As the seasons change, so too do the musical trends. Soon, Christmas music will be everywhere; however, for the metal community, black metal starts gaining prominence at the end of the year. Black metal captures the essence of late fall and early winter: cold and vicious atmospheres, icy themes and primal rawness dominate much of the style. This change culminates in the trend of “Nothing but Black Metal November” (NBBMN) for many metal fans. The genre’s cold aesthetic makes it a perfect candidate to listen to in November.
Starting in Scandinavia, the genre now includes geographical subgenres ranging from the cold nihilism of Polish black metal to the epic folk of Finland to the omnipresent avante-garde scene. Black metal persists everywhere. I started off the month listening to 37 albums from 37 different countries.
For the brave among you, some more accessible artists are Agalloch, Aquilus, Mesarthim and Xanthochroid. For the ultra brave, Moonsorrow, Midnight Odyssey, Mgla, Kaatayra and Imperial Triumphant are also fantastic examples of all that black metal can encompass.
But if blast beats, shrieks and trem picking are not your thing, a great way to participate in the spirit of NBBMN is through European (or other) folk music. International black metal bands draw heavy inspiration from their respective local cultures—Chinese, Arabic, Brazilian, American bluegrass and Scandinavian (among other) folk integrate into the traditional black metal style. My personal favorite album of 2020, Myrkur’s Folkesange, is a perfect Danish folk album with gorgeous female vocals that I would recommend for anybody reading. Some more pure folk album recommendations include Heilung, Forndom and Wardruna.
The main purpose of NBBMN is not to exclusively listen to black metal but rather to expand musical tastes and knowledge. I encourage and challenge all of you to find something out of your musical comfort zone and listen to it. Try and find a new style, some new artists, or just listen to an album from an artist you already know and haven’t heard. Go out and find some new music and try some new styles this fall and winter…you may find a new favorite!