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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PROGENIE TERRESTRE PURA oltreLuna Album Cover oltreLuna
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DEATHSPELL OMEGA Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Katechon Album Cover Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Katechon
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black metal Music Reviews

IPERYT No State Of Grace

Album · 2011 · Black Metal
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UMUR
"No State Of Grace" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Polish extreme metal act Iperyt. The album was released through Iperyt Productions in February 2011. It´s the successor to "Totalitarian Love Pulse" from 2006, so there are quite a few years between the two albums. Despite the relatively many years between the debut and sophomore album release the lineup who recorded the debut album remains the same on "No State Of Grace".

Stylistically the material on "No State Of Grace" continue the ultra aggressive industrial tinged black/death metal style of "Totalitarian Love Pulse (2006)". The vocals are raw, angry, and snarling, the programmed drums provide the music with an electronic power and energetic speed boost, that a human drummer wouldn´t have been able to (and add a bleak industrial element to the music), and the guitars and bass play sharp and brutal riffs. "No State Of Grace" is a relentlessly brutal and aggressive release from the opening notes of the title track to the closing notes of "In Morbid Rapture". At no point during the playing time do the band let up, and it is the type of album that will leave you breathless and exhausted. Left bleeding in the gutter...

A little more variation between tracks could have made the album a bit more interesting in the long run, but as it is, it´s still a good quality release, featuring a powerful sound production, strong instrumental/vocal performances, and for the most part well written compositions. Some listeners may wrinkle their nose at programmed drums, but to my ears they work perfectly here, because they are purposedly chosen to be programmed, and not just because the band weren´t able to hire a human drummer. The programmed drums play a major part in defining Iperyt´s sound. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

DOLD VORDE ENS NAVN Mørkere

Album · 2021 · Black Metal
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lukretion
After more than 25 years of listening to heavy metal, I’ve come to realize that the quintessential characteristic that attracts me so strongly to our beloved music is the exquisite blend of power and melancholy that emerges from the notes of many classic records in this genre. Melancholy to speak to the predicament of our human condition and power to give us the glimmers of hope that keep us going. And although many albums build on these foundations, only a few truly manage to master the balance between these two contrasting states, inevitably finding their place in the top echelons of my musical collection. This long premise is to say that it has been a long time since a metal album has moved me and engrossed me so much as Mørkere (“Darker” in Norwegian), the debut LP of Norwegian black metallers Dold Vorde Ens Navn. What’s even more remarkable is that black metal is not exactly the brand of metal that I am very big on. Quite the contrary, only about 15%-20% of the records in my collection are black metal related (mostly avant-garde or symphonic black metal), the bulk of it is instead made up of various guises of progressive metal. And yet, Mørkere has a real chance to become my top album of 2021. Let me tell you why.

Truth be told, the progressive credentials of the Norwegians are not exactly nil. The band was put together by old friends Haavard Jørgensen (guitars) and Kai S. “Cerberus” Halvorsen (bass), who some may remember in the mid-90s line-ups of bands like Ulver, Satyricon and Dødheimsgard. Dold Vorde Ens Navn’s line-up is completed by drummer Øyvind Myrvoll (Nidingr, Dødheimsgard) and singer Yusaf “Vicotnik” Parvez, who is also a member of Dødheimsgard and who has sung on one of the hidden gems of avant-garde black metal, Ved Buens Ende’s Written in Waters. These credentials alone should demand immediate attention from fans of the second wave of Norwegian black metal, but Mørkere truly exceeds expectations and manages to captivate even those who, like me, are only marginally partial to the genre. Its eight songs are a perfect blend of 90s black metal, Viking epicness, cinematic atmospheres, sophisticated arrangements, and gorgeous melodies imbued of dark melancholy.

The music ebbs and flows between these various influences, running the full gamut from ferocious black metal assault to delicate passages with acoustic guitars and strings (viola, violin and cello). The songs mostly stay in a mid-tempo range, which is the ideal breeding ground for music that is both powerful and melancholic, but there are also occasional accelerations and passages with blast beats. The song structure is loose and fluid, without too obvious verse/chorus repetitions, although some of the melodies do return in the course of some songs. Each track has its own distinctive flavour, pushing to the fore one of the many influences that Dold Vorde Ens Navn weave into this album. Some songs, like “Det falt et lys i min mørke krok” and “Determinismens paradox”, venture in progressive territories, indulging in tourbillions of ever-changing guitar riffs and tempo shifts across their duration. Elsewhere, the band’s avant-garde heritage takes center stage, with classy orchestral flourishes (“Er det måneskinn”), sombre acoustic passages (“Det falt et lys i min mørke krok”), and histrionic clean vocals that bring to mind bands like Arcturus and mid-period Ulver. Meanwhile, “Ensomhetens rytter” sharpens Dold Vorde Ens Navn’s black metal credentials, offering the most ferocious instalment of the record, while the doomy “Syke hjerter” makes for a fittingly sombre album curtain call.

The music on Mørkere revolves around Haavard’s guitar riffs, which are HUGE. Massively inspired and ever-so-tasteful, the guitars are icy and razor-sharp as in the best black metal tradition, but also exquisitely melodic and poignant. There is a lot of variety in Haavard’s playing too. There are acoustic passages that bring to mind Ulver’s early catalogue, and majestic and epic leads that hark back to the Viking metal tradition (Enslaved). It’s not all looking backwards, though. The guitarwork is fresh and modern, as it brings in a distinctive post-rock / post-metal flair that made me repeatedly jot down “Sólstafir” in my notes. Honestly, I have not heard such a varied and inspired guitarwork on an extreme metal album in a very long time. Vicotnik’s vocals also deserve special mention. His performance is astonishing and extremely well-rounded. His cleans are theatrical and dramatic, as he modulates his tone and phrasing from song to song to always achieve maximal emotional impact. His growls are equally expressive and vary between grim black snarls and lower-range barks, offering plenty of goosebumps moments. The singing in Norwegian is very fitting too as it adds a touch of mystique to what is already a very emotive performance. The other two band members, Cerberus and Myrvoll, offer a more restrained but not less impressive performance that is essential to provide a solid backbone to the music.

There is so much variety, dynamics and subtlety in this album that the 46 minutes of Mørkere flow away in a heartbeat. There are truly no weak tracks, all songs being incredibly inspired and brilliant. “Det falt et lys i min mørke krok” is perhaps a tad disjointed as the transition between its acoustic beginning and the heavier second-half is slightly abrupt, while “Ensomhetens rytter” is somewhat too plain, making it possibly the least impressive track of the record. But these are truly minor grievances. The truth is that, when I put on Mørkere, I just can’t get enough of it and I can spend the entire day listening on repeat to the whole album.

This is because Mørkere is one of those rare records that work on multiple levels. It has immediate appeal, with its slabs of melancholic melodies and powerful aggression. At the same time, the songs are very diverse and the arrangements exquisitely multi-layered, inviting repeated listens as it takes time for all the different influences, moods and atmospheres of the album to properly sink in. With each new listen, new subtleties are discovered, as the melodies keep etching their way into our cerebral cortex, adding to the addictive nature of the album material. After only a few listens, I was hooked. My guess is that, if you like any of the bands mentioned in this review or 90s black metal in general, you will be too. Check out this album because it will be hard to find something that beats its intensity and emotional depth this year. Yes, it is THAT good.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

GAAHLS WYRD The Humming Mountain

EP · 2021 · Black Metal
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lukretion
With his enigmatic persona and a past in bands like Gorgoroth and Wardruna, Kristian Eivind Espedal (aka Gaahl) needs little introduction in this forum. His most recent musical project, Gaahl’s WYRD has been operative for about five years, during which the band released a live album, a studio record (2019’s GastiR - Ghosts Invited), and now a new EP, The Humming Mountain, scheduled for release via Season of Mist on November 5th. The EP follows closely in the footsteps of Gaahl’s WYRD previous album GastiR, also considering that three of its five tracks are rearranged versions of songs that were written for GastiR but eventually left out because they not fully fitting its conceptual theme. Yet, The Humming Mountain also shows progression and growth, as the music moves further away from the harsh and extreme metal GastiR to embrace mellower and more cinematic sonic territories.

The Humming Mountain cleverly combines three different musical worlds. The starting point is contemporary black/extreme metal, with plenty of icy guitar riffs, menacing subdued growls, and furious drums that are kept low and rough in the mix. There are also traces of more progressive inclinations, especially in the angular, uncomfortable riffage and fluid structure of “The Dwell”, which brings to mind some of the recent work by extreme prog metal icon Ihsahn. This sonic ferocity is ingeniously mitigated by swathes of dark post-metal melancholy, with mellow, long-winding melodies that are repeated hypnotically with varying degrees of intensity to build immersive walls of sounds, in the vein of bands like Alcest or Sólstafir. While the combination of black/extreme metal aggression and post-rock mellowness was also at the heart of Gaahl’s WYRD debut album, the melodic component is further accentuated on The Humming Mountain, also thanks to the beautiful use of layered clean vocals that find much more space on the new EP compared to the 2019’s LP. Moreover, The Humming Mountain also brings in a third influence that wasn’t so much present on the debut LP: dark folk. This influence is particularly marked on the EP opening track “The Seed”, a superb, 9-minute tour-de-force that sounds like something Hexvessel could have written, but rawer, darker, and more desperate.

These different musical palettes are used skilfully in different dosage from song to song, to create a beautiful sonic arc across the five tracks of the album. Listening to The Humming Mountain feels like watching a bubble of sinister darkness slowly take form, grow and explode. The album starts with the low-key, largely acoustic “The Seed”, before picking up in intensity with the gorgeous post-rock of the title track, and reaches its peak on “The Dwell”, which is by and large the most frenzied and ferocious song of the EP. The remaining two songs perfectly mirror the opening duo, with “Awakening Remains” inhabiting similar musical territories as the title-track while retaining some of the black ferocity of “The Dwell”, and “The Sleep” closing the EP on a mellow acoustic note.

The variation in sonic intensity, moods and atmosphere is great because it keeps things fresh and engaging from start to finish. This, and the short duration of the EP (about 30 minutes), are key to the success of the album, especially because The Humming Mountain is a record that lives off subtle melodies and delicate atmospheres rather than catchy hooks and attention-grabbing moments. If it were lengthier, or more homogeneous, the risk of falling flat would have been real. In this format, however, it works a charm and makes for an immersive but not overburdening listening experience.

In sum, if you liked Gaahl’s WYRD debut, you’ll probably find lots to like on the new EP as well, as the two records follow parallel – yet subtly different – musical courses. If instead the debut LP had piqued your interest but not fully convinced you – like it has been for me -, The Humming Mountain is a great opportunity to re-evaluate Gaahl’s musical manifesto. I found much more to like on the new EP, which is more experimental, adventurous and diverse than the debut album, and all the better for it. Either way, I’d recommend that you give The Humming Mountain a chance and immerse yourself in the subtle dark charms of its hums.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer - www.metal-observer.com]

SKÁPHE Skáphe³

Album · 2020 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Ever since the 90s the metal universe has produced some very strange variants. No longer were short catchy guitar riffs with melodic high pitched vocals and standard songwriting the only game in town. Hard to say when it all began but the big players were Meshuggah and Gorguts who started to experiment with atonality, dissonance and even harder to swallow progressive angularities. The style was a smashing hit for those who crave the energetic immediacy and distortion of the metal universe but with more surreal soundscapes laced with psychedelia and avant-garde weirdness.

Once Deathspell Omega took the world of black metal to unthinkable complexities with its own brand of avant-garde weirdness that incorporated spidery jangle guitars that were atonal and drowning in dissonance, a whole slew of new bands began to emerge in its wake. Portal, Wormlust, Blut Aus Nord, Gnaw Their Tongues and countless new bands followed suit and carved out entirely new niches of extreme metal within the aforementioned parameters. While some bands like Norway’s Sjodogg may have proven too close to the source for my tastes, other bands like SKÁPHE have proven that they can use the classic Deathspell Omega sound as the template and still craft compelling psychedelic and progressive black metal that captures the spirit of what’s been called “cavern-core.”

Originally a solo project of the Philadelphia based Alex Poole who started out as a one-man black metal act, he was joined by Icelandic vocalist Dagur Gíslason (of 0, Abacination, Martröð, Naðra) in 2015. On this third album, a third member, Jack Blackburn joins ranks and sets things ablaze with his wickedly wild aggressive drumming style. While not exactly creative in the album titling department, SKÁPHE simply adds numbers to its moniker and all good. Not counting the split with Wormulust or the untiled one-track EP, SKÁPHE³ is the band’s third album. Well, duh! As nebulous and abstract as many a progressive black metal act, this trio seems to dwell in the same blackened metaphysical subject matter as its influences. On SKÁPHE³ there are ten tracks that basically continue the themes throughout the albums.

Each begins with Roman numerals. This started on “Skáphe²” which began with Roman numeral I and finished at VI. The following EP featured only VII and this album SKÁPHE³ starts off with VIII and ends with XVII. Not that anyone can understand a single word of course! This is noisy cavern-core black metal with creepy claustrophobic atmospheres, spidery dissonant guitar workouts and progressive meandering compositions that sometimes enter the progressive metal clean vocal styles of Enslaved. The emphasis is much more on the echoey dark ambience with soaring guitar leads playing in tandem with crunchy guitar riffs. The rhythmic cadences are led by the jazz-fueled drumming. While a few tracks like “Glass Sarcophagus” sounds a little too close to Deathspell Omega for comfort, for the majority of SKÁPHE³ has captured a very distinct micro-style within this section of the extreme metal universe.

This is the type of metal that is a hard pill to swallow for sure. While it may come off as noise (and there is plenty of that!), this sort of metal is like the metal equivalent of 21st century avant-garde classical. It relies on complex patterns that involve microtones and incongruent contrapuntal elements to create extreme musical tension. Poole’s vocals are very much in the Mikko Aspa arena but sound distinct and even more “cavernous” if that’s possible. If Deathspell Omega sounds like they record in the fiery pits of hell then SKÁPHE³ sounds like it was recorded in the underground tunnels below hell! This is what i call adventurist’s black metal where every element is designed to be as extreme and alienating as humanly possible. Why the subtleties are what make or break these types of albums can be a mystery but for my ears, SKÁPHE does an excellent job of balancing DoS styled dissonant black metal with dramatic Nile influenced musical scales, extreme cavernous atmospheres and smoking hot musicianship. Me like!

ANTICHRIST SIEGE MACHINE Purifying Blade

Album · 2021 · War Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Something about the US state of Virginia where Christian religious zealotry has been a tradition since the days of Jamestown. This original colony state seems to have unleashed a vehement backlash that has taken myriad forms. In the world of music, Virginia has more than produced its share of iconic metal bands to keep the rebellious spirit alive whether it be the theatrical displays of Gwar, the thunderous crossover thrash of Municipal Waste or the parody death metal mayhem of Cannabis Corpse. Here’s another band hailing from the Old Dominion state. ANTICHRIST SIEGE MACHINE or simply A.S.M. hails from Richmond, the same capital city that spawned the wrath of Lamb of God, another blatantly anti-Christian noisemaking outfit that fittingly began its career as Burn The Priest.

Unlike that Lambsters, this war metal / blackened death metal band consists of only two members, namely Scott Bartley on drums and Ryan Zell on guitars and vocals. There seems to be no bass and if there is it’s buried so deep in the cacophonous mix that it’s virtually impossible to detect. This duo started in 2016 and released “Schism Perpretration” in 2019. PURIFYING BLADE is this artist’s second offering and takes the simple “lay all things to siege” approach with a bombastic display of sonic slaying and blood-spilling symbology in its 29-minute wake. PURIFYING BLADE is one of those no nonsense albums that finds comfort in its one-dimensionality where thunderous percussive blasts are accompanied by murky muddied guitar riffs. Zell’s vocals exist somewhere between guttural death growls and raspy black metal torture cell screams.

Needless to say, nothing on PURIFYING BLADE is anything out of the ordinary in the now well-established camp of war metal. Satanic sieging of Christian lands with heads flying off in every direction is the theme of the day here all accompanied by a boisterous romp of muddy metal madness. From war metal standards, A.S.M. checks off all the boxes for sure but in its dramatic attempt to sound louder than Satan himself fails to offer any glimpse of creativity which beckons repeated listens. By now the war metal game has reached much higher grounds with bands like Teitanblood, Archgoat and Diocletian, just to name a few taking war metal into the realms of the most technically gifted death metal bands. A.S.M. has not reached such heights and as a consequence finds the band resorting to slower passages with simple sludge metal drumming and monotonous one-trick pony guitar savagery.

It seems that this duo is more concerned about imagery than musical content since their photos oft depict them as gun-toting angst-ridden youngsters ready to cause trouble wherever they may find themselves. Well that’s all and good but the music is where it counts for me and A.S.M. doesn’t have much to deliver beyond the generic underbelly of noisy and chaotic war metal by the numbers. War metal is one of those metal subgenres that has a limiting factor thus forcing artists to find subtle ways of allowing the creative process to unfold. In the case of A.S.M. they seem content to just make a bunch of noise and strike a pose for photo ops. Nothing wrong with that of course but as far as the music is concerned, been there, done that and moved on. In short, this is a rather uninteresting slice of war metal that fails to inspire anything relevant beyond that which has been done and better. Meh.

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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