1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:

http://heavymetal.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/bestnorwegianmetalbands.htm

was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Best Norwegian Heavy Metal Bands

By

Since this list is about the best Norwegian metal bands, black metal is going to dominate the list. However, there are a few bands from Norway in other genres that have released great albums over the years. These lists of the best metal bands from a particular country draw a lot of interest, email and message board posts. Most of them are how much of a moron I am for picking this band or omitting that band, but it least it gets a good debate going. Nonetheless, it's a fun exercise to try to take bands from different genres and eras and rank them. Here my choices for the best Norwegian metal bands.

1. Emperor

There are several bands that could have been number one on this list, but I chose Emperor because of their outstanding body of work and their vast influence (both positively and negatively) on music and society in Norway and elsewhere. Even with, and maybe partly because of their numerous lineup changes, Emperor's music is always innovative and is sometimes raw and fierce, other times atmospheric and majestic. Their first couple of albums rank amongst the best ever in the black metal genre, and their entire catalog is outstanding.

Recommended Album: In The Nightside Eclipse (1994)
Compare Prices

2. Mayhem

Mayhem has been more prolific than Emperor over the years, even with the amount of tragedy and legal difficulties they have faced. Even though they are probably the most infamous Norwegian band, in my opinion their music and influence falls just an eyelash short of Emperor. Mayhem has had a few different vocalist, each with a unique style and sound. Their sound has ranged from raw black metal to more experimental electronica, and they are never afraid to try something different.

Recommended Album: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)
Compare Prices

3. Immortal

Immortal was formed by Abbath and Demonaz in 1990, and there have been numerous lineup changes over the years. Their early sound was raw and primal, and over the years their musicianship and songwriting prowess really progressed. Whether it was old school black metal, lightning fast blast beat heavy extremity or blackened thrash, they always had a unique tone and memorable sound. In 1997 arm problems forced Demonaz to leave the band, although he remained the band's lyricist. After disbanding in 2003, four years later Immortal are back together playing live and planning a new album.

Recommended Album: Pure Holocaust (1993)
Compare Prices

4. Darkthrone

Shortly before the release of their debut album Soulside Journey, Black Death became Darkthrone. Their first release was death metal, and very good death metal at that, but they decided to go in a new direction after that. They put on the corpsepaint and became a black metal band, one of the best and most enduring. Darkthrone's music and sound is very low-fi, gritty and dirty. Nocturno Culto's unholy screaming vocals are aggressive and hateful and will send a chill up your spine.

Recommended Album: A Blaze In The Northern Sky (1991)
Compare Prices

5. Burzum

Out of all the controvery and controversial figures in the Norwegian black metal scene, no more is more infamous than Varg Vikernes, also known as Count Grishnackh. He was convicted of the murder of his former Mayhem bandmate Euronymous in 1993. Burzum is his one-man project. The early Burzum material is more straightforward black metal, but it quickly became more experimental and electronic. The combination of really harsh and evil vocals with more midtempo and haunting music was very compelling. Even after his imprisonment he continued to periodically release new material, although it paled in comparison to his earlier work.

Recommended Album: Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (1994)
Compare Prices

6. Enslaved

After getting their start in 1991 as a traditional black metal band, Enslaved became more progressive as time went on. Their earlier albums have songs in Icelandic and Old Norse, but their more recent work is in English. Enslaved's lyrics focus a lot on Norse mythology, and they are usually classified as a progressive black/Viking metal band. They are one of the most innovative and creative groups in the genre with epic and atmospheric songs, and their music is always compelling and unique.

Recommended Album: Frost (1994)
Compare Prices

7. Borknagar

Øystein Brun was in a death metal band and wanted to explore a different style of music. He wrote the music and lyrics for an album, and then recruited some big names in black metal from groups such as Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Ulver and Immortal and formed Borknagar. Their first album had Norwegian lyrics, but after that they switched to mainly English lyrics. Unlike the raw and simple early black metal, Borknagar's style is much more melodic, progressive and complex. Many bands peak early and spend the rest of their career trying to recapture past glory, but Borknagar have released consistently good albums throughout their existence.

Recommended Album: The Olden Domain (1997)
Compare Prices

8. Gorgoroth

Gorgoroth took their name from Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings, where it is a place of evil and darkness. They are the typical Norwegian black metal band, from the corpsepaint to the pseudonyms, including one of the best names in the genre, Goat Pervertor, who was the band's original drummer. Gorgoroth's sound was originally old school black metal, but it evolved into a more experimental industrial and ambient sound in the late '90s before returning to a more traditional style.

Recommended Album: Under The Sign Of Hell (1997)
Compare Prices

9. Satyricon

Satyricon's core has always been the duo of Satyr and Frost, although they've had many guest musicians play with them over the years. Their debut album Dark Medieval Times combined the darkness of black metal with the light of folk metal. Their more recent CDs have more rock influences and their sound has become more accessible. Satyricon's songwriting and musicianship remain strong, even as they draw criticism for becoming too "mainstream."

Recommended Album: Nemesis Divina (1996)
Compare Prices

10. Dimmu Borgir

Dimmu Borgir is another controversial band, but not because of the same reasons as some of the others on this list. Dimmu's commercial success and evolution into a more accessible band has drawn a lot of criticism. Even so, their influence and body of work still rates them a spot on this list. After forming in 1993, the band's 1996 debut Stormblast was melodic black metal sung in Norwegian. Their sound gradually evolved into a more grand and symphonic style using some melodic vocals in addition to Shagrath's growls. Even though they have moved more toward the mainstream and have sold a lot of albums, Dimmu Borgir's music is what secures their place here.

Recommended Album: Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (1997)
Compare Prices

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.