In the words of Darkthrone: "You call your metal black?! It's just spastic, lame, and weak!" "True Norwegian Black Metal" is the gold standard against which all other forms of metal should be judged. Yes, BM may have its roots elsewhere, but only Norwegian soil could have allowed it to blossom into "The Grand Psychotic Castle" that it has become. Norwegians have a Satan-given talent when it comes to "Black-" and "Forest Poetry," as Mactätus and Ildjarn have dubbed their art form. As difficult as it may be to believe, black metal has been referred to as "Norway's biggest cultural export" along with Edvard Grieg and Edvard Munch. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that an exhibit called "Satyricon & Munch" recently opened at Oslo's Munch Museum. Even the Crown Prince of Norway is a metal fan. Crown Prince Haakon apparently enjoys the likes of Mayhem. He has been spotted at a concert by the Stavanger-based black n' rollers Kvelertak in San Francisco, where he bumped into James Hetfield.
Hades Almighty reminds us: "Submission Equals Suicide." As we celebrate Norwegian independence, let’s take some time to show our appreciation for the country's fierce individualists who constantly inspire us. Our Norwegian heroes are fearless and boundary-pushing. The current all-inclusive holiday known as "Grunnlovsdagen" / "Constitution Day," or "National Day" / "Nasjonaldagen," would not be complete without a playlist. Of course, we all know that the following songs are as essential as waffles this "syttende Mai" / "seventeenth of May": Darkthrone's "Transilvanian Hunger," Burzum's "Dunkelheit," Mayhem's "Freezing Moon," Immortal's "Call of the Wintermoon," Thorns' "Ærie Descent," Windir's "Journey to the End," and Emperor's "I Am the Black Wizards." In 2012, Taake's brilliant cover of the last classic mentioned was included on an updated version of his star-studded Noregs vaapen (2011), or "Norway's Weapon," which was nominated for a prestigious Spellemann Award, or "Norwegian Grammy." We also recommend Norske ritualer (2016) by Djevel, which ex-Emperor's Faust joined in 2017.
To quote Cadaver, Norway is Norway is "Necro as Fuck.” Nevertheless, Norway has more to offer the world than just doom and gloom. The fabled homeland of great historical figures, such as playwright Henrik Ibsen and explorer Roald Amundsen, is not just a metal country: Norway also knows how to rock. This great nation has something for every type of listener, whether you belong to the class of Motorphyscho[s], Carniwhöre[s], Murder Maids, hard partying "Pink Flamingo[s]" like TrollfesT, or mainstream music fans. Examples of quirky Norwegian bands include Zeromancer (!!!), She Said Destroy, Borknagar, Vanvidd, Leprous, Turbonegro, and Årabrot. Open-minded listeners can also discover Jokke og Valentinerne, DumDum Boys, deLillos, and Raga Rockers. These bands constitute what is known as Norway's "De Store 4," or "The Big 4." They Norwegianized rock in the '80s by singing in their native language. On the other hand, Norway has also spawned international sensations like A-ha and TNT.
Thank you, Norway, for the wonderful music!
Tsjuder — "Norge"
"Norge," or "Norway," hails from Tsjuder's fifth studio album, Antliv (2015) — "Desolate landscapes
So fucking cold and dark. Unholy ungodly ancient evil prevails. No fucking hope. Norge!" If you love black metal, you are already a fan of Tsjuder. This "Kill for Satan" band dishes up sweet little numbers like "Sodomizing the Lamb" and "Mouth of Madness." Tsjuder will show you what the "Norwegian Apocalypse" looks like.
Kampfar — "Troll"
Kampfar is a top-notch black metal band that draws inspiration from Norwegian folklore. There are so many songs by Kampfar that will help put you in the holiday spirit today like "Troll, død og trolldom" and "Hjemkomsten." The song "Norse," which opens the three-track EP Norse (1998), begins: "My pagan ancestors call my name through the white waterfalls of Norway. From the dark and misty forests. From the mighty snow-filled mountains. Through the winds of the northern sea." "Troll" first appeared as the second track on Norse. We adore it!
If you have a troll fetish and crave even more, we recommend the band… Troll. It was formed in 1992 by a 14-year-old Nagash. You probably remember Nagash from groups like Dimmu Borgir and Covenant. He still plays with The Kovenant. In any case, Troll encapsulates the essence of Norwegian black metal with tunes like "Troll Riket," "Trollstorm over Nidingjuv," "Drep de Kristne," "Kristenhat," etc.
Seigmen — "Döderlein"
Enjoy "Döderlein" from Seigmen's sophomore album, Total (1994). Seigmen, which was founded in 1989, is a classic Norwegian band. Yet, most non-Scandinavians have been missing out on these alternative rockers. We assure you that Seigmen is exactly what you need in your life. If you require proof of Seigmen's awesomeness, know that Niklas Kvarforth's Shining covered Seigmen's "Ohm," Vreid recorded their interpretation of "Skjebnen," and Tristania put their stamp on "The Modern End."
Black Debbath — "Bunad (The National Costume)"
Black Debbath is an Oslo-based metal band that has been earning applause since 1998. They recently signed a contract with Drabant Music, a sublabel of Sony Music Norway. Black Debbath defines what they do as "Heavy Politically Incorrect Humor Rock." The list of Black Debbath songs that would be suitable, or unsuitable, for today's holiday is endless: "King of Norway," "Ja og nei til EF! (om Norges tilnærming til Europa)," "Den svarte oljen vil en gang ta slutt, men den hviteoljen vil aldri slutte å pumpe (Støttnorsk pornobransje)," "Om bruken av tabuord i det norske språk," "Stryk Norskfaget!," "Hele Norge roper ulv," "Norsk barsk metal," "Gjør norsk utenrikstjeneste nok for eventyrere og kriminelle nordmenn i utlandet?," "Norsk Bjørnsonforskning (holder internasjonalt sett lavt nivå)," "Anti-Tatt Norge," "Til hælvete med Munchmuseet! (Lokaliseringssang)," "Great Norwegian Comedians (Such as Oluf and Stutum)," "Sightseeing in Oslo," "Where to Shit and Piss in Oslo," "Anti-Tatt Norge," "Fuck You All Language Posers!," etc.
Black Debbath's entire sophomore album, Welcome to Norway (2001), would befit this list. It opens with "The Vikings (Pioneers of Rock)": "The Vikings did a lot of killing, a lot of raping too! But hey! Don't you judging them too hard now, baby! They didn't have nothing else to do! 'Cause they didn't have no electric guitars." Welcome to Norway offers information on everything from literature to Oslo nightlife to Northern cuisine. It even warns of the dangers of impregnating a Norwegian girl. Choosing one Black Debbath song is clearly difficult, but let's go with the album's fifth track, "Bunad (The National Costume)." You’ve never heard a "metal" song like this.
Isengard — "Vinterskugge" / Storm — "Mellom bakkar og berg"
Isengard by Darkthrone's Fenriz is simply the best. Fenriz experimented with various styles under the Isengard moniker. The BM legend has confessed that he feels somewhat guilty about the fact that he inspired others to make a trend out of folk metal. While commenting on "Neslepaks," which features ex-Dødheimsgard's Aldrahn, for a 2010 reissue of Høstmørke (1995), Fenriz stated: "Folk metal should, in most cases… be deleted. I think it's a horrible form of music, actually. And I might have contributed to that." Fenriz believes that Isengard was probably the second folk metal act after Skyclad. He, meanwhile, clarified that the style of Bathory's Viking albums should be considered its own subgenre. All that said, if there is one project that does folk metal the right way, it would certainly be Isengard. The battle song "Vinterskugge" is simply a classic. The same applies to "I kamp med Kvitekrist." One of my favorite songs is "Storm of Evil." Trust us, once you press play and unleash the "Storm of Evil," the brilliance of this track will definitely take you by surprise.
Storm was the incredible folk metal project of Fenriz and Satyricon's Satyr. The two were joined by Kari Rueslåtten, who came to regret her decision to collaborate with these two troublemakers. Storm's "Mellom bakkar og berg" is actually an adaptation of the poem "Nordmannen" by Ivar Aasen. (You can hear bands like Glittertind cover "Nordamannen" as well.) "Mellom bakkar og berg" is the second track after the instrumental opening on Storm's only full-length album, Nordavind (1995). (Although Fenriz and Satyr wanted to record a second studio album, they were kicked out of their workspace.) You must listen to Nordavind in its entirety. Storm's split album, Crusade from the North (1996), is also one of the most appropriate things you could listen to today. The record is shared with Darkthrone, Wongraven, Satyricon, Isengard, and Neptune Towers. In other words, it's all Fenriz and Satyr. Darkthrone's "Splitkein [Ski] Fever" and "Norway in September" are also perfect for your 17th of May playlist.
The Cumshots — "I Drink Alone"
The Cumshots sophomore album may be called Norwegian Jesus (2003), but these bandits are no saints. This group faced fines after a pair of the founders of a group called Fuck for Forest had sex onstage during their 2004 performance at the Quart Festival, where Crown Prince Haakon met the Crown Princess just 8 years prior. In 2001, The Cumshots released a split EP with none other than the Canadian "Sex with Satan" outfit Piledriver, which is now known as The Exalted Piledriver. The Cumshots take things to a whole new level with songs like "Go Forth and Fuck" and "Bitter Erection." (The latter track plays with Nietzsche's thought that truth is a woman; thus, we can call it highly intellectual music.) "I Drink Alone" hails from Just Quit Trying (2006), which ends in "Baptized in Broken Glass." The suicidal "I Drink Alone" is heavy, wicked, beautiful. It's everything you want it to be. If you like this song, check out "I Still Drink Alone" from A Life Less Necessary (2009), which earned a Spellemann Award: "We all have our demons. Mine is sobriety." "Punchdrunk on Death" is another great drinking song by The Cumshots: "But your pussy is a graveyard. And I'm dying to get in." You can also rock out to this group's cover of Jokke & Valentinerne's "Øl," or "Beer."
If you still need music to help you kick back some bottles of Grimstad-brewed Nøgne Ø, try Svölk's "Miss Alcohol." Chrome Division offers a satisfying variety of songs on this topic: "We Drink"; "Booze, Broads and Beelzebub"; "Øl:' etc. Enjoy "Jenter, øl og heavy rock" by the defunct Trondheim-based band Storm, which is not to be confused with the last pick on our list. Den Saakaldte's Øl, mørke og depresjon (2008), which stars Shining's Niklas Kvarforth and 1349's Seidmann, is a fantastic album. The album's second track, "Drikke ens skål," is probably the most unique song about booze that you will ever experience. There is also "Wish You Were a Beer" from Lobotomized's only full-length album to date, Norwegian Trash (2013). This lovely record features tracks like "Bingo in Hell," "Hobosexual" and (of course) "Norwegian Trash."
Beaten to Death — "True Norwegian Internet Metal Warrior"
Beaten to Death has the best titles of any band… ever: "If Your Music Were a Blowjob, It Wouldn't Suck," "Boy George Michael Bolton," "Winston Churchill," "Self Defenestration," "Rectal Dark Ages," etc. The totally brutal and impossibly refreshing "True Norwegian Internet Warrior" from Dødsfest! (2013) is, of course, no exception. Beaten to Death was formed in 2010. Labeling this band feels wrong. After all, they are overwhelmingly clear on the following point: "Don't You Dare Call us Heavy Metal." Yet, it is possible to call their music avant-garde grindcore. Don't make the mistake of assuming any lack of quality from this band. Beaten to Death has been nominated for two Spellemann Awards. Their drummer is none other than Doedsvanger and Gothminister's Christian Håpnes Svendsen. Christian, or "Anti-Christian," has been a part of bands that you need to know like Tyrann, Grimfist, Inglow, Tsjuder, etc. He was also a member of the last pick on our list like one of Beaten to Death's guitarists, Tommy Hjelm.
Gaahls WYRD — "Carving the Voices"
Gaahl may just be Norway's greatest son! Yes, ignoramuses have dubbed him the most hated man in the country, but he is really the most loveable man in the world. The "Sign of an Open Eye" vocalist has so much to teach us about philosophy, art, fashion, and wine. He has even been involved in the theater. Listen to "Carving the Voices" to find out why Gaahls WYRD's GastiR – Ghosts Invited (2019) won a Spellemann Award. Of course, fans will want to compare this song to Gorgoroth's "Carving a Giant," in which Gaahl sings: "Carving the eye of a god. Create me." Make sure to also take some time today to rediscover Gaahl's Trelldom and Wardruna, which Gaahl left in 2015.
Ov Hell — "Hill Norge"
Ex-Gorgoroth's King ov Hell and Dimmu Borgir's Shagrath teamed up for Ov Hell's The Underworld Regime (2010). This album, which begins with "Devil's Harlot," "Post Modern Sadist," and "Invoker" is exactly what you should fall asleep to every evening. "Hill Norge" is The Underworld Regime's closing track.
King ov Hell has also played with groups like Audrey Horne and Sahg, but his work with "Kvitrafn," or Einar Selvic as he is known in Wardruna, under the Jotunspor moniker will definitely help you celebrate Constitution Day. Jotunspor only released one album, Gleipnirs smeder (2006). This black metal duo sought to honor their Nordic heritage. We also adore King's work with Abbath, Abbath's I, and God Seed with Gaahl.
It is very difficult for black metal musicians to trigger outrage nowadays. King is one of the few men in BM who still succeeds in provoking what the movement should be all about — HATE. Darkthrone's Fenriz was delighted when a "cool sound guy" threw eggs at King at Bergen's famous, though now shuttered, venue Garage in Bergen. Darkthrone thinks that King is such a poser that they had "Anti-King ov Hell 001" printed on their über-cool 2010 album, Circle the Wagons. Darkthrone is the best, but we all know that what King truly suffers from is "The Burden of Being Wonderful," as Steel Panther might say. Peter Beste's photographs of King are among the most iconic. What can we say?! King's ability to pull off corpse paint and bell-bottoms (often simultaneously!) truly takes talent. Is bringing sexy back to black metal really such a crime?!
Urgehal — "Norwegian Blood and Crystal Lakes"
Urgehal was one of Norway's greatest cultural treasures. "Norwegian Blood and Crystal Lakes" hails from Aeons in Sodom (2016) — Urgehal's last album. This masterpiece is a tribute to the late genius Trondr Nefas. Trondr was in the process of working on the record that became Aeons in Sodom at the time of his tragic death that occurred shortly before his 35th birthday in 2012. Trondr apparently passed away from a stroke while leaning over his fishing equipment. Urgehal's brilliant Enzifer and Uruz, whom you probably know from Vulture Lord like Trondr, confirmed: "He died a peaceful and natural death at one of his favourite places, surrounded by woods and crystal lakes." The lyrics to "Norwegian Blood and Crystal Lakes" were written by Trondr, whom you can hear playing guitar as well: "Take a look into the past, and tell me what you see? If your visions are blank, you're urbanized and fucking blind. A millennium back in time, I see purity in man." Because Trondr was such a beloved figure, Aeons in Sodom features guest artists such as Darkthrone's Nocturno Culto and Carpathian Forest's Nattefrost. The vocals on "Norwegian Blood and Crystal Lakes" are actually executed by Sweden's finest musician, the marvelous Niklas Kvarforth of Shining. This fire-breathing song is guaranteed to incinerate you immediately.
Manes — "Chemical Heritage"
Not all of us have Norwegian roots, but many of us know a thing or two about drug culture. If you have ever ingested "Black Magic Mushrooms" like Mysticum, you share Manes' "Chemical Heritage." This song can be found on Manes' latest album, Slow Motion Death Sequence (2018), along with gems like "Last Resort," "Therapism," and "Endetidstegn." We think that "Chemical Heritage" is a great choice because it is a stellar example of Norwegian creativity. As we have said, artists from Norway often go against the grain. Manes incorporates elements of diverse genres. Even if you are not a fan of experimental music, you have to admit that this song is sexy as Helvete / Hell. Manes was founded in Trondheim in 1992 as a black metal project. When listening to "Chemical Heritage," it is difficult to believe that Manes has influenced DSBM bands like Shining. Yet, Manes' faith in evolution has paid off. Manes' work reflects a constant state of exploration.
Carpathian Forest — "The Frostbitten Woodlands of Norway"
Carpathian Forest should be your go-to band for "Cold Murderous Music." Just "Submit to Satan!!!" and enjoy "The Frostbitten Woodlands of Norway" from the group's fifth studio album, Fuck You All!!!! (Caput Tuum in Ano Est) (2006). This little piece of "Norwegian winter hell" is heavenly.
Likbål — "Norsk Krigssang"
"Norsk krigssang" is the final track on Likbål's debut album, Man into Wolf (2017). The text is borrowed from the writer Henrik Wergeland. You probably have not heard of Likbål before, but after hearing this recording, you will definitely become a fan.
The Wretched End — "Old Norwegian Soul"
"Old Norwegian Soul" can be found on The Wretched End's third and latest studio album, In These Woods, From These Mountains (2016): "Old Norwegian soul. Rooted in the woods. Growing cold. Like forlorn days untold." Keep in mind that The Wretched End's lineup consists of the following metal gods: Emperor's Samoth, Nordjevel's Nils Fjellström, and Mindgrinder's Cosmo[crator].
Old Funeral — "Abduction of Limbs"
Before Abbath and Demonaz formed Immortal and before Varg Vikernes founded the one-man project Burzum, all three played with Old Funeral. Surprisingly, Old Funeral's second demo, Abduction of Limbs (1990), was recorded at Grieghallen Studio. The effort was produced by Eirik "Pytten" Hundvin, who was a friend of musician Tore Bratseth's father. Pytten would go on to work with Burzum, Immortal, and many more of the greatest names in metal. It is safe to say that Pytten is the greatest black metal producer in history. He even produced Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994). Pytten is a musician himself and plays with a band called The Rolling Clones, for example.
On the track "Abduction of Limbs," you will hear Tore on guitar, Abbath on bass and vocals, and Jan Atle "Padde[n]" Åserød on drums. The lyrics were written by Tore and the music was composed by Padden. Tore still collaborates with Abbath in the latter's Motörhead tribute band, Bömbers. Padden briefly worked with Immortal under the moniker Kolgrim.
Backstreet Girls — "Where Have All the Bad Boys Gone"
Tore Bratseth from our last pick told Enough Riffs Magazine: "My favorite Norwegian band is Backstreet Girls. It's not a metal band, but a 100 % hard rocking, whiskey drinking, bad ass 100% honest band. No bullshit!" Backstreet Girls, which have been going strong since 1984, count a fair number of badass musicians among their fans. This band is followed by Cadaver's Anders Odden and Mayhem's Teloch on Instagram. That's all you need to know. If you are still hesitant to give Backstreet Girls a try, we would quote the title of their 2003 album, "Sick My Duck," but that would be rude. We present "Where Have All the Bad Boys Gone" from Normal Is Dangerous (2019) —
Hellbillies — "Ei krasafaren steinbu"
Hellbillies have won four Spellemann Awards, including an honorary prize at the most recent ceremony. If you've ever wondered what Norwegian country rock sounds like, give this band a shot. They have been churning out quality music since 1990. "Ei krasafaren steinbu " is a highly relaxing song about a reindeer hunter. The lyrics were written by Hellbillies' Arne Moslåtten. The melody, however, was taken from Hal Ketchum's "Past the Point of Rescue," which was written by Mick Hanly.