A BRIEF ORAL HISTORY OF
U.S. BLACK METAL
by Various U.S. Black Metal Musicians
Note: This article is introduced by Brandon Stosuy’s
“A Blaze In The North American Sky”,
also in this issue.
The lineage of black metal does not begin in one country and with one band only. There is this romance with the thought that one band—one man—one nation started it all. Wrong. It was a collective campaign during the late ’70s/early ’80s, throughout Europe and the United States, which “morphed” into what later became the Norwegian scene and gave us what we know as today’s black metal.
Wrath, Averse Sefira
I have been active in the underground for almost twenty years, and as far as I know there were virtually no American black-metal bands before the Norwegian incursion other than Profanatica, Demoncy, and Absu. Up until then, a majority of American acts were death metal, so while there are a lot of people who are desperate to deny that USBM owes most of its roots to Norway, it is pretty hard to prove otherwise.
Andee, Aquarius Records/tUMULt Records
If you asked most black-metal musicians from the U.S., and American black-metal fans in general, I’m pretty sure most of them would cite the Scandinavian bands as the true roots of black metal—sonically and visually. Taking USBM at a purely sonic level, it’s obvious that it owes a huge debt to the Swedes and the Norwegians. It’s pretty undeniable.
Umesh, Brown Jenkins
In other countries, in other parts of the world, they see things differently. The metal scene by that time, say ’92 and ’93, was already completely international; it was trading tapes all over the place. At the time, someone couldn’t record a single stray chord in Sweden without having it traded all over the world. The network to document black metal was already in place way before the Varg-Euronymous debacle. The truth is, there are certain people in this world who are investigating and examining “dark” emotions through music, and as they circulate through their lives they bump into each other, and this creates interesting connections. Playing the influence game can get tricky because it never really ends.
Tyler Davis, the Ajna Offensive
My first interests in BM were Darkthrone and Beherit—two names mentioned in the Kerrang! article when Varg killed Euronymous. Or, I should say, those were the first two BM records I owned.
Do not answer your door in your underwear—it’s easy to get stabbed, it seems.