The new vanguard

Even a genre as proud of its individualism as metal pivots on shared spaces, shared action, shared meaning, and shared purpose. Today we are encouraged to atomise our efforts, create individual digital platforms from which to craft our brand. Those meetings that do occur in the flesh are no longer a celebration of collective experience so much as they are a collective history. A history we are all studied in to the point of overdose.

Those pockets of futurism that do exist are just that, pockets. Disconnected and unrelated anomalies emerging from the data, only to be swallowed up by hegemony’s crushing embrace once again. The narrative required to give rise to new forms of shared space and meaning simply refuses to write itself, thus stifling any speculation on the possible futures that await us. The only logical conclusion is that the narrative will have to be contrived. Forced into forms and shapes that give the present moment meaning that extends into the future with only incidental reference to the past.

This is the motivation behind collecting these artists together – and those from the new avant-garde list – and declaring it a pool of activity to draw novel excitement from. Here is a roadmap out of paralysis. As disconnected and incongruous a collection it may seem at first, any observers worthy of the name have an obligation to fashion these individual efforts into something that could be called a trend, a movement, a shadow of a new, uncreated future bloated with unrealised potentials.  


London’s Atvm embody modern extreme metal’s sense of postmodern play, where pizza thrash riffs sit happily alongside achingly nuanced progressive material, the righteous filth of death metal revivalism, and no small legacy owed to rock’s discovery of ironic humour in the 1990s. All stitched together into a package, the coherence of which strains conception.


Riff centric dissonant black metal that creates its own systems of logic smuggled beneath the veneer of familiarity. The uncanny meets the domestic in this theatre of disorientation, where old forms disfigure themselves into novel mutations. Unfamiliarity comes at the price of near total disfigurement, all that remains is a blank and boundless canvas of unchecked possibilities.


Black metal drone mimics the articulation of monotonous religious ritual. This artist seeks to invoke a state of stoic mental fixation that momentarily transcends the remorseless demands of the body. Theomachia reaffirm the inescapable fact that quests for inner peace through knowledge are rarely bracing affairs of colour and activity, but require a degree of discipline and horizon limitation bordering on the psychopathic.

Vomito Vacuo

A carnival of psychological torments for both our musical sensibilities and our sense of truth and lie. Vomito Vacuo warp our perspective on reality, play with our expectations, and fearlessly twist musical convention into freshly tortured and stretched formations. This is black metal that constantly promises a resolution only to refashion nothing but void beneath our feet.


Voland fit neatly into a long history of academic fidelity in metal when selecting thematic material as vehicles for dissecting the conundrums of being. But Voland strike a perfect balance between realism and theatrics in treating their chosen subject matter of Russian history. Accusations of empty novelty are quickly silenced upon witnessing the lengths this artist will go to to achieve a breadth and scope worthy of its boundlessly fraught subject matter.


One of the few artists to understand the legacy of Ildjarn beyond a statement of music’s end. LUM seek to delve beneath the philosophy of minimalism, and salvage this project as something more than an exercise in listener browbeating or status symbol vehicles among peer groups. Musical content is re-injected into raw black metal at its purest in a way that respects its misanthropic prerequisites

Necromantical Invocation

Prayers dedicated to antiquity meet sophisticated treatments of occultist extreme metal as derived from re-imaginings of gothic horror in 20th Century cinema. Metallic sonic architecture gives way to the open spaces of creativity offered by dark ambient and the freeform structures of performance art.

Sentiero Dei Principi

Pathos conspires with world building in this harsh reimaging of black metal’s emotive potentials. Sentiment is resituated in the harshest and most unforgiving lights in this environment. Explosions of static percussion unleash a relentless barrage of artillery to upset the delicate play of melodies that are as fragile as they are multifaceted.   

Journey Into Darkness

Symphonic black metal finds renewed purpose by solidifying its union with fragmented technical death metal. Journey Into Darkness craft a world as violent as it is empty, a musical offering worthy of praise for its technical precision as much as it is a chaotic theatre of macabre omens and unknowably ruthless inorganic activity.


Black metal at its most riotously camp is reaffirmed through this uninhibited display of traditionalist horror. If horror as an aesthetic is understood as the manipulation of familiar symbols into uncannily warped forms, Morguiliath understand this project as one of taking the “horrific” aspects of direct black metal and making them strange again, a quest fraught with as many dangers for the artist as there are challenges to overcome for the listener in digesting the remit of this music.

Dead Space Chamber Music

English folkways intermingle with European classical music, blending themselves with the locationless postmodernism of neofolk, dark ambient, industrial, and post rock. This is a world where half remembered communities, lost futures, imagined histories, and pure fantasy all collide into a smoky haze of fragmented lucidity. This is music that wakes us from the slumbering half reality of concrete and plastic and into a space of pure, context driven possibility.


Black metal at its most boisterous, ritualistic, and bombastic, Boarhammer blend the genre’s sense of realism with an almost frightening degree of unrestrained intoxication. Like witnessing in real time incantations designed to open a door to the beyond, Boarhammer place the listener in the moment where suspension of disbelief becomes an act of pure survival.


Taking the dictates of progressive music literally, Sweden’s Reveal! seek to advance the raw musical components of technically orientated death metal into uncomfortable shapes and hitherto unfamiliar forms for the genre. Rock blandisms are thrown into a mixture with Voivodist thrash, black metal urgency, and no small degree of whimsy. The next chapter opens for death metal that is progressive if it has any inclination to turn the page.

Benthik Zone

The false promises of industrial black metal finally hit pay dirt in the work of Benthik Zone. This is an unsettling realm, where jarring tonal swaps serve to disturb a world where dark ambience decays into outrageously unrestrained noise art, trancelike thunderous gallops of industrial metal, and lashings of caverncore framing devices.


This artist uses old ways to tell new stories. They may not be the most prima facie experimental outfit from this current crop, but their fixation on the longform, constructed from familiar building blocks, requires the listener to step back and take in the wider picture to grasp the intent behind the work.


Most “folk” metal offshoots apply a seasoning of populist folk signifiers to a pre-existing metal framework in the hope of attracting two audiences for the price of one. Kostnateni take a more studied approach by rearranging intricate folk methodologies from Turkish traditions into a dissonant black metal framework. Not so much an exercise in superficial sonic seasoning as it is a quest in understanding the limits and potentials of musical alchemy.


One of the few artists that can lay claim to the legacy of ‘Onward to Golgotha’. This is death metal that has blood coursing through its veins, a genuine and heartfelt attempt to reclaim the territory from pretenders, not by grasping at the mantel of hubristic originality, but through sheer, unadulterated musical will.


Mortify create a bizarre, malformed universe of phantasmagorias and fragmented musical shards. Odd key and time signatures, chromatic play, tritones, clashes of tempo and novel harmonic interplay all factor into this lengthy recipe, designed from a single minded fixation on ascertaining where each element should be deployed, and in what order. An act of world building that makes the listener forget about their preoccupations with genre, the politics of technique, or the stylistic burdens of history. It overcomes all this in order to reiterate what we already knew about death metal above the noise of its current existential dualism: the tools and ingredients to create with total freedom and resolve are already there, it just takes someone with knowledge and imagination to breathe new and terrible life into these dormant facets.

Out of the Mouth of Graves

Many metal subgenres have abandoned the pursuit of traditional music for the sake of pure noise.  But here we witness life on the border. The furniture we recognise, but the walls are on the verge of collapse, the floor opens up, allowing us to sink into the murk below. This uncanny exercise in music’s partial decay is undeniably more compelling and noteworthy than many purer metallic interpretations of noise genres.


Kexelur craft raw black metal as a Trojan Horse, concealing at once a survey of musical styles from a range of different cultures and periods. This is an exercise in strictly linear composition within a metallic setting, eschewing the typical riff tessellation in favour of sequential structures. This also serves to demonstrate the power of juxtaposition, as competing moods, themes, and compositional philosophies are compressed together, played in tandem. It is both effortlessly weird and profoundly eerie. A superficially shallow aesthetic form, that slowly reveals its boundless hidden depths.

Swords of Dis

Swords of Dis imbue the nihilistic undercurrent of modern black metal with an emotive core born of an exploration of desperate theological rumination. Dissonant black metal reaches a state of hope and desire for longevity which only serves to solidify the high drama of this music. Knitted within this project is a sincere attempt to tackle theological rumination that pivots on reflection over blunt fear of god.

Serpent Ascending

Stalwart Finnish death metal evolutionist injects heavy metal influences with renewed gravitas fit for the contemporary moment via extreme metal’s realist tendencies, a relationship that finds its mediation through the guiding hand of restrained progressive elements. Death metal tends to build complexity by stuffing each moment with an excess of musical matter, and challenging itself to organise this fragmented chaos into an internally coherent structure. Serpent Ascending, by contrast, have decluttered the picture, breathing air and room into each frame and thus allowing the listener greater opportunity to study the elegant detail of each moment. The riffs and their interplay are still relatively complex, but they are played with such fluidity, and at depressed tempos by death metal standards, that they fall into the listener’s mind almost irresistibly.

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