Whenever you talk to a non-metalhead about metal in general, their mind typically pictures a black metal band. You probably know precisely which prejudice I’m talking about. Although corpse paint, high-pitched tones, heavy music, and guttural growls are definitely characteristics of the genre, there are quite a few misconceptions about black metal as well.
First and foremost, what many people fail to realize is that black metal is just one of many directions metal music can take. On top of that, there are several sub-genres of black metal as well. However, once you start talking about symphonic black metal, melodic black metal, death metal, atmospheric black metal, raw black metal, death metal, heavy metal — they quickly lose interest.
Here, at Bloody Rain, we share your passion for black metal music! Our goal is to share that passion with fellow metalheads and help you expand your horizons and discover mighty new bands. Here, we’ll discuss our favorite black metal artists, talk about upcoming albums, and share interesting facts, news, and events to keep you up to speed with everything black metal.
The Brief History of Black Metal
Metalhead or not, it’s undoubtedly curious how the tranquil, peaceful scenery of Norway gave birth to one of the heaviest and arguably the most extreme of metal genres. The “first wave” of black metal was more so a slight deviation to death and thrash metal sound that was dominant during the 1980s.
Members of bands such as Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost, and Hellhammer started transitioning towards a more raw sound and formed the black metal scene at the time. To date, along with a few others, they are considered the pioneers of the genre.
However, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that black metal became popularized and a distinct Norwegian black metal scene emerged. Bands like Mayhem and Burzum brought a lot of attention to the genre, although through gruesome means like suicide, homicide, and church burnings.
Namely, Burzum’s frontman, Varg Vikernes, burned down four churches before stabbing Euronymous to death. Brutality has always followed this genre of music. So it’s no surprise black metal fans are often depicted as anti-christian, Satanists, Nazis, or worse. However, this level of violence is strictly the byproduct of the late ‘90s and a handful of extreme examples.
This type of brutality generated a lot of negative publicity, which in turn helped the distinct sound spread all over Europe, eventually reaching the U.S. as well. Today, there are millions of fans of Darkthrone, Immortal, Emperor, and other iconic black metal bands all over the world.
Philosophy and Sound
It’s difficult to discern exactly what inspired this specific style of metal. What’s obvious is that the genre stemmed from general discontent and social angst. It was a rebellious movement recognizable by raw emotion, power, and anger — both instrumentally and lyrically.
If you’re a Darkthrone fan, you’re probably familiar with Fenriz’s explanation of the inspiration behind the genre. Namely, he believes that this artform naturally originated as an answer to the exhaustion and debilitation of the “easy life.”
Whatever the individual motifs of the artists may have been, one thing is certain — black metal leverages high-pitched guitars and treble guitars to produce a specific raw (lo-fi) sound. It’s fast, it’s loud, and it’s powerful.
Moreover, the vast majority of the songs differ from standard song structures. Rather than gradually leading towards the chorus, most black metal tracks accentuate instrumentalization. Vocally, they often involve high-pitch vocals, growls, and screams. From a lyrical standpoint, most songs are anti-religious in nature, often featuring apocalyptic motifs.
This type of music, along with the visual representation of the bands, creates a uniquely gloomy, dark, almost tainted atmosphere. Although the polar opposite of the bright and colorful landscape the music comes from, the sound still resonates with millions of black metal fans across the globe.
Enjoying the Art That Is Black Metal
Ever since black metal’s inception, the genre was wrapped in prejudice. There are still some misconceptions and misconstrued beliefs regarding both the bands and the fans. Admittedly, some negative connotations are justified, thanks in large to extreme behavior from certain members of the black metal scene. Still, to paint all black metal fans as goat-sacrificing Satanists is laughable if not borderline insane.
Nowadays, however, both the music and its main characteristics have become somewhat assimilated into the mainstream culture. The brutality, angst, and rebellious attitude are still evidently present. Consequently, many people turn to this genre and use music as an outlet. We fully support venting through black metal, as long as it doesn’t give rise to violent tendencies.
However, many bands have “branched out” and started adding their own, unique elements to the core of the sound. As is the case with most genres, this birthed a myriad of sub-genres. Today, you can now make the distinction between symphonic, depressive, and atmospheric, for instance.
Many of the “newer” bands don’t feel comfortable staying within the confines of such strict categorization. For instance, the majority of black metal fans didn’t consider Cradle of Filth a black metal band at all. On one hand, there are definitely elements which justify categorizing Cradle as a symphonic black metal band. However, Danny himself stated that they could be considered black in terms of philosophy and atmosphere, but not in terms of the sound itself.
Regardless of the subtle differences between the genres or the way black metal is depicted and understood by society, we believe it is a unique art form that millions of fans enjoy. And our goal is to unite them all under the same banner.
Bloody Rain, therefore, welcomes all metalheads to our community!