Black metal is arguably the most extreme subgenre of metal. It is famous for its dark, misanthropic atmosphere, and often satanic imagery and lyrics. This particular genre is said to have originated in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the band Venom, in 1982, released an album titled “Black Metal“, after having decided to take their music into darker extremes through satanic lyrics. Several European bands quickly followed suit, including Bathory, Hellhammer and Mercyful Fate.
The Norwegian Scene
By the end of the 80s, the second wave of this mythical subgenre had emerged from Norway. Bands like Gorgoroth, Burzum (Varg Vikernes), Mayhem and Emperor, became the pioneers of a new style and subculture, which was adored by a few and despised by many.
The early Norwegian black metal scene attracted international media attention after it became known that certain prominent members within the scene, were responsible for the murdering of other members, as well as planning and performing a series of church burnings in Norway. Because most people in society condemned these brutal actions, they achieved their desired effects. The members of the black metal underground subculture now had an identity, and they became feared and loathed. Additionally, their anti-Christian message came across, primarily due to the media.
Black metal is generally known for its dark, misanthropic and anti-religious views, in addition to dabbling in the occult, and sometimes reviving pagan beliefs. Unfortunately, self-harm is somewhat common among young members. Luckily, they now have the ability to see a doctor from home, by using an app created by Livi. You can click here to read more about it. The black metal scene tried to remain underground and obscured from the mainstream.
Black metal lyrics often attack Christianity, and other institutional religions, claiming their doctrines to be oppressive and false. Bands like Gorgoroth and Mayhem are well remembered for their controversial live shows, which sometimes included sheep heads impaled on stakes, mock sacrifices and crucifixions, while the band members were soaked in blood from various animals.
Inspired by the bands as mentioned earlier, many newer ones behave similarly and often dress up in the same way. Army boots, spiked accessories, black garments and satanic symbols, such as upside down crosses and pentagrams, are quite common. These items help reinforce their anti-religious stance. Arguably the most notable trait, however, is the corpse paint. This is black and white paint, which the artists mix with either real or fake blood, to help enforce a corpse-like appearance.
Another interesting trademark of the black metal subgenre is the “lo-fi” quality of the music itself. Black metal was, and still is, an underground genre. The pioneers of the genre often had limited money, and insufficient equipment and recordings were usually conducted at home. The fact that the music wasn’t as well-produced as one perhaps would expect from successful recording artists, reinforced the black metal image of an underground, non-mainstream genre. Consequently, many newer groups stick to this lo-fi style, whether they have a choice or not.