Blackened death metal

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Blackened death metal (also known as black death metal) is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal that fuses elements of black metal and death metal.[1][2]

The genre emerged in early 1990s when black metal bands began incorporating elements of death metal, and vice-versa. The genre typically employs death growls, tremolo picking, blast beats, and Satanic lyrics and imagery. Bands of the genre typically employ corpse paint, which was adapted from black metal.


Orion, bassist of Behemoth performing 2009.

The genre is commonly death metal that incorporates musical, lyrical or ideological elements of black metal, such as an increased use of tremolo picking, anti-Christian or Satanic lyrical themes and chord progressions similar to those used in black metal.[3] Blackened death metal bands are also more likely to wear corpse paint and suits of armour, than bands from other styles of death metal.[4] Lower range guitar tunings, death growls and abrupt tempo changes are common in the genre.[5] Some blackened death metal bands, such as Goatwhore and Angelcorpse, even take significant influence from thrash metal.[5]


Both black metal and death metal evolved out of the same crop of early extreme metal bands such as Dark Angel, Possessed, Kreator, Sodom, Venom, Celtic Frost and Bathory,[6][7][8] leading to common elements between the genres being in place, early death metal groups with some elements common in black metal include early-Sepultura, Morbid Angel and Deicide. Along with this, John McEntee, guitarist and vocalist of death metal band Incantation, has noted that he and his band draw influence from black metal.[5] Seminal black metal band Darkthrone began playing death metal, before moving into the style they became primarily known for.[9]

Blasphemy crossed death metal and black metal on their debut album Fallen Angel of Doom, giving way to the development of war metal.[9] Dissection evolved out of the Gothenburg melodic death metal scene, embracing black metal influences into their music and helping create melodic black-death thanks to their 1993 album The Somberlain.[10]

The year 1998 saw the release of Behemoth's album Pandemonic Incantations, striking a stylistic change in the sound of the band's output from a traditional black metal style with generally pagan lyrical themes into a more death metal influenced sound with lyrics about the occult and Satan.[11] After continuing this style, their 2000 album Thelema.6 peaked at number 31 on the Polish Albums Charts.[12] Many of Behemoth's subsequent albums would continue to chart, with Demigod peaking at number 15,[13] The Apostasy at number 9[14] and Evangelion and The Satanist both at number one,[15][16] with multiple albums charting worldwide.[17][18][19][20] American band Skeletonwitch's third, fourth and fifth albums peaked at numbers 151, 153 and 62, respectively, on the Billboard 200 charts.[21]

Thy Art Is Murder, a band who previously played deathcore, moved into a style more similar to blackened death metal on their fourth album Dear Desolation,[22][23] charting in eight different territories, including a peak at number five on the Australian Albums Charts and number seven on the New Zealand Heatseekers Albums.[24][25] As well as New Jersey's Lorna Shore also beginning to tread similarly into the grounds of blackened death metal on their sophomore album "Flesh Coffin".[26]

Stylistic divisions

Pioneering war metal band Blasphemy performing in 2017.

Melodic black-death

Melodic black-death[27] (also known as blackened melodic death metal or melodic blackened death metal)[10] is a genre of extreme metal that describes the style created when melodic death metal bands began being inspired by black metal and European romanticism. However, unlike most other black metal, this take on the genre would incorporate an increased sense of melody and narrative.[10] Some bands who have played this style include Dissection,[10][27][28] Sacramentum,[10][27] Embraced,[29] Naglfar,[10] God Dethroned,[30] Satariel,[29] Throes of Dawn,[29] Obscurity,[29] Dawn,[10] Cries of the Past-era Underoath,[31] Catamenia,[31] Midvinter,[32] Twin Obscenity,[31] Nokturnal Mortum[32] Unanimated,[10] Epoch of Unlight,[29] This Ending,[33] Suidakra,[33] Oathean,[33] Thulcandra,[27][10] Skeletonwitch[34] and Cardinal Sin.[27]

Sweden's Dissection evolved alongside melodic death metal bands such as At the Gates and In Flames, by building upon the musical foundation laid by death metal and incorporating guitar melodies and harmonies amongst the standard brutality of the genre. However, unlike the other bands, Dissection began incorporating influences from black metal into their music,[28] which lead to their debut album The Somberlain influencing a plethora of subsequent bands and Metal Injection dubbing them "one of the most important extreme metal bands of all time".[10] Sacramentum's debut and sophomore albums Far Away from the Sun and The Coming of Chaos would then continue Dissection's style of black metal-infused melodic death metal, based around middle of the neck guitar riffing and howling vocals, while Vinterland would lean even more upon their black metal predecessors like Norway's Emperor.[10] Naglfar would base their sound primarily within that of Gothenburg metal bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquility, by taking a brighter and thrashier take on the style.[10]

War metal

War metal[35][36][37] (also known as war black metal[36] or bestial black metal)[37] is an aggressive,[36] cacophonous[35] and chaotic[35][36] subgenre of blackened death metal,[38] described by Rock Hard journalist Wolf-Rüdiger Mühlmann as "rabid"[36] and "hammering".[36] Important influences include first wave black metal band Sodom,[35][36] first wave black metal/death metal band Possessed[36] as well as old grindcore, black and death metal bands like Repulsion,[35][36] Autopsy,[36] Sarcófago[35][36][37][39] and the first two Sepultura releases.[36][39] War metal bands include Blasphemy,[35][36][39] Archgoat,[36] Impiety,[36] In Battle,[40] Beherit, Crimson Thorn,[41] Bestial Warlust[42] and Zyklon-B.[43]

List of bands


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