Speaking of bands who were off the fucking deep end, eh? Mayhem, one of the most legendary and craziest of them all. Known for, amongst other things, taking a picture of the remains of their singer (Dead) after he committed suicide with a shotgun and using the image as an album cover. The band also contained guitarist and mastermind Euronymous, who was stabbed to death by Burzum‘s Varg Vikernes. Oddly enough, this is Euronymous’s last album before his death and if I am not mistaken, Varg Vikernes plays bass on it. Got all that?
Much has been made about Varg Vikernes’ personal life and criminal history, so I won’t go into it here. I am a firm believer in separating the music from the creators of the music. So while Varg is a murderer, a racist, and a church burner, I don’t want to discuss that right now. What I would like to discuss is his musical genius. Burzum’s one man band, lo-fi, recorded in my closet brand of ambient black metal is some compelling shit, and Filosofem is Varg’s finest depressing hour.
Let me just start by saying this is not a list of ‘Best Albums’ or ‘Best Black Metal’ or ‘trOOest shit’ or whatever. There are way too many lists out there already and opinions are like assholes, as we all know. This is an elitist/douchism-free zone. This is simply six albums you should check out if you have an interest in black metal but don’t know where to start, or already consider yourself a fan but want to explore the roots and past of the genre, or wish to graduate to something more ‘true’ but aren’t sure where to start or don’t want to waste your time sifting through the duds.
These are my personal favorites from my own exploration into the mythical Norwegian Second Wave of Black Metal, the real crazy bastards who burnt churches and killed each other. There was plenty of controversy and violence during this era, and it spawned thousands of imitators in the years to come, but what people sometimes forget is that there was some sweet music being made as well, and that’s the main purpose of this ‘list’; to remove the focus from the scene and the people creating the music and bring it back to the music itself. Give these albums a shot if you dare, if only for your ongoing musical education.
In the interest of variety, I picked six different bands and limited it to one album per band. And again, this is not a ‘best of’ list; these albums appear in no particular order and are not meant to imply that this represents each band’s best work. These are simply six of my favorites from the early to mid 90s Second Wave of Black Metal, that can provide you with a jumpoff point for your own exploration. You decide what you like best, alright? Alright. Without further ado…