Black metal

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Black metal

Development phase: 1980s
Place of origin: Mainly Europe
Stylistic precursors
Thrash metal
VenomBathoryHellhammerCeltic FrostMercyful FateMayhem
Instruments typical of the genre
Stylistic successor
BlackgazeDark MetalDepressive Black MetalGothic MetalPagan MetalPost-Black-MetalViking Metal
Black DoomWar MetalNSBM

Black metal is a subculture of metal that emerged in the 1980s and spread rapidly, particularly in Norway and Sweden, and then in Northern and Central Europe.

The term was originally used for metal bands with satanic lyrics. Since the 1990s, a musical definition has also been used that is based on the style of play of the Norwegian scene and also applies to bands with pagan , nihilistic or misanthropic content; however, some traditional followers reject these more modern forms. The musical definition usually refers to guttural singing , which can range from very high-pitched “screams” to deep “croaks”, a raw production (“lo-fi”) and, in contrast to Death Metal, not tuned lower Electric guitars . When playing the guitar, monotonous riffs predominate . On drums dominate (except in slow passages) double bass and blast beats . Occasionally, keyboard instruments are also used to create more orchestral moments. However, this definition does not include the respective style of numerous black metal bands; At that time, besides the Norwegian scene, the Greek and Finnish scenes had developed their own styles.

The scene is burdened with the reputation of being dominated by people with a nationalist , Nazi , racist or at least pronounced patriotic attitude, mainly due to a few newspaper articles and statements by individual musicians as well as the NSBM trend that emerged from parts of the scene in the 1990s . The scene is perceived by outsiders mainly because of criminal acts committed by members of the scene. The convicted murderers and right-wing extremists Varg Vikernes and Hendrik Möbus as well as numerous church arson foundations in Norway are primarily associated with Black Metal. In addition, the scene is often accused of not distancing itself clearly enough from bands with National Socialist sentiments or even tolerating them.

Development and history


Venom from the United Kingdom gave black metal its name
Celtic Frost from Switzerland were among the first generation of Black Metal bands
King Diamond of Mercyful Fate with an early form of corpsepaint

The term Black Metal first appeared in 1980 in the title of the band Holy Moses ' first demo recording , Black Metal Masters . However, Venom is considered to be the namesake and initiator with the album Black Metal released in 1982 . Venom flirted with Satanism, their style was technically simpler, the vocals and the production less clear than usual in Metal back then. The band members used pseudonyms (Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon), which was also unusual for the time, but became the norm in Black Metal.

In the same year the Danish band Mercyful Fate released their first EP of the same name . Musically, the band had little in common with the later Black Metal due to their influences from progressive rock , epic hard rock of the 1970s and traditional heavy metal as well as the singing of King Diamond in falsetto and was copied less often than other pioneers, “although you Influence on the genre cannot be appreciated enough ”. Diamond painted his face with an early form of corpsepaint and used stage effects such as the “exploding nun ” at the end of performances or the burning cross at a performance in Amsterdam around 1983; at one performance, the band held a black mass on stage , for which they used the blood of their manager Ole Bang. With their "high pace, an aggressive lead guitar, gripping harmonies, rhythmically variable songwriting and this gloomy atmosphere that made Demon and Witchfinder General look pale", the band caused a sensation with their EP "after only one year of joint semi-professional demo recordings" . While Diamond was later to "bring his satanic texts to a much higher linguistic level", Nuns Have No Fun was "no less explicit than the early Venom material". 1983 followed the debut Melissa ; Due to the hard rock influences, “[t] he twin guitars of the opener 'Evil' […] are more based on Thin Lizzy than on Iron Maiden , and the riffing also shows cross-references specifically to British institutions. The ' Into The Coven ' intro flirts with classical melodies. ”For the atmospheric design of Don't Break the Oath , ringing bells, spherical keyboards, rain noises and a church organ were also used.

In 1984 the Swedish band Bathory released their debut album of the same name, with which the typical croaking vocals came up and whose raw rehearsal room sound set the standard of the "dirty" sound that has been characteristic of Black Metal ever since. Soon this new style began to spread, especially in Scandinavia. Fenriz von Darkthrone described the guitar playing technique Quorthon first used on the 1987 album Under the Sign of the Black Mark as pioneering what would later be referred to as the Norwegian style of black metal.

The venom-inspired works by Hellhammer and the first albums of their successor band Celtic Frost , which also features an early form of corpsepaint, are also influences of the later black metal movement . For Martin “Ain” Stricker from Celtic Frost, corpsepaint combined with leather clothing and cartridge belts was an expression of a self-discovery process as a way out of his strict Catholic upbringing. Mirai Kawashima describes her 1987 album Into the Pandemonium , which was received negatively by numerous fans at the time, together with Bathory's Under the Sign of the Black Mark as a template for today's Black Metal and an important influence for his band Sigh . The West German bands Sodom and Destruction were also influential and, according to Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, underestimated . Euronymous' Band Mayhem released their first demo Pure Fucking Armageddon , recorded in extremely poor sound quality and with barely audible vocals, in 1986 , which was considered particularly extreme and was described by Metalion in Slayer as "the goriest demo ever". These and a few other bands like Bulldozer are commonly referred to as the "first wave of Black Metal". Except for their satanic demeanor and corresponding lyrics, most of these bands had little in common and did not constitute their own scene or sub-scene.

The satanic references were mostly not very serious. Thomas "Warrior" Fischer and Martin Stricker from Celtic Frost had read Anton Szandor LaVey's publications and had contacts with one of the grottos subgroups of the Church of Satan . However, they were hostile to any form of organized religion, viewed LaVey's theories very critically and sometimes considered them ludicrous. For the musicians, the satanic image was an expression of individualism and rebellion , without feeling that they belonged to a particular organized movement. The satanic image of the American band Possessed had no serious background, except for the singer and guitarist Ler LaLonde , all of the band's musicians were raised Catholic ; Guitarist Jeff Becerra explained that he certainly was not whether there is a God or Satan give it but for Satanism and the occult interest and books with light ( ' Hell ') collect in the title. In addition, many musicians on the scene cultivated an occult image in the mid-1980s without knowing much about it. The band Venom stated in an interview in 1985 that they did not proclaim "Satanism, the occult, witchcraft or anything" and that " Rock'n'Roll [...] is basically entertainment and nothing else". Also Running Wild took initially a satanic image on and was therefore assigned to the Black Metal; then-guitarist Gerald "Preacher" Warnecke studied at the time of the debut album Gates to Purgatory , however, theology and later became a Protestant pastor in Cologne. Rolf "Rock 'n' Rolf" Kasparek stated, however, that he was not religious and that for the band it was more of a political symbol and the devil was not an evil figure, but a rebel who questions everything. However, he thinks playing with esoteric things is dangerous. Since this was misunderstood, the lyrics on their second album, Branded and Exiled, became a little clearer. With the third album Under Jolly Roger , Running Wild finally took on a new image and instead sang about pirates .

King Diamond, the singer of Mercyful Fate, was an exception. He called LaVey's Satanic Bible as a source of inspiration, for him Satanism was a lifestyle and the word Satan was of "special importance". He became a member of the Church of Satan and was appointed a lifetime member by LaVey.

Steve Sylvester from the Italian band Death SS is also an exception; he sees his band as a magical musical project, the founding of which was a magical ritual that the band fulfilled in 2006 with the album The Seventh Seal . He combined the reunification of 1988 with a satanic oath. For a long time Sylvester was a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis , over whose Italian branch he was in charge. The EP Let the Sabbath Begin also features the Hymn of the Satanic Empire, or The Battle Hymn of the Apocalypse, written by LaVey as an homage to them.

For today's black metal subculture, however, the scene that developed from the late 1980s, especially the Norwegian one, was decisive.

End of the first wave

The cover of Bathory's album Blood Fire Death , with which the band turned to Norse mythology.
Logo of the band Mayhem from Norway

In the second half of the 1980s, the first wave of black metal lost its importance. The main bands changed style and image, while the newly emerging (and partly based on the same bands) death metal gained popularity. Bathory thus founded Viking Metal in the late 1980s , which thematizes Norse mythology . Nevertheless, new bands emerged during this time, including numerous Latin American ones such as Sarcófago (which the website Metal Storm describes as the first band with a "real" corpsepaint), Parabellum and Reencarnacion , and a few groundbreaking records, such as Sarcófago's debut INRI , the first EP Deathcrush the Norwegian band Mayhem (both 1987), Tormentor's second demo Anno Domini (1988) and the first EP Medieval Prophecy by Samael from Switzerland; some of them were also assigned to Death Metal (this is how Mayhem guitarist Euronymous called his band's music "Total Death Metal"). For the Kawir founder Therthonax there were only scenes in Norway and Greece, whereby the Norwegian musicians supported each other more; he sees these two scenes as the initiators of Black Metal. However, the newly emerging bands in other regions also developed their own regional varieties, although today's bands are mainly influenced by Norwegian bands, which gained additional attention through their extra-musical activities.

The first Swedish black metal bands were Abruptum , Ophthalamia and Dissection , and the first Finnish bands were Beherit , Goat Vulva and Impaled Nazarene . The band Ancient Rites was founded in Belgium in 1989 , and in the USA first bands such as Goatlord , Nocturnal Crypt, Order from Chaos , Toten, VON and Demoncy . Around the same time, a large black metal underground scene with bands like Eminenz formed in East Germany ; Desaster was one of the first black metal bands in West Germany ; however, second wave German Black Metal never got the attention that German Thrash Metal had gotten in the 1980s with bands like Destruction and Kreator . Even in the Eastern European countries, bands like Root and Master's Hammer emerged during the Soviet era . New bands like Sigh , Abhorer and Impiety emerged in Asia and groups like Goatpenis , Impurity and Mystifier in South America .

In 1990, among other things, the chaotic and minimalist debut of the Canadian group Blasphemy Fallen Angel of Doom , which represents a more chaotic black metal style, Roots debut Zjevení , and the first demos of the band Abruptum, a kind of "anti-music" with background noise of guttural screams , slow guitars, which are distorted metallic, but are only played to a limited extent in the traditional sense, and ambient noise that can only be assigned to a limited extent to Black Metal and tends towards Death Industrial , and the first three Beherit demos. New bands such as Archgoat , Barathrum (both Finland), Profanatica (USA), Carpathian Forest (Norway), Nifelheim and Marduk (both Sweden) emerged.

The "second wave"

Attention within the metal scene attracted the suicide of Mayhem singer Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin with a shotgun in 1991; his body was discovered by Euronymous, who did not immediately call the police, but first took photos of his dead friend and bandmate and picked up fragments of skull lying around. These skull fragments were made into pendants and sent to various friends of Dead. The photos of Dead's body were to be used for the band's upcoming album; one of them later appeared on the cover of the bootleg album The Dawn of the Black Hearts - Live in Sarpsborg, NORWAY 28/2/1990 . Thorns released two demos of groundbreaking guitar playing; In addition to Mayhem's guitarist Euronymous, her guitarist Snorre “Blackthorn” Ruch invented the typical Norwegian black metal riffing , in which Fenriz sees the actual beginning of “New School Black Metal”. Euronymous, who is considered the "father" of the movement and initiator of the so-called "second wave of Black Metal", had a decisive influence on the ideas of Black Metal and founded the record store Helvete , around which the Norwegian Black Metal scene was formed: Varg Vikernes , also known as "Count Grishnackh", founded the one-man project Burzum , from the death metal band Thou Shalt Suffer went Emperor forth; also Darkthrone and Immortal changed their style; the latter band released their first single Immortal in the same year , which was also one of the formative Norwegian releases. Under Euronymous' influence they deliberately differentiated themselves from Death Metal, which prevailed in the metal scene at the time and was decried as a "trend" and "commerce"; only a few death metal bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide were assigned to Black Metal because of their satanic appearance and were also popular there. In the course of their demarcation from Death Metal, for example, more emphasis was placed on a more serious appearance and typical elements of Death Metal were dispensed with, for example the lower tuning of the guitars, the technically demanding playing style of many Death Metal bands and the deep growls ; Instead, the Norwegian bands relied on raw and primitive music and production with high levels of croaking and shouting, which were sometimes overdriven, distorted or underlaid with reverberation , and thus contributed significantly to the development of their own Norwegian style of black metal, which, however, was influenced by both The musicians as well as the magazines and the scene in general only became perceived as such over time: While some bands saw their music as "true" Death Metal and were often assigned to this genre in music magazines, whereas the Death Metal bands in particular with political texts disparagingly referred to as "Life Metal", since Death Metal must go hand in hand with serious worship of death, others considered themselves Black Metal based on their lyrics or took up other names of their own style; for example, the band Immortal called their music "Holocaust Metal". The Swiss band Samael brought out their debut album Worship Him , which was rather sluggish for a long time , Beherit the EP Dawn of Satan's Millennium and Master's Hammer the debut album Ritual ; Fenriz, knowing about the Czech origins of the band, describes this as the first Norwegian black metal album.

In 1992 Darkthrone's album A Blaze in the Northern Sky was released , which was formative for Norwegian Black Metal and is also considered the first album of the "second wave of Black Metal", and Vikernes' debut album Burzum , which also shaped the typically Norwegian style, whose typical riffing and its melancholy atmosphere differed from the sound of other bands; Emperor released the demo Wrath of the Tyrant and Immortal released the debut Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism , which was still very reminiscent of Bathory's Under the Sign of the Black Mark without Thrash elements and with its guitars formed "a catchy and homogeneous or almost monotonous scratchy sound carpet" , "Which is rhythmically occupied by a partly impulsive and fast partly two-tone drums", and generate a garage-like echo with the drums. In addition, new bands such as Gorgoroth , Ancient , Satyricon , Hades and Mysticum emerged , Marduk released the debut Dark Endless , Mystifier Wicca , VON the demo Satanic Blood , Samael Blood Ritual and Master's Hammer published by the band as a "Black Metal operetta in three Akten "and" first black metal operetta in the world "is the title of album The Jilemnice Occultist . New bands such as Mayhemic Truth , Tsatthoggua , Tha-Norr , Drowned and Aeba emerged in Germany .

Jon Nödtveidt (in the foreground) from Dissection , was a member of the "Inner Circle", leading member of the Swedish scene and the Misanthropic Luciferian Order
The Fantoft Stave Church burned down completely after an arson attack. Here the new building.

The scene at that time also attracted attention with attacks on churches and other bands and called its core the “Inner Circle” (English, “inner circle”, sometimes also “Svarte Sirkel” or “Black Circle”), that of Øystein “Euronymous “Aarseth is said to have been directed and to which members of the Swedish black metal scene like Jon Nödtveidt from Dissection are said to have belonged. The majority of the members later served long prison sentences for murder , desecration of graves and arson . For example, the "Inner Circle" was charged with setting fire to the famous Fantoft stave church in Bergen , which was the first to burn down on June 6, 1992. Varg Vikernes was suspected, but the arson could not be proven. Vikernes expressed his admiration for Adolf Hitler , Josef Stalin , Nicolae Ceaușescu and other dictators, and from 1993 onwards he was conspicuous for his view of the world that was strongly influenced by racism and nationalism. He gained attention through his appearance in the press, several cases of church arson, verbal attacks against other black metal bands such as Profanatica , involvement in an attack on the guitarist of the "life metal" band Therion from Sweden and allegedly through a letter bomb aimed at the Israeli band Salem . Other Swedish “life metal” bands were also threatened, the tour bus of the British band Paradise Lost in Norrköping, Sweden, was attacked by black metallers, the band had been warned beforehand. According to Kerrang ! the band is said to have been attacked in Norway (whereas the attack in Sweden was not mentioned), but in the rock-hard interview with the band only the attack in Norrköping is mentioned. A feud also arose between Norwegian and Finnish bands. The Finnish band Impaled Nazarene was threatened and responded with insults to the Norwegians in the booklet of their debut album Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz… , released in 1993 , which consisted of short pieces at high speed with sometimes deep, distorted screams and short interludes . According to Bård “Faust” Eithun , the idea of ​​the circle was to be an organization “mainly based on illegal activities, not legal ones.” According to Emperor guitarist Samoth , the circle was essentially the environment of Euronymous' record store Helvete; Attacks were carried out more or less on a spontaneous basis and there were “no formal meetings”. After Vikernes had mentioned the "Inner Circle" himself in interviews, he claimed from the second half of the 1990s that it was in truth a myth built up by the media or a vision of Euronymous.

Corresponding crimes were then also based on parts of the scenes in other countries. In Poland, for example, The Temple of the Fullmoon , inspired by the Norwegian Inner Circle , was created, whose founders included Nergal from the band Behemoth , Blasphemous (Veles) and Venom (Xantotol), which was founded in 1991 . The order also included the bands Infernum , Mysteries, Veles, Fullmoon, Behemoth and Graveland , whose founder Rob Darken described the Temple of the Fullmoon as a more idealistic copy of the Norwegian circle. The Polish bands, inspired by the Norwegian style, created an independent sound that combined a harsh production with dark keyboards and natural sounds such as wind and the croaking of ravens. Around 1995, the Temple of Fullmoon broke up because the right-wing extremist content on Infernum's debut album ... Taur-Nu-Fuin ... was investigated by the Polish police. The band Behemoth turned their backs on the group, resulting in a hostile stance from the far right wing, while Graveland and Infernum became icons there. Most of the remaining bands broke up over time.

In 1992 Eithun also murdered a homosexual in Lillehammer , who played in the bands Thorns and Emperor. Through an interview that Varg Vikernes gave to a Norwegian daily newspaper, in which he connected the black metal scene with the church fires, and a lurid article published shortly afterwards about what was going on within the Norwegian black metal scene in the British magazine Kerrang! the scene came into the focus of a wider public in 1993. In interviews, musicians from bands such as Satyricon, Marduk, Emperor, Burzum, Dimmu Borgir and Darkthrone gave not only statements glorifying violence but also those in which they flirted with racism and right-wing extremism and thus ensured the boycott of Black Metal by numerous media. However, this was also triggered by falsified interviews, such as the interview with Nocturno Culto by Darkthrone in German Rock Hard , which the editor Frank Albrecht, as he later admitted, had "spiced up" in order to make the statements appear more drastic. The right-wing extremist statements of the musicians have been and are interpreted differently: Vorphalack von Samael explains them as an inevitable consequence of their attempts to take extremes to the extreme and break taboos. Such a view is "completely wrong", but he can "understand the way into such a hole". Accordingly, some of these statements were more provocative than actually right-wing extremists, and in some cases they were diffuse and contradictory to the anti-human and anti-life statements made by the musicians. On the other hand, besides such statements in interviews, there was also hostility towards musicians of oriental origin (e.g. towards Vicotnik von Dødheimsgard and A. Reza von Ulver ) from other members of the Norwegian scene, and some of their members later stated that it was in the 1990s Years to have actually cherished such attitudes that were brought into the scene by Vikernes.

Rotting Christ was one of the defining bands of Greek black metal

The scene came to an abrupt end when Vikernes murdered his one-time companion Euronymous in August 1993. The main reasons for the act remain uncertain. Vikernes turned from Satanism to Nordic paganism and appeared increasingly openly neo-Nazi. His musical work, which had a significant influence on today's black metal, is certainly respected, but the person Vikernes is judged differently within the scene. Some followers see him as an icon of the subculture and the (outside Norway) " National Socialist Black Metal " (NSBM), others see him as a traitor and eyesore because of the murder of Euronymous or his ideological change. In the same month Vikernes also released his second album Det som engang var . Satyricon made his debut with Dark Medieval Times , on which black metal passages alternated with those with acoustic guitars and flute music, Immortal released the more technically advanced and less extremely croaked Pure Holocaust than its predecessor , Darkthrone Under a Funeral Moon and Mayhem Live in Leipzig , one the few official reports of the phase with Dead on vocals and also formative for the Norwegian style. The Greek bands Varathron , Necromantia and Rotting Christ brought their debut albums His Majesty at the Swamp , Crossing the Fiery Path and after several demos, EPs and split releases with Monumentum from Italy and with each other ( The Black Arts / The Everlasting Sins , 1992) Thy Mighty Contract , Beherit's first official album Drawing Down the Moon , and Euronymous had released Abruptum's debut Obscuritatem advoco amplectère me on his Deathlike Silence Productions label before he was murdered; The thrash-heavy and symphonic debut Scorn Defeat by the Japanese band Sigh also appeared there posthumously . Dissection debuted with the death-metal-influenced, melodic The Somberlain and Absu with the death-metal-influenced album Barathrum VITRIOL , Marduk released Those of the Unlight and Impaled Nazarene Ugra-Karma , on which the band moved from the chaotic sound to " somewhat clearer, more sophisticated song structures ”and“ the rugged punk and grindcore chords have been replaced by real riffs in many places ”; The novelty on a lyrical level was "a crude gibberish from Hindu mythology, primitive devil worship and all sorts of perversions that are voiced in English, German, Finnish and even Sanskrit (!)." Mystifier published Göetia and Mysticum first demos on which Black Metal and Industrial metal were mixed.

A few months before Euronymous' death there was also a murder case in the East German scene: the members of the band Absurd , founded in 1992, murdered their classmate Sandro Beyer and were sentenced to prison terms of between six and eight years in 1994; During their imprisonment, the band developed into one of the best-known representatives of the NSBM, with which the German scene is often associated, although they did not play Black Metal, but rather attached themselves to Oi! , RAC and horror punk oriented. The murder was luridly referred to in the media as the " Satan murder of Sondershausen ", although the perpetrators had no real reference to Satanism.

Attila Csihar , singer with Tormentor and on the Mayhem debut De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

A large number of Norwegian black metal albums were released in 1994: The first Mayhem album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas , which had been expected underground for years and whose release had been postponed several times, was released posthumously on Euronymous' label. On this album, the tormentor singer Attila Csihar used, in addition to dark and croaking vocals, techniques that he had learned from an opera singer. The Enslaved debut Vikingligr Veldi and, as the last release, Abruptum's second album In umbra malitiae ambulabo, in aeternum in triumpho tenebraum , were also released on Euronymous' label . The first Emperor album In the Nightside Eclipse , whose cast with the exception of the singer Vegard "Ihsahn" Tveitan were imprisoned at the time of publication, Darkthrones compared to their predecessors, Transilvanian Hunger , Satyricons The Shadowthrone , the Gorgoroth debut Pentagram and Burzums were also released third, consistently monotonous album without tempo and with only a few riff variations, Hvis lyset tar oss . Ulver made his debut with Bergtatt - Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler , a mixture of black metal and folk, and the multinational project Diabolos Rising with a mixture of black metal, electro and industrial rock on the album 666 . In Germany there was a wave of other groups like Lunar Aurora , Katharsis , Dark Fortress and Andras . In Russia , the scene known as Blazebirth Hall emerged around the bands Raven Dark, Forest, Branikald and Rundagor, who attracted attention for their criminal activities and right-wing extremist orientation.

Development from the mid-1990s

Much of the early part of the Norwegian scene was arrested in 1994 and Mayhem disbanded after Euronymous's death, leaving the local scene lacking a point of reference and many of its most important bands. Darkthrone released their last classic album in 1995, Panzerfaust .

Groups like Emperor and Arcturus or newer bands like Ved Buens Ende and Dødheimsgard gave black metal progressive elements, and a tendency towards neoclassicism could often be discerned in the compositions, especially with Emperor . Many other bands also moved away from traditional black metal due to new influences: groups like Forgotten Woods and their side project Joyless combined a depressive black metal style with influences from proto and post punk artists like The Velvet Underground and Joy Division , groups like Moonspell and Tiamat developed into important representatives of Gothic Metal , which has been emerging since the early 1990s ; other groups increasingly took over the influences of more traditional metal currents, electronic influences or withdrew from metal completely, in the case of Varg Vikernes to the point of denying the existence of a Norwegian black metal scene, and from then on released purely electronic albums. The former Emperor bassist Mortiis had already gone this way with his solo project of the same name and Nuclear Holocausto (Beherit, Suuri Shamaani), who have now released ambient and dark ambient albums. Among other things, through Mortiis' switch to the industrial label Cold Meat Industry , where his second album Ånden som Gjorde Opprør was released in 1994 , black metallers also became aware of this label, the owner of which was subsequently interviewed in publications such as Slayer or Nordic Vision . Also Blood Axis musician Michael Moynihan is likely to be largely responsible for the mutual interest, as he, like Varg Vikernes, Magus Wampyr Daoloth , David Myatt and Kerry Bolton in the magazine Filosofem published and numerous black metal musicians for his book Lords of Chaos interviewed. In 1997 a sampler called Souvenirs from Hell was released , on which groups of both scenes such as Ulver , Blood Axis, NAOS and Diabolos Rising appeared.

Fenriz and Nocturno Culto from Darkthrone
Immortal 2007
Mayhem 2008

With some musical developments came the commercialization and in the eyes of many fans also the decline of Black Metal of various veterans of the 1990s, who distanced themselves from earlier statements and approached the magazines from which they had previously been boycotted. The subculture experienced an "invasion" by bands that were initially accepted but rejected in the course of their commercial orientation, such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth , who distanced themselves from the activities of the "Inner Circle" in the course of their success, or - in Germany - Mystic Circle . German labels such as Malicious Records, No Colors Records , Solistitium Records and Last Episode released numerous albums by Norwegian bands, which achieved high sales figures, especially due to their origins. Mayhem became active again without Euronymous and turned away from Satanism, which is why the band is accused of having turned away from Black Metal. As a result of these developments, Norwegian Black Metal lost its reputation in the underground , and chart compatible bands like Dimmu Borgir dominated the share of Norwegian record sales.

The Black Metal underground shifted more and more to other countries over the years; Many of the Eastern European bands cultivate pre-Christian customs in their lyrics , which is compounded by the increased appearance of Polish NSBM bands such as Graveland or Infernum ; Greece and Poland in particular have very large and openly radicalized NSBM scenes. Bands that can be assigned to the NSBM can be made out from the mid-1990s, where among others Absurd's demo Thuringian Pagan Madness (Germany), Legion of Doom's debut album Kingdom of Endless Darkness (Greece), Infernum's debut … Taur-Nu-Fuin… (Poland) and Spear of Longinus ' demo Nazi Occult Metal (Australia) out; other early representatives of this trend include Grand Belial's Key (USA), Funeral and Osculum Infame (both France). Members of this movement explain their emergence as a reaction to the decline of the ideals of Black Metal in the early 1990s or as a logical conclusion of the time.

Likewise, a new wave of bands like Ofermod , Funeral Mist and Malign emerged , which in response to the previous generation's lyrical preoccupation with Satanism went further than this; Ofermod called their own music "Orthodox Black Metal", with the self-designation as orthodox the band wanted to radically differentiate themselves from their opinion false black metal bands, as they are of the opinion that a band must consist of religious Satanists Playing black metal.

In Germany, Voices Productions and Kettenhund Records released the first albums by Lunar Aurora and Nagelfar , which are among the best-known representatives and trend-setting bands on the German scene. The label Ván Records was founded from the environment of the now disbanded band Nagelfar and the Aachen black metal scene , where the bands The Ruins of Beverast , Graupel , Kermania, Truppensturm , Urfaust and The Devil's Blood are under contract. The first four bands mentioned are part of the Wòd Ván, an association of German bands which, unlike the Norwegian circle, “does not represent an elitist brotherhood, but a loose association of individuals who share hobbies and views”. However, German Black Metal is often associated with the "silliness" of Nargaroth and the NSBM scene, which developed particularly in Thuringia in the absurd environment.

While US bands initially received little attention and Norwegian black metal albums were initially only available as expensive imports, American bands gained attention over time. Even after the 1999 Littleton School Massacre, the perpetrators of which were often - and incorrectly according to Michael Moynihan - portrayed as black metal fans, Moynihan emphasized that there was no black metal scene in the United States. Black Funeral , the NSBM band Grand Belial's Key , Krieg , Demoncy, Black Witchery , Thornspawn and Absu were important for the credibility of the US underground , other well-known representatives were Judas Iscariot and Averse Sefira . Despite a community of black metal supporters in the northeast, however, no music scene emerged there; only a few places were ideal for mostly foreign black metal bands, of which only a few played in the United States and mostly only gave sporadic appearances in the larger cities. In recent years, newer American bands such as Xasthur , Leviathan , Nachtmystium , Weakling and the "All-Star" project Twilight have become popular beyond the scene, which is why they are accused of ingratiating to ordinary people. The black metal parody Velvet Cacoon and the group Wolves in the Throne Room , which are influenced by traditional black metal, but whose musicians have their origins in punk, have ecological and left-wing views and have influences from post-rock and post-rock, also attracted attention Integrate shoegazing into your music. This as blackgaze designated style reached especially with the album Sunbather of Deafheaven 2013 increased attention. The bands Liturgy and Krallice , founded in 2005 and 2008 respectively, forego the typical appearance and ideology of the scene. Krallice regard Black Metal as a purely musical form of expression, Liturgy want to expand the stylistic boundaries of the genre with the album Aesthethica and replace “death and atrophy” of traditional Black Metal with “life and hypertrophy”. Brad Sanders from Liturgy sometimes referred to this development as post-black metal , which, according to him, describes a musical ideal that breaks away from the meaning of Scandinavian black metal and ideology and makes black metal usable as a style element without nihilistic , misanthropic and satanic reference . The term has been in use for different groups and developments since the 1990s, but did not establish itself until the 2010s in connection with the popularity of Blackgaze.


Thoughts represented in Black Metal are disseminated through the texts and statements in interviews and scene publications. Despite the resulting differences, common basic ideas can be found under the individual directions.

While the pioneers often only took up Satanism as a provocation, some later followers of the scene consider an ideological turn to Satanism as essential for a Black Metaller. The scene is also accused of the frequent lack of a serious satanic conviction by some non-affiliated Satanists.

In some bands, the seizure of Satanism is limited to (mostly strongly sexualized) blasphemy and radical anti-Christian statements. Leading figure Euronymous represented the idea of ​​a bodily , horned Satan in the sense of devil worship or an inverted Christianity. Beherit's Nuclear Holocausto , in turn, represented elements of atheistic Satanism in the 1990s according to Anton Szandor LaVey and the Church of Satan he founded (like most of the Nine Satanic Statements ), saw the anti-LaVey attitude of the Norwegian scene as childish and had connections u. a. to Kerry Bolton's Order of the Left Hand Path, but has now "nothing to do with satanic organizations for years". The Church of Satan is also viewed as not genuinely satanistic by the Misanthropic Luciferian Order , whose chaos-gnostic and anti-cosmic Satanism is represented by numerous Swedish bands such as Dissection and Arckanum , and is vehemently rejected. The texts and ideology of the chaos-gnostic band Ofermod are not limited to considerations of Christianity from a satanic perspective, but are "religiously overarching" and integrate elements from Judaism and Hinduism. On their albums Si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice and Fas - ite, maledicti, in ignem aeternum, the French band Deathspell Omega focuses on the theological aspects of God and Satan as well as the relationship between humans and both. The also French band Aosoth refers with their name to the Order of Nine Angles . The first recordings (up to Ashes of Angels ) were strongly influenced by the doctrines of the ONA, but the band does not claim to belong to it or to do propaganda for it. Singer MkM wrote the lyrics on Ashes of Angels in a similar context and process as those for his other band Antaeus . Individual black metal musicians like Pete Helmkamp ( Order from Chaos ), Michael W. Ford ( Black Funeral ), Karl NE ( Nåstrond ), Jeremy Christner (Great American Desert, Vrolok) and Johan “Shamaatae” Lahger (Arckanum) have books Written on esotericism, magic and satanism. While the cliché of satanic sacrifices in cemeteries is completely unrealistic, the former Emperor bassist Tchort mentions animal sacrifices in the Kristiansand scene .

Christianity is generally viewed by part of the scene as hypocritical and a totalitarian ideology that would constrain the individual through moralism and authority. Similar to Death Metal, there are also song lyrics in Black Metal in which the killing of Christians is described and propagated. However, this is (in most cases) by no means concrete, but to be understood metaphorically. Some members of the scene attribute the emergence of the scene partly to the fact that Norway was very conservative Christian in the 1980s, which probably led to the sharpened articulation of ideological demarcation. Conversely, many of them reject the Christian faith as a "religion of weakness" (generally showing weakness in the subculture is taboo), but glorify the Inquisition that originated from it, as well as totalitarian regimes and other forms of repression. At the beginning of the 1990s it was by no means frowned upon to express one's rejection of Christian culture through church arson or grave desecration. Christian bands that show parallels to Black Metal in music and appearance accordingly form a scene that is largely independent of satanic Black Metal, for which the term " Unblack Metal " appears, which goes back to the album Hellig usvart by the band Horde .

The hatred that is repeatedly thematized in the lyrics also appears as general misanthropy and hostility to life. In some cases, this increases the tendency to lose the value of every life - including one's own, which explains why some members of the scene tend to be auto-aggressive . Analogous to this, the longing for death is a frequent motif of Black Metal, which is clearly evident in the suicides of musicians such as Dead (Mayhem), Cernunnos ( Enthroned ) and Grim (including Immortal , Borknagar and Gorgoroth ), as well as in a current with bands such as Shining , Krohm, Hypothermia and Abyssic Hate , whose texts, aesthetics and demeanor revolve around topics such as suicide , self-mutilation and self-harming behavior. Even the Depressive Black Metal as bands like Strid , Manes band Dark Metal Bethlehem is affected, Burzum and German, can be classified here. However, this trend is rejected by part of the scene, as it is in their opinion contrary to the original martial orientation, and Shining founder Niklas Kvarforth himself emphasizes that "hundreds of meaningless bands" had "completely misinterpreted his initial vision"; he never wanted to create a subgenre "in which idiots express their self-pity and use their music as a shitty form of therapy". On the contrary, it was his intention "to use music as a weapon against the listener, to forcefully feed it with self-destructive and suicidal ideals in order to hopefully create a wave of insecurity".

Similarly, drug use is sometimes advocated because of its potentially harmful effects; some members of the Norwegian scene were heavy drinkers. The alcohol problems of the Abruptum member Jim "All" Berger in turn led to his exclusion from the project. Michayah Belfagor ( Nefandus , Ofermod ) used and traded heroin for a number of years and recommends others to take this route; it is a process that strengthens the individual. In the meantime, however, this phase has been "long gone" for him; one could “not achieve true gnosis under the influence of drugs”. Dark Funeral's Lord Ahriman has been a non-drinker since 2002 or 2003; similarly, Varg Vikernes, unlike some other members of the early Norwegian scene, was a nondrinker.

Fattigmannen by Theodor Kittelsen was used as the cover on Burzum's album Hvis lyset tar oss .

Black Metal takes up elements of romanticism in many ways : In addition to the search for spiritual development of one's own self, a general longing for nature emerges - openly to be seen in the frequent motifs of snowy, misty forests. A general interest in the local culture on the part of many Black Metal fans, especially in pre-Christian history and religion, testifies to parallels to Romanticism, which is ultimately also visible in Theodor Kittelsen's romantic paintings by Burzum, Empyrium and Carpathian , among others Forest were used as record covers. Under the influence of the very patriotic Norwegian romanticism , some Norwegians rediscovered the religion of their ancestors . A passage from the song A Blaze in the Northern Sky by Darkthrone is loosely translated: “It took a millennium to bring us the message of the crucified. 1,000 years have passed since then; the next 1,000 years are ours! ” , and the song Unleashed Ax-Age by the Austrian band Abigor is about Ragnarök , whereby the events covered are“ nothing but interesting thematic material ”for the band. Fantasy-based escapist moments also appear in Black Metal; some bands like Burzum , Summoning and Rivendell deal with the texts of the books of the fantasy author JRR Tolkien .

Bands like In the Woods… and Enslaved referred solely to paganism with no elements of Satanism. A number of pagan bands such as Falkenbach , Adorned Brood , Tumulus, Bergthron and Menhir also emerged in Germany . Black Messiah and Andras , who were founded as black metal bands , also went this way . Accordingly, the sub-styles Pagan Metal and Viking Metal, among others, have been isolated from the Black Metal scene . In some cases, the interest in romanticism and paganism degenerated into nationalist ideologies, which encouraged the emergence of the NSBM. Hendrik Möbus from the NSBM band Absurd explains the turn to paganism through an awareness of the u. a. Expressing emotions in the church fires. Bands with pagan lyrics, especially those who associate themselves with Black Metal, are often despised by the core of the Black Metal scene, which claims it is traditionally purely satanic. The same goes for other non-satanic black metal bands. Conversely, satanist bands often meet with rejection from pagan groups, as they see Satanism as part of hated Christianity. Most of the NSBM scene rejects Satanism as the basis of Black Metal, tries to paganise the scene and fights non-pagan bands.

Not all bands resort to satanic or anti-Christian symbolism. For many, Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy serves as a source of inspiration, which also applies to bands inspired by satanic ( e.g. Destroyer - Or About How to Philosophize with the Hammer and Twilight of the Idols (In Conspiracy with Satan) by Gorgoroth, both named after Nietzsches Twilight of the Idols or How to Philosophize with a Hammer ). Some bands play music that meets the typical criteria, but by no means assign themselves to satanic or occult directions in terms of content; their categorization as black metal bands is therefore a contentious issue. For bands that are assigned to Black Metal, a religious background is to be seen as a general rule.

An important characteristic is a certain elitism , as one sees oneself as superior to the general mass. Some bands like Satyricon or Gorgoroth sometimes advocate social Darwinist ideas in their texts and statements . King ov Hell (former bass player of Gorgoroth) said on behalf of his band that man must fulfill himself at all costs, even if this requires murder.

Black Metal sees itself as underground music that is not suitable for the masses and at the same time an attitude towards life for like-minded people. A code of "Trueness" was created as an expression of this delimiting identity. The "trueness" of a black metaller represents the degree of ideological authenticity . In fact, the code of "trueness" in black metal is far more rigid and pronounced than in other metal styles, which is why this code was the victim of many satires within and outside the scene.

From the point of view of the social scientist Martin Langebach , Black Metal is primarily a "cultural form of expression for a culture-critical to - pessimistic view of society, which denounces the destruction of nature as well as the power of the Church, despises its humanism and collectivism and capitalism with its trends and fashions" . Black Metal constitutively counteracts this with “radical nihilism and individualism ”. However, Black Metal supporters also glorify the oppression emanating from the Inquisition or totalitarian regimes. Benjamin Hedge Olson, who wrote his master's thesis on diversity, mysticism and identity in black metal, sees in this a conflict between radical individualism and group identity with the attempt to accept both poles simultaneously, and a criticism of modern rationalism and secularism . Ultimately, there are also Black Metallers who fundamentally reject the idea of ​​a “scene”, as this would contradict the basic individualistic idea of ​​Black Metal and force the individual to adapt and conformation. Aaron Patrick Mulvany also writes in his master's thesis that Black Metal cannot generally be defined as a scene if such a scene is defined by its geographical area and a community by its membership; In the north-east of the United States, for example, there is a strong community, but hardly any bands and gigs, and thus no music scene. The metal underground is described in a study by Thomas Gencarelli as global and networked through various media; in a community in which there are sometimes no live performances, recordings and other communication channels are of central importance.

The extreme ideology and symbolism ensure, on the one hand, that the hard core of the black metal scene will never achieve mass compatibility, on the other hand, in many ways, they also attract young people, who find a way to rebel against their environment and their parents .


Despite the widespread definition by the lyrics, a statement about the nature of the music is also made by supporters and the media; However, this mostly refers to the style of Scandinavian bands and therefore does not include the other varieties. Black Metal is often perceived as mere cacophony by outsiders due to many deliberate dissonances . The characterization of the music as monotonous does not necessarily apply: Dark Funeral, for example, plays at a consistently high tempo and is often referred to as monotonous, but guitarist Micke “Lord Ahriman” Svanberg argues that “the devil is in the details” he wrapped the “extreme aggression in an extremely melodic way”, which reinforced both elements. Burzum's Hvis lyset tar oss, on the other hand, is deliberately monotonous throughout, without tempo and with only a few riff variations. In contrast to, for example, technical death metal or progressive metal , musical ability in black metal is less important than the atmosphere.

The singing in Black Metal is often used as a primary identification feature. It usually consists of croaking or screaming, as opposed to the deep growls of Death Metal. Plain singing is occasionally used, mostly in connection with acoustic passages. Clear female singing is usually rejected, sometimes in connection with sexist statements. Women in the scene are rather rare and bands with an all-female line-up, such as Ebonsight (Turkey) or Astarte (Greece), are exceptions.

Fast, extremely distorted guitar playing has been common for Black Metal since its invention. To differentiate it from Death Metal, the guitars are hardly or not at all tuned lower. The intentional monotony of many pieces is intended to create hypnotic atmospheres; many followers see music as a way to a deeper spiritual experience. Accordingly, there is the view that Black Metal must "be heard alone, in peace, without distraction, as a kind of meditation, concentration on the essentials, darkening of the soul, decline and fall, madness and death".

The riffs of the guitars are generally relatively simple; the focus is rather on repeating them often, which is not infrequently also used to create hypnotic passages. A good example is the song Jesu død (in the German pressing of the album Jesus' Tod [sic!] ) By Burzum, in which the same riff is repeated over and over again and accompanied by fast, repetitive drumming. Even with bands like VON and Ildjarn or on Darkthrone's albums Under a Funeral Moon and Transilvanian Hunger , the songs are based on the constant repetition of the same, often simple, riffs, sometimes varied and often accompanied by fast drumming. In contrast to other styles of metal, not only power chords are used in black metal , but often dissonant intervals and chords as well. Due to the extreme adjustment possibilities of the distortion of the electroacoustic guitar amplifiers, a noise is created that defines the atonal guitar sound that is style-defining in Black Metal. An example is The Loss and Curse of Reverence by Emperor, in which the melodies and chords of the guitars are often difficult or impossible to hear.

In terms of harmony , black metal bands often turn away from the classic cadence model. Very often dissonances are used, which are achieved by shifting the riffs to a chromatic or dissonant tone level. For example, the main riff of the song Beast of Prey by Marduk consists of power chords on the chromatic tones F sharp, G sharp and G sharp, the triads of which have no tonal relationship to each other, it is similar with Dark Funeral . The main riff of Enriched by Evil consists of the chords Dm, A # m and C # m, which also have no tonal connection, but give the music the typical dark melodic component. Overall, Black Metal contains very strong atonal elements, although classical models for melody and harmony are often used for solo passages and keyboard arrangements; the songs on Nagelfar's megalithic grave in autumn, for example, are composed in various minor scales. Deathspell Omega uses the chromatic scale at the beginning of the title song of their album Si monvmentvm reqvires, circvmspice , which gives the music its chaotic character, followed by arpeggios on the chords Aadd11 +, F # add11 +, C7M and G # 7M.

Guitar solos are a rare exception in the widespread Nordic Black Metal, many bands on the Norwegian scene and groups influenced by them, e.g. B. in Germany or Poland, completely renounced it. A short solo can be found u. a. on the song War on Burzum's debut album . In the South American scenes influenced by the first wave of Black Metal, there are dissonant solos influenced by early Bathory and Celtic Frost . T. were generated with the tremolo arm of the guitar. Solos based on classical harmonies and traditional playing styles may be used. a. played by Dissection or representatives from Greece.

Drums and guitar are not infrequently played at very high speed, but there are also numerous Black Metal pieces with a rather normal or even slow tempo and numerous changes; Examples include Quintessence (slow tempo) or Kathaarian Life Code (frequent tempo changes) by Darkthrone.

The drums are usually played at high speed, with double bass and blast beats dominating; a constant rhythm is also not uncommon. An example of this is the song Transilvanian Hunger Darkthrone, in which a kind of blast beat in 4 / 4 -Stroke in which the bass drum is played through and with each of their plots hi-hat and snare drum alternate maintained over the entire song becomes.

In Nordic Black Metal, the bass plays a cautious role, often follows the guitar run and is often barely or not at all audible. In Greek Black Metal and in bands like Barathrum, however, it plays a dominant role.

The production, which is often deliberately left very raw, is also characteristic. Numerous classics of Norwegian Black Metal (among others by Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor, Gorgoroth, Immortal and Enslaved) were made in Eirik “Pytten” Hundvins Grieghallen Lydstudio and have a thin production.

The sound of Swedish black metal bands, on the other hand, is often clearer. Well-known Swedish producers are Tore “Necromorbus” Stjerna (Chaos Omen, Zavorash, Ex-Necromorbus, Ex- Funeral Mist , Ex- Corpus Christii , Ex- Ofermod , ex-guest musicians at Watain , Averse Sefira and In Aeternum ), Dan Swanö and Peter Tagtgren ( The Abyss , Ex- War ).

While Norwegian Black Metal can usually be clearly differentiated from Death Metal, in contrast to this, for example in Dissection, Death and Nordic Black Metal elements can be heard. Likewise, newer bands such as Ofermod, Watain or Ondskapt combine style elements from both scenes. Bands like Blasphemy , Bestial Warlust and Impiety, on the other hand, are representatives of a chaotic style influenced by Grindcore , which some of its representatives and publications also refer to as "War Metal" or "War Black Metal".

The more bass-heavy style of the Greek bands, which is mainly influenced by Rotting Christ , Necromantia and Varathron , also differs greatly from the Nordic; it is typically based on deep heavy metal riffs, which are often played slowly, combined with a dark singing voice (and sometimes whispered passages) and often a characteristic keyboard sound, which together should create a dark atmosphere. The Greek sound was also shaped by Sakis “Necromayhem” Tolis and Magus Wampyr Daoloth , who both worked for Rotting Christ and Thou Art Lord , among others , in the Storm studio.

Another style variation is the combination of Black and Doom Metal . Early representatives of this style are Barathrum and Unholy ; The early works of the band Bethlehem also correspond stylistically to this hybrid form, but they do not refer to Satanism and are therefore assigned to Dark Metal. Well-known newer representatives of Black Doom are the Funeral Doom- influenced project Nortt from Denmark, the Norwegian group Faustcoven and the Swedish Head of the Demon . The forms of Black Doom range from references to early Celtic Frost and Black Sabbath in groups such as Faustcoven and Head of the Deamon to adaptations of Funeral Doom and Death Industrial in artists such as Nortt and Goatpsalm .

The atmospheric use of keyboards outside of intros or outros was unusual in the 1980s; only Bathory used rare keyboard passages. Discreet keyboards by Carpathian Forest , Burzum and Emperor ( only a few on their demo recording Wrath of the Tyrant , stronger from the first EP Emperor and especially on their debut In the Nightside Eclipse ) from Norway, in Greek Black Metal and in Germany were introduced early on used by the Baxaxaxa project. While heavy keyboard use in particular is frowned upon in the underground, this is mainly used in the "mainstream" to create and underline certain atmospheres due to its timbre that deviates from the standard that is typical of the genre. In Limbonic Art , the keyboard plays a key role in leading the melody. In general, the allocation of symphonic and keyboard-heavy bands to Black Metal is a controversial topic. In the border area to Viking or Pagan Metal , traditional instruments, especially woodwind instruments, are occasionally added.

A steadily growing proportion of the “progressive” Black Metallers try to combine elements of music with other musical styles. Emperor was followed by the Peccatum project , which meanwhile renounces black metal almost entirely and uses a mixture of neo-classical and jazz with “hard” elements , and the Italian group Ephel Duath , which mixes jazz with hard metal.

There is also overlap with parts of the industrial scene. Early black metal albums feature instrumental intros and outros that tend towards ambient and industrial (the outro to Forest of N'Gai by Rotting Christ is even taken directly from Zero Kama ), and on bands like Abruptum, experiments with elements of death industrial. Industrial projects from the black metal environment such as Moëvöt, Aäkon Këëtrëh and Darkness Enshroud have existed since the 1990s. Blood Axis musician Michael Moynihan is also likely to be largely responsible for the mutual interest, as he, like Varg Vikernes, published in Filosofem magazine and spoke to numerous black metal musicians for his book Lords of Chaos . Some bands mix Black Metal with Dark Ambient and Noise , even those who say they don't hear any industrial themselves. An early example of the mixing of Black Metal with Dark Ambient is Burzum's album Filosofem , other representatives include Xasthur , Blut aus Nord , Vinterriket , Darkspace and Striborg . These black metal / ambient “hybrids” can be more nature-oriented like Vinterriket or “astral” like Darkspace. But the result can fluctuate between a disturbing, industrial-heavy sound and a black-metal-heavy direction, even with the same band. Musicians like Mikko Aspa and Nordvargr, in turn, are active in several well-known projects in both scenes.

The introduction of ambient elements into Black Metal is at times attributed to influences from German electronic musicians such as Klaus Schulze or Conrad Schnitzler . Mayhem used the Schnitzler composition Silvester Anfang as an intro on their demo Deathcrush ; Mayhem guitarist Øystein Aarseth had previously visited Schnitzler in Berlin and received personal permission to use this piece. Another direct example is the Fenriz project Neptune Towers , which directly refers to Klaus Schulze and his former band Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk as role models.

A connection between black metal and industrial rock / metal influences has existed since the beginning of the 1990s through bands such as Mysticum from Norway or the multinational side project Diabolos Rising by Mika Luttinen (Impaled Nazarene) and Magus Wampyr Daoloth (Necromantia).

A more recent development is the mixing of black metal and post rock or shoegazing elements by bands like Alcest , Wolves in the Throne Room and Caïna .

With regard to external influences, the black metal scene is much more rigid in its ideas of “purity” than the traditional metal scene. Bands that "try to seem innovative or original for the devil instead of just being honest" and that classify themselves as Black Metal are often rejected for precisely that reason. However, there is also a discussion going on within the scene. While one party rushes against any deviation, the other criticizes that the rejection of development is "exactly the opposite of what Black Metal originally was"; After all, albums like Mayhem's debut De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas , which the scene referred to, were also “something […] revolutionary and new, something that has never existed before.” Innovation is “even inevitable if the genre doesn't like it z. B. Punk or Rock'n'Roll wants to suffocate on themselves. ”Forced by those differences of opinion, alternative names such as dark metal emerged for bands that combine black metal elements with foreign influences . These include a. Bands like Cradle of Filth , Dimmu Borgir , Agathodaimon , Bethlehem , Eisregen , Mystic Circle and Nocte Obducta .


Typical stage outfit for many Black Metal groups (here King ov Hell, Ex- Gorgoroth ): black clothing, corpse paint, cartridge belts and rivets
Erik Danielsson from Watain with torn clothes and covered in blood

Image and appearance play a relatively large role in the scene. Due to the satanic background, a gloomy, partly intentionally deterrent appearance was chosen, which is illustrated by black (leather) clothing, rivet jewelry and cartridge belts; the mostly long hair is often dyed black. Accessories such as rodent feet and St. Peter's crosses are common, as is posing with medieval weapons such as swords, axes or spiked clubs.

Often musicians, less often fans, have a corpse paint (or warpaint), mostly black-and-white face painting. Due to the colors used, an analogy to the hard rock band Kiss is often made. That this derivation is wrong can already be seen in the differences in the style of painting and the motifs used. Occasionally the Black Metallers also use art - or real blood - to make up . Face paint is usually used only on promo pictures and live bands, if they appear at all; many black metal bands generally do not perform, regardless of whether they are one or two-man projects or not; when they perform, they hire guest musicians . Some members of the scene are of the opinion that Black Metal "[g] enerell [...] does not belong on the stage" and must "be heard alone".

As a rule, the musicians and other active members of the scene use pseudonyms , which are often associated with denominations or predicates of power or nobility . These are intended to underline the music and ideology (Infernus) and often find their origin in Jewish or Christian demonology ( Baron von Abaddon , Legion), Nordic ( Fenriz ), Greek (e.g. Zephyrous), Babylonian / Sumerian or other non- Christian mythology or in the books of JRR Tolkien ( Count Grishnackh , Shagrath ).

Graphic design

Black metal bands, like representatives of death metal, often use elaborately designed logos as trademarks. As with Burzum, this can vary from a simple line in broken script to elaborately designed calligraphic drawings. Often the band name is intentionally illegible. In contrast to the logos in Death Metal, symbols such as pentagrams, inverted crosses and other satanic symbols, as well as weapons of war such as machine guns, swords, morning stars and clubs are increasingly being used in Black Metal. The bands Ondskapt and Katharsis use demon figures in their logos.

Pagan metal bands use pagan symbols accordingly, and NSBM has Nazi symbolism . At Graveland , there was initially an inverted cross in the logo. When the thematic focus of the group changed in favor of Neopaganism, the cross was replaced by a Thor's hammer.

A well-known logo artist is Christophe Szpajdel , who has more than 7000 band logos, u. a. designed for Venom and Emperor .


Even within the metal subculture itself, Black Metal "enjoys" a dubious reputation. However, the type of ethics to which this criticism falls has no relevance in the eyes of those attacked. From the point of view of its critics, the ideas that are conveyed through the texts and statements in interviews and scene publications appear extreme and strange; Black metallers often seem strange people, even from the point of view of other metallers. It is important to note that the ideology explained above does not necessarily apply to every scene-goer. Some accept the ideas conveyed only to a certain extent, many fans make a difference between the attitudes and the music of those bands; While on the one hand they appreciate the artistic work of these groups, they exclude the rest of these personalities and thus also tolerate NSBM bands. On the other hand, NSBM bands and the like are often boycotted completely.

A main point of attack is often that many black metal bands deal in their texts and their statements with topics such as war, National Socialism, racism and generally all kinds of killing in an apparently inflationary and carefree and unreflective manner. Even if this is not done out of conviction, but “only” out of provocation, the explosive nature of these issues is played down by them in a dangerous way. The band Marduk is often accused of glorifying war, which they only half-heartedly try to deny.

Corresponding statements were partly made by the " celebrities " of the scene. The Norwegian Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg (including Mayhem, Arcturus , Dimmu Borgir) often announced that Black Metal was “something for whites” and demanded “that Norway should become a country free of foreigners”; he did not like foreigners, and Norway should “be inhabited by only one race again. The mixing of different races "only creates problems". Such statements are also known from members of other bands such as Darkthrone, Emperor or Satyricon, who are considered "scene icons", which were made in the 1990s. For example, an interview with Graveland was published in the metal magazine Legacy under the heading Polish pride , in which clearly nationalist and racist statements were used. Individual musicians in particular make the existence of this problem clear; While it used to be the radical right-wing Varg Vikernes , for example Gorgoroth's ex-singer Gaahl, who was involved in several crimes, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and a fine of 190,000 Norwegian kroner in May 2004 after he beat a man had and is supposed to have threatened afterwards; Gaahl himself portrays his act as self-defense. In view of the fact that scandals are regularly heard not only from his band and that many musicians resort to increasingly extreme self-portrayals, many of the Black Metallers are said to have a clouded view of reality.

However, Black Metal fans in particular are aware of this criticism and strongly oppose it. Once dubious claims by Emperor and Darkthrone members have been denied for years, the prevailing attitude towards the Black Metal philosophy is that it must remain apolitical.




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  38. ^ "Euronymous, his band Mayhem and other key figures in the scene would transform Venom's quasi-Satanic stage theatrics into a form of cultural expression unique from other forms of metal or Satanism. The early Nordic scene often suggested that they had no interest in making the world a better place or alleviating suffering; on the contrary, they asserted a desire to increase human suffering. Euronymous was the central figure involved in the formation of the Norwegian black metal scene. He established the look, sound and philosophy of the Norwegian scene and black metal as it exists today would not have existed without Euronymous. "Benjamin Hedge Olson: I am the Black Wizards: Multiplicity, Mysticism and Identity in Black Metal Music and Culture . (PDF) Bowling Green State University, May 2008, p. 27.
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  122. a b c d “Some people try to seem innovative or original like hell instead of just being honest. If these troops had enough sensitivity to delete the "black" from their genre names, that would leave me cold. Just take all those NSBMs who praise the Third Reich and seem to have forgotten that Hitler himself wrote in “Mein Kampf” that the Aryan race was chosen by the Christian God above all other races. How can you connect this statement about God's soldiers with a satanic belief? In my eyes, the term "NSBM" stands for nothing more than "Non-Satanic Black Metal" (non-Satanic Black Metal). The entire music should be formed from the satanic beliefs of the band members, not from a tree-hugging hippie ideology. ”Professor Depressor: NSBM = Non Satanic Black Metal . In: A-Blaze , No. 4, p. 64.
  123. ^ A b "Black / Death Metal is about destruction, madness, and abominations, not about humanistic ideals like mercy and the preservation of human lives [...]. The purpose of Black Metal is a "sacred" mission. Warfare. We all are the legions. […] I am not interested in Paganism, nor its rebirth, whatever the alleged roots of some Satanic rituals or images might be. KATHARSIS - just as every real Black / Death Metal band - is also no fun act, singing about and stuff just for the show. […] Moreover, everybody who really believes in those stupid "14 words" meaning, belongs into the oven, too. Exist to destroy, not vice versa. Praise Death! [...] I don't give a fuck for political radicalism in metal, eg the (pseudo-) pagan racial nationalisms, or other philanthropic shit. I'm not really interested in "secular" politics as such [...]. Some might say that "everything" is politics, confusing the old Greek meaning of the term with the usual modern concept. But if we admit that a mockery of and hostility against human civilization / culture and its religious aspects has political implications, KATHARSIS as well might have a “political” message. Anyway, the emphasis in Black Metal […] is on the spiritual not the mundane and ordinary. "Ronald: Katharsis . In: Horrible Eyes , No. 3.
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