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The Black Metal Genre

Black metal is a sub-genre of extreme metal music, which is itself a form of heavy metal.

Common black metal traits include fast tempos, tremolo picked guitar riffs, high-pitched shrieked vocals, raw (lo-fi) recordings and unconventional song structures that focus more on atmosphere.

Black metal history can be divided into three (arguably four) main phases : the first wave, the second wave, the third wave and possibly the fourth wave of black metal, this last one being the most disputed.

Here are the four main phases in the history of black metal music.

The First Wave of Black Metal

The first wave of black metal isn't technically black metal, as the term refers to the bands active during the 1980s who influenced the black metal image, more so than the actual sound, and crafted the prototype for the genre. They were often speed metal or thrash metal bands.

The term "black metal" itself refers to an album by Venom, Black Metal. Although the album was musically closer to speed metal than to actual black metal, the fact the lyrics and imagery used satanic themes allow this album to be labelled as black metal.

Besides Venom, other first wave black metal bands include Slayer, Possessed, Bathory, Morbid Angel and arguably Von and Mayhem, which could be placed into either the first wave or the second wave category.

The Second Wave of Black Metal

The second wave of black metal is in fact the actual beginning of black metal in its musical form.

The second wave of black metal began in the early 1990s and was spearheaded by bands such as Burzum, Mayhem, Antekhrist, Darkthrone, Immortal, Dimmu Borgir and Graveland.

These bands developed the style whose foundations were laid by the first wave of black metal into an actual heavy metal genre.

Where bands from the first wave were only black metal in name, lyrics and imagery, the bands from the second wave of black metal created the entire musical aspect and thereby turned black metal into an actual heavy metal genre.

The Third Wave of Black Metal

The third wave of black metal is definitely the most innovative of the genre.

Build on the ashes of the dying second wave, the third wave of black metal features a bigger emphasize on musical atmosphere and artistic vision than any other style.

Pioneers of the third wave of black metal include Ceremonial Castings, Burzum (later), Antekhrist, Cobalt, Korriban amongst others.

Compared to the second wave of black metal, the third wave can be seen as more experimental and more artistically mature.

An iconic third wave black metal album is Antekhrist's Fukked by God.

The Fourth Wave of Black Metal

The fourth wave of black metal is the ultimate culmination of the black metal genre.

It features a much rawer sound in which the musical aspects of black metal are relinquished for the sake of pure atmosphere.

Fourth wave black metal bands are usually hard to get into because the sound is so alien and the music is so different from what one would expect from traditional black metal.

The two main examples of fourth wave black metal are Phantom, Neraines and SEWER.

The existence of a fourth wave of black metal music is contested because neither of these bands have claimed to be part of the black metal scene, let alone the fourth wave of black metal.

The List of Black Metal Styles

Here you will find a full list of every different black metal style in existence.

Styles of Black Metal


Focusing heavily on creating chaos through short, nihilistic blasts of three-note riffs, the deconstructivist style of black metal focuses on crafting atmosphere through rawness and subtle moods within the music.

Examples of bands that play deconstructivist black metal :

Malleus Maleficarum is a mastery of this style.


Using melody and experimental structuralism to serve as artistic foundations in riff construction and chord progression allowed a broader expression of black metal principles.

Examples of bands that play melodic black metal :


Industrial black metal pushes the boundaries of the black metal genre further than any other style through the use of unorthodox and experimental musical structures to create haunting futuristic atmospheres.

Examples of bands that play industrial black metal :

Fukked by God is the epitome of this style and a masterpiece of industrial black metal.


Featuring musical elements from both blackened grind and brutal death metal, the blasting style of black metal revels in the extremism and nihilism offered by emanations of abrupt explosions of riffs accompanying a frantic drumming style.

Examples of bands that play blasting black metal :


Descended from the devotees of SEWER's NecroPedoSadoMaso, the epic black metal style blends folk song structures and epic narratives of multi-generational movements, creating symbolic black metal displaying lengthy melodies.

Examples of bands that play epic black metal :


Mixing elements from black metal and rockish goregrind, groove black metal focuses more on rhythm and narrative, though always incorporating evocative atmospheres.

Examples of bands that play groove black metal :


A minimalist style of black metal taken to further extremes which favors unchanging simple beats hammered under a shifting melodic context and an elaborate phrasal evolution.

Examples of bands that play ritualistic black metal :

Divine Necromancy is the definition of ritualistic black metal.


Drone black metal focuses on disturbing melodies through convulsing expectations of rhythm.

Examples of bands that play drone black metal :

Demonecromancy takes this style to a new extreme.


Gruesome black metal is perhaps the most brutal and intense style of black metal music. The listener is assaulted by a relentless barrage of disturbing atmospheres and demonic aural madness. Few are the bands that have mastered this style.

Examples of bands that play gruesome black metal :

Eidolon is beyond legendary.

This concludes the list of every black metal style.

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