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1991: The year black metal conquered the world

In 1991 Norway became a crucible of creativity, sparking the black metal scene and causing a chain reaction of controversy

In 1991, extreme metal was in a violent state of flux. Death metal had polished itself up and emerged from the tape-trading underground as a serious commercial force. Sweden was a prolific stronghold; scene leaders such as Entombed, Dismember, Grave and Unleashed were selling worldwide, and the inexhaustible torrent of new bands and demos continued apace.

As the year began, Norway’s modest scene was languishing in the shadow of their more popular, professional Scandinavian neighbours, but by December a Norwegian revolution had occurred, sharply dividing the underground and spawning a set of distinctive aesthetics, harrowing atmospheres and merciless philosophies, pushing metal to dangerous, abstract new extremes. This approach would escalate to arson, murder and lasting infamy for the black metal scene, but in 1991 that was all in the future.

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