bedroom black metal never sounded so good.

WORTHLESS LIFE Conscious in Coma

Album · 2017 · Depressive Black Metal
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adg211288
Sometimes an album draws you in not based on its music but because of its cover artwork. Many albums bear an art style that leaves you in little doubt about what kind of music is going to be found within. An artwork may draw you to a release because of that, or simply because it looks good. Then there are artworks like that of Conscious in Coma (2017), the fifth full-length album by US depressive black metal act Worthless Life. The kind that fit into the category of 'weird and unusual'. Featuring an array of anthropomorphic insects, there is something unsettling about the art style that suggests what the music contained within may sound like, while also leaving a lot of room for speculation.

Worthless Life have, to my knowledge, usually been described as just a depressive black metal act in the past but on Conscious in Coma we find the group, which is a duo consisting of founder Caleb Hennessy (A.K.A. Rejected Soul) and new cohort Joseph Davidson (A.K.A. (J/sphynx)), producing an album that isn't constrained by that genre's style standards. For one thing, the album crosses over into atmospheric black metal a whole lot which changes the vibe of the music to a much more soothing and pleasant sound than depressive black metal is really supposed to have, while there are also some symphonic elements. The vocals are often what most draws the music back towards its real intent, but Hennessy sticks to actual growls a lot of the time, rather than the mournful or tortured tones that the genre often uses instead, though there is of course quite a bit of this sort of thing too. His vocal approach is quite varied though: there is even some clean singing used in Please Just Forget About Me, and actually done quite melodically.

A better and I think more thoughtfully crafted than I usually find depressive black metal to be, Worthless Life have produced a pretty great album in Conscious in Coma. Lyrically they obviously use the topics typically associated with their genre but musically they're a very competent and interesting act, so I find myself pleasantly surprised by this release. The opening title track is a great way to start it off, but I think the strongest track here has to be We Are a Mistake. The way that Caleb Hennessy screams the title line with such conviction shows that he knows his craft well and perhaps even truly endorses it. The following The Last Ghost is also worth a name drop as well. The album's final track I Hate Life is actually a cover, originally by Deadlife, another depressive black metal act. It's easily the most straight up DSBM track on the album, though it still fits in quite well. All in all, a very solid effort and worth checking out even if the DSBM scene isn't usually your thing.

TODESSTOß Ebne Graun

Album · 2017 · Depressive Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Consisting of just a single track running for over forty-five minutes, Ebne Graun (2017) is the eighth full-length album release by German depressive black metal act Todesstoß. Formerly the one man project of founder Martin Lang, Ebne Graun is more of a band effort thanks to the contributions from newer members Euer Gnaden (bass) and Flesh of L. (vocals), leaving Lang to handle the guitars, keyboards and percussion in the group. It's the same line-up who recorded the previous album Hirngemeer (2015).

On Ebne Graun the music performed by Todesstoß sits somewhere between depressive black metal and funeral doom metal and even ambient/dungeon synth type stuff such as that used in the intro of the track, where the music is combined with the sound of rattling chains and ghostly sorrowful wails that conjure up image of a dark, dank, medieval dungeon from which there is no escape. At other times the synth parts can even sound folksy, but of course not in a happy way. This dungeon has no windows, so there are no rays of light to offer even of a glimmer of hope.

And that's just the feeling the album/song gives between it even gets in any way metallic. As the metal begins to emerge it's more in the slow, funeral doom metal kind of dirge and continues to blend it the ideas from the previous section. It's all been done in such a way that it's not hard to realise that Ebne Graun isn't all about being dark and dreary although this feeling can never be far from your mind, thanks in no small part to the vocals of Flesh of L. which range between despairing and mournful cleans to tortured and aggressive growls. What it also shows itself to be though is quite intricate. I don't mean that the band is throwing in excessive technical work or progressive elements, but the small details that made the music interesting and make it something more than a dirge – the kind of thing that could even give an album such as this appeal to those listeners who usually avoid this kind of thing, perhaps for considering themselves a happy person. One thing that is often prominent in the mix even when the song moves forward again into a bit faster and more furious sounding black metal section, is the bass of Euer Gnaden. The bass lines played are another layer of music onto themselves here.

Counting myself as one of those listeners who considered himself a reasonably happy individual I would class myself as someone who typically avoids depressive black metal acts. The whole idea of the genre just doesn't usually appeal to me in the least. I decided to give this one a go based on the track record of the label it is released on, that being I, Voidhanger Records who have put out some of my favourite black metal releases such as Spectral Lore's III (2014), Mare Cognitum's Phobos Monolith (2014) and Midnight Odyssey's Shards of Silver Fade (2015) but honestly wasn't expecting to like it this much as my previous experiments with the genre did not go so well. Which is why I hope it gives weight when I say that Ebne Graun is an excellent album from Todesstoß. They've used the long duration of the track well and even after half an hour in can still throw in a section that takes you off guard. Recommend to those who like the strange and unique.

SHINING I: Within Deep Dark Chambers

Album · 2000 · Depressive Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
There are some people who are just born to be unhappy despite living in the most fortunate of circumstances. For some reason, Scandinavia has plenty of unhappy souls despite having one of the highest standards of living in the world. Such is the case with young Niklas Kvarforth who started his depressive black metal band SHINING (the Swedish band, not the Norwegian jazz-metal group of the same name) at the tender age of 12. Depressive black metal set itself apart early on in the 90s distinguishing itself other black metal in that it doesn’t focus on misanthropy or Satanic themes but rather on self-destruction and all the negative emotions associated with suicide and self hatred. WITHIN DEEP DARK CHAMBERS is the full debut album by Kvarforth who contributes vocals, guitar and keyboard with his lineup of other sickened souls: Tusk on bass, Ted Wedebrand on drums and additional disturbed vocalizations by Andreas Classen.

This debut album is pretty much in line with the depressive black metal scene of the 90s in that it utilizes an overall repetitive, hypnotic and monotonous feel that incorporates the wall of sound guitar frenzy with atmospheric keys, occasional chimes and midstream drums meaning that blastbeats are uncommon and the drums lazily accompany the fuzz feed frenzy. Perhaps the most “depressive” aspect of SHINING’s first album is not only the uncompromising fury of the music but mostly of Kvarforth’s anguished and tortured vocals above all else. This is one of those albums that simply excels in distressed fury and keeps me on pins and needles wondering if dude isn’t gonna do himself in on the final track just to have a musical place in history. Fortunately not so as i like future SHINING albums better than this one. But wow. This definitely fits the depressive black metal bill. Not recommended as music for grandma’s funeral.

While this album excels at keeping every shimmer of light from entering the boarded up windows and screams a razor blade, case of aspirin with vodka and carbon monoxide party, the music is fairly straight forward as this was before SHINING started experimenting with more progressive elements as to add more sophistication to self-hating pity party. The music here has the regular black metal buzzsaw grunge, where the guitars and bass are one and the raspy vocals wax and wane between traumatic black metal tantrums about how horrible the world is with utter resignation to the life sucks affirmations. The weakness here is the percussion as it is as languid as a salamander in the arctic and merely keeps the beat and not much else. Overall, this is a decent slice of depressive black metal but some of the tracks which hint towards progressiveness such as “Stonelands” and “And Only Silence Remains…” tend to meander for far too long, however the inclusion of church bells and slow parts in the latter does make it a bit more interesting at times.

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