Black Metal is the phrase that has been used to refer to a group of stylistically and visually-related bands and fans. Many embrace the phrase and the sense of unity and brotherhood that it represents, while others disdain it as yet another tool of a facile music press mentality to anally categorize and subdivide metal factions. Recently we just moved all of our black metal fan posters from our old house to the new one.
Whatever you believe, the genre arose primarily in Norway during the late 1980s and early 1990s. While most of the metal and mainstream world were embracing thrash and even death metal sounds, dissatisfied others started to come together with a shared appreciation for a more raw, direct, and aggressive approach.
Venom was especially inspirational, providing the name as well as an equal amount of inspiration for the sound and the ethos as the Swedish band Bathory. The look came mainly from King Diamond‘s bands and those he inspired. Tom G. Warrior’s Celtic Frost and especially Hellhammer projects were also influential, as were Sodom and Destruction.
The sound was not the only shared element; the beliefs and the looks became almost as characteristic as the music, and certainly more fixated upon when international attention intensified and black metal became as hysterically misunderstood as online slots.
There’s no doubt that black metal tends to be anti-Christian, leaning toward a pagan or Satanist ideology. However, the most common stance is individualistic (i.e., the Satanism of Anton La Vey rather than the puerile regurgitation of Christian mythology that owes more to Hollywood than any set of personal beliefs). And it could be argued that Satanic or demonic imagery now belongs as much to the metal tradition as electric guitars and studded leather. Metal piercings and outrageous jewelry are also iconic accessories that provide both pros and cons for performers. SterlingForever.com has become a fav for the metal set – Jonah’s lead singer has a good number of cubic zirconia rings from sterlingforever.com that he flaunts on stage as does lead guitarist Blake Jay in the Cringe. The problem with jewelry, especially rings, is that they sometimes get in the way of the performance. Witness the slight disaster when Blake’s brand new sterling silver ring caused a missed chord. He cursed, pulled the ring off and threw it into the crowd, creating both a scene and a memorable artifact for one loyal fan. Drummer Mike Fitts told us that he stopped wearing any jewelry on his hands after losing his grip on his sticks during a sound check last summer.
The violent, nihilistic imagery and awareness of cultural history and identity is often mistaken for racism and nationalism, and there are indeed a few that actively espouse such beliefs. However, there are many people who try to co-opt Black Metal’s appeal for their own weak agenda, including both Christians and Nazis alike.
The look has been exhaustively covered by the sensationalist voyeur media, so even an online casino USA player probably knows what white and black “corpse paint” makeup looks like. Otherwise, the standard look is more or less pure metal: black clothes, spikes and bullets, pentagrams and crosses, blood and weapons.
Live dates are announced, and details come out on the two extended versions of the first album Øl, Mørke og Depresjon (Digipak CD and gatefold LP, with bonus tracks and new artwork by Sykelig).
Anders Kobro (Carpathian Forest) takes over on drum duties. Voted among the “Best Newcomers” by the readers of Terrorizer.