Friday, 16 July 2010



Mayhem - Deathcrush (1987)

Here we go, a double-whammy of the most influential and notorious BM band EVER. Formed in the mid-1980's by a bunch of Norwegian teens, MAYHEM have managed to maintain a particular vision of brutality throughout their career, despite numerous setbacks and tragedies (see their Wikipedia entry for the full story). Before all the events that gave Mayhem, and BM in general, worldwide infamy, they were a bunch of Venom and Bathory obsessed kids creating their own crushing and EVIL music. This is the title track from their first album Deathcrush.

Mayhem - Freezing Moon (De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, 1994)

After Deathcrush, there were some line-up changes and the band enlisted a peculiar Swede known as Dead on vocals. This guy was the real deal (again check out the wiki for more info), and tragically killed himself before recording what was to be Mayhem's magnum opus De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Necrobutcher (these guys have such classy handles) the bass player left the band, leading to another peculiar (read: totally fucked up) fellow joining, Varg Vikernes aka Burzum. In 1993, the band got Attila Csihar from Tormentor do record the vocals, but prior to the release of the album, Vikernes (also involved in a series of church arsons around Norway) confronted the band's lead guitarist Euronymous and murdered him. The band broke up for a couple of years after this (eventually reforming with new and old members), and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was finally released in 1994.

Burzum - Dunkelheit (1996)

An incredibly controversial figure in BM history, Burzum has also been incredibly influential in terms of pioneering the "one-man black metal band". Let's face it, he is a totally deranged lunatic, yet has somehow managed to create a pretty massive cult following. Outsider art is one thing, but Burzum's monomaniacal dedication to the fucked-up political agendas that he expresses goes beyond that label into something much, much more sinister. Let us not forget that Vikernes is a convicted murderer and arsonist!

Immortal - Call of the Winter Moon (Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, 1992)

As you can no doubt gather, BM is pretty heavy shit! Thankfully Norway's Immortal are there to provide some light relief with their amazingly EVIL videos and catchy "black'n'roll" steez. This track is from an album called Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. On the cover is a panda breathing fire. 'Nuff said.

Darkthrone - A Blaze In The Northern Sky (live, 1991)

Darkthrone started out playing pretty straight-up death metal before evolving into black metal over a trilogy of albums that could be considered some of the genre's finest. A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under A Funeral Moon, and Transilvanian Hunger are definitive texts of BM: endless permutations of the blastbeat, EVIL raw production, epic riffage, and brutal vocals. Also these guys have a fondness for hiking through the grim and frostbitten winter forests. Their more recent albums have shifted from BM significantly, embracing old school NWOBHM, thrash and punk influences. Here's an extremely KVLT (read: budget) live rendition of "A Blaze in the Northern Sky".

Click here and here for interviews with the band's Fenriz and Nocturno Culto regarding the making of
A Blaze in the Northern Sky.



Venom - Witching Hour (live 1985)

This is where it all begins really - they called their second album Black Metal and coined the genre's name in the process, while the subject matter (Satan, Elizabeth Bathory, being buried alive, "hot for teacher" scenarios, EVIL) provided inspiration for black metal lyricists for decades to come. Coming on like a cruder and less sophisticated Motorhead, Venom were instrumental in the development of the genre as well as thrash and speed metal. This cut, from their first album Welcome To Hell (I reckon the album art is even more EVIL than Black Metal's) has been covered memorably (read: badly yet awesomely EVIL) by Mayhem.

Mercyful Fate - Curse of the Pharaohs (Melissa, 1983)

Danish metallers Mercyful Fate's King Diamond gets black-metal-founding-father points for helping to pioneer badass corpsepaint and having a human skull (named Melissa, also the title of their first album) and an inverted cross made of human bones on stage. This is a totally sweet (read: EVIL!) song about tomb robbing in Egypt! \m/

Bathory - Massacre (Under The Sign Of The Black Mark, 1987)

Alongside Venom, Sweden's Bathory are one of the most influential of the first-wave black metal bands. For the first time, some of the key signifiers of the genre really emerge prominently (blasting tempos, super fast guitar, main dude Quorthon's strangulated and EVIL screaming). Also, these guys are notable for not really playing live much (if at all!), which is pretty common for black metal bands. I mean, how can you be a misanthropic loner in a room full of people watching their favourite band?

Sarcófago - INRI (1987)

Brazilian extreme thrash upstarts who began when their founding vocalist Wagner Lamounier left Sepultura in its embryonic stages to create the most extreme and EVIL band ever. These guys also won the Wikipedia/Internet shit-talking award for the first band to don EVIL corpsepaint and call it as such. Whilst the extremely lo-fi production probably was what the band had to make do with at the time, this EVIL and raw approach has long since been a trademark of the style.

Tormentor - Anno Domini (1988)

Hailing from Hungary, Tormentor are a bit more obscure, yet no less EVIL, than the infamous Norwegian bands of second-wave Black Metal. Their awesome vocalist Attila Csihar has not only gone on to front Mayhem Mk. 2, but he has collaborated with the likes of Sunn O))) and Oren Ambarchi. Notable for incorporating synthesisers into their epic riffs, Tormentor only managed to put out one record during their first incarnation, 1988's Anno Domini.


Greetings. This will be an irregular series of postings about metal in all of its myriad shapes and forms, sights and smells, shreds and screams.

P.S: Friday is the most metal day of the week!

Photo by Peter Beste