Heavy Metal Music and the Black Community

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Heavy metal music has long been a source of inspiration and community for black people. From early pioneers like Ronnie James Dio to modern innovators like Deftones, black metal musicians have always pushed the genre forward. In this blog, we celebrate the black metal community and explore the ways it has shaped the music we love.

The History of Black Metal

Heavy metal music has been historically associated with rebelliousness and counter-culture. In the early 1970s, a new subgenre of heavy metal began to emerge in the black community. This new style of music blended heavy metal with elements of funk and soul. Black metal was a way for black musicians to express their anger and frustration with the world.


Black metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music that originated in the late 1980s in Europe. It is characterized by fast tempos, shrieking vocals, and highly distorted guitars. Black metal lyrics typically revolve around Satanism and anti-Christianity, and aim to evoke an atmosphere of darkness and terror.

The first black metal bands such as Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate, and Celtic Frost were inspired by heavy metal bands of the 1970s, such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Kiss. In the early 1990s, Norwegian black metal bands such as Mayhem, Emperor, Burzum, and Gorgoroth began to produce music that was even more aggressive and brutally dark than their predecessors. This new wave of black metal was made possible by the development of inexpensive digital recording technology, which allowed musicians to create high-quality recordings on a low budget.

In the mid-1990s, a violent dispute arose within the black metal scene in Norway between those who supported the traditional values of black metal and those who advocated a more extreme form of the genre. This conflict came to be known as the “black metal wars.” The Norwegian police eventually intervened, leading to a decrease in violent activity within the black metal scene.

Despite this turmoil, black metal has remained popular throughout Europe and North America, with new bands continuing to emerge in both regions. In recent years, some black metal musicians have begun to distance themselves from the genre’s dark association with Satanism and violence. These artists have instead embraced a more positive outlook while still maintaining the fast tempos and abrasive sound that are characteristic of black metal.

The First Wave

The first wave of black metal began in the early 1980s with bands like Venom, Mercyful Fate, and Bathory. These bands were influenced by heavy metal and punk rock, but they also incorporated elements of horror and the occult into their music. This combination of sounds and imagery was new and shocking to many people, and it quickly gained a cult following.

As the first wave of black metal grew in popularity, a small number of bands started to experiment with more extreme sounds. These bands pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in metal music, and they often incorporated elements of hardcore punk and industrial into their sound. This new style of black metal was much heavier and more aggressive than anything that had come before, and it quickly gained a following among fans of extreme music.

In the early 1990s, a Norwegian band called Mayhem released an album called De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which is widely considered to be one of the most important black metal albums ever made. This album helped to popularize the more extreme side of black metal, and it inspired a new wave of Norwegian bands such as Burzum, Immortal, and Emperor. These bands took black metal to new heights with their dark and atmospheric music, which often incorporated elements of classical music.

During this same period, a number of high-profile murders and church burnings were carried out by black metal fans in Norway. These events brought negative publicity to the scene, but they also served to make black metal even more underground and rebellious. In the years that followed, black metal became increasingly associated with Satanism, anti-Christianity, and violence.

Today, black metal is one of the most popular genres in heavy metal music. It has spawned countless subgenres and subcultures, and its influence can be heard in everything from death metal to indie rock. Black metal is truly one of the most unique and powerful genres in all of music.

The Second Wave

with the release of Metallica’s self-titled album, also known as “The Black Album”, the second wave of black metal began. This was a much more commercially successful style of black metal, and was characterised by its use of clean vocals, melodic guitar work and a more polished production. While some Second Wave bands, such as Metallica and Megadeth, achieved mainstream success, others such as Slayer and Anthrax, remained underground. Second wave black metal was also notable for its incorporation of elements from other genres of music, such as thrash metal and death metal.

The second wave of black metal is often associated with some of the most notorious events in the genre’s history, such as the Norwegian church burnings and the murder of Mayhem guitarist Øystein Aarseth by Varg Vikernes of Burzum.

The Black Community and Metal Music

When it comes to heavy metal music, the black community is often seen as an outlier. This is because, traditionally, metal music has been overwhelmingly white. However, there has been a recent resurgence in black metal musicians and fans. In this article, we’ll explore the history of black metal music and its place in the black community.

The Relationship Between Blacks and Metal

There has always been a strong relationship between the black community and metal music. Metal music is often seen as aggressive and rebellious, which can be appealing to people who are looking to rebel against society. Additionally, many metal bands have members who are black, which can make the music more relatable to black fans.

Despite the strong relationship between blacks and metal music, there is still a lot of racism within the metal community. Black fans often report feeling unwelcome at metal shows and festivals, and they are often subjected to racist remarks from other fans. Additionally, there are very few black metal bands, which can make it difficult for black fans to find music that represents them.

Despite the challenges, the relationship between blacks and metal music is still strong. There are many blackmetal fans who are proud of their culture and their music, and they continue to support the metal community in spite of the racism they face.

The Black Community’s Influence on Metal

Though it is often thought of as a white genre, metal music has always been influenced by the black community. Black musicians have been integral to the development of metal, and their influence can be heard in the early work of pioneers like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.

Today, many black metal musicians are keeping the genre fresh and exciting with their unique perspective. Here are just a few of the black metal musicians who are making an impact today.

Black Metal Music Today

For many people, heavy metal is the music of angry white men with long hair. It is a sound that is aggressive, loud, and – to some – offensive. It is also, however, the music of the black community. While black metal got its start in the 1970s and 1980s with bands like Black Sabbath, today the genre has taken on a new life in the hands of black metal musicians.

The Third Wave

In the early 1990s, a new generation of black metal fans and musicians rose up, influenced by the second wave of bands like Bathory, Burzum, and Darkthrone. This so-called “third wave” of black metal is typified by its incorporation of elements of hip-hop and industrial music, as well as a greater focus on melody and atmosphere. Bands like Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, and Insane Clown Posse also began to experiment with black metal sounds and aesthetics.

One of the most important third-wave black metal bands is De Explosionibus Unicis, which was formed in 1992 by brothers Azentrius and Impius. Their debut album, _The Inextinguishable Blaze_, is considered a classic of the genre. Other notable third-wave black metal bands include Gorgoroth, Dark Funeral, Marduk, Immortal, Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, and Enslaved.

Today, black metal is more popular than ever before, with new bands springing up all over the world. While the music may have changed over the years, the spirit of rebellion and transgression remains intact.

The Black Metal Scene Today

The black metal scene has changed a lot since its early days in the 1980s. In the beginning, black metal was mostly an underground phenomenon, with a handful of bands in Scandinavia releasing small-scale demos and EPs. But in the early 1990s, a new wave of black metal bands began to emerge, taking the music in new and more extreme directions.

Today, black metal is a global phenomenon, with bands and fans spread out all over the world. The music has become more aggressive and experimental, and there is a greater focus on atmosphere and lyrical themes. Black metal today is as varied and diverse as it has ever been, with new bands constantly pushing the boundaries of what the genre can be.


In conclusion, it is evident that heavy metal music has had a significant impact on the black community. While some may see it as a negative influence, there is no denying the genre’s ability to bring people together and create a sense of belonging. Heavy metal music has given black people a voice and a place to belong, and for that, it will always be an important part of the black experience.

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