We know that black metal originated from across the pond, but that isn’t too say that we don’t have our fair share of black metal in the states. I’ve highlighted six bands from America that are worth checking out and do the genre honor. These bands build off the instrumentation, lyricism, and atmosphere that black metal is known for. There is a mix of different bands here, so without further ado, let’s explore the blackened wasteland of American black metal.
Abigail Williams (Phoenix, Arizona)
The band’s first two records catered more towards a blackened metalcore edge, but with their two latest releases, they have settled in on atmosphere. 2012’s Becoming and 2015’s The Accuser are excellent records that capture the hefty weight and drag of black metal’s aura. Ken Sorceron has some of the most iconic and ghostly vocals within the scene today, which receive terrific backup from the hazy speed and depth of the instrumentation. Abigail Williams have proven their talent in shifting from dreamy, too downright nightmarish within their musicianship. Keep an eye out for their various tours to come (and their new record this year).
Agalloch (Portland, Oregon)
Ambient, folk, doom, and black metal come as one with Agalloch. Technically one of the more progressive acts on this list, the band combines the atmosphere of blackened instrumentation to match their wintry and nature imagery in lyricism. Through all aspects of this band there is a spiritual and astral energy that comes through each song. Their latest record being 2014’s The Serpent & The Sphere is rich with elegance, darkness, and mystery. With moments of heavy intensity to gentle calms, Agalloch is one hell of a wonder to discover.
Goatwhore (New Orleans, Louisiana)
These blackened thrash lovin’ and death pedalin’ fiends are all about delivering the upmost savagery. With their last release being the 2014 Constricting Rage of the Merciless, Goatwhore delivered a superb soul ripping record (but their entire discography is pretty damn terrific in my opinion). With insane speeds and relentless instrumentation, Goatwhore is all things anti-authority, anti-religion, and anti-peace. Of black metal that captures speed, rebellion, and ferocity, Goatwhore are at the top of the list as some of the very best. If their upcoming tour with Amon Amarth and the Metal Blade Anniversary doesn’t get your GOAT…. Then keep an eye out for their new record later this year.
Withered (Atlanta, Georgia)
There are many elements of music at play within Withered, but nothing comes through more clearly than the blackened mucky atmosphere that permeates in each track. Trudging forward with blackened crusty/sludgy tones, Withered kicks in murky vocals that make for a sinister delivery. That being said, Withered is another band that know how to take things flying into the night. Their speed and gloomy energy creates sinister sounds of utter blackness. All of this, combined with doom undertones, establish a thick and darkening atmosphere that will capture anyone in brutal delivery. Make sure to catch these guys soon as they support Morbid Angel and Suffocation.
Ghost Bath (Minot, North Dakota)
While originally claiming to be from China, these North Dakota metal heads are the flip side of the coin to bands like Goatwhore. It’s here where we find a mix of “blackgaze” (black metal and shoegaze), and depressive suicidal black metal. While the music takes plenty of opportunities to get chaotic, the overall power of Ghost Bath is the settling somber and dreadful atmosphere. Using distant vocal wails, and instrumentals with shredding lows, to bright and beautiful melodies, Ghost Bath masters the form of melancholy. If we are lucky we’ll be able to see a new record from these guys this year.
Wolves In The Throne Room (Olympia, Washington)
When we talk about atmospheric music, Wolves In The Throne Room are one of the first bands that come to mind. With an absolute dark ambient energy, the instrumentals linger long enough just to seep into the listener, giving way to spacey and meditative vibes. Among effective black metal is the ability to either create absolutely devastating delivery in lyrical philosophy, or portray a strong use of unsettling mindset. Though some of Wolves In The Throne Room’s songs go about as traditionally speedy, it is that ability to manipulate with headspace and aura that puts them at their best.