Thrash metal (or simply thrash) is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work. The lyrics often deal with social issues and criticism of The Establishment, using direct and denunciatory language, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

The genre evolved in the early 1980s from combining the fast drum beats and attitude of hardcore with the double bass drumming and heavy, complex guitar style of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM). It emerged partially as a reaction to the more conventional and widely acceptable glam metal, a less aggressive, pop music–infused heavy metal subgenre which appeared simultaneously. Thrash metal was an inspiration for subsequent extreme genres such as death metal and black metal.


Thrash metal generally features fast tempos, low-register, complex guitar riffs, high-register guitar solos and double bass drumming.The genre evolved in the early 1980s from combining the drum beats of hardcore punk with the guitar style of the new wave of British heavy metal. It emerged partially as a reaction to the more conventional and widely acceptable glam metal, a less aggressive, pop-infused heavy metal subgenre which appeared simultaneously.The rhythm guitar parts are played with heavy distortion and often palm muted to create a tighter and more precise sound.Vocally, thrash metal can employ anything from melodic singing to shouted vocals. Most guitar solos are played at high speed and technically demanding, as they are usually characterized by shredding, and use advanced techniques such as sweep picking, legato phrasing, alternate picking, tremolo picking, string skipping, and two-hand tapping.

The guitar riffs often use chromatic scales and emphasize the tritone and diminished intervals, instead of using conventional single scale based riffing. For example, the intro riff of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" (the title track of the namesake album) is a chromatic descent, followed by a chromatic ascent based on the tritone.

Speed, pacing and time-changes also define thrash metal. Thrash tends to have an accelerating feel which may be due in large part to its aggressive drumming style. For example, drummers often use two bass drums, or a double-bass pedal, in order to create a relentless, driving beat. Cymbal stops/chokes are often used to transition from one riff to another or to precede an acceleration in tempo. Some common characteristics of the genre are fast guitar riffs with aggressive picking styles and fast guitar solos, and extensive use of two bass drums as opposed to the conventional use of only one, typical of most rock music.

To keep up with the other instruments, many bassists use a plectrum. However, some prominent thrash metal bassists have used their fingers, such as Frank Bello, Greg Christian, Steve DiGiorgio, Robert Trujillo and Cliff Burton. Several bassists use a distorted bass tone, an approach popularized by Burton and Motörhead's Lemmy. Lyrical themes in thrash metal include warfare, corruption, injustice, murder, suicide, isolation, alienation, addiction, and other maladies that afflict the individual and society. In addition, politics, particularly pessimism and dissatisfaction towards politics, are common themes among thrash metal bands. Humor and irony can occasionally be found (Anthrax for example), but they are limited, and are exception rather than a rule.



Among the earliest songs to be labeled thrash metal was Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy", recorded and released in 1974. The song was described as being thrash metal "before the term had been invented".Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the Universe", released in 1975, was the inspiration for Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?".Since then, NWOBHM bands directly influenced the development of early thrash. The early work of artists such as Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Venom, Motörhead, Tygers of Pan Tang, Raven, and Angel Witch, among others, introduced the fast-paced instrumentation that became an essential aspect of thrash.

Void is hailed as one of the earliest examples of hardcore/heavy metal crossover, whose chaotic musical approach is often cited as particularly influential.Their 1982 split LP with fellow Washington band The Faith showed both bands exhibiting quick, fiery, high-speed punk rock. It has been argued that those recordings laid the foundation for early thrash metal, at least in terms of selected tempos.

In Europe, the earliest band of the emerging thrash movement was Venom from Newcastle upon Tyne, formed in 1979. Their 1982 album Black Metal has been cited as a major influence on many subsequent genres and bands in the extreme metal world, such as Bathory, Hellhammer, Slayer, and Mayhem. The European scene was almost exclusively influenced by the most aggressive music Germany and England were producing at the time. British bands such as Tank and Raven, along with German band Accept, motivated musicians from central Europe to start bands of their own, eventually producing groups such as Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction from Germany, as well as Switzerland's Coroner. The Swedish punk band Warheads have also been described as a proto-thrash band.

Early 1980s

In 1981, a Southern California band Leather Charm wrote a song entitled "Hit the Lights". Leather Charm soon disbanded and the band's primary songwriter, vocalist/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield met drummer Lars Ulrich through a classified advertisement. Together, Hetfield and Ulrich formed Metallica, the first of the "Big Four" thrash bands, with lead guitarist Dave Mustaine, who would later form Megadeth, another of the "Big Four" originators of thrash, and bassist Ron McGovney. Metallica later relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. McGovney was replaced with Cliff Burton, and Mustaine was later replaced with Kirk Hammett. "Hit the Lights" was featured on their first studio album, Kill 'Em All, released in mid–1983.

The term "thrash metal" was first used in the music press by Kerrang! magazine's journalist Malcolm Dome while making a reference to the Anthrax song "Metal Thrashing Mad".Prior to this, Metallica frontman James Hetfield referred to Metallica's sound as speed metal or power metal.

Another "Big Four" thrash band formed in Southern California in 1981, when guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King met while auditioning for the same band and subsequently decided to form a band of their own. Hanneman and King recruited vocalist/bassist Tom Araya, a former respiratory therapist, and drummer Dave Lombardo, a pizza delivery driver, and Slayer was formed. Slayer was discovered by Metal Blade Records executive Brian Slagel while performing Iron Maiden's "Phantom of the Opera" at a show, and were promptly signed to the label. In December 1983, less than six months after the release of Kill 'Em All, Slayer put out their debut album, Show No Mercy.

In 1982, Stress recorded what is considered to be the first Brazilian heavy metal album. Roosevelt "Bala" (bass and vocals) claimed this to be the first thrash metal album, since it was recorded before Metallica's Kill 'Em All. However, later he stated that some compositions have elements of thrash, like the speed, fast alternate picking, and the aggressive vocals and sound. Canada also produced influential speed metal bands such as Annihilator, Anvil, Exciter, Razor and Voivod.


The popularity of thrash metal increased in 1984 with the release of Metallica's sophomore record Ride the Lightning, as well as Anthrax's debut Fistful of Metal. Overkill and Slayer released extended plays on independent labels the same year. This led to a heavier sounding form of thrash, which was reflected in Exodus' Bonded by Blood and Slayer's Hell Awaits. In 1985, the German band Kreator released their debut album Endless Pain and the Brazilian band Sepultura released their EP Bestial Devastation. Megadeth, which was formed by former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine, released their debut album Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, and Anthrax released the critically acclaimed Spreading the Disease in 1985.

A number of high-profile albums were released in 1986. Metallica released Master of Puppets. Megadeth released Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, which proved to be the band's commercial and critical breakthrough and a landmark album that AllMusic cited as "a classic of early thrash".Slayer, regarded as one of the most sinister thrash metal bands from the early 1980s,released Reign in Blood, an album considered to have single-handedly inspired the death metal genre.Kreator released Pleasure to Kill, which would later be a major influence on the death metal scene.

Late 1980s

In 1987, Anthrax released their third album Among the Living, which borrowed elements from their two previous releases, with fast guitar riffs and pounding drums. Death Angel took a similar approach with their 1987 debut, The Ultra-Violence. In 1988, Suicidal Tendencies, who had previously been a straightforward hardcore punk band, released their major label debut How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today, which helped pioneer the crossover thrash genre.

Sepultura's third album, Beneath the Remains, earned them some mainstream appeal as it was released by Roadrunner Records. Testament continued through the late 1980s with The New Order and Practice What You Preach, both albums showing the band's musical growth and gaining Testament nearly the same level of popularity as the "Big Four".Vio-lence and Forbidden, two relative latecomers to the Bay Area thrash metal scene, released their debut albums Eternal Nightmare and Forbidden Evil in 1988. Canadian thrashers Annihilator released their highly technical debut Alice in Hell in 1989, which was praised for its fast riffs and extended guitar solos. Sadus appeared later, demonstrating a sound which was primarily driven by the fretless bass of Steve DiGiorgio. In Germany, Sodom released Agent Orange, and Kreator would release Extreme Aggression.

From 1987 to 1989, Overkill released Taking Over, Under the Influence and The Years of Decay, three albums considered their best. In 1988, Slayer released South of Heaven, Megadeth released So Far, So Good... So What!, Anthrax released State of Euphoria while Metallica's ...And Justice for All spawned the band's first video, the World War I-themed song "One".

A substantial number of thrash metal groups pay tribute to punk rock and hardcore punk. Metallica has covered Discharge ("Free Speech for the Dumb"), Anti-Nowhere League ("So What?"), Killing Joke ("the Wait"), Ramones ("53rd & 3rd", among others), and The Misfits ("Die Die my Darling", "Last Caress/Green Hell"),and Slayer recorded Undisputed Attitude, an album of punk rock covers, including Minor Threat, early DRI, and Iggy and the Stooges.Megadeth have covered two Sex Pistols songs ("Anarchy in the UK" and "Problems"), as have Anthrax ("God Save the Queen" and "Friggin' in the Riggin"). Anthrax have also covered "Protest and Survive" by Discharge on their album Attack of the Killer B's, "We're a Happy Family" by Ramones, and "New Noise" by the Swedish band Refused as a hidden track on Worship Music. Overkill have covered the Sex Pistols ("No Feelings"), Ramones ("I'm Against it"), and Dead Boys ("Sonic Reducer", and "Ain't Nothing to Do"). In addition, Pantera covered Poison Idea ("the Badge").



A number of more typical but technically sophisticated albums were released in 1990, including Megadeth's Rust in Peace, Anthrax's Persistence of Time, Slayer's Seasons in the Abyss, Suicidal Tendencies' Lights...Camera...Revolution!, Testament's Souls of Black, Kreator's Coma of Souls, Destruction's Cracked Brain, Forbidden's Twisted into Form, Exodus' Impact Is Imminent, and the more groove-oriented Pantera's Cowboys from Hell. All of those albums were commercial high points for the aforementioned artists. Many of these bands embarked on a group tour called the "Clash of the Titans" the same year. Several albums that continued this style, which had come to be known as technical thrash metal, were released in 1991, such as Overkill's Horrorscope, Heathen's Victims of Deception, Dark Angel's Time Does Not Heal, Sepultura's Arise, and Coroner's Mental Vortex.

Later in 1991, Metallica released their eponymous album, known as "The Black Album". The album marked a stylistic change in the band, eliminating much of the speed and longer song structures of the band's previous work, and instead focusing on more concise and slower songs. It would go on to become the band's best selling album, and began a wave of thrash metal bands releasing more commercially oriented albums.

After the commercial and artistic climax for the genre, the energy of the thrash metal was exhausted and it was overtaken by the rising alternative metal and grunge movements.In the 1990s many veteran thrash metal bands began changing to more accessible, radio-friendly styles.Metallica was a notable example of this shift, particularly with their mid–to–late 1990s albums Load, and ReLoad, which displayed minor blues and southern rock influences, and were seen as a major departure from the band's earlier sound.Megadeth took a more accessible heavy metal route starting with their 1992 album Countdown to Extinction,and Testament released the melodic The Ritual in 1992.

As further extreme metal genres came to prominence in the 1990s (industrial metal, death metal and black metal each finding their own fanbase), the heavy metal "family tree" soon found itself blending aesthetics and styles.For example, bands with all the musical traits of thrash metal began using death growls, a vocal style borrowed from death metal, while black metal bands often utilized the airy feel of synthesizers, popularized in industrial metal. Today the placing of bands within distinct subgenres remains a source of contention for heavy metal fans, however, little debate resides over the fact that thrash metal is the sole proprietor of its respective spinoffs.

2000s and 2010s

Many 1980s-era thrash bands who split or were inactive during the 1990s – such as Dark Angel, Death Angel, Nuclear Assault, and Forbidden – reunited in the 2000s. Notable bands returned to their roots with releases such as Metallica's Death Magnetic (2008), Megadeth's Endgame (2009), Slayer's World Painted Blood (2009), Exodus' Exhibit B: The Human Condition (2010), Anthrax's Worship Music (2011), Overkill's The Electric Age (2012), Testament's Dark Roots of Earth (2012), and Flotsam and Jetsam's Ugly Noise (2012),and the young Three Dead Fingers debut album Breed of the Devil (2019).

Genre spinoffs

Thrash metal is directly responsible for the development of underground metal genres, such as death metal, black metal and groove metal.In addition to this, metalcore, grindcore and deathcore employ similar riffs in their composition, the former with more focus on melody rather than chromaticism. The blending of punk ethos and metal's brutal nature led to even more extreme, underground styles after thrash metal began gaining mild commercial success in the late 1980s.With gorier subject matter, heavier downtuning of guitars, more consistent use of blast beat drumming, and darker, atonal death growls, death metal was established in the mid-1980s. Black metal, also related to thrash metal, has emerged at the same time, with many black metal bands taking influence from thrash metal bands such as Venom.Black metal continued deviating from thrash metal, often providing more orchestral overtones, open tremolo picking, blast beat drumming, shrieked or raspy vocals and pagan or occult-based aesthetics to distinguish itself from thrash metal. Thrash metal would later combine with its spinoffs, thus giving rise to genres like blackened thrash metal and deathrash.

Groove metal takes the intensity and sonic qualities of thrash metal and plays them at mid-tempo, with most bands making only occasional forays into fast tempo,since the early 1990s it started to favor a more death metal–derived sound.Thrash metal with stronger punk elements is called crossover thrash. Its overall sound is more punk-influenced than traditional thrash metal, but has more heavy metal elements than hardcore punk and thrashcore.

Regional scenes

Thrash metal emerged predominantly from a handful of regional scenes, each of which was generally distinguished by the unique characteristics of its bands.

Bay area thrash metal: In addition to being the most commercially successful, San Francisco Bay Area thrash tended to be the most progressive and technical of the major regional thrash scenes, being strongly NWOBHM influenced. Metallica, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel, Vio-lence, and Forbidden are prominent examples of bands to emerge from this region.

East coast thrash metal: Centered in New York City, the East Coast's thrash metal tended to display a sound that incorporated a strong hardcore punk influence. An emphasis was placed on aggression and speed rather than technicality. Anthrax, Overkill, Nuclear Assault, Toxik, and Whiplash exemplified the style to emerge from this regional scene.

British thrash metal: The British thrash bands leaned towards a more traditional heavy metal approach, often heavier though less aggressive than their American counterparts. The most notable bands from this scene are Onslaught, Xentrix, and Sabbat.

Brazilian thrash metal: The Brazilian thrash scene is notable for producing a handful of bands that would become principal parts of thrash metal's prevalence in the early 1990s. There were three scenes where Brazilian thrash metal was originated: Belo Horizonte (the most prominent), São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. The most famous bands from this scene are Sepultura, Dorsal Atlântica, Executer, Chakal, MX, Korzus, and Sarcófago.

Teutonic thrash metal: The German and Swiss region spawned dozens of bands since the mid-1980s that developed its own style. The most prominent bands from this scene are Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Tankard, Coroner, Holy Moses, and Exumer.

Australian thrash metal: Despite being largely removed from the major regions, Australia developed a strong local scene in the 1980s and has undergone a renewal throughout the 2010s. Two of the most notable Australian thrash bands are Mortal Sin and Hobbs' Angel of Death.



Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted and low-tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, aggressive, powerful drumming featuring double kick and blast beat techniques, minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, and chromatic chord progressions. The lyrical themes of death metal may invoke slasher film-stylized violence,religion (sometimes Satanism), occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, science fiction, and politics,and they may describe extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia.

Building from the musical structure of thrash metal and early black metal, death metal emerged during the mid-1980s.Bands such as Venom, Celtic Frost, Slayer, and Kreator were important influences on the genre's creation.Possessed,Death,Necrophagia, Obituary,Autopsy,and Morbid Angel are often considered pioneers of the genre. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, death metal gained more media attention as popular genre. Niche record labels like Combat, Earache, and Roadrunner began to sign death metal bands at a rapid rate.

Since then, death metal has diversified, spawning several subgenres. Melodic death metal combines death metal elements with those of the new wave of British heavy metal. Technical death metal is a complex style, with uncommon time signatures, atypical rhythms, and unusual harmonies and melodies. Death-doom combines the deep growled vocals and double-kick drumming of death metal with the slow tempos and melancholic atmosphere of doom metal. Deathgrind, goregrind, and pornogrind mix the complexity of death metal with the intensity, speed, and brevity of grindcore. Deathcore combines death metal with metalcore traits. Death 'n' roll combines death metal's growled vocals and highly distorted, detuned guitar riffs with elements of 1970s hard rock and heavy metal.


Emergence and early history

English heavy metal band Venom, from Newcastle, crystallized the elements of what later became known as thrash metal, death metal and black metal, with their 1981 album Welcome to Hell. Their dark, blistering sound, harsh vocals, and macabre, proudly Satanic imagery proved a major inspiration for extreme metal bands.Another highly influential band, Slayer, formed in 1981. Although the band was a thrash metal act, Slayer's music was more violent than their thrash contemporaries Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax.Their breakneck speed and instrumental prowess combined with lyrics about death, violence, war, and Satanism won Slayer a rabid cult following. According to AllMusic, their third album Reign in Blood inspired the entire death metal genre.It had a big impact on genre leaders such as Death, Obituary, and Morbid Angel.

 Possessed, a band that formed in the San Francisco Bay Area during 1983, is described by Allmusic as "connecting the dots" between thrash metal and death metal with their 1985 debut album, Seven Churches.While attributed as having a Slayer influence,current and former members of the band had actually cited Venom and Motörhead, as well as early work by Exodus, as the main influences on their sound. Although the group had released only two studio albums and an EP in their formative years, they have been described by music journalists and musicians as either being "monumental" in developing the death metal style,or as being the first death metal band.Earache Records noted that "the likes of Trey Azagthoth and Morbid Angel based what they were doing in their formative years on the Possessed blueprint laid down on the legendary Seven Churches recording. Possessed arguably did more to further the cause of 'Death Metal' than any of the early acts on the scene back in the mid-late 80's.

During the same period as the dawn of Possessed, a second influential metal band was formed in Orlando, Florida: Death. Originally called Mantas, Death was formed in 1983 by Chuck Schuldiner, Kam Lee, and Rick Rozz. In 1984 they released their first demo entitled Death by Metal, followed by several more. The tapes circulated through the tape trader world, quickly establishing the band's name. With Death guitarist Schuldiner adopting vocal duties, the band made a major impact on the scene. The fast minor-key riffs and solos were complemented with fast drumming, creating a style that would catch on in tape trading circles.Schuldiner has been credited by Allmusic's Eduardo Rivadavia for being widely recognized as the "Father of Death Metal". Death's 1987 debut release, Scream Bloody Gore, has been described by's Chad Bowar as being the "evolution from thrash metal to death metal",and "the first true death metal record" by the San Francisco Chronicle. Along with Possessed and Death, other pioneers of death metal in the United States include Macabre, Master, Massacre, Immolation, Cannibal Corpse,Obituary, and Post Mortem.

Growing popularity

By 1989, many bands had been signed by eager record labels wanting to cash in on the subgenre, including Florida's Obituary, Morbid Angel and Deicide.This collective of death metal bands hailing from Florida are often labeled as "Florida death metal". Morbid Angel pushed the genre's limits both musically and lyrically, with the release of their debut album Altars of Madness in 1989.The album "redefined what it meant to be heavy while influencing an upcoming class of brutal death metal."Death metal spread to Sweden in the late 1980s, flourishing with pioneers such as Carnage, God Macabre, Entombed, Dismember and Unleashed. In the early 1990s, the rise of melodic death metal was recognized, with bands such as Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, and In Flames.

Following the original death metal innovators, new subgenres began by the end of the decade. British band Napalm Death became increasingly associated with death metal, in particular, on their 1990 album Harmony Corruption. This album displays aggressive and fairly technical guitar riffing, complex rhythmics, a sophisticated growling vocal delivery by Mark "Barney" Greenway, and socially aware lyrical subjects, merging death metal with the "grindcore" subgenre. Other bands contributing significantly to this early movement include Britain's Bolt Thrower and Carcass and New York's Suffocation.

To close the circle, Death released their fourth album Human in 1991. Death's founder Schuldiner helped push the boundaries of uncompromising speed and technical virtuosity, mixing technical and intricate rhythm guitar work with complex arrangements and emotive guitar solos.

Earache Records, Relativity Records and Roadrunner Records became the genre's most important labels,with Earache releasing albums by Carcass, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, and Entombed, and Roadrunner releasing albums by Obituary, and Pestilence. Although these labels had not been death metal labels, initially, they became the genre's flagship labels in the beginning of the 1990s. In addition to these, other labels formed as well, such as Nuclear Blast, Century Media, and Peaceville. Many of these labels would go on to achieve successes in other genres of metal throughout the 1990s.

In September 1990, Death's manager Eric Greif held one of the first North American death metal festivals, Day of Death, in Milwaukee suburb Waukesha, Wisconsin, and featured 26 bands including Autopsy, Broken Hope, Hellwitch, Obliveon, Revenant, Viogression, Immolation, Atheist, and Cynic.

Later history

Death metal's popularity achieved its initial peak during 1992–1993, with some bands such as Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse enjoying mild commercial success. However, the genre as a whole never broke into the mainstream. The genre's mounting popularity may have been partly responsible for a strong rivalry between Norwegian black metal and Swedish death metal scenes. Fenriz of Darkthrone has noted that Norwegian black metal musicians were "fed up with the whole death metal scene" at the time. Death metal diversified in the 1990s, spawning a rich variety of subgenres which still have a large "underground" following at the present.



The setup most frequently used within the death metal genre is two guitarists, a bass player, a vocalist and a drummer often using "hyper 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, heavily distorted and low tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking. The percussion is usually aggressive and powerful.

Death metal is known for its abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes. Death metal may include chromatic chord progressions and a varied song structure. In some circumstances, the style will incorporate melodic riffs and harmonies for effect. This incorporation of melody and harmonious playing was even further used in the creation of melodic death metal. These compositions tend to emphasize an ongoing development of themes and motifs.

Vocals and lyrics

Death metal vocals are referred to as death growls; hoarse roars/snarls. Death growling is mistakenly thought to be a form of screaming using the lowest vocal register known as vocal fry, however vocal fry is actually a form of overtone screaming, and while growling can be performed this way by experienced vocalists who use the fry screaming technique, "true" death growling is in fact created by an altogether different technique.The three major methods of harsh vocalization used in the genre are often mistaken for each other, encompassing vocal fry screaming, false chord screaming, and "true" death growls.Growling is sometimes also referred to as Cookie Monster vocals, tongue-in-cheek, due to the vocal similarity to the voice of the popular Sesame Street character of the same name.Although often criticized, death growls serve the aesthetic purpose of matching death metal's aggressive lyrical content.High-pitched screaming is occasionally utilized in death metal, being heard in songs by Death, Aborted, Exhumed, Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse, and Deicide.

The lyrical themes of death metal may invoke slasher film-stylised violence,but may also extend to topics like Satanism, religion, occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, philosophy, science fiction, and politics.Although violence may be explored in various other genres as well, death metal may elaborate on the details of extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia. Sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris commented this apparent glamorisation of violence may be attributed to a "fascination" with the human body that all people share to some degree, a fascination which mixes desire and disgust.Heavy metal author Gavin Baddeley also stated there does seem to be a connection between "how acquainted one is with their own mortality" and "how much they crave images of death and violence" via the media.Additionally, contributing artists to the genre often defend death metal as little more than an extreme form of art and entertainment, similar to horror films in the motion picture industry.This explanation has brought such musicians under fire from activists internationally, who claim that this is often lost on a large number of adolescents, who are left with the glamorisation of such violence without social context or awareness of why such imagery is stimulating.

According to Alex Webster, bassist of Cannibal Corpse, "The gory lyrics are probably not, as much as people say, [what's keeping us] from being mainstream. Like, 'death metal would never go into the mainstream because the lyrics are too gory?' I think it's really the music, because violent entertainment is totally mainstream.

Origin of the term

The most popular theory of the subgenre's christening is Possessed's 1984 demo, Death Metal; the song from the eponymous demo would also be featured on the band's 1985 debut album, Seven Churches.Possessed vocalist/bassist Jeff Becerra said he coined the term in early 1983 for a high school English class assignment. Another possible origin was a magazine called Death Metal, started by Thomas Fischer and Martin Ain of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. The name was later given to the 1984 compilation Death Metal released by Noise Records.The term might also have originated from other recordings, such as the demo released by Death in 1984, called Death by Metal.

Subgenres and fusion genres

Cited examples are not necessarily exclusive to one particular style. Many bands can easily be placed in two or more of the following categories, and a band's specific categorization is often a source of contention due to personal opinion and interpretation.

Blackened death-doom:Blackened death-doom is a genre that combines the slow tempos and monolithic drumming of doom metal, the complex and loud riffage of death metal and the shrieking vocals of black metal.Examples of blackened death-doom bands include Morast,Faustcoven,The Ruins of Beverast,Bölzer,Necros Christos,Harvest Gulgaltha,Dragged into Sunlight,Hands of Thieves,and Soulburn.

Blackened death metal:Blackened death metal is commonly death metal that incorporates musical, lyrical or ideological elements of black metal, such as an increased use of tremolo picking, anti-Christian or Satanic lyrical themes and chord progressions similar to those used in black metal.Blackened death metal bands are also more likely to wear corpse paint and suits of armour, than bands from other styles of death metal.Lower range guitar tunings, death growls and abrupt tempo changes are common in the genre.Examples of blackened death metal bands are Belphegor, Behemoth,Akercocke,and Sacramentum.

Melodic black-death:Melodic black-death (also known as blackened melodic death metal or melodic blackened death metal) is a genre of extreme metal that describes the style created when melodic death metal bands began being inspired by black metal and European romanticism. However, unlike most other black metal, this take on the genre would incorporate an increased sense of melody and narrative.Some bands who have played this style include Dissection,Sacramentum,Embraced,Naglfar,Satariel,Throes of Dawn, Obscurity,Dawn, Cries of the Past-era Underoath, Catamenia, Midvinter, Twin Obscenity, Nokturnal Mortum,Unanimated, Epoch of Unlight, This Ending,Suidakra, Oathean,Thulcandra,Skeletonwitch,and Cardinal Sin.

War metal:War metal (also known as war black metal or bestial black metal) is an aggressive,cacophonous and chaotic  subgenre of blackened death metal,described by Rock Hard journalist Wolf-Rüdiger Mühlmann as "rabid" and "hammering". Important influences include first wave black metal band Sodom, first wave black metal/death metal band Possessed as well as old grindcore, black and death metal bands like Repulsion, Autopsy,Sarcófago and the first two Sepultura releases. War metal bands include Blasphemy, Archgoat,Impiety, In Battle, Beherit, Crimson Thorn, Bestial Warlust,and Zyklon-B.

Brutal death metal:Brutal death metal is a subgenre of death metal which privileges heaviness, speed, and complex rhythms over other aspects, such as melody and timbres.Brutal death metal bands employ high-speed, palm-muted power chording and single-note riffage.Notable bands include Dying Fetus,Suffocation and Skinless.

Death-doom:Death-doom is a style that combines the slow tempos and pessimistic atmosphere of doom metal with the deep growling vocals and double-kick drumming of death metal.Influenced mostly by the early work of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, the style emerged during the late 1980s and gained a certain amount of popularity during the 1990s.Death-doom was also pioneered by bands such as Winter, Disembowelment, Paradise Lost, Autopsy, Anathema, and My Dying Bride

Funeral doom:Funeral doom is a genre that crosses death-doom with funeral dirge music. It is played at a very slow tempo, and places an emphasis on evoking a sense of emptiness and despair. Typically, electric guitars are heavily distorted and dark ambient aspects such as keyboards or synthesizers are often used to create a "dreamlike" atmosphere.Vocals consist of mournful chants or growls and are often in the background. Funeral doom was pioneered by Mournful Congregation (Australia), Esoteric (United Kingdom), Evoken (United States), Funeral (Norway), Thergothon (Finland), and Skepticism (Finland)


Death 'n' roll:Death 'n' roll is a style that combines death metal's growled vocals and highly distorted detuned guitar riffs along with elements of 1970s hard rock and heavy metal.Notable examples include Entombed,Gorefest, Avatar, and Six Feet Under. 

Deathcore:With the rise in popularity of metalcore, some of its traits have been combined with death metal. Bands such as Suicide Silence, Carnifex and Salt the Wound combine death metal with a variance of metalcore elements.Characteristics of death metal, such as fast drumming (including blast beats), down-tuned guitars, tremolo picking, growled vocals, and high-pitched shrieks are combined with the breakdowns of metalcore. Decibel magazine stated that "one of Suffocation's trademarks, breakdowns, has spawned an entire metal subgenre: deathcore."

Deathgrind, goregrind and pornogrind:Goregrind, deathgrind and pornogrind are styles that mix the intensity, speed, and brevity of grindcore with the complexity of death metal, with goregrind focused on themes like gore and forensic pathology,and pornogrind dealing with sexual and pornographic themes. Some notable examples of these genres are Brujeria, Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage, Pig Destroyer, Circle of Dead Children, Rotten Sound, Gut, and Cock and Ball Torture.

Deathrash:Deathrash, also known as death-thrash, is a fusion genre that combines elements of death metal and thrash metal.The genre gained notoriety in Bali, where it attracted criticism of accelerated tourism development on Jakarta. Notable bands include Grave,Mortification,The Crown,Incapacity, Darkane, and Deathchain.

Industrial death metal:Industrial death metal is a genre of death metal that add elements of industrial music.Some notable bands include Fear Factory, Nailbomb,Anaal Nathrakh, Autokrator,and Meathook Seed.

Melodic death metal:Swedish death metal could be considered the forerunner of "melodic death metal". Melodic death metal, sometimes referred to as "melodeath", is heavy metal mixed with some death metal elements. Unlike most other death metal, melodeath usually features screams instead of growls, slower tempos, much more melody and even clean vocals are heard at rare times. Carcass is sometimes credited with releasing the first melodic death metal album with 1993's Heartwork, although Swedish bands In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and At the Gates are usually mentioned as the main pioneers of the genre and of the Gothenburg metal sound.

Slam death metal:Slam death metal is a microgenre that evolved from the 1990s New York death metal scene, incorporating elements of hardcore punk. In contrast to other death metal styles, it is not generally focused on guitar solos and blast beats; instead it employs mid-tempo rhythms, breakdowns, palm-muted riffage, as well as hip hop-inspired vocal and drum beat rhythms. Notable acts include Devourment,Cephalotripsy,and Abominable Putridity.

Symphonic death metal:Symphonic death metal is a genre of death metal that add elements of classical music. Bands described as symphonic death metal include Fleshgod Apocalypse,Septicflesh,Necronomicon, Children of Bodom, and Epica. Haggard's 2000 album, Awaking the Centuries, has been described as death metal-styled symphonic metal.

Technical death metal:Technical death metal (also known as tech-death, progressive death metal, or prog-death) is a subgenre of death metal which employs dynamic song structures, uncommon time signatures, atypical rhythms and unusual harmonies and melodies. Bands described as technical death metal or progressive death metal usually fuse common death metal aesthetics with elements of progressive rock, jazz or classical music. While the term technical death metal is sometimes used to describe bands that focus on speed and extremity as well as complexity, the line between progressive and technical death metal is thin. Tech death and prog death, for short, are terms commonly applied to such bands as Nile, Edge of Sanity, and Opeth. Necrophagist and Spawn of Possession are known for a classical music-influenced death metal style. Death metal pioneers Death also refined their style in a more progressive direction in their final years. Some albums for this subgenre are Hallucinations (1990) by the German band Atrocity and Death's Human (1991). This style has significantly influenced many bands, creating a stream that in Europe was carried out at first by bands such as Gory Blister and Electrocution.The Polish band Decapitated gained recognition as one of Europe's primary modern technical death metal acts.


Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms.

During the 1980s, several thrash metal and death metal bands formed a prototype for black metal.This so-called first wave included bands such as Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. A second wave arose in the early 1990s, spearheaded by Norwegian bands such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Satyricon and Gorgoroth. The early Norwegian black metal scene developed the style of their forebears into a distinct genre. Norwegian-inspired black metal scenes emerged throughout Europe and North America, although some other scenes developed their own styles independently. Some prominent Swedish bands spawned during this second wave, such as Marduk, Nifelheim and Dark Funeral.

Initially a synonym for "Satanic metal",black metal has often sparked controversy, due to the actions and ideologies associated with the genre. Many artists express extreme anti-Christian and misanthropic views, advocating various forms of Satanism or ethnic paganism. In the 1990s, members of the scene were responsible for a spate of church burnings and murders. There is also a small neo-Nazi movement within black metal, although it has been shunned by many prominent artists.Generally, black metal strives to remain underground, inaccessible to the mainstream and those who are not committed.


Although contemporary black metal typically refers to the Norwegian style with shrieking vocals and raw production, the term has also been applied to bands with widely differing sounds.

Instrumentation and song structure

Norwegian-inspired black metal guitarists usually favor high-pitched or trebly guitar tones and heavy distortion. The guitar is usually played with fast, un-muted tremolo picking.Guitarists often use dissonance—along with specific scales, intervals and chord progressions—to create a sense of dread. The tritone, or flat-fifth, is often used. Guitar solos and low guitar tunings are rare in black metal.The bass guitar is seldom used to play stand-alone melodies. It is not uncommon for the bass to be muted against the guitar, or for it to homophonically follow the low-pitched riffs of the guitar. While electronic keyboards were initially "not heard in [this] type of music", Dimmu Borgir say they started using keyboards "in the background" and then started using them as a "proper instrument" for creating "atmosphere". Some newer black metal bands began raising their production quality and introducing additional instruments such as synthesizers and even orchestras.

The drumming is usually fast and relies on double-bass and blast beats to maintain tempos that can sometimes approach 300 beats per minute. These fast tempos require great skill and physical stamina, typified by black metal drummers Frost (Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad) and Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg). Even still, authenticity is still prioritized over technique. "This professionalism has to go," insists well-respected drummer and metal historian Fenriz (Gylve Fenris Nagell) of Darkthrone. "I want to de-learn playing drums, I want to play primitive and simple, I don't want to play like a drum solo all the time and make these complicated riffs".

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. The Greek style—established by Rotting Christ, Necromantia and Varathron—has more traditional heavy metal and death metal traits than Norwegian black metal.

Vocals and lyrics

Traditional black metal bands tend to favor raspy, high-pitched vocals which include techniques such as shrieking, screaming, and snarling, a vocal style influenced by Quorthon of Bathory.Death growls, common in the death metal genre, are sometimes used, but less frequently than the characteristic black metal shriek.

Black metal lyrics typically attack Christianity and the other institutional religions, often using apocalyptic language. Satanic lyrics are common, and many see them as essential to black metal. For Satanist black metal artists, "Black metal songs are meant to be like Calvinist sermons; deadly serious attempts to unite the true believers". Misanthropy, global catastrophe, war, death, destruction and rebirth are also common themes. Another topic often found in black metal lyrics is that of the wild and extreme aspects and phenomena of the natural world, particularly the wilderness, forests, mountains, winter, storms, and blizzards.Black metal also has a fascination with the distant past. Many bands write about the mythology and folklore of their homelands and promote a revival of pre-Christian, pagan traditions. A significant number of bands write lyrics only in their native language and a few (e.g. Arckanum) have lyrics in archaic languages. Some doom metal-influenced artists' lyrics focus on depression, nihilism, introspection, self-harm and suicide.




The conventional history of black metal is that pioneers like Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer were part of a "first wave", and that a "second wave" was begun by the early Norwegian scene, especially by Mayhem vocalist, Dead's suicide; Mayhem's leader, Euronymous, who founded the Norwegian scene after Dead's suicide; and Darkthrone's album A Blaze in the Northern Sky.There are also some who argue that albums like Sarcófago's I.N.R.I. or Samael's Worship Him began the second wave.


Occult and Satanic lyrical themes were present in the music of heavy metal and rock bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s such as Black Sabbath and Coven.

In the late 1970s, the form of rough and aggressive heavy metal played by the British band Motörhead gained popularity. Many first wave black metal bands would cite Motörhead as an influence. Also popular in the late 1970s, punk rock came to influence the birth of black metal.Tom G. Warrior of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost credited English music group Discharge as "a revolution, much like Venom", saying, "When I heard the first two Discharge records, I was blown away. I was just starting to play an instrument and I had no idea you could go so far."

The use of corpse paint in the black metal imagery was mainly influenced by the American 1970s rock band Kiss.

First wave

The first wave of black metal refers to those bands during the 1980s who influenced the black metal sound and formed a prototype for the genre. They were often speed metal or thrash metal bands.

The term "black metal" was coined by the English band Venom with their second album Black Metal (1982). Although deemed thrash metal rather than black metal by today's standards, the album's lyrics and imagery focused more on anti-Christian and Satanic themes than any before it. Their music was fast, unpolished in production and with raspy or grunted vocals. Venom's members also adopted pseudonyms, a practice that would become widespread among black metal musicians.

Another major influence on black metal was the Swedish band Bathory. The band, led by Thomas Forsberg (a.k.a. Quorthon), created "the blueprint for Scandinavian black metal".Not only was Bathory's music dark, fast, heavily distorted, lo-fi and with anti-Christian themes, Quorthon was also the first to use the shrieked vocals that came to define black metal. The band played in this style on their first four albums: Bathory (1984), The Return…… (1985), Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987) and Blood Fire Death (1988). With Blood Fire Death and the two following albums, Bathory pioneered the style that would become known as Viking metal.

Hellhammer, from Switzerland, "made truly raw and brutal music" with Satanic lyrics, and became an important influence on later black metal; "Their simple yet effective riffs and fast guitar sound were groundbreaking, anticipating the later trademark sound of early Swedish death metal". In 1984, members of Hellhammer formed Celtic Frost,whose music "explored more orchestral and experimental territories. The lyrics also became more personal, with topics about inner feelings and majestic stories. But for a couple of years, Celtic Frost was one of the world's most extreme and original metal bands, with a huge impact on the mid-90's black metal scene".

The Danish band Mercyful Fate influenced the Norwegian scene with their imagery and lyrics. Frontman King Diamond, who wore ghoulish black-and-white facepaint on stage, may be one of the inspirators of what became known as 'corpse paint'. Other acts which adopted a similar appearance on stage were Misfits, Celtic Frost and the Brazilian extreme metal band Sarcófago.Other artists usually considered part of this movement include Kreator, Sodom and Destruction (from Germany), Bulldozer and Death SS (from Italy), whose vocalist Steve Sylvester was a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis.

In 1987, in the fifth issue of his Slayer fanzine, Metalion wrote that "the latest fad of black/Satanic bands seems to be over", the tradition being continued by a few bands like Incubus and Morbid Angel (from the United States), Sabbat (from Great Britain), Tormentor (from Hungary), Sarcófago (from Brazil), Grotesque,[60][61] early Tiamat  and Treblinka (from Sweden). Other early black metal bands include Sabbat (formed 1983 in Japan),Parabellum (formed 1983 in Colombia), Salem (formed 1985 in Israel) and Mortuary Drape (formed 1986 in Italy). Japanese band Sigh formed in 1990 and was in regular contact with key members of the Norwegian scene. Their debut album, Scorn Defeat, became "a cult classic in the black metal world". In the years before the Norwegian black metal scene arose, important recordings were released by Root and Master's Hammer (from Czechoslovakia), Von (from the United States), Rotting Christ (from Greece), Samael (from Switzerland) and Blasphemy (from Canada), whose debut album Fallen Angel of Doom (1990) is considered one of the most influential records for the war metal style. Fenriz of the Norwegian band Darkthrone called Master's Hammer's debut album Ritual "the first Norwegian black metal album, even though they are from Czechoslovakia".

In 1990 and 1991, Northern European metal acts began to release music influenced by these bands or the older ones from the first wave. In Sweden, this included Marduk, Dissection, Nifelheim and Abruptum. In Finland, there emerged a scene that mixed the first wave black metal style with elements of death metal and grindcore; this included Beherit, Archgoat and Impaled Nazarene, whose debut album Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz Rock Hard journalist Wolf-Rüdiger Mühlmann considers a part of war metal's roots. Bands such as Demoncy and Profanatica emerged during this time in the United States, when death metal was more popular among extreme metal fans. The Norwegian band Mayhem's concert in Leipzig with Eminenz and Manos in 1990, later released as Live in Leipzig, was said to have had a strong influence on the East German scene and is even called the unofficial beginning of German black metal.

Second wave

The second wave of black metal began in the early 1990s and was spearheaded by the Norwegian black metal scene. During 1990–1993, a number of Norwegian artists began performing and releasing a new kind of black metal music; this included Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Satyricon, Enslaved, Thorns, Carpathian Forest and Gorgoroth. They developed the style of their 1980s forebears into a distinct genre. This was partly thanks to a new kind of guitar playing developed by Snorre 'Blackthorn' Ruch of Stigma Diabolicum/Thorns and Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth of Mayhem.Fenriz of Darkthrone described it as being "derived from Bathory" and noted that "those kinds of riffs became the new order for a lot of bands in the '90s".

The wearing of corpse paint became standard, and was a way for many black metal artists to distinguish themselves from other metal bands of the era.The scene also had an ideology and ethos. Artists were bitterly opposed to Christianity and presented themselves as misanthropic Devil worshippers who wanted to spread terror, hatred and evil.They professed to be serious in their views and vowed to act on them. Ihsahn of Emperor said that they sought to "create fear among people" and "be in opposition to society". The scene was exclusive and created boundaries around itself, incorporating only those who were "true" and attempting to expel all "poseurs".Some members of the scene were responsible for a spate of church burnings and murder, which eventually drew attention to it and led to a number of artists being imprisoned.

Helvete and Deathlike Silence

During May–June 1991, Euronymous of Mayhem opened an independent record shop named Helvete (Norwegian for hell) in Oslo. It quickly became the focal point of Norway's emerging black metal scene and a meeting place for many of its musicians; especially the members of Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor and Thorns.'Metalion' Kristiansen, writer of the fanzine Slayer, said that the opening of Helvete was "the creation of the whole Norwegian black metal scene". In its basement, Euronymous founded an independent record label named Deathlike Silence Productions. With the rising popularity of his band and others like it, the underground success of Euronymous's label is often credited for encouraging other record labels, who had previously shunned black metal acts, to then reconsider and release their material.

Dead's suicide

On 8 April 1991, Mayhem vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (who called himself "Dead") died by suicide while alone in a house shared by the band.Fellow musicians described Dead as odd, introverted and depressed. Before going onstage he went to great lengths to make himself look like a corpse and would cut his arms while singing. Mayhem's drummer, Hellhammer, said that Dead was the first to wear the distinctive corpse paint that became widespread in the scene.He was found with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head. Dead's suicide note apologized for firing the weapon indoors and ended: "Excuse all the blood".Before calling the police, Euronymous got a disposable camera and photographed the body, after re-arranging some items. One of these photographs was later used as the cover of a bootleg live album, Dawn of the Black Hearts.

Euronymous made necklaces with bits of Dead's skull and gave some to musicians he deemed worthy.Rumors also spread that he had made a stew with bits of his brain. Euronymous used Dead's suicide to foster Mayhem's evil image and claimed Dead had killed himself because extreme metal had become trendy and commercialized. bassist Jørn 'Necrobutcher' Stubberud noted that "people became more aware of the black metal scene after Dead had shot himself ... I think it was Dead's suicide that really changed the scene".

Two other members of the early Norwegian scene would later die by suicide: Erik 'Grim' Brødreskift (of Immortal, Borknagar, Gorgoroth) in 1999 and Espen 'Storm' Andersen (of Strid) in 2001.

Church burnings

In 1992, members of the Norwegian black metal scene began a wave of arson attacks on Christian churches. By 1996, there had been at least 50 such attacks in Norway.Some of the buildings were hundreds of years old and seen as important historical landmarks. The first to be burnt down was Norway's Fantoft stave church. Police believe Varg Vikernes of Burzum was responsible.The cover of Burzum's EP Aske ("ashes") is a photograph of the destroyed church. In May 1994, Vikernes was found guilty for burning down Holmenkollen Chapel, Skjold Church and Åsane Church.To coincide with the release of Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Vikernes and Euronymous had also allegedly plotted to bomb Nidaros Cathedral, which appears on the album cover. The musicians Faust, Samoth, (both of Emperor) and Jørn Inge Tunsberg (of Hades Almighty) were also convicted for church arsons. Members of the Swedish scene started to burn churches in 1993.

Those convicted for church burnings showed no remorse and described their actions as a symbolic "retaliation" against Christianity in Norway.Mayhem drummer Hellhammer said he had called for attacks on mosques and Hindu temples, on the basis that they were more foreign. Today, opinions on the church burnings differ within the black metal community. Many, such as Infernus and Gaahl of Gorgoroth, continue to praise the church burnings, with the latter saying "there should have been more of them, and there will be more of them". Others, such as Necrobutcher and Kjetil Manheim of Mayhem and Abbath of Immortal, see the church burnings as having been futile. Manheim claimed that many arsons were "just people trying to gain acceptance" within the black metal scene.Watain vocalist Erik Danielsson respected the attacks, but said of those responsible: "the only Christianity they defeated was the last piece of Christianity within themselves. Which is a very good beginning, of course".

Murder of Euronymous

In early 1993, animosity arose between Euronymous and Vikernes. On the night of 10 August 1993, Varg Vikernes (of Burzum) and Snorre 'Blackthorn' Ruch (of Thorns) drove from Bergen to Euronymous's apartment in Oslo. When they arrived a confrontation began and Vikernes stabbed Euronymous to death. His body was found outside the apartment with 23 cut wounds—two to the head, five to the neck, and sixteen to the back.

It has been speculated that the murder was the result of either a power struggle, a financial dispute over Burzum records or an attempt at outdoing a stabbing in Lillehammer the year before by Faust. Vikernes denies all of these, claiming that he attacked Euronymous in self-defense. He says that Euronymous had plotted to stun him with an electroshock weapon, tie him up and torture him to death while videotaping the event.He said Euronymous planned to use a meeting about an unsigned contract to ambush him. Vikernes claims he intended to hand Euronymous the signed contract that night and "tell him to fuck off", but that Euronymous panicked and attacked him first. He also claims that most of the cuts were from broken glass Euronymous had fallen on during the struggle.The self-defense story is doubted by Faust, while Necrobutcher confirmed that Vikernes killed Euronymous in self-defense due to the death threats he received from him.

Vikernes was arrested on 19 August 1993, in Bergen.Many other members of the scene were taken in for questioning around the same time. Some of them confessed to their crimes and implicated others. In May 1994, Vikernes was sentenced to 21 years in prison (Norway's maximum penalty) for the murder of Euronymous, the arson of four churches, and for possession of 150 kg of explosives. However, he only confessed to the latter. Two churches were burnt the day he was sentenced, "presumably as a statement of symbolic support".Vikernes smiled when his verdict was read and the picture was widely reprinted in the news media. Blackthorn was sentenced to eight years in prison for being an accomplice to the murder.That month saw the release of Mayhem's album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which featured Euronymous on guitar and Vikernes on bass guitar. Euronymous's family had asked Mayhem's drummer, Hellhammer, to remove the bass tracks recorded by Vikernes, but Hellhammer said: "I thought it was appropriate that the murderer and victim were on the same record".In 2003, Vikernes failed to return to Tønsberg prison after being given a short leave. He was re-arrested shortly after while driving a stolen car with various weapons.Vikernes was released on parole in 2009.

Outside Norway

Black metal scenes also emerged on the European mainland during the early 1990s, inspired by the Norwegian scene or the older bands, or both. In Poland, a scene was spearheaded by Graveland and Behemoth. In France, a close-knit group of musicians known as Les Légions Noires emerged; this included artists such as Mütiilation, Vlad Tepes, Belketre and Torgeist. In Belgium, there were acts such as Ancient Rites and Enthroned. Bands such as Black Funeral, Grand Belial's Key and Judas Iscariot emerged during this time in the United States. Black Funeral, from Houston, formed in 1993, was associated with black magic and Satanism.

A notable black metal group in England was Cradle of Filth, who released three demos in a black/death metal style with symphonic flourishes, followed by a studio album, which featured a then-unusual hybrid style of black and gothic metal. The band then abandoned black metal for gothic metal,becoming one of the most successful extreme metal bands to date. John Serba of AllMusic commented that their first album "made waves in the early black metal scene, putting Cradle of Filth on the tips of metalheads' tongues, whether in praise of the band's brazen attempts to break the black metal mold or in derision for its 'commercialization' of an underground phenomenon that was proud of its grimy heritage".Some black metal fans did not consider Cradle of Filth to be black metal. When asked if he considers Cradle of Filth a black metal band, vocalist Dani Filth said he considers them black metal in terms of philosophy and atmosphere, but not in other ways.Another English band called Necropolis never released any music, but "began a desecratory assault against churches and cemeteries in their area" and "almost caused Black Metal to be banned in Britain as a result".Dayal Patterson says successful acts like Cradle of Filth "provoked an even greater extremity [of negative opinion] from the underground" scene due to concerns about "selling out".

The controversy surrounding Absurd drew attention to the German black metal scene. In 1993, the members murdered a boy from their school, Sandro Beyer.A photo of Beyer's gravestone is on the cover of one of their demos, Thuringian Pagan Madness, along with pro-Nazi statements. It was recorded in prison and released in Poland by Graveland drummer Capricornus. The band's early music was influenced by Oi! and Rock Against Communism (RAC), and described as being "more akin to '60s garage punk than some of the […] Black Metal of their contemporaries".Alexander von Meilenwald from German band Nagelfar considers Ungod's 1993 debut Circle of the Seven Infernal Pacts, Desaster's 1994 demo Lost in the Ages, Tha-Norr's 1995 album Wolfenzeitalter, Lunar Aurora's 1996 debut Weltengänger and Katharsis's 2000 debut 666 to be the most important recordings for the German scene. He said they were "not necessarily the best German releases, but they all kicked off something".

After the second wave

In the beginning of the second wave, the different scenes developed their own styles; as Alan 'Nemtheanga' Averill says, "you had the Greek sound and the Finnish sound, and the Norwegian sound".By the mid-1990s, the style of the Norwegian scene was being adopted by bands worldwide, and in 1998, Kerrang! journalist Malcolm Dome said that "black metal as we know it in 1998 owes more to Norway and to Scandinavia than any other particular country".Newer black metal bands also began raising their production quality and introducing additional instruments such as synthesizers and even full-symphony orchestras. By the late 1990s, the underground concluded that several of the Norwegian pioneers—like Emperor, Immortal,Dimmu Borgir,Ancient, Covenant/The Kovenant, and Satyricon—had commercialized or sold out to the mainstream and "big bastard labels". Dayal Patterson states that successful acts like Dimmu Borgir "provoked and even greater extremity [of negative opinion] from the underground" regarding the view that these bands had "sold out".

After Euronymous's death, "some bands went more towards the Viking metal and epic style, while some bands went deeper into the abyss".Since 1993, the Swedish scene had carried out church burnings, grave desecration and other violent acts. In 1995, Jon Nödtveidt of Dissection joined the Misanthropic Luciferian Order (MLO).[125] In 1997, he and another MLO member were arrested and charged with shooting dead a 37-year-old man. It was said he was killed "out of anger" because he had "harassed" the two men. Nödtveidt received a 10-year sentence. As the victim was a homosexual immigrant, Dissection was accused of being a Nazi band, but Nödtveidt denied this and dismissed racism and nationalism.

The Swedish band Shining, founded in 1996, began writing music almost exclusively about depression and suicide, musically inspired by Strid and by Burzum's albums Hvis lyset tar oss and Filosofem.Vocalist Niklas Kvarforth wanted to "force feed" his listeners "with self-destructive and suicidal imagery and lyrics". In the beginning he used the term "suicidal black metal" for his music.However, he stopped using the term in 2001 because it had begun to be used by a slew of other bands, who he felt had misinterpreted his vision and were using the music as a kind of therapy rather than a weapon against the listener as Kvarforth intended. He said that he "wouldn't call Shining a black metal band" and called the "suicidal black metal" term a "foolish idea".

According to Erik Danielsson, when his band Watain formed in 1998 there were very few bands who took black metal as seriously as the early Norwegian scene had. A newer generation of Swedish Satanic bands like Watain and Ondskapt, supposedly inspired by Ofermod, the new band of Nefandus member Belfagor, put this scene "into a new light". Kvarforth said, "It seems like people actually [got] afraid again". "The current Swedish black metal scene has a particularly ambitious and articulate understanding of mysticism and its validity to black metal. Many Swedish black metal bands, most notably Watain and Dissection, are [or were] affiliated with the Temple of the Black Light, or Misanthropic Luciferian Order […] a Theistic, Gnostic, Satanic organization based in Sweden". Upon his release in 2004, Jon Nödtveidt restarted Dissection with new members who he felt were able to "stand behind and live up to the demands of Dissection's Satanic concept".He started calling Dissection "the sonic propaganda unit of the MLO" and released a third full-length album, Reinkaos. The lyrics contain magical formulae from the Liber Azerate and are based on the organization's teachings.After the album's release and a few concerts, Nödtveidt said that he had "reached the limitations of music as a tool for expressing what I want to express, for myself and the handful of others that I care about" and disbanded Dissection before dying by suicide

A part of the underground scene adopted a Jungian interpretation of the church burnings and other acts of the early scene as the re-emergence of ancient archetypes, which Kadmon of Allerseelen and the authors of Lords of Chaos had implied in their writings. They mixed this interpretation with Paganism and Nationalism. Varg Vikernes was seen as "an ideological messiah" by some,although Vikernes had disassociated himself from black metal and his neo-Nazism had nothing to do with that subculture. This led to the rise of National Socialist black metal (NSBM), which Hendrik Möbus of Absurd calls "the logical conclusion" of the Norwegian black metal "movement".Other parts of the scene oppose NSBM as it is "indelibly linked with Asá Trŭ and opposed to Satanism", or look upon Nazism "with vague skepticism and indifference". Members of the NSBM scene, among others, see the Norwegian bands as poseurs whose "ideology is cheap", although they still respect Vikernes and Burzum, whom Grand Belial's Key vocalist Richard Mills called "the only Norwegian band that remains unapologetic and literally convicted of his beliefs"

In France, besides Les Légions Noires (The Black Legions), a NSBM scene arose. Members of French band Funeral desecrated a grave in Toulon in June 1996, and a 19-year-old black metal fan stabbed a priest to death in Mulhouse on Christmas Eve 1996.According to MkM of Antaeus, the early French scene "was quite easy to divide: either you were NSBM and you had the support from zine and the audience, or you were part of the black legions and you had that 'cult' aura".Many French bands, like Deathspell Omega and Aosoth, have an avantgarde approach  and a disharmonic sound that is representative of that scene.

The early American black metal bands remained underground. Some of them—like Grand Belial's Key and Judas Iscariot—joined an international NSBM organization called the Pagan Front, although Judas Iscariot sole member Akhenaten left the organization. Other bands like Averse Sefira never had any link with Nazism. The US bands have no common style. Many were musically inspired by Burzum but did not necessarily adopt Vikernes's ideas. Profanatica's music is close to death metal,[while Demoncy were accused of ripping off Gorgoroth riffs. There also emerged bands like Xasthur and Leviathan (whose music is inspired by Burzum and whose lyrics focus on topics such as depression and suicide), Nachtmystium, Krallice, Wolves in the Throne Room (a band linked to the crust punk scene and the environmental movement), and Liturgy (whose frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix wants to replace traditional black metal's "death and atrophy" with "life and hypertrophy"). These bands eschew black metal's traditional lyrical content for "something more Whitman-esque" and have been rejected by some traditional black-metallers for their ideologies and the post-rock and shoegazing influences some of them have adopted.Also, some bands like Agalloch, Von,Profanatica, and Judas Iscariot would later incorporate elements of folk music and doom metal into the traditional blast beats and tremolo picking, influenced by the Norwegian scene of the early 1980s. A great deal of contemporary American black metal incorporates folk elements, slower song structures, and inspiration from nature and ecological awareness.

In Australia, a scene led by bands like Deströyer 666, Vomitor, Hobbs' Angel of Death, Nocturnal Graves and Gospel of the Horns arose. This scene's typical style is a mixture of old school black metal and raw thrash metal influenced by old Celtic Frost, Bathory, Venom and Sodom but also with its own elements.

Melechesh was formed in Jerusalem in 1993, "the first overtly anti-Christian band to exist in one of the holiest cities in the world".Melechesh began as a straightforward black metal act with their first foray into folk metal occurring on their 1996 EP The Siege of Lachish. Their subsequent albums straddled black, death, and thrash metal.Another band, Arallu, was formed in the late 1990s and has relationships with Melechesh and Salem.Melechesh and Arallu perform a style they call "Mesopotamian Black Metal", a blend of black metal and Mesopotamian folk music.

Since the 2000s, a number of anti-Islamic and anti-religious black metal bands—whose members come from Muslim backgrounds—have emerged in the Middle East. Janaza, believed to be Iraq's first female black metal artist, released the demo Burning Quran Ceremony in 2010. Its frontwoman, Anahita, claimed her parents and brother were killed by a suicide bomb during the Iraq War. Another Iraqi band, Seeds of Iblis, released their debut EP Jihad Against Islam in 2011 through French label Legion of Death. Metal news website Metalluminati suggests that their claims of being based in Iraq are a hoax.These bands, along with Tadnees (from Saudi Arabia), False Allah (from Bahrain) and Mosque of Satan (from Lebanon), style themselves as the "Arabic Anti-Islamic Legion". Another Lebanese band, Ayat, drew much attention with their debut album Six Years of Dormant Hatred, released through North American label Moribund Records in 2008. Some European bands have also begun expressing anti-Islamic views, most notably the Norwegian band Taake


Stylistic divisions

Regarding the sound of black metal, there are two conflicting groups within the genre: "those that stay true to the genre's roots, and those that introduce progressive elements".The former believe that the music should always be minimalist—performed only with the standard guitar-bass-drums setup and recorded in a low fidelity style. One supporter of this train of thought is Blake Judd of Nachtmystium, who has rejected labeling his band black metal for its departure from the genre's typical sound.Snorre Ruch of Thorns, on the other hand, has said that modern black metal is "too narrow" and believes that this was "not the idea at the beginning".

Since the 1990s, different styles of black metal have emerged and some have melded Norwegian-style black metal with other genres:

Ambient black metal:Ambient black metal is a style of black metal which relies on heavy incorporation of atmospheric, sometimes dreamy textures, and is therefore less aggressive. It often features synthesizers or classical instrumentation, typically for melody or ethereal "shimmering" over the wall of sound provided by the guitars. The music is usually slow to mid paced with rare blast beat usage, without any abrupt changes and generally features slowly developing, sometimes repetitive melodies and riffs, which separate it from other black metal styles. Subject matter usually concerns nature, folklore, mythology, and personal introspection. Artists include Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room.

Black-doom:Black-doom, also known as blackened doom, is a style that combines the slowness and thicker, bassier sound of doom metal with the shrieking vocals and heavily distorted guitar sound of black metal.Black-doom bands maintain the Satanic ideology associated with black metal, while melding it with moodier themes more related to doom metal, like depression, nihilism and nature. They also use the slower pace of doom metal in order to emphasize the harsh atmosphere present in black metal. Examples of black-doom bands include Barathrum,Forgotten Tomb, Woods of Ypres, Deinonychus,Shining,Nortt,Bethlehem, early Katatonia. Tiamat, Dolorian,and October Tide.

Depressive suicidal black metal:Pioneered by black-doom bands like Opthalamia, Katatonia, Bethlehem, Forgotten Tomb and Shining, depressive suicidal black metal, also known as suicidal black metal, depressive black metal or DSBM, is a style that melds the second wave-style of black metal with doom metal, with lyrics revolving around themes such as depression, self-harm, misanthropy, suicide and death. DSBM bands draws the lo-fi recording and highly distorted guitars of black metal, while employing the usage of acoustic instruments and non-distorted electric guitar's timbres present in doom metal, interchanging the slower, doom-like, sections with faster tremolo picking.Vocals are usually high-pitched like in black metal, but lacking of energy, simulating feelings like hopelessness, desperation and plea.The presence of one-man bands is more prominent in this genre compared to others. Examples of bands include Xasthur, Leviathan, Strid, Silencer, Make a Change… Kill Yourself,and I Shalt Become.

Black 'n' roll:Black 'n' roll is a style of black metal that incorporates elements from 1970s hard rock and rock and roll music.Examples of black 'n' roll bands include Kvelertak, Vreid, and Khold.Bands such as Satyricon,Darkthrone,Nachtmystium, Nidingr,Craft, and Sarke also experimented with the genre.

Blackened crust:Crust punk groups, such as Antisect, Sacrilege and Anti System took some influence from early black metal bands like Venom, Hellhammer, and Celtic Frost, while Amebix's lead vocalist and guitarist sent his band's early demo tape to Cronos of Venom, who replied by saying "We’ll rip you off." Similarly, Bathory was initially inspired by crust punk as well as heavy metal. Crust punk was affected by a second wave of black metal in the 1990s, with some bands emphasizing these black metal elements. Iskra are probably the most obvious example of second wave black metal-influenced crust punk; Iskra coined their own phrase "blackened crust" to describe their new style. The Japanese group Gallhammer also fused crust punk with black metal while the English band Fukpig has been said to have elements of crust punk, black metal, and grindcore.North Carolina's Young and in the Way have been playing blackened crust since their formation in 2009. In addition, Norwegian band Darkthrone have incorporated crust punk traits in their more recent material. As Daniel Ekeroth wrote in 2008,

In a very ironic paradox, black metal and crust punk have recently started to embrace one another. Members of Darkthrone and Satyricon have lately claimed that they love punk, while among crusties, black metal is the latest fashion. In fact, the latest album by crust punk band Skitsystem sounds very black metal--while the latest black metal opus by Darkthrone sounds very punk! This would have been unimaginable in the early 90s.

Blackened death-doom:Blackened death-doom is a genre that combines the slow tempos and monolithic drumming of doom metal, the complex and loud riffage of death metal and the shrieking vocals of black metal.Examples of blackened death-doom bands include Morast, Faustcoven, The Ruins of Beverast, Bolzer, Necros Christos,Harvest Gulgaltha, Dragged Into Sunlight,Hands of Thieves, and Soulburn.

Blackened death metal:Blackened death metal is commonly death metal that incorporates musical, lyrical or ideological elements of black metal, such as an increased use of tremolo picking, anti-Christian or Satanic lyrical themes and chord progressions similar to those used in black metal.Blackened death metal bands are also more likely to wear corpse paint and suits of armour, than bands from other styles of death metal.Lower range guitar tunings, death growls and abrupt tempo changes are common in the genre.Examples of blackened death metal bands are Belphegor, Behemoth, Akercocke, and Sacramentum.

Melodic black-death:Melodic black-death (also known as blackened melodic death metal or melodic blackened death metal) is a genre of extreme metal that describes the style created when melodic death metal bands began being inspired by black metal and European romanticism. However, unlike most other black metal, this take on the genre would incorporate an increased sense of melody and narrative. Some bands who have played this style include Dissection, Sacramentum, Embraced, Naglfar,Satariel,Throes of Dawn,Obscurity,Dawn, Cries of the Past-era Underoath, Catamenia,Midvinter,Twin Obscenity, Nokturnal Mortum, Unanimated, Epoch of Unlight, This Ending,Suidakra, Oathean, Thulcandra, Skeletonwitch, and Cardinal Sin.

War metal:War metal (also known as war black metal or bestial black metal) is an aggressive, cacophonous, and chaotic subgenre of blackened death metal,described by Rock Hard journalist Wolf-Rüdiger Mühlmann as "rabid" and "hammering".Important influences include early black and death metal bands, such as Sodom,Possessed,Autopsy,Sarcófago, and the first two Sepultura releases, as well as seminal grindcore acts like Repulsion. War metal bands include Blasphemy,Archgoat, Impiety,In Battle, Beherit, Crimson Thorn,Bestial Warlust, and Zyklon-B.

Blackened grindcore:Blackened grindcore is a fusion genre that combines elements of black metal and grindcore.Notable bands include Vomit Fist, Dendritic Arbor, Sunlight's Bane,Scumpulse,Malevich, Absvrdist, and early Rotting Christ.

Blackened thrash metal:Blackened thrash metal, also known as black-thrash, is a fusion genre that combines elements of black metal and thrash metal. Being considered as one of the first fusions of extreme metal, it was inspired by bands such as Venom, Sodom, and Sarcófago.Notable bands include Aura Noir, Witchery,Black Fast, Sathanas, and Deströyer 666.

Folk black metal, pagan metal, and Viking metal:Folk black metal, pagan metal and Viking metal are styles that incorporates elements of folk music, with pagan metal bands focusing on pagan lyrics and imagery,and Viking metal bands giving thematic focus on Norse mythology, Norse paganism, and the Viking Age, more influenced by Nordic folk music. While not focused on Satanism, the bands' use of ancient folklore and mythologies still express anti-Christian views, with folk black metal doing it as part of a "rebellion to the status quo", that developed concurrently along with the rise of folk metal in Europe in the 1990s,Notable artist include Negură Bunget, Windir,Primordial,In the Woods..., Cruachan, and Bathory.

Industrial black metal:Industrial black metal is a style of black metal that incorporates elements of industrial music. Mysticum, formed in 1991, was the first of these groups. DHG (Dødheimsgard), Thorns from Norway and Blut Aus Nord, N.K.V.D. and Blacklodge from France, have been acclaimed for their incorporation of industrial elements.Other industrial black metal musicians include Samael,The Axis of Perdition, Aborym,and ...And Oceans. In addition, The Kovenant,Mortiis and Ulver emerged from the Norwegian black metal scene, but later chose to experiment with industrial music.

Post-black metal:Post-black metal is an umbrella term for genres that experiments beyond black metal's conventions and broadened their sounds, evolving past the genre's limits.Notable bands include Myrkur,Alcest, Bosse-de-Nage, and Wildernessking.

Blackgaze :Blackgaze incorporates common black metal and post-black metal elements such as blast beat drumming and high-pitched screamed vocals with the melodic and heavily distorted guitar styles typically associated with shoegazing.It is associated with bands such as Deafheaven, Alcest, Vaura, Amesoeurs, Bosse-de-Nage,Oathbreaker, and Fen.

Psychedelic black metal:Psychedelic black metal is a subgenre of black metal which employs the usage of psychedelic elements.Notable acts include Oranssi Pazuzu, Nachtmystium,Deafheaven,Woe, Amesoeurs, and In the Woods....

Symphonic black meatl:Symphonic black metal is a style of black metal that incorporates symphonic and orchestral elements. This may include the usage of instruments found in symphony orchestras (piano, violin, cello, flute and keyboards), "clean" or operatic vocals and guitars with less distortion.