Since the early days of heavy metal, the genre has perpetually expanded in countless extremities. Many thought music could not possibly become any more extreme than some of the most intense artists to appear in the last twenty-five years within Death Metal, Black Metal, and more. However, one subgenre has remained hidden in the underground since the early 1990s and is starting to rapidly gain more attention in recent years. War Metal/Bestial Black Metal has truly combined some of metal’s most relentless aspects. Is Bestial Black Metal the most extreme subgenre to currently exist?
Author’s note: This style of music is often attributed to being War Metal or Bestial Black Metal. Neither term is incorrect and out of a matter of personal preference and opinion, I will refer to this movement in music as Bestial Black Metal. I prefer this terminology because I feel the connotation gives a more accurate depiction of what the movement is about and sounds like. Personally, I think the term War Metal implies viking metal style characteristics and I therefore prefer the terminology Bestial Black Metal.
Ominous, brooding, and chaotic don’t even come close to fully describing the hellish atmosphere of Bestial Black Metal. The underground movement is most notably recognized for combining elements of Death Metal and Black Metal often played at Grindcore speeds. Downtuned chords with blistering fast blastbeats are essential to the subgenres formula and are often accompanied with vociferous growls reminiscent of Death Metal and its attack. Imagery is very important as well, which can be seen in members often using pseudonyms, writing blasphemous lyrics (similar to Black Metal) and wearing corpse paint in live performances. Also there seems to be a similar artwork in many releases that stick mostly to a black, white, and a tinge of red color scheme. Other characteristics commonly seen in Bestial Black Metal are shorter time lengths (in comparison to Black Metal and some Death Metal) and unpredictable guitar solos.
While Death Metal and Black Metal were both achieving much success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, underground bands were beginning to release albums that would soon be recognized for paving the future for Bestial Black Metal. Characteristics of BBM can be seen as early as 1987 with Brazil’s Extreme Metal act Sarcofago and their debut “INRI”. The debut studio album would inspire many in the future along with current and upcoming Extreme Metal acts of the late 1980s and 1990s.
Not too far down the road, the Canadian act Blasphemy, will release what is often recognized as an essential part in BBM’s history with the holy grail release “Fallen Angel of Doom”. The album is often regarded as a classic that truly pioneered the movement of Bestial Black Metal and would inspire many bands to follow in their footsteps.
Another example of early Bestial Black Metal would be Finland’s Beherit. Although Beherit is typically more recognized for slower paced Black Metal material such as 1993’s “Drawing Down the Moon”, their 1991 release “The Oath of Black Blood” (which is actually a compilation of the band’s second demo ‘Demonomancy” and the 7 inch “Dawn of Satan’s Millenium”) is crucial in the development of Bestial Black Metal.
Also in Finland, Archgoat (who is a major drive in Bestial Black Metal today and one of the most well-known acts) would be releasing their very first demo on tape in 1991 along with their debut EP “Angelcunt (Tales of Desecration)” in 1993.
The rest of the 1990s, Bestial Black Metal would remain at a very underground level and many of the early bands did not release another album. However, there were still releases essential to the genre including Bestial Warlust with their back-to-back releases “Vengeance War ‘Till Death” and “Blood and Valour” along with Conqueror’s “War.Cult.Supremacy.”.
The 2000s would see many new bands start to appear including many acts that are today recognized as more popular acts (as far as BBM goes). Some of the most notable bands to appear in the 2000s with debut albums include Black Witchery, Revenge, Proclamation, and Deiphago. Nuclear War Now Productions is known for releasing the majority of these bands records and still releases many Bestial Black Metal albums today.
Fast forward to present day and it appears that Bestial Black Metal is starting to gain popularity. More and more artists are starting to appear and many of the bands of the 2000s are continuing to add to their catalog. We are even seeing some of the more well-known acts in Bestial Black Metal be a part of bigger Black Metal tours. For example, Archgoat often tours with Inquistion such as this tour that hit Europe early last year:
Around the same time but in America, Revenge was the opening support slot for the first part of the “Black Metal Warfare” tour with Watain and Mayhem.
I personally hope that Bestial Black Metal continues to evolve and gain more momentum as I’ve already listened to countless records that have truly sucked me in to the Bestial Black Metal world. If you’ve reached the most obfuscous and vindictive corners of Extreme Metal and you want more, Bestial Black Metal is here to prove it is the most extreme subgenre of today’s Metal.
Check out the links below for my personal recommendations where to start with Bestial Black Metal. There are countless gems out there including ones not mentioned in this article. Happy listening and happy discovering!