Top 10 Best Black Metal Bands

The Top Ten
1 Bathory Bathory was a Swedish Black/Viking Metal band formed in 1983 by Quorthon and Jonas Åkerlund. Bathory's first 4 albums layed the blueprint for Scandinavian Black Metal. Quorthon is often credited with creating the "shrieking" vocal style of Black Metal. Their 5th album, Hammerheart (1990) displayed... read more

I'm not a black metal fan, so I haven't heard that many black metal bands. All I know are these classic old bands and some blackened death/thrash bands. Burzum and all Burzum copy bands suck. One riff for ten minutes makes me sleepy.

Darkthrone has some good albums but also many boring ones. Venom sounds just like hardcore punk. Emperor is epic, and Bathory (except the first album) is glorious. They are the best in what I have heard.

Why is C.O.F. on the list? I thought this was a best black metal bands list, not a freaky banshee howl/shriek band after every four bars. Also, Carcass aren't black metal. They are an awesome melodic death band (not their silly grindcore music).

Back to the point, these guys and Mercyful Fate are the pioneers of black metal. They invented it, and are now the best. I also think Dimmu Borgir should be at No. 3 as well.

2 Immortal Immortal is a black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1990 by frontman and guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta and former guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta.

Black metal has been a genre of adaptation. The original artists used what was available at the time to make outstanding metal music. Immortal takes the cake for best black metal band because their sound evolved with the times. As high-end production and tone control became available to them, they utilized it. Other bands purposefully release black metal with subpar production to evoke the sound of the poorly recorded originals. Immortal does not jump onto the pretentious "kvlt" bandwagon with their sound. Instead, they have put their focus into making black metal for a new generation.

3 Mayhem Mayhem is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo, regarded as one of the pioneers of the Norwegian black metal scene. The band is also known for the infamous events surrounding them including the 1991 suicide of vocalist Dead (in which former guitarist Euronymous took pictures of Dead's... read more

Even if you don't think it was the best musically (I don't), you still have to admit that it was the one that made the biggest impact. Burzum, Immortal, and Emperor were founded around the time of Dead's suicide. Darkthrone's style changed due to the suicide and Euronymous denouncing death metal's "trendiness." Euronymous also played the media by claiming they were all doing this in the name of Satan to receive more publicity. They were some of the first to commit the church burnings.

Euronymous's murder was legendary. Dead brought black metal corpse paint, self-harm performances, and made the 2nd wave of Norwegian black metal notable by the press.

4 Darkthrone Darkthrone is a Norwegian black metal band. It formed in 1986 as a death metal band under the name Black Death. In 1991, the band embraced a black metal style influenced by Bathory and Celtic Frost and became one of the leading bands in the Norwegian black metal scene. Their first three black metal... read more

My favorite Black Metal band. When I first heard A Blaze in the Northern Sky, it brought shivers to my body, and I couldn't sleep the entire night thinking about what I had just heard. It was ugly, scary, dark, and beautiful at the same time.

True Norwegian Black Metal: repetitive, monotonous, hypnotic. Try to listen to it with full concentration on the music. It's like traveling to another imaginary world.

Darkthrone is True Norwegian Black Metal! Even during their death metal era, they produced awesome material like Soulside Journey.

5 Burzum Burzum is an influential black metal solo project of Norwegian musician and writer Varg Vikernes. Burzum came to prominence at the beginning of the Norwegian Black Metal scene in the early 1990s. Vikernes was imprisoned for 21 years for the murder of Mayhem guitarist Euronymous, and charges of church... read more

My personal favorite artist in any form, in any category, for anything, definitely deserving of the number 1 spot for having pioneered second-wave black metal. Even though he now refuses to associate himself with the scene and had no intention of starting or taking part in it in the first place.

However, leaving my passion for Burzum aside, if it was placed second to Bathory, I wouldn't be ultimately dissatisfied. But anything else? Bull.

Burzum, Darkthrone, Bathory, and then everything else. Burzum and Darkthrone pioneered the genre we currently refer to as black metal, and Bathory could be interpreted as responsible for all black and Viking metal.

Plus, I only get true emotional effects from those three bands, maybe Emperor on a good day. Everything else is kind of... bad.

6 Emperor Emperor was a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991, regarded as highly influential by critics and emerging black metal bands.

Emperor took everything a black metal band was supposed to be, with the same general style as well as the embrace of church burnings, and then made it even better with their songwriting and brilliant vocals and musicianship. The atmosphere and ominous feeling you get from listening to their stuff from "In the Nightside Eclipse" gives many people chills and really feels like some evil force is present.

Also, Emperor called it quits before they could become bad. Many bands stay active for way too long while their music becomes worse and worse. This makes many look up to them as "legends."

7 Dimmu Borgir Dimmu Borgir is a Norwegian symphonic black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. The name is derived from Dimmuborgir, a volcanic formation in Iceland, the name of which means "dark cities" or "dark castles/fortresses" in Icelandic, Faroese and Old Norse.

Dimmu Borgir! They should be a bit higher. Regardless, the rest of the bands (or most of them) are definitely worthy of their positions, such as Mayhem, Burzum, Immortal, and of course, Bathory.

However, Behemoth should be up there too, or at least somewhere higher than they are. But hell, all metal (with the exception of the not-so-good metal) is good metal.

Whilst staying true to their black metal origins, this band's sound evolves with every album. They are a pleasure to listen to. It's pure escapism for me. I love the fact that every album has a different feel and sound too.

8 Gorgoroth Gorgoroth is a Norwegian black metal band based in Bergen. Formed in 1992 by Infernus, the band is named after the dead plateau of evil and darkness in the land of Mordor (a fictional location in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings).

Early Gorgoroth was the best. From 1993-1997 was their peak. Hat is literally the greatest black metal vocalist ever (unfortunately, he is very underrated and has the sad name of Hat). Pest was a great replacement for Hat. During this time, Infernus wrote some of the most evil riffs ever.

The recommended album would be Pentagram, honestly my favorite black metal album. But the Gaahl and King of Hell era was just mediocre. Walking tabloids and scene queens don't go well with true Norwegian black metal.

How come these guys aren't at the top? Gorgoroth is the most brutal (yet understandable in terms of melody) black metal band of all. They are the most satanic group of musicians and wrote the hymn of black metal that is Sign of an Open Eye.

9 Dissection Dissection was a Swedish extreme metal band. They formed in 1989 by Jon Nödtveidt and later disbanded in 2006, followed by Nödtveidt's suicide. Their sound is usually described as "melodic blackened death metal".

I love many of the bands I've seen here: Watain, Gorgoroth (Infernus), Marduk, Behemoth, Darkthrone, Emperor, Mgla, etc. I could go on. They're all amazing and have immensely affected me and my life, some more than others.

Yet none come close to the legend that is Dissection. It's disappointing that they aren't higher up on the list.

With lyrical themes such as Satanism, darkness, and death, yet still remaining musically melodic and beautiful (black metal-wise), Dissection is definitely one of the greatest black metal bands ever, at least way greater than Demonburger.

10 Behemoth Behemoth is a Polish blackened death metal band from Gdańsk, formed in 1991. They are considered to have played an important role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground.

They are definitely one of the best black metal bands I know. Although I'm no Satanist, I still love their music. And to all those people saying that they don't do black metal anymore, listen to their newest album, The Satanist.

See, the thing with Behemoth is that Adam is a really nice guy who has battled leukemia and donated to charity. These guys aren't the church-burning, animal-sacrificing people that people associate with black metal. I actually like Behemoth, and I hate most black metal. Besides, Adam (Nergal) is a great musician, also doing blues and country music. Good band.

The Contenders
11 Venom Venom are an English extreme metal band formed in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell and Black Metal—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general.

I think that the generation of the 70s definitely puts Venom in first place. The generation of the 90s doesn't see it that way anymore.

Not the best, but they're great, and I love them. I think Kirk Hammett put it best: "Listening to Venom is like watching a bad horror movie. As long as you don't have high expectations, you'll enjoy it a lot."

Venom should be much higher. They aren't famous for a singer's suicide, rage killing of a random gay person, or murder within the band. And yet, they make some of the best thrash or black metal around.

12 Satyricon Satyricon is a Norwegian black metal band formed in Oslo, Norway in 1991 by vocalist Satyr and drummer Frost. The band's first three albums typify the Norwegian black metal style. Since their fourth album in 1999, the band has moved towards a more traditional heavy metal style.

I absolutely love Satyricon, despite their recent mainstream changes. They are still excellent musicians and marketers, and they play with a composure, methodicality, and technicality that I can only compare to that of the Beatles in the pop-rock scene or that of Wintersun in the melodic death metal scene. They are kings, no pun intended.

Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir are not black metal, at least in my opinion. A band that created an anthem for the Norwegian black metal sound should be at the top of the list.

13 Celtic Frost Celtic Frost was a Swiss extreme metal band from Zürich. They are known for their strong influence on the development of extreme metal. Formed in 1981 as Hellhammer, the band became Celtic Frost in 1984 and was active until 1993.

18? What? This is by far the best black metal band ever! Granted, they experiment with a lot of different types of metal, but black metal is the true sound of Celtic Frost. Tom Warrior is an absolute genius, and he's basically my biggest inspiration for writing music.

The first true Black Metal band. (Bathory is good, but Hellhammer/Celtic Frost is ridiculously great.) Danse Macabre is the most terrifying track you can hear.

One of the most surprising things for me regarding Celtic Frost was the fact that they are from Switzerland. Like, have you ever been there? They were one of the most influential groups in the genre.

14 Agalloch Agalloch was an American black/folk metal band from Portland, Oregon. They were formed in 1995 by frontman John Haughm. They released five studios albums, four EPs, two singles, one split single, two demos, four compilation albums, and one live video before disbanding in May 2016.

This is the band that has defined my life. Ever since I first heard The Mantle, my way of thinking and interests altered for the better. The dark, dismal lyrics, sometimes about nature, are just so powerful. I could not ask for a better gift in my life than Agalloch!

Agalloch was one of the most creative bands of the 2000s. While not all their music was 100% black metal (BM), it always served as an underlying genre to their style. Ashes Against the Grain was an excellent entry point into BM for me. The album got me to look past harsh vocals and appreciate the genre's other great aspects. Since then, I've learned to love harsh vocals. Thanks, Agalloch!

15 Dark Funeral Dark Funeral is a Swedish black metal band from Stockholm Sweden, founded by guitarists Blackmoon and Lord Ahriman in 1993. They emerged during the second wave of black metal.

If you want to listen to songs about Hell, Satan, and demons, plus some actual melodies and a choir here and there, this is the band you need to listen to.

I honestly do not understand how these guys are not at least top five. Those lyrics and riffs are just amazing, and those screams... just amazing.

Really? 18? Dark Funeral kicks ass! They definitely should be way higher on the list. Top five at least.

16 Marduk Marduk is a black metal band from Norrköping, Sweden. The band formed in 1990 and released their first album in 1992. Their name is derived from the Babylonian god Marduk, patron deity of Babylon.

Probably the most blasphemous band on the planet, as well as one of the best black metal bands nowadays, they are the reason black metal is still strong. Check out what I consider their best album, Panzer Division Marduk, and you'll understand what I'm talking about. They still reign mighty and unstoppable.

Marduk is insane, evil, powerful, and the kings of black metal. They have all the elements of this genre. The sound is pure hell. Without taking merit from the first five, Marduk is among the top three.

After 25 years, Marduk is still holding to its roots in what it created in black metal. In my opinion, they are one of the very best bands.

17 Watain Watain are a Swedish black metal band from Uppsala, formed in 1998. The band's name is taken from a recording by the American black metal group Von.

One of the best Swedish black metal bands out there. Just listen to songs like Legions of the Black Light and Malfeitor, and you'll see their greatness.

Watain is about as close to modern royalty as it is possible to be in black metal.

They own my heart and respect (and ears... laugh out loud) not only for their remarkable musical diversity but also for their strong philosophy and ideological influence upon the audience. Their music is thoughtful, and their energy is overwhelming! Hail Watain! Incipit Chaos!

18 Enslaved Enslaved is a Norwegian extreme metal band formed in Haugesund in June 1991. They are currently based in Bergen, Norway.

A wise man does not need to prove his point. Enslaved is the best! It took a while for them to reach the top, perhaps. But now that they have reached it, they are incomparable! Perhaps Alcest should also be ranked on top!

Frost is my favorite black metal album. There are a lot of great albums in black metal, such as Spiritual Black Dimensions by Dimmu Borgir, Pure Holocaust by Immortal, and anything by Gorgoroth and Dark Funeral, but Frost just stands out in this genre, just like Transylvanian Hunger.

Not just a great black metal band, but one of the most creative and innovative bands making music today. Enslaved consistently releases quality albums.

19 Windir Windir was a black metal band from Sogndal, Norway. The band combined black metal with folk music and mythology.

This list is so lacking it should be called top 10 black metal bands every one knows. Not that there isn't any good bands in it Burzum and Windir (Windir not being that popular though) are great and among the finest but Behemoth or Venom at the top common. Moonsorrow for example are far better than any or most of the top ones and its not even in the top 10. Where is Rotting Christ for example or Peste Noir. I agree with the statement that top 10s are personal opinions but this list seems poorly researched.

Should be way higher. Since they no longer exist since 2004 such a low rank is understandable but everyone who knows this band can appreciate the uniqueness of this band. By far my most favourite band of all time.

Should be in the top 10 at the very least, every album is great, If you like epic, melodic, heavy and experimental black metal this is a band you gotta check out.

20 Rancid Abomination

Hell yeah.. Kickass Newengland Style Thrashy Atmospheric Power metal influenced Black Metal! Disgusting Lyrics Too! About time a New England Band was put on this list. The only other black metal band from Massachusetts I know is Obsidian Tongue and they are no Rancid Abomination. Obsidian tongue didn't develop a new style of BM. Rancid Abomination DID! Should be in the Top 5 with Windir and some others. It's not quite Windir good but... Close.

21 Wolves in the Throne Room Wolves in the Throne Room is an American atmospheric black metal band formed in 2003 in Olympia, Washington by brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver. They have released five full-length albums, two live albums, and one EP to date. Their debut album, Diadem of 12 Stars, was recorded on a budget of just $1100... read more

For the longest time, black metal had become really stagnant, with most new bands just recycling the old and not being innovative within the genre. That changed when Wolves in the Throne Room arrived, taking black metal to new places. They are by far the best modern black metal band to date.

22 Summoning

Summoning's black metal sound is very unique. Relying heavily on synths, they aren't as heavy as other bands on this list, but they are a fine bm band no less. This band proves how vast and unique of a genre black metal is.

Summoning makes amazing music. Both the lyrics and the music are fantastic. Me as a lord of the rings fan I recommend this band to all of the fans of the tolkiens books and the fans of the movies.

Summoning have never maken a mistake. Both the sound from lugburz or everything minas mirgul and above are amazing. Incredible stuff and have inspired me to write almost an entire album full of lyrics! Summoning and immortal should have the first and second spot.

23 Deafheaven Deafheaven is an American black metal band that formed in 2010. Deafheaven has a unique avant-garde sound that incorporates elements of post metal and shoegazing . Their style is usually called 'blackgaze' . The San Francisco-based group began as a two-piece with George Clarke and Kerry McCoy, who recorded... read more

Their music is organic, impassioned, and often quite beautiful. They consistently deliver high-quality songs.

Taking black metal to new places with heavily emotional music.

24 Carach Angren Carach Angren is a symphonic black metal band from the Netherlands, formed by two members of the now-defunct bands Inger Indolia and Vaultage.

Everything about this band is amazing. The vocals are possibly the most listenable of any black metal band I've ever heard, alongside Darkthrone. The symphonies are breathtaking, and the lyrics perfectly match the atmosphere created by said symphonies.

The drums are no slouch either, featuring very well-structured parts and an insanely talented player. However, the guitars could stand to shine a bit more.

I just found this band the other day, and I am so glad I did! They are amazing. I was listening to their latest album, "Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten," and the story was incredible. The whole Ouija story was incredible! I definitely recommend them.

25 Ulver

They might not be black metal anymore, but you can't deny the brilliance of their albums. Bergtatt is an amazing black metal album that I find underrated.

They aren't black metal anymore, but Bergtatt is one of the best albums ever, and Nattens Madrigal is also. To see them at #41 is shameful.

Ok, I understand that Ulver is not in the top 3 because it's ambient/electronica now, but come on! Bergtatt is the most atmospheric, aggressive, and beautiful album ever at one time!

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