Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It is typically abrasive and usually makes use of fast tempos, high-pitched electric guitars often played with tremolo picking, high-pitched shrieking vocals, and unconventional song structures. It is prone to experimentation and certain elements typical to black metal are not always used by every band within the subgenre.
The first bands to pioneer the style were mostly thrash metal bands that formed the prototype for black metal in the early 1980s; they are referred to collectively as the First Wave, and consist of a few bands, such as Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a Second Wave emerged, primarily of Norwegian bands like Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone and Emperor. Although there is no well-defined Third Wave, modern black metal bands have incorporated new musical and lyrical trends into their music.
Black metal has been met with considerable hostility from mainstream culture, mainly because of the misanthropic and Anti-Christian attitude of many bands. This iconoclastic ideology is typical of black metal bands. Additionally, a few black metal bands have been associated with church burnings, murder, and/or National Socialism . Black metal is generally seen as an underground form of music, in part because it does not appeal to mainstream tastes and because its musicians often choose to remain obscure.
Instrumentation and structureEdit
While black metal musicians are bound by some common traits, the genre can contain a variety of characteristics. Electric guitars are played with distortion at a fast tempo, often using tremolo picking.
Prominent low or mid-range frequencies are typically absent or undervalued, resulting in a metallic or "scooped" tone, but a few bands use maxed middle frequencies. There is a frequent use of chromatics shifted up and down by semitones from a central tonic to create an uneasy atmosphere (commonly featuring the tritone interval). Pendulum strumming may be applied to fully voiced chords (usually minor, sometimes diminished) in a denser portion of a piece, and there may be an altering of already established scales for a more dissonant, "evil" sound. Additionally, guitar solos are rarely performed. Drumming is also fast-paced, and is often performed using double bassdrum, blast beat, and D-beat techniques. Some bands, often solo artists, rely on drum machines instead of a human drummer.
Song structures are unconventional, devoid of typical verse/chorus segments, and contain extended or repetitive instrumental passages with very fast-paced rhythms, often exceeding the speed of many other genres of music. Black metal rhythms are often simplistic, though some bands employ complex rhythmic sections. Occasionally, electronic keyboards are used. The harpsichord, violin, organ, and choir settings are most common, which provides an orchestral or cathedral-like sound. Some bands use keyboards very frequently, as either a background instrument or the basis of their entire sound (see symphonic black metal). Certain bands, such as Dimmu Borgir, have recorded with full symphony orchestras.
Low-cost production quality began as a must for early black metal bands with low budgets. However, even as bands moved to increase their production quality over time, low fidelity was often intentional for some bands to remain true to the genre's roots and raw sound. Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger is one of the better-known examples of this type of production quality.
Vocals and lyricsEdit
Vocally, a distinct, harsh style is required, often a very guttural rasp or a high-pitched shriek. This style is nearly universal in the black metal genre, and is distinct from death metal in this respect, as death metal bands, for the most part, employ low-pitched, growling vocals. Often there is a reverberation effect to make vocals sound cavernous and atmospheric. Some bands, particularly symphonic black metal bands, incorporate traditional ("clean") vocals, in part or entirely. Some songs are complemented with choir-like vocals by males and/or females, much like a Gregorian chant ("Vikingland" by Satyricon, for example). The most common and founding lyrical emphasis revolves around Satanic, Pagan, and/or occult themes. Opposition to Christianity is a nearly universal theme among black metal bands. War, misanthropy, and suicide are often explored. Lyrics may also celebrate environmental origins of bands, celebrating darkness, winter, snow, blizzards, forests, and other natural surroundings of northern European countries, as well as their folklore and history. Lyrical content may also be inspired by fantasy. The Austrian band Summoning focuses almost exclusively on J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth for its lyrical content. Other bands create their own fictional realms (for instance, certain songs by Immortal depict a fictional kingdom called "Blashyrkh"). Bal-Sagoth's material is made up of various song cycles, and original fantasy narratives, inspired by writers like Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft.
Imagery and aestheticsEdit
Album covers are usually atmospheric or iconic; some feature natural or fantastical landscapes (Burzum's Filosofem, Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse) while others may be violent, perverted, or iconoclastic (Marduk's Opus Nocturne). Inverted pentagrams and/or inverted crosses are symbols used prevalently to reinforce a band's anti-religious attitude.
One of the most noticeable features in black metal is facial corpsepaint; black and white makeup (sometimes detailed with "blood") used to simulate a corpse-like appearance. In modern times, the concept has faded, with bands like Emperor claiming the image has lost its original meaning, which was to separate black metal bands from other types of performers. However many bands still wear corpsepaint, such as Gorgoroth and Immortal.
Unlike artists of most other genres, many black metal bands do not play live. Some bands (Burzum, Xasthur) are single-member bands that cannot or choose not to play live. However, other one or two-member bands (Nargaroth, Satyricon, Satanic Warmaster), perform with extra session musicians specifically for live performances. Bands that perform live often make use of stage props and theatrical techniques. Mayhem and Gorgoroth are noted for their gruesome and controversial stage shows, the former particularly well-known for severed pig heads which appear at many of their performances, and are often thrown to the audience as souvenirs. Many musicians adopt a 'neo-medieval' costume style that may include leather, spikes, bondage gear, armor and weaponry. Some musicians adopt a stage name, often based in mythology or folklore (for example, Emperor's Bård Eithun referred to himself as Faust).
The First WaveEdit
The term "black metal" was first coined by the British band Venom with their 1982 sophomore album Black Metal. Although the band was part of the NWOBHM and their musical style was speed metal or thrash metal, their lyrics and imagery focused on Satanic and occult themes more so than any band before. Their music was unpolished in production and featured very fast-paced guitars and raspy "unclean" vocals that relied less on melody than they did on raw, shrieking screams. Venom's members also adopted pseudonyms (the original lineup being Cronos, Mantas, and Abaddon), something uncommon for metal bands at the time.
Another band that can be considered pioneers of the genre was the Swedish band Bathory, led by Thomas Forsberg (under the pseudonym Quorthon). Bathory used furiously fast tempos, high-pitched shrieking vocals and suboptimal production standards; as heard on early albums such as The Return. Later they would also become known as the first band to add elements of Norse mythology in their lyrics and imagery. This was a concept that would become influential enough to spawn an entire ideological off-shoot known as viking metal.
Other early influences include Switzerland's Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, early work of Brazil's Sarcófago and Sepultura, Italy's Bulldozer and Death SS, and Denmark's Mercyful Fate. King Diamond of Mercyful Fate was also one of the first to frequent the use of corpsepaint, alongside Sarcófago, which metalstorm.ee magazine claims were the first band to sport "true" corpsepaint. Additionally, Euronymous of Second Wave band Mayhem also mentioned Germany's Sodom and Destruction as underestimated influences and "masterpieces of black stinking metal".
The Second WaveEditThe Second Wave of black metal emerged in the early 1990s, partly due to the formation of Norwegian black metal bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Immortal, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Enslaved and Emperor. As seen below, some of these bands would be responsible for a rash of criminal controversy, including church burnings and murder. This wave also introduced atmospheric and classical elements and popularized the genre for a growing underground audience. Philosophically, an aggressive anti-Right Hand Path sentiment became a must for any band to be finalized as "black metal". In fact, bands that didn't exemplify such beliefs through actions beyond their music were often criticized by extremists within black metal's subculture. Ihsahn of Emperor believes that this trend may have developed simply from "an opposition to society, a confrontation to all the normal stuff." A dark, misanthropic mentality was complemented visually with the use of corpsepaint, which was also most prevalent during this wave as a statement to separate black metal bands from other rock bands of the era.
Outside of the Norwegian scene, a black metal scene also emerged in Sweden and Finland during the early 1990s. This was fuelled by the popularity of Swedish bands like Marduk and Dissection, and Finnish bands like Beherit and Impaled Nazarene.
An abraded, very low fidelity recording style was common in most black metal at the time, and was often intentional to preserve the underground quality of the genre. Sometimes artists would branch off into related subgenres, such as death metal, keeping their Satanic and occult mentality intact. Mayhem's career, for example, began mostly in the death/black metal style, transitioned to pure black metal, then towards progressive black metal in their later career. It was experimentation like this that aided black metal's growth, but would ultimately mean the end of the Second Wave by the mid-1990s, as newer black metal bands began raising their production quality and introducing new instrumentation such as synthesizers and full-symphony orchestras.
Historical events in black metal Edit
First black metal labelEdit
Øystein Aarseth's independent label, Deathlike Silence Productions, became the first label to dedicate itself purely to black metal. Deathlike Silence only released records by bands "that incarnated evil in its most pure state". The label would become home to Aarseth's own band, Mayhem, as well as other black metal acts like Burzum. Aarseth also opened his own record store, Helvete (Norwegian for "Hell"), as a prime outlet for black metal records. With the rising popularity of his band and others like it, the underground success of Aarseth's label is often credited for encouraging other record labels that previously refused black metal acts to then reconsider and release their material.
Headliners of the black metal scene claimed responsibility for inspiring (if not necessarily perpetrating) over 50 arsons directed at Christian churches in Norway from 1992 to 1996. Many of the buildings were hundreds of years old, and widely regarded as important historical landmarks. The most notable church was Norway's Fantoft stave church, which the police believed was destroyed by Varg Vikernes of the one-man band Burzum). However, Vikernes would not be convicted of any arson offences, until his arrest for the murder of Øystein Aarseth in 1993 (see below). The cover of Burzum's EP Aske (Norwegian for "Ash") portrays a photograph of the Fantoft stave church after the arson; it is still unconfirmed whether or not he took this picture himself.
Today, opinions differ within the black metal community concerning the legitimacy of such actions. Former guitarist Infernus and vocalist Gaahl of the band Gorgoroth have praised the church burnings in interviews, with the latter also opining "there should have been more of them, and there will be more of them." However, Necrobutcher, one of the founding and current members of Mayhem, was quoted as saying "I think it's ridiculous, especially the people that lit up our old fuckin' churches. They don't realize that these were actually Heathen churches, before Christianity. So they fucked themselves in the ass by doing that."
In 1991, attention towards black metal increased when Mayhem's frontman Per Yngve Ohlin (stagename Dead) committed suicide via shotgun blast to the head, which followed a series of self-inflicted lacerations to his arms. His note simply read "Excuse all the blood" and contained an apology for firing the weapon indoors. Some sources say that he explicitly said "The knife was too dull, so I used the shot gun". The ammunition was supplied weeks prior to the incident by Varg Vikernes, who played bass for Mayhem on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Dead's body was discovered by fellow bandmate Øystein Aarseth (also known as Euronymous), who, instead of calling the police, ran to a nearby convenience store and bought a disposable camera to photograph the corpse, modeling the body in various positions. The pictures were later stolen and one was used as the cover image for an infamous bootleg Mayhem album, (Dawn of the Black Hearts). Claims that Aarseth took pieces of Dead's brains and made a stew out of them eventually surfaced, as well as claims that the members of the band made a necklace from the bone fragments of their friend's skull. Although the band declared that the former claim was false (but was indeed planned), the latter, they claimed, was true. They additionally claimed to have given pieces of the necklace to different bands they deemed "worthy". 
Murder in LillehammerEdit
In 1992, Bård "Faust" Eithun of Emperor was in Lillehammer to see the newly constructed Olympic park. According to Faust (in Lords of Chaos), a homosexual man named Rhys Adamec approached him and suggested that they go together in the nearby forest. Faust claims he agreed and that, once in the forest, the man made potent sexual advances on him. Faust retaliated and stabbed the man to death with a hunting knife, later citing the incident as a crime of passion. The case went unsolved until late 1993, when police began to investigate the church burnings and murder surrounding Varg Vikernes; such investigation of the black metal scene led police to Faust, and he served just over 9 years of a 14 year sentence before being released in 2003.
In 1993, Øystein Aarseth (Euronymous) of Mayhem was murdered by Varg Vikernes during a late night confrontation at Aarseth's home. According to official reports, Øystein received a total of twenty-three stab wounds: two to the head, five to the neck, and sixteen to the back. The circumstances of the murder are not entirely clear, and numerous stories have surfaced as a result. Rumors stated the act was merely Varg's attempt at "out doing" the stabbing committed by Faust in Lillehammer the year before . Other sources attribute the crime a power struggle between Vikernes and Aarseth. The closing of Aarseth's record store (Helvete) may have alluded to a financial dispute over the profits from Varg's records as Burzum (Burzum, Aske). Despite this, Vikernes himself claims the murder was not premeditated and was an act of self-defense, and that Aarseth had conspired to videotape the torture and eventual murder of Varg as a result of jealousy. Varg asserts that he had been informed of this plan by friends whom Aarseth attempted to conspire with, and that Aarseth attacked him first upon their visit that night, resulting in the murder. Additionally, Vikernes defends that most of the cut wounds found on Aarseth's body were caused by broken glass shards he had fallen on during the conflict.
Regardless of the circumstances, Vikernes was arrested within days, and in 1994, was sentenced to 21 years in prison in conjunction with a few arson charges. In a controversial display, Vikernes actually smiled at the moment his verdict was read , an image that was widely reprinted in the news media during the following weeks. Varg has since released two ambient music albums (Dauði Baldrs, Hliðskjálf) but implied in interviews that he would write material similar to his older works upon his release from prison. While granted a short leave in 2003, Vikernes attempted to escape his bounds in Tønsberg, Norway, resulting in another arrest, during which he was caught with a stolen vehicle and various firearms . As a result, his request for parole was denied in 2006, and he is currently awaiting another chance in April 2008 .
As for Mayhem, the murder of Aarseth almost put a stop to new material. However, the band continues to perform to this day, lead by drummer Hellhammer and original member/bassist Necrobutcher. Controversy still follows the band, albeit not nearly as much. In 2003, a concert-goer in Norway received a fractured skull as a dead sheep's head flew from the stage while band member Blasphemer was cutting the head away from the torso .
Conflict between scenesEdit
A brief conflict known as the "Dark War" between Norwegian and Finnish scenes had gained some media recognition from 1992 to 1993. Part of this was motivated by seemingly harmless pranks; Nuclear Holocausto of Beherit started to make prank calls in the middle of the night to Samoth of Emperor and Mika Luttinen of Impaled Nazarene. The calls were mainly just babbling and playing of children's songs, however, Luttinen somehow got the idea that the language babbled was Norwegian and most likely death threats. These speculations were probably made due to the tensions between Finnish and Norwegian scenes at the time, as Euronymous wanted to lead his movement towards a more cult-like status (see Black Metal Inner Circle), where as the Finnish scene continued with the more easy going attitude of LaVeyan Satanism.
Notably, the album cover of Impaled Nazarene's Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz contains texts like "No orders from Norway accepted" and "Kuolema Norjan kusipäille!" (Death to the assholes of Norway!). After their first LP, Impaled Nazarene quit playing black metal and defined their style as "Satanic death metal" (or "Nuclear Metal"), disassociating themselves from the church burnings in Norway. The Finnish band Black Crucifixion also became known to criticize Darkthrone once or twice as "trendies" due to the fact that Darkthrone began their career as a death metal band. Beherit didn't participate much in the conflict, yet in Norway there was a band called Fuck Beherit which released two demos mocking the band.
Many recall a strong Swedish death metal and Norwegian black metal rivalry during the 1990s. It was common for black metal enthusiasts in Europe to terrorize notable death metal bands that were touring their country or neighboring countries, on the basis of their lack of apparent "evilness". Street fights at shows (and even an attempted fire bomb at a 1992 Deicide show in Stockholm ) had been reported before tensions eventually calmed.
Modern black metal Edit
During the mid 1990s, many black metal bands began to take new directions and increase their production quality. This, and the introduction of electronic instruments such as synthesizers, signalled the end of the Second Wave. The controversy surrounding black metal also faded, although some bands, notably Gorgoroth, have been the subject of some recent controversies.
Beginning in the mid 1990s an Eastern European black metal scene began to devlop. Many of these bands were from the former Soviet Bloc and recorded material in the deliberate low fidelity style of early Norwegian bands. There was also a tendency to glorify the pagan roots of their home countries and incorporate indigenous folk music. Prominent bands among this scene include Graveland (from Poland), Trollech (from Czech Republic), Nokturnal Mortum (from Ukraine) and Negură Bunget (from Romania). Elsewhere in Europe, other prominent "traditional" black metal bands have emerged, including 1349 (from Norway), Marduk, Naglfar and Watain (from Sweden), Arkhon Infaustus and Antaeus (from France), and Enthroned (from Belgium).
By the beginning of the 21st century, black metal bands and scenes had begun to emerge in many countries outside Europe. New styles of black metal also emerged. The United States black metal scene has been strongly associated with the black ambient (or ambient black metal) style, performed by bands such as Velvet Cacoon and Xasthur. Others such as Blut Aus Nord and Spektr have included industrial elements. Additionally, a style known as black doom was pioneered by Dolorian and Forgotten Tomb, and has since been adopted by the prominent Japanese band Gallhammer.
Stylistic divisions Edit
Melodic black metalEdit
Melodic black metal is a style of black metal that is less abrasive, more melodic and thus more accessible for mainstream audiences. Electric guitars are often played with much less distortion and guitar solos are more common. Songs are often written in conventional structures and there is more usage of keyboards and other instruments. However, despite these differences, much of the characteristics found in "traditional" black metal are retained. Melodic black metal is often confused with symphonic black metal, as the two styles overlap.
Symphonic black metalEdit
Symphonic black metal is a style of black metal that uses symphonic and orchestral elements. This may include the usage of instruments found in symphony orchestras (piano, violin, cello, flute and keyboards), "clean" or operatic vocals, guitars with less distortion, and song structures inspired by symphonies. Symphonic black metal is often confused with melodic black metal and gothic metal, as the styles overlap.
Black ambient (sometimes referred to as ambient black metal) is generally viewed as a style that combines elements of black metal and ambient/dark ambient music. However, emphasis may be placed upon one or the other. The electric guitar and bass guitar are often used in conjunction with electronic instruments such as synthesizers and drum machines, or may simply be played in an ambient, atmospheric style. The infamous Norwegian artist Burzum may be considered a pioneer of black ambient, particularly for the album Filosofem. Other prominent artists who have performed in this style include Velvet Cacoon (US), Wolves in the Throne Room (US), Xasthur (US), Leviathan (US), Nortt (Denmark), Abruptum (Sweden), Blut Aus Nord (France), Summoning (Austria) and Striborg (Australia).
Black doom (also known as blackened doom metal) is a style that combines elements of black metal and doom metal. Typically, vocals are in the form of high-pitched shrieks and guitars are played with much distortion, which is common in black metal. But there is also a focus on slow tempos and dissonance, which is common in doom metal. Lyrics often involve themes of nature, nihilism and depression. The early work of Dolorian (Finland) and Katatonia (Sweden) are generally regarded as the foundation of this style. Pure blackened doom bands are fairly rare, but Forgotten Tomb (Italy), Barathrum (Finland), Bethlehem (Germany), Nortt (Denmark) and Gallhammer (Japan) have performed in this style.
Blackened death metalEdit
Blackened death metal is a style that combines elements of black metal and death metal. When compared with "traditional" black metal, there is more usage of down-tuned guitars, palm muting, and complex blast beats. Vocals are often in the form of relatively high-pitched death growls. Bands of this style often focus on themes common in black metal, such as anti-Christianity, Satanism and Occultism.
Template:SectOR Any attempt to lay out the ideology of a musical genre is bound to generalize to the extent that some traits are unfairly emphasized with respect to certain artists, while others are laid out which do not apply to all. Nonetheless, there is a clear pattern which can be sketched out to capture the fundamental elements behind black metal. To a large extent, aesthetics are visual manifestations of ideology. Black metal is generally held to embrace anti-Christianity, misanthropy, nihilism, Paganism and/or Satanism, and in some cases, nationalism. As an extension of misanthropy, there is often a link to nature emphasized, with a heavy emphasis on mortality and the unknown aspects of death. More generally, most black metal musicians like to appear as strongly anti-collectivist, critics of religion and advocates of individualism.
The majority of those involved in the scene are not outspoken with regard to either nationalism or xenophobia (values common to National Socialist black metal), and prefer to let their music speak for itself. Nonetheless, many black metal bands are proud of their culture/nation, but do not deny the right of people from other nations to be proud of theirs. Many see cultural assimilation or cultural homogenization as something to be avoided, and one way to avoid this is to take pride in being a representative of one's own culture, and produce art that is distinct to it. These ideas are sometimes realised musically by the incorporation of folk elements to their works.
National Socialist black metalEdit
National Socialist black metal (NSBM) is a term used for black metal artists who support National Socialist beliefs in their music and imagery. NSBM is viewed as an ideology, not a subgenre, as there is no distinct "style" to play black metal in a National Socialist way. Bands labelled as such use lyrics supporting ideas of white supremacy, racial separatism and antisemitism. Many also support various forms of paganism, but this is common among "traditional" black metal bands. It should be noted that NSBM bands are a minority within the black metal genre.
Some black metal bands have made references to Nazi Germany for shock value, causing them to be wrongly labelled as NSBM. Several popular black metal musicians, such as Frost of Satyricon and Ihsahn of Emperor, are opposed to NSBM, in part because of the false accusations of racism directed at such artists.
Viking black metalEdit
Viking metal, or more specifically Viking black metal, is a term used in reference to black metal bands whose lyrics and imagery emphasise Norse mythology, Norse paganism and the life of Scandinavians prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia. The style is closely associated with folk metal. Bands typically seek to create a romanticized, epic, or warlike atmosphere. They may also incorporate Nordic folk instruments or use keyboards to mimic those instruments.
The origin of the style can be attributed to the Swedish band Bathory, with the release of their fourth album in 1988, Blood Fire Death. The album blended black metal with an atmosphere of war and Norse mythology. Since then, many black metal bands (Enslaved, Satyricon) have borrowed such concepts to further elaborate on anti-Christian sentiment. Some death metal bands (Amon Amarth, Unleashed) have also adopted Viking metal aesthetics.
Unblack metal (also known as Christian black metal) is a term used in reference to black metal bands whose lyrics and imagery depict Christianity positively. Such bands are controversial, as black metal itself was developed with the intention of encouraging anti-Christian sentiment. Like National Socialist black metal, it is viewed as an ideology, not a subgenre, as there is no distinct "style" to play black metal in a Christian way. The style emerged in 1991, when Antestor released their demo The Defeat of Satan. In 1994, Horde also gained wide recognition with their own anti-Satanic themes, as evidenced by song titles like "Silence the Blasphemous Chanting" and "Invert the Inverted Cross". Several bands adopting the concept have emerged since then, but it should be noted that they are a minority within the genre, and are often opposed by "traditional" black metal bands.
Films on black metal:
- The 1998 Norwegian documentary Satan Rides the Media detailed the conviction of Varg Vikernes, his murder of Øystein Aarseth, and some related church burnings.
- The 2005 documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey touches on black metal in the early 1990s, and includes an extensive 25-minute feature on the DVD release.
- In early 2007, online broadcasting network VBS.tv released a 5-part feature titled True Norwegian Black Metal, detailing the lifestyle, beliefs, and controversies surrounding Gorgoroth frontman Gaahl.
- An independent documentary titled Until The Light Takes Us completed production in October 2007. The film explores black metal's origins and subculture, including "exclusive interviews" and "rare, seldom seen footage from the Black Circle's earliest days".
- An independent documentary by Bill Zebub titled Black Metal, a Documentary explores the world of black metal from the point of view of the artists. There is no narrator and no one outside of black metal takes part in any interview or storytelling. It includes interviews and performances from Finntroll, Naglfar, Ulver, Korovo, Unexpect, Gloomy Grim, Bloodthorn, Dark Funeral, Bethlehem, Grom, Enslaved, King Diamond, Arkhon Infaustus, Rotting Christ, Primordial, Belphegor, and Svarog.
References in media:
- The cartoon show Metalocalypse is a show about an extreme metal band called Dethklok, with many references to leading black metal artists on the names of various buildings such as "Fintroll's" "Dimmu Burger"(Borgir), "Gorgoroth's" electric wheelchair store, "Carpathian Forest High School", "Marduk's" Putt & Stuff, "Burzum's" hot-dogs and "Behemoth" studios (as well as the man who owns Behemoth studios, whose name is "Mr. Grishnackh").
- A Norwegian commercial for a laundry detergent once depicted black metal musicians as part of the advertisement.
- Black metal bands such as 1349, Emperor, Behemoth, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved and Satyricon have had their videos make appearances on MTV's Headbangers Ball.
- Comedian Brian Posehn makes a visual reference to Norwegian black metal bands in the music video for his comedy song "Metal By Numbers".
- A Canadian commercial by KFC in 2008 features a fictional black metal band called Hellvetica. The band's vocalist proceeds to eat fire. Once backstage he takes a bite of the spicy KFC chicken product and declares "Oh man, that is hot".
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