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Once you go black metal, you never go back.
Shrieking. Distorted sound. Blood splattered visuals. Corpse paint: Black Metal is everything parents lost sleep worrying about. And fans ate it up when the subgenre emerged in the 1980s.
During the ‘80s, thrash metal and death metal bands started to form a new prototype for what would become black metal. Black metal’s roots are commonly split into two waves. The first established the sound, the second revamped the look and drama.
The first wave of black metal refers to bands during the 1980s who influenced the black metal sound. The term ‘black metal’ came from one of the pioneers of the genre, an English band named "Venom" with their second album "Black Metal" (1982). The music was fast, unpolished in production and with raspy or strangulated vocals. Venom's members also adopted pseudonyms, a practice that would become widespread among black metal musicians.
This first wave included bands such as Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. We’ve got plenty of black metal merch for bands like this, including Bathory shirts and more.
The second wave of black metal began in the early 1990s and was spearheaded by the Norwegian black metal scene. Artists including Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Satyricon, Enslaved, and Gorgoroth, developed their own, updated twist on the twisted genre, honouring those who came before but adding a distinct flair. A lot of the new sound was a result of a new kind of guitar playing developed by Snorre 'Blackthorn' Ruch, of "Stigma Diabolicum/Thorns and Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth of Mayhem.
The second wave saw a surge in the showmanship of the genre. Though the first wave definitely shocked and revolted in equal measure, the second wave took it to new highs… or lows. Corpsepaint, dark aliases and a perpetual desire to remain underground and out of the mainstream, drove some of the more explicit and extreme acts of the Second Wave, including Behemoth and Mayhem.
Any fan of Black Metal has heard the twisted tale of Per Yngve Ohlin – a vocalist who preferred to be known as Dead. In 1991, the Mayhem vocalist died by suicide. Not to trivialise a serious subject matter, what followed next beggars belief. Dead was found with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head. Dead's suicide note apologised for firing the weapon indoors and ended: ‘Excuse all the blood.’ Before calling the police, Euronymous got a disposable camera and photographed the body. Think that’s extreme? The photo would go on to be used as the cover of a bootleg live album, "Dawn of the Black Hearts".
The thing about black metal is that it’s never wanted to be popular, or mainstream. That’s why you have to know where to go to find the real deal. Our black metal store offers plenty of black metal t shirts, black metal clothing and more – with some designs and merch exclusive to EMP.