Black metal, a Small History

Among the subgenres of metal, black metal may be the most distinct. Many bands are reclusive, reluctant to play live shows, meet media or do photo shoots. Some “bands” like Burzum are really a one man show. There’s a prominent DIY culture in the black metal community (particularly in Norway) which echoes back to the early punk scene. In fact, one could argue that while other subgenres like doom and power have their roots in bands like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, these bands are more influenced by Venom and Hellhammer, both very punk influenced bands.

But what really separates black metal from the rest? Without a doubt, it has to be the culture of active rejection mainstream and acceptable cultural values. Just look at this guy’s blog for a second. He’s basically promoting racism, hate and propaganda for white supremacy. Varg Vikernes, known for murdering one of his bandmates and his outrageous views on life, is a prime example of this subculture. Though not representative of all black metal bands, many other bands in the genre have ties to anti-Christian organizations.

Black metal is characterized by lo-fi records and screamed vocals

This is not to say, however, that all black metal bands are satanic, pagan, or anti-Christian. In fact, Bathory, one of the progenitors of black metal was none of these. The black metal scene attracted many hardcore right-wing activists in Norway in the 90’s. Many of these people called for Norwegians to return to pagan ways, and used the black metal scene to perpetuate their identity and cause. Over 50 churches in the early 90’s were either burned, or attempted to be burned. Many of these were centuries old staff churches.

Black metal was created to reject. Everything about it is made to be inaccessible to the general public. From the poor quality recording to the dissonant tones used. Yet, today it is still a thriving scene. People are still listening to the music and making social commentary.

Modern black metal at its finest