The Black Metal EditionGiven black metal's long history of "bedroom" bands, the DIY, easy-access Bandcamp should be a perfect fit--at least for those who don't go out of their way to be uber-kvlt and actively avoid broad exposure. It turns out, it is a damn good fit for black metal. There's plenty of it out there on the site.
Shroud of Despondency: Forced to Wander into Nothing (2002)
I'm starting to notice a problem with my methodology in this series. I went on a download spree a year ago, and some of these releases are no longer available on a free or pay-what-you-want basis. This is one of them. However, it's still worth mentioning. Shroud of Despondency is a Milwaukee band with a slew of releases on their Bandcamp page. Forced to Wander into Nothing is one of the oldest ones there. It's from the school of black metal which focuses on creating a soundscape rather than blistering your ear drums. The music is mid-paced and often instrumental, with nary a tremolo riff in sight, but some of the riffs are extremely interesting (see "A Ripple in Time"). Although their current lineup doesn't include a keyboardist, synths are a big part of the sound on this one, and there's also the occasional sound effect or sample. It's pretty good. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Falgar: Beyond the Fading Stars (2010)
Again, another one that used to be free. Given the cover art, fonts, the Tolkien reference of opener "The Lonely Mountain", and other factors, you could probably make a good guess about Falgar's influences before you even hear them. Beyond the Fading Stars is good old Second Wave style black metal, with a couple faster black metal cuts, a slower one, one with mixed tempos, and a couple dark ambient tracks. "Until Death Takes Me" has a particularly great riff as well as some good leads. But, back to the cover art, the picture does not exactly look like the band's home of Puerto Rico. One of the great things about black metal is how it often incorporates something from the place it originates. Winterfylleth has English folk music. Florida's Black Witchery has a hot, oppressively violent sound. Wolves in the Throne Room sounds like the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Cobalt is all about American folk music and American identity. In other words, a Puerto Rican black metal band should not sound like it's from Norway. Then again, the band's only member is named Etienne Goldberg, so maybe he's not completely a part of the culture there. Anyway, for what it is, it's not bad, so I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
Obolus: Lament (EP 2012)
I mentioned it when The Flenser began offering Obolus's Lament as a free download, without giving it a review at the time, based purely on the strength of the label's previous output. It turns out, it was absolutely worth your time, so I don't feel bad about taking that risk one bit. In fact, this is one of the best releases of the year so far, and I've listened to it many, many times. There have been a lot of bands who have tried their hands at post-black metal, but this is the first time I can honestly say that anyone has done so successfully without losing the essence of black metal. It may gain acceptance of fans of both Darkthrone and Deafheaven. Lament is significant for more than just that breakthrough. It goes far beyond any expectations. It is phenomenal. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Scoop it up while it's still free (who knows if it will be by the time this publishes), and consider picking up the vinyl if that's your thing.