Black Metal

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Black Metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It often employs fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, double-kick drumming, and unconventional song structure.

During the 1980s, certain thrash metal bands established a prototype for black metal. This so-called "first wave" included bands such as Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. A "second wave" emerged in the early 1990s, which consisted primarily of Norwegian bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal and Emperor. This scene developed the black metal style into a distinct genre

Black metal has been met with considerable hostility from mainstream culture, mainly due to the misanthropic and anti-Christian ideology of many artists. Additionally, some musicians have been associated with church burnings, murder or National Socialism. For these reasons and others, black metal is often viewed as an underground form of music.

Black Metal Sub-Genres

Atmospheric Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/atmospheric-black-metal

War Metal, also known as Bestial Black Metal, is a black metal sub-genre that eschews many of the genre's usual techniques such as trebly tremolo picked guitar playing and raspy growled vocals in favour of down-tuned power chords played as faster speeds compared to other black metal sub-genres in general, even up to grindcore levels, and vocals that are more in line with those used in death metal. Another relation to grindcore that war metal shares is the tendency towards shorter songs. Production values are also different, exchanging the raw cold of typical black metal for a muddy, bass heavy sound that overall, is aimed to come across as sounding chaotic. The war metal name comes from the common themes of war and nuclear holocaust that artists of the genre use though like with any genre, themes are not a strict requirement of war metal. Canada's Blasphemy are commonly considered to be the first band to truly play war metal.

Depressive Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/depressive-black-metal

Melodic Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/melodic-black-metal

Symphonic Black Metal

See: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/symphonic-black-metal

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_metal

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • adg211288 (leader)
  • The T 666
  • Dobbie03
  • 666sharon666

black metal top albums

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black metal Music Reviews

MYRKUR M

Album · 2015 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Ignore the purists throwing their toys out of the pram for the various sins against kvlt black metal orthodoxy Myrkur commits. (She's a woman! She used to be in an indie pop band! She brings ethereal folk influences into black metal! The album actually has decent production values!) The presence of Ulver mastermind Garm behind the production desk should be all the clue anyone needed that this wouldn't be your typical straight-ahead black metal release.

Nor is Garm's presence a mere act of tribute; the blending of folk elements and black metal that Myrkur indulges in is reminiscent of early Ulver in its choice of musical elements to intermingle, but unique to Myrkur in how this fusion is actually accomplished near-seamlessly. The upshot is that Myrkur is picking up the baton where Ulver left it when they shifted away from black metal, but running in a decidedly different direction with it - one which has a distinctive sound all of its own. Those out to drag down this album should think again: there will always be purist projects out there trying to recreate Transilvanian Hunger for the millionth time, but for any genre to not stagnate it needs new ideas and directions, and that Myrkur brings to the table in spades.

TODESSTOß Hirngemeer

Album · 2015 · Depressive Black Metal
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adg211288
In the world of avant-garde metal there are many crazy albums. There are many downright weird albums. And there are also albums like Hirngemeer (2015) by German act Todesstoß, which sound like something straight out of a nightmare and are completely fucking unhinged. The release is the seventh full-length album released under the moniker, but the first with an extended line-up. Joining founder and previous sole member Martin Lang is Euer Gnaden (bass) and Flesh of L (vocals). Hirngemeer (apparently meaning Brainworm if Google Translate is accurate), contains just three tracks but lasts for a massive near seventy-five minutes of music.

The album should come with a warning sticker telling potential listeners not to approach unless they are feeling brave and open-minded. In every traditional sense of what music is supposed to be, Hirngemeer just isn't it. It's three tracks clock in at 28:25, 34:05 and 12:18 respectively and on the surface nothing seems particularly structured and certainly not good in the usual way that music is supposed to be, but it's all an illusion. Pay closer attention to what's happening and there's a method in the madness that's actually quite out in the open, with some true genius in the instrumental work from the two instrumentalists, especially the bass of Euer Gnaden. Martin Lang does everything else, including liberal use of a harmonica on opener Verwehung, while Flesh of L spews the German language lyrics, sometimes like he's been possessed by a demon, at others like he's desperately trying to escape its menacing clutches and is utterly terrified about what it might do to him. It's depressive black metal at its core, with many other elements detectable the more the album is listened to, notably funeral doom metal and ambient ideas, but seems more designed to drive its listener to madness than suicide.

That's the first track at least, the second and longest Narbenkäfig is surprisingly more restrained on its use of these elements, though it still maintains a lot of them and a general air of menace. And it goes on for such a long time that it really does present the impression that they'll be no escape from whatever hell Todesstoß are trapped in. Finally, the shortest of the three tracks is Strom der Augenblicke, which actually takes the album in a non-metal direction to finish the bizarre journey off but is of course no less dark and creepy for the lack of metal elements.

Hirngemeer is just too crazy to be an album that many could enjoy on a regular basis, but I admit to finding a strange kind of fascination with it. It's something that you could listen to a dozen times and still not really understand and I think that may even be the band's intention. You're not meant to understand the album. It's a window into a warped mind, one you wouldn't want to own but is kind of eye-opening to visit and an album that's quite unlike anything else I've ever come across, not even the other Todesstoß album I've heard, Ebne Graun (2017), which is comparatively sane and structured. Listen to this when you reach the point where you feel that you've heard everything else black metal has to offer.

MYRKUR Myrkur

EP · 2014 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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adg211288
Myrkur (2014) is the debut EP release by Danish one woman black metal act Myrkur, which is both the name of the artist and the pseudonym used by its sole musician. There's been a bit of mystery surrounding the identity of Myrkur but most sources seemed to believe that it was the work of Amalie Bruun, a singer/songwriter and a member of the pop act Ex Cops (as well as a model), which seems to have now been confirmed. Her story is not your typical when discovering a new black metal act on the scene and fortunately the music on the debut EP of Myrkur tells a similar story.

The most notably thing about the music on Myrkur is that vocals do not play that much of a major role in the sound. Musically Myrkur treats her listeners to some well crafted atmospheric black metal that is actually pretty relaxing stuff to immerse yourself in, especially when you consider that what vocals are here are actually sung cleanly in a choral fashion rather than delivered in a black metal rasp. Not that those are entirely absent from the EP but Myrkur is definitely a case where the music is undeniably black metal but clean vocals outweigh the growls. Her vocals also feel like a part of the overall atmosphere of the music rather than the element that leads the songs. Like an extra instrument if you prefer.

I've heard music that had strong black metal roots but used clean vocals before but Myrkur is the first time I've found something that near enough fully embraces that mix, especially from the musical point of view. Not that Myrkur spends all of her time accompanied by raw riffs and blast beats, far from it, Frosne Vind for example isn't even a metal track, but a short folksy piece. The mix of ideas proves effective, making Myrkur an impressive first release from Myrkur. I think I'd like to hear her incorporate more of a traditional black metal vocal approach in addition to her singing in the future, but I'm eager to hear where she takes her music on a full-length basis, which is already being worked on. This is a nice little EP though as is so a 4 star rating seems fair.

MYRKUR M

Album · 2015 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
M (2015) is the debut album by US based Danish one woman black metal act Myrkur. It follows up the self-titled EP that was released in 2014. Initially surrounded in mystery, the identity of Myrkur's sole musician was quickly revealed to be Amalie Bruun, previously known as one half of a pop duo called Ex Cops. It's a pretty big jump she's made in her music career, to go from pop to black metal. On her first EP I thought she presented some interesting ideas, but also a fair bit of unrealised potential. However I did enjoy the Myrkur EP quite a bit so the release of M is something I've been looking forward to for some time now.

Before I move onto the music found on M proper, there's a little something I feel I need to address right from the get go. If you are in any way a black metal purist stop reading right now and go back to whatever uninspired lo-fi black metal act you currently find so kvlt and interesting: Myrkur's M will be beyond you and you may even find it offensive the way Myrkur thinks outside the box when it comes to black metal conventions. I've already seen this sort of narrow-minded criticism aimed at the album before it was even released and some have even called it hipster black metal and said things like 'the only people rating this are the same people who thought Liturgy's Aesthethica was any good'. That's probably the biggest insult that someone could say about M and also one of the most unfounded. I've heard Aesthethica and it's truly one of the worst black metal records I've ever come across. A completely messy and repetitive affair (even by black metal standards) with maybe enough good ideas on the whole record for them to have crafted one decent track. M is exactly the opposite. Worse still I've also seem some outright sexist comments aimed at Amalie Bruun, which is of course totally uncalled for, even if her take on black metal is not your thing. It's things like this that make me fucking ashamed to call myself a metalhead, especially one who appreciates black metal where the tolerance level seems to be at its lowest.

And it's really too bad if you are one of the people who has already written Myrkur off without a proper listen to her music, because in M she's produced one of the most interesting black metal records I've heard for quite a while. Not since Hail Spirit Noir's Oi Magoi (2014) have I been this interested in a new black metal release, the better part of two years ago.

One of the biggest ways that Myrkur changes up the way she does black metal is that she uses a lot of clean singing. Clean vocals certainly aren't unheard of in black metal, but here it's pretty much her main vocal style, though there are more black metal style screams on M than there were on the prior EP. Amalie's voice has this ethereal sort of quality to it, which works well against the atmospheric black metal backdrop, to the point that to my ears she actually makes it sound valid to use exclusively clean vocals in a black metal context. But she does scream too and when she does the music can turn pretty damn aggressive with it, such as in Hævnen. Her vocals are pretty much incomprehensible, but that's a problem a lot of growlers have, whether it's in black or death metal or another context entirely. I tend to think of them as being an extra instrument in the atmosphere that Myrkur creates, and her two voice styles work equally well in that manner, while also finding a perfect balance between the two.

Some folk influences creep into the sound, particularly during the first two songs. They are naturally of a darker and melancholic kind than the lively, happy kind of popular folk metal bands and are a nice addition to the music. There are also some forays into other metal genres that add variety to the atmospheric black metal sound. Hævnen has a kind of doom feel with its heavy, slow guitars but more notably is Mordet where Myrkur teams up with former Arch Enemy guitarist Christopher Amott to produce a much more in your face and direct metal assault that edges the music into thrash metal territory. Such a track may seem rather out of place on paper but I personally like it. It works to stir up the pace of the album effectively and as such doesn't harm the album's flow in any way. The combined atmosphere that has been created with all these different ideas is really easy to get immersed in. The actual instrumentation may often seem simplistic but that's black metal for you. It isn't about being showy and certainly doesn't need to be in order to be impressive.

M isn't an overly long album, just shy of 37 minutes, but I feel it accomplishes quite a lot in that time. It isn't perfect by any means; there's a bit too much of that 37 minute running time given over to interlude pieces like Vølvens spådom and Nordlys for one. There's quite a focus on piano and choral parts in such times, which work to a point but are slightly overused in my opinion. I'd like to have heard a few more actual songs because as it is I actually got to hear five of these in the run up to the album, which didn't leave overly much to discover upon release. M is however high quality debut album from Myrkur, even with its faults. 4.5 stars and quite possibly the best black metal release you'll find from 2015.

MYRKUR M

Album · 2015 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Unitron
Myrkur - M

"M" is the debut studio album and overall second release (excluding singles) from black metal musician Myrkur. I was absolutely blown away by Myrkur's 2014 EP release, so I was eagerly awaiting a full-length studio album from her. I initially loved it, then was a bit disappointed, now back to loving it.

"M" pretty much continues the atmospheric black metal-folk hybrid of the EP. A big thing that makes Myrkur stand out in the black metal genre is her extensive use of clean vocals, which appear in both the shredding black metal sections and Scandinavian folk passages. There is of course a mix of clean vocals and stark black metal screams but I'd probably say that the clean vocals appear more then the screams or at least equally, already giving it a unique sound.

While you may think that the folk passages and black metal sections are completely separate from each other, they actually play in unison often throughout the album. Just take a listen to songs like 'Hævnen' and 'Onde børn', the former being one of my favorites from the album, and you'll hear how both styles work together to bring a unique blackened folk metal sound. Speaking of folk, the short folk songs that transition to other songs are among the most beautiful on the album, some featuring great piano work along with Myrkur's calming vocals. There is some variation besides the black metal and folk, as the songs 'Skøgen skulle dø' and 'Jeg er guden, i er tjenerne' both have elements of doom metal which fit in perfectly with the rest of the sound of the album. The song 'Mordet', which features Chris Amott of Arch Enemy on guitar', is an amazing combination of killer thrash metal and stark black metal. This is probably my favorite on the album.

I usually don't mention other criticisms of albums in my reviews, but I feel like I should mention it here. I've seen a lot of comments about how this is "hipster black metal" and even some comments attacking Myrkur as a person. Regardless of opinions on the music here, I think the comments against her are very rude and mean-spirited and completely unwarranted. As far as the "hipster" comments go, I find this in no way "hipster", I simply see Myrkur as doing something new with the genre.

Overall, while I still prefer her debut EP, "M" is still an amazing album and I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoyed the debut, really enjoys black metal and folk, or wants to get into black metal. Myrkur's music really got me into the genre, and I can't wait to see where she goes with her next release. Hope you found this review helpful.

(Reposted review due to accidental deletion, originally posted April 2016.)

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