10 Norwegian metal albums by Karel Veselý

Karel Veselý was born in 1976 in Znojmo. He studied English and Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University in Brno. He is a music publicist and prose writer. He has worked as a teacher and translator and has been a freelance writer since 2008. He is the author or co-author of publications on contemporary and historical popular music and culture, including Music of Fire (2010), Planet Nippon (2017) and All Cats Are Grey (2020). He has written the novels Bomba Funk (2017) and Metal (2022).
"Metal is both faith and law," reads the annotation of his latest title. "The protagonist [...] lives by it, even if the world around him has slightly different rules. Should he conform, or is it okay to not conform and follow his own rules? How does one view the world through the gloomy fog of bleak black metal? And can music change the world?"


Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992)
This is where it all began. Aggressive unholy guitar riffs drenched in otherworldly noise. One of Darkthrone's main inspirations, by the way, was the Czech Master's Hammer's Ritual, a year earlier.   


Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)
Before Mayhem could release their debut, one member killed himself and another was murdered by a third, who subsequently ended up in prison. A savage time coupled with the burning of churches gave birth to this brutal album, the holy grail of black metal.


Burzum - Filosofem (1996)
Regardless of the extremely problematic political views of Varg Vikernes, the sole member of the Burzum project, Philosopher is a seminal extreme metal record. It often doesn't even need guitars to build a mystical funereal atmosphere.


Emperor - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997)
Quite possibly the pinnacle of the first black wave, an artifact of crystalline evil. Precise production and an experimental approach gave birth to a perfect record, perfectly balancing aggression and nihilistic mood.


Ulver - Perdition City (2000)
Ulver were part of the first black wave and released several classic records, but in the late 90s they said goodbye to clichés and embraced dark ambient. But they never betrayed the gloomy spirit of their home genre.


Marvargr - Likstank (2007)
Norwegian noise experimentalist Lasse Marhaug and Swedish dark ambient artist Henrik Nordvargr met on a record that pays homage to the rotten era of black metal. One of the ugliest and most radical records ever made.


Runhild Gammelsæter - Amplicon (2008)
Gammelsaeter studied molecular biology overseas and fell for metal. On her only solo record, Amplicon, she alternates clean vocals with the otherworldly and sings about the mystique of the microcosm into abstract metal surfaces.


Shining - Blackjazz (2010)
A fusion of extreme metal and free jazz? Why not! Norway's Shining (not to be confused with the Swedish black band of the same name) have managed to fuse musical traditions that seemingly meet nowhere. Chaos and austerity.


Kvelertak - Meir (2013)
Kvelertak are somewhere between punk, black metal and rock'n'roll and their music is more fun than it looks on paper. The Stavanger-based band's second album is packed with energy and great riffs.


Dødheimsgard - Black Medium Current (2023)
Dødheimsgard have always been a bit of the Pink Floyd of black metal - mixing elements of progressive rock into the extreme genre. This year, they're back in style with a record that's as bizarre as it is brutal.