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

black metal top albums

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NAGELFAR Hünengrab im Herbst Album Cover Hünengrab im Herbst
NAGELFAR
4.74 | 14 ratings
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4.58 | 10 ratings
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black metal Music Reviews

TAARMA Beyond the Cemetery Gates

Album · 2008 · Depressive Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While many of us still associate black metal with a bunch of misanthropic miscreants from Scandinavia, the truth of the matter is that black metal has long left its cradle and become a global phenomenon and not just in North America and Japan. The genre has even taken off in the most unlikely places whether it be the Chinese band Be Persecuted, Kekal from Indonesia, Shub Niggurath from Mexico or even Inquisition from Colombia just to name a few. But even stranger yet is when this style of metal with screamed vocals, tremolo guitar distortion and blastbeats most often dished out in lo-fi hellish production appeals to some region of the world where nobody has even heard of much less visited, then things enter the Twilight Zone.


TAARMA is yet another one-man band that produces a gloomy mix of depressing atmospheric black metal enveloped in a distorted wall of sound in the vein of Xasthur and other depressive metal bands. The sole member is the aptly named Black Emperor Jogezi and he lives in the extremely remote city of Zhob in Baluchistan which is an area of Pakistan that sits on the border with Afghanistan and has been the hot potato region of the world for eons as the two nations have fought over its territories. The devastation that has ensued through all the conflicts has left permanent psychological scars on its peaceful populace with little or not escape from the aftermath. TAARMA which means “darkness” in the ancient Brahvi language reflects this emotional trauma perfectly.

Jogezai is an ex-member of the band Black Arts but moved on to form TAARMA in 1999 and has released a series of lo-fi torturous demos in the far flung region of Pakistan that was virtually unknown to any outsiders until 1884. So far TAARMA has only released three very hard to find full-length albums with this one BEYOND THE CEMETARY GATES being the second. It was released in 2008 independently as a cassette only edition. Only 200 copies of this album were made and it’s not even very easy to find a place to listen to this on the internet as the audio streaming seems to disappear without warning. TAARMA’s themes revolve around the usual suspects such as death, depression and bleakness but rather than suffering from frigid winters and snooty Christians, TAARMA draws its influence from Afghan folklore due to the fact that Zhob is considered to be an Afghani city under the occupation of Pakistan.

The music on BEYOND THE CEMETARY GATES is about as claustrophobic and lo-fi as you could hope for. This is the stuff black metal purists get all hot and bothered over and for good reason. TAARMA is heavily influenced by the American band Xasthur and with a monotonous repetitive death march that is accompanied by buzzsaw fueled droning guitars, drums that alternate between apathetic and agitated blastbeats, minimalistic keyboards and a tortured raspy vocal rage that aggressively strives to emerge from the suffocating din. The music is unique in the fact that it sort of swarms like a plague of locusts rather than just make a clearcut procession. The guitar drones and the keyboard ambience merge together for the most part and rather than making distinct transitions to different chord progressions, they seem to just slide in out of tune.

This is truly horrific music that reflects the harshness of existing in a very remote region of the planet devastated by eons of conflict and the incessant suffering that follows. Jogezai certainly isn’t alone in the world when it comes to making this style of tortured soul music but in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan where such music is literally unheard of and in some cases can result in severe condemnation if not imprisonment is quite unique indeed. In the end this is nothing new under the sun except for the fact it comes from some remote outpost in the Pakistani desert but neither is it without its merits. This truly feels like some sort of dark mirage is descending upon the land where all traces of hope are extinguished as if some spiritual war has been lost and the victors’ intent is fixed on eternal enslavement of the soul. This is really spooky stuff! There’s a depth to TAARMA that often seems insincere in many depressive black metal bands.

XANTHOCHROID Blessed He with Boils

Album · 2012 · Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
XANTHROCHROID was formed in 2005 in the Orange County, CA city of Lake Forest by Sam Meador (keyboards, acoustic guitar, piano, mandolin, melodeon, autoharp, bass, accordion, Irish flute, orchestrations, vocals), Matthew Earl (drums, percussion, flute, Irish whistle, recorder, mandolin, keyboards, orchestration), Bryan Huizenga (bass), Brent Vallefuoco (guitar) and David Bodenhoefer (guitar) and like many contemporary progressive metal acts has blurred the line between exactly what constitutes a metal act and what does not. First of all if you are wondering what the band name means, it is an anthropological term that refers to a person having fair hair and a pale complexion but beyond this dictionary meaning i have no idea how it relates to this project.

This band is the perfect example of how modern labeling systems fail to keep up with the innovative hybridization of musical genres. Is this black metal? Is this Celtic folk? Progressive rock? Well, all of the above actually. Sometimes simultaneously and sometimes each genre exists in a vacuum. Needless to say that the metal tag is only a partial descriptor as is any other for that matter. There really needs to be a label of eclectic metal or eclectic folk / metal / rock or some other tag to convey that no particular genre dominates however for some reason metal’s mighty bombastic heft seems to dominate in that regard but whatever. Let’s just call this highly innovative music that samples from many other bands and weaves all the influences into a tapestry of innovation that ultimately gets titled BLESSED HE WITH BOILS which is the debut album by XANTHROCHROID.

This is epic cinematic material going on on BLESSED HE WITH BOILS. The opening track “Aquatic Deathgate Existence” sounds like some sort of Pagan ritual acoustic Celtic instrumentation with an atmospheric etherial spectral presence and haunting choral vocals. The track sounds more like a darkwave modern classical piece that Dead Can Dance would release but beginning with the title track XANTHROCHROID jumps into extreme metal territory but this isn’t ordinary metal by any means. The sounds straddle somewhere between the symphonic black metal of Emperor or Ihsahn but with a progressive time signature frenzy that is more like a sped up version of Opeth but to my ears sounds more like the jittery freneticism of Deathspell Omega at least as far as the unorthodox avant-garde chord progressions are concerned. The alternating growly / raspy / clean vocal style also sounds a lot like Enslaved’s more progressive works. Add a few liturgical chants and you got an eclectic mix here.

As well as the angularity of the black metal works the band totally drifts off into progressive folk on tracks like “Winter’s End” which eschew any metal leanings whatsoever and truly finds this band crossing boundaries without any hesitation and therefore the only connecting thread of continuity of BLESSED HE WITH BOILS is the focus on the melodic developments which are consistent from beginning to end albeit with oddball progressive time signatures but not so avant-garde that you can’t follow them upon a single listen. There was a lot of effort placed into this album to keep the musical flow diverse and ever changing which are the characteristics that interest me the most in music and is a result of the various band members contributing different levels of experience to the musical whole which adds a democratic sort of vibe to the album’s run without it feeling disjointed or farfetched. The musicianship is quite competent with special kudos to the percussive drive of Matthew Earl but all the musicians step up when called.

BLESSED HE WITH BOILS offers an entire spectrum of progressive rock / metal / folk leanings with extraordinarily bombastic metal in contrast with the lush purity of folk and everything in between. Certain passages are easily digestible and fall well outside of the parameter of progressive anything but then there are moments such as on “Long Live Our Lifeless King” where the Ihsahn progressive metal madness kicks in and avant-garde jittery time signature deviations pummel the senses yet carry a melodic underpinning that is impossible to fall under its spell. While XANTHROCHROID does tend to borrow more than create on BLESSED HE WITH BOILS, i cannot deny that this isn’t a very interesting album that has an impeccable flow from beginning to end. Derivative in many ways for sure but exceptionally enjoyable nonetheless.

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.

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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