A More In-Depth Guide to Black Metal Part 2


25 Ene 2008, 19:40

Back for another round. I hope you found my previous guides helpful and hope you continue to find these new ones useful as well. Again these bands are in no order but I do try to mix up the lesser-known bands alongside more well-known ones to keep it interesting. Onward Anti-Christian soldiers!

Nokturnal Mortum: This Ukrainian band began life as another generic symphonic BM band, but a lot of people like this band's debut (Goat Horns) but that album never did anything for me. It wasn't until this band's third album, Ne-Christ, that they began to distinguish themselves. The intro to that album has to be heard to be believed. NM's music is heavy on the folk and symphonic touches, yet they maintain a very venomous musical attack. One of the better NSBM bands out there. Rec albums: Ne-Christ, Weltanschauug.

Barathrum: If you liked the idea of two bassists (a la Necromantia) you'd do well to check out this act. Barathrum's music can be faster and rawer than Necromantia's, but they're also able to exploit the textures that are made possible by having a lineup of this sort. The title track to the Eerie album is one of the most fittingly titled songs I've ever heard, that album itself has a very occult-like atmosphere and can get very groovy at times too. Definitely not your typical BM act. Rec albums: Eerie, Infernal, Legions of Perkele.

Hail: If there was one album you wanted to listen to before going into battle, this would be it. Hail sound very crunchy, evil and at the same time atmospheric. Their debut (and so far only) album is one very worth having, a times sounding like the bastard child of Barathrum, Varathron and Beherit. It Also contains some very sick and deep vocals and brilliant songwriting despite never exceeding mid-tempo. Rec album: Inheritance of Evilness.

Xasthur: A band that many have soured on over the years. This is mostly a result of Malefic recording the same album over and over again. But before repetition set in, Xasthur was some of the best depressive BM out there. The low production values combined with the shrieking vocals and those buried guitar melodies was a truly unholy combination. The newer stuff certainly isn't terrible, but its just been done before. Rec albums: To Violate the Oblivious, The Funeral of Being, Defective Epitaph, split with Nortt.

Paysage d'hiver: Many BM bands, perhaps starting with Burzum, have used ambient music as their inspiration. Using highly repetitive song structures, with subtle variations, to create a hypnotic feel and when done well, can lead to a musical climax of sort. This one man project from Switzerland take the ambient influence to full effect, actually recording works that are pure ambient, on top of Black Metal material. A project with a very epic feel as well. The man behind this project is also behind Dark Space, who aren't too shabby either. Rec albums: split with Lunar Gate, Schnee, Die Festung, Paysage d'hiver.

Varathron: Another of the Hellenic bands, I find them heavier and rawer at times than their countrymen Necromantia and Rotting Christ. In the early days they retained a heavy thrash influence, sometimes using harmonized leads (though not in the traditional way), amazing drumming, yet were more than adept at writing slower material as well. The earlier stuff is proof that you don't need a surplus of keyboards to create atmospheric music. Rec albums: His Majesty at the Swamp, Genesis of Apocryphal Desire, Walpurgisnacht.

Master's Hammer: A very fine Czech act, at least in the early days. Its hard for me to describe what makes Ritual such a fine album, but I think it comes down to awesome guitar riffing and excellent drumming and I'm also quite fond of Franta Storm's high pitched vocals. Its predecessor, the Jilmence Occultist added orchestral elements as well as Timpani to the musical palette. This album is some sort of concept album about a Bohemian love triangle...or something like that. At times its almost like what a Black Metal Devil Doll album would sound like. Rec albums: Ritual, The Jilemnice Occultis.

The Meads of Asphodel: One of the more interesting bands I've come across recently, and to call them interesting is an understatement. Absolutely amazing would be more appropriate. Don't let the goofy LARP photos fool you, this band is truly brilliant. They utilize middle-eastern influences, doom and power metal elements and best of all, ex-Hawkwind bassist Alan Davey is one of their members. Their cover of Assassins of Allah is pretty amazing. A highly political and intelligent band with several concept albums involving the story of Christ and the evolving Roman\historical attitude towards him, as well as more contemporary commentary. A truly brilliant band, if you're so much as an iota interested in experimental or avantgarde Black Metal, you owe it to yourself to check this band out. Rec albums: split with Mayhem, Damascus Steel, Exhumming the Grave of Yeshua, The Excommunication of Christ.

Akerocoke: I know some kvlt kiddies will object but I really like this band. Despite their poor taste in fashion and adolescent fondness for nude/topless women in the artwork, they make some really brilliant music. Musically they incorporate elements of Death Metal (riffing-wise and on vocals) along with diverse instrumentation. I find they consistently conjure up an unholy and unsettling atmosphere that would make most bands envious. That said, I do think they overuse clean vocals at times. Rec albums: Chronozon, Goat of Mendes.

Sorcier des Glaces: A very intriguing and brilliant band I've just discovered. Hailing from the Metal hotbed of Quebec, they incorporate accousitc and keyboard passages that are well composed. Their heavy parts are as blistering as a tempestuous snow storm. This allows the two, seemingly disparate, elements to be further showcased and thus form a synthesis. Brilliant yet understated. If you like them, you should also check out Frozen Shadows. Rec albums: Snowland, Moonrise in Total Darkness.

Grand Belial's Key: If you like your BM straight-forward, with no pretensions about atmosphere or keyboards or any of that other stuff, yet still want something that's musically intelligent, GBK are for you. GBK's music is highly aggressive, yet still refined in its own way and unlike most bands who play in this style, GBK have more than adequate production values and they still have room for excellent melodic interplay. And their views on religion make Richard Dawkins seem like an apologist. Rec albums: The Judeobeast Assassination, Mocking the Philanthropist.

Forgotten Woods: A band with very good songwriting ability. Although the first full length and EP are widely praised, the album I like the most is The Curse of Mankind. This album has a crystal clear production yet still raw enough for most purists, a very epic feel, amazingly tasteful and subtle drumming and some folk bits here and there. Its another one of my top BM albums and I do like the vocals as well which recall Varg but don't sound derivative. Rec albums: The Curse of Mankind, Sjel Av Natten.

Graveland: Graveland's music can be roughly divided into two phases, the more recent epic BM phase and the older, rawer BM phase. To be honest I don't find the earlier stuff all that interesting, except for Capricornus' hilarious out of time drumming. But that may be due to my preference for more epic-sounding stuff over the more pedestrian BM stuff. I generally find Graveland's more epic material to be really good stuff, perfect for psyching you up before entering battle, despite the sadly cartoonish artwork that prevails at times. I'm not saying the early stuff is terrible, it just doesn't really hit me in any meaningful way but maybe I need to listen to it more. Rec albums: Creed of Iron, Following the voice of Blood, Immortal Pride.

Thorns: A band I wish had released more material. Thorns' early work before Snorre's imprisonment was some of the most riff-driven and atmospheric black metal ever produced and was a heavy influence on the early work of other Norwegian bands like Mayhem and Emperor. Some of the riffs are downright spine-tingling, see Aerie Descent or Funeral March to the Grave for examples. The self-titled featured some industrial touches along with some wonderfully dissonant guitar playing. Highly recommended. Rec albums: Thorns, Grymyrk, Tronterdun.

Blut Aus Nord: Don't let this French act's poor German grammar fool you (knowing the French it's most likely a deliberate stab at the Germans-but whatever you do don't mention the war!). Almost everything this band has released is absolutely brilliant. The early stuff is quite subtle in its brilliance, the way the depressing guitar melodies and the subtle keyboards interact and the painful shrieking vocals. The newer stuff is basically what Godflesh would sound like if Justin Broadrick ever had an interest in Black Metal, although not always with superior results. Rec albums: The Work Which Transforms God, Ultima Thulee, Memoria Vestusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age, The Mystical Beast of Rebellion.

Dodheimsgard: DHG's music is quite bizarre and unsettling, and its industrial/avantgarde BM of the highest quality. Most BM of this style comes off as gimmicky and unconvincing, but not so with this band. Although this band's latest album does suffer mightily from crappy vocals but the mid-era of this band's output doesn't have this problem. A truly unique act that stands alone. Rec albums: Satanic Art, 666 International, Monumental Possession.

Sarcofago: One of the original Brazilian bands. Sarcofago are pretty thrashy but can have a rather evil vibe going at times. INRI is an absolutely essential album for any fan of BM. If you like these guys, you should also check out other South American acts like Vulcano, Mystifier and Hadez. Rec albums: I.N.R.I., Rotting, the Laws of Scourge.

Profanum (Pol): A band with an interesting take on symphonic BM. Profanum drop the standard guitars and basses and went instead with keyboards, pianos and violins. Essentially this makes the music closer to Dark Ambient but the harsh moments and the vocals allow this to be classed as BM. A must for anyone looking for something original in the largely unoriginal field of symphonic BM. Rec albums: Musaeum Esotericum, Profanum Aeternum-Eminence of Satanic Imperial Art.

This concludes Part 2 of my guide, I hope to post part 3 in the next few days. I hope you found this interesting and discovered some new bands through this. Feel free to add your comments as always. Keep it heavy.

Nokturnal MortumBarathrumHailXasthurPaysage d'HiverDarkspaceVarathronMaster's HammerThe Meads of AsphodelAkercockeSorcier Des GlacesFrozen ShadowsGrand Belial's KeyForgotten WoodsGravelandThornsBlut aus NordDodheimsgardSarcofagoVulcanoHadezMystifierProfanum


  • Buffalohed

    Another excellent journal. I think you actually cover some of the more important black metal artists in this journal than you did in the first in-depth guide. Numerous artists covered here are absolutely essential listening: Graveland, Thorns, Blut Aus Nord, Grand Belial's Key, Forgotten Woods, and Nokturnal Mortum are all very important in BM history.

    25 Ene 2008, 20:02
  • Buffalohed

    Well, after looking back at Part I, I rescind my first comment - I had forgotten you had Immortal, DSO, Mutiilation, etc on there :)

    25 Ene 2008, 20:07
  • keitekk

    you definitely forgot Nocte Obducta. though the real beauty lies in the highly poetic [german] lyrics, the music's very atmospheric and avant-garde.

    29 Ene 2008, 21:59
  • moderndecayment

    You forgot to add Xasthur's emocide attitudes

    2 Feb 2008, 4:40
  • Worm-Infested

    You completely forgot the best Xasthur work (Nocturnal Poisoning) and instead listed one of his newer albums (which you even said to avoid and which I agree are sub-par) instead. Good job otherwise.

    16 Mar 2008, 6:14
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