Many recognize Norway as giving birth to the black metal sound as it is known today. What many may not realize, however, is that many of the black metal bands that pioneered the sound that typifies the genre today started out playing death metal, or were birthed from the ashes of death metal bands.
It was largely due to Euronymous of the band Mayhem that many of these death metal musicians would drop that sound for the ‘new’ style that his band was performing. He played a large role in fostering the black metal scene, from converting fans and bands to establishing a record label to opening a record shop that doubled as a meeting place.
Thus, from bands such as Old Funeral, Thou Shalt Suffer, Amputation, Phobia, Mortem, and Abhorrent, we have Burzum, Emperor, Immortal, Enslaved, Ildjarn, Arcturus, and others.
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Old Funeral was one of the earliest death metal bands out of Norway, and many prominent members of the Norwegian black metal scene began here, such as Varg Vikernes of Burzum, the members of Immortal, and Jørn Tunsberg, who would later form Hades.
Thou Shalt Suffer
Like Old Funeral, Thou Shalt Suffer also served as a sort of gateway for members that would go on to constitute the Norwegian black metal sound. Both Samoth and Ihsahn of Emperor started here, as did Ildjarn, who popularized a solo project of the same name.
Along with Old Funeral, Abbath and Demonaz – eventually of Immortal – had another project named Amputation. This is the band that eventually gave birth to Immortal, and, eventually, the black metal sound, when Amputation ended.
Far removed from the progressive extreme metal that they are playing now, the origins of Enslaved lie in Phobia, a primitive death metal project, featuring Grutle Kjellson and a very young Ivar Bjørnson. The two formed Enslaved and began playing black metal after the band split up, eventually releasing their debut album on Euronymous’ Deathlike Silence Productions.
Mortem was another of the earliest death metal projects out of Norway. Although Mortem did not give birth directly to any new bands, the members later went on to esteem in said bands. Hellhammer joined Mayhem, while the others formed Arcturus.
Abhorrent, and eventually Thyabhorrent, featured Stian “Occultus”, who eventually formed the band Perdition Hearse. He was even briefly a part of Mayhem.