Its sound is raw, yet also epic and atmospheric, like Punk Rock meets Wagner, dressed as Alice Cooper.Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It is typically abrasive and usually makes use of fast tempos driven by blastbeat drumming, high-pitched electric guitars that are often played with tremolo pickingnote , unconventional song structures and high-pitched shrieking vocals usually with lyrics concerning anti-Christianity, Satanism, paganism, nature or fantasy. It is prone to experimentation and certain elements typical to black metal are not always used by every band within the subgenre. Originally, many black metal recordings were created with low-quality production and recording equipment, but some bands still retain this recording style, favoring its primitive feelings over more modern recording equipment. Satanic and anti-Christian imagery and face paint have remained a staple part of this style of music since its inception. The roots of black metal come from Venom's extreme take on thrash metal (Black Metal is obviously cited as a major Trope Maker, as well as Trope Namer), as well as bands like Bathory, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate. Who was more important can lead to a Broken Base though ("Venom started it" vs "the media said that Venom started it!"), so be warned. A second wave started in the late 80s/early 90s, with bands such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Rotting Christ and Varathron. Black metal bands from the United States such as Von and Profanatica also formed around this time. Most modern black metal was built upon the groundwork laid by bands during this time period. Following a series of church burnings associated with black metal musicians and the murder of Euronymous of Mayhem by Burzum mastermind Varg Vikernes, the Norwegian black metal scene received considerable attention from the mainstream media. As of August, 2010 Immortal is the last of the "Second-Wave" Norwegian Black Metal bands that is still in operation; their closest musical contemporaries have altogether left the genre: Darkthrone have mutated into a retro-trad/crust punk outfit, while Satyricon gave up the genre in favor of "Black Rock", a sub-sub-genre of hard rock, though not heavy metal "proper". (Enslaved could arguably be considered to belong alongside Immortal in this list, although their sound now is as much Progressive Metal as is Black Metal, and on Ruun and Vertebrae was more Prog than Black). Immortal themselves formed a "new" band (adding two members) in 2006 named "I" and released the critically-acclaimed album Between Two Worlds which was one of the foundations for the "Black Rock" sound other bands (notably Satyricon) augmented their music into. More frequently than not, later bands in this genre are dubbed "post-black metal" or "avant-garde black metal" because the genre name black metal is supposed to denote a very specific aesthetic. While bands of this ilk, such as Arcturus, Sigh, Solefald, Borknagar, In The Woods..., Ulver, Fleurety, Agalloch, Peccatum, Ved Buens Ende and others, can arguably be very different in style, they often use better production values and explore other genres of music at the same time. Thanks to a focus on Satanic (or just anti-Christian) imagery, the mainstream media tends to frown upon the genre, but genres like fantasy (ie. Tolkien) and folklore are also common. Some black metal bands are even aligned with National Socialism. (On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, there are also the occasional bands aligned with anarchism or other left-wing ideologies, such as Wolves in the Throne Room, Blut aus Nord, Panopticon, Sorgsvart, and Skagos). Although there are exceptions, modern black metal as a musical style tends to make use of high-pitched tremolo picking, shrieked or growled vocals, blast beats, unconventional song structures and an emphasis on atmosphere over technical playing styles. Black metal rarely features verse-chorus structures, generally favoring a more basic style that features extended musical sections and repetitive guitar riffs. Guitar solos are a rarity in black metal, although they are featured prominently in the music of some bands (i.e. Peste Noire). Black metal often features very lo-fi, primitive recording quality reminiscent of the early days of the genre, but some bands have favored more professional recording techniques. While the harsh vocal style of black metal has become nearly universal, many bands still feature clean vocals, used either in conjunction with more extreme vocals or as the primary vocal style. Black metal tends to be nationalistic in nature (so much that there is a whole subgenre for national socialist black metal, NSBM, which is covered below), so it is no surprise that many of the European scenes (particularly from Norway) look down on black metal uprisings in nations like the United States. There's also viking/black metal, or simply "viking metal," arguably first created by Bathory and later taken up by bands like Windir, Enslaved, and others of that ilk. Unlike most other artists from other forms of music, many black metal bands do not play live. Many bands, such as Burzum and Xasthur, are one-man studio projects, but many bands with full line-ups also prefer to avoid playing live. However, many black metal bands are also known for their theatrical live shows, with the shows of bands such as Mayhem and Gorgoroth being particularly notorious (once Gorgoroth played live on Polish TV on a stage surrounded by barbed wire with severed pigs' heads impaled on stakes and surrounded by life-size wooden crosses with naked female models (hooded) tied on...something you definitely won't see on U.S. prime time television note ). Watain probably outdoes other bands on this: their shows are famous for pigs' blood being sprayed all over the place. Not to be confused with Living Colour, who are African-American metal.
— Sam Dunn, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey
List of black metal bands, categorised by subgenre: "Traditional" Black, Raw Black, and Black/Thrash
"Traditional" black metal is the regular style of black metal, codified by the Second Wave (particularly in Norway). Raw black metal is a much harsher and simpler form of black metal codified by bands like Darkthrone. Black/thrash is, as the name suggests, black metal mixed with Thrash Metal; it tends to be applied to bands that combine the two genres that were not first-wave black metal.
Due to the overlap between the three subgenres, they have all been lumped together.
The original black metal movement started in the eighties; first-wave black metal bands are, for the most part, thrash bands with much rougher production; while some examples are subject to debate as to whether they're black or thrash, the Brazilian acts are generally viewed as the first "true" examples of black metal. Some of Bathory's music is an exception; a strong case could be made that the album Under the Sign of the Black Mark in particular is the Trope Codifier for black metal as it exists today. The same can be said for both Sarcófago's "I.N.R.I." and Sepultura's "Bestial Devastation" and "Morbid Visions"; the former band's album is particularly notable due to its extensive usage of blastbeats, which helped lay the template for black metal drumming to come.
As the name suggests, this is Black Metal with a much more melodic, and usually epic, approach than regular black metal. This genre tends to be much more accessible than regular Black Metal. Though first started in Sweden with bands such as Sacramentum, Dissection, and Dawn, the genre is often associated with Southern Europe and especially Greece, with bands such as Moonspell, Rotting Christ, Astarte, and Opera IX coming from those areas. There's also occasionally some overlap with melodic death metal, but that depends on the band in question.
Black metal with symphonic and orchestral elements. These bands tend to be a lot cheesier, and less serious, than other black metal bands. Like with melodic black metal, symphonic black metal tends to be a lot more accessible than other forms of black metal.
Black metal mixed with Folk Metal.
Black metal with lyrics and imagery regarding vikings. The overall genre of Viking Metal evolved from black metal, and as such most viking metal bands are black metal; however, there are some viking metal bands, such as Ensiferum and Amon Amarth, that have nothing to do with black metal (and, as a result, aren't seen as "true" viking metal bands by some black metal fans). A lot of the time, viking black metal overlaps with folk/black metal. A good number of English black metal bands play Viking metal, but call it "Anglo-Saxon metal".
See the Doom Metal page. Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal
Black metal with an ultra-depressive atmosphere and a lyrical focus on suicide, self-mutilation and other things to do with depression. This is quite a Love It or Hate It genre; either this is one of the most brilliant forms of black metal, or the most Narmful. Very often crosses over with ambient black metal and black/doom. Burzum is often a significant influence, with some bands in this genre (Nyktalgia in particular, especially on their first album) almost sounding like Burzum tribute bands. The Trope Makers of the genre are generally considered to be Bethlehem, Forgotten Woods, and Strid. Silencer could arguably be considered the Trope Codifier, as a lot of the DSBM that followed was clearly strongly influenced by it.
Black metal mixed with electronic music, often but not always industrial.
Black metal with elements of dark ambient. The early developments of this genre can be found in early 90's projects such as Burzum, Moëvöt, Ildjarn, Mütiilation and Crimson Moon. Many bands (e.g. Forgotten Woods, Leviathan, Xasthur, Mütiilation) overlap with Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal.
Black metal either possessing significant avant-garde tendencies, influenced significantly by Progressive Metal, or both. Uncommon Time is not uncommon, Epic Rocking is frequent, and occurrences of Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly are not unheard of. A large portion of bands classifiable within the avant-garde metal subgenre either count as black metal, or are significantly inspired by black metal due to the genre's fondness for disturbing imagery, ideology, and atmosphere, all of which are pretty useful when you want to prog out as a band.
Two closely related subgenres of black metal incorporating elements of post-rock and shoegaze, respectively. Generally more melodic and arguably more accessible than more traditional black metal. This is something of a Love It or Hate It genre; many people adore it but black metal purists often attack it as watering down black metal for a hipster audience.
Based on the raw, thrashing style of proto-Black Metal bands such as Blasphemy, Sarcófago, Von and Beherit, Bestial Black Metal aims for pure, demonic aggression and speed, often featuring elongated blastbeats, chainsaw-esque guitar tones, extremely guttural vocals and short song lengths. Many bands show heavy influence from Death Metal, old school Thrash Metal and sometimes Grindcore. Lyrics usually eschew political or philosophical themes, instead focusing on blasphemous and taboo subjects such as anti-Christianity, desecration of religious symbols, sadism, sodomy and bestiality. Basically Black Metal's answer to Brutal Death Metal.
As the name suggests, this is black metal with a lyrical focus on "national heritage" and "being proud of your race/culture". In normal terms, this translates as "black metal with nazi lyrics". Musicians hold far-right, nationalist political beliefs, and they use their music to get their views across. Ideologically, NSBM bands tend to synthesize neo-Nazism with black metal's customary anti-Christianity, viewing Paganism, Nazi esotericism and/or Satanism as viable alternatives. Bands with a stronger pretense of philosophical sophistication may occasionally invoke Nietzsche, Julius Evola or other thinkers influential to neo-Nazi thought, though more commonly NSBM lyrics will simply blend generic black metal misanthropy with shoehorned racist/antisemitic sentiment and vague notions of nationalism and pride. Stylistically, NSBM bands often overlap with either epic/Pagan/viking black metal or oi!/RAC Punk Rock.
As a side note, don't just list artists with members (or sole members) holding far-right beliefs, such as Burzum (and many other bands). Make sure that the lyrics themselves are racist, or strongly nationalist, before adding a band.
Basically the complete polar opposite of NSBM. Most of these bands are fairly new, although Profecium formed in 1993.note As a result this particular strain of black metal isn't as infamous or widely known as NSBM yet. There is a strong environmentalist streak in much of this music, and many bands from the Cascadian region of the United States and Canada fall here. There is also a strong overlap with crust punk. A few lesser known bands overlap with unblack metal below, but others are explicitly atheistic, pagan, or (in Profecium's case) Satanic in ideology.
As with NSBM, don't list an artist just because they hold far-left political views (Euronymous, for example, was an authoritarian Communist, but Mayhem does not count)); they have to express their ideology in their lyrics and/or packaging. (Unfortunately, in some cases, such as Blut aus Nord and the explicitly anarchistic Ash Borer, it's difficult to know whether the views are expressed in the lyrics since only the bands know what the lyrics are (although Blut aus Nord did release lyrics for one of their early albums). Ash Borer take this one step further by not naming several of their songs).
There's a lot of information on both NSBM and RABM in this article.
Do you love black metal, but hate all that stuff about Satan? Well, this is the perfect genre for you! Unblack metal, also known as "white metal", is black metal with Christian lyrics and themes. These bands are often strongly hated by the rest of the black metal fandom because of the rather negative attitude held towards Christianity by said fandom.
The black metal genre exhibits the following tropes: