What Can We Learn From Black Metal?

Probably one of the most controversial and inaccessible genres on the planet, Black Metal reigns supreme on raw feeling. It is a genre that forgoes many production elements to create the most raw visceral sound possible. There is undoubtedly the extremely limited budget of these underground artists to attribute to the low quality recordings, but that is not the whole story.




Primarily a Scandinavian led subgenre with the majority of first and second wave bands born there, the tracks often take on a cold icy feeling. Their treble high mixing and distortion that would be considered too foul in any other genre works surprisingly well with the mood created by the riffs, often inspired by pagan gods themselves.


This is, of course the sound these bands want to aspire to, Varg Vikernes the sole member of Burzum deliberately used the worst equipment available for recording, even resorting to screaming into a headset microphone. In the track above, that style of production is apparent and, if you can appreciate metal, suits the style of music perfectly.

The point being made here is that everyone wants to make the perfect master and get everything right but, sometimes if you write it into the music and use the imperfections you can carve exactly the emotions you want into your tracks. 

Sometimes you need to step back and strip away quality to gain THE QUALITY you want. Ways to do this are plentiful, you could do what some Drum and Bass artists do and play your basslines through monitors coated in tin foil and re-record it. You could use many audio destruction plugins, from gentle tape saturation to completely destroying it. You could sample a piece of your song and subtract the audio profile (more details here) to get a massively altered frequency response. Or you could produce a rough sound from the source: bad instruments and mics.

You will probably still be out done by the lovely (not lovely at all) Varg Vikernes who went one step back again and screamed for a day before he recorded so even his vocal chords were destroyed. 

In the end a filthy sound may not even be that appropriate in which case disregard everything above.