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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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BETHLEHEM Dictius Te Necare Album Cover Dictius Te Necare
4.21 | 7 ratings
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PALE MIST Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls Album Cover Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls
4.42 | 3 ratings
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TODESSTOß Ebne Graun Album Cover Ebne Graun
4.25 | 4 ratings
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LIFELOVER Erotik Album Cover Erotik
4.33 | 3 ratings
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LIFELOVER Konkurs Album Cover Konkurs
4.33 | 3 ratings
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PENSÉES NOCTURNES Vacuum Album Cover Vacuum
4.12 | 4 ratings
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SHINING V: Halmstad Album Cover V: Halmstad
3.93 | 17 ratings
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GRIS Il Était une Forêt... Album Cover Il Était une Forêt...
3.97 | 9 ratings
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GRIS À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée... Album Cover À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée...
3.97 | 6 ratings
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TOTALSELFHATRED Totalselfhatred Album Cover Totalselfhatred
4.09 | 3 ratings
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WORTHLESS LIFE Conscious in Coma Album Cover Conscious in Coma
4.00 | 3 ratings
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SHINING IV: The Eerie Cold Album Cover IV: The Eerie Cold
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DEATH DIARIES Cover art: Loveless Loveless

EP · 2010 · Depressive Black Metal
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DEATH DIARIES is only one of many extremely depressive black metal bands to emerge from the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan. I guess a region of perpetual war and poverty has created some extreme hopelessness and that is reflected in a larger than average number of bands delivering suicidal black metal in the vein of Sweden’s Shining, Silencer, Leviathan, Gris and Bethlehem. The band consisted of Azmo Lozmodial (bass, guitar), Noa Nymphia (keyboards, piano) and Akhmaedoroth (vocals)

This trio from the city of Zarqa, Jordan only released this sole EP in 2010 before splitting up in 2011 due to Akmaedoroth’s psychological issues but Azmo Lozmodial continued with various similar projects including Al Lat, Chalice of Doom, Forgive Me, Lord Azmo and Now Everything Fades. The original EP limited to 200 CDs originally featured four tracks at over 24 minutes but “Sterile Nails And Thunderbowels (Piano Tribute to Silencer)” was added onto the Bandcamp digital download in 2018.

This is true depressive black metal with heavily distorted guitars existing somewhere between doom metal and lackadaisical second wave black metal. Also painfully compelling are the anguished vocals of Akmaedoroth that showcase a true troubled soul on the verge of total breakdown. The musical procession is melodic and not musically challenging in the least but effective in the frigid cold atmosphere generated by the detached procession of the instrumentation and the psychotic vocal meandering.

There are really only two originals here: “Loveless” and “Lifeless” which are the longest tracks. The other two are covers. The first is the Bethlehem tune “Tagebuch Einer Totgeburt” and the second is a Silencer cover of “Sterile Nails and Thunderbowels.” The EP is about as tortured sounding as a downer depressive black metal album can get. Everything just reeks torment, despair and total life sucking destitution. The repetition is hypnotic while the unhinged screams from the abyss are designed to scar your soul.

This is about of a musical downer as you can get really. It’s actually a stellar depressive black metal release but with only two original tracks not exactly an essential one however it is an interesting glimpse into the underground musical bleakness of the nation of Jordan which apparently agonizes in constant pains. A pretty slow EP overall but the Silencer cover offers some more aggressive heavier moments. A pretty decent EP but too reliant on the Swedish mode of depressive musical motifs.


Album · 2016 · Depressive Black Metal
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One of the many one-man black metal bands out there these days, RIVE which is the project of Danthor Wildcrow stands out somewhat for coming from the extreme northern Norwegian archipelago Svalbard which sits way up in the Arctic Ocean. This whole chain of islands only has a population of about 3000 inhabitants and given that the winters are long, cold and utterly desolate, it’s not surprising to find that depressive black metal has found its way into the hearts and minds of the angsty youth who’ve had enough of chance encounters with polar bears.

As RIVE, Wildcrow has released one EP and this so far only full-length album titled SORG however both the EP “Trist” as well as SORG have two versions each, one with vocals and one just instrumental. In Norwegian RIVE means “tear” as in what you cry and SORG means “grief” as in what you feel when you’re stuck on a big fucking icy landmass in the middle of fucking nowhere and want to get the fuck out. This bleak procession through nine tracks will blacken 50 1/2 minutes of your life and attempts to make you feel as bleak and hopeless as a polar beat stuck on an iceberg.

Like most depressive black metal, this stuff churns on at mid-tempo with caustic guitar riffs punctuated by clean guitar downtime with occasional bursts of energy that include blastbeats and full black metal fury. The vocals are basically some primeval screams that are as unintelligible as a mouthful of marbles and isn’t too far in style from established depressive black metal acts like Sweden’s Shining, Xasthur or Trist. The music is as expected - cold, hypnotic, detached and noisy. Despite the despondent and repetitive nature of this style of black metal, RIVE does deliver a nice mix of various tempos and Debbie downer doses of depression.

Nothing revolutionary here in the least but for those who just can’t get enough of monotonous metal apathy fueled by explosive outbursts of black metal majesty then you could do worse than RIVE’s so far sole full-length release SORG however it’s unfortunate that there’s also not much on this album to differentiate it from similarly minded bands that fixate on suicide, nihilism, self-hatred and unrelated misery. While not my favorite style of black metal, checking out an album or two now and again hits the spot and this Svalbard act has all the right ingredients to take things to the next level provided he can thaw out long enough to deliver the goods.

LAGRIMENT Gospel of Laments

Album · 2014 · Depressive Black Metal
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LAGRIMENT is the one-man band project of Fornost from Managua, Nicaragua who plays all instruments and screams all the angsty vocals. So far Fornost has released this one album GOSPEL OF LAMENTS which came out in 2014 on the Depressive Illusions label along with a split with Blackmoon Spells.

This is pretty much by the books depressive black metal with that classic monotony of tones, timbres and repetition along with those lackadaisical drumming patterns, droning guitars and minimalism with occasional ambience. While the album only has four tracks it amounts to over 36 minutes of playing time.

The opening “Beyond Insanity” pretty much sums up LAGRIMENT’s overall sound with rampaging black metal in the vein of second wave Darkthrone only more detached and lengthened in scope by adding some dark ambience and slower guitar parts that drip depressive tones and distortion.

The title possible refers to the Book of Lamentations which is a collection of poetic laments for the destruction of Jerusalem and the music presented definitely has an apocalyptic vibe to it. This is pretty much standard depressive black metal with absolutely new to add but performed competently with insane asylum vocals, excellent tremolo guitar picking and nice aggressive bass, blastbeat drums and atmospheres that conjure up doom and gloom.

For those who can’t get enough of Gris, Leviathan, Bethlehem and Shining and want to explore further down the path of those influenced by them. Nothing special here but definitely a decent slice of depressive rampaging black metal that is well recorded and worth the experience of hearing an extreme metal band from a lesser known contributing nation such as Nicaragua.


Album · 2014 · Depressive Black Metal
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GHOST BATH is probably best known in the world of black metal as claiming that they originated from Chongqing, China which was totally believable since the band went under the name 鬼浴 as well as its English name when it released this debut album FUNERAL on the Chinese record label Pest Productions. It wasn’t until this album caught the attention of various music media outlets like Pitchfork and Stereogum that the band came clean and admitted they were not Chinese at all but was actually from the US plains city of Minot, North Dakota. The band even used Chinese characters for their names which featured the lineup of 丹尼斯 [Dennis Mikula] (vocals, guitar, piano), 多诺万 [Donovan] (vocals, guitar), 杰米 [Jaime] (bass) and 泰勒 [Taylor] (drums).

Gimmicks aside, GHOST BATH was formed in 2012 and is the project of band leader Dennis Mikula who has crafted a brand of post-rock inspired depressive black metal that incorporates the blackgaze sounds of bands like Deafheaven and Alcest with heavy doses of caustic tremolo picking in typical black metal fashion including blastbeats and a bleak atmospheric cloud cover of synthesized doom and gloom. FUNERAL is a rather melodic beast with piano rolls offering melodic constructs for the black metal to rampage around. The tracks themselves rely on a cyclical sprawl derived from post-rock and blackgaze which means many of the album’s 12 tracks are lengthy incessant processions of black metal bombast mixed with atmospheric downer music. Some are surprisingly quite short though.

So far the band has released three albums and one EP with FUNERAL being the first full-length from 2014. Blackgaze is not my favorite style of black metal. Ideas are sparse, playing times are long and overbloated while the monotony sets in big time about half way through and in that regard GHOST BATH fits quite well into those parameters. While the music is decent and not horrible, the production value of the keyboard parts integrated with the black metal sounds a bit cheesy here but what really makes this a tedious listen is the incessant insane asylum screams that i don’t believe are actual lyrics. They are simply the same repetitive tortured clown screams over and over and over again.

Considering this album clocks in at about 64 minutes, it doesn’t take long for it to wear out its welcome. Even better bands like Deafheaven sound boring after long repetitive journeys through blackgaze pastures and atmospheric skies so there is absolutely nothing that GHOST BATH adds to the mix to give it any sort of identity. If it weren’t bad enough the band misrepresented its origins, so too does it simply apply sounds already crafted by other artists without leaving some sort of personalized stamp on it. Considering the horrible reviews of all the GHOST BATH albums i thought i’d check them out as i often find low rated albums to be some of the most interesting especially when they embark on an extremely experimental journey however in the case of GHOST BATH all the negative criticism seems to be true. This is just a rather run of the mill blackgaze / depressive black metal band with horrible lyrics and a knack for showing us how you can do very little in the span of an hour. Meh.

SHINING Submit To Selfdestruction

EP · 1998 · Depressive Black Metal
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"Submit to Selfdestruction" is a 7" EP release by Swedish black metal act Shining. The EP was originally released through Selbstmord Services and limited to 300 hand-numbered vinyl copies but the material from the EP have since been released as part of the "Through Years of Oppression (2004)" compilation album which is easier to find. Needless to say that the original version is a rare collector´s item. The two tracks on the EP were recorded in 1996 by the trio of Wraith aka Niklas Kvarforth (guitars, bass), Robert Ayddan (vocals), and Impaler aka Ted Wedebrand (drums). The former (who was born in 1983), was only 13 years old at the time of recording the material...

...which is not audible when listening to the music, as both tracks are very well developed and cleverly composed. It´s a heavy and predominantly mid-paced (although occasionally a little faster-paced, but there are no blast beats or anything like that here) atmospheric type of black metal. The mood is bleak and depressing as are the lyrics. The vocals are screaming and desperate. The sound production is raw and primitive yet still effectful and powerful. While it´s not the most clear sounding production job, you still get a good idea of the band´s vision, and it´s not one of those lo-fi "recorded in the bedroom" type black metal productions, where the artist have made every effort to make it sound as noisy, murky, and raw as possible. On the other hand it´s not a production I´d call professional either, but it suits the music well, and that´s the important part.

Shining weren´t the most technically skilled musicians at this point, and considering their age, that´s not really a surprise, but the music is generally well performed and upon conclusion "Submit To Selfdestruction" is a promising first release by Shining. Featuring a playing time of 13:32 minutes the EP also allows the listener to get aquainted with the sound of Shining and in that respect it´s certainly a successful release. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

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