For some people, black metal music is the embodiment of the uncompromising nature of non-conformity in music, while others avoid it completely because of its satanic themes. There are some irreconcilable opinions about the subject, but it is important to make sure that the bands that have contributed to Black Metal are given the credit they deserve.
Bathory is among the first bands that laid the building blocks for the genre. The band introduced heavy treble, shrieking and tinny production values which put less emphasis on the verse and chorus song structures with the guitar solos. For the first three years, there was no access to the band, and their first album was called Equimanthorn.
Mayhem’s Deathcrush album was released in 1987 from the Scandinavian black metal scene. Even if the music from Deathcrush may have been superseded by the black metal of more accomplished, innovative and raw musicians, its impact on the impressionable youth known as Black Circle cannot be denied. The band suffered in different ways, such as losing band members, media scrutiny and financial difficulties. However, the band was able to influence black metal in different ways, including guitar riffing, production aesthetics, and kick-starting the widespread usage of corpse paint.
Darkthrone’s Soulside Journey was considered to meet the standards of being a death metal album. Fenriz and Grishnackh were members of the group, and they shaped the band for over 15 years. Fenriz continued to produce more songs after Grischanckh was imprisoned. He released the song “The Cult is Alive” for which he switched up styles as he returned to primitive and punk thrash, which came to completely dominate the listening preferences of his fans.
Even if Immortal were not the first ones to put on wristbands for the corpse paint, they were able to present everything in an aesthetic package. Their image was just as much a part of their identity as their music was. The band was able to differentiate themselves through their instrumental dexterity, keeping a blistering pace for the music while maintaining the raw sound at the same time. The band stood for the naturalistic paganism of Vikernes, which says that nature is an unwelcoming and cold environment that people should struggle against but not embrace.
This is the first band that the orthodox purists said could not be considered black metal. The things that made the band popular are the same things that people claim broke them away from orthodoxy of black metal. The band was the first in the genre to bring a symphonic element in the music, while the musicianship and the technicality they are known for constitute an attempt of classing up the genre. They deemed these things antithetical to the original ethos of Black Circle.
Dimmu Borgir is grouped with bands such as the Emperor, which have some factions with the retroactive attempt of stripping the Black metal label. They wanted to go for something other than the Black metal roots so that they could try out a broader and more experimental extreme metal influence. Other bands in this category are ABSU, Wolves in The Throne Room and Enslaved.