15 years ago I discovered black metal. Well, if you would call Cradle of Filth black metal… Before I listened to stuff like Metallica. I think I was what you would call a fan. I owned all the albums and listened to them every day. Metallica was my music. I knew that it wasn’t perfect, but it was the best music I knew.
Someday in a record store I found an album with artwork that somehow intrigued me. Some gothic elements, something dark. I bought Vempire without having listened to it.
That Cradle of Filth album had a certain atmosphere. It wasn’t much, but it was more than I’d ever heard. The lyrics were extremely theatrical, but it was first time I heard a song with lyrics that mentioned Satan. I don’t believe in Satan, I never did, but it fascinated me.
I started to search for information about this kind of music. Of course I didn’t have access to the internet then, so gathering information was a bit hard, but it didn’t took me long to discover Mayhem. Mainly because of the media attention around the band at that time.
When I first heard De Misteriis dom Sathanas I knew that I found what I had been looking for. It was metal music, but with such an intense, dark, aggressive and gruesome atmosphere in it. I couldn’t and I still can’t find words to describe it.
I sticked with Mayhem for a pretty long time. Of course I bought other albums as well. Immortal’s Pure Holocaust, Emperor’s Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, Burzum’s Filosofem, but Mayhem, especially The Misteriis… felt the realest of them all.
And no, I still didn’t find answer to the question of what black metal is, but I know that I can border it. Black metal doesn’t have to be theistic satanic, it can be atheistic, as long as it’s in an aggressive way. It can be melodic, but it doesn’t have to. It can be fast and it can be slow. The absolute ingredient is darkness. You don’t have to believe in Satan, but you need to have seen the darkness. Otherwise it is impossible to create or appreciate true black metal. Beautiful in all its horror.