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

SATYRICON The Shadowthrone

Album · 1994 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"The Shadowthrone" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Norwegian black metal act Satyricon. The album was released through Moonfog Productions in September 1994. It´s the successor to "Dark Medieval Times" from 1993 and features the core duo lineup of Satyr (vocals, guitars, synths) and Frost (drums) plus new bassist/guitarist Samoth.

"The Shadowthrone" is kicked off with an angry sounding Satyr snarling "Kampen mot Gud og hvitekrist er igang!" a capella in the opening seconds of "Hvite Krists død" ("The Death of White Christ"). The English translation from the original Norwegian lyrics is "The Fight against God and White Christ has begun!", and seldom have I heard a more powerful and intense statement of intent or a more effectful opening to an album. You can agree or disagree with the statement, but it´s arguably a damn effective way of opening an album.

Stylistically the material on "The Shadowthrone" is a heavy epic type of black metal, with both slow, mid-paced, and blasting sections. Satyricon often use keyboards to create atmosphere, but the keyboards aren´t dominant in the soundscape. "The Shadowthrone" features 7 tracks and a total playing time of 49:04 minutes and it´s a relatively varied release. There are both lyrics in Norwegian and in English, and although Satyr predominantly snarls his way through the album with his raspy black metal style vocals, there are also choirs and chanting clean vocals on the album. Stylistically a few tracks stand out as different from the rest and that´s "Vikingland" ("Land of the Vikings") and the closing track "I en svart kiste". The former is a viking metal track and the latter is an ambient synth dominated track. Variation is often important on an album, but a track like "Vikingland" disrupts the flow of the album, and doesn´t really fit the atmosphere of the rest of the material. "I en svart kiste" doesn´t disrupt the album flow and works alright as a closing track, but it´s honestly a bit tedious.

"The Shadowthrone" features a time typical black metal sound production, where the bass is seldom audible in the mix and the guitars are noisy and searing. As far as 1990s black metal productions go it´s a decent sounding release. Upon conclusion "The Shadowthrone" is a good quality album by Satyricon. After the powerful opening to the album I expected a bit more though and the "Vikingland" track isn´t exactly a plus either, but a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved.

ENSLAVED Monumension

Album · 2001 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
lukretion
Exciting. This is, in a word, how I would describe Monumension, the 6th album of Norwegian Viking metal heavyweights Enslaved. Marking their 10th anniversary as a band, the album was the fruit of 1 month spent in the recording studio experimenting with song structures and arrangements, as the Norse were determined to stretch the boundaries of their sound beyond their black/death origins, continuing and amplifying the metamorphosis that they had started on previous records. And although Monumension is not yet a beautiful butterfly that has completely left the chrysalis, it shows flashes of Enslaved’s immense potential that the band will fully bring to fruition in later records.

The core idea at the heart of the album is simple: genre-bending experimentation. The roots of Enslaved’s sound are firmly set in extreme black/death metal, with fast-paced, aggressive riffs, brutal drumming, and lacerating growls. From early on, the band had started incorporating into their sound Nordic folk music influences, drawing heavily from Viking cultural and religious heritage. On Monumension, Enslaved further weave into their music influences from thrash and classic metal, as well as marked 1970s progressive rock aesthetics. The legacy of bands like Pink Floyd and King Crimson is apparent throughout the record and especially on tracks like “Convoys to Nothingness”, “Hollow Inside” (whose first half is almost an homage to Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd), “The Sleep: Floating Diversity - A Monument Part III” and “Outro: Self-Zero”. Elongated and meandering song structures, psychedelic vibes, Hammond organs, vocoders and other strange sonic experiments clash with double-bass drumming, growls and razor-sharp guitar tremolos, conjuring up a world within a world, disorientating the listeners and leaving them breathless.

It’s an alluring voyage the one that Enslaved invite the listeners to embark on. It’s not a voyage that everyone will enjoy. And there’s plenty of bumps and bruises along the road, as the Norwegians are still trying to find their feet and the sonic experiments are not always successful and occasionally backfire, like on the chaotic “Enemy I” or the unmemorable “Smirr”. But when the genius strikes, the music turns to gold and I am left in awe of the sheer brilliance of the ideas Enslaved put together on tracks like “Convoys to Nothingness”, “The Voices”, “Hollow Inside”, “The Cromlech Gate” and “The Sleep”.

But it’s the raw sense of fearless experimentation that is truly astonishing here. Other bands, with a similar musical heritage as Enslaved, were treading similar waters in those years, like Borknagar or Arcturus. With this album Enslaved outclasses the competition, not because Monumension is necessarily a superior product, but because of its boldness and audacity that leave me breathless and excited about this band still today, more than 20 years after the album’s initial release.

DEATHSPELL OMEGA The Long Defeat

Album · 2022 · Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
As one of the 21st century’s most innovative black metal bands that raised the bar so high many modern black metal acts are still scrambling to find a way to propel the genre into the next chapter of its existence, DEATHSPELL OMEGA has become synonymous with epic black metal that retains the occult subject matter of the second wave 90s and steers it into the progressive world of pseudo-classical musical scores with long unpredictable compositions. Most famous for the legendary Satanic trilogy that included “Si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice,” “ Fas – Ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum” and “Paracletus,” the last decade since that trilogy’s conclusion has sort of been retreaded the same ideas presented on those albums and although mind-blowing and brilliant, with 2019’s “The Furances of Palingenesia” seemed like DSO may have peaked and become stuck in a rut of its own making.

Well, a band doesn’t become the world’s most famous in a particular musical niche for no reason. These musicians seem to have the knack for reading the tea leaves and taking things in another direction when necessary. That time has come and DSO is back with its ninth official full-length album (although some of the EPs have similar playing times) titled THE LONG DEFEAT which finds these blackened ones emerging from their crypts to bedazzle the black metal fans with uncompromising technical instrumental interplay, epic compositional fortitude and the band’s classic subject matter of Satanic theology dripping in atonal guitar riffing, dramatic dissonance and a musical procession that ranges from slow plodding dirge-like lallygagging to fully fueled metal rampages through the catacombs of legendary underworlds.

THE LONG DEFEAT features three parallel storylines if you even bother to follow that aspect of the album’s nerdy inner workings. The lyrics of course narrate two separate tales with the third finding expression through the artwork but of course you would have to purchase the physical product to indulge in these Easter egg hunts. While available digitally in its simple form, THE LONG DEFEAT has also found a lush black vinyl release with a 6-panel folded booklet and this album is the first emanation of the third era of DEATHSPELL OMEGA thus signifying that the band is in no danger of returning to the underworld from whence it came any time soon. The album does indeed take on a new demeanor without sacrificing all those now familiar DSO attributes which keeps this band on the top of its game. THE LONG DEFEAT is the perfect debut of the 2020’s.

Graced with five lengthy tracks, THE LONG DEFEAT opens with the lengthiest track “Enantiodromia” which opens with some wickedly blackened Tuvan throat singing techniques and slowly ratchets that good old DSO charm and sprawls on for nearly 12 minutes with the classic jangle guitar riffs, ferocious energetic outbursts of pure rage and a shifting palette of tones, timbres and tempos. Mikko Aspa features more clean vocals on this one than at any time in the past and the music showcases a more pronounced atmospheric backdrop in the vein of modern bands such as Mgła, Wolves In The Throne Room and a gazillion others however DSO takes the black metal experience where few have the cahones to venture and that is what sets these champions apart from the rest.

So what’s new? Well, THE LONG DEFEAT is a lot more melodic than any DSO score of yore. While the dissonant dressing is still in tact, the compositions are more poignantly defined with clear demarcations of melodic chunks that together forge a new stylistic approach for these mysterious dark dwellers however melody has always been an ingredient in the DSO playbook and while this feature has been placed more prominently in the forefront, it isn’t anything new. I guess what sounds different to my ears is that the band is more focuses on certain melodic grooves and play with many variations before moving on instead of metamorphosing into completely new musical terrain as in the past. The closing and shortest track “Our Life Is Your Death” at 7:15 implements some good old fashioned black’n’roll as its groove.

This will probably be a divisive album in the band’s canon as it deviates from the comfort zone that many have grown accustomed to but all in all this is another solid release from the DSO camp even if the shock value and progressive peak of the Satanic trilogy has long since dissipated. While slightly more melodic and dare i say mainstream than its predecessors, THE LONG DEFEAT features more than enough authentically badass DEATHSPELL OMEGA to please those enshrouded Satanic metaphysical diatribe fueled with vituperative caustic black metal angst. All in all this one seems like DSO has come to the realization it has nothing left to prove and now it’s time to try something new. In many ways this album makes me think of what Nergal was trying to achieve on Behemoth’s “I Loved You At Your Darkest” only to much greater effect. Personally i find this to be an excellent album that takes a new direction and although the band’s politics are a form of contention i personally only care about the music and for a new chapter of DEATHSPELL OMEGA, these guys could’ve done a lot worse.

OSTOTS Madarikazioa

Album · 2022 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The Basque regions of Spain and France aren’t widely known around the world except for the rare interest of linguists who have deemed the Basque language as an isolate not related to any other. Basque metal likewise hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm either but with decades of separatist tendencies and a constant tension brewing between the nation states that the Basque people find themselves in, it only makes logical sense that angsty extreme metal would crop up in that part of the world.

While i couldn’t name a single Basque metal band before, now i can! OSTOTS is the one-man atmospheric black metal project of IA which was started as far back in 2004 near the city of Bilbao. With an endless stream of EPs and splits, OSTOTS has certainly been no stranger to deepest recesses of the metal underground and returns in 2022 with his fourth full-length album MADARIKAZIOA which is Basque for “The Curse.”

Interesting that this album is not available as a digital download and so far released on vinyl only but fear not insatiable black metal addicts who find their pockets devoid of ca$h, this one is on YouTube for all to enjoy. I’m not familiar with OSTOTS so have no reference to compare previous works but according to record label Altare, MADARIKAZIOA follows in the path of “Lainoak Estaltzen Duena & Hilda Jaio tracks (from the split LP with Gaua).” What that means is a rampaging style of buzzsaw guitars, inaudible bass, consistent atmospheric key changes and ferocious drumming that shows major skill.

The black metal aspects are more in the depressive department but unlike most in that category, OSTOTS employs quickened tempos and that classic pissed cat vocal rage that reminds me of early Negura Bunget amongst others. The riffing offers a bit of groove as well with a more angry version of black’n’roll but the overall atmosphere of the album is dark and depressing with caustic tones and furious rage stampeding across the soundscape with eerie detached keyboards offering the final depressive icing on the cake. The production seems to find that perfect balance between lo-fi second wave and the bit more polished of the 21st century.

Overall this is quite the enjoyable black metal album even if not reinventing the wheel in any way. In many ways as generic as the album cover art yet i’m a sucker for extremely effectively executed extreme metal with above average instrumental interplay. The attention paid to the varying tones, timbres, tempos, distortion, vocal phrasing etc conspire to infect your soul with an extremely well crafted atmospheric black metal experience. OSTOTS is the real deal and i couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the world of Basque flavored black metal than MADARIKAZIOA.

ILLUMINATION Worship Death More Than Life

EP · 2022 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Joining the ranks of a new wave of space themed atmospheric black metal bands that adopt aspects of the world of death metal, Brazil’s ILLUMINATION formed in Rio de Janeiro in 2020 and released last year’s demo “Occult Science” which caught the attention of the Mexican label Personal Records and a year later ILLUMINATION debuts with its first EP titled WORSHIP DEATH MORE THAN LIFE.

Graced with wickedly cool cover art, WORSHIP DEATH MORE THAN LIFE embodies the frigid bleakness of the visual artistic expression with a depressive style of black metal made all the frostier with a bleak suffocating atmospheric backdrop. This EP of seven tracks clocks in at 27 1/2 minutes and features an excellent array of speed fueled jangly guitar chords plucked in full tremolo affect with blackened distortion and rampaging angst. The vocals however are somewhere in between the raspy world of black metal and the more guttural growls of death metal which makes this a distinct hybrid that doesn’t really sound totally at home in either genre.

Atmospheric excess is the name of the game for ILLUMINATION which works quite well in the world of oft monochromatic black metal. This EP is fueled with nice opening mood enhances including the 2 minute intermission “UY Scouti” and the closing “Dead Photons” which are short instrumentals that focus on the sonic terror of Luciferianism and sci-fi fantasies. “Thy Darkness” on the other hand does sound more like a black metal act with angry gurgled vocals in the vein of classic black metal acts like Immortal and a gazillion others. This band excels at both providing authentic black metal chops and nice ambient / atmospheric accompaniments.

What works so well about ILLUMINATION is that although it hasn’t branched off into its own subsection of the deathened black metal universe quite yet, it seems as if it could very well do so and each track is distinct thus providing the EP with the diversity of styles and sounds that is very much needed to make an enthralling listening experience. One of the highlights is “Venus Shukra” which features a typical black metal bleakness but is fueled by an anthemic folk metal musical scale but also adds interesting arpeggiated guitar sections, spoken word declarations and lots of ambient excursions before erupting into a Mayhem styled black metal rampage.

With the explosion of black metal acts in the last decade it’s hard to believe that this genre could spawn so many competent and dynamic acts but ILLUMINATION is yet another excellent band to enter the scene and also showcases Brazil’s ever growing relevance on the world’s stage by producing a whole slew of excellent bands in recent years. I love this one much more than i could’ve imagined and eagerly await the band’s full-length debut. WORSHIP DEATH MORE THAN LIFE may sound like a suicide pact but in a way it makes you wanna live if for no other reason than to hang out long enough to see what this band will produce next!

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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