Black metal is a heavy metal sub style that has a particularly dark, brutal and rapid sound (although some bands do have a melodic sound). There is a special accent on drums, and it is positive if a drummer is rapid and plays swiftly, applying the blast beat technique. Drums in black metal are rapid, with repeated patterns. In some songs, drums take over a slower role, often followed by a “dry” and empty sound to create a certain atmosphere.
Characteristics of black metal music
Burzum and Xathur were especially colorful black metal bands when it came to that specific outlining of certain parts of the song with drumming.
Black metal is also very characteristic for sliding guitar riffs. The guitar sound in black metal is relatively thin or—quite the opposite—wide, but there is no middle path (there is only treble and bass).
Black metal bands are recognizable for their extreme, sharp, even screaming vocals. Some black metal bands recorded albums with a symphony orchestra – these were criticized by some “serious” black metal fans, saying that this is not a “true black metal sound.” However, they used many elements such as choirs, violins and organs, which all gave a cathedral-like atmosphere.
Black metal groups don’t often use electronic keyboards; those using them more often are being referred to as symphonic black metal bands.
Black metal music is cold, dark, tragic, depressed, down and even reflective. Lyrics are often about Satanism, Paganism and the occult; they often speak badly of Christianity and other religions. The lyrics sometimes focus on fantasy, such as Middle Earth from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (the focus of Austrian band Summoning). Other bands create their own fictional worlds. For example, Norwegian band Immortal located their lyrics in an imagined kingdom of Blashyrkh, ruled by the greedy king Raven dark.
Something particularly specific for black metal bands is that they paint band members’faces in black and white.
Famous black metal bands
Bathory was a real representative of black metal. This Norwegian band was established in 1983 and their albums, especially the first four of them, were the basis for Scandinavian black metal, something that the following black metal bands closely emulated. Bathory left their extreme black metal sound on their fifth album called Hammer heart that was released in 1990, creating a sound that was named Viking metal, due to its very specific Scandinavian theme. Bathory came to an abrupt end when band founder Quorthorn died of heart failure in 2004.
Morbid Angel is a USA founded and based black metal band that started playing in 1980, releasing their first album in 1989. These guys live in Florida, and British magazine Terrorized placed their first album, Altars of Madness,at the 1st position on the list of 40 best death metal albums. The band’s guitar player, Trey Azagthoth, was also rated as one of the best death metal guitarists. The band’s songs are technically complex and almost perfectly executed, thanks to the great technical perfection of Trey and Pete Sandoval, the drummer. Morbid Angel is one of the most popular black metal bands when it comes to sales results. They have managed to sell about half a million of albums after three of their albums were released for sale up until 2003.