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Published:November 2nd, 2009 20:25 EST
Scandinavian Black Metal Music

Scandinavian Black Metal Music

By Sean Beelzebul

                Black Metal is a sub-genre of Heavy Metal that was developed in the early 80`s by shock rock bands, Venom, Possessed, Merciful Fate and Bathory. The emphasis of these bands was united by one abstract theological idea "Satan and Satanism.  Although these forerunners of the Norwegian and Swedish black metal scene were overtly Satanic in their theatrics, lyrical content, and intensity, they were a bit different than the scene as it stands today. These bands were probably not truly Satanists. In fact, the stage play and silly antics these bands performed (with the exception of King Diamond, the singer for Merciful Fate, who has always been a genuine Satanist) were most likely adopted for shock value. This short piece will outline the genealogy of Black Metal and its change and growth through the last several decades.

                The bands that created Black Metal in the early 80`s were highly influenced by another sub-genre of metal popular at the time "thrash metal. Although bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax were quite extreme for the time, it was the underground thrash movement that anticipated Black Metal. Bands such as Slayer, Dark Angel and even Exodus, brought to the scene overt images of Satanism. This early thrash movement would motivate the next step in the progression, the development of metal in Norway.

                By the late 80`s and early 90`s thrash metal had lost its edge, music and metal had deteriorated and new forms of simplified and more popular vocal styles of rock and roll were replacing metal as a whole. Grunge and alternative were already competing for dominance. The American underground scene had already withdrawn and created death metal, a form of thrash influenced metal with much faster drums and unintelligibly low vocal grunts replacing the anthemic cries and shouts of thrash metal. Death metal was a reaction to a world of commercialism and greed, the music depicted sordid and macabre scenes of gruesome acts. Bands like Cannibal Corpse, Death, and Carcass were expressing the dark nature of human existence through superfast drum blasts, low toned vocals and frantic guitar solos.

                As Death Metal was being created, an equally intense, equally twisted form of extreme metal was being created in Scandinavia. This form of music was Black Metal, and its focus was and still is actual Satanism, Satanic practice and various forms of mysticism and devil worship. The first bands in this category came from Norway; Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor, Immortal, and Gorgoroth are just a few. Musically, these bands replaced the guitar solos of other forms of metal with atmospheric keyboards, and adopted the superfast drumming of death metal. Vocals are often unintelligible like Death Metal, however they are higher pitched shrieks and other ghastly sounds of demonic inspiration. Yet, there is more to Black Metal than just the music, there is the Satanism. The early Black Metal movement performed incessant church burnings throughout Norway. According to the musicians themselves, these acts were symbolic of a return to Scandinavian culture before Christianity was forced in, replacing the original Viking culture. Although the early scene was responsible for these church burnings, and a handful of ritual murders of primarily other Satanists, the scene is not excessively violent today. Today, the underground Black Metal movement serves as an outlet for any person on the fringes of their social structure. True, the images of anti-Christianity, anti-establishment and Satan are intensely frightening, and shocking, the emphasis of these bands is not necessarily evil. Most of these bands, and indeed most of the scene today have no part in the church burnings, and no part in the early scenes violence. In a VH1 interviewed with Enslaved, an early band in the scene that shared the same drummer as Emperor, the band stated that their only motive for the dark music was to inspire a return to the original culture of Norway before Christianity came.