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Black Metal History

Top 10 One Man Black Metal Bands

In a genre as insular and niche as black metal is, it stands to reason that the eschewing of live performance and interviews in favor of reclusive mystique leaves the door wide open – almost insists upon – recordings created entirely by the efforts of a single person.

In a genre as insular and niche as black metal is, it stands to reason that the eschewing of live performance and interviews in favor of reclusive mystique leaves the door wide open - almost insists upon - recordings created entirely by the efforts of a single person.

In a genre as insular and niche as black metal is, it stands to reason that the eschewing of live performance and interviews in favor of reclusive mystique leaves the door wide open – almost insists upon – recordings created entirely by the efforts of a single person.

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Indeed, the genre is veritably shitting itself with one man bands, solo acts who possess the twin prerequisites of basic competence on multiple instruments and a misanthropic inability to play well with others.

With these one man bands being so prominent in the field yet so genuinely underground as well, we figured a little roundup was in order as part of Black Metal History Month. So yeah, another fucking listicle for you bloodthirsty heathens to fight over.

Just one ground rule this time around – we'll call it the Bathory Exclusion – and that's this: when I say one man bands I mean exactly that. I don't care if the bassists and drummers Quorthon employed were mere hired hands, the fact remains that the man only recorded a couple of the more minor Bathory entries entirely by himself. Disqualified then, bitch (RIP).

On the other hand, I'm not holding it against anyone if they recruit a rhythm section to play live gigs every now and then, as long as they're singing and playing all instruments on the studio recordings themselves. Sorry, but if I'm not making an exception for Wold I'm damn sure not making one for Judas Iscariot. And no, I'm not throwing Isengard in here just to give Fenriz props on account of Nocturno Culto disqualifying Darkthrone. They aren't that good, this ain't the Grammys, and there will be no politics here (except in the comments, of course).

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We good? Fuck it, I'm forging on anyway. In no particular order, yet still numbered for your comment-bitching, intro-ignoring pleasure…

10. Nattefrost

Many of the more prominent one man black metal acts feature members of a full band stepping out to showcase other skills in a side project format. Such is the case with Nattefrost, erstwhile known as the long-standing vocalist for Carpathian Forest. His namesake project isn't a million miles away from Carpathian Forest, but it does favor a more stripped down, punk-inflected sound a la F.O.A.D. era Darkthrone.

9. Satanic Warmaster

Werwolf almost shoots himself in the foot with a silver bullet, as many shitty Casio keyboard breaks as he litters his efforts with. However, when he's on he's on, and with a pretty goddamn full discography under his belt – over two dozen releases since 2001 – it's not too hard to scrounge together a top flight mixtape or two out of his best. And yes, I know Satanic Warmaster originally employed a second member on guitar; I'm including "them" anyway since the vast bulk of SW releases are Werwolf and Werwolf alone. It's my party and you can cry if you want to… again, I can't stress enough that this is what the comments are for.

8. Xasthur

Yep, another exception: Malefic has employed two guys intermittently – Blood Moon on a couple of EPs, and M.H. providing vocals and "ambience" on two full lengths – but bulk = Malefic so tough shit. Xasthur is hands down one of the most respected, name checked one man BM projects in the history of the game, and is one of the more influential of the lo fi/ambient artists to have toiled in the genre. As of 2010 Malefic has put Xasthur on ice, moving on to a new project called Nocturnal Poisoning, having threatened never to revive his meal ticket brand ever again. Sure, isn't that what Too $hort said back in like '98?

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7. Leviathan

Sole proprietor Wrest can also be heard on the upcoming Twilight album alongside Thurston Moore and Stavros from the Atlas Moth, but the man cut his teeth with the solo project Leviathan, whose most recent album – 2011's True Traitor, True Whore – was released on Profound Lore, ending up on a plethora of year end lists. He's also played sporadically with a few other bands, usually manning the bass when doing so. Wrest also briefly recorded for Southern Lord under the name Lurker of Chalice in 2005.

6. Arckanum

A lot of the acts on this list have long since gotten bored and thrown in the towel, but Sweden's Shamaatae is just getting warmed up, having released Fenris Kindir – his most realized work to date – just last year on Seasons of Mist. Pretty impressive considering the man's demos stretch all the way back to 1993, when the second wave was just a drip running down Euronymous' leg.

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