“All Pilsners are lagers but not all lagers are pilsners” – This is something that can be applied to space black metal, all bands in this genre are atmospheric and maybe symphonic but not all symphonic and atmospheric can be space black metal…you get the idea.
I have to admit that I’m not such a huge Black metal fan, so I don’t usually get out my way to investigate new sub-genres or obscure bands. But when my Russian friend Vilord told me about space black metal I have to say that I wasn’t surprised. Black metal is such an unworldly genre that it totally made sense that somebody was trying to introduce space stuff into it. I mean, we already had Inquisition digging into the energies and abstract physics but their sound is not really quite there.
Space Black Metal, or SBM, as far as the genre goes, is basically weird black metal with a lot of synths but that have very specific kind of sounds. Guitars usually are highly multi-layered and some of the riffs are dissonant. Vocals probably are the least interesting element and don’t really divert from the classic style of the genre. I feel like most of these bands are more interesting than traditional black metal bands but at the same time are more difficult to get into it, most of the time because of the low budget productions or ultra – bizarre elements. Also some just make songs longer that the end of time without adding any interesting elements. It is all about atmosphere.
While I never heard about the term SBM, I was aware of space ambient, a genre that I really like and that has some excellent artists like Solar Fields, Aes Dana, Progenie Terrestre Pura or Carbon Based Lifeforms.
Who created SBM? It is hard to tell but I have some clues. In 1996 there were two extraordinary albums released that had already the characteristics of SBM: Limbonic Art’s Moon in the Scorpio and Abigor‘s masterpiece Opus IV, one of my favorite black metal albums ever because of how bizarre it still sounds with those echo-y vocals and eerie guitars.
Other usual suspects would be Mundanus Imperium debut EP titled ‘Ode to the Nightsky’ in 1997, and later the Portuguese band Sirius, even though their style is more symphonic than space.
I guess the ultimate band in this genre is Darkspace. They really reached a pretty good balance between the vacuum-like sounds of space, traditional black metal, good sound and excellent identity as a band. Their albums are released by Avantgarde, an Italian label full of meritorious bands.
Another beautiful band is Midnight Odyssey, a name that you would recognize from being on the also Italian label I, Voidhanger. This one man army created by Dis Pater has two ultra dense albums that you should definitely check out.
But also we have absolutely bizarre bands like Les Tenebres Des Tortures. This is a monstrous album that some have labeled as pure crap but that I think it has certain beauty and most importantly, spot on atmosphere. I personally love this track, “Next Stop, Virgo City.”
There are some other more ethereal projects like Nightsky Obsession but that reach pretty decent heights when it comes to create the soundtrack of floating in the sky waiting for your helmet to burst.
The German duo Carcharoth Λ.V. are also pretty rewarding while adding an abrasive noise influence and also ambient.
Lastly, I would like to recommend Benthik Zone and their album Alienum a Daemonum Inferni Squali. A very listenable but alien trip to the bottom of the ocean. Yeah, I know this is not really space black metal per se, but what’s the difference between the benthic zones and space? For me both are the stuff that nightmares are made of. This band would be perfect for fans of The Botanist. That weird.
And I could go on and on and on on this genre. The more I look the more I find. My job is done, now it is your duty to dig and find the bands that you think suit your taste better. Happy findings.
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