13. Blut Aus Nord, 'Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry'
For 20 years, Vindsval, leader of French black metal project Blut Aus Nord, has restlessly pursued the next phase of his chosen field — his recent 777 trilogy flirted with industrial metal, shoegaze, electronica and noise. This year, he returned to complete another trilogy that he launched in 1996, returning to his band's black metal roots but adding a perfect amount of modern accessibility: instant melodies acting as bait sandwiched among high-volume guitars and Thorns' relentless drums. These six songs often start with belligerent blastbeats and serrated riffs before easing, over time, into colorful psychedelic smears. It's easy to get lost somewhere between rupture and reverie as Blut Aus Nord brightens black metal from the inside out while never once forsaking its savage origins. G.C.