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When did the second wave of black metal begin?


agamerwholovesmetal

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I wanted to get more into the second wave of black metal (all I have heard so far is the deathcrush EP and the song I am the black wizards) but I don't really know where it exactly starts. Google is saying the early 90's but mayhems deathcrush EP came out in the late 80's and I thought that mayhem was supposed to be the band that kickstarted the second wave. Could someone with more experience with this era of black metal please clarify? 

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Certainly, Deathcrush is part of the first wave, sharing similarities with Vathory, Celtic Frost, and Tormentor for example. You then have a crossover period in the 90’s where Darkthrone and Havohej still share some first wave traits, but Immortal and Dissection are close to second wave sound wise. The movement didn’t start with one band, in one year, but the easiest way to tell if you’re hearing first or second wave is: does it still sound like Bathory circa Sign of the Black Mark? That’s probably first wave still. Does it sound more like Emperor circa Nightside Eclipse? Then you’ve reached the second wave. I can make a couple recommendations if you like?

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5 minutes ago, RelentlessOblivion said:

Certainly, Deathcrush is part of the first wave, sharing similarities with Vathory, Celtic Frost, and Tormentor for example. You then have a crossover period in the 90’s where Darkthrone and Havohej still share some first wave traits, but Immortal and Dissection are close to second wave sound wise. The movement didn’t start with one band, in one year, but the easiest way to tell if you’re hearing first or second wave is: does it still sound like Bathory circa Sign of the Black Mark? That’s probably first wave still. Does it sound more like Emperor circa Nightside Eclipse? Then you’ve reached the second wave. I can make a couple recommendations if you like?

thanks and some recommendations would be nice

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Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Immortal - Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism

Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky

Emperor - In the Nightside Eclipse

Burzum - S/T

I'm not saying these are the best albums by these bands (some are, some aren't), but these are the albums where 2nd wave black metal essentially started

 

42 minutes ago, RelentlessOblivion said:

Does it sound more like Emperor circa Nightside Eclipse?

Bad reference point. Emperor were doing something a bit different from the others with their symphonic style of black metal. The two bands that really laid down the blueprint for the stereotypical Norsecore sound were probably Darkthrone and Mayhem.

In other words, if it reminds you of Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas or Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky it's probably 2nd wave.

...and don't worry. Whitenoise will be along any minute now to provide you with a list of 300 albums you should listen to 😁

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Fair actually, for some reason I keep lumping Emperor in with the second wave in my head. It’s a bad habit of mine.

 

Anyway Surg has covered the basics, maybe throw in Gorgoroth’s Pentagram for good measure.

 

Edit: you’ll find a fairly comprehensive list in the Black Metal sub forum, it’s the first thread you’ll see. BAN, a former user here, included video links, and brief descriptions for every band. He recommended, and while I can’t promise, every link still works with retroactively going back and included album titles rather than the names of songs anyway, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

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5 hours ago, SurgicalBrute said:

Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Immortal - Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism

Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky

Emperor - In the Nightside Eclipse

Burzum - S/T

I'm not saying these are the best albums by these bands (some are, some aren't), but these are the albums where 2nd wave black metal essentially started

 

Bad reference point. Emperor were doing something a bit different from the others with their symphonic style of black metal. The two bands that really laid down the blueprint for the stereotypical Norsecore sound were probably Darkthrone and Mayhem.

In other words, if it reminds you of Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas or Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky it's probably 2nd wave.

...and don't worry. Whitenoise will be along any minute now to provide you with a list of 300 albums you should listen to 😁

Just 300?? Pphhfftt hold my beer, that's amateur hour 😜

But while I'm here, maybe you could clear something up for me Surgie.

You listed Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse as one of the 5 albums where the 2nd wave essentially started. You could have listed any albums, but you listed those 5. Ok fine, we'll go with those 5. No argument here, those are the generally agreed upon 5 most important bands from the eary 90's Norwegian scene, unless maybe someone wanted to add Satyricon and/or Gorgoroth to the mix. But it's almost always those 5 that get name-dropped.

But then with your next breath you go on to say that In the Nightside Eclipse is a bad reference point for what the 2nd wave sounds like. After you just said that album was one of just 5 key albums that helped establish the 2nd wave sound. So which is it? 

My opinion (if anyone wants it) is that while they're obviously quite talented (arguably the most talented of any of these 2nd wave bands we're discussing here) I'm not really an Emperor fan specifically because I blame them for creating symphonic black metal. Symphonic is no bueno. However, I would say their first full-length In the Nightside Eclipse (1994) is easily close enough to the stereotypical early 2nd wave Norwegian sound to make Blivvie's statement true. It's certainly the only Emperor album I'd have any desire to listen to, and you know I'm all about the Norsecore home slice.

I would simplify things even further for anybody out there who wants to learn about black metal. Tremolo riffs. They are the most easily identifiable hallmark of the 2nd wave black metal sound. They are essentially what differentiated the 2nd wave from the 1st wave. All 5 of these bands you mentioned, as well as Satyricon and Gorgoroth all sound a little bit different from one another. You can't say that all those early 90's Norwegian bands are carbon copies of one another, as they all really did develop their own unique sounds. But what they all had in common was the use of tremolo picked riffs. Maybe not Burzum as much, as Varg went off to do his own thing and invented atmo-black before going to prison for 15 years. To me his self titled has a bit more 1st wave left in it than any of those other bands' 90's stuff, although overall I'd still say it fits in with the 2nd wave.

For me personally Darkthrone and the 2nd wave are synonymous. I don't really care about any of the other 6 bands that have been mentioned here. Setting aside their death metal debut Soulside Journey, and the abomination known as Goatlord, for my money the other 9 out of their first 11 albums are about as 2nd wave as it fucking gets. Even though they cover a lot of ground with those 9 albums, they definitely don't all sound alike, to me that's all the different shades of the 2nd wave. They made a radical stylistic shift with 2006's The Cult is Alive and would never return to playing 2nd wave styled black metal ever again after that. But from 1992 until 2004 they personified the 2nd wave. I would agree on De Mysteriis as being a prime exampe as well, except that Attila's vocals render that abum unlistenable to me. So I would tell the dude start with A Blaze in the Northern Sky, and then listen to Darkthrone's next 4 albums: Under a Funeral Moon, Transylvanian Hunger, Panzerfaust and Total Death. That's the 2nd wave in a nutshell. 

 

Darkthrone - Discography (1991-2019) - 12 hours of Darkthrone. They put Goatlord on here out of order, it should have been after Total Death (Jan '96) not before. Just skip that shit. It was recorded years earlier '91-'92 between Soulside and Blaze, the bare bones for a second album that never came to be because they switched to black metal. More of a rehearsal tape than a proper album, but it was finally released in October 1996 after they had become a big name and it blows. Far worse than Cold Lake or any notoriously shit album you can think of.

 

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2 hours ago, GoatmasterGeneral said:

 

I would simplify things even further for anybody out there who wants to learn about black metal. Tremolo riffs. They are the most easily identifiable hallmark of the 2nd wave black metal sound. They are essentially what differentiated the 2nd wave from the 1st wave. 

 

And this is why I don't like 2nd wave black metal even though on paper it should be one of my favourite genres.  I love 1st wave stuff like Bathory, Venom and Celtic Frost and even enjoy the more bestial stuff like Sarcofago. 

2nd wave has everything - it's misanthropic, dark, anti-mainstream, raw.   I even admire theirviolent dedication to their cause though I really don't agree with the targets of their crimes (if they were corporate HQ and CEOs, I'd probably quietly celebrate them).

But then they have to ruin it by overloading with tremolos which when coupled with raw production and mindless drumming ends up sounding like shit and irritates the crap out of me.

 

 

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2 hours ago, GoatmasterGeneral said:

But then with your next breath you go on to say that In the Nightside Eclipse is a bad reference point for what the 2nd wave sounds like.

If you notice, I very specifically said they're not really representative of the stereotypical Norwegian sound...i.e. when people generally talk about Norwegian black metal, they're not referring to a style that uses a great deal of synth in the sound. So I wouldn't say Emperor is the best example to hold up any more than I would say Burzum and Varg's experimentation with ambient sounds is the best example of stereotypical Norwegian black metal. That being said, both bands are very clearly grounded in the 2nd wave style, they just took it in slightly different directions, which eventually developed into their own distinct sub-genres of black metal.

To put it another way, you don't typically see qualifiers like "symphonic", "ambient", or "atmospheric" when talking about the type of black metal bands like Mayhem or Darkthrone were playing, where as you would see them in front of Emperor or Burzum. That doesn't mean they weren't all playing some type of 2d wave black metal

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9 minutes ago, Dead1 said:

GG I think you

And this is why I don't like 2nd wave black metal even though on paper it should be one of my favourite genres.  I love 1st wave stuff like Bathory, Venom and Celtic Frost and even enjoy the more bestial stuff like Sarcofago. 

2nd wave has everything - it's misanthropic, dark, anti-mainstream, raw.   I even admire their violent dedication to their cause though I really don't agree with the targets of their crimes (if they were corporate HQ and CEOs, I'd probably quietly celebrate them).

But then they have to ruin it by overloading with tremolos which when coupled with raw production ends up sounding like shit and irritates the crap out of me.

Yeah, I could see that. I wouldn't say the tremolos are what I like most about the 2nd wave, just that you can't miss them so they make the 2nd wave pretty easy to spot. But I actually really like the 1st wave style and the bands that have chosen to go that way instead of just being another 2nd wave clone. I dig bands that have kinda kept one foot in each wave. I've often said that I hate Venom, but I love pretty much every single band they've directly influenced. I worship at the altars of Celtic Frost and Bathory. I would never suggest that the 2nd wave black metal is "better" than the 1st wave, I just listen to a lot of 2nd wave because that's most of what's out there. If there were more excellent 1st wavey stuff coming out believe me, I'd be all over it.

I actually focus my attention on the vocals a lot of the time and also the lead guitar melodies that soar over the top of the tremolos when listening to melodic black metal. But it's definitely the riffs I focus on when I'm listening to the more raw punky black metal that I typically go for. And the vocals. Not the lyrics or anything, I could give a flying fuck about Satan or whatever the hell they're shrieking about. But there's a certain raw-throated high-pitched caustic shriek that you'll find in a lot of black metal that when it's done just right I am irresistably drawn to it. If you were to ever check out any of my myriad of black metal album postings you would see there's a certain vocal timbre I look for that a lot of these bands I like all have in common. Think vocals like Behexen or Horna. I reject a lot of bm albums just because the vocals aren't vicious enough.

I'll also say in recent years many bands have gotten away from the non-stop excessive tremolo use/abuse. They're still present normally, but there are also other kinds of riffs you'll hear in contemporary black metal that avoid them sometimes too. Or you'll have one guitar laying down the tremolos and the other dude playing power chords or more thrashy riffs. And more often than not modern black metal albums will have some bass presence which we all know makes everything so much better. 

And then there's the rawness. Majority of black metal I gravitate toward can be described as raw to some degree. The extreme rawness has it's own intense appeal to me that even goes beyond the music that's being played, I can't even describe it really. If I like the riffs and the vocals and then it's a really raw production job, that turns everything up to 11 or 12 for me, like pouring gasoline on a brush fire.

 

Listen to these vocals (not in the middle of the first song, there was a different vocalist with a lower register in there too for a minute I think) and the rawness, holy fuck this album is about perfect:

Behexen - By the Blessing of Satan, 2004 Finland

 

37 minutes ago, SurgicalBrute said:

If you notice, I very specifically said they're not really representative of the stereotypical Norwegian sound...i.e. when people generally talk about Norwegian black metal, they're not referring to a style that uses a great deal of synth in the sound. So I wouldn't say Emperor is the best example to hold up any more than I would say Burzum and Varg's experimentation with ambient sounds is the best example of stereotypical Norwegian black metal. That being said, both bands are very clearly grounded in the 2nd wave style, they just took it in slightly different directions, which eventually developed into their own distinct sub-genres of black metal.

To put it another way, you don't typically see qualifiers like "symphonic", "ambient", or "atmospheric" when talking about the type of black metal bands like Mayhem or Darkthrone were playing, where as you would see them in front of Emperor or Burzum. That doesn't mean they weren't all playing some type of 2d wave black metal

I agree with all of that. Which is why I never would have listed them or that album as one of the 5 early cornerstones that helped define the 2nd wave black metal sound. Because they were not like the others. I would have listed one of the early Satyricon abums in the 5 spot, not that I'm a huge fan of theirs either, but they do more closely exemplify what we think of as the traditional 2nd wave sound.

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11 hours ago, GoatmasterGeneral said:

I agree with all of that. Which is why I never would have listed them or that album as one of the 5 early cornerstones that helped define the 2nd wave black metal sound. Because they were not like the others. I would have listed one of the early Satyricon abums in the 5 spot, not that I'm a huge fan of theirs either, but they do more closely exemplify what we think of as the traditional 2nd wave sound.

They're by no means a favorite, but I don't really mind the first couple of Satyricon albums. I do agree that Dark Medieval Times is probably closer to the standardized sound people expect from black metal (though, they were playing around with different sounds and influences as well) than In the Nightside Eclipse. I'd say my problem with Saytricon is that they always feel kind of second tier. Like, yeah...they made some decent music, but they're not really a band anyone cites as a major influence on the stuff that came later. I think if you're talking about terms of impact and who really helped define aspects of the 2nd wave, you'd have to include Emperor.

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2 hours ago, SurgicalBrute said:

They're by no means a favorite, but I don't really mind the first couple of Satyricon albums. I do agree that Dark Medieval Times is probably closer to the standardized sound people expect from black metal (though, they were playing around with different sounds and influences as well) than In the Nightside Eclipse. I'd say my problem with Saytricon is that they always feel kind of second tier. Like, yeah...they made some decent music, but they're not really a band anyone cites as a major influence on the stuff that came later. I think if you're talking about terms of impact and who really helped define aspects of the 2nd wave, you'd have to include Emperor.

I listened to the first two Satyricon abums last night for the first time in a very long time. They're both really good albums, I don't know why I've never really gotten that into the band. It's not the black & roll thing, I really don't mind the black & roll thing (at least in theory) although I rarely listen to that era of the band either. I think for me it's because Satyr is a bit of a dweeb, definitely not the coolest or edgiest dude in the Norwegian scene, and he was a few years younger than some of those other dudes in that scene, only 18 when their first album came out (born 1975 so he is the same age as Ihshan).

I think somehow he got labeled as more of a bandwagon jumper than a black metal innovator, even though '93 really wasn't that late to have your first full length album come out for that group of bands. (Darkthrone '91, Immortal, Burzum '92, Mayhem, Emperor, Gorgoroth '94) Nowadays he comes off like some rockstar wannabe with his sunglasses, leather jacket and slicked back hair on stage which I found somewhat off-putting when I saw them live at MDF that time and ended up walking out after 3 songs.

But I don't have anything against Satyricon or anything, truth is I've never really listened to any of those early 90's Norwegian bands regularly with the exception of my dudes Darkthrone of course. Discovering all those bands at the exact same time in the mid 2000's along with everything that had come along in the 15 years since then, I just naturally gravitated toward the newer 2000's stuff.

 

Satyricon - The Shadowthrone, 1994 

 

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On 6/5/2023 at 12:27 PM, SurgicalBrute said:

Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Immortal - Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism

Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky

Emperor - In the Nightside Eclipse

Burzum - S/T

Like it or love it this is the best and most commonly referenced list. Every other band or album that is conjured comes just a half step later.

But the definitive list must be five, because, you know, the pentagram and all.

The fact that there is a modicum of consensus in a specific judging of this particular genre is delightfully ironic. 

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Early 90's is the start. 2nd wave was mostly developed through the tape trading underground of the late 80's and early 90's. The Norwegian scene catapulted to the mainstream after Mayhem's internal struggles and the infamous church burnings between 92-93. The albums produced by Eirik 'Pytten' Hundvin at the Grieghallen records are the most popularly accepted sound of the 2nd wave of black metal.

From Norway: Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, 

Immortal albums between 91 - 95,  the three

Darkthrone albums from 92 - 94, 

Burzum's first four albums,

Emperor - In the nightside eclipse and also split with Enslaved, Wrath of the tyrant demo and Emperor EP, 

Satyricon's first three albums,

Enslaved between 91 - 97

Gorgoroth - Pentagram and many more. 

But it's not just Norway.  From Sweden came Marduk and Dissection (even though Dissection mostly saw themselves as death metal), 

Finland had Impaled Nazarene, Barathrum and Beherit and later came Norwegian influenced Horna, Behexen and Satanic Warmaster. 

From France Blut aus nord and group called Les Legion Noires, 

Germany: Moonblood, Nagelfar, Absurd, Bethlehem

Greece: Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Varathron

Poland: Behemoth, Graveland, Christ agony, Besatt

Switzerland: Samael's first three albums

Moonspell from Spain

Blasphemy from Canada

Mystifier from Brazil

USA: Goatlord, Von, Grand Belial's key, Judas Iscariot

Japan: Sabbath and Sigh

Australia: Sadistik exekution, Bestial warlust, Gospel of the horns, Deströyer 666

And Russia: Branikald, Thron, Kremator, Ravendark

There may be inaccuracies here and there, but that's what I have understood over the years.

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I love this subject and since I'm quite a big fan of both waves I would like to add a couple of details that haven't been mentioned above.

The Deathcrush EP is as 1st wave as it gets. The trademark cold tremolo picking riffs of the second wave, hadn't been developed yet. However the truth is that Mayhem along with Stigma Diabolicum (AKA Thorns) were the bands that kick started the second wave of black metal.

During the early nineties prior to 92 there were two recordings in circulation within the underground that influenced what came after.

The first one is the Grymyrk demo tape by Thorns (1991) which is consisted of some guitar and bass instrumental tracks that were used for rehearsal purposes by the band. One can clearly listen to the distinctive riffs of "From the dark past" by Mayhem in the track called Lovely children. Rip off? Probably... especially if you consider the fact that lovely children is just the instrumental version of another tune called into the promised land in the demo "Luna de nocturnus" (1989) by the same band when they were still going by the name Stigma Diabolicum.

 

On the other hand Mayhem started using this kind of riff style since late 1990 as can be heard in "Live in Leipzig" recorded in the November of the same year as well as in the "Studio tracks" demo.

So yes it is indeed correct to say that Mayhem was the first band that played in the 2nd wave style but you'll have to include Thorns as well.

 

My recommendations for someone who wants to start listening to black metal in general are:

 

Bathory: First four albums 

Venom: First two albums

Celtic Frost: First two albums

Sepultura: Bestial Devastation

Sarcofago: INRI

Sodom: In the sign of Evil

Mayhem: Live in Leipzig 

Darkthrone: First four albums

Burzum: First four albums

Immortal: Pure Holocaust 

Mayhem: De mysteris dom satanas

Emperor: First two albums

Beherit: Drawing down the moon

Impaled Nazarene: Ugra Karma

Blasphemy: Gods of war

Samael: Blood ritual

Vlad Tepes/Belketre: March to the black holocaust 

Mutiilation: Vampires of black imperial blood

Marduk: Opus Nocturne

Rotting Christ: Thy mighty contract

Judas Iscariot: Thy dying light

Black funeral: Vampyr Throne of the beast

 

These could serve as a good introduction to the various styles that were played prior to 1999. You could find other noteworthy releases as well but these imo are the essential old school stuff.

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