In the world of metal nothing seems more contradictory than to have religion, more specifically Christianity, tied with it. And deeper in the world of metal, nothing could possibly be more contradictory than to have black metal with explicitly stated Christian messages. If you side with Euronymous’ criteria of black metal, (that is, only music that is both heavy and satanic), then technically Christian black metal can’t exist at all. Many bands actually feel the same way, which is why choose to be defined as “unblack metal”; though if we’re completely honest with ourselves, Christian black metal is still a correct answer.
Accuse me of not being kvlt enough, but I’ve always felt that black metal was better defined by the sound and not so much the message. We all know that black metal has signature sounds to it, and that both heavy and satanic music exists without being under the label of black metal. Having this mindset has let me into the world of unblack metal, and allowed me to understand and appreciate the goals of these bands. There’s just something intriguing about a group of Christians getting into a scene of music created with goals that specifically includes their persecution.
So, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the unblack scene and are a little curious, I’ve compiled a list of 7 Christian black metal bands you should know (Get it? 7? Because of Christian?)
Granted, the unblack metal scene is relatively small, and if you wish to explore it further you’ll more than likely run into the same bands over and over. That said, this list that I’ve compiled is just some of the more noteworthy bands that have come up over the years. Also, with the exception of the first entry, keep in mind that this is not a ranked list.
When you talk about unblack metal, it’s impossible not to mention Horde in some way.
Horde is the solo project of ex-Mortification drummer Jayson Sherlock. Sherlock, who enjoyed black metal but wasn’t fond of the messages decided to create an alternative for like-minded people such as himself. What came of it was Horde and it’s only release, Hellig Usvart (roughly translated “holy unblack”, which is accepted where the name of the subgenre was coined).
According to Sherlock himself, he wasn’t the first musician to embark on a Christian black metal project, but Horde certainly was the first famous example. It pissed off gobs of black metal fans and even allegedly prompted death threats towards Sherlock. Horde is undoubtedly the starting gun to a controversial subgenre within a controversial subgenre.
Listen to “Release and Clothe The Virgin Sacrifice”
I also covered Hellig Usvart at length for last years BMHM.
While Horde showed the world that unblack metal was possible, Antestor perfected the art. They are probably the most notable unblack band, and have probably influenced every single unblack band to come after them.
In the early ‘90s, Antestor started as a Christian doom/thrash band under the name of Crush Evil. Their Christianity was well known, and was even brought to the attention of Papa Euronymous himself who posed vague threats to Crush Evil as a result. Nonetheless, Crush Evil pushed on, changed their name to Antestor, and also began writing songs directly with a Norwegian black metal sound. When asked about their faith while still playing black metal, vocalist Kjetil Molnes explains that “We identify ourselves as black metal as a music style, not black metal as an ideology or belief.”
Antestor, being stationed right in Norway, apparently get their share of troubles from both black metal fans and bands, but they still continue on. They even got Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg to play drums for two of their albums. If that doesn’t give them even a little cred, then I’m not sure what could.
Listen to “Rites of Death”
Crimson Moonlight became notable on the unblack scene in the early 2000’s in Sweden. Although starting with a more symphonic and ambient style of black metal, albums like Veil of Remembrance showcased a shift to more death metal influences. They’re definitely one of the heaviest unblack bands I’ve ever heard, and they’re a great band to pop in when you’re just looking for something a little brutal and a little dark at the same time.
Listen to “Imitations of Everlasting Constancy”
More Christian black metal bands on the next page