For the last 15 years, black metal has been growing steadily more popular on the side of the globe, and not just in the United States. This has allowed new bands to flourish – and it’s given new life to older bands and scenes that were once relegated to the darkest and coldest corners of this most dark and cold music.
Still, there are tons of great bands putting out some truly breathtaking music that go virtually unnoticed by the metal press. This is a natural consequence of growth. It’s hard enough to keep track of even the more prominent bands that flood our inboxes on a weekly basis. How can you possibly sift through all the mountains of Bandcamp sites and Youtube channels to find your new favorite band? Once again, friends, I’m here to help!
After putting together the first two installments of this series, I realized that I’d almost completely ignored the Americas! So think of this as a way to redress this error and give some of these countries their due. As usual, my mining equipment is biased to collect what I’m looking for (stuff that sounds like Nattens Madrigal, Under the Sign of Hell and Within the Sylvan Realms of Frost), so you won’t find a lot of experimental and avante-garde stuff here. But if you like your black metal straightforward with frosty melodic riffs and ferocious vocals, you’ve come to the right place:
Country: USA (New York)
When I went to see Sargeist in Brooklyn earlier this year, I had no idea who this opening band was. However, I figured it would be good to give them a chance, nothing worse than a crowd that’s too cool for the opening bands. Man, was that a solid decision. Ordeals does a good job with crafting a dynamic sound, one that’s based in black metal but is willing to mount bestial raids into doom and death metal territory.
Alright, fine, so I didn’t discover this band independent of another site. I owe my knowledge of Canada’s Spectral Wound to Jon Rosenthal of Invisible Oranges, who seems to always have the jump on excellent black metal (in terms of genre knowledge and expertise, he’s basically the Oxford English Dictionary to my pocket Webster). Beautifully melodic, but still thunderous in its power. Enough to flatten whole villages…but like, in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Country: USA (California)
Vampires! You like vampires, right?! Bands like California’ Akasha create black metal in that special way that’s both entrancing and all-consuming, but that still has moments that shine through and stay with you. Akasha also remembers to blend in some d-beat and Venom-style tempos as well, giving their otherwise second-wave work an extra punch. They also really like to lean into whole vampire thing, staying very on-message throughout (they have a song called “Solar Eclipse” followed immediately by “F*ck the Sun”…you get the idea).
Dark, crude, raw and obscured by it’s lo-fi production. I suppose this what people who don’t like black metal like to complain about. Whatever. On the one hand, it’s great that there are so many offshoots and blends of black metal out there to keep the genre moving. But on the other (left)hand, it’s important that bands like Blestema keep the core sounds alive and breathing for future acolytes to remember where the original triangle of flames burns.
Have you ever wished that Mayhem had kept the crude production value of Deathcrush but played at the level of De Mystiriis Dom Santhanas? Well you’re in luck, a ton of it, because Chile’s Horns plays this style brilliantly without ever coming off as a cheap rip-off. They’re great at giving the guitars just the right amount of buzzing distortion – raw but not over-saturated. And the level of reverb is perfect as well – plenty of room to breathe, but not so cavernous that you can’t tell what the hell is going on.
Country: USA (New Jersey)
This band is probably well-known to some readers, as they’ve crept onto several year-end lists and review desks over the past few years. Still, I think it’s still worth signal boosting these warriors of death and darkness. Death Fortress is one of those bands I’d use as a bridge into black metal for those of you who really like death metal with super-low vocals and reverb-consumed production. Honestly, if you like diSEMBOWELMENT but wish they played something more energetic, you’ll probably dig this.