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

Depressive Black Metal

Melodic Black Metal

Pagan Black Metal

Symphonic Black Metal

War Metal

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

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • adg211288 (leader)
  • 666sharon666
  • TheHeavyMetalCat

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black metal Music Reviews

NEGURĂ BUNGET Sala Molksa

EP · 1998 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After the debut album “Zîrnindu-să” was released in 1996, NEGURĂ BUNGET went from a duo to a trio after guitarist Sol Faur (Cristian Popescu) joined the group and offered his own sensibilities which heightened the Romanian folklore and creativity clearly absent from the debut. The new lineup released their first material in 1998 in the form of the EP titled SALA MOLKSA which found not only a better production job that allowed the atmospheric possibilities to match the creepiness of the darkened Carpathian fog from which the band took its name but also found the band incorporating the wealth of Romanian folk music into the compositions that teased the synthesizers into emulating traditional flutes as well as adding more diverse dynamics, tempos and variation.

SALA MOLKSA consisted of five tracks each titled in the impenetrable Romanian language which makes it all the more mysterious and as nebulous as the cloud covered forest that surround the band’s native city of Timişoara. With a second guitarist, NEGURĂ BUNGET took the extreme metal to new heights. The guitar fury was turned up to the max, the bass lines were now separated as to be heard under the buzzsaw guitar feedback and the drumming became more ferocious with a new found purpose rather than just keeping the beat. Most importantly the compositions were more nuanced with more progressive developments and most importantly the keyboards were balanced as to provide an eerie sonic haze and evolving light years beyond the cheesy kid stuff from the debut album.

Not only had NEGURĂ BUNGET turned up the black metal riffage to Bathory level but achieved a balance with the atmospheric touches that would make Emperor proud as the symphonic orchestration mix harmoniously with nary a flaw. Best of all the tracks were no longer predictable second wave black metal and each track stood proud on its own as it ferociously fused the fury of the Scandinavian northlands with the dark and macabre folklore of the Carpathian occult world. On SALA MOLKSA, NEGURĂ BUNGET displayed their potential well and were finally hinting at the magical musical mojo was lurking beneath the surface and awaiting a more refined approach that would result in albums like “OM.” Add to that a huge leap in technical proficiency that showed the musicianship hitting their stride.

SALA MOLKSA is a frenetic beast that no longer feels like the ugly stepchild of the bigger, badder and better produced black metal leaders of the north but rather a declaration that a new brand of black metal has stepped into the ring and taking the roller coaster ride in a new direction. This EP was that statement that launched NEGURĂ BUNGET into the position as Romania’s best musical output Timişoara’s other claim to fame, the 70s progressive rock band Phoenix. While “Zîrnindu-să” showed a fledgling band getting its feet wet, SALA MOLKSA shows a band coming of age and although not creating the magnum opus of their career, nevertheless conjured up an excellent slab of atmospherically fueled black metal fury that crafted four strong ferocious tracks and a short ending track that pointed listeners into the direction of where things were going.

Everything about SALA MOLSKA is a step up from its predecessor. The melodies are more hauntingly beautiful, the black metal ferociousness is unhinged and electrified manyfold and the pacing of the tracks keeps this one interesting for its entire run. The EP was released initially on cassette in Romania and the following year found a release on CD. It also was included on the 2004 Box Set in its entirety and after NEGURĂ BUNGET rise to success was re-recorded and released once again in 2008. The EP appears on the band’s Bandcamp page and both versions are presented side by side for comparison. Frankly i’m not too keen on re-recordings but whatever. This original is just fine by me. Black metal doesn’t need to be and on the contrary actually works better in a lo-fi setting. Musically this one is brilliant and sonically the textures meld together perfectly. A huge leap forward indeed.

NEGURĂ BUNGET Zîrnindu-să

Album · 1996 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Emerging from the Carpathian forests of Western Romania in the city of Timişoara, the early makings of NEGURĂ BUNGET were forged from the ashes of a band called Makrothumia when the two members: Negru (Gabriel Mafa) on drums and Hupogrammos Disciple (Edmond Karban) on guitars, vocals, and keyboards joined forces to create the new band Wiccan Rede in 1994. Under this early moniker, the duo released the “From Transilvanian Forests” demo before changing their name to the more familiar NEGURĂ BUNGET. The new name was taken from the black fog coming from the surrounding forests and thus the band’s goal was to construct an atmospheric style of black metal that reflected that concept.

Sallying forth to fulfill their mission, Negru and Hupogrammos Disciple crafted their debut album ZÎRNINDU-SĂ (Nightshade) which was recorded in only 20 hours at the Magic Sound Studio in Bucharest which explains why this album sounds a tad rushed. Initially released as a cassette only in their native Romania, the album saw a US release in 1998 on CD but wouldn’t find a newer release until it appeared on the 2004 Box Set where it was remastered. Another re-recorded version emerged in 008 with a bonus CD that included both the old and new versions. Both versions exist side by side on the band’s Bandcamp page for comparison but basically this debut gives little clues as to the progressive black metal mastery that NEGURĂ BUNGET would conjure up on the following albums “'n crugu bradului” and “OM” as it chugs out fairly standard black metal mileage of the era.

Following in the wake of the Scandinavian dominance of the second wave of 90s black metal, NEGURĂ BUNGET was very much playing keep up with their brethren to the north. While ZÎRNINDU-SĂ already displays a fairly unique atmospheric backdrop that would continue to evolve, the aggressive buzzsaw guitar distortion with frantic tremolo picking, a blastbeat drumming style and raspy vocals set below the distorted orotundity was pretty much the status quo of black metal by the year 1996 when this was released. While the progressive touches are light years away from the magnanimity of the future releases, there were already a few more complex riffing styles and compositional tricks that made this a tad more progressive than the likes of what Darkthrone, Immortal or Mayhem were doing at the time.

The album consists of eight tracks that exercise the same formulaic approach for the entire run. While the duo are more than competent with the mechanical chops of the guitar riffing, buried bass and melodic constructs, the biggest problem is that the keyboards are set too high in the mix and sound a bit cheesy as they fail to resemble the darkened misty forest that they claim to draw inspiration from but rather like cheap thrift store keys used for a grade school project. Likewise the songs themselves fail to ignite any excitement as they all tend to sound the same half way through the album with melodic developments that pretty much copy and paste and add a few screams in different places.

This was clearly a rough draft that was simply pumped out to get a product on the market. When compared to the following “Sala Molksa EP” that came out two years later that began to add the Romanian folk musical touches, this one just sounds too generic for its own good but it’s not really that bad either. This debut while not essential by any means is certainly an interesting listen as to ascertain how quickly NEGURĂ BUNGET evolved from a meh extreme metal band to the hottest item in all of Dracula’s Carpathian empire. The band would emerge as Romanian metal band #1 in a few short years but as far as this debut was concerned, you can pretty much skip to the following EP to get to the good stuff.

STROMPTHA Necronirisme

EP · 2015 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Originating from Qaanaaq, one of the most northern villages of Greenland’s west coast, the mysterious J started his one man project STROMPTHA in 2009 and somewhere along the line longed for somewhere warmer and ended up in Toulouse, France. In 2015 he released his debut EP titled NOCRONIRISME which features two long tracks that both extend past the 14 minute mark.

J plays all instruments which as far as i can tell consists of only the guitar, bass, drums and keyboards as well as handling vocal duties. J also took on all the tasks as composer, recording engineer and mixer. The music is a depressive doom laden type of atmospheric black metal that evokes the icy lifeless landscapes from whence J came and matches the darkness of the cover art quite well.

The title track takes the typical epic atmospheric black metal approach and ratchets up creepy synth backings with heavily distorted guitars joining in and the expected raspy vocals that are so common in the black metal world by now. The tempos creep up just past the midway point but do employ blastbeats although they are subdued beneath the murky din of the guitar haze. The compositional style is more sophisticated than a generic black metal band and has a few twists and turns.

The second track “Sublime Drowning of the Soul” sounds quite different with a completely different riffing style and a more groovy bass line. The drumming is more subordinate and the synthesized atmospheres are more active and provide a murky counterpoint to the almost black n roll groove. J’s vocals are more subdued as he tries to outshout the distorted din. The track is overall more energetic and less mopey, even angry. It also exceeds in a generic compositional forward march and has a few segments of diversity without exiting the atmospheric frigidness and distortion of the guitar.

This music indeed evokes the harshness of life beyond the Arctic Circle and is definitely music from the most northern corridors of the planet just a hop, skip and puddle jump from the North Pole. While i wouldn’t call this OMG original in its approach, STROMPTHA has managed to at least create something with distinct personality mostly through the creative keyboard use that uses the atmospheric elements as another instrument. There are moments when the drumming is a little canned but otherwise not a bad release at all. This one is followed by his 2018 release “Odium Vult.”

INQUISITION Incense Of Rest

EP · 1996 · Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While INQUISITION formed in 1989 as a thrash band in Cali, Colombia sounding more like Sodom and Kreator, frontman Dagon felt the thrash world had gotten stagnant and found the black metal scene more to the style of his liking. While the band released the “Anxious Death” EP in 1990 while still in Colombia, the band which consisted of Dagon (vocals, guitars), Cesar Santa (bass) and John Santa (drums) completely changed from the trash metal sound on that EP and veered towards a black metal sound influenced by early Bathory, Burzum, Immortal and the Polish black metal scene once Dagon relocated to Seatlle, WA in the USA where they would finally release the second EP titled INCENSE OF REST.

INCENSE OF REST is only a nineteen minute EP that consists of five tracks and serves as a transition album of sorts between the pure thrash years and the more familiar black metal style that would gel on the debut full-length release “Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult” Despite the cheesy synth-laden intro, the EP bursts into lo-fi black metal fairly quickly however at this point a couple things remain from the past. Firstly the riffing if more akin to thrash albeit darkened and more evil sounding and secondly Dagon’s vocals hadn’t yet taken on the more familiar croaking sound but rather take on various personas ranging from a deep raspiness, to a high pitched raspy scream as well as a few clean vocals strewn about.

The harsh thrash leanings are most prevalent on “Encounter In The Deep Shadows” with the chugga chug riffing but the atmospheres are definitely darkened and heading into the black metal turf as this track displays a rather cheesy sounding keyboard tag along. After moving to the US, the band basically become a duo with Dagon handling guitars, bass and vocals and John Santa on drums. “Visions Of The Pagan Lord” take a more early Nokturnal Mortem approach with introductory synth lines but are fairly brief before it turns into lo-fi black metal with thrash leanings.

The strangest track on board is the closing instrumental “Meditation Before The Kill” which implements clean guitars and a flute which sounds more like a new age album of some sort and doesn’t fit in at all. While not a perfect specimen of the black metal scene by any means, INCENSE OF REST is a decent slice of raw thrash infused black metal with all the lo-fi demeanor one could hope for and except for the silly instrumental closer shows INQUISITION inching closer to the classic sound that would take the underground metal world by storm in a couple years. Dagon had a hard time keeping bassists and it was at this point where the they simply carried on without one and hired a session musician whenever needed.

PENSÉES NOCTURNES Grotesque

Album · 2010 · Depressive Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After Vaerohn caught the attention of the avant-post-black metal world under the guise of the project PENSÉES NOCTURNES with the debut album “Vacuum,” he returned for a second round of artistically designed depressive black metal that hybridized with classical, jazz, blues and even novelty circus music. GROTESQUE released the following year in 2010 continued the momentum laid out on the debut but took even greater liberties in creating an even more twisted, highly surreal and torturous sonic journey than presented on “Vacuum.”

Once again Vearohn plays all the instruments ranging from the typical buzzsaw guitar feed, bottom dwelling bass and percussive drive but also dishes out romantic classical piano runs, symphonic touches and even the occasional accordion thus expanding the world of black metal into the more traditional musical realms of Vaerohn’s native France, but as gimmicky as this may seem Vaerohn executes these juxtapositions of disparate sounds quite gracefully as the wrong ingredients strewn together with a bad recipe can result in disaster. Overall there is less black metal on this one and more avant-guide epic classical sounds but they often overlap into a very surreal strangeness not present on “Vacuum.”

While it’s hard to believe that heavy metal which branched off of blues rock in the 70s could become the 21st century’s answer to classical music, the truth of the matter is that the genre has steadily evolved in both compositional complexity as well as avant-garde experimentation and nowhere have these two aspects come into fruition more than in the French metal scene. PENSÉES NOCTURNES on paper may sound much like what other metal bands like Carach Angren or Limbonic Art have achieved with highly symphonic and classically charged black metal darkened by ugly guitar and occult themes but Vaerohn takes these sounds to a whole other level and displays an uncanny sense of expertise absent in many other acts. My guess is that he was classically trained in the most experimental aspects of the classical music world.

GROTESQUE lives up to its title. While it continues the Shining influenced depressive black metal style with slow plodding rhythms, psychotic outbursts and the insane asylum escapee vocal angst, it changes the tone to an even more depressive and detached setting that finds the classical piano runs less Chopin-esque and more abstract as well as a more meandering sense of compositional development which ultimately makes this a scarier and deeper penetrating experience for those who can stomach its unorthodox approach. The overall feel is utterly creepy with spidery arpeggiated guitars, tremolo picking and vocals buried in the mix to simulate a dungeony effect augmented with all kinds of sonic surprises.

With circus march entering the scene on tracks like “Vulgum Pecus” and “Eros” it often seems like a Hector Berlioz “Symphonie Pathetique” dance of demons that have congregated in the modern world and have shapeshifted into the metal paradigm but Vaerohn also manages to incorporate psychotic bluesy bits as on the opening of “Monosis” that sound like what Captain Beefheart would’ve conjured up had he delved into the darkest recesses of modern metal. One of the major reasons PENSÉES NOCTURNES is so successful in its relentless pursuit of the experimental world surely stems from the fact that the production and mixing processes are impeccable as somehow the black metal is allowed to organically evolve from seemingly unrelated musical territory.

Adding to the surreality factor is the fact that the compositions are more jittery. The time signatures are fairly erratic like a quantum dance tortuously trying to find equilibrium but never finding resolution. The darkwave ambience is also more abstract as it flutters in unrelated counterpoints around the metal outbursts and classical symphonic elements and then when least expected unknown variables rear their ugly heads such as the accordion segment on “Monosis” which at 9 1/2 minutes is the album’s longest track. Alongside this unexpected instrumental insert is also an unusual guitar accompaniment and then the whole thing alternates with the depressive black metal bombast. Very, very weird stuff indeed.

In the end, GROTESQUE sort of comes off as a very bad nightmare set to music. It flitters along logically and then like the disjoining aspects of dreams sort of engages in illogical leaps into alternative dimensions and sometimes returns and at other times just sort of moves on and becomes something else altogether. This is truly avant-garde metal at its finest that seems like it was a truly some sort of musical vision that arose from the subconscious and tricked out into some sort of sonic reality in the 2010 timeline of the metal music world. This will ultimately be too loosely structured for many but there are more than enough melodic hooks that float around albeit in unpredictable manners like a colony of bats exiting their darkened cave to hunt of their prey in the night. Personally i love this kind of stuff. Despite the extra symphonic, classical and novelty elements, GROTESQUE delivers the darkened black metal goods but takes the surreality level up several notches.

black metal movie reviews

ENSLAVED Live Retaliation

Movie · 2003 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
FMOTP
No reviews yet & only 3 ratings for the great ENSLAVED's 1st video production? To quote Will Smith, "That...is unacceptable." Live Retaliation is a very worthy representation of ENSLAVED live. The concert itself is a bit short, but the band shows its skill in playing their varied and fairly complex music. They play a good mix of their oldest songs and more recent ones; Monumension was the band's most recent album at the time.

The audio tracks are a very nice addition, for folks who don't own a lot of their records. Grutle doesn't interact extensively with the audience in concert, beyond introducing the songs & band members. However, that's a problem I have with the great majority of live concerts. The audio quality could be clearer at times, but I'm quibbling. If you love some progressive rock along with your extreme metal, nobody does it better than ENSLAVED. This is well worth your time and money!

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