What can I say, I am a maniac list maker. For this year, there will be five volumes of AOTY 2013, covering various lists of glorious and shameful moments of the year, from my personal perspective and only. It's natural that I have missed things etc etc... So hey.
Top 5 Splits
5. Andramelech & Serpent Noir - Gateway to the Nightside
Daemon Worship Productions
[Aura to aura]
Two dedicated bands of the orthodox scene decide to join forces under the blessing of the mighty Daemon Worship, wouldn't it be good? Slow, death-worshiping songs, surrounded by a bleak atmosphere and a strong feeling of emptiness, not missing ritual / dark ambient elements around the record (especially in the Serpent Noir side). Through painful thoughts and inner exploration, these two acts aim to show the path to gnosis, while the music is definitely well written and acute. Serpent Noir released their debut in 2012 and I can't wait for an Andramelech full length as well. Demos are not enough, especially if the bands have great ideas like these to present.
4. Devathorn & Blaze of Perdition - 418 - ATh IAV
Third Eye Temple
[Within a sigh of rats]
I highly appreciate Blaze of Perdition and their whole discography. Devathorn's debut Diadema was kind of unimpressive to me, but they seem to have evolved into something more serious since then and this split proves my point. Two intense tracks by them, opening with the mind blowing "The Venomous Advent", in which Acherontass serves as a guest vocalist, and then a remake of their self-titled track "Diadema" with the proper production and power. I got really excited when the Blaze of Perdition side begun, because of the Game of Thrones sample (from a spectacular Varys-Baelish conversation, I'm sure you know) talking about chaos. From there on, they unfold their own amazing pieces and assure a spot in the year's best collaborations.
3. Nightbringer & Dødsengel - Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno
Daemon Worship Productions
[The time of the great reaping]
As much as I enjoy the previous four bands, I think this couple is one step higher. Again a Daemon Worship release and yet again another split of the orthodox scene, It's just that their time caring attitude towards the music and the importance of ideology in the concept, makes everything else look juvenile. In depth investigation here.
2. Ildjarn & Hate Forest - Those Once Mighty Fallen
I had mixed feelings about this before listening to it but it turned out to be one of my favourite splits of the year. I love Hate Forest and I love / hate Ildjarn, I'm sick of unreleased tracks and "new" splits with them, even though this is a bright exception. Ildjarn's side presents the essence of pure Norwegian black metal with melancholic synth lines and raspy riffs / growls, whereas Hate Forest is the band's familiar sound, only cleaner. More info here.
1. Helrunar & Árstíðir Lífsins - Fragments - A Mythological Excavation
I can't point out how magnificent this is. It's possible that it would have been on the top of my full lengths list if it was a full length. Every person who enjoys music should check it out. Read the analysis here.
Top 5 Compilations
5. Orchid – The Zodiac Sessions
This is a personal choice and if I didn't enjoy Orchid a lot, I would not put it here and I would heavily criticize it. The early works of the band are included, which means the era 2009-2011, which is not that early, right? It seems like another attempt by Nuclear Blast to sell the same material again and again, it probably is that way, but still they are very enjoyable. Check my review of their latest full length album The Mouths of Madness here.
4. Sorcery - Legacy of Blood
[Left here to die]
One of the many returns of the year that made me very happy, I used to look at Bloodchilling Tales as a hidden, forgotten artifact of the Swedish scene, but now they are back, alive and kicking. This contains remastered versions of their debut along with the Rivers of the Dead EP and a new, kick ass artwork, for all of us that missed the golden years and could not purchase first presses of such records. I love the compilation and everything it contains.
3. Treblinka – Shrine of the Pentagram
Century Media Records
[Hail to cruelty]
Shit, this is over three hours of music! In a massive 5LP package that includes almost all Treblinka material (and what an idiotic name that is, by the way) for maniacs of obscure recordings. I'm all for former boy bands of huge bands and this one later involved into Tiamat, so it does have a value. Musically, it's honest and simplistic black / death, needed for a die hard collection of course. There is also one track from a rehearsal they did in 2008 and for some reason, it made me very happy. Hopefully, there is also a solid production done for the tracks as well, they were not cleaned up for no reason.
Check also: Old Funeral – Our Condolences
2. Lost Soul - Genesis-XX Years of Chaoz
Witching Hour Productions
[On the edge of oblivion]
Anniversary commemorative compilation. First of all, the layout and the artwork are amazing. Loranc is a great digital artist and this particular work he did for Lost Soul blew me away, I knew I would enjoy the album, since I found their 2009 Immerse In Infinity more than impressive. Great re-recordings, excellent production, excellent musicianship, a great Metallica cover, coming into a two CD box set lasting around two hours, where you can listen to the early Lost Soul as well as the Lost Soul of today. It's not just random tracks of the past put together, the band worked hard for this and that's why it's above almost every compilation of the year. Except the following.
1. Taake – Gravkamre, Kroner og Troner
Dark Essence Records
[Emptiness shall overcome]
One of the leading bands of the third wave of Norwegian black metal wisely make a selection of their best tracks and re-records it, bringing key figures of the scene as guest musicians. It collects exclusive new tracks as well as tracks previously only available on vinyl (like covers of the legendary Norwegian bands like Emperor and Burzum), songs from old EPs, puts it all together and creates a remarkable, worthy of the name compilation. The bell rings for no other than Taake, a band that is no stranger to the scene and has a pretty good understanding of the genre and it's identity. I think their version of Nordbundet in here, with Kvarforth and Nocturno Culto handling the vocals, should be an anthem for all black metallers, and all black metallers have to get this. Covers of Von and Destruction are also included in the second disk.