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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NAGELFAR Hünengrab im Herbst Album Cover Hünengrab im Herbst
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black metal Music Reviews

BOTANIST Ecosystem

Album · 2019 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Kev Rowland
It is fair to safe that I’m not a massive fan of the only other release I have heard from Botanist, and I’m still not too sure about this one, but my mind is slowly starting to get around to understand what this incredibly different and experimental form of black metal is trying to achieve. They/he (apparently there is a collective, but I’m not sure if this is still a solo project by The Botanist or something else) like to be described as Green Metal, yet in normal parlance they would be thought of as a highly creative Experimental Avant-garde Black Metal outfit. Apparently, this is concept about the ecosystems of redwood forests on the West Coast of the United States, calling into question whether humanity has an operating 'ecosystem' of its own. Musically it is often based around a strident piano with heavy use of sustain, drums very much to the fore, with other instrumentation coming in and out.

It can be incredibly unsettling at times, like taking RIO to the extreme, and Art Zoyd being an obvious reference point, yet there are other times when it is quite brutal in its attack. Against that it can be lulling and gentle, the vocals being gently sung as opposed to be ripped from the throat by demons of Hades. This mix of instrumentation, sparse arrangements and vocals combine with a musical direction which is all over the place and in itself that is quite unsettling as the listener is never sure what is going to happen next, and whether it is a journey they really wish to complete. This certainly isn’t for the unwary, and due to the manner it straddles so many genres, it may find itself being too far removed from what is generally expected, to be accepted even by those who want their music to be weird and challenging. As for me, although it may not be something I will listen to repeatedly for pleasure, for some quite perverse reason I am very glad I have heard it. Most definitely this is one to play on Bandcamp before purchase, and it will take quite a few listens to don’t totally discard after the first one.

XASTHUR Nocturnal Poisoning

Album · 2002 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Starting out as a band in the not so black metal city of Alhambra in the Los Angeles region of sunny California, XASTHUR began as a band project in 1996 but due to clashes in personality and musical differences would soon become the solo project of Scott “Malefic” Conner who proved that you don’t have to emerge from the frigid northern regions of the planet to create some of the darkest and chilling sounds in musical form. The moniker came from a combination of “Hastur” and “Xenaoth” which ultimately came form a Necrononicon book and refers to a demoness who kills people in their sleep. And that pretty much is what this debut album NOCTURNAL POISONING is all about!

By the turn of the millennium the second wave of black metal had fully splintered into myriad directions with some bands taking a more symphonic approach while others going the direction of taking things even further into the darkness where lo-fi rawness was retained and subdued rage was turned inward into self-hatred and depression. Following in the footsteps of other depressive black metal bands like Bethlehem, Deinonychus and I Shalt Become, XASTHUR carried the torch of nurturing depressive themes, nihilism, hatred and self-mutilation while keeping an atmospheric otherworldly storm of gloom and doom humming along behind the distorted tremolo picking and raspy vocal angst.

NOCTURNAL POISONING emerged after a series of demos and splits and showcases a lengthy sprawling run of hideously grotesque black metal assaults that implement rhythmic marches that meander on with atmospheric mood setting keyboards that linger in the lugubrious zone. The album is a lengthy one and squeaks just over the 69 minute mark which makes this one a bit long to take in but in many ways the steady stream of depressive caustic guitars, blastbeats and atmospheric gloom and doom offer a hypnotic respite into a cathartic purging of demons from the soul. With aggressive assaults teased out into rampaging streams of consciousness, XASTHUR mastered the art of steadily injecting this sonic venom into your psyche and pushing all the dopamine buttons as it is literally addictive.

Black metal may all sound the same to the uninitiated but true believers know it’s all about the subtle differences beneath the bantering bombast and distorted din. XASTHUR is in the same field as bands like Leviathan, Stirborg, I Shalt Become and France’s Mutilation in that is remains true to the original second wave stylistic approach of early Darkthrone, Mayhem and Emperor but slows the tempos down a bit and adds keyboard delivered atmospheres for the sake of creating a frigidly horrific sonicscape that amplifies the depressive nature of this beast. Melefic is the god of this blackened universe and plays all instruments, rasps all vocals and pens all lyrics. This is a really decent black metal release if you want the darkest, bleakest examples of the genre where all hope is extinguished and the underworld is your eternal sentencing. Perhaps a bit too long for its own good as many tracks meander aimlessly but a perfect album for a cold bleak day when the right mood hits.

DARKESTRAH Sary Oy

Album · 2004 · Pagan Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While black metal has found its beginnings as primarily a European musical expression, it really didn’t take long at all after the initial second wave explosion of the 90s to drift far and wide like a cloud of radioactive dust after an initial impact to blanket the entire globe. Bands like Kekal from Indonesia, Inquisition from Colombia, Shub Niggurath from Mexico, Taarma from Afghanistan and Deiphago from the Philippines have all experienced varying degrees of success on the world’s stage but perhaps one of the most unusual of black metal bands to emerge was DARKESTRAH which came into existence in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, a nation even in the 21st century still remains off most people’s radar.

DARKESTRAH, a portmanteau of dark and orchestra, was formed in 1999 by drummer Asbath in the capital city of Bishkek and released two demos “Pagan Black Act” and “Through the Ashes of the Shamanic Flames” before catching the attention of the German lane Curse of KvN Sadistic in 2003. The band would relocate to Leipzig, Germany and released its first album SARY OY in 2004 to critical acclaim in the underground world of black metal for its innovative mix of kvlt black metal sounds with the traditional folk music of Kyrgyzstan which implements the unique sounds of instruments such as the kyl-kyjak, a two-stringed upright bow instrument, the komuz which is an ancient fretless stringed instrument like the flute, the temir-komuz better known as a jew harp. In addition to the black metal raspy vocals set below the caustic din, the folky segments exhibit the sygyt which is a form of Central Asian throat singing.

Most similar to Romania’s Negura Bunget for its homegrown ethnic flavors seeping into the fabric of black metal, DARKESTRAH sounds like no other because the Central Asian folk sounds are in a world of their own and are quite effective in conjunct with the black metal bombast. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of DARKESTRAH is how the band adds highly complex progressive elements which include unorthodox time signature shifts, lengthy sprawling compositions that go through a series of changes as the three tracks narrate the concept of an ancient Kyrgyz tale about three sisters of nature. It’s also notable that lead vocalist Kriegtalith is female although in extreme metal gender specific vocal styles are indistinguishable. With only three tracks that make up a full album’s worth, DARKESTRAH crafts its compositions like classical scores with various movements.

The first two tacks hover around the 11 minute mark. “Part I - Sary Oy” emulates the wind swept Central Asian lands and introduces the Pagan themes with homegrown instruments that slowly evoke the atmospheric elements and the spirit of the land before the black metal erupts into full fury. While the mix is impressive the one weakness of the album becomes clear from the getgo and that is the rather amateurish mixing job of the keyboards and other elements. While not horrific, it’s clear that this band was still learning how to craft an epic sounding album. The second track “Part II - Jashii Oy” is the odd song of the bunch as it introduces a rather frenetic time signature rich guitar sequence that reminds me a bit of John Frusciante’s guitar parts in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ hit “Snow” only this has a keyboard taking the spotlight. The track drifts on in a groovy electronic mode for six minutes before hitting its stride in metal turf. This second track is entirely instrumental.

The most epic track is the closing “Part III - Kysil Oy” which at nearly 26 minutes swallows up 2/3 of the entire album’s run. This track is also the most progressive as it drifts in and out of varying motifs that begins with the ambient sounds of howling winds accompanied by traditional Kyrgyz instruments but then around three minutes the black metal guitars kick in only is a drifting sort of sustained chord sorta way until it ramps up into a fast tempo fury accompanied by some keyboards that unfortunately sound a bit cheesy due to the mixing inadequacies however this sequence also delivers some of the most progressive constructs of the whole album with labyrinthine proggy workouts at breakneck speed. A piano sequence remnant of the previous track briefly kicks in at nine minutes or so before around ten minutes all the bombast drops out and it becomes an ambient track for several minutes. The rest of the running time sounds more like a church organ rich ritual along with a more demented version of Philip Glass around the “Glassworks” and “Koyaanisqatsi” era.

SARY OY has been a decisive album for sure as it will not appeal to black metal purists for its lengthy excursions completely out of the metal realms however for those interested in amazingly original experimental and progressive music then DARKESTRAH delivers all the goods on this one. The only pitfall with this debut album is the production and mixing job which are not horrible by an means but there are moments, most notably the keyboard oriented ones that things just don’t sound as tight knit as they should. If you base your musical happiness on production then this will most likely disappoint but if you can forgive the inexperience and focus on the music itself then this one is completely satisfying on many levels. Steeped in Western classical undercurrents and decorated with ethnic flavors and black metal bombast, SARY OY is quite the satisfying experience of experimental Pagan black metal emerging from one of the most off the radar regions of the planet. Blackened folklore metal rarely sounds this sophisticated and DARKESTRAH found a way to stand out from the very start.

MORBITHORY Unholy Fucking Diné Black Metal Hell

Demo · 2012 · Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Black metal is a style of music that was created to vent a rage, a sort of rebellious call to unshackle oneself from the colonization of mind, body and spirit and although the scene first took off in Europe has translated well to virtually every other part of the globe. Despite the fact that black metal acts have appeared in various regions of the world like Japan, India and South America, it’s more of a surprise to learn about something called Diné black metal, Diné being the word that the Navajo people call themselves in their own language.

MORBITHORY are one of many metal bands on America’s Indian reservations. In a land flooded by the sounds of country music on the radio stations of this largest region of indigenous peoples in the USA, there has been a weekly metal show on the KSHI radio station in Zuni, New Mexico for a number of years exposing the youth to the rebellious sounds that have conquered the planet. A new crop of “rez metal” has appeared and if MORBITHORY is indicative of this movement on these sacred lands then it’s should be clear once and for all that this style of music hasn’t been just a white man’s game for quite some time now.

This band comes from the small town of Many Farms, Arizona located on the Navajo Reservation near the New Mexico border. Formed in 2012 as the trio of Lord Vehexen
(vocals, guitar), Lord Amaris (guitar) and Lord Eligos (drums), MORBITHORY has crafted its own Diné musical wrath that tackles not only Pagan indigenous themes but the usual contempt of humanity that celebrates blasphemy and misanthropy. The rage is about as authentic as it gets given the destructive history of the Europeans having conquered and systematically abused the native peoples. This angsty set of three tracks is about as authentic as it gets.

MOBITHORY so far has only released this one demo that has been turned into an EP titled UNHOLY FUCKING DINÉ BLACK METAL HELL. While only three tracks, they sprawl out past the 19 minute mark. While the band doesn’t exactly reinvent the black metal wheel, this power trio does an excellent job at crafting three kick ass raging tunes that check off all the black metal boxes. Tremelo picked guitar riffs that are dripping in distortion and attitude, got it. Bantering bass lines and blastbeat drumming in full frenetic fury. Oh yeah! Add to that nice variations in the songwriting, great use of feedback and angry pissed off raspy vocals make you thing that this band was a transplant from Darkthrone country, the style of black metal this emulates.

This was an amazingly strong demo EP for this band that called itself Diné black metal but unfortunately has not been heard of since which is a shame because these guys had a great start but given the economic harshness of America’s Indian reservations it’s not too surprising to understand why. It seems there is a thriving live scene despite the lack of viable recorded material. MORBITHORY is a testament to the power of black metal and how it has literally infiltrated cultures seemingly as different as possible from where the misanthropic style of music originated and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. The chops are all on display here and if the band added its own creative forces then they could really turn into something quite unique.

TRENCH WARFARE Hatred Prayer

Album · 2019 · War Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Coming from the dusty sagebrush scrublands of Midland, TX, the war metal band TRENCH WARFARE debuted its evil as fuck metal in 2015 with the demo “Perversion Warfare” which showed the trio of Tony Goyang Jr (guitar, drum machine), Jay Gorania (vocals) and Kelly Bogues (bass) capable of cranking out some of the noisiest mixes of black and death metal in a pure musical rage. It took four years but the band finally released it’s debut album HATRED PRAYER on the Transcending Obscurity label in 2019 which sees the three tracks on the demo, “Decimate Legions,” “Evil Shall Triumph” and “Blood Cleansing” finally ready for prime time.

Since the demo a new member has joined the unholy ranks with Lee Fisher aka Belgor on drums replacing the rather clumsy sounding drum machine of the demo. HATRED PRAYER is a blasphemous devastating release of blackened death metal churned out like a galloping grindcore garage party gone wild. Basically TRENCH WARFARE delivers a wicked and capable slice of war metal at full rampage fueled with highly caustic distorted guitar riffs and blastbeat bombast on speed but there are a few deviations from that plan. “New Lord” for example shows a slowed down approach which sits somewhere between sludgy doom metal and more caffeinated black however the band doesn’t bode well in this slower mode as the drums are fairly week and it’s obvious that this is a band about playing at full speed.

The album opens with some cinematic sound effects that sound like a laser war is being fought. It reminds me of the early Darkthrone album “A Blaze In The Northern Sky” with a slickly produced sound collage before falling into the depths of lo-fi buzzsaw guitar fueled black metal dissonance and incessant tempo bombast which is the basic modus operendi for the majority of running time with only a few breaks. Like many of these war metal bands the material starts to sound pretty generic in the long haul but at only a 33 minute playing time doesn’t become too stale. The war metal delivery system is on full steam but what really bugs me most are the slower drum parts that sound like some of those unskilled sludge metal styles that just punctuate the beat.

In the end TRENCH WARFARE delivers a competent slice of war metal with a few extra touches but with a legion of similarly minded bands going for the evil jugular, there’s really nothing that stands out on this one that hasn’t been done to death at this point either. If you can’t get enough black metal buzzsaw guitar tones with death metal vocals then this one won’t disappoint but for me it’s the drummer’s oft lazy approach that keeps this from living up to its potential. Kudos for the songwriting though as it’s a bit more abstract and tech fueled than the average war metal band these days. The band is wise to deviate from the monotony of a single tempo but the drumming style isn’t suited for anything other than full fueled rampage mode. Not a bad album and a band that certainly has potential but for my tastes a few too many flaws on HATRED PRAYER.

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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