The second wave of black metal


January 19, 2022

The second wave of black metal is the name given to the extreme metal genre that developed in the early 1990s and the subculture that emerged around it. Black metal bands have been active around the world since the early 1980s, but the second wave is most strongly associated with Norway, where the genre's ideology and world of sound became established in their current form. In addition to his music, early Norwegian black metal is known for the arson and church crimes committed by members of the subculture. Hence the popular Finnish name of the genre “kirkonpolttohevi”. This article focuses on the events in Norway from 1990 to 1996. Black metal came to the fore primarily through the bands Mayhem and Burzum. Mayhem guitarist and artistic director Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth was the main developer of the new style and ideology of music. The radicalization of the black metal subculture began in 1991 when Mayhem singer Per “Dead” Ohlin killed himself. Aarseth then developed an obsession with evil and began to incite his admirers to commit crimes. Aarseth was a few years older than his admirers, while his supporters were mostly teenagers. Between 1992 and 1996, dozens of churches were burned or attempted to be burned in Norway. Often the culprit was a black metal musician or a fan of the genre. Aarseth himself was reportedly involved in the burning of only one church. Burzum’s only member, Varg Vikernes, rose to become the second leading figure in black metal circles. His prestige was boosted by readiness for crime as well as spectacular publicity raids. In 1993, the gap between Aarseth and Vikernes became inflamed, and Vikernes murdered his former patron. Another eye-catching homicide occurred in 1992, when Emperor's drummer Bård “Faust” Eithun stabbed a man he met by chance to death. With the assassination of Aarseth, the torture began to clear and many black metal musicians were imprisoned for decades. Over time, crimes decreased and the atmosphere of the subculture moderated. The second wave of black metal involves a wide variety of myths and half-truths that genre musicians deliberately incite. Aarseth and Vikernes claimed to lead a cult called “black insiders” or a terrorist organization that worshiped Satan. It is open to interpretation whether such an organization ever existed. Like-minded people gathered around Aarseth and Vikernes, but the group never had a strict organization and did not keep a record of its members. It is also unclear whether any black metal musician really worshiped Satan, or whether it was just a shock and a youth uprising.


The first wave

The first band to describe their music as black metal was the British Venom, which released the influential albums Welcome to Hell and Black Metal in the early 1980s. The meaning of black metal was loose, referring to a small number of extreme metal bands that shared satanic lyrics. For most bands of the era, Satanism was not a serious ideology, but derogatory subjects were cultivated because of its shock value. In hindsight, the trend has been dubbed the “first wave of black metal”. Its best-known bands were Bathory of Sweden, Mercyful Fate of Denmark and Celtic Frost of Switzerland. In addition to black metal, these bands had a lasting impact on thrash and death metal. No precise distinction was made between the Alagen in the 1980s, and the names were used crosswise. Many extreme metal enthusiasts also listened to the tick. The extremes of music were essential. Black metal differed from thrash and death metal at the end of the decade. Particularly influential was the Swiss Samael, which was formed in 1987. At the turn of the decade, a number of bands performing a new kind of black metal appeared. Unlike their predecessors, they do not

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