So now that we’re somewhat familiar with Bluegrass, let’s move on to its distant…distant, distant cousin: Black Metal. Once again, I am no expert and will be borrowing much text from ye olde Wikipedia and some other sources, including some pros at Reddit.
Alright, I’m going to make the assumption that we’re all somewhat familiar with metal music. Complex song structures, shredding guitars, blast beats, and screaming vocals (yes, now we’re talking!) But then again, we’re not talking just any metal here, we’re talking BLACK metal. So what’s the difference? And, as I’m sure you were just about to ask, how does it differ from death metal?
Actually, Black Metal most noticeably differs from other metal genres in ideology, instead of musical style. In its early days, Black Metal was mostly driven by Satanic themes. That doesn’t necessarily hold true now, however, but Anti-Christian themes are still very prominent. Atheism and individualism are also common ideas. Though it might be difficult to come to this conclusion on your own, as the vocalists commonly “use high-pitched and raspy vocals which include shrieking, screaming and snarling.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_metal) Distorted guitars and the use of dissonance are also used to “yield foreboding and fear-inducing sounds.” So far, this sounds exactly like bluegrass…
The modern musical variation in what is considered to be Black Metal is vast, so any short discussion will not be sufficient. However, this site provided the best description I could find for the classic Black Metal sound. Here is some good text from that page:
Black metal is an extreme subgenre of metal characterized by snarled or shrieked vocals and raucous tremolo riffs. The bass tends to be, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. Production tends to be trebly and raw. Most bands adopt a relatively simplistic style, though some of the more mainstream acts (Emperor is a notable example) are more technical. Generally, technicality is frowned upon and soloing is infrequent and hardly ever used. A clearer, more discernible but atonal vocal style is often used, usually in conjunction with a harsher shrieking style. Keyboards are frequently adopted. Usage of folk, neoclassical and, to a lesser extent, ambient elements is frequent.
Notice that folk aspects are sometimes incorporated…this may warrant some further investigation, as Bluegrass and Folk are closely related.
Death metal, on the other hand, is typically more technical and often employs more low-growling vocals (or “death growls”) and screaming. And though it can be about many different things, lyrics may often “invoke slasher film-stylized violence.” Hmm, this might be useful.
I think I gotta give fair warning right now, though. If there are any black metal purists out there, I will most likely disappoint you. The metal music I will write will probably be a mix of death metal, black metal, metalcore, and, knowing my personal style and influences, southern metal. Will I still be able to call it “blackgrass” though? I suppose we’ll see…
Anyhow, I looked at the list of black metal bands on wikipedia, and I found that I listen to exactly zero black metal bands. Not a strong start… I have, however, seen or listened to quite a few death metal bands, some of which are listed below. I’ll hold back recommendations though. If you don’t listen to metal, I don’t foresee you looking these bands up and getting hooked. I do think you’ll enjoy some of the band names though!
“Essential Black Metal” as recommended by Reddit
Some Death Metal bands I’m familiar with
Arsis, Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage, The Black Dahlia Murder, Gojira, Job for a Cowboy, Killwhitneydead, Napalm Death, Decapitated, Necrophagist, Through the Eyes of the Dead, The Red Chord.
And those are just a few. Check out this list for full enjoyment. The best band names are the ones you’ll find at small local shows though. SUPPORT LOCAL METAL! Ok, done.