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11.12.10 Essential Black Metal

Essential Black Metal

Inspired by Nothing But Black Metal November, the list of the black metal you must hear - from classic to contempory.
Black Metal

The album that kicked it all off, and gave the genre its name.
2Mercyful Fate

Kind Diamond's earliest classic
3Celtic Frost
To Mega Therion

HR Giger's beautiful cover art makes this for me
Under The Sign Of The Black Mark

It was difficult choosing between this and "The Return of the Darkness and Evil" but the hint of epic songwriting on this just about cinches it
Under A Funeral Moon

Darkthrone's first album without death metal tracks, and the one that cemented their reputation in the black metal scene
Drawing Down The Moon

The very first black metal album I got into, and still one of my favourites
Pure Holocaust

The point where Immortal hit their stride. "Battles In The North" is just as good.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

THE classic black metal album.
Hvis Lyset Tar Oss

While I don't agree with Varg Vikernes' politics, his music is beautiful.
Hellig Usvart

Notable for creating "unblack metal"
Nemesis Divina

Satyricon's breakthrough album

Controversial for its use of keyboards and synths, Passage was where Samael started to drift away from pure black metal.
13Dimmu Borgir
Enthrone Darkness Triumphant

Now arguably the biggest black metal band in the world, Enthrone was where Dimmu found their trademark sound.
Under The Sign Of Hell

Currently being re-recorded by the new incarnation of the band, this is Gorgoroth's classic album
15 Dark Funeral
The Secrets Of The Dark Arts

Dark Funeral's debut is a remarkably Satanic cornerstone of the second wave.
16 Carpathian Forest.
Black Shining Leather

The best album by Nattefrost, the only musician who could seriously put out a song featuring the sound of himself urinating.
17 Cradle Of Filth
Dusk And Her Embrace

Now playing gothic rock and mainstream enough to be featured on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Cradle's breakthrough album was arguably the first great English black metal record since venom.
18 Sigh
Imaginary Soniscapes

And moving from classics to contempory: the first Japanese black metal band
19 Ephel Duath
The Painter's Palette

The only band in the world who could fuse black metal with jazz fusion and not make a dog's dinner of it

Some say Behemoth are more death than black metal, but Nergal's corpsepaint says otherwise.
Plague Angel

A modern classic from one Mortuus, of the most intellegent lyricists in black metal
Hordalands Doedskvad

Taake, now infamous for being "that band who are banned in Germany"
23Keep of Kalessin

Coming highly recommended by Frost of Satyricon, Keep of Kalessin manage to incorporate piano into black metal
24Wolves In The Throne Room
Two Hunters

Wolves In The Throne Room are one of those really interesting American black metal bands. Specifically the one that sings about the environment.
25Rotting Christ

Like Marduk, Rotting Christ have been around for a long time (two decades), but didn't release their masterpiece until recently. Famous for being the first Greek black metal band and for being the band Dave Mustane refused to play with.
26 Anaal Nathrakh
Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here

One of my favourite bands ever, Anaal Nathrakh play very unusual lo-fi black metal, and take inspiration from Nietzsche and Shakespeare

Terrorizer magazine's favourite record of 2008, and deservedly so.
Cut Your Flesh And Worship Satan

A French black metal band whose motto is "Anti God, Anti Music, and Anti You"
29 Nachtmystium
Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1

Another one of those American bands that fuck with the formula, Nachtmystium meld metal with dark ambient and psychadelic influences
Mirror of Retribution

A Taiwanese black metal band who use their music to campaign for Taiwan's independance.

A stunning concept album from Vreid, all about the Norwegian resistance.
32Deathspell Omega

Finally, possibly the most astonishing black metal release you will ever hear. If you're new to Deathspell Omega, it's worth listening to "Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice" and "Fas ? Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum" before this - they form a franky astonishing trilogy.
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