Can someone explain Black Metal to me?

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I've tried...but I just can't seem to get into Black Metal. I think it's mainly because I don't know what I'm supposed to be LISTENING for...

With Power Metal, it's the dragons, templars, pirates, soaring guitar riffs and keyboards. With Death Metal, it's the relentless, crushing, all consuming, wall of sound. But Black Metal...I'm at a loss. I've listened to some Immortal and an Emperor song or two...but...I don't know. I just don't 'get' Black Metal. When I listen to it, all I seem to hear is the bastard child of Death Metal and Thrash Metal...and I can't decide which one I'm supposed to like.

So...yeah. Explain Black Metal to me. What should I be focusing on? What makes a 'good' Black Metal song?

I can't really explain it, but a black metal band that I've always liked was enslaved.

Eh, it's hardly for everyone... It's usually got that quasi-satanist aesthetic that old heavy metal had combined with double picking and a flavoring of death metal vocals added onto the classic "King Diamond shriek". Sort of an amalgamation of styles... but an interesting one, at least to me.

I don't get black metal or death metal, so I can't help you.

Don't worry about it Black Metal isn't for everyone, you either get it or you don't.

Pretention and obscurity. Okay, to be honest there are very few BM bands that I have the time for due to the usually god awful sound quality that makes me think there's a wasp nest inside the amps. But still, I think what people look for in a 'good' BM song is high-pitched guitars producing buzzsaw riffs, insanely fast double bass drumming, shrieking vocals, melancholic keyboards and a overall sense of dread. Either that or it's about pretentious assholes lowering the quality of their own music so they can appear more 'kvlt', rather than produce something of substance, but whatever. Well you've already mentioned Emperor, so maybe give Bathory a try. Also this:

I'm not a fan of extreme metal but it seems to me that black metal is supposed to be atmospheric, progressive and doomy. Like doom metal but harsher.

And satanists/burning churchers/forest aesthetics.

Upon thinking about it, I couldn't really come up with any specific explanation of what black metal is and the difference from deth metal so I turned to wikipedia

Black Metal:

Instrumentation

Black metal guitarists usually favor high-pitched guitar tones and a great deal of distortion. The guitar is usually played with much use of fast tremolo picking and dissonance.Guitarists often use scales, intervals and chord progressions that yield the most fear inducing and ominous sounds. Guitar solos and low guitar tunings are rare in black metal.

The bass guitar is rarely used to perform stand-alone melodies. It is not uncommon for the bass guitar to be inaudible or to homophonically follow the bass lines of the electric guitar. Typically, drumming is fast-paced and uses double-bass and or blast beat techniques.

Black metal songs often stray from conventional song structure and often lack clear verse-chorus sections. Instead, many black metal songs contain lengthy and repetitive instrumental sections.

Death Metal:

Instrumentation

The setup most frequently used within the death metal genre is two guitarists, a bass player, a vocalist and a drummer often using "double bass blast beats". Although this is the standard setup, bands have been known to occasionally incorporate other instruments such as electronic keyboards.

The genre is often identified by fast, highly distorted and down tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking. The percussion is usually aggressive, and powerful; blast beats, double bass and exceedingly fast drum patterns frequently add to the complexity of the genre.

Death metal is known for its abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, as well as fast and complex guitar and drum work. Death metal may include chromatic chord progressions and a varied song structure, rarely employing the standard verse-chorus arrangement. These compositions tend to emphasize an ongoing development of themes and motifs.

Also, for a recommendation, try Graveworm. I've only just started listening to them myself and really like them. They're more symphonic than most other black metal bands.

All metal is just silly to me, I can't even listen to a metal song for more then a minute with out saying "DONE! I've heard it before"

Wait, you mean to say there are diffrent kinds of metal?

Zeroandx:
Wait, you mean to say there are diffrent kinds of metal?

Oh you have no idea... (or you do and I didn't pick out the sarcasm), but here's a small chart I like to share with people who don't realize all the subgenres that exist in Metal.

image

I could probably add to that too. Progressive Death Metal, Doom Metal, Symphonic Metal, Melodic Death Metal, and Deathcore right off the top of my head.

I only like a few select black metal bands. I find most of it hard to listen to, but there are still a few good ones.

Wolven Ancestry is my favourite black metal band.

From what i can tell, Black metal originated as satanic in order to add some shock value to their music but some people took the satanism in the genre seriously.
I'm not into the genre really but I just wanted a chance to post this
http://www.metalstorm.net/pub/fun_comments.php?fun_id=2
enjoy this fun list, I suggest checking out the other rules of metal on the site

No need to get it, apart from that it was made to make the posers get the hell away. Just listen, enjoy and try to avoid laughter.

Recorded a black metal song myself, just for shits and giggles!
http://www.myspace.com/corpsenail

I find you kind of like Black Metal or you don't and you usually know right away. But I could be wrong, what you should be listening for in good black metal is atmosphere and composition skill. Listen to some stuff by Ulver, Ihsahn, Arcturus, Emperor(just listen closely), and then figure out whether or not you like it.

Black metal is about creating atmosphere. It can sound fast and hateful, or slow and mournful, but black metal done right is about evoking a certain feeling. Some don't get this at all, and some love it, it's kind of hard to explain. Black metal is not so much about the music itself as it is about the atmosphere and emotion it creates with its often ugly sound.

Well, mostly it's about burning down churches and murdering people.

Which is to say it's just like the rest of metal.

OmniscientOstrich:

If that song was written to make me laugh, it did its job well

Jiefu:
Well, mostly it's about burning down churches and murdering people.

Which is to say it's just like the rest of metal.

Metallica?

*And don't gimme some bull like "It's not real metal" - it has metal in the name!"

Skullkid4187:
All metal is just silly to me, I can't even listen to a metal song for more then a minute with out saying "DONE! I've heard it before"

That's exactly how I feel about Hip Hop and Indie Rock.

OT - It's an acquired taste. Most people can't get into metal because they can't relate to anything it says. You have to be a certain kind of person to overall understand the unique levels of aesthetical merit this genre offers. Personally how anyone can like the following bands...boggles my mind: Radiohead, Phish, Rage Against the Machine, and so on...

Metal has passion, energy, intelligent lyrics which are thought provoking, challenging music structures, LAYERS upon sublayers of sound, numerous categories that fit into any kind of style, the actual legacy of rock and roll handed down from The Beatles and Chuck Berry...and they do one thing I will forever love metal for...

They don't sing about the psuedo-problems or the things in reality which are irrelevant. They focus on the abuse of authority, the worlds of fantasy, ancient mythology, in depth theology, philosophical studies, history, warfare, carnage, pain, horror, salvation, death, metaphysics, the universe, the human condition, the afterlife...the soul. It is the truest, reality filled, most intellectual genre of music we have in the world. Damnit.

there is more than one kind of metal? it all sounds like mindless screeching to me

and why is it all the metal fans I know insist on damaging their ears by lisening to that stuff so loud i can hear it from across the room I dont care if you lisin to it but I do not want to hear it

(prefers classic rock)

Vonnis:
Black metal is about creating atmosphere. It can sound fast and hateful, or slow and mournful, but black metal done right is about evoking a certain feeling. Some don't get this at all, and some love it, it's kind of hard to explain. Black metal is not so much about the music itself as it is about the atmosphere and emotion it creates with its often ugly sound.

This and only this. The rest of you are wrong; for shame. For shame.

Baneat:

Jiefu:
Well, mostly it's about burning down churches and murdering people.

Which is to say it's just like the rest of metal.

Metallica?

*And don't gimme some bull like "It's not real metal" - it has metal in the name!"

I have always and will always love Metallica. Everything from their catalog; and dare I say I know my metalz.

I don't listen to black metal much, I love me some Mercyful Fate and King Diamond though \m/

Here's some classic King Diamond for ya:

chickenhound:
there is more than one kind of metal? it all sounds like mindless screeching to me

and why is it all the metal fans I know insist on damaging their ears by lisening to that stuff so loud i can hear it from across the room I dont care if you lisin to it but I do not want to hear it

(prefers classic rock)

That guy going "RAAAAAHHHH!!" is singing the modern day equivalent of "Mama's in the factory... she ain't got no shoes...daddy's in the alley...he's lookin' for food...I'm in the kitchen...with the tombstone blues".

The Heavy Metal Nerd:
I've tried...but I just can't seem to get into Black Metal. I think it's mainly because I don't know what I'm supposed to be LISTENING for...

With Power Metal, it's the dragons, templars, pirates, soaring guitar riffs and keyboards. With Death Metal, it's the relentless, crushing, all consuming, wall of sound. But Black Metal...I'm at a loss. I've listened to some Immortal and an Emperor song or two...but...I don't know. I just don't 'get' Black Metal. When I listen to it, all I seem to hear is the bastard child of Death Metal and Thrash Metal...and I can't decide which one I'm supposed to like.

So...yeah. Explain Black Metal to me. What should I be focusing on? What makes a 'good' Black Metal song?

OMFG, my wife would have a ball explaining this one to you. I'll have her post a response tomorrow, just wait.

chickenhound:
there is more than one kind of metal? it all sounds like mindless screeching to me

and why is it all the metal fans I know insist on damaging their ears by lisening to that stuff so loud i can hear it from across the room I dont care if you lisin to it but I do not want to hear it

(prefers classic rock)

I know you don't want a serious answer to this, but check this out:



By subgenre and in order, those are power metal, Thrash metal, hair metal, doom metal, classic/heavy metal, speed metal, death metal, progressive metal, neoclassical metal, new wave of British heavy metal, and black metal. If you listened to each of them (which, kudos to you if you did; that's a lot of songs) you'll notice that only two of them involve screaming, and only a couple more have harsh vocals. Most of them are sung clean. This is just scratching the surface of what's out there, by the way -- I don't know of any other genre of music with this much variation, unless you want to list all pre-modern music as classical, instead of breaking it up into baroque, classical, romantic and so on.

To the OP: Black metal really isn't my subgenre, but I'd imagine that, like all metal, the trick to getting it is to listen to the whole. In metal, no instrument is truly more important than any other. The sound is really the combination of everything in the mix, not one or two lead instruments being backed up by the rest of the band.

Edit: Also, across the room? Is that all you're complaining about? I hope you're talking headphones, because with a stereo system, that's flippin' quiet. A classic rock fan should understand that -- or have you never heard a decent bar band play?

Arsen:

Skullkid4187:
All metal is just silly to me, I can't even listen to a metal song for more then a minute with out saying "DONE! I've heard it before"

That's exactly how I feel about Hip Hop and Indie Rock.

OT - It's an acquired taste. Most people can't get into metal because they can't relate to anything it says. You have to be a certain kind of person to overall understand the unique levels of aesthetical merit this genre offers. Personally how anyone can like the following bands...boggles my mind: Radiohead, Phish, Rage Against the Machine, and so on...

Metal has passion, energy, intelligent lyrics which are thought provoking, challenging music structures, LAYERS upon sublayers of sound, numerous categories that fit into any kind of style, the actual legacy of rock and roll handed down from The Beatles and Chuck Berry...and they do one thing I will forever love metal for...

They don't sing about the psuedo-problems or the things in reality which are irrelevant. They focus on the abuse of authority, the worlds of fantasy, ancient mythology, in depth theology, philosophical studies, history, warfare, carnage, pain, horror, salvation, death, metaphysics, the universe, the human condition, the afterlife...the soul. It is the truest, reality filled, most intellectual genre of music we have in the world. Damnit.

I just want to say, I love you. Please have adopted love children with me?

OT: I've tried black metal, and while I can appreciate it as an atmospheric tool, as music, it's just horrible. The fact that one black metal label is "Unlistenable Shit Records" Tells me all I need. I'm happy with traditional and power metal.

I enjoy this thread. On topic, I never have heard much Black Metal I like. King Diamond is pretty good, and Dimu Borgir (correct me here, been awhile since I just sit around listening to music for hours) had some good songs.

I find it's always best to not worry about the sub-genre of metal when you listen to it, most of us metal heads stand together on the sheer awesomeness of metal.

Arsen:
They don't sing about the psuedo-problems or the things in reality which are irrelevant. They focus on the abuse of authority, the worlds of fantasy, ancient mythology, in depth theology, philosophical studies, history, warfare, carnage, pain, horror, salvation, death, metaphysics, the universe, the human condition, the afterlife...the soul. It is the truest, reality filled, most intellectual genre of music we have in the world. Damnit.

Really? It all sounds to me like men screaming about how terrible life is. While making money recording an album, and probably being all kinds of famous and successful. And I know there's the whole passion and emotional release thing with the screaming and the ADHD guitar, but that's no different to me than screaming at noobtubers in BF or CoD.

I won't say Hip Hop and Indie Rock are more meaningful, because that's usually not true, but metal is definitely not the most intellectual. Not even close.

Of course, it all comes down to preference.

Lots of loud noise and swearing is all it sounds like to me.

Phlakes:

Arsen:
They don't sing about the psuedo-problems or the things in reality which are irrelevant. They focus on the abuse of authority, the worlds of fantasy, ancient mythology, in depth theology, philosophical studies, history, warfare, carnage, pain, horror, salvation, death, metaphysics, the universe, the human condition, the afterlife...the soul. It is the truest, reality filled, most intellectual genre of music we have in the world. Damnit.

Really? It all sounds to me like men screaming about how terrible life is. While making money recording an album, and probably being all kinds of famous and successful. And I know there's the whole passion and emotional release thing with the screaming and the ADHD guitar, but that's no different to me than screaming at noobtubers in BF or CoD.

I won't say Hip Hop and Indie Rock are more meaningful, because that's usually not true, but metal is definitely not the most intellectual. Not even close.

Of course, it all comes down to preference.

You know, that's never made sense to me, growling and screaming really isn't that prevalent in metal, yet it's the FIRST thing people jump to when you say "heavy metal" to someone.

In fact, I'm currently listening to "Of Wars in Osyrria" by French metal band Fairyland, and there's not a bit of screaming or yelling. By all means check them out, as well as bands like HammerFall, Dream Evil, Rhapsody of Fire, and Blind Guardian.

TheKramers:
OMFG, my wife would have a ball explaining this one to you. I'll have her post a response tomorrow, just wait.

Looking forward to it! XD

As for the rest of you:....GODDAMNIT! I was NEARLY finished with my list of bands I need to check out. I think that list has now quintupled in size. >.>

But, seriously guys, thanks. This is great! The scholar in me is REALLY enjoying this. ^^

Yeah, it's not for everyone. Even I only listen to a few bands within the genre (my favourite is Xasthur), but I can't get to like some classic black metal bands like Mayhem. I think it's not dependent on genre, but the bands themselves, and most of all the listener. Hell, I listen to bands like Nurse With Wound which will make you beg for japanese pop instead, and can't get myself to like Mayhem.

Sightless Wisdom:
I find you kind of like Black Metal or you don't and you usually know right away. But I could be wrong, what you should be listening for in good black metal is atmosphere and composition skill. Listen to some stuff by Ulver, Ihsahn, Arcturus, Emperor(just listen closely), and then figure out whether or not you like it.

i'm the opposite. every black metal band (other than emperor) i have listened to, i have hated. but then a couple of days later, i felt the need to listen again, and again, until i look past what i hated and start loving it. and then i cannot understand why on earth i hated them. emperor i started off with curse you all men, and i am the black wizards, and just loved it.

OT: there's no reason you should like it, it's just personal taste. i'm sure if you are giving it a go, you are more open minded then most people, and if you don't like it, at least you don't like it because you tried it first.

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