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Black metal is an extreme
Extreme metal
Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound nearly always associated with genres like black metal,...

 subgenre of heavy metal music
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

. Common traits include fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking
Tremolo picking
Tremolo picking, also known as alternate picking or double picking, describes the musical technique of picking on a guitar or other string instrument in which a single note is played repeatedly in quick succession. It can be achieved either with the fingers or with a pick...

, blast beat
Blast beat
A blast beat is a drum beat often associated with extreme metal and grindcore, although its usage predates the genres, and is utilised by many different styles of metal...

 drumming, raw
Lo-fi music
Lo-fi is lower quality of sound recordings than the usual standard for music. The qualities of lo-fi are usually achieved by either degrading the quality of the recorded audio, or using certain equipment. Recent uses of the phrase have led to it becoming a genre, although it still remains as an...

 recording, and unconventional song structure.

During the 1980s, several thrash metal
Thrash metal
Thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that is characterized usually by its fast tempo and aggression. Songs of the genre typically use fast percussive and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work...

 bands formed a prototype for black metal. This so-called "first wave" included bands such as Venom
Venom (band)
Venom are an English heavy metal band that formed in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell and Black Metal —are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general...

, Bathory
Bathory (band)
Bathory was a Swedish heavy metal band, formed by Quorthon in 1983. They are regarded as pioneers of both black metal and viking metal. Quorthon remained the main songwriter and member of Bathory for more than two decades. Bathory was permanently ended after Quorthon's death in 2004...

, Hellhammer
Hellhammer
Hellhammer was an influential extreme metal band from Switzerland, active during 1982–1984. They are regarded as being one of the first extreme metal bands and are a key influence on later black metal and death metal bands.-Biography:...

 and Celtic Frost
Celtic Frost
Celtic Frost was a metal band from Zürich, Switzerland. They are known for their heavy influence on the extreme metal genres. The group was first active from 1984 to 1993, and re-formed in 2001. Following Tom Gabriel Fischer's departure in 2008, Celtic Frost decided to break up again...

. A "second wave" arose in the early 1990s, spearheaded by Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 bands such as Mayhem
Mayhem (band)
Mayhem is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo, Norway and regarded as one of the pioneers of the influential Norwegian black metal scene...

, Burzum
Burzum
Burzum is a musical project by Varg Vikernes . It began during 1991 in Bergen, Norway and quickly became prominent within the early Norwegian black metal scene...

, Darkthrone
Darkthrone
Darkthrone is a Norwegian black metal band. They formed in 1987 as a death metal band, but after embracing the black metal style in 1991, they became a driving force in the Norwegian black metal scene. For most of this period Darkthrone has consisted of just two musicians, Nocturno Culto and...

, Immortal
Immortal (band)
Immortal is a black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1990 by current frontman/guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta and former guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta...

 and Emperor
Emperor (band)
Emperor was a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited in 2006 and again in 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours. The group was founded by Samoth and Ihsahn .-Biography:...

. The music of the early Norwegian black metal scene became a distinct genre.

Black metal has often been met with hostility from mainstream culture, mainly due to the misanthropic
Misanthropy
Misanthropy is generalized dislike, distrust, disgust, contempt or hatred of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings...

 and anti-Christian standpoint of many artists. Moreover, several of the genre's pioneers have been linked with church burnings and murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

. For these reasons and others, black metal is usually seen as an underground
Underground music
Underground music comprises a range of different musical genres that operate outside of mainstream culture. Such music can typically share common values, such as the valuing of sincerity and intimacy; an emphasis on freedom of creative expression; an appreciation of artistic creativity...

 form of music. Additionally some have been linked to neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

, however many black metal fans and most prominent black metal musicians reject Nazi ideology and oppose its influence on the black metal subculture.

Instrumentation


Black metal guitarists usually favor high-pitched guitar tones and a great deal of distortion
Distortion (guitar)
Distortion effects create "warm", "dirty" and "fuzzy" sounds by compressing the peaks of a musical instrument's sound wave and adding overtones. The three principal types of distortion effects are overdrive, distortion and fuzz. Distortion effects are sometimes called “gain” effects, as distorted...

. The guitar is usually played with much use of fast tremolo picking
Tremolo picking
Tremolo picking, also known as alternate picking or double picking, describes the musical technique of picking on a guitar or other string instrument in which a single note is played repeatedly in quick succession. It can be achieved either with the fingers or with a pick...

 and dissonance
Consonance and dissonance
In music, a consonance is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable, as opposed to a dissonance , which is considered to be unstable...

. Guitarists often use specific scales
Musical scale
In music, a scale is a sequence of musical notes in ascending and descending order. Most commonly, especially in the context of the common practice period, the notes of a scale will belong to a single key, thus providing material for or being used to conveniently represent part or all of a musical...

, intervals
Interval (music)
In music theory, an interval is a combination of two notes, or the ratio between their frequencies. Two-note combinations are also called dyads...

 and chord progressions
Guitar chord
In music, a guitar chord is a chord, or collection of tones usually sounded together at once, played on a guitar. It can be composed of notes played on adjacent or separate strings or all the strings together...

 designed to yield what they consider the most fear-inducing and foreboding sounds. Guitar solo
Guitar solo
In popular music, a guitar solo is a melodic passage, section, or entire piece of music written for an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. Guitar solos, which often contain varying degrees of improvisation, are used in many styles of popular music such as blues, jazz, rock and metal styles such...

s and low guitar tunings
Guitar tunings
Guitar tunings almost always refers to the pitch of the open string, though some tunings may only realistically be attained by the use of a capo on an unmodified instrument....

 are rare in black metal.

The bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

 is seldom used to play stand-alone melodies. It is not uncommon for the bass guitar to be minimal or difficult to hear, or to homophonically
Homophony
In music, homophony is a texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords. This is distinct from polyphony, in which parts move with rhythmic independence, and monophony, in which all parts move in parallel rhythm and pitch. A homophonic...

 follow the bass lines of the guitar. Typically, drumming
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

 is fast-paced and uses double-bass
Heel-Toe Technique
Heel-toe technique is a method of playing double strokes on the bass drum, hi-hat, or other pedals. More recently, this method has been used in the World's Fastest Drummer competition to set speed records.-Description:...

 and/or blast beat
Blast beat
A blast beat is a drum beat often associated with extreme metal and grindcore, although its usage predates the genres, and is utilised by many different styles of metal...

s.

Black metal songs often stray from conventional song structure
Song structure (popular music)
The structures or musical forms of songs in popular music are typically sectional, repeating forms, such as strophic form. Other common forms include thirty-two-bar form, verse-chorus form, and the twelve bar blues...

 and often lack clear verse-chorus sections. Instead, many black metal songs contain lengthy and repetitive instrumental sections.

Vocals and lyrics


Traditional or "purist" black metal bands usually use high-pitched and raspy vocals which include shrieking, screaming and snarling. This vocal style was influenced by Quorthon
Quorthon
Tomas Forsberg, better known as "Quorthon" , was a multi-instrumentalist and the founder and songwriter of the pioneering Swedish black metal band Bathory. He is also credited with creating the Viking metal genre...

 of Bathory, and is one of the traits that distinguishes traditional black metal vocals from those of death metal
Death metal
Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It typically employs heavily distorted guitars, tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, minor keys or atonality, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes....

, which usually uses low-pitched growls
Death growl
A death growl, also known as death metal vocals, guttural vocals, death grunts, and harsh vocals among other names, is a vocalisation style usually employed by vocalists of the death metal and black metal music genre, but also used in a variety of heavy metal and hardcore punk subgenres.Death...

.

Black metal was originally used as a term for extreme metal bands with Satanic lyrics; today, the most common and founding lyrical theme is opposition to Christianity and other organized religions. As part of this, many artists write lyrics that could be seen to promote atheism
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, antitheism
Antitheism
Antitheism is active opposition to theism. The etymological roots of the word are the Greek 'anti-' and 'theismos'...

, paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 or Satanism
Satanism
Satanism is a group of religions that is composed of a diverse number of ideological and philosophical beliefs and social phenomena. Their shared feature include symbolic association with, admiration for the character of, and even veneration of Satan or similar rebellious, promethean, and...

. The hostility of many secular or pagan artists is in some way linked to the Christianization
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 of their countries. Other oft-explored themes are depression
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

, nihilism
Nihilism
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

, misanthropy, death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 and other dark topics. However, over time, many artists have begun to focus more on topics like the seasons (particularly winter
Winter
Winter is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.-Meteorology:...

), nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

, mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

, folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

, philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

. One of the more notable sources of inspiration is The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

by J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

.

For more information about black metal lyrics, see the ideology section below.

Production


Low-cost production quality was typical for early black metal artists with low budgets, where recordings would often take place in the home or in basements. However, even when they were able to raise their production quality, many artists chose to keep making low fidelity
Low fidelity
Low fidelity or lo-fi describes a sound recording which contains technical flaws such as distortion, hum, or background noise, or limited frequency response...

 (lo-fi) recordings. The reason for this was to stay true to the genre's underground roots and to make the music sound more "raw" and "cold". One of the better-known examples of this is the album Transilvanian Hunger
Transilvanian Hunger
Transilvanian Hunger is the fourth studio album by Norwegian black metal band Darkthrone, released in 1994 through Peaceville Records. It was the band's first album to be recorded with just two members, Nocturno Culto and Fenriz, following the departure of Zephyrous...

by Darkthrone
Darkthrone
Darkthrone is a Norwegian black metal band. They formed in 1987 as a death metal band, but after embracing the black metal style in 1991, they became a driving force in the Norwegian black metal scene. For most of this period Darkthrone has consisted of just two musicians, Nocturno Culto and...

 – a band that has been said to "represent the DIY aspect
DIY ethic
The DIY ethic refers to the ethic of self-sufficiency through completing tasks oneself as opposed to having others who are more experienced or able complete them for one's behalf. It promotes the idea that an ordinary person can learn to do more than he or she thought was possible...

 of black metal" by Johnathan Selzer of Terrorizer magazine. Many have claimed that, originally, black metal was not meant to attract a big audience. Vocalist Gaahl
Gaahl
Kristian Eivind Espedal , better known by his stage name Gaahl, is a Norwegian vocalist, best known as the former frontman of Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth. He is also the founder and frontman of Trelldom and Gaahlskagg...

 said that during its early years, "black metal was never meant to reach an audience, it was purely for our own satisfaction".

Imagery and performances


Unlike artists of other genres, many black metal artists do not perform concerts. Bands that choose to perform concerts often make use of stage props and theatrics. Mayhem
Mayhem (band)
Mayhem is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo, Norway and regarded as one of the pioneers of the influential Norwegian black metal scene...

 and Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth is a Norwegian black metal band based in Bergen. Formed in 1992 by Infernus , the band is named after the dead plateau of evil and darkness in the land of Mordor from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The group is currently signed to Regain Records and have released...

 among other bands are noted for their controversial shows; which have featured impaled animal heads, mock crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

s, medieval weaponry, and band members doused in animal blood.

Black metal artists often appear dressed in black with combat boot
Combat boot
Combat boots are military boots designed to be worn by soldiers during actual combat or combat training as opposed to during parades and other ceremonial duties. Modern combat boots are designed to provide a combination of grip, ankle stability, and foot protection suitable to a rugged environment....

s, bullet belts, spiked wristbands, and inverted crosses
Cross of St. Peter
The Cross of St. Peter or Petrine Cross is an inverted Latin cross traditionally used as a Christian symbol, but in recent times also used widely as an anti-Christ symbol .-In Christianity:The origin of this symbol comes from the Catholic tradition that Simon Peter was crucified upside...

/pentagrams
Sigil of Baphomet
The Sigil of Baphomet is the official insignium of the Church of Satan. It is also a symbol that is used by several other organizations, usually those associated with Satanism and the Left-Hand Path....

 to reinforce their anti-Christian or anti-religious stance. However, the most stand-out trait is their use of corpse paint
Corpse paint
Corpse paint or corpsepaint is a style of black-and-white makeup, used mainly by black metal bands during live concerts and photo shoots. The makeup is used to intensify the bands' imagery of evil, inhumanity, and corpse-like decay. It is most commonly used just on the face, but also on arms and...

 – black and white makeup (sometimes mixed with real or fake blood), which is used to create a corpse-like appearance.

In the early 1990s, most pioneering black metal artists used simple black-and-white
Black-and-white
Black-and-white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, is a term referring to a number of monochrome forms in visual arts.Black-and-white as a description is also something of a misnomer, for in addition to black and white, most of these media included varying shades of gray...

 pictures or writing on their record covers. This could have been meant as a reaction against death metal bands, who at that time had begun to use brightly-colored album artwork. Most underground black metal artists have continued this style. In the main, black metal album covers are usually atmospheric or provocative; some feature natural or fantasy landscapes (for example Burzum
Burzum
Burzum is a musical project by Varg Vikernes . It began during 1991 in Bergen, Norway and quickly became prominent within the early Norwegian black metal scene...

's Filosofem
Filosofem
Filosofem is the fifth release by the Norwegian black metal artist Burzum. It was recorded in March 1993 and was the last recording before Varg Vikernes' imprisonment. However, the album was not released until January 1996....

and Emperor
Emperor (band)
Emperor was a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited in 2006 and again in 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours. The group was founded by Samoth and Ihsahn .-Biography:...

's In the Nightside Eclipse
In the Nightside Eclipse
In the Nightside Eclipse is the first full-length album and fourth official release by Norwegian black metal band Emperor. It features one of Emperor's best-known songs, "I Am the Black Wizards". It was recorded in July, 1993 at Grieghallen and released in 1994 by Candlelight Records. The cover was...

) while others are violent, perverted and iconoclastic (for example Marduk
Marduk (band)
Marduk is a black metal band from Norrköping, Sweden. The band formed in 1990 and released their first record in 1991. Their name is derived from the Babylonian god Marduk, patron deity of Babylon.-Musical style:...

's Fuck Me Jesus
Fuck me Jesus
Fuck Me Jesus is the first demo by Swedish black metal band Marduk. It was recorded and mixed at Gorysound Studios, and released in June 1991....

and Dimmu Borgir
Dimmu Borgir
Dimmu Borgir is a Norwegian black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. Dimmu borgir means "dark cities" or "dark castles/fortresses" in Icelandic, Faroese and Old Norse. The name is derived from a volcanic formation in Iceland, Dimmuborgir...

’s In Sorte Diaboli
In Sorte Diaboli
In Sorte Diaboli is Norwegian symphonic black metal band Dimmu Borgir's eighth studio album, released in 2007. It is the band's first concept album. A site on the Nuclear Blast website was created for In Sorte Diaboli, in which a new promotional photo can be seen and an audio sample can be heard...

).

First wave


The first wave of black metal refers to those bands during the 1980s who influenced the black metal sound and formed a prototype for the genre. They were often speed metal
Speed metal
Speed metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music that originated in the late 1970s from NWOBHM and hardcore punk roots. It is described by Allmusic as "extremely fast, abrasive, and technically demanding" music....

 or thrash metal
Thrash metal
Thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that is characterized usually by its fast tempo and aggression. Songs of the genre typically use fast percussive and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work...

 bands.


The term black metal was coined by the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 band Venom
Venom (band)
Venom are an English heavy metal band that formed in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell and Black Metal —are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general...

 with their second album Black Metal
Black Metal (album)
Black Metal is the second album by the English band Venom. It was released in November 1982 and is considered a major influence on the thrash metal, death metal and black metal scenes that emerged in the 1980s and early 1990s. Although lending its name to the latter genre, today the album is often...

(1982). Although deemed thrash metal rather than black metal by today's standards, the album's lyrics and imagery focused more on anti-Christian and Satanic themes than any before it. Their music was fast, unpolished in production and with raspy or grunted vocals. Venom's members also adopted pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

s, a practice that would become widespread among black metal musicians.

Another major influence on black metal was the Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 band Bathory
Bathory (band)
Bathory was a Swedish heavy metal band, formed by Quorthon in 1983. They are regarded as pioneers of both black metal and viking metal. Quorthon remained the main songwriter and member of Bathory for more than two decades. Bathory was permanently ended after Quorthon's death in 2004...

, led by Thomas Forsberg (under the pseudonym Quorthon
Quorthon
Tomas Forsberg, better known as "Quorthon" , was a multi-instrumentalist and the founder and songwriter of the pioneering Swedish black metal band Bathory. He is also credited with creating the Viking metal genre...

. Not only was Bathory's music fast, lo-fi and anti-Christian, Quorthon was also the first to use the "shrieked" vocals that came to define black metal. The band played in this style on their first four albums: Bathory
Bathory (album)
Bathory is the debut album of the Swedish band Bathory. It is considered one of the first recorded examples that defined the black metal style....

(1984), The Return of Darkness and Evil (1985), Under the Sign of the Black Mark
Under the Sign of the Black Mark
Under the Sign of the Black Mark is the third album by Bathory. It had a major influence on the black metal genre, specifically the Norwegian black metal scene that emerged in the early 1990s. The song "Woman of Dark Desires" is a tribute to the band's namesake, Elizabeth Báthory, and has become...

(1987) and Blood Fire Death
Blood Fire Death
Blood Fire Death is the fourth album by the Swedish band Bathory. It was released in October 1988. The album, although mostly black metal, includes some of the first examples of Viking metal....

(1988). With Blood Fire Death and the two following albums Hammerheart
Hammerheart
Hammerheart is the fifth album released by Bathory. It continued Blood Fire Deaths transition away from black metal to what would become recognized as Viking metal, and is considered a cornerstone work of the genre.-Track listing:...

and Twilight of the Gods
Twilight of the Gods (album)
Twilight of the Gods is the sixth album by Bathory. It continues the exploration of the newly created Viking metal style, and also displays heavy Epic doom and classical influences; it is titled after an opera by Wagner, and the melody of "Hammerheart" is lifted from Gustav Holst's The Planets...

, Bathory pioneered the style that would become known as Viking metal
Viking metal
Viking metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its galloping pace, keyboard-rich anthemic sound, bleakness and dramatic emphasis on lyrical themes of Norse mythology, Norse paganism, and the Viking Age...

.

Other artists usually considered part of this movement include Hellhammer
Hellhammer
Hellhammer was an influential extreme metal band from Switzerland, active during 1982–1984. They are regarded as being one of the first extreme metal bands and are a key influence on later black metal and death metal bands.-Biography:...

 and Celtic Frost
Celtic Frost
Celtic Frost was a metal band from Zürich, Switzerland. They are known for their heavy influence on the extreme metal genres. The group was first active from 1984 to 1993, and re-formed in 2001. Following Tom Gabriel Fischer's departure in 2008, Celtic Frost decided to break up again...

 (from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

), Kreator
Kreator
Kreator is a thrash metal band from Essen, Germany, formed in 1978, but formalized in 1982 under the name Tormentor. They originally performed a speed metal style with Venom influences. Their style of music is similar to their compatriots Destruction and Sodom, the other two big German thrash metal...

, Sodom
Sodom (band)
Sodom is a German Thrash metal trio from Gelsenkirchen, formed in 1981.Along with the bands Kreator and Destruction, Sodom is considered one of the "big three" of Teutonic thrash metal...

 and Destruction
Destruction (band)
Destruction is a German thrash metal band. They are considered one of the "three kings" of the Teutonic thrash metal scene, the others being Kreator and Sodom...

 (from Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

), Bulldozer
Bulldozer (band)
Bulldozer is a speed/black metal band from Milan, Italy that was active from 1980 until 1990. They have reunited as of 2008.-Biography:Bulldozer formed in 1980 by bassist Dario Carria and guitarist Andy Panigada.They were joined by Erminio Galli on drums...

 and Death SS
Death SS
Death SS is an Italian heavy metal band.-Biography:Death SS was formed in 1977 by Steve Sylvester. The band combined elements of horror and heavy metal to become a pioneer in horror metal and gothic metal, as well as doom metal and black metal. Death SS were one of the first...

 (from Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, whose vocalist Steve Sylvester was a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis is an international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century...

.

By the time Bathory's Under the Sign of the Black Mark was released, the album was considered a death metal record. In the fifth issue of his Slayer fanzine, Metalion wrote that "the latest fad of Black/Satanic bands seems to be over", the tradition being continued by a few bands like Incubus and Morbid Angel
Morbid Angel
Morbid Angel is an American death metal band based in Tampa, Florida. UK music magazine Terrorizer ranked one Morbid Angel album in its “Top 40 greatest death metal albums”, with their 1989 debut Altars of Madness appearing at number 1...

 (from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

), Sabbat
Sabbat (band)
Sabbat are a thrash metal band from Nottingham, England, currently consisting of Martin Walkyier , Andy Sneap , Simon Jones , Gizz Butt and Simon Negus . Over the years Sabbat have released three studio albums, four demos, two split singles/compilation albums, two singles and a live VHS...

 (from Great Britain), Tormentor
Tormentor
Tormentor is a black metal band formed in 1986 in Budapest, Hungary. Tormentor was one of the first black metal bands using synthesisers to create a more atmospheric sound. They recorded their first album, Anno Domini, in 1988, but were unable to release it until the end of communism. The album...

 (from Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

) and Sarcófago
Sarcófago
Sarcófago was an influential Brazilian extreme metal band. They were fronted by Sepultura's original singer, Wagner Lamounier, and Geraldo Minelli. They have been described as Brazil's most controversial metal band....

 (from Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

).

In the years before the Norwegian black metal scene arose, important recordings were released by Root
Root (band)
Root is a Czech black metal band. It was one of the bands that sparked the increasing black metal movement in the Czech Republic. It was formed in 1987.-Current members:* Jiří "Big Boss" Valter - vocals...

 and Master's Hammer
Master's Hammer
Master's Hammer are a black metal band from the Czech Republic. They were founded in 1987 and produced several demos, before releasing their debut album Ritual in 1990...

 (from Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

), Von
Von (band)
Von was a First Wave black metal band from San Francisco, California, USA. They are thought to be the first American black metal band, and have strongly influenced the second wave of black metal.-Biography:...

 (from the United States), Blasphemy
Blasphemy (band)
Blasphemy are a black/death metal band formed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1984. The band released a demo titled Blood Upon the Altar in 1989 and their debut album, Fallen Angel of Doom, the following year through Wild Rags, a record label they had signed to while touring the United...

 (from Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

), Rotting Christ
Rotting Christ
Rotting Christ is a Greek black metal band formed in 1987. They are noted for being one of the first black metal bands within this region, as well as a premier act within the European underground metal scene.- Line-up :...

 (from Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

) and Samael
Samael (band)
Samael is a industrial black metal band formed in 1987 in Sion, Switzerland.-Biography:Although much of their music from the mid-1990s onwards has incorporated electronic sounds which would best define their genre as industrial metal, they are an early 2nd Wave black metal band and an innovator for...

 (from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

).

In Northern European countries, bands began to refer to these bands or the older ones from the first wave. In Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 this included Marduk
Marduk (band)
Marduk is a black metal band from Norrköping, Sweden. The band formed in 1990 and released their first record in 1991. Their name is derived from the Babylonian god Marduk, patron deity of Babylon.-Musical style:...

, Dissection
Dissection (band)
Dissection was a black metal band from Strömstad, Sweden. The band was formed in 1989, by Jon Nödtveidt. The band released its first EP in 1991. They disbanded in 2006, after Nödtveidt's suicide.- Band overview :...

, Nifelheim
Nifelheim
Nifelheim is a Swedish black metal band. The band was formed in 1990 by the twin brothers Erik and Per Gustavsson, under the stage names Tyrant and Hellbutcher...

 and Abruptum
Abruptum
Abruptum was a black metal and dark ambient band from Sweden formed in 1989 by IT , All , and Ext. IT had already planned to create the band in 1987, but it wasn't until 1990 that he found the right members to do it. The same year, they recorded their first two demos. After the release of the...

. In Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, there emerged a scene that mixed the black metal style with elements of death metal and grindcore
Grindcore
Grindcore is an extreme genre of music that started in the early- to mid-1980s. It draws inspiration from some of the most abrasive music genres – including death metal, industrial music, noise and the more extreme varieties of hardcore punk....

; this included Beherit
Beherit (band)
Beherit is a black metal band from Finland. The band was formed in 1989 by Nuclear Holocausto , Black Jesus and Sodomatic Slaughter , with the purpose of performing "the most primitive, savage, hell-obsessed black metal imaginable." "Beherit" is the Syriac word for Satan...

, Archgoat
Archgoat
Archgoat is a black metal group that formed in Finland in 1989. There are three band members: Angelslayer , Ritual Butcherer and Blood Desecrator . Their first demo, Jesus Spawn, was released in 1992...

 and Impaled Nazarene
Impaled Nazarene
Impaled Nazarene is a Finnish black metal band that incorporates elements of grindcore in their sound and punk rock in their aesthetics. The band is currently signed to Osmose Productions of France....

. Bands such as Demoncy
Demoncy
Demoncy is an American black metal band formed in 1989 by guitarist Ixithra . They are known for their sparse arrangements and ominous atmospheric chord progressions with emphasis on the interplay of rigidly structured harmonies against dissonant execution...

 and Profanatica
Profanatica
Profanatica is a black metal band from New York. They are among the American black metal bands to have emerged early during the Second Wave of black metal, and under the direction of Paul Ledney they have placed profound emphasis on blasphemous themes....

 emerged during this time in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. During this time, American and Swedish death metal were more popular among extreme metal fans.

Second wave



The second wave of black metal began in the early 1990s and was spearheaded by the Norwegian black metal scene. During 1990–1994 a number of Norwegian artists began performing and releasing a new kind of black metal music; this included Mayhem
Mayhem (band)
Mayhem is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo, Norway and regarded as one of the pioneers of the influential Norwegian black metal scene...

, Thorns
Thorns (band)
Thorns is a Norwegian black metal band that formed in 1989 and was part of the early Norwegian black metal scene. They made two highly influential demos in the early 1990s, Grymyrk and Trøndertun, but have only released one full-length album....

, Burzum
Burzum
Burzum is a musical project by Varg Vikernes . It began during 1991 in Bergen, Norway and quickly became prominent within the early Norwegian black metal scene...

, Darkthrone
Darkthrone
Darkthrone is a Norwegian black metal band. They formed in 1987 as a death metal band, but after embracing the black metal style in 1991, they became a driving force in the Norwegian black metal scene. For most of this period Darkthrone has consisted of just two musicians, Nocturno Culto and...

, Immortal
Immortal (band)
Immortal is a black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1990 by current frontman/guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta and former guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta...

, Satyricon
Satyricon (band)
Satyricon is a Norwegian black metal band, and the first one in the genre to join a multi-national record label .-Biography:Satyricon was formed in 1990 by Czral and Wargod. Ulver and Satyr soon joined them...

, Enslaved
Enslaved (band)
Enslaved is a progressive black metal band formed in June 1991 in Sveio, Norway, and currently based out of Bergen, Norway.-History:Enslaved was formed in June 1991 by Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson when they were 13 and 17 years old, respectively. The band name was inspired by an Immortal demo...

, Emperor
Emperor (band)
Emperor was a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited in 2006 and again in 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours. The group was founded by Samoth and Ihsahn .-Biography:...

, Dimmu Borgir
Dimmu Borgir
Dimmu Borgir is a Norwegian black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. Dimmu borgir means "dark cities" or "dark castles/fortresses" in Icelandic, Faroese and Old Norse. The name is derived from a volcanic formation in Iceland, Dimmuborgir...

, Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth is a Norwegian black metal band based in Bergen. Formed in 1992 by Infernus , the band is named after the dead plateau of evil and darkness in the land of Mordor from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The group is currently signed to Regain Records and have released...

, Ulver
Ulver
Ulver is a musical group from Norway. Since their first, folklore-influenced black metal release entitled Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler , Ulver’s musical style has been fluid and increasingly eclectic, blending genres such as rock, electronica, symphonic and chamber traditions, noise and...

 and Carpathian Forest
Carpathian Forest
Carpathian Forest is a Norwegian black metal band formed by Nattefrost and Nordavind in 1990.-Biography:Carpathian Forest emerged with the demo tape "Bloodlust and Perversion" in 1992. In 1993 the band released a second demo: Journey Through the Cold Moors of Svarttjern...

. They developed the style of their 1980s forebears as a distinct genre that was separate from thrash metal. This was partly thanks to a new kind of guitar playing developed by Snorre "Blackthorn" Ruch of Stigma Diabolicum/Thorns and Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth
Euronymous
Øystein Aarseth , who went by the pseudonym Euronymous, was a Norwegian guitarist and co-founder of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem...

 of Mayhem. Fenriz
Fenriz
Leif Gylve Nagell , better known as Fenriz, is the drummer and lyricist of the Norwegian black metal duo Darkthrone...

 of Darkthrone has credited them with this innovation in a number of interviews. He described it as being "derived from Bathory" and noted that "those kinds of riffs became the new order for a lot of bands in the '90s". As seen below, some members of these Norwegian bands would be responsible for a spate of crimes and controversy, including church burnings and murder. Within this scene, an aggressive anti-Christian mindset became a must for any artists to be finalized as "black metal". Ihsahn
Ihsahn
Ihsahn is a Norwegian composer, guitar, bass, keyboard player and vocalist. He is best known for his work with Norwegian black metal band Emperor. He has appeared in Thou Shalt Suffer, up until March 4, 2006, played in Peccatum with his wife Ihriel , and now devotes himself to his solo project,...

 of Emperor believes that this trend may have developed simply from "an opposition to society, a confrontation to all the normal stuff". Visually, the dark themes of their music was complemented with corpsepaint, which became a way for many black metal artists to distinguish themselves from other metal bands of the era.

Black metal scenes also emerged on the European mainland during the early 1990s, inspired by the Norwegian scene or the older bands. In Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, a scene was spearheaded by Graveland
Graveland
Graveland is a Polish black metal band which was formed in 1992 by Rob Darken . The lyrics of Graveland are strongly inspired by nature, paganism and nationalism.-History:...

 and Behemoth
Behemoth (band)
Behemoth is a Polish blackened death metal band from Gdańsk, formed in 1991. They are considered to have played an important role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground, alongside bands such as Vader, Decapitated, Vesania and Hate....

. In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, a close-knit group of musicians known as Les Légions Noires
Les Legions Noires
Les Légions Noires is a group of French underground black metal musicians and their bands, centered mostly around the city of Brest, in Britanny...

 emerged; this included artists such as Mütiilation
Mütiilation
Mütiilation is a French one-man black metal band that was affiliated with the Black Legions. Since parting from the The Black Legions in 1996, Meyhna'ch has continued to create music under the band's name.-The Beginning and The Black Legions:...

, Vlad Tepes
Vlad Tepes (band)
Vlad Tepes was a French black metal band which was formed in Brest in 1992. The name originated from the 15th century Wallachian ruler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's fictional vampire Dracula. The group belongs to The Black Legions. Worlok Drakksteim also has a side project named Black Murder....

, Belketre and Torgeist. Bands such as Black Funeral
Black Funeral
Black Funeral is a black metal band formed by industrial musician and occult/chaos magic author Michael W. Ford in 1993. They played a few live shows after being signed to their record label, Behemoth Productions...

, Grand Belial's Key
Grand Belial's Key
Grand Belial's Key is a black metal band formed in 1992 by guitarist Gelal Necrosodomy and vocalist Lord Vlad Luciferian. Lord Vlad Luciferian was later ejected from the group due to internal differences and joined the formerly Norwegian band Ancient that had moved to the USA, using the new stage...

 and Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot (band)
Judas Iscariot was an American black metal band. It began in 1992 as the solo-project of Andrew Harris, who performed under the pseudonym Akhenaten ....

 emerged during this time in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

By the mid 1990s, the style of the Norwegian scene was being adopted by bands worldwide. Newer black metal bands also began raising their production quality and introducing additional instruments such as synthesizer
Synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

s and even full-symphony orchestra
Orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

s.

Helvete and Deathlike Silence



During May–June 1991, Euronymous of Mayhem opened an independent record shop named Helvete (Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 for 'hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

') in Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

. Musicians from Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor and Thorns often met there, and it became the foremost outlet for black metal records. In its basement, Euronymous founded an independent record label
Independent record label
An independent record label is a record label operating without the funding of or outside the organizations of the major record labels. A great number of bands and musical acts begin on independent labels.-Overview:...

 named Deathlike Silence Productions
Deathlike Silence Productions
Deathlike Silence Productions was an Oslo, Norway based independent record label founded in the late 1980s that focused primarily on black metal. It was the first independent label to do so. The label was founded by Øystein Aarseth, also known as Euronymous, who operated the label until his murder...

. With the rising popularity of his band and others like it, the underground success of Euronymous's label is often credited for encouraging other record labels, that previously shunned black metal acts, to then reconsider and release their material.

Dead's suicide


On 8 April 1991, Mayhem vocalist Per Yngve "Pelle" Ohlin (aka 'Dead
Dead (musician)
Per Yngve Ohlin , better known by his stage name Dead, was a Swedish black metal vocalist best known for his work with Norwegian black metal band Mayhem...

') committed suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 in a house shared by the band. While fellow musicians often described Ohlin as odd and introverted off-stage, his on-stage persona was very different. He went to great lengths to make himself look like a corpse and would cut his arms while singing.

He was found with slit wrists and a shotgun
Shotgun
A shotgun is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot, or a solid projectile called a slug...

 wound to the head; the shotgun was owned by Mayhem guitarist Euronymous. Dead's suicide note
Suicide note
A suicide note or death note is a message that states the author has died by suicide, and left to be discovered and read in anticipation of suicide....

 read "Please excuse all the blood" and included an apology for firing the weapon indoors. Before calling the police, Aarseth went to a nearby shop and bought a disposable camera to photograph the body, after re-arranging some items. One of these photographs was later used as the cover of a bootleg live album called Dawn of the Black Hearts
Dawn of the Black Hearts
Dawn of the Black Hearts is a bootleg live album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. It is infamous for bearing a photograph of Mayhem's vocalist, Dead , after his suicide in April 1991. This photograph was allegedly taken by Mayhem's guitarist, Euronymous , upon discovering Dead's body...

.

In time, rumors spread that Euronymous had made a stew
Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

 with bits of Dead's brain and had made necklace
Necklace
A necklace is an article of jewellery which is worn around the neck. Necklaces are frequently formed from a metal jewellery chain. Others are woven or manufactured from cloth using string or twine....

s with bits of his skull. The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true. Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy. Mayhem bassist Jørn "Necrobutcher" Stubberud noted that "people became more aware of the [black metal] scene after Dead had shot himself ... I think it was Dead's suicide that really changed the scene".

Two other members of the early Norwegian scene would later commit suicide: Erik "Grim" Brødreskift
Erik Brødreskift
Erik Brødreskift was a Norwegian drummer, who played in several black metal bands during his career...

 (of Immortal
Immortal (band)
Immortal is a black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1990 by current frontman/guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta and former guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta...

, Borknagar
Borknagar
Borknagar is a progressive black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1995 by Øystein Garnes Brun. The band's style combines folk metal and black metal with progressive and melodic elements...

, Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth is a Norwegian black metal band based in Bergen. Formed in 1992 by Infernus , the band is named after the dead plateau of evil and darkness in the land of Mordor from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The group is currently signed to Regain Records and have released...

) in 1999 and Espen "Storm" Andersen (of Strid) in 2001.

Church burnings


Musicians and fans of the Norwegian black metal scene took part in over 50 arsons of Christian churches in Norway from 1992 to 1996. Some of the buildings were hundreds of years old and seen as important historical landmarks. One of the first and most notable was Norway's Fantoft stave church
Fantoft stave church
Fantoft Stave Church is a reconstructed stave church in the Fana borough of the city of Bergen, Norway.The church was originally built in Fortun in Sogn, a village near inner or eastern end of Sognefjord around the year 1150. In the 19th century the church was threatened by demolition, as were...

, which police believed was burnt by Varg Vikernes
Varg Vikernes
Varg Vikernes is a Norwegian black metal musician, writer, philosopher, religious and political activist, arsonist and convicted murderer.Vikernes was born near Bergen, Norway. In 1991, he founded the one-man music project Burzum, which quickly became popular within the early Norwegian black metal...

 of the one-man band Burzum. However, Vikernes would not be charged until his arrest for the murder of Euronymous in 1993 (see below). The cover of Burzum's EP Aske
Aske (album)
Aske is the second release by the Norwegian black metal artist Burzum. It was recorded in April and August 1992, and released in March 1993. Bass guitar on the EP is performed by Samoth of the band Emperor....

(Norwegian for 'ashes') is a photograph of the Fantoft stave church after the arson. The musicians Samoth
Samoth
Samoth is a prominent musician and multi-instrumentalist in the Norwegian black metal scene. He was well known for his distinct guitar work and drumming in the band Emperor, as well as his formation of the death metal band Zyklon...

, Faust (both of Emperor), and Jørn Inge Tunsberg (of Hades Almighty
Hades Almighty
Hades Almighty is a black metal band hailing from Bergen, Norway. They were formed in 1992, originally under the moniker Hades. They were forced to change their name to Hades Almighty in 1998, following complaints from an American band with a prior claim to the name.-Biography:Hades were formed in...

) were also convicted for church arsons.

Today, opinions on the church burnings differ within the black metal community. Guitarist Infernus and former vocalist Gaahl
Gaahl
Kristian Eivind Espedal , better known by his stage name Gaahl, is a Norwegian vocalist, best known as the former frontman of Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth. He is also the founder and frontman of Trelldom and Gaahlskagg...

 of the band Gorgoroth have praised the church burnings in interviews, with the latter saying "there should have been more of them, and there will be more of them". However, Necrobutcher
Necrobutcher
Jørn Stubberud is a Norwegian musician. He is best known as the bassist in the black metal band Mayhem under the stage name Necrobutcher...

 and Kjetil Manheim
Kjetil Manheim
Kjetil Esten Haraldsson Manheim, , was the drummer for the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. During this time, he went by the stage name Manheim.-Biography:...

 of Mayhem have berated the church burnings, with the latter claiming "It was just people trying to gain acceptance within a strict group [the black metal scene] ... they wanted some sort of approval and status".

Euronymous's murder


On 10 August 1993, Varg Vikernes
Varg Vikernes
Varg Vikernes is a Norwegian black metal musician, writer, philosopher, religious and political activist, arsonist and convicted murderer.Vikernes was born near Bergen, Norway. In 1991, he founded the one-man music project Burzum, which quickly became popular within the early Norwegian black metal...

 of Burzum murdered Mayhem guitarist Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth
Euronymous
Øystein Aarseth , who went by the pseudonym Euronymous, was a Norwegian guitarist and co-founder of the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem...

. That night, Vikernes and Snorre "Blackthorn" Ruch of Thorns
Thorns (band)
Thorns is a Norwegian black metal band that formed in 1989 and was part of the early Norwegian black metal scene. They made two highly influential demos in the early 1990s, Grymyrk and Trøndertun, but have only released one full-length album....

 traveled from Bergen
Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

 to Euronymous's apartment in Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

. After their arrival, Vikernes fatally stabbed Euronymous. His body was found outside the apartment with 23 cut wounds – two to the head, five to the neck, and 16 to the back.

It has been speculated that the murder was the result of a power struggle, a financial dispute over Burzum records, or an attempt at "out doing" a stabbing in Lillehammer the year before by another black metal musician, Bård "Faust" Eithun. Vikernes claims that Aarseth had plotted to torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 him to death and videotape the event – using a meeting about an unsigned contract
Contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

 as a pretext. On the night of the murder, Vikernes claims he intended to hand Euronymous the signed contract and "tell him to fuck off", but that Euronymous attacked him first. Vikernes also said that most of Euronymous's cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle. This version is doubted by Faust and other members of the scene.

Whatever the circumstances, Vikernes was arrested within days and in May 1994 was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder and for four church burnings. Vikernes smiled at the moment his verdict was read and the image was widely reprinted in the news media. In May 1994, Mayhem finally released the album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is an album by Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Songwriting began as early as 1987, but due to the suicide of vocalist Dead and murder of guitarist Euronymous , the album's release was delayed until May 1994...

, which features Euronymous on electric guitar
Electric guitar
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

 and Vikernes on bass guitar
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

. In 2003, Vikernes failed to return to Tønsberg
Tønsberg
is a city and municipality in Vestfold county, southern Norway, located around north-east of Sandefjord. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Tønsberg....

 prison after being given a short leave. He was re-arrested shortly after while driving a stolen car with various weapons. Vikernes was released on parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

 in 2009.

Conflict between scenes


There was said to have been a strong rivalry between Norwegian black metal and Swedish death metal scenes. Fenriz
Fenriz
Leif Gylve Nagell , better known as Fenriz, is the drummer and lyricist of the Norwegian black metal duo Darkthrone...

 and Tchort
Tchort
Terje Vik Schei , better known by his stage name Tchort, is a Norwegian musician. He is known for his time spent playing bass for the black metal band Emperor and for leading the progressive metal band Green Carnation...

 have noted that Norwegian black metal musicians had become "fed up with the whole death metal scene" and that "death metal was very uncool in Oslo" at the time. A number of times, Euronymous sent death threat
Death threat
A death threat is a threat of death, often made anonymously, by one person or a group of people to kill another person or groups of people. These threats are usually designed to intimidate victims in order to manipulate their behavior, thus a death threat is a form of coercion...

s to some of the more mainstream death metal groups in Europe. Allegedly, a group of Norwegian black metal fans even plotted to kidnap and murder certain Swedish death metal musicians.

There was a brief feud between Norwegian and Finnish scenes during 1992 and 1993. The feud was partly motivated by seemingly harmless pranks; for example Nuclear Holocausto of the Finnish band Beherit
Beherit (band)
Beherit is a black metal band from Finland. The band was formed in 1989 by Nuclear Holocausto , Black Jesus and Sodomatic Slaughter , with the purpose of performing "the most primitive, savage, hell-obsessed black metal imaginable." "Beherit" is the Syriac word for Satan...

 made prank call
Prank call
A prank call is a form of practical joke committed over the telephone. Prank phone calls began to gain an America-wide following over a period of many years, as they gradually became a staple of the obscure and amusing cassette tapes traded amongst musicians, sound engineers, and media traders...

s in the middle of the night to Samoth
Samoth
Samoth is a prominent musician and multi-instrumentalist in the Norwegian black metal scene. He was well known for his distinct guitar work and drumming in the band Emperor, as well as his formation of the death metal band Zyklon...

 of Emperor (in Norway) and Mika Luttinen
Mika Luttinen
Mika Luttinen was born in Oulu, Finland, in 1971. In 1990, he formed the Finnish black metal band Impaled Nazarene, where he is the singer and main lyricist. After numerous line-up changes, he remains the only original member. Besides his main project, he has been in the death/black metal band...

 of Impaled Nazarene (in Finland). The calls consisted of senseless babbling and playing of children's songs
Children's music
Children's music is used here to refer to music composed and performed for children by adults. In European influenced contexts this means music, usually songs, written specifically for a juvenile audience. The composers are usually adults. Children's music has historically held both entertainment...

, although Luttinen believed them to be death threats from Norwegian bands.

Notably, the album cover of Impaled Nazarene's Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz has "No orders from Norway accepted" and “Kuolema Norjan kusipäille!” (‘Death to the arseholes of Norway!’) printed on the back. The Finnish band Black Crucifixion criticized Darkthrone
Darkthrone
Darkthrone is a Norwegian black metal band. They formed in 1987 as a death metal band, but after embracing the black metal style in 1991, they became a driving force in the Norwegian black metal scene. For most of this period Darkthrone has consisted of just two musicians, Nocturno Culto and...

 as "trendies" due to Darkthrone originally being a death metal band.

Stylistic divisions


  • Symphonic black metal
    Symphonic black metal
    Symphonic black metal is a black metal subgenre that emerged in the mid to late 1990s. The genre is known for its symphonic and orchestral elements and is centralized in Europe.-Characteristics:...

    is a style of black metal that uses symphonic
    Symphony
    A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

     and orchestra
    Orchestra
    An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

    l elements. This may include the usage of instruments found in symphony orchestras (piano
    Piano
    The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

    , violin
    Violin
    The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

    , cello
    Cello
    The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

    , flute
    Flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

     and keyboards), 'clean' or operatic vocals and guitars with less distortion.
  • Viking metal
    Viking metal
    Viking metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its galloping pace, keyboard-rich anthemic sound, bleakness and dramatic emphasis on lyrical themes of Norse mythology, Norse paganism, and the Viking Age...

    is a style combining the Nordic black metal style with Nordic folk music
    Nordic music
    Nordic folk music includes a number of traditions in Northern European, especially Scandinavian, countries. The Nordic countries are generally taken to include Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The Nordic Council, an international organization, also includes the autonomous territories...

     and mythology. Viking metal often has a harsh black metal sound, which may be "augmented by sorrowful keyboard
    Keyboard instrument
    A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

     melodies". Vocals are typically a mixture of high-pitched shrieks and 'clean' choral
    Choir
    A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

     singing. However, the term 'Viking metal' may also be loosely used to describe any black metal band that incorporates Viking
    Viking
    The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

     elements or themes in their style, lyrics, appearance or performances. The origin of Viking metal can be traced to albums like Blood Fire Death
    Blood Fire Death
    Blood Fire Death is the fourth album by the Swedish band Bathory. It was released in October 1988. The album, although mostly black metal, includes some of the first examples of Viking metal....

    (1988) and Hammerheart
    Hammerheart
    Hammerheart is the fifth album released by Bathory. It continued Blood Fire Deaths transition away from black metal to what would become recognized as Viking metal, and is considered a cornerstone work of the genre.-Track listing:...

    (1990) by the Swedish band Bathory
    Bathory (band)
    Bathory was a Swedish heavy metal band, formed by Quorthon in 1983. They are regarded as pioneers of both black metal and viking metal. Quorthon remained the main songwriter and member of Bathory for more than two decades. Bathory was permanently ended after Quorthon's death in 2004...

    .
  • Pagan metal
    Pagan metal
    Pagan metal is an umbrella term for heavy metal music which fuses extreme metal with "the pre-Christian traditions of a specific culture or region through thematic concept, rustic melodies, unusual instruments or archaic languages", usually referring to folk metal or black metal. The Norwegian band...

    fuses black or folk metal influences with pre-Christian traditions. The Norwegian band In the Woods...
    In the Woods...
    In the Woods... was a heavy metal band from Kristiansand, Norway. The band released a total of three studio albums, three singles, one compilation album and one live album throughout its existence. The band was formed by previous members of the similar-styled band Green Carnation and is now...

     was one of the first bands commonly viewed as pagan metal. In the mid 1990s, Irish
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

     bands such as Cruachan
    Cruachan (band)
    Cruachan [kroo-a-khawn] is a Celtic metal band from Dublin, Ireland that has been active since the 1990s. They have been acclaimed as having "gone the greatest lengths of anyone in their attempts to expand" the genre of folk metal. They are recognised as one of the founders of the genre of folk metal...

     and Primordial
    Primordial (band)
    Primordial is an extreme metal band from Skerries, County Dublin, Ireland. It was formed in 1987 by Pól MacAmlaigh and Ciarán MacUiliam . Their sound melds black metal with Irish folk music.-Biography:...

     began to combine black metal with Irish folk music
    Folk music of Ireland
    The folk music of Ireland is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres in Ireland.-History:...

    .
  • Blackened death metal is a style that combines death metal
    Death metal
    Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It typically employs heavily distorted guitars, tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, minor keys or atonality, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes....

     and black metal.

Ideology


Black metal is generally opposed to Christianity. Arguably, this is the only coherent sentiment among those defining their music as black metal. Artists who oppose Christianity tend to promote atheism
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, antitheism
Antitheism
Antitheism is active opposition to theism. The etymological roots of the word are the Greek 'anti-' and 'theismos'...

, paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

, or Satanism
Satanism
Satanism is a group of religions that is composed of a diverse number of ideological and philosophical beliefs and social phenomena. Their shared feature include symbolic association with, admiration for the character of, and even veneration of Satan or similar rebellious, promethean, and...

.

In a Norwegian documentary, Fenriz
Fenriz
Leif Gylve Nagell , better known as Fenriz, is the drummer and lyricist of the Norwegian black metal duo Darkthrone...

 stated that "black metal is individualism above all", and artists tend to be supportive of individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

, although followers of Euronymous tended towards support of anti-individualism. According to Benjamin Hedge Olson's master thesis, "Black Metal is characterized by a conflict between radical individualism and group identity and by an attempt to accept both polarities simultaneously". Occasionally, artists write lyrics that appear to be nihilistic
Nihilism
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

 and misanthropic
Misanthropy
Misanthropy is generalized dislike, distrust, disgust, contempt or hatred of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings...

, although it is debatable whether this represents their mentality. In some cases, black metal artists have also espoused romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

, although the majority of those involved are not outspoken with regard to this. Nonetheless, many black metal artists seek to reflect their surroundings within their music. The documentarist Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn is a Canadian anthropologist and film-maker whose work focuses on the culture of heavy metal. Together with Scot McFadyen, Dunn owns Toronto-based production company Banger Films, Inc.-Metal: A Headbanger's Journey:...

 noted of the Norwegian scene that "unlike any other heavy metal scene, the culture and the place is incorporated into the music and imagery". An article in the Chronicles of Chaos zine noted that "An overriding feature of almost all black metal is the fascination with the past". Regarding this, Aaron Weaver from Wolves in the Throne Room
Wolves in the Throne Room
Wolves in the Throne Room is a black metal band based in Olympia, Washington.Their sound is influenced by Scandinavian black metal, doom metal, dark ambient, crust punk, and folk music...

 said in an interview: "I think that black metal is an artistic movement that is critiquing modernity on a fundamental level saying that the modern world view is missing something".

Regarding the sound of black metal, there are two conflicting groups within the genre: "those that stay true to the genre's roots, and those that introduce progressive elements". The former believe that the music should always be minimalist
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

 – performed only with the standard guitar-bass-drums setup and recorded in a low fidelity
Low fidelity
Low fidelity or lo-fi describes a sound recording which contains technical flaws such as distortion, hum, or background noise, or limited frequency response...

 style. One supporter of this train of thought is Blake Judd
Blake Judd
Blake Judd is an American musician and co-founder of Battle Kommand Records. He previously performed under the stage name "Azentrius".-Biography:...

 of Nachtmystium
Nachtmystium
Nachtmystium is an American psychedelic black metal band formed by Blake Judd, formerly known as Azentrius, and Pat McCormick. The band's name is derived from the German word Nacht meaning "night", and the made-up term mystium which resembles the Latin adjective mysticum...

, who has rejected labeling his band black metal for its departure from the genre's typical sound. Snorre Ruch of Thorns
Thorns (band)
Thorns is a Norwegian black metal band that formed in 1989 and was part of the early Norwegian black metal scene. They made two highly influential demos in the early 1990s, Grymyrk and Trøndertun, but have only released one full-length album....

, on the other hand, has stated that modern black metal is "too narrow" and believes that this was "not the idea at the beginning". Eric Horner of the Montana, USA band, Throne of Malediction states that "I personally think black/extreme metal takes something that can be called 'fashion' and makes it true 'art'. Though many bands base it on Satanic belief, I disagree that it is the only way to be 'black metal'. Black metal to me is pure emotion and individuality with a real vibe to it. It is a genre where beautiful piano compositions can sit next to screeching banshee vocals and raw guitars. It has no limits, as far as I'm concerned".

Some prominent musicians within the scene maintain that black metal does not need to represent any particular ideology. For example, Jan Axel Blomberg
Jan Axel Blomberg
Jan Axel "Hellhammer" Blomberg is a three time Spellemannprisen award-winning heavy metal drummer. He is most well known for his drumming with the band Mayhem, with which he began his career...

 said in an interview with Metal Library that "In my opinion, black metal today is just music". Likewise, Sigurd Wongraven
Sigurd Wongraven
Satyr is the vocalist, lead and rhythm guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Norwegian black metal band Satyricon. He was a founding member of Satyricon and have so far released 7 albums, 2 demos and a live DVD...

 stated in the Murder Music documentary that black metal "doesn't necessarily have to be all Satanic, as long as it's dark". An article in Metalion's Slayer fanzine attacked musicians that "care more about their guitars than the actual essence onto which the whole concept was and is based upon", and claimed that "the music itself doesn't come as the first priority".

Satanism



Black metal was originally used as a term for extreme metal bands with Satanic lyrics, although most of the "first wave" bands only used Satanism for shock value; one of the few exceptions was Mercyful Fate
Mercyful Fate
Mercyful Fate was a Danish heavy metal band from Copenhagen. Initially active from 1981 to 1985, they reunited in 1992. The band went on hiatus again in 2000, when frontman King Diamond decided to continue his solo career...

 singer and Church of Satan
Church of Satan
The Church of Satan is an organization dedicated to the acceptance of the carnal self, as articulated in The Satanic Bible, written in 1969 by Anton Szandor LaVey.- History :...

 member King Diamond
King Diamond
Kim Bendix Petersen , better known by his stage name King Diamond, is a Grammy Award nominated Danish heavy metal musician. As a vocalist, he is known for his extensive vocal range, in particular his usage of falsetto. He is the lead vocalist for both Mercyful Fate and the eponymous King Diamond...

, whom Michael Moynihan
Michael Moynihan (journalist)
Michael Moynihan is an American journalist, publisher and musician. He is best known for co-writing the book Lords of Chaos, about black metal....

 calls "one of the only performers of the '80s Satanic Metal who was more than just a poseur using a devilish image for shock value".

Mayhem guitarist Euronymous was central in establishing an ideology for the Norwegian black metal scene. He and his followers rejected Anton LaVey
Anton LaVey
Anton Szandor LaVey , born Howard Stanton Levey, was the founder of the Church of Satan as well as a writer, occultist, and musician...

 and the Church of Satan, instead promoting a "hard-line, misanthropic
Misanthropy
Misanthropy is generalized dislike, distrust, disgust, contempt or hatred of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings...

 devil worship". Benjamin Hedge Olson wrote that they "transform[ed] Venom's quasi-Satanic stage theatrics into a form of cultural expression unique from other forms of metal or Satanism" and "abandoned the mundane identities and ambitions of other forms of metal in favor of religious and ideological fanaticism". Bands who were not Theistic Satanists
Theistic Satanism
Theistic Satanism, sometimes referred to as Traditional Satanism, Spiritual Satanism or Devil Worship, is a form of Satanism with the primary belief that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship. Other characteristics of Theistic Satanism may include a belief in magic, which is...

 were not deemed "black metal" by Euronymous and other important members of the Norwegian scene, like Faust of Emperor. At the time, bands with a 'Norwegianesque' style, but without Satanic lyrics, tended to use other terms for their music. Today there are still prominent musicians – such as Infernus, Arioch
Daniel Rostén
Daniel Rostén is a Swedish black metal vocalist, guitarist, and bassist. He is perhaps best known for having been the vocalist for renowned Swedish black metal band Marduk since 2004 under the stage name Mortuus. He also is the frontman for Funeral Mist under the stage name Arioch, and under this...

 and Erik Danielsson – who insist that Satanism should be foremost. Some bands have moved from Satanism to Paganism; as black metal traditionally is defined by Satanism, "for many 'purist' black metallers, this latter move disqualifies a band as 'black', placing it instead beneath a variety of other modifiers: pagan, Viking, troll, forest, and the like".

Unblack metal


Unblack metal, or Christian black metal, is a term used to describe music that sounds musically similar to black metal but where the artists, lyrics and imagery promote Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. The Australian band Horde
Horde (band)
Horde is the single-album unblack metal project of Australian musician Jayson Sherlock, formerly of Mortification and Paramaecium. In 1994 the only album Hellig Usvart was released on Nuclear Blast. With a session line-up, Horde played live-shows in 2006, Norway, and in 2010 in Finland and Germany...

's debut album Hellig Usvart
Hellig Usvart
Hellig Usvart is the debut album by Australian unblack metal band Horde, released in 1994 on Nuclear Blast Records. Upon its release in 1994, the album created a controversy among the black metal fans; death threats were sent to Nuclear Blast demanding the label to drop the album from its catalogue...

, released through Nuclear Blast Records, is often credited as being the first Christian black metal album, although the sole member, known as Anonymous, has stated that "there were similar [unblack] bands prior to Horde, even in Norway", referring to such bands as Antestor
Antestor
Antestor is an extreme metal band formed in 1990 in Jessheim, Norway. Credited for starting the whole northern European Christian extreme metal scene, Antestor is the only Christian band to have an album released by Cacophonous Records, which has also released records by bands such as Dimmu Borgir,...

, who formed in 1990, although prior to 1993 they were a death/doom
Death/doom
Death/doom, sometimes writes as death-doom or deathdoom, is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It combines the slow tempos and pessimistic or depressive mood of doom metal with the deep growling vocals and double kick drumming of death metal...

 band bearing a different name, Crush Evil. Hellig Usvart caused great controversy in the black metal scene, and death threats were sent to Nuclear Blast Records headquarters demanding them to release the members' names. The name of Anonymous was later revealed as Jayson Sherlock
Jayson Sherlock
Jayson Sherlock was the drummer for the Australian death metal band Mortification, which was considered to be a major pioneer in the genre.Sherlock was the founder of the one-man project Unblack metal band Horde, in which he played every instrument...

, a drummer for the bands Mortification
Mortification
Mortification can refer to:*Mortification , theological doctrine*Mortification of the flesh, religious practice of corporal mortification...

 and Paramaecium
Paramaecium
Paramaecium was an Australian death/doom metal band formed in 1991. There is use of instrumentation like flutes, cellos and violins on some albums. Paramaecium is one of the few doom metal bands that focus on Christian lyrical themes and Christian concepts...

.

Many in the black metal scene see "Christian black metal" as an oxymoron. On the British black metal documentary Murder Music: A History of Black Metal
Murder Music: A History of Black Metal
Murder Music: A History of Black Metal is a heavy metal music documentary aired on British pay-per-view channel Rockworld TV. Murder Music centers around the controversial black metal subgenre...

(2007), all interviewed musicians stated, when asked about the matter, that black metal cannot be Christian. The term "Christian black metal" drew confused replies from black metal musicians, for example Martin Walkyier
Martin Walkyier
Martin Walkyier is an English singer who began his career with thrash metal band Sabbat in the late 1980s, releasing two albums. After leaving Sabbat in 1990 due to differences with other band members, Walkyier teamed up with guitarist Steve Ramsey to form a heavy metal band with strong folk...

 of the English metal band Sabbat
Sabbat (band)
Sabbat are a thrash metal band from Nottingham, England, currently consisting of Martin Walkyier , Andy Sneap , Simon Jones , Gizz Butt and Simon Negus . Over the years Sabbat have released three studio albums, four demos, two split singles/compilation albums, two singles and a live VHS...

 commented: "'Christian black metal?' What do they do? Do they build churches? Do they repair them? (laughs)" Early groups such as Horde and Antestor refused to call their music "black metal" because they felt that the style was strongly associated with Satanism. Horde called its music "holy unblack metal", and Antestor preferred to call their music "sorrow metal" instead. However, many current unblack metal bands, such as Crimson Moonlight
Crimson Moonlight
Crimson Moonlight is a Swedish Christian black metal band which was formed in the summer of 1997 with the mere intention of recording a primitive old school black metal demo and playing one show before breaking up. However, the breakup never happened, and they have since recorded two EPs and two...

, feel that black metal has now changed from an ideological movement to a purely musical genre, and that is why they also call their own music black metal.

When asked if he was bothered by the fact that the first black metal bands were against Christianity, Jeff Arwadi
Jeff Arwadi
Jefray Arwadi is a musician, music producer, and graphic artist from Jakarta, Indonesia, who now resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is most notable as the former guitarist and front man for avant-garde/progressive metal band Kekal, and as the co-founder of experimental death metal project...

 of Indonesian unblack metal group Kekal
Kekal
Kekal is a heavy metal band formed in 1995 in Jakarta, Indonesia. According to Allmusic, Kekal was one of the first heavy metal bands from Indonesia to make international inroads, and according to Keith Kahn Harris was one of the few extreme metal bands from Southeast Asia to ever make more than a...

 replied "I think you're wrong if first black metal bands were highly against Christianity. […] I dig the very first black metal bands a lot.. those 80's bands like Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, early Sodom, etc. […] By my knowledge, none of those bands were against Christianity. They only had those kind of 'satanic' image which is more like some high-school Halloween movies or parent-shocker rather than Satanism as a philosophy or ideology". Earlier in the interview he even went as far as to say that "Even bands like Celtic Frost were once considered 'white-metal' from some 'true' black metal fans because the band thanked God on album thanks list, and one member wearing a cross necklace instead of inverted cross. It's a totally relative issue, depending on how 'extreme' you would go, right?" Whereas Arwadi claimed that to his knowledge, "none of those bands were against Christianity", Bathory founder Quorthon rejected Christianity in numerous interviews.

National Socialist black metal



National Socialist black metal (NSBM) is a term used for black metal artists who promote National Socialist (Nazi)
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 beliefs through their music and imagery. NSBM is not regarded as a distinct subgenre, as there is no way to play black metal in a National Socialist way. Some black metal bands have made references to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 for shock value
Shock value
Shock value is the potential of an action , image, text, or other form of communication to provoke a reaction of disgust, shock, anger, fear, or similar negative emotions.-Shock value as humor:...

, causing them to be wrongly labeled as NSBM. Due to his writings and outspoken far-right views, Varg Vikernes
Varg Vikernes
Varg Vikernes is a Norwegian black metal musician, writer, philosopher, religious and political activist, arsonist and convicted murderer.Vikernes was born near Bergen, Norway. In 1991, he founded the one-man music project Burzum, which quickly became popular within the early Norwegian black metal...

 is regarded as the main inspiration for such views within the scene and therefore the NSBM movement. Vikernes, however, has tried to distance himself from Nazism and the NSBM scene, preferring to refer to himself as an "odalist" instead of a "socialistic", "materialistic" Nazi.

NSBM artists are a small minority within black metal, according to Mattias Gardel and Benjamin Hedge Olson. They have been criticized by some prominent and influential black metal musicians – including Jon Nödtveidt
Jon Nödtveidt
Jon Andreas Nödtveidt was a lead guitarist and vocalist of the Swedish black metal band Dissection, which he founded in 1989....

, Tormentor
Tormentor (musician)
Tormentor is a black metal musician who is best known for his work as guitarist with the Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth.-Biography:Tormentor joined Infernus in Gorgoroth in 1996, and participated as guitarist and songwriter on the two Gorgoroth albums Destroyer and Incipit Satan , both...

, King ov Hell
King ov Hell
Tom Cato Visnes , better known as King ov Hell or simply King, is a Norwegian musician and ex-teacher. He is best known as the former bassist of black metal band Gorgoroth, but he is also the co-founder of Ov Hell, God Seed, Jotunspor, Sahg and I...

, Infernus, Lord Ahriman
Lord Ahriman
Lord Ahriman is a Swedish musician and composer best known as the primary guitarist and songwriter of black metal band Dark Funeral. He is the only founding member remaining in the band, he is also rhythm guitarist in Wolfen Society...

, Emperor Magus Caligula
Emperor Magus Caligula
Emperor Magus Caligula is an extreme metal musician best known as the former vocalist, bassist and lyricist of Swedish black metal band Dark Funeral, performing for the band between 1995 and 2010. He has also been the vocalist of death metal bands Demonoid, replacing Christofer Johnsson, and...

, Richard Lederer
Richard Lederer (musician)
Richard Lederer is an Austrian metal musician most notable for being a member in the bands Summoning, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, and Ice Ages...

, Michael W. Ford, and the members of Arkhon Infaustus
Arkhon Infaustus
Arkhon Infaustus is a blackened death metal band from Paris, France. They formed in 1997, are signed to Osmose Productions, and have released four albums to date.-Brief History:...

. They categorize Nazism alongside Christianity as authoritarian
Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

, collectivist
Collectivism
Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic, mystical or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation...

, and a "herd mentality
Herd mentality
Herd mentality describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items. Examples of the herd mentality include stock market trends, fashions in apparel, cars, taste in music, home décor, etc...

".

Media


Documentaries on black metal:
  • Det svarte alvor (1994).
  • Satan Rides the Media
    Satan rir media
    Satan rir media is a 1998 Norwegian documentary by Torstein Grude. The film covers the controversy that surrounded black metal musician Varg Vikernes in the early 1990s, who not only has been tied to a series of church arsons in Norway, but received widespread media attention for the murder of...

    (1998).
  • Norsk Black Metal (2003) was aired on Norwegian TV by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).
  • Metal: A Headbanger's Journey
    Metal: A Headbanger's Journey
    Metal: A Headbanger's Journey is a 2005 documentary directed by Sam Dunn with Scot McFadyen and Jessica Wise. The film follows 31-year-old Dunn, a Canadian anthropologist, who has been a heavy metal fan since the age of 12...

    (2005) touches on black metal in the early 1990s, and includes an extensive 25-minute feature on the DVD release.
  • True Norwegian Black Metal
    True Norwegian Black Metal (documentary)
    True Norwegian Black Metal is a 2007 5-part documentary produced by VBS/Vice Magazine. The documentary mainly covers some aspects of the life of black metal vocalist Gaahl - renowned for his work with Gorgoroth and Trelldom. Principal photography took place in January 2007 over a ten day period in...

    (2007) was aired as a five-part feature by the online broadcasting network VBS.tv. It explores some of the aspects of the lifestyle, beliefs and controversies surrounding former Gorgoroth vocalist Gaahl
    Gaahl
    Kristian Eivind Espedal , better known by his stage name Gaahl, is a Norwegian vocalist, best known as the former frontman of Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth. He is also the founder and frontman of Trelldom and Gaahlskagg...

    .
  • Black Metal: A Documentary (2007), produced by Bill Zebub
    Bill Zebub
    Bill Zebub is the manager of Bill Zebub Productions. His production company publishes a quarterly magazine entitled The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds, mainly about death metal music and independent movies. He has made an array of low-budget films, and also is the host of a radio show on WMFU 91.1 in...

    , explores the world of black metal from the point of view of the artists. There is no narrator and no one outside of black metal takes part in any interview or storytelling.
  • Murder Music: A History of Black Metal
    Murder Music: A History of Black Metal
    Murder Music: A History of Black Metal is a heavy metal music documentary aired on British pay-per-view channel Rockworld TV. Murder Music centers around the controversial black metal subgenre...

    (2007).
  • Once Upon a Time in Norway (2008).
  • Until the Light Takes Us
    Until The Light Takes Us
    Until the Light Takes Us is a 2009 feature documentary about Norwegian black metal, from directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell.-Featured interviewees:* Gylve "Fenriz" Nagell...

    (2009) explores black metal's origins and subculture, including "exclusive interviews" and "rare, seldom seen footage from the Black Circle's earliest days".


References in media:
  • The black metal mockumentary
    Mockumentary
    A mockumentary , is a type of film or television show in which fictitious events are presented in documentary format. These productions are often used to analyze or comment on current events and issues by using a fictitious setting, or to parody the documentary form itself...

     Legalize Murder was released in 2006.
  • The cartoon show Metalocalypse
    Metalocalypse
    Metalocalypse is an American animated television series, created by Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha, which premiered on August 6, 2006 on Adult Swim...

    is about an extreme metal band called Dethklok
    Dethklok
    Dethklok is both a virtual band featured in the Adult Swim animated program Metalocalypse, as well as a real band created to perform the band's melodic death metal music in live shows. The band was created by Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha. The music heard on Metalocalypse is performed by Brendon...

    , with many references to leading black metal artists on the names of various businesses such as Fintroll's convenience store, Dimmu Burger, Gorgoroth's electric wheelchair store, Carpathian Forest High School, Marduk's Putt & Stuff, Burzum's hot-dogs and Behemoth studios (as well as the man who owns Behemoth studios, whose name is Mr. Grishnackh). In the episode Dethdad, Dethklok travels to Norway to both visit Toki's dying father and the original black metal record store, much to the dismay of the band members when they find out the store doesn't sell any of their music, as described by the owner for being "too digital".
  • A Norwegian commercial for a laundry detergent once depicted black metal musicians as part of the advertisement.
  • Black metal bands such as 1349
    1349 (band)
    1349 is a Norwegian black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1997. Their name comes from the year the Black Death reached Norway.- History :1349 formed in 1997 and comprises several former members of the band Alvheim...

    , Emperor
    Emperor (band)
    Emperor was a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited in 2006 and again in 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours. The group was founded by Samoth and Ihsahn .-Biography:...

    , Behemoth
    Behemoth (band)
    Behemoth is a Polish blackened death metal band from Gdańsk, formed in 1991. They are considered to have played an important role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground, alongside bands such as Vader, Decapitated, Vesania and Hate....

    , Dimmu Borgir
    Dimmu Borgir
    Dimmu Borgir is a Norwegian black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. Dimmu borgir means "dark cities" or "dark castles/fortresses" in Icelandic, Faroese and Old Norse. The name is derived from a volcanic formation in Iceland, Dimmuborgir...

    , Enslaved
    Enslaved (band)
    Enslaved is a progressive black metal band formed in June 1991 in Sveio, Norway, and currently based out of Bergen, Norway.-History:Enslaved was formed in June 1991 by Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson when they were 13 and 17 years old, respectively. The band name was inspired by an Immortal demo...

     and Satyricon
    Satyricon (band)
    Satyricon is a Norwegian black metal band, and the first one in the genre to join a multi-national record label .-Biography:Satyricon was formed in 1990 by Czral and Wargod. Ulver and Satyr soon joined them...

     have had their videos make appearances on MTV
    MTV
    MTV, formerly an initialism of Music Television, is an American network based in New York City that launched on August 1, 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs....

    's Headbangers Ball
    Headbangers Ball
    Headbangers Ball is a music television program consisting of heavy metal music videos airing on MTV2, MTV Australia, MTV Two , MTV Adria , MTV Brand New, MTV Portugal, MTV Finland, MTV Arabia, MTV Norway, MTV Sweden, MTV Denmark, MTV Greece, MTV Türkiye, MTV...

    .
  • Comedian Brian Posehn
    Brian Posehn
    Brian Edmund Posehn is an American actor, voice actor, musician and comedian, known for his roles as mail clerk Kevin Liotta on NBC's Just Shoot Me!, a cast member and writer on HBO's Mr. Show, and most recently as Brian Spukowski on Comedy Central's The Sarah Silverman Program.-Early life:Posehn...

     made a visual reference to Norwegian black metal bands in the music video for his comedy song Metal by Numbers.
  • A KFC commercial screened in Canada (2008) and Australia (2010) featured a fictional black metal band called Hellvetica. Onstage, the band's singer, does a fire-eating trick. Once backstage, he takes a bite of the spicy KFC chicken and declares "Oh man, that is hot".
  • An episode of Bones
    Bones (TV series)
    Bones is an American crime drama television series that premiered on the Fox Network on September 13, 2005. The show is based on forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology, with each episode focusing on an FBI case file concerning the mystery behind human remains brought by FBI Special Agent...

    featured the discovery of a human skeleton at a black metal concert in Norway. The episode was called Mayhem on a Cross. It was the 21st episode of the 4th season.
  • There are many references to black metal bands (Bathory
    Bathory (band)
    Bathory was a Swedish heavy metal band, formed by Quorthon in 1983. They are regarded as pioneers of both black metal and viking metal. Quorthon remained the main songwriter and member of Bathory for more than two decades. Bathory was permanently ended after Quorthon's death in 2004...

    , Marduk
    Marduk (band)
    Marduk is a black metal band from Norrköping, Sweden. The band formed in 1990 and released their first record in 1991. Their name is derived from the Babylonian god Marduk, patron deity of Babylon.-Musical style:...

    , Cradle of Filth
    Cradle of Filth
    Cradle of Filth are an English extreme metal band, formed in Suffolk in 1991. The band's musical style evolved from black metal to a cleaner and more "produced" amalgam of gothic metal, symphonic black metal, and other extreme metal styles, while their lyrical themes and imagery are heavily...

    , Dimmu Borgir
    Dimmu Borgir
    Dimmu Borgir is a Norwegian black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. Dimmu borgir means "dark cities" or "dark castles/fortresses" in Icelandic, Faroese and Old Norse. The name is derived from a volcanic formation in Iceland, Dimmuborgir...

    ) in Åke Edwardson
    Åke Edwardson
    Åke Edwardson is a Swedish author of detective fiction, and was previously a lecturer in journalism at Gothenburg University, the city where many of his Inspector Winter novels are set...

    's 1999 crime novel Sun and Shadow
    Sun and Shadow
    Sun and Shadow is a 1999 novel by Åke Edwardson, part of the Inspector Winter series. It was published in English in 2005, translated by Laurie Thompson.- External links :*...

    (Sol och skugga). The plot involves the music of a fictional Canadian black metal band called Sacrament. As part of the inquiry, Inspector Winter tries to distinguish between black and death metal artists (Originally published in Swedish. English language first edition in 2005).

See also


  • List of black metal bands
  • Extreme metal
    Extreme metal
    Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound nearly always associated with genres like black metal,...

  • Unblack metal
    Unblack metal
    Unblack metal is a term used to describe musically black metal sounding artists whose lyrics and imagery promote Christianity. Such artists are controversial, mainly because black metal's pioneers, especially those of the Second Wave, intended to encourage hostility towards Christianity...


Further reading

  • Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal. Bazillion Points Books. ISBN 978-0-9796163-1-0
  • Moynihan, Michael
    Michael Moynihan (journalist)
    Michael Moynihan is an American journalist, publisher and musician. He is best known for co-writing the book Lords of Chaos, about black metal....

    . Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground. Venice: Feral House, 2006. ISBN 0-922915-48-2
  • Kahn-Harris, Keith. Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge. Oxford: Berg, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84520-399-3
  • Christe, Ian. Sound of the Beast: the Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. New York: Harper Collins, 2004.

  • Peter Beste (photographer) and John Kugelberg (editor)] True Norwegian Black Metal, Power House Books (NY), 2008. ISBN 978-1-57687-435-6.
  • Metalphoto, Chérie (editor & photographer).Chants of Evil: The Visions of the Breathing Darkness, 2011. Metalphoto Publisher (NL). ISBN 978-90-816734-1-9.