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Abysmal Gates (New Jersey)
Symphonic Black Metal, very keys driven. Has a deep and somber atmosphere even though it is more of a mid-tempo than dirge. Guitars are well done, drumming is very aggressive, and vocals are harsh and forced. Musicianship is excellent, production varies from good to low. My fave pick is “Devoid Of Light”.

Akhkharu (Pennsylvania)
Deeply haunting Symphonic Black Metal with blasts of extreme aggression that contrast perfectly against the sweeping melodies and mournfully distant atmosphere (which is created by deeply reverbed instruments, slower overall tempos, and light keys that fit perfectly). Guitar work is sharp and clear, drumming is solid, vocals vary from grim and sinister male to clean and operatic female. Musicianship is very good, production is decent. My fave pick is “Thy Haunting Spectre”.

Alastis (California)
Slow but hard Black Metal, very heavy sound that is difficult to explain. It is unlike anything else I listen to, but I like it a lot. Very infectious atmospheres coupled with grim but easily understood “sing-along” vocals, harsh guitars and excellent drumming. Very different than many other bands I have heard. Check it out. Musicianship is excellent, production is high. One song.

Anno Daemonicus (Maine)
Melodic Black Metal with an underlying brutality. Musically, the sound comes across as light and accessible at first, but drops into a very dark and sinister feeling. Lots of keys throughout, guitars are heavy with assorted effects, drumming is straightforward and aggressive, vocals are grim and bitter with deep growls in parts. Musicianship is very good, production is decent. My fave pick is “Obscurity In The Ancient Oaks”.

Antarktyk (Ohio)
Blasting and brutal Black Metal with some Death Metal influence. Drums absolutely blaze, guitars are a high pitched grind, and vocals change up from shrill screams to some of the deepest and most guttural growls you could ever want. Musicianship is good, production is good. One song.

Arsis (Virginia)
Black Metal with a heavy Melodic Thrash Metal influence. Various tempo changes throughout, but the overall impression is fast and faster. The guitar work is absolutely amazing, the drumming is explosively powerful, and the vocals are angrily shouted screams. Musicianship is incredible in all aspects, production is very good. Highly recommended to anyone seeking a new guitar god to hail. My fave pick is “Worship Depraved”

Averse Sefira (Texas)
One of the most well known Black Metal band from the US. Chaotic Black Metal, lots of speed and choppy breaks in the rhythms. Drumming is deep and full, guitars have an interesting tone, and the vocals are absolutely frozen. Musicianship is very good, production is decent. My fave pick is “Homecoming’s March”.

Azrael (South Carolina)
Black Metal with a thick dose of Swedish Death Metal. Guitars are very well done with asynchronous harmonization, drumming is hard and aggressive, and the vocals are harsh and bitter. Musicianship is excellent, production is good. One song.

Benighted (North Carolina)


Black Trinity (Ohio)
Raw and brutal Black Metal done the old way. No frills, no fluff, no anything but bitterness and anger delivered through a 100% drums and guitar driven sound. Varied tempos keep each song fresh and original, guitars create the atmosphere, the drumming provides a solid platform, and the vocal are absolutely frozen and hateful. This is Black Metal the way it used to be. Musicianship is good enough; production is perfect for this sound. My fave picks (out of 12 available songs) are “Black Trinity”, “The Black Knight”, and “Frozen North”.

Blood Stained Dusk (Alabama)
Brutally vicious Black Metal, extremely aggressive. Has melodic keys, but they are nearly pounded into the dirt by the shredding guitars, blasting drums, and icily bitter vocals. Intense. Musicianship is very good, production is high. My fave pick is “The Infernal Praise”. (Note- both songs are sample length)

Bloodthrone (New Jersey)
Intense and thrashing Black Metal. Purely grim and straightforward attacks. Drumming is all over the kit and with amazing speed that is sustained for long periods of time. Guitars are razor sharp and shredding. Vocals are hoarse and shouted with bitter spite. Musicianship is very good, production is good. My fave pick is “Betrayed By Blood”.

Catholicon (Louisiana)
Very heavy and raw Black Metal with Death Metal aspects. The drumming is absolutely crushing, the guitars have a chaotic rhythm and a slower chord arrangement, the vocals are mixed between piercing, ear-splitting screams and rumbling growls. Musicianship is decent, production is low. My fave pick is “Trudenhaus”.

Ceremonial Castings (Washington)
Melodic yet heavily brutal Black Metal with a lot of speed. Excellent use of ambient sound effects and clean vocal narration. Light keys stay in the background for the most part, the overall sound is mostly driven by guitars and drums. Guitars are high-toned and piercing, drumming is intense and aggressive. Vocals are either ripping screams, growling roars, or deep clean narration. Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. My fave pick is “Midnight Deathcult Phenomena”

Cernunnos! (Georgia)
Symphonic Black Metal with intense speed in parts, very heavy on keys. Guitar work is decent (although a bit overdone in the leads) drumming is solid and aggressive, vocals are harsh and grim, ranging from soft growls to pitched and forced screams, clean vocals are excellent (same vocalist as Benighted and Dreamscapes Of The Perverse). Musicianship is very good, production is decent. My fave pick is “Battle Hymn Of The Motherland”.

Dark Grave (Wisconsin)
Dark and grim Black Metal, very powerful sound. Production is very low, so distinction is lost a lot, but the sound that comes through is tight and aggressive. Drumming is intense, guitars shred, and vocals are bitter and extreme. Musicianship is decent; I’d like to hear this band with better production. One song.

Demoncy (Georgia)
Hard driving Black Metal with a touch of Death Metal influences. Drumming is relentless blasts and rolling hammer attacks, vocals are grim, low and growling. Guitar work is a constant wall of thickly reverbed grinding aggression. Light keys. Musicianship is very good, production is below average but decent enough. My fave pick is “The Obsidian Age Of Ice”.

Demonic Christ (South Carolina)
Raging Black Metal with some Thrash and Death Metal influence. Excellent drumming with varied runs and tempos, plus an amazing amount of fills that all work, nothing seems out of place. High-toned guitars drive the sound, and in parts they totally shred. The vocals are varied, and switch from shrieking grim to deeply brutal. Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. My fave pick is “Blut Und Ehre”

Destiss (Wisconsin)
Melodic and heavy Black Metal. Sharp guitars and hammering drums define the sound for this band. Vocals are shrill and distorted. Musicianship is good, production is decent. My fave pick is “Admittance Of…”

Envenom Thy Winds (North Carolina)
Blasting and driven Black Metal with thick melodies in parts. Overall sound is very straightforward and aggressive. Guitars are razor sharp, drumming is intensely fast, vocals change from shrill and piercing screams to deep and shaking growls. Musicianship is very good, production is decent. My fave pick is “Hymnfrost”.

Forest Of Impaled (Illinois)
Absolutely blasting bitter and grim Black Metal with slight Death Metal influence here and there. Very aggressive delivery in all aspects. Even when the music is melodic, it is still harsh and blasting. Guitars are deep and sharp, drumming is a thunderous barrage, vocals are frozen and truly grim. Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. My fave pick is “Dark Shades Of The Astral World”. (Note- there is a recording error in that song from 2:36 to 2:42)

Forever Mourning (Pennsylvania)
Melodic Black Metal with a very nice display of classical arrangements for acoustic guitar. Excellent tone for the keys, guitars are very well done with a deep distortion that comes across as being crisp, drums sound programmed but are programmed well. Vocals are grim and deep. Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. One song.

Goatwhore (Louisiana)
One of the most well known Black Metal band from the US. Blazingly intense Black Thrash with Grindcore influences in parts, which creates a very chaotic sound. However, the sound does not lose its direction in that chaos. They create a very heavy sound when the tempo slows down a bit. Guitars are crunching and crushing, drumming is insane when thrashing, vocals range from high screeches to deep and heavy groans (and mercifully short use of clean vocals…). Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. My fave pick is “Blood Guilt Eucharist”

Ibex Throne (Utah)
Raw and absolutely brutal minimalist Black Metal. I have included this not so much for what they are right now, but for what they could become. Currently they have a raw and a badly produced offering, but get past the recording, and listen to the music...the heart and desire in the music is totally there.

In Memoriam (Washington)
Fast paced and melodic Black Metal. Interesting rhythms throughout are supported with unique drumming, deeply toned keys, and wailing guitar. Vocals are grim and bitter, dropping occasionally to a deep growl. Musicianship is very good, production is decent. My fave pick is “An Ancient Word”.

Inquinok (Washington)
Symphonic Black Metal, with aggressive and energetic attacks throughout. Very good guitar sound that drives the rhythm, blasting drum work, and sweeping keys that set a very dark atmosphere. Vocals range from high shrieks to low and distorted growls. Musicianship is very good, production is great. My fave pick is” Excidium” (original version).

Krohm (Connecticut)
Slow and heavy Black Metal, incredibly dark and atmospheric. Primarily guitar and drums driven sound with some keys, but they not the primary instrument as one might expect from a band that plays this kind of music. Vocals are disturbingly shrill and bitter. Production is very low but the intent of the sound comes through clear. Listen and despair, this is purely dark. Musicianship is decent; production is really bad with exception to one song. My fave pick is “Venere’s Call”

Kult ov Azazel (Florida)
Hammering and absolutely aggressive Black Metal with some Thrash and Death aspects. Guitars are a ripping assault of sound, drums are an impressive hyperspeed barrage of endless thunder, and vocals are screaming bitter hatred. Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. My fave pick is “My Misanthropy”.

Ludicra (California)
Raw Black Metal, with a slight Death Metal influence and some Progressive Rock moments (that I overlooked, since the rest of what this band does is excellent). Guitars are grinding and thickly distorted, drumming is aggressive and full of well-executed fills, and the share between grim male and female, with the most impressive male / female vocal duet I have heard probably ever. Listen to the beginning of “Usurpant” to see what I mean. Musicianship is excellent, production is decent. My fave pick is (big surprise here…) “Usurpant”.

Midnight Mass (Illinois)
Intense and blazing Symphonic Black Metal with interesting changeups that catch you off guard. Guitars are a bit subdued in the mix, but come through clean when the near-endless wall of sound drops a bit. Keys have a good presence and are well done. Drumming is shattering, very heavy and very fast. Vocals are screamed shouts with an odd cadence that totally works. Haven’t heard this kind of vocals before that I can remember, but I like them a lot. Musicianship is excellent; production is a bit off but not bad. My fave pick is “Shadows Walk Beside Me”.

Mork Skog (California)
Frozen and distant Black Metal with a very old style sound to it. Arrangements are simplistic but incredible in their offering. Light key use to provide for atmospheric tones. Guitars are deeply reverbed, as are the frostbitten vocals. Drumming sounds programmed, but it does not detract from the sound. Musicianship is decent; production is lower but not bad. My fave pick is “Black Magic Sky”

Myth (Ohio)
Powerful and very heavy Black Metal with thick Viking Metal influences and a small touch of Death Metal thrown in for good measure. I found this link a very long time ago, but it has only recently come online with music. Guitars wail through rousing and very upbeat tempos, drumming is full of well-executed fills. Flute arrangements add an incredible layer to the overall sound. Vocals are hoarse and forceful when grim, very deep when clean. Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. My fave pick is “Through The Mist Of Time”

Nachtmystium (Illinois)
Grim, necro, and absolutely brutal Black Metal. Nothing pretty or nice here at all, this is pure fury and aggression. Drumming is a relentless attack, guitars are a high-toned assault, and vocals are icily shrill screams. Musicianship is good, production is as good as it needs to be. One song.

Negative Plane (Florida)
Grim and chaotic Black Metal, creating a total wall of sound. Guitars and drums are broken into choppy and disjointed rhythms, tempo varies from slow and crawling to hyperblast intensity. Vocals are hoarse and growling with pitched shouts and screams. Musicianship is decent, production is good. My fave pick is “Surreality”

Noctuary (CA)
Aggressive Melodic Black Metal that is thick with harmony and well-executed changeups. Guitars are crisp and sharp, drumming is powerful and very heavy even in the slower parts, and the vocals are a changing duet of shrill screams and deep guttural growls. Musicianship is excellent, production is very good. My fave pick is “Reflections”.

Orodruin (Oregon)
Bitter and grim Black Metal done the old way. No fluff or frills whatsoever, this is pure aggressive energy. Good melody from the guitars, drumming is programmed well, and the vocals are absolutely frozen and grim. Musicianship is decent, production is very raw. One song.

Ritual (California)
Black Metal with varied tempos and influence. When the tempo is turned down, the feel is very heavy and symphonic. When it thrashes, it is a very raw and minimal sound. Guitar and drums driven sound for the most part, with some keys. Vocals are grim and screaming, very well done. Musicianship is good, production is a bit low but is not bad. My fave pick is “Alone”.

Somnus (Ohio)
Deeply sorrowful Black Metal with thick Gothic influence. An overall dark and somber sound, even though the tempo is mostly mid-paced. Keys are present but not overpowering, guitars are well done with some impressive leads, drumming is heavy and very solid. Grim male vocals contrast with beautiful female vocals. Musicianship is excellent, production is great. My fave pick is “Warlocks Feast”.

The Aphelion (New York)
Symphonic Black Metal with a thick keys sound. Rich melody throughout, with nice harmonization of guitars. Drumming is solid and driven, keys are ever present but trade back and forth in presence. Vocals are harsh, bitter, and grim. Musicianship is very good, production is ok. My fave pick is “Erebus”. http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/333/the_aphelion.html

Throcult (Colorado)
Aggressive and melodic Black Metal with a heavy Death Metal influence that comes out in different forms through different songs. Guitars are grinding but sharp, drumming is deep and very well done. Vocals are pitched screams, very harsh. Musicianship is excellent, production is outstanding. My fave pick is “Kill Or Be Killed”.

Thy Infernal (Oregon)
Fast-paced Black Metal. Very grim sound, with heavy emphasis on guitar work and blastbeats. Guitars wail in each song, and the drumming is non-stop hyper aggression. Even the slow parts are full of explosives fills. The vocals are bitter and totally frozen, and the sustain on the screams is impressive. Musicianship is very good; production is low but not bad. My fave pick is “For The Glory Of Satan”.

Vrolok (Pennsylvania)
Grim and necro Black Metal, totally minimal sound with a crawling tempo. Guitars are heavily distorted, as are the harshly screamed vocals. Drumming is heavy and solid. Musicianship is ok, production is low. My fave pick is “Through The Gates…”

Winter Darkness (Pennsylvania)
Raw and necro Black Metal, slower tempo on guitars while drums change from crawling to blasting. Good tone on the keys, and the vocals are purely hateful and grim. Musicianship is loose in parts and production is low, but this is a great example of a band working with what it has to create the music it believes in. My fave pick is “Empty Dawn Of Dying Screams”.

Withering Soul (Illinois)
Deep and dark Black Metal, with slower rhythms punctuated by occasional aggression. Overall, this is a very dark and somber atmosphere. Keys are for background mostly, very sweeping and well toned. Guitars carry most of the sound, as do the frozen vocals. The drumming is either very heavy or non-existent, depending on the course of the song. Musicianship is very good, production is decent. My fave pick is “The Frozen Oblivion”.

Zaum (California)
Explosive and extremely aggressive Black Metal. Production is very bad; much of the individual sound is lost. However, the drumming comes through as a relentless hammering assault, the guitars are energetic and well done, and the vocals are bitter and frozen grim. I hope to hear more for this band. One song.