“Black metal,” the genre, is a particularly severe form of extreme hard rock, the pummeling sound and menacing aesthetic of which originated in the 1980s by way of beyond-the-fringe headbangers such as Venom, Bathory, and Hellhammer.
Come the ’90s, black metal solidified into even darker harshness, galvanized by the unprecedented intensity of northern European marauders on the order of Mayhem, Emperor, Burzum, and Gorgoroth.
Throughout those early days, mad acts such as murder, suicide, and church arson exploded out of black metal’s most fanatical milieus. Since then, bands and devotees have focused on music rather than violence. As a result black metal has evolved and produced multiple subgenres and offshoots.
All that rocks, but “black metal,” per se, is not what here to raise a skull-goblet of blood to today. Instead, for “Black Friday,” here’s a tribute to “black” metal bands in the sense that the word “black” appears in their names.
So don your gothiest get-up, turn out the lights, and come revel in our sabbath of blackness.
In the manner of the late-’60s Chicago proto-metal cabal Coven, England’s psychedelic prog-meisters Black Widow actually beat Black Sabbath to vinyl by a year.
Also like Coven, Black Widow’s music was not quite heavy metal yet in its sound, but in terms of blazing a path for metal proper, these robe-clad, spell-casting, jazzy hate-hippies used expressly pro-Satan lyrics and an overwhelming occult aesthetic to nail the upside-down crucifix smack on its thorny-crowned head.
Black Roses may not be a “real” band, per se, but that doesn’t mean they don’t really rule. They’re the titular terror of a killer 1988 heavy metal horror movie of the same name that must be seen—and headbanged to—be believed.
Each Black Roses member tours in his own Lamborghini, whereupon they roll into a small town and hornswoggle local metal-phobic parents into thinking they’re wholesome rockers by performing a magnificently cheeseball power ballad. Once the elders split, Black Roses then reveal themselves to be hell-spawned demons who turn every teen within earshot into mom-and-dad-devouring zombies.
What could be more real metal than that?
Northampton, Massachusetts doom lords Black Pyramid have been laying out the heavy since 2007. From their self-titled 2009 debut, 2011’s II, and 2013’s Adversarial, BP has ruled as one of the most commanding forces in stoner heaviosity. The band issued a righteous single in 2015, and announced they’d be embarking on a New England tour the following spring.
Arising up from the ashes of Leeds, England garage rockers the Bacchae, Black Moth bewitches with an occult haze that leaves no soul unconverted. The siren call of frontwoman Harriet Bevan enraptures with ethereal bliss, better enabling the band to enlighten-by-crushing with psych-metal might.
Black Death roared to life in 1977 as an absolutely ferocious straight-up metal combo. The band’s music alone earns them horns up into eternity; it’s also worth noting, for posterity, that each member of Black Death was African American.
BD’s self-titled 1984 debut remains their sole release, and is absolutely worth tracking down. Now.
Italian doom dealers Black Capricorn boast an uncommon gender makeup in that two women—bassist Virginia and drummer Rakela—provide a towering rhythm section, while male guitarist Kjxu sings lead.
True Metal, of course, makes no such distinction when it comes to such qualifiers: all that matters is the power of the rock. On that front, the cosmic crush of Black Capricorn is a full-blown blast of metal mastery.
Named for the original title of the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” controversy follows Portland purveyors of fine stoner metal Black Pussy over their moniker to the point that the group semi-routinely receives death threats.
Because that’s just How We Live Now.
Proving the age-old exploitation producers’ adage that “pickets sell tickets,” though, Black Pussy has wowed and won over fans (including some of those protesting pearl-clutchers) with killer discs and electrifying live shows.
Appropriately in December 2015, Black Pussy is slated to tour with Nashville Pussy.
Firing off a relentlessly heavy combination of thrash, hardcore, death metal, black metal, and crust punk, Bellingham, Washington bruisers Black Breath have come to pack one of extreme rock’s most potent and impactful wallops.
Slaves Beyond Death, their 2015 release, is a kickass place to start. Then work backward and just enjoy all those beat-downs.
Slaying forth from the same Savannah, Georgia scene that has also wrought forth Baroness and Kylesa, Black Death manage true metal magic with their sound. The group commingles measured lurch-and-lumber elements of sludge and stoner rock with the fury and abandon of hardcore and thrash. The band calls its music “swamp metal.” That term fits.
Black Label Society
Guitar god Zakk Wylde whipped up Black Label Society in 1998 after playing with Ozzy Osbourne and establishing himself as the only conceivable heir to Randy Rhodes’ six-string throne.
Over the course of nine studio LPs, two live discs, and countless concerts in every corner of the globe, Black Label Society rules as one of metal’s all-time top-tier battalions.
Could anybody else possibly come in at #1?