True Norwegian Black Metal was the tag made up by Darkthrone and Mayhem, to describe their ideal of Black Metal, the noisy brutally buzzing genre of metal created by Bathory (Sweden), Celtic Frost (Switzerland) and Venom (Britain). This "true" black metal is made up of ripped up vocals, thin spidery production with spidery guitars, drums, and bass. Some bands included synths (Emperor), but it was soon decided by the "purists" that true BM could only be guitars, drums, bass and nasty vocals. Also bad production was/is a rule. Songs also have to be very long, and very very grim, with lyrics like, "the cold wind blew, and the dark father rose with his vicious grin" or something similar. Also, bands had to have a certain feel to them that seemed to scream out "I'm from Norway" (you'll know what I mean if you listen to Emperor's first cd or Darkthrone's "A Blaze in the Northern Sky").

Unfortunately, most of the BM players were youngsters at the time (1989 to 1993), and became enraptured with their own history. They also decided to cast Christianity out with violence (points for total ignorance of reality). So for about a year church burnings (which puzzled authorities) cast most of the major players in jail for a year or two. The worst was the violent murders. Burzum's leader killed Mayhem's and the scene's leader Euronymous in order to up Emperor's drummer Faust, who had murdered a gay man who came on to him. Euronymous' death was the worst blow, and the scene went into hiding from 1994 to about 1996. In this time a new breed, not as scary about being "true" rose up, and early leaders like Emperor escaped from the trap of True Black Metal (Emperor was revived when Samoth (guitar) was let out of prison for arson), while Darkthrone stagnated and Mayhem worked to restart with only one member from Euronymous' day, Hellhammer.

Although True Norwegian Black Metal's idea of being nationalistic is still an important concept in European metal, its violence is now happily over with, and the style has moved on to a state of artistic complexity and greatness.

Listen to:

Bathory
Mayhem
Emperor
Darkthrone
Immortal
Satyricon
Burzum
Ulver
Borknagar
Enslaved
To name a few.

Essential Records:

In the Nightside Eclipse by Emperor
A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon and Transylvanian Hunger by Darkthrone
Deathcrush and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas by Mayhem
Sons of Northern Darkness by Immortal
Blood Fire Death, Under the Sign of the Black Mark and Hammerheart by Bathory
Nattens Madrigal by Ulver
Olden Domain by Borknagar
Filosofem by Burzum
This is just a hand full of essential records, start your own collection.

Note: I left out most Swedish bands except for Bathory, as Bathory was the main band to have a big influence on the Norwegian black metal scene, and this subject is the "True Norwegian Black Metal". Also my tone on this is a bit mocking, which I'm not particularly happy about, but my feelings about being "true" in black metal have changed since I wrote this, and I understand totally the reasons why Dimmu Borgir, for example, is not actually black metal now.

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