Black metal is a controversial heavy metal subgenre that, along with death metal, presents the ultimate expression of anger and aggression. It started in the early 1980s on the foundation of groups like Celtic Frost, Venom and Bathory that primarily found their inspiration through the textual part (lyrics about Satanism, spiritualism, magic and nature) with less focus on the music for those lyrics. This first period is also known as the first wave of black metal.
Second wave of black metal and Black Circle
In the 1990s, the second wave started. This wave is primarily connected toNorway, where it begun. Most famous Norwegian representatives of this wave are black metal bands: Mayhem, Darkthrone and Burzum, but it also included other bands such as Gorgoroth, Satyricom, Emperor and Immortal.
The leader of the Mayhem band, known under his alias Euronymous,leda secret organization called Black Circle that fought against Christianity with terrorist actions (burning down churches); they also applied the same “measures” on some bands they didn’t consider “evil enough” (Therion, Paradise Lost). The situation culminated when the leader of Burzum band, VargVikernes, cruelly killed Euronymous because he wanted to take over leading the circle and because there was some unsolved business about publishing Burzum’s album(Burzumwas under Euronymous’ label). Vikerneswent to jail for this murder, where he spent 16 years. This meant the end of Black Circle.
Black metal was heavily criticized by many elements of society that didn’t understand black metal lyrics that spoke about Satanism, Christianity, war, hatred for humanity, etc. However, at the same time, black metal experienced a meteoric rise among heavy metal fans in the 1990s.
Black metal appeared simultaneously in Europe (primarily Scandinavian countries) and across the Atlantic. The most famous bands from this period were Poison and Possessed from the USA, andBathoryfrom Sweden.
Poison was extremely popular and commercially successful during the 1980s and approximately till 1995. They have managed to sell over 40 million albums across the world. Their most famous hit was “Every Rose has its Thorn”. Their first album, which was an incredible breakthrough, was released in 1986. It was named Look What The Cat Dragged In. Over the period of their activity, they have released 8 albums, 4 live albums, 5 compilations and 28 radio singles.
Possessed was established in 1983. They were first noted for their strong and quick playing style as well as the lead singer’s harsh vocal. After initial success, they stopped working together after just 4 years, in 1987. They joined back together in 1990 and stayed together for a short 3 years. Jeff Becerra, the lead vocal, again started the group in 2007 and said that the new album would be released sometime soon.While working together, band members released two albums: Seven Churches in 1985 and Beyond the Gates in 1986. In May 1987 they released their third album with 5 songs, called The Eyes of Horror,which was something significantly different from previous black metal themes. On this third album, Satanism was almost completely avoided and the music sounded much more like the thrash metal style.