And Black Metal?

So now that we’re somewhat familiar with Bluegrass, let’s move on to its distant…distant, distant cousin: Black Metal. Once again, I am no expert and will be borrowing much text from ye olde Wikipedia and some other sources, including some pros at Reddit.

Black Metal

Alright, I’m going to make the assumption that we’re all somewhat familiar with metal music.  Complex song structures, shredding guitars, blast beats, and screaming vocals (yes, now we’re talking!)  But then again, we’re not talking just any metal here, we’re talking BLACK metal.  So what’s the difference?  And, as I’m sure you were just about to ask, how does it differ from death metal?

The upside down pentagram: a sure sign of Black Metal. (from wikipedia's black metal page)

Actually, Black Metal most noticeably differs from other metal genres in ideology, instead of musical style.  In its early days, Black Metal was mostly driven by Satanic themes.  That doesn’t necessarily hold true now, however, but Anti-Christian themes are still very prominent.  Atheism and individualism are also common ideas.  Though it might be difficult to come to this conclusion on your own, as the vocalists commonly “use high-pitched and raspy vocals which include shrieking, screaming and snarling.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_metalDistorted guitars and the use of dissonance are also used to “yield foreboding and fear-inducing sounds.”  So far, this sounds exactly like bluegrass…

The modern musical variation in what is considered to be Black Metal is vast, so any short discussion will not be sufficient. However, this site provided the best description I could find for the classic Black Metal sound.  Here is some good text from that page:

Black metal is an extreme subgenre of metal characterized by snarled or shrieked vocals and raucous tremolo riffs. The bass tends to be, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. Production tends to be trebly and raw. Most bands adopt a relatively simplistic style, though some of the more mainstream acts (Emperor is a notable example) are more technical. Generally, technicality is frowned upon and soloing is infrequent and hardly ever used. A clearer, more discernible but atonal vocal style is often used, usually in conjunction with a harsher shrieking style. Keyboards are frequently adopted. Usage of folk, neoclassical and, to a lesser extent, ambient elements is frequent.

Notice that folk aspects are sometimes incorporated…this may warrant some further investigation, as Bluegrass and Folk are closely related.

Death metal, on the other hand, is typically more technical and often employs more low-growling vocals (or “death growls”) and screaming. And though it can be about many different things, lyrics may often “invoke slasher film-stylized violence.”  Hmm, this might be useful.

I think I gotta give fair warning right now, though. If there are any black metal purists out there, I will most likely disappoint you.  The metal music I will write will probably be a mix of death metal, black metal, metalcore, and, knowing my personal style and influences, southern metal.  Will I still be able to call it “blackgrass” though? I suppose we’ll see…

Anyhow, I looked at the list of black metal bands on wikipedia, and I found that I listen to exactly zero black metal bands.  Not a strong start…  I have, however, seen or listened to quite a few death metal bands, some of which are listed below. I’ll hold back recommendations though.  If you don’t listen to metal, I don’t foresee you looking these bands up and getting hooked.  I do think you’ll enjoy some of the band names though!

“Essential Black Metal” as recommended by Reddit

Some Death Metal bands I’m familiar with

Arsis, Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage, The Black Dahlia Murder, Gojira, Job for a Cowboy, Killwhitneydead, Napalm Death, Decapitated, Necrophagist, Through the Eyes of the Dead, The Red Chord.

And those are just a few.  Check out this list for full enjoyment.  The best band names are the ones you’ll find at small local shows though.  SUPPORT LOCAL METAL!  Ok, done.

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3 thoughts on “And Black Metal?

  1. For your project there are a few Black Metal bands I would highly recommend giving a deep listen to along with the staples you already mentioned.
    From the United States there’s Agalloch (these guys especially), Wolves in the Throne Room, and Cormorant. These three have a strong American folk music influence to them, albeit they use it very different ways. With Agalloch and WITTR there is a strong nature and mysticism influence in the music, and when I listen to bluegrass I also notice a great nature feel to the music also (that might just be me though). Here’s a few Youtube links to get you started:
    Agalloch-(http://youtu.be/PuPz7cMD3qs)
    WITTR-(http://youtu.be/4lmjAgPAc0U)
    Cormorant-(http://youtu.be/L2Pmh4m0pQw)

    And from outside the US check out Moonsorrow and Korpiklaani from Finland. IMO Moonsorrow are the masters of incorporating folk music with black metal (European style folk music mind you) and it might be useful to hear how they work. Korpiklaani don’t really play Black Metal, but metal nonetheless and have a much happier feel to them. And I’ll leave the link for and Ensiferum song (also from Finland, go figure) which is the only metal song that I can think of off the top of my head that has banjo in it (and a ripping banjo solo at that at about the 6:00 mark).
    Moonsorrow-(http://youtu.be/Eb1w8ln2yJk)
    Korpiklaani-(http://youtu.be/MdgLR9RttZQ)
    Ensiferum-(http://youtu.be/cO4QqaoFuso)

    I hope this helps and I don’t come off as a fan boy promoter ;)

    • blood and banjos says:

      My word, thank you for letting me start my morning off right. Great collection of links and suggestions!

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