The Black Metal sound and style was influenced mainly by its “First Wave” as it’s called, although this actually refers to when the first hints of Black Metal were introduced on the music scene in the 1980’s, by mainly Thrash Metal bands, like Venom and Bathory. Other influential, late 80’s bands were Hellhammer, Bulldozer, Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, and the Italian band Death SS. Characteristic of Black Metal sound is high-pitched screaming and shrieking vocals, extremely anti-Christian, misanthropic, nihilistic, and pro-Satanism and Paganism lyrical content, as well as the heavily distorted guitar, and fast-paced rhythms that are typical of most Black Metal acts. All of these characteristics, however, were mainly established during the prime days of Black Metal performances, which took place in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This was the ‘Second Wave’ of Black Metal, which some American acts participated in, but is well-known moreso for the acts based in Scandinavia; with bands emerging from Finland, Norway, and Sweden, among the most prominent. Norway especially, for they have their own distinct Black Metal scene, referred to as “Norwegian Black Metal.”
The Second Wave of Black Metal, was primarily in the early 1990’s, when the underground Black Metal scene was at its peak, with its main scenes in Scandinavia. Bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Satyricon, Immortal, Darkthrone, Enslaved and Emperor, were the main focus during this second wave of Black Metal, but unfortunately, not really for their musical ability, and more for the fact that they were connected with a string of violent criminal acts. To illustrate once again, that this is an -unfortunate- fact, this is my example: Would you say that Tupac was the best rap artist because he was murdered, in the same fashion as much of his music lyrically depicted? No, definitely not. However, the Black Metal bands listed above received -much- of the credit for the Black metal scene, based on their crimes, and the “acting out” of their lyrical content, –NOT for their actual musical ability. Some would argue, that Black Metal bands do not primarily focus on musical ability in the first place, but the Black Metal subgenre is in fact, a more complex form of Metal, and does require its own form of talent to carry off. That stated, moving on to some of the lesser known Black Metal bands, such as the Swedish bands, Marduk and Dissection, Beherit and Impaled Nazarene from Finland, as well as Sodom and Destruction.
During the Second Wave, the first Black Metal label was started independently by Ã˜ystein Aarseth of Mayhem, called “Deathlike Silence Productions,” which was largely successful in the underground Black Metal scene. This success was also in a large part due to the fact that Aarseth also opened a record store that primarily sold Black Metal, called Helvete. This successful break in the Black Metal scene was followed by others; because of the excellent performance of the independent label Deathlike Silence Productions, other labels began accepting Black Metal acts, whereas they had been refused beforehand. Aarseth was also rumored to be a protagonist of the Black Metal Inner Circle, which is depeicted by many, both pro- and anti- Black Metal, as a cult following, mainly dedicated to music co-mingled with Satanistic beliefs. Not only that, but Helvete was also rumored to be the meeting and conspiring place of the Black Metal Inner Circle, that many believe are the primary culprits of over fifty church burnings in Norway. In 1993, the one man band Burzum, or Varg Vikernes murdered Aarseth in his home, and was later convicted of a few of the above mentioned arsons, murder, and was sentenced to twenty-one years in prison, where, he began producing much more low-key electronic music.
The Third Wave of Black Metal is not so well defined, and is instead referred to as “Modern Black Metal.” Most of this genre’s underground notoriety comes the Eastern European Black Metal scene, which incoporates more early Pagan lyrical content and stage performances, instead of or sometimes including Satanist content. Graveland, Svarrogh, the Ukrainian NSBM band Nokturnal Mortum, NegurÄƒ Bunget, Arkhon Infaustus from France, Antaeus, Naglfar, Ofermod, and Xasthur, Leviathan, and Averse Sefira from the United States, are some of the prime examples of Modern Black Metal. The French Black Metal scene, as a result of Theistic Satanist lyrical themes that are the primary focus of the French label Norma Evangelium Diaboli, is widely regarded as a joke. This is mainly because Theistic Satanism is widely regarded as a joke. The earlier mention of NSBM, as a closing note, in explanation, in National Socialist Black Metal, which sounds nice, to those who think of Socialism as a brotherly hug-hug sort of thing. In Reality-land, however, NS Black Metal, is the Nationalism Black Metal scene, aka the Black Metal bands whose lyrical content is known for xenophobia, celebrating racism.