By now, in Norway another music revolution is taking place. Enter the Second Wave of Black Metal, or True Norwegian Black Metal as you prefer.
It is known as Second Wave because there had been a First wave, emerging in the early 80’s and headed by bands such as Venom, Hellhammer, Mercyful Fate and Celtic Frost, but I didn’t pay attention then and even after revisiting key releases for context I was not hooked. I read about it, I understand the influence those bands left in that scene but I didn’t belong and I don’t really do well with music catch up.
Much has been written about the origins and rise of the scene, but let’s just say that a band called Mayhem played the biggest role in the development of that second wave, influencing bands through their live shows all over Europe and with their EP “Deathcrush”, which became one of the most legendary and sought after records in the metal underground.
There are pivotal moments in music such as the first known Kraftwerk live performance in Berlin in 1970, or the Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976, that transformed the English music scene forever and this is another of those moments. If Bathory were an undeniable influence of the second coming of Black Metal, Mayhem were the instigators of the scene that would follow, through their sound – a blend of early Morbid Angel, Entombed, Slayer and Bathory resulting in the most extreme music being played at the time – and their cathartic presence and image.
What followed is a phenomenon. On the heels of Mayhem, the Norwegian scene rapidly spawns bands such as Burzum, Darkthrone, Emperor, Gorgoroth and Immortal whose members were only but a bunch of teens and already they showed touches of genius.
I am not putting this forward lightly. These Swedish and Norwegian kids have recorded some seriously original and influential music. It’s not by chance.
The amount of impact these bands have had was felt almost immediately, as outside Norway bands like Impaled Nazarene, Marduk, Beherit, Dissection and Cradle Of Filth soon released records in the similar style.
Splits and albums are being released at a relentless pace between 1992-94 with the most notorious bands honing their skills and showing promise. This is more than just a fad! The bands can play and the scene is attracting a lot of attention.
By 1995 the True Norwegian Black Metal institution rules. The godfathers of the movement are well known: Emperor, Immortal, Satyricon, Gorgoroth and Dimmu Borgir, but bands are forming everywhere from Chile to Japan spreading like a virus.
Its 1994. Enter a very special Open Air Festival. In a rather small town East of Porto called Penafiel some guy is organising the 4th edition of the ‘Ultrabrutal Festival Penafiel’. The lineup consists of Hipocrisy, Grave, Gorefest and… Cradle of Filth.
This is COF’s first appearance in Portugal and one of their first gigs supporting the release of their debut ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’. I wanted to see the band live. The setting is not favourable: its July and temperatures reach 34 degrees. They’re playing sometime around 4pm and the blackest of blacks looks like a lame grey under the sun and your typical corpse paint just look silly (it still does).
The band play flawlessly, the sound is huge and they win the crowd. I mean, they sounded absolutely unique.
Credit to the PA and sound guys, the sound really is massive and crushing, its tons heavier than the somewhat thin production of the debut. As a drummer myself I can’t but stare in awe at Nick Barker’s performance on drums. He is a beast and would justify all the hype (once named the fastest drummer on Earth) and his prolific career as a session and live drummer with many other bands (as of 2022 he plays with Shining).
A stream of new releases happen in the coming years. Producers take rounds in stints with the up and coming bands and some masterful works are released.