Bathory is perhaps the most notable black metal group from the 80s. The first three albums ("Bathory," "The Return," and "Under the Sign of the Black Mark) provided the listener with buzzsaw guitars, low fidelity production, shrieked vocals and simplistic phrasing, making Venom seem tame in comparison. By the end of the decade, frontman Quorthon had taken the sound into a "viking metal" direction, slowing down the tempo and distancing itself from Satanic overtones.
There were other groups in the 80s that were influential to black metal, including the thrashy sound of Sodom, the Venom-esque aggression of Italy's Bulldozer and the traditional sound of Mercyful fate, whose frontman King Diamond was among the first to wear the Kiss-like makeup that has become known as "corpse paint."
In the early 1990s, Norway would be primarily responsible for the development of second wave black metal. A number of musicians who felt that death metal had become stagnant decided to separate themselves from the flock by paying tribute to 80s black metal while establishing new ideas for the young genre. Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem, Emperor, Immortal, Enslaved and Satyircon all began releasing albums that, while individually unique, had many of the same elements. This included extensive use of tremolo picking, open string playing, standard tuning, shrieked vocals, and lyrics focused on occultist themes. Additionally, pinch harmonics and palm muting were rarely heard. Several of these musicians were also known for burning down Norwegian churches, perhaps as a way of protesting the prominence of Christianity in the area. Another controversial element of black metal were groups such as Absurd and Graveland, who had National Socialist leanings.
Outside of Norway were a number of influential groups, such as Dark Funeral, Beherit, Impaled Nazerine, and Behemoth. Other groups such as Mystifier, Archgoat and Belphegor, successfully combined black and death metal. Other fusions include ambient black metal (early Burzum, Blut Aus Nord) and folk metal (Finntroll, Korpiklaani). And much like melodic death metal, there is also a melodic branch of black metal (Graveworm, Rotting Christ, Dimmu Borgir). Recently, groups such as Forgotten Tomb and Amesoeurs combine shoegaze/emo with black metal, an unlikely combination, perhaps a reflection of black metal's occasional commercial appeal.
Taking major influence from Bathory and Venom, the ganre became largely associated with Norway through the work of Mayhem, Burzum and Dark Throne, many of the later bands categorised into the black metal genre being influenced by these three bands, and many of these bands being from Norway themselves.
Spawning from thrash metal as black and death metal did, they ran parallel. Eventually the two genres became commonly associated since they both implemented tremelo picking, blast beats, and invariably screamed vocals much of the time. This was taken into influence by some bands and the genres eventually interweaved with some projects such as Dark Throne, Profanatica, and late Emperor.
Other movements of the genre since its rising in the Norwegian metal scene have been melodic/symphonic projects such as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, and more underground movements such as the Black Legions, which as a collective are as yet universally nameless.
It is inspired by bands such as Venom and Mercyful Fate. And the first Black Metal band is debated to be either Bathory or Celtic Frost. Although these were unrefined and were not the original true Black Metal bands. The first real Black Metal was started in Norway by bands such as Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone, and Satyricon. Later many other sub-genres of Black Metal were created.
Black Metal is usually definied by Vocals that are high in tone and pitch and are usually refered to as the 'Black Metal Screech', very different from the Guttural sound of the 'Death Metal Growl'. Lyrics mostly have Anti-Christian, Misantropic, Satanic, Luciferian, and Pagan basis. Drum beats described as 'blast beats'. But are different from Death Metal blast beats because there is more focus on the Snare drum instead of the Toms. The guitars are usually very repeatative and the riffs are usually only four to five chords. The basslines are similar to the guitar riffs but usually have a more punk quality to them. And the quality of the recordings is usually very bad.
Black Metal was started in defiance of the Death Metal scene, instead of having great, clean production, Black Metal had low and piercing quality. Instead of having complicated riffs and beats, BM had a more simplistic approach. And BM strived to be more controversial in lyrical themes.
There are several sub-genres to the Black Metal genre. And are as follows:
Black Metal: The originators usually coming from Norway.
Melodic Black Metal: Black Metal with the use of keyboards, synths, and more Melodic guitar riffs. Also Clean vocals have become a big part of the genre. Lyrics are usually more Anti-Christian, and Misantrophy based.
National Socialist Black Metal: The difference is only in lyrical themes, which usually deal with NS ideals, racism, paganism, pride of heritage or nation, and hate.
Viking Black Metal: Deals with viking, barbarian, and Norsk tales and religion. Also, Nature is a very reoccuring lyrical theme.
Folk: The Melodic version of the Viking sub-genre, usually using Keyboards or Organs. The lyrical themes usually have basis around folklore and fairy tales.
Symphonic: BM that has symphony elements added to it. Theme albums usually play a big part in this genre.
Avant-Garde: With a focus on instrumentals and the use of various other instruments, mainly keyboards, this genre defines bands that go in an experimental and artistic direction.
Black Death: A sub-genre of Black Metal that has various Death Metal influences and stylings to it. Usually of which is a combination of Death Metal music and specifically drumming, while maintaining Black Metal vocals and lyrical themes.
Melodic Black Metal: Old Man's Child, Dimmu Borgir, and Naglfar
NSBM: Waffen SS, Sunwheel, and Drudkh
Viking: Enslaved, Graveland, and (New)Bathory
Folk: Finntroll, Vintersorg, and Borknagar
Symphonic: (New)Emperor, (New)Dimmu Borgir, Nokturnal Mortem
Avant-Garde: Celtic Frost, Burzum
Black Death: Behemoth, Zyklon, and Belphegor
Black Metal IS a harsh, noisy offshoot of Thrash Metal based around Satanic ideals and Norse Mythology that came into being in the early 80's in Norway. Black Metal can be dissociated from Thrash Metal by its high-pitched unnatural screams made to sound demonic, its use of Blast Beats (32nd-note snare hits), syncopation, and costume (Corpse Paint, which is black and white make-up used to further enhance the demonic quality and hide the identity of the wearer). Band members also go by fabricated names.
The reason Black Metal revolves around these things is because it opposes the early Norwegian invasion of Christianity (which was brought by their own King Olaf in early A.D., not by missionaries as some think). Black Metal uses a pseudo-Grotesque method to offend society in their live shows, while simultaneously attracting listeners to the cause, with their use of Corpse Paint, blood and gore, and mock crucifixions that some bands put on during live concerts. Some of its scene members have burned churches. It is not a joke, except to some, who would like to pass it off as harmless. This is the REAL difference between a true Black Metaller and a poser.
Black Metal bands use terrible production in their records on purpose, veering away from the direction of society, and ALSO because many bands spend nearly their entire recording budget on cover art and have to do their own recording with inexpensive equipment.
There were a few waves of Black Metal bands, the first including Mayhem and Venom. Mayhem was the most central band to the original Black Metal movement, and a member of Mayhem had the first Black Metal record label based out of a small record store called "Helvete" (Hell). They also established the Inner Circle, a group of Black Metal bands who would organize against Christianity. Within this group, there were power struggles for "who was the most evil" that resulted in several murders of key Black Metallers.
There are a variety of Black Metal subgenres:
- Symphonic Black Metal (Limbonic Art, Sirius, etc)
- Troll Metal (Mortiis, Troll, etc)
- Melodic Black Metal
- Norsecore (Marduk, etc)
- Viking Metal
See Wikipedia if you want an in-depth definition of these genres and their related bands.
While Black Metal had a growing movement in the 90's, after about a decade of popularity, their movement has seriously declined.
First Wave of Black Metal (aka Old School): A lot of similarities with Thrash Metal, but the Black Metal is obvious.
Second Wave of Black Metal: Modern-sounding BM.
Black Metal: There is no point in redefining it, since virtually every definition above this, has been dealing with that particular style of BM.
Raw Black Metal: usually very monotonous, unmelodic, with very bad production, and cheaply printed releases.
NSBM: Stands for Nationalist Socialist Black Metal. Is defined by the lyrics, as opposed to music. Lyrics usually deal with various forms of nationalism, racial supremacy, and hate. Often also incorporates such themes as paganism, and the war against Judeo-Christianity.
Folk Black Metal: Any Black Metal with folk melodies or instruments used. Sometimes deals with the same concepts as NSBM.
Viking Black Metal: Any Black Metal with lyrics about vikings. Sometimes uses folk elements.
Symphonic Black Metal: This form of BM is very far from the origins of the genre, often sounding like extreme metal (as opposed to BM), it is uncommon for bands in this category to use an orchestra, or separate orchestral instruments.
Un-Black Metal: Any Black Metal dealing with Christianity (in a positive manner).
Death/Black: There is no uniform definition of that, but basically anything that uses elements of death and black metal together.
There are various less-widespread forms of Black Metal, such as a mixing BM with other styles (Doom, Power, Speed, etc), but it would take too much time to go into such details.
Second Wave of BM: Darkthrone, Burzum
Black Metal: Darkthrone, Nargaroth
Raw Black Metal: ...Aaaarrghh...,Hate Forest
NSBM: Lutomysl, Absurd (Ger)
Folk BM: Nokturnal Mortum, Finntroll, (late) Isengard (nor).
Viking BM: Ensiferum, (late) Bathory, (late) Isengard (nor).
Symphonic BM: Dimmu Borgir
Un-Black Metal: Antestor
Death/Black Metal: Belphegor, (early) Naglfar (Swe)