Deep in the recesses of black metal’s cold, abyssal heart lies the spirit of rebellion. It always has. So this Fourth of July, as Americans celebrate their day of independence, we choose to celebrate in a more unorthodox way. Rather than risk our fingers and limbs lighting fireworks or guzzling down unnecessary amounts of processed meat, we’re taking a look at black metal bands from the U.S. that embody the country’s independent streak.
So without too much fanfare, we’ll save that for tomorrow’s festivities, here’s our list of 13 American black metal projects that deserve recognition. Because we have been inundated by a ton of overhyped bands these days, our picks should prove especially refreshing.
The kings of New York black metal, Black Anvil released their phenomenal fifth studio album Regenesis last November to critical acclaim. It appeared on a variety of year-end lists; you know it has to be great because it earned two spots on ours. Regenesis is epic, inventive, and delightfully aggressive. It features Paul Delaney, Raeph, and Jeremy Sosville. Black Anvil’s newest member, Alex Volonino, joined after the album was completed.
Like As Was (2017), Regenesis was recorded in Queens by Colin Marston of Krallice and Gorguts and mixed and mastered by ex-Funeral Mist and ex-Ofermod’s Necromorbus — a top black metal engineer whose clients include Mayhem and Watain. Necromorbus has helped Black Anvil to evolve and embrace a magnificent new direction.
Yes, Xasthur is an absolute legend that deserves infinitely more support, especially these days. Ideally, it would be great to see the kids in the mall marching around wearing Xasthur shirts at some point in the future. After all, even Fenriz has stated that he dreams of winning over the mall rats.
We must note that Xasthur distanced himself from black metal long ago. However, Xasthur’s most recent album, Inevitably Dark, caught us by surprise — it contains various genres including black metal. This is because Xasthur represents total creative freedom. Inevitably Dark is a fantastic and spellbinding offering. Xasthur’s mastermind, Scott Conner, has big plans to tour the record soon, so make sure to check it out.
VON has been covered by an endless list of incredible bands, such as Beastcraft, Watain, Sarath, and Black Anvil. The legendary Urgehal, Taake, and others participated in a release called A Norwegian Hail to VON (2006). Nevertheless, as is the case with the above pick, it still seems that VON does not receive the attention that they deserve among fans at present.
Martröð currently functions as an American, Icelandic, and French supergroup. Martröð’s members belong to an extensive list of successful bands: Misþyrming, Antaeus, Leviathan, etc. The excellent Italian drummer Thorns, whom you might know as Omega in Darvaza and Chaos Invocation, was involved with Martröð in the past. So far, Martröð has only unleashed one EP, Transmutation of Wounds, which was released by Fallen Empire Records and the leading underground label Terratur Possessions. The EP delivered everything that you would expect from Terratur, though Martröð has since switched allegiances.
Silent Thunder is the charismatic one-man project of M. from Lamp of Murmuur. Thus far, Silent Thunder has only unveiled two demos, the first of which dates to 2021, and a 2022 EP. It will be interesting to hear how Silent Thunder’s future plays out.
The Colorado-based Akhlys has been doing well these days. Akhlys just concluded what was dubbed The Black Oneiromancy European Tour. In total, Akhlys has released three studio albums. They continue to work with the outstanding French label Debemur Morti Productions.
Nightbringer hails from Colorado and shares members in common with bands like Akhlys, Aoratos, and Adaestuo. The fact that they shared a split with Norway’s Dødsengel, one of the greatest bands the genre has to offer, is enough reason to demand your attention. That marvelous release was titled Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno (2013).
Vaeok’s sole release to date, their beautiful yet raw self-titled EP, dropped in 2020. This entrancing duo will immediately imprison your soul by virtue of their seductive, black magical power. Vaeok boasts the talent of VJS and a couple of other bands on this list, Adaestuo and Nightbringer, and his fellow artist MS of Kult of Azazel and Adaestuo live.
Hidden was an absolutely bizarre prog black/death/doom band that will probably make you chuckle. They brought a very small pool of listeners songs like “Hydrodynamic Physics,” “Planets of Metal,” “Interplanetary Space Physics and Climatology,” and “Geomechanical Primates.” Talk about a clash between form and content! Hidden featured the likes of Japan’s Mirai Kawashima of Sigh, the late Killjoy of Necrophagia, and Akhenaten of the dissolved Judas Iscariot.
As far as black metal is concerned, Killjoy was part of the most excellent Norwegian group Wurdulak, the NOLA project Viking Crown with Pantera’s Philip Anselmo, the Ohio-based Haxxan with other members of Necrophagia, and the short-lived Norwegian-American supergroup Eibon that also featured Phil.
Happy Days (Initially American)
What could be more American than a depressive band with the ironic name like Happy Days?! The project’s mastermind, the Florida-born A. Morbid has lived in different parts of the U.S., but has since moved to Europe, as bands like Crimson Moon have also done. Happy Days additionally features three members from France and one from Mexico at the moment. The outfit has performed in French, German, Spanish, and English. They recently released a Portuguese single called “Saudade.”
A. Morbid has taken part in killer international projects, such as Deep-pression with the highly influential Vrangsinn and Trist; Photophobia; Nostalgie, which featured Lord Lokhraed of Nocturnal Depression; and Transitus Mortalis, which included ex-Shining and ex-Craft‘s John Doe.
Formed in 1995, Krohm is another great depressive metal pick. Krohm will definitely fulfill your desire for nostalgic one-man black metal. Krohm’s history began in Connecticut, but the project’s creator, Numinas, would eventually relocate to Seattle, Washington.
Formed in 1998 in DeKalb, Illinois, the disbanded Weltmacht served up hateful, bloodthirsty black metal — exactly what we need more of nowadays. This group will assault your senses in a highly pleasing manner. Weltmacht featured Cryptic Winter, Akhenaten, and Krieg’s Lord Imperial.
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