The United States of Black Metal – Best Black Metal Band In Each State!
In this day and age, anyone with even a basic knowledge of underground heavy metal is familiar with the diabolical history of black metal. The style as we know it today was born in the early 90s in Norway…yadda yadda yadda…church burning and murder…yadda yadda yadda…Deafheaven. From the subgenre's very beginning there have been black metal bands all over the world, but it's always been primarily associated with Europe. Here in the United States, we've always had at least handful of black metal bands. It's true that American heavy metal spent almost all of the 90s in an embarrassing haze of hyper-masculinity and white guy dreadlocks, but black metal was always there, bubbling up from the depths of the underground.
Early USBM pioneers VON, Profanatica and Judas Iscariot played a style of black metal that was mostly in line with their Norwegian contemporaries, but they were laying the groundwork for bands like Xasthur, Weakling and Wolves in the Throne Room to develop a truly unique take on the style. These days, USBM is a fully formed offshoot of traditional black metal. There's even regional scenes with distinct sounds like Cascadian black metal and Appalachian black metal. There was definitely a time when USBM wasn't taken seriously in the international heavy metal community, but that time is well and surely over with. There are many great black metal bands in the United States, and the purpose of this article is to celebrate some of them. Fifty to be exact – one from each state in the union.
It wasn't easy to compile this list. I've listened to so much awful black metal that I began to wonder if I'd need to take an extended break from the subgenre. Fortunately, I made it through the morass of poorly recorded Darkthrone clones and Nazi idiots with this list of pretty-good-to-great USBM acts. I used Metal Archives as my reference point, so if I missed a good band from your state, don't hesitate to post links in the comment sections. Also, almost every one of these acts has music available for purchase on Bandcamp, so, if you find a new favorite band, buy their album and support their future writing and touring endeavors. Anyway, that's enough blabbering from me. Please enjoy this objectively correct list of the best black metal band from all 50 states.
Wormreich – It looks like we're kicking this list off on a sad note since several of Wormreich's members were killed in a car accident last year. That band is soldiering on, and, for what it's worth, they really are Alabama's best. They're a fairly orthodox black metal band that sings about Satan, so you're not getting anything crazy to start off with, but stay tuned!
Cross Rot – These guys are about as far away from Wormreich as you can get. Alaska's Crossrot is filthy punk-infused black metal that doesn't concern itself with trivialities like production value. Now we're talking!
Avichi – It seems like Avichi has managed to fly under a lot of people's radars, and that's a shame because this one-man project is great. There's nothing ground breaking going on, but Andrew Markuszewski knows how to write a propulsive black metal song. There's plenty of blast beats and buzzing guitars to satisfy the kvltists, but Markuszewski works a lot of melodicism into his music to keep things fresh. If you aren't familiar with this guy's work, now's a great time to remedy that.
Ash of Cedars – These guys just released their debut EP last year, but, since it's so good and Arkansas's black metal scene is so awful, I'm not conflicted about crowing these newbies as the best that the Natural State has to offer. I'm a big fan of the way they mix traditional black metal with shreddy guitar and spacey synths to make truly disorienting music.
Ash Borer – According to Metal Archives, there are over 700 black metal bands in California. You'd think that would make picking the best band in the state a task of staggering difficulty. The fact that it really wasn't is a testament to how amazing Ash Borer are. I haven't found many bands that can write songs that are epic, frightening, and mesmerizing the way these musicians can. Not only are they easily the best black metal band in California, they're also one of the best in the country. I'd even put them up against any of the best bands in the world.
Cobalt – Look, I know there have been some real shitheads in this band, but Cobalt is one of the most ferocious black metal bands around today. That's not even up for debate.
One Master – I was tempted to choose Dhampyr for this slot, but he's originally from Rhode Island. Also, One Master is a really good band and true native sons of Connecticut, so I don't feel bad about this decision.
Conqbin – I was about the throw in the towel on Delaware. Then I discovered this crusty, raw black metal hybrid.
Black Witchery – Florida is full of generic black metal bands. There are a few stand-outs, but Black Witchery stands head-and-shoulders above them all. They are the true kings of Sunshine State black metal.
HellGoat – As far as I can tell, there are no really good black metal bands in Georgia, so I picked this band called HellGoat because that's a funny name. They're fine.
Darkest Path – This one-man symphonic black metal project won by default because I couldn't find music from any of the other handful of Hawaiian black metal bands listed on Metal Archives. Congratulations!
Ix – Another band that won by default. I was really hoping to hear Idaho's Arch Goat of Sodomy before making a decision. Alas, they don't seem to have anything available to stream online. Ix is actually pretty decent, though. They've got a sort of post-hardcore, atmospheric black metal thing going on.
Ævangelist – Ævangelist is fucking terrifying.
Ecferus – This is some bizarro black metal form one of the most boring states in the country (don't get mad Hoosiers, I'm from Ohio so I know boring). Usually I recoil from progressive black metal, but Ecferus know how to balance savagery and precision.
Satan's Almighty Penis – I mean, this is a no-brainer, right?
Apricity – Apparently Kansas doesn't have an over-abundance of black metal bands. I'm as surprised as you. Apricity is a black metal band that's still active and has music online I was able to listen to, so I chose them. They're one of those post-black metal bands the kids are going gaga over. If that's your bag, they just released and album on Bandcamp this past December. The band doesn't have music available on YouTube, but below is a link to their Bandcamp page where you can listen to the band's entire album.
Ad Infinitum – Kentucky has a stupid amount of good black metal bands. I actually wrote about some of them a couple years ago. Panopticon seems like the obvious choice but Austin Lunn moved to Minnesota to run Hammerheart Brewing Company, so that disqualifies him. That's no such a big deal though, because Ad Infinitum is a worthy successor. Cosmic, atmospheric black metal that will lull you into a trance.
Barghest – Most people would probably crown Goatwhore the kings of Louisiana black metal because most people are boring. Goatwhore is an aggressively mediocre band that got to where they are by touring incessantly. Good for them, but Barghest are the true rulers of the Pelican State's black metal community. They sound rotten and putrid like the stagnant waters of the Louisiana bayou.
Falls of Rauros – Falls of Rauros are from Maine. I didn't even bother listening to other bands. They aren't as good as Falls of Rauros.
Cemetery Piss – Maryland sucks when it comes to black metal, apparently. Luckily there are a trio of sleaze peddlers known as Cemetery Piss that are keeping it real (filthy) down in Baltimore. They cover Kraftwerk, too, so that's pretty cool.
Obsidian Tongue – This band is so so good. They're one of those underground bands you listen to and honestly can't understand how they aren't more popular. There are plenty of black metal bands in Massachusetts, but none are even close to as good as Obsidian Tongue.
Shitfucker – Shitfucker is the best. Fuck you if you disagree.
Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs. Nuff said.
More black metal on the next page…